Friday, March 26, 2010

Self-Regulation? Bah!

It's not just the Pope. Think cops, doctors and many other.

A massively systemic problem is that nobody wants any outsider to judge their action. Some have variations on the theme, like Vatican pols declaring that criminal prosecution of clerical child abuse would violate their necessary independence. Police in Boston successfully stave off civilian review boards while letting errant cops slide. More typically, it's doctors and accountants and finance pros saying they are the only ones knowledgeable and fair enough to monitor their professions.

It may be one-ended separation of church and state (with the church only wanting government hands off while it can dally in politics as it sees fit and avoid taxes) or disciplinary hearings that send incompetents from one state or locale to a different one instead of removing them. The response to the obvious that self-policing hardly ever works commonly is that outsider intervention is some form of fascism, socialism, totalitarianism or some other bad, bad ism.

Yet, the effect is the same. Clerics may the the most prevalent, doctors the most lethal and financial pros the most economically destructive. What their wild-in-the-woods behavior ends up doing is hurting larger society in the name of some form of liberty.

I confess, self-regulation is a sweet, enticing concept. It would work like:
  • Those who know their profession best would set rules of conduct and performance.
  • They would choose or elect an elite subgroup to act as mediators, judges and prosecutors.
  • They would swiftly and surely require any necessary retraining, probation or removal of the bad members.
  • Their profession would be so honorable that we all would have faith in it.
So, what do you think? How does that work for priests, physicians and police? When they investigated complaints about their people, do you believe they, as Bob Dylan sang, "handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance"?

Of course not!

While cops are notorious for protecting their own, they are far from the only dishonorable club when it comes to self-regulation. Medical boards are apparently just as bad and surely literally and figuratively bury more sins than the police. While doctors continue to scream about the brutal unfairness of high malpractice insurance, they blame only rapacious lawyers and patients, never themselves as individuals or as a group.

Imagine if for police and physicians their overseeing investigators did their jobs. What if an incompetent or malicious cop or doctor got kicked out of the profession or paid any civil cost or criminal penalty for causing death or damage?

Both groups say actual enforcement like that would cripple them, prevent them from doing their jobs. Bovine feces! Cleaning out the incompetents and destructive types in virtually any profession would be goodness, sweetness and light.

Instead, our laws do encourage a litigious society. Where the professions construct and maintain the highest and thickest walls to protect even the worst of their members, those injured attack with lawyers.

Frivolous lawsuits are indeed an expensive national issue. Consider instead how we might prevent them. The solution from the wealthy lawyers who comprise the vast majority of Congress is to limit lawsuit awards for medical malpractice and more. Instead or in addition, how about we demand that self-regulators actually do their job...starting immediately...or be replaced with bodies that will?

Churches, cops and doctors claiming innocent victimhood has gotten pretty old. They need to do their part to clean their own houses.

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1 comment:

Elias said...

We are give a rare glimpse of what happens when an entire institution binds itself over to self destruction.
That is what is happening to the RCC in a nutshell, take notes everyone this is one for the books..
Elias Nugator