"We do it because everybody else in the industry does it." It's an all-too-common refrain these days. Wall Street power brokers used the phrase to justify their mad rush to sell toxic mortgages: "We wanted to say no, but Goldman Sachs was doing it. And Lehman. And Merrill Lynch." And now the CEOs of insurance companies have joined the chorus to justify the heartless decisions they make to deny people in dire straits health-care coverage. In this instance, the words came from Dr. Doug Speedie, medical director at Rocky Mountain Health Plans. He wasn't talking about a woman with breast cancer or a man with emphysema; he was referring to a 4-month-old baby. At 17 pounds, young Alex Lange ranks in the 99th percentile in weight for boys his age, and Dr. Speedie's peers say anything above 95 is grounds for disqualification. Don't blame us, said Dr. Speedie, throwing up his hands. We're just doing what everyone else does. That is, until the public outcry forced Rocky Mountain to concede the childish nature of its logic.
For absurd excuses from years past, check out the time line below:
-1977: A demonic dog made me do it
-1979: Twinkies made me do it
-1990: Judas Priest made me do it
-1994: Natural Born Killers made me do it
-2001: Jackass made me do it
-2007: Grand Theft Auto made me do it