Moral Kids in an Immoral World

You’re too honest, Dad.

I was really stung by the words from my middle-schooler, who’s someways down the road to being a full-blown cynic.  They came in response to a conversation about the ways that the new Geithner Private-Public Investment Program could be abused – and for the record, our personal conversations can appear to the average reader as seriously bent.  He and his older sibling are aware that I’m worried about the economy and the country and I’ve shared a fair amount with them both.  I laid out the general idea of the plan and then stated that theoretically, I could wind up legally owning our own home for about $15,000.  Our credit would be ruined, but the mortgage money could eliminate the need for credit.

Great, so why not?  Lots of others are doing it, why shouldn’t we?

He has a point.  Do I honestly believe that the bastards at Citi, BlackRock and the rest are stepping back for fear that what they’re doing is wrong?  That they’re not actively figuring out new and innovative ways to enrich themselves at the public trough?  I’d be a fool since it’s become abundantly clear that the controls stopping such action – both internal and external – are slipping away into a kleptocratic  nightmare.  How do I respond to this, Messrs. Geithner, Bernanke and Frank?

Because we simply can’t.  That’s all that I could muster in the moment and it’s only been in the last while since I started this that I can give better words to it. 

Because we simply can’t.  When we allow ourselves to start down that road, then we eventually come to a point and which we willingly betray our own neighbors, friends and family.  And then we can no longer continue without wondering whether they are playing us for fools as well.  It’s called being a moral person and it has to be a conscious choice.  In other times and places, it’s pretty easy to make the moral choice but in today’s society, it will require effort.  If everyone fails the effort test, then it really will be a bleak and dangerous world.

Thank you for letting me puzzle this out in print.  Tonight will be a revisited conversation about the original "honesty" comment.

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