I’m thinking about what the Conservtive Lady said, in one of my earlier posts, about my resenting people who had utilized their skills to be successful. I don’t really think that’s what I resent about them, but rather HOW they used their skills.
I don’t think anyone has a problem with anyone making a legitimate profit by making or selling a good product or service. The problem comes when profit is the only ethic, and there are a lot of ways to make a profit that are at least qustionable, if not downright illegitimate.
According to at least one narrative, Mitt Romney made a whole lot of money with Bain Capital by buying other companies, loading them with debt, selling them if they survived, for more than he’d paid from them, but making a lot of money whether they survived or not, and allowing the workers at these various companies to become unemployed if the company failed. He utilized his skills, but was the result positive or negative for the country and economy as a whole?
Utilizing skills isn’t unconditionally good: it depends what kind of skills they are and just HOW they’re utilized. If profit is the only ethic, then we might as well all aspire to be drug dealers. Few products are as profitable as those. I don’t think the Conservative Lady would endorse the point of view that any kind of profit is good, but that seems to be what her party believes. I may not know enough to comment knowledgably, but I think the way Romney made his money was at least ethically questionable.
And then there’s the question of what successful people do with their success. A lot of them seem to use their money to influence legislation that will make them even more successful. A friend recently sent me an article which quoted James Madison as saying that if too much wealth became concentrated in too few hands, it would be fatal for democracy. That does seem to be what’s happening now, with those who can really influence how the government works having little concern for anyone but themselves.
Some suggest that while cutting government spending isn’t in itself a bad idea, the areas where conservatives want to cut are a reflection of their lack of concern for others: healthcare, police, firemen and public school teachers. A poster I saw tonight speaks to healthcare: “If you’re Pro-Life, why are you against Universal Healthcare?” An honest answer to the question would be interesting.
Another suggestion is that conservatives don’t want spending on public education partly because they don’t like unions, but also because they don’t WANT the public in general to be educated.
Why wouldn’t they want the public to be educated? Would that damage them in some way? If a true democracy would damage them, then their motives become more understandable. A true democracy would mean less influence for the wealthy, and more for everyone else. It should be clear by now that what benefits the wealthy doesn’t necessarily benefit anyone else. An uneducated public is more susceptible to propaganda than one that’s educated, and more likely to vote in ways conservatives don’t like. Which is why they’re also engaged in legislation to keep various populations from voting in various states. If they thought most people agreed with them, why would they feel the need to do that?
Unfortunately, the Democratic Party also receives contributions from the wealthy, so is so far unwilling to show the picture of what’s going on clearly. Corruption is possible in any human institution. Marx’s idea of Communism began as a concern for the well-being of those who weren’t wealthy, something that doesn’t seem bad in itself, but the 20th century showed how those ideas could be perverted.
Democracy began, in this country, as something of a mystical ideal, somewhat similar to the ideal of Communism. I think it would be fair to say that Democracy has never been fully achieved, though it’s come reasonably close at times, and is fully as susceptible to corruption as any other institution, in spite of the Founders’ concern to balance the three branches of government against each other to prevent any one of them from becoming too powerful. Democracy can’t be successful unless citizens in general, and elected representatives in particular, are willing to stand up to say and do what is unpopular, but what is in the best interest of their country, or even their whole world. Without that sort of courage we return to the world where the hand of all is against all, and life becomes, for the majority, nasty, brutish and short.
J/G. Bennett, a student of George Gurdjieff, whom I’ve mentioned in previous posts, wrote about a group in Central Asia about a thousand years ago, known as the Khwajagan, which he translates as, Masters of Wisdom. These were spiritual teachers who supported themselves and their families by work of some kind, frequently as artisans, and became widely respected because they were absolutely unbiased and incorruptible. Kings would often ask their advice, and try to give them gifts. They would reply that receiving gifts would harm their souls, and refuse them.
Their influence was tested when the Mongols conquered most of the Middle East, among other places, in the 13th century. Some of the Masters and their students went to work to find food, shelter, and medical treatment for people who needed it. Others became advisers to the new conquerors, and their area of Asia (the area generally known as Turkestan, north of Iran) was back on its feet sooner than most other areas the Mongols conquered. These Masters were connected with Islam, with a number of them serving as inspiration for Sufi orders that were organized later, so it hardly seems conicidental that within a generation or two most of the Mongols had converted to Islam.
We seem to lack, today, such incorruptible people. Without them, our future could be bleak.


One thought on “Corruption

  1. charles ejimofor

    corruption can not be totally erradicated from the system of government without a possitive drastic change that is motivated and inspired by a descipline leader.
    the keyword here is (DISCIPLINE), which is defined by robert huberd ‘as the ability to do what you should do regardless of how you feel’.untill we have leaders that are ready to die for what is right, leaders that are ready to stand for the truth no matter the cost & finally leaders that have the interest of the people. then corruption

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