Sunday, February 28, 2010


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 Dear Friends:

Years ago, people would reprimand each other for neglecting to look at, or to “factor into” their analyses or activities, certain things. We (the guilty culprits who had been careless) would say, “Sorry, sir. It must have been an oversight on my part. I’ll be more careful next time. I promise.”

Oversight was [etymologically speaking] a first cousin to the term “Overlook.”  I remember saying things like, “Damn. We must have overlooked something. It’s got to be somewhere. We’d better find it before your dad comes home.”

Under any circumstances, the terms oversight and overlook were generally used in the negative. Ironically, in government and big business, we find a proliferation of Oversight Committees. I think these committees, or subcommittees or other groups are actually intended to oversee matters – to watch over them diligently. But perhaps what they do is more overlooking than overseeing. The sad reality of this is that whether these oversight groups overlook or oversee, they generally take no corrective action.

These groups are merely public relations ploys to appease disgruntled citizens that something is “being done.” Oversight committees are generally impotent, compromised (conflicts of interest sometimes tempt people to simply let evil things go on – especially if they are paid well), confused (i.e., “This is a swell job. Thanks Mr. President. Umm…. Whatta we supposed to do again?”), experimenting with astral projection (where their physical bodies remain in their leather seats, but their minds are travelling to vast reaches of space) or making paper planes.  

I hope that you enjoy this biodegradable piece plucked from the recent annals of The New York Times.

Obama to Urge Oversight of Insurers' Rate Increases
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Sun, February 21, 2010 -- 9:13 PM ET

Obama to Urge Oversight of Insurers' Rate Increases

President Obama will propose on Monday giving the federal
government new power to block excessive rate increases by
health insurance companies, as he rolls out comprehensive
legislation to revamp the nation's health care system, White House officials said.

Read More:

Now get New York Times breaking news alerts sent to your mobile phone.
Sign up by texting NEWSALERTS to 698698 (NYTNYT).

My questions: What does “oversight” mean? What’s the point? Why have an attack dog without any teeth and a lame leg? Why spend money on an investment that is certain to lose?

My Observation: Oversight is not a substitute for constructive, decisive action. It is means of deferring or avoiding a commitment to responsibility.

Thank you all for letting me rant.


Douglas Castle
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