Is accountability the new black?

Politicians and expense claims, musicians and music. How do we implement checks and balances to ensure that the standards are high?

We don’t need more legislation, legalism to solve the issue…

We should be acting in a way that at any time we would be able to account for our actions and that any reasonable person scrutinising would find nothing untoward with our actions. Similarly we should be able to ask that person to account for their own actions. This isn’t Big Brother – this is us, individually, helping to keep each other in check. To me it’s a reasonable principle (and incidently, biblical).

What about privacy? Sure – privacy is reasonable. I’m not talking about prying. I’m not advocating naming and shaming… I’m just meaning that if we act AS THOUGH we were going to be called to account for our actions then that in itself should keep us on the right path. The press shouldn’t be so sanctimonious though – can the editors and owners of the media stand up to public scrutiny to the same extent as some of the MPs they pillory?

The problem with the MP expenses thing is that while the “reasonable person” wasn’t looking the MPs strayed so far from what the public would think of as reasonable expenses paid from the public purse that they then couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. So I don’t necessarily NEED to know that an MP uses expenses to claim for a duck house. But what angers me is that the MP thought that that was a reasonable expenditure. Acting “within the spirit and letter of the rules” can lead to folks taking the piss EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW THOSE RULES ARE BEING STRETCHED TO THE POINT OF BREAKING.

Problem – define a reasonable person.

Perhaps the same goes for music – we don’t need to hear ALL of your output. But when you’re composing your 15 minute ambient masterpiece of bass, guitar, nose-flute, “found sounds” and field recordings are you getting trusted friends to objectively listen to the output and help you decide whether it’s “ready for primetime”? Should it be editted down? Is the bass too dominant in the mix? Is the 5 minute intro too long? Does it need the shredder guitar solo at 12 minutes? Is the vocal too dry or too effect laden? Does it sound like Enya on a bad day? I think the more you get trusted friends to help filter BEFORE you release, the better you get at self-correcting and improving before they get to hear it. Checks and balances to ensure that YOU improve. Not so that somebody can rip you to shreds.

SO – let’s move forward together and help each other to stay on the right track…

One reply on “Is accountability the new black?”

  1. MKS, fascinating stuff. So much so that I ended up writing a whole post in response, that’s over on my normal blog at

    Well, at least my post addresses the musical side of it. I guess the Political side is slightly more problematic, given that that level of grown up personal responsibility seems beyond the kind of people currently being drawn to politics in the UK, so the kind of slightly officious monitoring of MPs behaviour we’re now ending up with is a consequence of a system that told them they could get away with is, and a nationwide redefining of moral boundaries to ‘thou shalt not get caught’ – I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone found out for doing something wrong talking about the consequences of their actions, rather than their regret at being found out. Often that leads to a criticism of those who found them because of the ‘shame’ it has brought on their family. No mention of their own culpability in such a transaction…

    Good stuff!

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