National Endowmentsrnby Paul LakernFrom courtly MaecenasrnHorace receivedrnA rich Sabine farmrnPeopled by slaves.rnSilver-tongued VirgilrnPraisedrnCaesar Augustus, Rome’srnFar flung empire, and grewrnEpic in fame.rnLight-hearted OvidrnKnewrnBoredom and sorrowrnFirst hand,rnFor a fewrnIndelicate words, dyingrnUnreconciledrnTo imperial powerrnIn a rude andrnBarbarous land.rnOne hint of disgust inrnAn age’s corruptionrnBrings exile and shame.rnEven in thisrnLess than AugustanrnAge, dangers abound.rnThink what such patronagernCosts, then,rnBefore courting states.rnThink what Maecenas bestowsrnAlong with those green estates.rnDICTATIONSrn’Call Me Irresponsible’rn^ ^ r~I Ihis is really a matter of accountabilitv,rnI 1rn” snarledrnTom Daschle on Fox News Sunday, “makingrnJ – sure that we can enforce the rights we’re now goingrnto guarantee and that we hold everybody accountable.”rnIn his superbly inarticulate way, Daschle was telling therntruth for a change. First, you invent a right— in this case, thernright of HMO patients to see a specialist, regardless of cost,rnwhether tliey need it or not—and then the government proceedsrnto “enforce the rights we’re now going to guarantee.”rnThe outcome is that “we hold everj’body accountable.” Byrneverybody, Daschle means iasiirance companies and physicians,rnnot the congressmen who continue to undemnine therneconomy and destroy institutions while pocketing bribes—Irnmean, “campaign contiibutions”—from interest groups.rn”Accountability” is one of the many weasel words inrnAmerican English that immediately give notice that thernpolitician or bureaucrat or journalist is about to tell a whoj>rnper he has been paid to tell. “Responsibility” implied thatrnsomeone actually had to answer for his conduct, so a vaguerrnterm had to be imported from (what else?) accounting. Derivedrnby way of French from the Late Latin word meaningrn”a reckoning,” “account” comes from the l^tin computare—rnto count or reckon up—from the verb puto, which commonlyrnrefers to the act of considering or thinking but is apparentlyrnderived from the same root as “pure” and originallyrnused to describe such actions as cleaning and pnming.rnAn “account” is a formal calculation of monies spentrnand monies owed. To call someone to account is to tell himrnto pay what he owes, and this is also the sense of holdingrnsomeone “accountable.” Thus, “accountability” impliesrnthat tliere is a debt to be paid. But bureaucrats, whether theyrnwork for government agencies or semiprivate HMOs, are—rnlike politicians and journalists-rarely held accountable forrntheir crimes, much less for their mistakes. Wfien BillrnO’Reilly asked Trent Ix)tt if he intended to hold hearings onrnhow former Education Secretary Richard Riley misspentrnmillions of dollars raised to carry out the refomi of educationrnhe had promised. Senator Lott acted as if he did not knowrnwhat O’Reilly was talking about, declaring sententiously thatrnwe need “more accountability” in education.rnThe fuzziness comes, in part, from the misuse of “accountability”rnby cult groups like Promise Keepers, which creaternsmall groups designed to “bear one another’s burdens”rnand to “hold each otlier accou]itable.” A Christian is obligedrnto bear his brotlier’s burden, but these sects so redistribute responsibilityrnas to make it a meaningless term—a flight fromrnduty, a denial of individual human dignity, one more ant inrnthe socialist hill tliat is owned and operated for the benefit ofrnpeople like the Senate majority leaders of both parties.rn—Humpty Dumptyrn12/CHRONICLESrnrnrn