Morality: is it Public and Private or Joint Morality?

One pundit claims the United States is “still legislating and regulating private morality, while at the same time ignoring the much larger crisis of public morality in America.”

I agree to a point but I also believe that there is only one type of morality and that is a morality that is both private and public, thus it is a joint morality.

If people on Wall Street and within the securities and banking businesses had their own private morality it would have carried over into the public sector and there would be no need for us to legislate “Public Morality.”

Last week, JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s and one of the world’s largest banks, was found to have misled its shareholders and the public about its $6 billion “London Whale” losses in 2012.  There an officer of the bank thought “greed” was the only manner in which to get ahead in the business, even after seeing what happened in 2008.  She covered-up a $ 6 billion “mistake.”

This is the same JPMorgan that’s leading the charge against the Dodd-Frank Act, designed to protect the public from another Wall Street meltdown and taxpayer-funded bailout.

Lobbyists, or the “Amoral Army,” for the giant banks have been systematically kicking the teeth out of Dodd-Frank, leaving nothing but the gums.  Our federal legislators are still dependent on the Amoral Army, is that a surprise?

The so-called “Volcker Rule,” intended to prevent the banks from making risky bets with federally-insured commercial deposits — itself a watered-down version of the old Glass-Steagall Act — still hasn’t seen the light of day.  If the people had their way the Glass-Steagall Act would be reenacted.

Last week, Republicans and Democrats, in a surprising act of bipartisanship, on the House Agriculture Committee passed bills to weaken Dodd-Frank — expanding exemptions and allowing banks that do their derivative trading in other countries (i.e.,JPMorgan) to avoid the new rules altogether.  But why you ask, is the House Agriculture Committee dealing with derivative trading?  Ask the Amoral Army and your local farm state representative in Congress.  $$$

Meanwhile, House Republicans voted to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act in its entirety, as part of their budget plan.  Speaker Boehner (correct pronunciation in Saxon German is “bo-ner.”)

And still no major Wall Street executives have been held accountable for the wild betting that led to the near meltdown in 2008.  Attorney General Eric Holder says the big banks are too big to prosecute.  Maybe they are too big to serve.  Maybe they are too big to bank in the United States.

Our friend the pundit calls the members of Congress who speak about private morality out of one side of their mouth and then vote for against public morality the “Morality Brigade.”  Why doesn’t the Morality Brigade complain about the rampant greed on Wall Street that’s already brought the economy to its knees, wiping out the savings of millions of Americans and subjecting countless others to joblessness and insecurity — and seems set on doing it again?

What people do in their bedrooms shouldn’t be the public’s business. Women should have rights over their own bodies. Same-sex couples should be allowed to marry and adopt children who need two parents.  People should have the right to say what they believe-in.  The Amoral Army and Congress should look at Newtown and say enough is enough.

Is what powerful people do in their boardrooms is the public’s business?  Our democracy needs to be protected from the depredations of big money to keep the Amoral Army from running Congress. Our economy needs to be guarded against the excesses of too-big-to-fail banks.

In recent weeks right-to-life state legislators, most of whom are male, have decided to thwart the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which gave women the right control their own bodies and to keep old men from legislating what woman can do and not do with their bodies.

Now woman can have an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks into pregnancy, and later if medically necessary.  The common law recognized that a fetus was not a person and a person was only a living person, a baby who had been delivered.  That was until some old men in our various legislators made fetuses living people in the Nineteenth Century.

Last week legislators in North Dakota passed a bill banning abortions after six weeks or after a fetal heart beat had been detected, and approved a fall referendum that would ban all abortions by defining human life as beginning with conception.

Wait a minute. WHO is running North Dakota? the people, the legislators or has the state succeeded and joined the Holy See?

Lawmakers in Arkansas have banned abortions within twelve weeks of conception–that never happened when Bill Clinton was governor!

The Morality Brigade worries about fetuses, but not what happens to children after they’re born.

They and other conservatives have been cutting funding for child nutrition, healthcare for infants and their mothers, and schools. See how WIC was one of the first victims of the sequestration?

The new House Republican budget gets a big chunk of its savings from programs designed to help poor kids. The budget sequester already in effect takes aim at programs like Head Start, designed to improve the life chances of poor kids.  The Amoral Army and its Morality Brigade are on the warpath.

Meanwhile, the Morality Brigade continues to battle same-sex marriage.  Why? Are they afraid they may have to fess-up and marry their boyfriends? Are they afraid homosexuality is contagious?

Despite the Supreme Court’s willingness to consider the constitutionality of California’s ban on same-sex marriage, no one should assume a majority of the justices will strike it down. The Court could just as easily decide the issue is up to the states, or strike down California’s law while allowing other states to continue their bans.  In the past the only time the federal government interfered with state control of marriage was when it kept Utah a territory until it banned polygamy.  Why did those Nieteenth Century Legislators who were well known cocks-men, ban a practice that they practiced but called it adultery?

Morality Brigade and the Amoral Army don’t want women to have control over their bodies or same-sex couples to marry, but they don’t give a hoot about billionaires taking over our democracy for personal gain or big bankers taking over our economy.

Yet these violations of public morality are far more dangerous to our society because they undermine the public trust that’s essential to both our democracy and economy.

Three years ago, at the behest of a right-wing group called “Citizens United,” the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to big money in politics by deciding corporations were “people” under the First Amendment.  Does the corporations heart ever beat?

A record $12 billion was spent on election campaigns in 2012, affecting all levels of government.  Much of it came from billionaires like the Koch brothers and casino-magnate Sheldon Adelson, hardly a member of the Morality Brigade but surely a member of the Amoral Army, by seeking fewer regulations, lower taxes, and weaker trade unions.

Morality Brigade and the Amoral Army didn’t entirely succeed but the billionaires established a beachhead for the midterm elections of 2014 and beyond.

If people had private morality there would be no need for public morality.  Yet, no one should confuse the two.  Many publicly amoral people may have a private morality that does not see stealing from the poor to give to the rich as amoral.  What the pundit is saying is that this country needs to merge its public and private morality and be as generous with our neighbors as we would have them be to us.


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