The business world is hurting and the country's economy is very ill. I think the patient needs a doctor, a New Age Specialist who can treat the cause not the symptoms. Some of the symptoms are lack of credit, loss of jobs, loss of homes, the list is endless. Economists are saying the cause is lack of trust. Banks don't even want to lend to banks anymore. If you cannot trust a bank, who can you trust?
In the field of medicine when new doctors enter their professions they take an oath, the Hippocratic Oath, an oath that has been taken for over 2000 years. They promise to "...hold yourselves far aloof from wrong, from corruption, from the tempting of others to vice." They have taken an oath of honor. A doctor who does not meet these standards can surely be called a hypocrite and should not be trusted.
There appears to be a lack of Hippocratic honor and too much hypocrisy. Honor has long been the hallmark for the 'good' person. There was a time in which a simple gentleman's agreement would suffice to conduct a business transaction. A gentleman's agreement relies upon the honor of the parties for its fulfillment, but it is not technically enforceable. In recent years the concept of honor in too many business dealings has gone by the wayside. It might be an ideal, but it is not a reality. Yet men, women and even children continue to take oaths of honor, such as in the military, in public service and in Boy Scouts.
We know these days that to 'get it in writing' seals the deal and makes our agreements into legally binding contracts. Our society has developed a system of laws and justice to insure that citizens can do business in a civilized way. We have laws to insure that going beyond a handshake and a gentleman's agreement will protect our rights and property from unscrupulous dealings and from dishonorable people. One of my favorite sayings says it clearly. "Justice is man's law and law is man's justice." In other words, in order to have justice, we must have laws, whether we like it or not.
Something has gone awry. The patient is ill and getting sicker. Citizens are no longer protected by law from unscrupulous business practices. People are losing their pensions and life savings. There are predators everywhere trying to take advantage. We no longer know who we can trust. What happened?
Who can you trust when the laws designed to protect you no longer work or have taken away? How can you invest in a business that treats your investment like a private bank account where CEOs can buy jets and throw million dollar parties with your money? How can you put your money into a stock market that is no more than a casino for speculators and gamblers? How can you find a home to rent without finding yourself having to move out because your landlord did not pay the mortgage? How can you buy insurance only to be refused coverage when you are ill or have an accident? How can you purchase a product and know that it is safe? Who can you trust?
On the one hand you have some economists who believe that the free market must be unimpeded by rules and regulations, and the belief that people should not depend upon the government for anything. They call themselves conservatives. At one time a true conservative could be thought of as a person of principle and honor, one who is conservative in habits and business. And yet these very conservatives have been talked into dismantling our rule of law and our system of justice. In their attempts to further their ideology of laissez-faire, they have undermined our entire system. How can this be? Can't you even trust a good conservative anymore?
Maybe today's conservatives are not who they really say they are. Or maybe they too have been hoodwinked by the spin-masters. Have their ranks been infiltrated by a political Mafia who only swear allegiance to the money god? I have heard that there is no honor among thieves.
Civilization has advanced over thousands of years because men and women of honor have passed laws and ruled so that what we all have in common, the commons, can be protected and preserved. Our common heritage that supports life and preserves civilization is undergirded by this development of the rule of law.
Yet in the course of the past 30 years, a relatively small group of people have sought to undermine our laws and destroy our commons. Hammurabi, the great Babylonia ruler who gave civilization a code of law, should be turning over in his grave. His laws gave peace in the Middle East for over 1500 years. FDR and Martin Luther King would be literally crying for their children. And Moses would be outraged!
Those economists that believe in "the invisible hand" of Adam Smith have consistently sought to subvert the rule of law. Theirs is a dogma that believes that the market has an almost god-like ability to do the right thing and that rules and regulations only hamper this 'invisible hand.' They were wrong before and we had the great depression. Should we trust them? I don't think so.
So who can we trust? As it turns out, there were a great many rules and regulations set up after the great depression to address these economic problems. Once again, as America and the world is reeling under the current fiscal meltdown, we turn to our thinkers, our law makers and our commons to find answers that will lift all the boats. Depending upon trickle down economics does not work. We know what got us into the great depression of 1929 and we know what worked to get us out of the great depression. We can trust the proper laws and regulations.
Americas now has new leaders, Barack Obama and his administration full of experts. These are excellent leaders, intellectuals, honorable men and women who respect the rule of law and the commons. As the rule of law takes precedence once again, honor and justice will return.
We can trust justice. The symbol for justice, Lady Liberty stands at the doorway to America in New York holding her flame high with one arm and the book of justice in her other arm for all who have eyes to see. Yes, "Justice is man's law and law is man's justice!" I don't know who said that, but thanks to the author, it sure opened my eyes.