I’m a couple weeks late with this, but just as I noted a few months ago that the Australian judicial system was beginning to take action against the ratings agencies re: the 2008 financial crisis and ratings debacle, it seems the justice department in the US is also going to (finally!) try to hold these guys accountable.
The Justice Department filed civil fraud charges late on Monday against the nation’s largest credit-ratings agency, Standard & Poor’s, accusing the firm of inflating the ratings of mortgage investments and setting them up for a crash when the financial crisis struck.
So much of this relates to other pertinent issues of the “who guards the guardians” question that institutions often face (see the Bernie Baran case I learned about in December). In this case, this is a triumph of government’s ability to self-correct.
Yet, with the debate about drones (pardon the pun) droning on in Congress re: the Executive’s ability to conduct these strikes—and at that, with so little oversight one hardly ever knows what’s going on, never mind who it is that’s being targetted, or the supposed imminence and authorization allowing for the killings—we should remain mindful that each issue area calls for this kind of “awakeness” that Martin Luther King discusses in Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community, lest we lose sight of the very things that make us moral and human.
One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of the status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. But today our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.
This does not mean that we must turn back the clock of scientific progress. No one can overlook the wonders that science has wrought for our lives. The automobile will not abdicate in favor of the horse and buggy, or the train in favor of the stagecoach, or the tractor in favor of the hand plow, or the scientific method in favor of ignorance and superstition. But our moral and spiritual “lag” must be redeemed. When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men. When we foolishly minimize the internal of our lives and maximize the external, we sign the warrant for our own day of doom.