Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Poison Me Elmo


The co-owner of a Chinese toy manufacturer hanged himself after almost one million Sesame Street toys his company produced were recalled for containing lead-tainted paint. According to the CNN.com article about the incident, "It is common for disgraced officials in China to commit suicide." This morning I saw the CEO of Mattel make the rounds of the news shows to "apologize to the American people" for the incident, but I didn't notice any rope nearby.

Is it barbaric for chief executive officers to take their own lives when the products or services they provide go horribly wrong, or for them not to do so? I think of Enron's Jeffrey Skilling, WorldCom's Bernard Ebbers, and the USA's CEO, George W. Bush. When the enterprise that defines them fails miserably, resulting in the ruination of many peoples' lives, what is the sufficiency of remorse? An apology with accountability is entertainment.

I'm remembering the scene from The Godfather Part II:
Tom Hagen: When a plot against the Emperor failed... the plotters were always given a chance... to let their families keep their fortunes. Right?
Frank Pentangeli: Yeah, but only the rich guys, Tom. The little guys got knocked off and all their estates went to the Emperors. Unless they went home and killed themselves, then nothing happened. And the families... the families were taken care of.
Tom Hagen: That was a good break. A nice deal.
Frank Pentangeli: Yeah... They went home... and sat in a hot bath... opened up their veins... and bled to death... and sometimes they had a little party before they did it.


OK, I don't really want anybody to commit suicide. I just want to see instances of honor among "the rich guys."

Now is that so wrong?

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