In Time magazine's recent feature entitled, "25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis," all sorts of villains were listed, some very easy targets and some were at the levels of the sublime. It's easy to vilify George Bush and Bill Clinton, as for the past sixteen years, these two had been charge of overseeing the economy. And blaming the American Consumer is easy as well, though some were simply guilty of being irresponsible enough to believe that certain pieces of the pie were within their grasp. And lets not forget the economic blood on the central banker of Iceland because as we all know, "What's good for Iceland is good for America." But the most ridiculous part of this list lies in taking cable channels HGTV, A & E, and TLC to task for promoting shows that showed how to flip, decorate, and renovate houses. Perhaps some of the finance-based cable and network channels should be listed here as well, since their main focus was informing the public about the economy and financial institutions. And why not blame Adam Smith for writing The Wealth of Nations, and Alexander Hamilton for creating our centralized banking system? Aren't they culpable as well?
Of course, not a single TimeWarner/CNN television show was mentioned, but the most glaring omission from this list is the media itself. The media's role in society is to inform, educate, and illuminate all aspects of our world, good or bad. It's the media's job to investigate what is not working and present it to the population, but they dropped the ball over the past few years by not seriously looking into what was continually being described as a "bubble." This was not only a housing bubble caused by a relatively small percentage of unwise home buyers and borrowers, but a financial bubble, brought about by financial engineers who kept betting on financial instruments that lacked adequate basis of structural support.
Now that the members of the media have seen their own 401ks and home values decline like those of the rest of the citizens in the country, they are broadcasting loud outrage at the failure of Wall Street, government, and America itself. The sad truth is that there is much blame to spread all around and perhaps the first step for those in charge of the news should be taking a look in the mirror and accepting responsibility for their own failures. And maybe then we can all move ahead to find our way out of this.
Jonathan A. Schein is the Publisher of MetroGreenBusiness.com and GreenBusinessCareers.com