"Of course it affects you. But the lessons are really remarkable and important. Part of the problem is..., slowly but surely, you lose your sense of identity. All the perks that you have become addictive. ...You get isolated from yourself, from your family and who you really are. You forget that it’s transitory; that there is a next chapter. You put aside the important things like, why are you here? and what about your family?"
Sounds like a withering testimonial from the latest Partnership For a Drug-Free America ad, right? You know, the one with all the weird animation and bloopy electronic music that looks like it must have been created by someone stoned out of their mind? Wrong. It's former Time Warner head Jerry Levin on CNBC, explaining the culture of entitlement in our nation's gentle CEO class.
The endless bonus windfalls for these executives and the faulty logic of retention now being employed by apologists for the status quo ante; Daschle and Geithner's glib tax avoidance, and the establishment's brushing off of revolving-door bureaucrats as nothing but "valuable assets" to both corporations and government; all of these are little more than a set of anti-social behaviors, behaviors we have long been told were integral to progress.
It's funny then that, over in the pool, or atop whatever pile of money he sits on when not in a pool, Michael Phelps has been compelled to issue public mea culpas for the dire, dire transgression of smoking marijuana. At a party, at an public institution of higher learning, no less. Still early in his days as a national figure, Phelps must not yet be familiar with the American Sportsman's role as the nation's moral stalking horse. Give him time. All he's done is earn his acclaim through hard work, tireless practice and supreme physical conditioning. In our culture's reverse meritocracy, it is he who must apologize for his indiscretions, while our elected and unelected power brokers publicly pursue their addictions unabated.