The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of SVB Financial Group, or Silicon Valley Bank, or any of its affiliates.
This week, Jared Lee Laughner altered his plea from "not guilty" to "guilty" in the shooting of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, along with six killed and another twelve wounded. This came 577 days after Mr. Laughner stood in the middle of the congresswoman's press conference and sprayed bullets indiscriminately around the room. (Shouldn't society have a right to speedy trials?)
Last month, a gunman claiming to be the "Joker" entered a crowded theatre and performed much the same act. He remains in custody (surely no place I'd want to be), but largely unaffected by his actions other than the fact he can't roam the streets for now.
Last week, a sick individual entered a place of worship and wounded four innocent people including a police officer who was shot nine times. The culprit also turned his gun on himself, controlling the final chapter of his actions himself.
In each of these cases, society is a loser because these individuals stole a little bit of freedom, confidence, and safety from all 300+ million of us. In addition, the lack of reaction toward the individual provides some level of excuse for future offenders.
What happened to suffering the consequences of one's actions?
Banks make bad loans, TARP must be created to save them. (Responsible taxpayers must put up their funds to save poor performing lenders.)
Borrowers get themselves in deep, HAMP, HARP, and other government lending programs are created to bail them out. (Again, taxpayers must support people living in homes they can't afford.)
Greece (and Ireland) does much the same thing and the world looks to Germany to lend a hand. Spain and Italy are getting in line as well. (The German economy is headed toward recession and facing a very tough decision here.)
People who do bad things, make mistakes or even just get unlucky* should suffer the consequences. If not, then what justifies any sense of order?
I pity the 25 year old professional who has been taught that bad loans will soon be followed by societal bailouts. Reality may be napping, but eventually the alarm that is the final bailout will sound and order will be restored with pain and suffering magnitudes worse than what could be absorbed today.
*- It may seem harsh to allow unlucky outcomes to be followed by "consequences." If you feel this way, ask yourself the following questions: "Should there be no downside to risk-taking and failing due to no fault to yourself? If so, who pays for the consequences of this failure? Society – meaning all of us?" Placing too much burden on society as a whole can bring it down. Of course an acceptable social safety net should exist, but negative consequences must follow negative outcomes.
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