Honesty and the Simple Moral Code

      “Blatantly irrational behavior is rapidly being established as the norm in almost every area of human endeavor. There seem to be new customs, new rules, new anti-intellectual theories regularly foisted on us from every direction. Underneath, the nation is roiling. Americans know something, without a name is undermining the nation, turning the mind mushy when it comes to separating truth from falsehood and right from wrong. And they don’t like it.”- Martin Gross, The End of Sanity

      The key to returning sanity is a simplified moral code, one that draws a bright and clear line between honesty and dishonesty, and does not tolerate the latter, great or small, excuses or not. This cannot work as the result of legislation; it must be embedded in the values and culture of a society.

      The most important thing to understand about the law is that the law it is not the most important thing; the moral code that people internalize is what really matters. The most heinous of crimes, such as the gang rape of Muktai Mai, was done in the context of community permission. Laws against intellectual property theft haven’t protected the music industry when people don’t really believe that copying songs is wrong. Slavery in the US prior to the civil war was perfectly legal in the US, and runaway slaves could legally be beaten. Mass appropriations of property, even murder, have taken place around the world within the context of the law.

      The law and its machinery should reflect, not conflict with, the sound moral convictions of a people. The law should not just be a massive, complicated machine that people use to enrich themselves at the expense of productive members of society.

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