Chris Moerdyk

Money vs morality

2012-03-26 07:10

Chris Moerdyk

I read with wry amusement a week or so ago, a news report that a number of towns and counties in the United States  were having to come up with some pretty drastic measures to avoid bankruptcy and ruin in the face of crippling economic times.

These are mostly fine, upstanding communities of people who value their freedom and morals standing. Communities that not too long ago decided to tackle those iniquities of modern life that, in their opinion, were destroying the moral backbone of society.

They banned gambling; they imposed harsh liquor by-laws; they restricted outdoor and TV advertising and generally put the lid on all sorts of social activities that they felt could lead to some or other form of moral degeneration.

Sort of sounds familiar doesn't it?

Anyway, what has happened now is that these communities have got so desperate in seeking ways to alleviate their financial woes that they are starting to ease up on the liquor by-laws, allow casinos to operate and generally lifting the lid on all those activities that could have been bringing in some money.
It would be really funny if it wasn't so serious.

I am not suggesting for a minute that one should not have gambling, liquor and advertising laws, but what I think that what this little American scenario is telling us is that all too often some well-meaning people can go to extremes to protect society from itself.

It seems to have become popular these days for the citizens of a lot of countries, ours included, to expect government to protect the moral standing of the nation.

Unlike in the good old days when parents actually took responsibility for bringing up their kids and instead of demanding that government restrict alcohol, advertising and gambling to protect their kids, they actually just restricted their kids.

I suppose governments are so fixated these days on staying in power that they fall over themselves to show the citizens of their countries that they really care about them by banning and restricting all sorts of things.

The trouble is, asking governments to effectively bring up your kids is very much like hiring a horrendously expensive nanny or au-pair.

And when the time comes, like it has for those communities in the USA, when there just isn't enough money in the kitty to keep protecting society from itself, some of those restriction have to be reversed to let the money start flowing again.

Of course it's wrong. Of course it's sad. Of course it shouldn't happen. But, the thing is that when it comes to a face-off between money and morality, inevitably in the long run, money wins hands down.

That's why I get mad when I hear of do-gooders who want this, that or the next thing banned or restricted when in fact what should happen is that more sensible action should replace the extremism.

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