The idea of the scapegoat

In Judaism, there used to be a ritual where a goat, symbolically burdened with the sins of man, would be sent off to perish in the wilderness during Yom Kippur.  This is the beginning of the scapegoat.  I’m reminded of this with recent events in our economic recession where people have expressed their frustrations and anger in the scapegoating of entities like AIG and Bernie Madoff.  It’s not that I disapprove of the scapegoating or that I feel the selected parties should not be blamed, but I want to point out the side effects of mass media and politics.  The public needs someone to blame for this mess that we’re in.  The wealthy members of society are often blamed in times of crises so why should this situation be any different?  The media often doesn’t help the situation especially when headlines are meant to be sensationalistic and drive sales/viewership/clicks.  In regards to the uproar over AIG bonuses, there are ways to curb AIG executive bonus payouts, but let’s remember that some people actually did their job correctly and are trying to get paid.  I do see a need to curb some bonuses that are just due to greed and not compensatory for services performed, but bonuses are an integral part of many employee pay schemes in many industries.  It seems like some people I talk to don’t realize this.  As for Bernie Madoff, I think we can all say he’s guilty.  However, he should be punished for the crime he did and not be the scapegoat for all the sins of wall street.  We are a civilized society.  Let’s act like one.

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