Vail Valley Voices: Whom can you trust? |

Vail Valley Voices: Whom can you trust?

Vail, CO Colorado

Who’s the only person you can truly rely upon? The answer is simple. It’s you.

Every day, I read the newspapers and learn about a new scandal or Ponzi scheme. And no “trusted” group has been immune to this phe-nomenon. We should never depend solely upon others to make important decisions. Personal responsibility for our fam-ilies, our money and our lives in general should never be delegated.

One of the most consis-tent offenders of public trust is our government. Broken campaign promis-es are commonplace, and so very often, we don’t get what we voted for. This is not a new story, as rumors (and often actual facts) about some of our most respected leaders have disappointed Amer-icans over the years. How these men and women get elected and stay in office behaving the way they do is a mystery to me.

To make matters worse, these same politicians often campaign against the very behavior they are guilty of – the height of hypocrisy. Included are members of Congress responsible for the financial well- being of our country who ” forget” to file income taxes or report income or conveniently neglect to mention favors received from apprecia-tive constituencies. And, of course, there are the scores of sordid scandals that have shocked us over the years.

In the financial area, the list of scam artists is endless. I was a businessman for many years and was naive to believe that almost all big-time exec-utives played by the rules. Well, my bubble has been burst on too many occasions over the past two decades as I focused in on this issue.

The Bernie Madoff scandal is so inconceivable that I can’t believe it really happened. Did Madoff really think he could steal or misappropriate $ 50 billion and actually get away with it? What was he thinking? And then there are all of the so- called “sophisticated investors” who lined up and gave Madoff their money ( in some cases, all of their money) when he didn’t even have a reputable accountant auditing his business.

One of the most horrible crimes occurs when a person in a position of power takes advantage of another. These are the situations that all Ameri-cans must be most wary of. Included in this buck-et are abuse of subordinates, parishioners by the clergy, students by teachers and children by fam-ily members. When someone uses his or her posi-tion of trust to abuse another, it’s a grave offense. And those responsible for covering up these crimes, enabling the abusers to strike again, are just as guilty as the offenders.

So what’s my point? It’s to never underestimate the skills and guile of those who want to harm us. It’s to never lessen the importance of diligence and common sense or allow others to make important decisions for us without oversight. This pertains to voting for our leaders, hiring people at work or at home, worshipping, investing and edu-cating. We must protect our children ( and other innocents) who may not have the maturity, judg-ment or strength to defend themselves.

Sal Bommarito is a novelist and frequent visitor to Vail during the past 20 years.

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