I believe the Argentina government is a distant cousin to the Board of Directors at Bath Community Hospital in Hot Springs, Virginia in the USA.

Today the power went off in Argentina. It’s peculiar how sometimes, totally unrelated, events tie together in the cobwebs of my brain.

Let me explain.

In 2001, the Argentine government and economy imploded. Inflation was running at an all-time high, the bond holders couldn’t be paid off and the government panicked. They closed down the banks, froze both personal and business accounts and basically looked like a third world banana republic trying to regroup after another fiasco in a long line of fiascos.

In the space of just a few days, Argentina had five presidents. Men lined up at the door of Casa Rosada, the Argentine version of the White House, like kiddies waiting their turn on the Tilt-a-Whirl at the county fair.  The presidential wannabes passed the sign that says, “You have to be THIS stupid to get on this ride.” Five of them passed the “Yeah, I’m stupid enough” test and went inside, only to be ousted a short time later by the next guy in line that had better ideas, more money and more friends.

Caught up in the earthquake of idiocy was the electrical grid. The electric company, nationalized under the brutal regime of a military dictatorship, stayed stuck in the 70s.

With thieves in the halls of power and inefficiency running the show, there wasn’t any money left to spend on the upgrade and maintenance of the electrical infrastructure.

Components that should have been replaced almost 40 years ago are still in place and they fail like clockwork just about every single day.

Sometimes for minutes, sometimes for hours.

The government puts another squirrel in the cage who races to keep the electricity on in various parts of the country as the politicians pontificate and slobber all over themselves demanding that they know what they are doing and what they are doing is for the betterment of the country because they “care about the citizens.”

When people want answers, they’re met with silence. The people are told that everything is ok, don’t worry and by the way, “Don’t pay any attention to the man behind the curtain.”

Continually operating in secrecy, the government insists on standing on “national security” as a reason they can’t say what’s going on in the land of Tango. Yeah. Right.  When was the last time you heard of any country being a threat to Argentina. Sure, there was the Falklands war, known as the Malvinas here, but that was Argentina’s fault when a drunken general made a bet with his driver that he could reclaim the islands from the British.

I’m serious. That’s the way the war started. A drunken bet.

So how does all this tie into the way the Board of Directors at Bath Community Hospital are acting?

You’ve got almost a dozen people setting around saying “they “care for the citizens.”  OK, then, answer some questions for us.  “Sorry,” they say. “We can’t answer any questions based on the advice of our attorneys. But rest assured, ‘we care about our community,’ and by the way, pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

The infrastructure which is the Board of Directors is old and out of date like the electrical grid in Argentina. The board’s infrastructure was built in a time that people actually cared about their neighbors and were sincere in wanting to do what was best for the community. The framework that established the Board of Directors was cast in a simpler time when men were motivated by the content of their character and not the content of their wallet.

Everyone trusted the board members to do the right thing, so there was no system of accountability put in place to make sure the right thing was done.  Need proof? When was the last time the board released a copy of its minutes? Yet it continues to insist that it “cares for the community.”

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, Baron Acton, (1834–1902). Without any system of checks and balances and no one to answer to, the Board of Directors has devolved into an absolute power…much like the present power structure in the halls of the Argentine government.

Both the board of Bath Community Hospital, with their little sidekick, Jason, and the Argentine government have operated with subterfuge, misdirection and half-truths.

The only difference? The current Board of Directors isn’t even as good as a third rate banana republic like the government of Argentina.

But both of them have to go.

Jerry Nelson is an internationally known photojournalist who covers social justice issues globally. A native of Hot Springs, Virginia, Nelson is busy on assignment in South America, but is always interested in discussing future work opportunities. Contact him today.