We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Monday, January 16. 2012
I have no way of discerning whether there is anything new here. What I do know is that it is generally a good rule of thumb to let people prove their integrity, rather than assuming that they have any. I have been burned by people enough times to cure me of my optimistic naivete.
Dishonesty and concealment, despite whatever mass culture may do, continues to appall me whether in myself or in others.
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This is what will turn us into a 3rd world country where corruption, nepotism and cronyism run amok.
"This is what will turn us into a 3rd world country where corruption, nepotism and cronyism run amok."
"This is what HAS TURNED us into a 3rd world country where corruption, nepotism and cronyism run amok."
In truth, it is the parents' responsibility to instill honesty deep into the hearts and minds of their children. I know that the Busybody Brigade of our government wants to take over this "responsibility" from the parents of our families so they can declare that all families are the same and all children have the same needs. But that's pernicious rubbish. If we love our children, and the vast majority of parents do, we want to carry out this precious responsibility in our own way, the way unique to our families and our standards. It would be far more responsible of our government to step back from this wrestling match and let the parents do what is natural to them in building into the growing child the sense of family and stability that will stand him in good stead when the seas get rough and the storms build up.
"In truth, it is the parents' responsibility to instill honesty deep into the hearts and minds of their children...."
I agree - but... We DO live in a world where those values are a handicap...
Wifey and I have, at various times, asked ourselves the rhetorical question "given the sick world in which they're going to have to function and compete, would we be doing our children a better service by teaching them to lie WELL and to discern when a lie would serve them better than the truth?
Our conclusion was simple: IF you believe that there's no life after this one, then yes - being good at lying is a distinct advantage.
Since we're people of Faith, and believe that you'll pay in th next life for your evils in this one, then it was obvious that - as you said - it was our duty to instill in them a deep respect for the truth, and an abhorrence of dishonest behavior in themselves and others.
"A liar is about the worst thing you can be - because once you're branded a liar then it can be assumed you're doing almost anything you deny doing!"
--i was trying to remember a passage from Thomas Sowell's new book (alas i as usual only read some reviews for the thrust of the thing), and then found some of it in a Nyquist column from May of 2010: The Saviors of Mankind at
Leading bankers say that reforms are needed. But the head of the American Bankers association says that the present bill "has gone terribly wrong." Please note: If you knock down an industry, you are also knocking down its customers. "Our goal is not to punish the banks but to protect the larger economy and the American people," says President Barack Obama. How can he say this, when the bankers -- who should know their business better than anyone -- warn of disaster?
The anointed know better, of course. The banks aren't allowed to learn from the experiences of the past. They are not permitted to evolve and adapt independently. They must now be subjected to a new government bureaucracy, according to the metaphysic of the anointed. In this arrangement, the logic of the anointed is simple: Those with a vested interest cannot be trusted with economic decisions. The free market and those who "dominate" the market must be subordinated to those who will decide economic questions in favor of "the larger economy." Here is the Soviet ideal, in a nutshell. Economic actors motivated by profit cannot be trusted. Only government agents and commissars can be trusted. If you own a business, you are automatically a shady character who places your own economic interests ahead of others -- and this cannot be tolerated. The prospect of profit is corrupting, and the free market needs a pair of cuffs.
The anointed commissar holds a whip over the bankers and capitalists. If they seek profit, they will hear the crack of the whip. And who is this genius, this saint, this overseer, who holds the whip? Quite naturally, the markets have taken fright. The anointed have placed their fingers around the neck of the goose that laid the golden egg, and they are preparing to squeeze. Stock prices are falling around the world. The anointed say that the goose's neck must be wrung.
But aren't the anointed worried about the consequences? According to Sowell, the anointed feel no accountability because they are not creatures of the market. They are creatures who were nurtured in academia, insulated from truth and consequences (like Karl Marx, for example, who never worked a day in his life). If the anointed have faulty economic thinking, their business doesn't collapse. They don't live by producing anything tangible, after all. Their business has been to colonize the political class. As Sowell points out, "the steady encroachment of policies, practices, and laws based on the notions and ideologies prevalent among the intelligentsia has steadily narrowed the scope of the freedoms traditionally enjoyed by ordinary people to run their own lives, must less to shape government policy."
IOW, we are come to live in the house of lies, built for us over time by people doing it because we did not stop them. A nation's sunny smile disappeared because a smirk replaced it. The smirk is what two liars show when they are agreeing to lie to each other.
Who needs religion. People will absorb morality from their neighbors. There's no need...
Hey, you kids! Come back with my car!
When my kids were in elementary school in the 1980s the schools in Virginia used "values clarification" to discuss honesty and dishonesty. Situations were posited where the child was encouraged only to think about the objective consequences of his actions. What will happen to you if you steal something? What can happen if you lie? Correct answers were limited to externalities - your parents will find out, you could be punished, etc.
The clear message was that only if you were caught were there measurable consequences, hence, if you weren't caught, no consequences, home free! The notion that behavior can be right or wrong regardless of the consequences never entered the discussion.
And, of course, at the time, telling a child he did something "wrong" was considered too damaging to his self esteem. Only positive reinforcement was proper. Well - we know where that leads.
You've well-described the premise of Marxism --in the material dialectic everything is political and all politics is external.
They seek to erode character. Your character is how you act when you are alone and nobody will find out.
If you steal, you are a theif
If you make a judgement on getting caught before you steal, you are a calculating theif
If you only steal when you have overwhelming force, you are a thug.
If you don't steal, when you are alone and no one will ever know it was you, you are honest.
If you keep your word/contracts, even when there is no legal way they could be enforced and no one would blame you for defaulting, you are honest. Now if you truly try but cannot meet your obligation, that does no make you dishonest, just down on your luck.
Oh, to give this topic the consideration it deserves! Alas, this format and the constraints of my intentions for this day are obstacles to that end.
Are there any among us who have lived free from the caustic effects of lying? My heart has been broken by loves unkind, being easy with the truth. I suspect each of us has a tale to tell, but lying is more than one thing, isn't it?
Perhaps the issue requires classifications to be created, accommodating the circumstances and motives for distorting truth in a new nomenclature. Though if such categories were commonly regarded, might people use them casually as rationalizations, thus perpetuating the offending practice within the new framing. Character is not shaped by language alone, is it?
Perhaps it's most functional socially to demonize the act of lying, applying consequences when it's within our power, and leaving the the issues of subtlety and nuance to our judgment, case by case.
(I was impressed, DJB, when in another post you characterized lying as a stealing of reality from the offended; it's an illustration easily elaborated upon for didactic ends).
Honesty, applied with wisdom, can never be deemed obsolete. Only in a civilization in an advanced state of moral decay could it be considered as such.
I saw a poll some years ago saying more parents would be upset if they found their child had smoked than if their child had cheated in school.
Bodily vices trump vices of character these days, I guess. No surprise there.
Honesty is dying. The dishonesty of the police and prosecutors has been enshrined by none other than the Supreme Court. Actually, what they said is that the police and prosecutors may lie to suspects with impunity. But as they are not required to inform you when you fall into this nebulous "suspect" category, one must always consider that the police or prosecutor are lying. This, of course, doesn't imply the individuals are untrustworthy personally, but it is a corrosive upon their character.
Exactly how can we have honesty when dishonesty is officially condoned and promoted? And yes, I understand the need to deceive criminals in order to enforce the law, the problem is, we are all criminals now, 3 or so felonies a day.