Penn State Is the Latest Institution Shaming America

Americans can no longer trust their institutions to do what's right.

By + More

Penn State lost a football game last Saturday but America lost a lot more. Americans have lost confidence in the institutions they once trusted. If they don't clean up their athletic departments, colleges and universities will join the long list of institutions which have betrayed the trust of Americans.

Large institutions set the social and economic order that makes the United States grow and prosper. But these institutions have fallen down on the job. Professional sports, the Roman Catholic Church, and Congress, to name a few, have all spit the bit and let all of us down.

[Susan Milligan: Penn State as Guilty as Catholic Church on Covering up Sex Abuse]

Sex, money, or both have driven the scandals that have undermined American institutions. At Penn State, a witness told Joe Paterno he had seen Jerry Sandusky rape a 10-year-old boy. JoPa have may fulfilled his legal obligation by reporting the abuse to university officials but he fell far short of his moral obligation when he did not act to stop the abuse by reporting the incident to police or prosecutors.

The scandal at Penn State reminds me of the pedophilia scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. Disgusting behavior by individual priests and disgraceful cover-ups by bishops, cardinals and popes. I am a Catholic but I am ashamed of the crimes committed by my Church.

I love pro sports, especially baseball, but I and a lot of other fans have lost confidence in the integrity of the sport. In pursuit of big profits and mega salaries, Major League Baseball players and owners used or tolerated steroids. Who is the all time home run champion anyway? Hank Aaron? Barry Bonds? I vote for Aaron. Bonds had many more round trippers but he cheated by using steroids. Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and the rest should never be enshrined in the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

[See a slide show about sports and politics]

Sex and money have clearly shaken public confidence in Congress. Last week the Gallup Organization released a poll that indicated that trust in Congress is at an all time low at 9 percent. Polls indicate that most Americans believe that their representatives in D.C. will sell their vote for campaign contributions. Former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Twitter) and several of his former congressional colleagues have added sex to the fatal equation.

The collision of public distrust of Washington with the advance of social media will force fundamental changes in the process of decision making in this country. Since Congress can't make decisions on the important issues facing contemporary America, people like the activists in the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements have used the social media to take things into their own hands.

  • See 8 Politicos Who Survived Scandals
  • Read Jamie Stein on Herman Cain and Joe Paterno
  • See a slide show of the top 10 most hated news commentators.