03 October 2008

A visit to Mr. Webster...

Pondering in my spare time this afternoon how the Democrats, Bush, and Paulson managed to get the "lipstick on the pig" of the bailout bill, my mind wandered to a phrase I first heard in business school some 20 years ago. While it's not a phrase I use every day, I still find it useful in many circumstances. After considering the matter, I thought it apropos to revisit today.

Main Entry: due diligence (n.)

1 : the care that a reasonable person exercises under the circumstances to avoid harm to other persons or their property 2 : research and analysis of a company or organization done in preparation for a business transaction (as a corporate merger or purchase of securities)

Example: Congress failed to exercise due diligence in passing the recent bailout bill.

As I noted to a colleague this afternoon when the subject turned to the bailout (she's a flaming lib, while I'm not so much), while I think this bill is a huge stinker in general, my biggest issue is that they passed the bill without exercising the same basic investigatory standard that even the most rudimentary businesspeople use: Get the facts, assess the pros and cons, and get some expert help when you need it. Instead, Congresspersons became instant economists, capable of understanding all sides of this complex issue (heck, they couldn't even come to consensus on who was at fault) and the effects of their actions both on the underlying issue itself and on the world's financial markets. In their rush to show that they were Doing Something, they couldn't be bothered to slow down a bit and listen to those with some expertise who might have counseled them just to Do Nothing For A While; after all, Doing Nothing doesn't sell, while Doing Something is a proven winner, even if it's the Wrong Thing.

No comments: