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Quote of the Day: Responsibility

 

“Responsibility is a unique concept… You may share it with others, but your portion is not diminished. You may delegate it, but it is still with you… If responsibility is rightfully yours, no evasion, or ignorance or passing the blame can shift the burden to someone else. Unless you can point your finger at the man who is responsible when something goes wrong, then you have never had anyone really responsible.” ― Hyman G. Rickover

Rickover was always a controversial figure. Yet this quote gets to the heart of much what is wrong in today’s society. No one is held responsible, and the higher your position the more responsibility is avoided. The only ones held responsible are low-level suckers too low on the totem pole to avoid holding the bag of responsibility. Worse still? A society where position and prestige shields one from the responsibility which goes with that position is fundamentally corrupt.

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There are 17 comments.

  1. Thatcher

    Hear! Hear! 

    Everyone is busy claiming Rights, but no one wants the burden those rights entail. 

    Going to Jordan Peterson tonight. It is sold out. Hope he talks about this. He has before.

    • #1
    • June 12, 2018 at 5:51 am
    • 10 likes
  2. Member

    Seawriter: this quote gets to the heart of much what is wrong in today’s society. No one is held responsible, and the higher your position the more responsibility is avoided. The only ones held responsible are low-level suckers too low on the totem pole to avoid holding the bag of responsibility. Worse still? A society where position and prestige shields one from the responsibility which goes with that position is fundamentally corrupt.

    Bears repeating.
    Have you ever heard a government official say, “I was responsible?” Yup.
    Have you ever heard of said official actually being held accountable?

    • #2
    • June 12, 2018 at 6:49 am
    • 6 likes
  3. Member

    Editors, please MainFeed this one stat!

    • #3
    • June 12, 2018 at 7:31 am
    • 3 likes
  4. Chief

    I served as a submarine reactor operator shortly after Rickover left the Navy, but his legacy was felt at all times. He was a bastard (the first-hand stories I heard about his antics were legion), but man did that guy leave an amazing legacy.

    • #4
    • June 12, 2018 at 2:55 pm
    • 8 likes
  5. Coolidge

    Every word of your essay rings true. And here in California, those who are responsible individuals are so often scorned. After all, the only thing that matters here is how much you profess to love “diversity” and how willing you are to be walked all over by those who are professing “more diversity” than you care to profess.

    As I type this, what comes to mind is Tucker Carlson’s recent segments on how the FAA skews the hiring of air traffic controllers so that those who’ re the least educated, least literate and least able to offer the skill set needed are now hired, especially if they happen to be hispanics.

    • #5
    • June 12, 2018 at 4:30 pm
    • 3 likes
  6. Member

    Amen.

    • #6
    • June 12, 2018 at 5:14 pm
    • Like
  7. Thatcher

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    I served as a submarine reactor operator shortly after Rickover left the Navy, but his legacy was felt at all times. He was a bastard (the first-hand stories I heard about his antics were legion), but man did that guy leave an amazing legacy.

     I did not know you did that Jon, cool!

    • #7
    • June 12, 2018 at 7:56 pm
    • 1 like
  8. Contributor

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    I served as a submarine reactor operator shortly after Rickover left the Navy, but his legacy was felt at all times. He was a bastard (the first-hand stories I heard about his antics were legion), but man did that guy leave an amazing legacy.

    I ran into an old diesel submariner in a doctors’ waiting room a year ago. He gave me an earful about Rickover.

    • #8
    • June 12, 2018 at 9:20 pm
    • 2 likes
  9. Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):
    I served as a submarine reactor operator shortly after Rickover left the Navy, but his legacy was felt at all times. He was a bastard (the first-hand stories I heard about his antics were legion), but man did that guy leave an amazing legacy.

    My first job at Westinghouse was as a technical writer/editor for the corporation’s nuclear sub division – Plant Apparatus Division. This was during the time the Admiral was still running things. The stories you heard were legend around there as many of the engineers there formerly served on nuclear subs. The interview chair with one short leg; locking an officer candidate in a closet while he went to a meeting until the candidate could remember the books he had read in the past year…. And yes, he was a bastard. But he knew absolutely every facet of the overall program and was a hands-on director for his entire time he was with the program he had developed. He personally hired every naval officer who would serve on a sub. His fingerprints remain to this day.

    And as for him being a bastard, I know that first hand. My father worked with him at Oak Ridge (ORNL) developing designs for the first commercial reactor. When that assignment was finished, Rickover asked him to stay on with him. My father’s response was – I need to cut in here and give a brief description of my father. He was the embodiment of the Protestant Work Ethic – no job too hard, too difficult, too long… To continue, his response was “I wouldn’t work for that SOB.”

    One postscript: Our offices at PAD were furnished with surplus military desks and equipment, etc, and the floors were bare.  Very spartan, as dictated by the Admiral. GE’s counterpart division, Machine Apparatus Operations (MAO), thought differently and wasn’t having anything to do with those orders. Nice offices, carpeting, etc. The thinking was that by acceding to those orders (among other things) W would have the advantage in contracts awarded. Ironically, there were those who said GE had the edge.

    • #9
    • June 12, 2018 at 9:22 pm
    • 5 likes
  10. Member

    barbara lydick (View Comment):

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):
    I served as a submarine reactor operator shortly after Rickover left the Navy, but his legacy was felt at all times. He was a bastard (the first-hand stories I heard about his antics were legion), but man did that guy leave an amazing legacy.

    My first job at Westinghouse was as a technical writer/editor for the corporation’s nuclear sub division – Plant Apparatus Division. This was during the time the Admiral was still running things. The stories you heard were legend around there as many of the engineers there formerly served on nuclear subs. The interview chair with one short leg; locking an officer candidate in a closet while he went to a meeting until the candidate could remember the books he had read in the past year…. And yes, he was a bastard. But he knew absolutely every facet of the overall program and was a hands-on director for his entire time he was with the program he had developed. He personally hired every naval officer who would serve on a sub. His fingerprints remain to this day.

    And as for him being a bastard, I know that first hand. My father worked with him at Oak Ridge (ORNL) developing designs for the first commercial reactor. When that assignment was finished, Rickover asked him to stay on with him. My father’s response was – I need to cut in here and give a brief description of my father. He was the embodiment of the Protestant Work Ethic – no job to hard, too difficult, to long… To continue, his response was “I wouldn’t work for that SOB.”

    One postscript: Our offices at PAD were furnished with surplus military desks and equipment, etc, and the floors were bare. Very spartan, as dictated by the Admiral. GE’s counterpart division, Machine Apparatus Operations (MAO), thought differently and wasn’t having anything to do with those orders. Nice offices, carpeting, etc. The thinking was that by acceding to those orders (among other things) W would have the advantage in contracts awarded. Ironically, there were those who said GE had the edge.

     

    Wow Barbara!

    • #10
    • June 13, 2018 at 12:13 am
    • Like
  11. Member

    One thorny issue this quote misses is the convoluted relationship between fault and responsibility.

    There are numerous situations in which somebody is responsible for a problem which is not their fault. Rickover’s own institution of the Navy is a prime example: a captain has ultimate responsibility for his ship. But officers are constantly rotating in and out of tours, so an incoming captain may inherit an untrained crew left by his predecessor with little chance of improving them before being ordered to deploy. So do we hold a new captain responsible when the crew his predecessor broke drives their ship into a huge freighter that was travelling at a slow speed? There’s no perfect solution.

    This same dilemma transfers onto our politics: because the positions of power are constantly flipping between the parties, each officeholder can (often rightly) blame his predecessor for any problems. If we had a true system of responsibility, any officeholder would immediately “own” every problem within his jurisdiction. But we have become so partisan that we frequently refuse to hold our elected officials responsible if they belong to “our” side and can plausibly shift blame for any problems onto their predecessors from the other party.

    I find it interesting that Rickover was apparently removed from the Navy’s system of constantly rotating tours of duty, and instead remained in his position for decades. To me, that fact alone limits some of the applicability of his quote onto daily life.

    • #11
    • June 13, 2018 at 1:19 am
    • 3 likes
  12. Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):
    I served as a submarine reactor operator shortly after Rickover left the Navy, but his legacy was felt at all times. He was a bastard (the first-hand stories I heard about his antics were legion), but man did that guy leave an amazing legacy.

    I was very interested in Rickover as a teen having spent part of my childhood in Groton. Based on what I’ve read, we could probably run an entire month of “Quotes of the Day” using only Rickover quotes.

    • #12
    • June 13, 2018 at 1:20 am
    • 1 like
  13. Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    I served as a submarine reactor operator shortly after Rickover left the Navy, but his legacy was felt at all times. He was a bastard (the first-hand stories I heard about his antics were legion), but man did that guy leave an amazing legacy.

    My dad had mixed emotions about Rickover. After WWII he went back to college, obtained his degree, and then was contacted by the Navy and offered a Regular Commission in the Navy based upon his WWII submarine service in the Pacific. The boats were still diesel, and electric. He earned his Gold Dolphins, and was the third officer, and senior watch officer. On his last boat he was the only officer that had been in combat on a sub. As the Navy transitioned to nuclear boats he was told because he didn’t have a science degree he would have to leave the Submarine Service.

    He considered Rickover a brilliant man, but he also saw him as more enamored with the machine, rather than the crews of the boats.

     

    • #13
    • June 13, 2018 at 6:57 am
    • 6 likes
  14. Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):
    I served as a submarine reactor operator shortly after Rickover left the Navy, but his legacy was felt at all times. He was a bastard (the first-hand stories I heard about his antics were legion), but man did that guy leave an amazing legacy.

    What boat did you serve on? (Just curious if it was a W )

    • #14
    • June 13, 2018 at 8:11 am
    • Like
  15. Member

    Mendel (View Comment):
    But officers are constantly rotating in and out of tours, 

    Hence the quote, “Not on my watch” which now can be heard in every business org… 

    • #15
    • June 13, 2018 at 8:20 am
    • 2 likes
  16. Member

    Rickover. Gotta love him. Or hate him.

    Depends on the time of day, but he forged the legacy that allows the Navy to operate multiple nuclear reactors within spitting distances of places like downtown San Diego, Norfolk, and Honolulu. And no one worries one bit.

    It’s a shame the civilian nuclear power industry couldn’t live up to the same ideals. We’d be talking about global something else right now.

    Like Jon, I missed interviewing with Rickover by one year (thankfully, I doubt I would have been accepted into the program by him, but I was able to fool McKee), but had plenty of fellow officers who told incredible Rickover stories.

    I’m told this story is absolutely true. Though I can’t personally vouch for it.

     

    • #16
    • June 13, 2018 at 2:54 pm
    • 2 likes
  17. Member

    Sleepywhiner (View Comment):
    It’s a shame the civilian nuclear power industry couldn’t live up to the same ideals.

    Not sure I understand your comment. It wasn’t the industry, rather the interveners – the anti nukes group that spread disinformation about nuclear power far and wide, scaring the public.

    • #17
    • June 13, 2018 at 5:23 pm
    • Like