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A Culture of Incompetence

Incompetent Americans Put National Security at Risk

We have a culture of incompetence in the U.S. Too many workers do not care about the quality of their work, timeliness of doing it, and, in some cases, whether the work gets done at all. I have previously blogged about the declining work ethic in the U.S. If the next three stories don't convince you of that fact, then probably nothing ever will.

Just within the last few weeks three incidents occurred that are alarming to say the least. The most unfortunate was the death of a 6 year-old boy who died when a miniature train ride at a county-owned Cleveland Park derailed. Twenty-five others were injured. Children's day at the park turned into a nightmare. Benjamin "Benji" Easler, the dead boy, was the son of Pastor Dwight Easler, who was injured in the wreck along with his two older sons, who suffered broken bones and facial scarring. Reportedly, state officials had inspected the ride and had conducted several test runs, just 3 days before the park opened for the season. The ride had been operating for about an hour on opening day when the train's track collapsed causing it to derail and overturn. What caused the tragic event? INCOMPETENCE! A state worker who was supposed to inspect the miniature train falsified an inspection form and cleared the train for use. I guess it was quicker to do his job that way leaving more time for whatever he does to avoid real work, rather than act responsibly.

You may have heard about a bomb that was found at a Detroit federal building last week. The bomb had actually been there for three weeks. Apparently, a contract guard saw an unattended package outside on Feb. 26th, picked it up, took it inside basically on the premise of 'lost and found' property, and stored it. That was on Feb. 26. On March 18th, someone got the idea to x-ray the package. At that point wires were seen... and it turned out to be a bomb. The only reason it did not go off is the person who made it failed to properly connect the wires to the detonator. DOUBLE INCOMPETENCE! Just think of what might have happened had this bomb gone off in a crowded federal building. It sounds like we dodged a bullet similar to the one that destroyed so many lives in the Oklahoma City bombings.

The most serious case was the air traffic controller at Reagan National Airport who fell asleep while on duty during his overnight shift from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Image1 Two commercial jet liners approached Reagan and could not get any communication from the tower. Around 12:10 a.m., pilots of American Airlines Flight 1012, a Boeing 737 from Dallas, were unable to make contact with the control tower, aborted a landing and circled the airport. The plane had 91 passengers and six crew members onboard. About 15 minutes later, United Airlines Flight 628, an Airbus A320 from Chicago, with 63 passengers and five crew members onboard, was also unable to reach the tower. Both flights were able to make contact with controllers at a regional facility about 40 miles away and successfully landed without any local controller assistance. I shudder to think what might have happened if these were hijacked planes.

What's interesting about the air traffic controller situation is the way the sleeping controller, Dan Creedon, blames fatigue caused by working four consecutive night shifts. There is no sense of taking personal responsibility for his failings. I have a suggestion for the controller. Sleep during the day or get another job!

 Blog by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, April 1, 2011