Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Little Accountability Would Be Nice

Ray Paulick (The Paulick thought it might be a good idea to at least try to invest some of our time in good news. Hence ‘Good News Fridays.’ It seemed to be a chance to lessen our focus on accountability by folks who never really grasped the concept anyway. Accountability, responsibility, integrity – these are learnable traits, though admittedly, some painful instruction is included in the curriculum. If you can’t pull at least a ‘C’ well – one more disinterested, self-centered sociopath hardly matters does it?

Granted, there seems to be a lot wrong at the moment. In my neighborhood, we have Mt. Bay Meadows. It is this huge, concentric, rat infested monument that the San Mateo City Council evidently created as an abject lesson on the dangers of littering. Or was it loitering? Or maybe a case of litter, loitering. It’s hard to tell since the Council was so cash-struck on the idea of another thousand tax parcels that they forgot to see if the developer owned a dump truck. – or even a shovel. The Bay Meadows Land Company’s response? The economy went south. The City Council’s response. “Well, gee, uh, well, Bob was supposed to take care of that. Bob? Oh, Bob?” The real problem? The ink they use to print money. Causes the DNA to mutate into something resembling an infected molar.

Ray’s idea did cause me to pause and take a good look at the traffic flow. Greed seemed to be about the same. Avarice about par. Murders and robbery up, but hell, it’s a recession. Scams way up, but then scams are what they are and not wrapped around silly posturing like, “I’m going to save racing.” Even robbery has a certain honesty to it: “Gimme your money!” Not, “Sure, you can afford this house.” Pens, guns or Ford starter motors, all things seem about the same. And that’s what bothered me.

I believe the real problem is that the flow of information is exceeding the speed limit of our brains. It also makes it damn hard to keep a secret or weed out superfluous details. Twittering is specifically designed to not get to the point – ever. And it has been at least two years since someone said to me, “Let me think about that and get back to you.” Get back to me? Are you bloody insane?!

So let’s look. Mouth syringe in the security barn? Stupid, but not new. 'Milkshakes', pasta loading, packed red blood cells -- dried bat wings? Neglected, underfed (or abused, but one needs to be careful with that term) horses? Common as dirt if you really look around. That seems to upset a lot of folks and rightly so, but how does it compare to 100,000 children facing starvation in the Sudan? Can someone from PETA or the steward's box point out Sudan on the map? Racing is a lot about perceived advantage, not too different from any other competitive venue with one major difference. The horse is out of the loop in most, if not all decisions concerning its own well-being. A lot like a child. Due diligence needs to be conducted from the comfort of your own brain – that’s where accountability originates. Sure, we publicly chastise bad guys a lot quicker, but we’ve done little to reduce the overall supply of bad behavior because we embrace the very source of the illness.

Yeah, racing has some really serious difficulties. Most of the industry though is still above ground, as they say. Especially Bay Meadows. All of it is above ground. That in itself is both sad and irrelevant. A dead man’s testimonial to his own murder. Other cities might want to view the crime scene for themselves. Integrity is about making the right choice at our own peril. If we practiced that a little more, we might get two 'good Fridays' a week instead of one.