In stomping out brutal honesty and critical thought in favor of politeness and the fear of offending, and in valuing the collective over the individual, we too often fail to chastise and weed out the people who are screwing up our world.
Dr. Bob Hare of Vancouver, one of the world's foremost experts on psychopathology, defines the condition of psychopathy according to a multipoint checklist, but it can be summed up as a lack of conscience -- that tripwire in the human mind that kicks in because we're able to project the effects of our actions or behavior into the future and empathize with those we risk impacting.
Some parents don't bother investing any time in instilling a conscience in their kids. Some are congenitally incapable of ever having a conscience. And yet other people start out with one but end up selling it off along the way in exchange for something they find more valuable -- usually money.
When the psychopath meets and co-opts the weak-minded, the results are disastrous for society. I'm talking about those who find themselves colluding with the ruthlessly self-serving in fields like finance and politics. It's why Wall Street blames the government and regulation it sees as counter to its interests for the economic collapse rather than its own incessant demands for corporate welfare that runs counter to everyone else's best interests. It's why union leaders will lead their sheep down the path of relentless demands until their company tanks completely and is sold off to foreign interests. It's also why most politicians will find every excuse for the woes of the health-care system except for the fact that the lobbying costs to woo them are a major cost burden. In fact, any group of people who spend so much of their time willingly drinking each other's collective bathwater is susceptible.
Sadly, these systems are already too far gone, to the point where they operate as self-protecting collectives. Everyone within them is aware that their livelihood depends on protecting their meal tickets. If a conscience-burdened person happens to penetrate this world, they get chewed up and spit out by the enablers.