Saturday, May 28, 2011


When the Black Death swept across Europe, the scale of death and suffering was so great, and the cause so invisible, that people could not cope with the horror. They needed a scapegoat.

So Jews were often rounded up and killed. It was not rational, but when you need to direct anger away from yourself, a scapegoat can be very convenient. Governments have used Jews for centuries to deflect blame for incompetent governing.

We still do it. The U.S. government created a ginormous credit bubble, then told investment banks they would be protected if they made stupid investment decisions. Those are the two main causes of our current crisis. Of course the people who control the microphones blame deregulation, corporate greed, or other sideline issues. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain," the White House yells.

But we also see this problem even in small communities. Local economies are being ripped apart by unstoppable global forces, but unfortunately we often look for local scapegoats to blame. Immigrants, city councils, mayors, racial or religious minorities, infrastructure, brain drain, school principals, climate....

Blame is easier than solvency.

No comments: