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From Penn State to Wall Street: A Leadership Crisis

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 13, 2012 10:35 AM |

I have a very empty feeling this morning.

As I try to collect my thoughts and put forth a reasoned commentary about developments on Wall Street and the impact on our global economy, my mind keeps reverting to the pain emanating from State College, Pennsylvania. My heart breaks for the individuals and families directly impacted by the tragic situation surrounding Penn State.

Who knows when the monster known as Jerry Sandusky first started to prey upon young innocent children? What we do know is that his crimes could have and should have been stopped long before other innocent victims were violated. Why and how did this happen?

A failure of real leadership. We now know that those charged with leading Penn State University were more concerned with appearances and the monetary value associated with those appearances than truly doing the right thing.

They will pay in spades — as well they should — for that egregious failure.

Can we say the same thing about developments on Wall Street? I think a very strong analogy can be made. Some may think I am overreaching with my comparison. I think not.

The children violated at Penn State relied upon leaders to speak up and say, “Hey, this is WRONG. This will not be tolerated and will be eradicated.” Too many children now suffer as a result of nobody making that stand.

How many children and families in our nation similarly suffer because of a lack of leadership within our financial industry and by extension our political capitol, as well? Far too much evidence has shown that individuals, firms, and institutions have been fixated upon appearances and the allure of monetary gains versus having the courage and character to do the right thing.

Real victory and success is always predicated on doing the right thing. The fixation on appearance and monetary gain at the expense of doing the right thing is both bad business policy and bad public policy. Yet it persists because of a lack of real character and leadership. Our current crisis may be deemed an economic crisis, but in truth it is a crisis of leadership.

Edmund Burke’s oft-quoted statement may be overly utilized but it rings true today in State College and on Wall Street. Our children are counting on us. Will we deliver or will we be reminded again and again in the coming years that, “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”

Our children are counting on us to be leaders. Will we lead?

Larry Doyle 

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I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

  • LD

    Interesting comment made recently by Condoleeza Rice. . .

    Framing her speech around three major “shocks to the international system” in the past decade — the 9/11 attacks, the global financial crisis, and the Arab Spring — Rice said Obama’s failed governance has thrown the world deeper into crisis.

    “What we’re feeling most is not just that tumult, we’ve been through tumult before,” she said. “What we’re feeling is the absence of American leadership.”

    The Speech that Landed Condi on Romney’s List

    • am

      In response to Condi Rice’s statement on leadership…….do you mean real american leadership that we had when YOU and the Bush administration lied to the american public about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

  • fred


    We are experiencing massive institutional failure as our leaders refuse to act responsibly; regulatory capture has stepped in to stifle any accountibility.

    We are also experiencing a massive failure in conscience and consequence. The primary sources of moral development, the traditional family unit and religion are being driven from our lives by commerce, the media, technology and government.

    On a personal level, selfishness has extinguished nearly all traces of selflessness.

    To right these wrongs, society must sharpen it’s tools of justice; extended jail time for white collar crime, compensation clawbacks and a reinvigorated estate tax system that lets each generation earn the majority of it’s wealth.

    Leadership must be earned, all regulators must be bound by their oath to defend and protect the public interest at all cost.

  • Andrew

    I share that empty feeling you have.

  • Charles Lancaster

    “We now know that those charged with leading (insert here ) were more concerned with appearances and the monetary value associated with those appearances than truly doing the right thing.” It doesn’t matter whether is politicians, bankers, unions, etc., until there is a MORAL REVOLUTION, nothing will change.

    • LD


      Right here…right now…I’m sick of the cesspool which is increasingly elevating higher and higher in our society.

      Time to start calling people and institutions out on a more aggressive and continuous basis.

  • Donald

    Decades of financial corruption have propelled psychopaths to the top in business, finance, sports and, of course, most members of government & K-streeters, etc.

  • coe

    The pundits debate whether Penn State should keep or remove the Paterno statue in front of the stadium – are you kidding me!…who can remove the image of the child abuse from the victims…while treating the perpetrator with “humanity”…we’re going wrong, and it is so very sad and dangerous

  • Small BD

    If Penn State wants to remain consistent, they’ll need to place (didn’t want to say ‘erect’) a statue of Sandusky next to poor old JP.

  • Kmill

    One year after resigning from Congress following news he had emailed lewd photos of himself to women, married former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner desires a return to politics, according to New York news outlets.

    “The disgraced former congressman—who’s sitting on a $4.5 million campaign war chest—is mulling a bid for citywide office next year and ‘seriously considering’ a mayoral run,” sources told the New York Post.

    War chest/$4.5 million? Are you sh-tting me? I guess if Charles Rangel can get re-elected, the real problem is the voter. We certainly get what we deserve!!!!

  • MAF

    Power, success and money drive certain personalities to the behaviors exhibited at Penn State. History continues to repeat itself. Remember Hitler and his inner circle. Atrocities were committed over a period of time with little backlash until the truth was revealed….

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