Monday, February 13, 2012

To Tame the Savageness of Man

If unrestrained by established codes, man will try to accumulate unto himself all the comfort, satisfaction and wealth that he can through whatever means necessary That is an awful attitude to hold about humanity, but it is a defensible thesis.
by Charlie Leck

No pabulum in this blog! I write about regulation and why we do it – why we write laws for individuals and corporations and why they must be strictly enforced.

Left unattended, without regulation, audit and supervision, mankind, I think, would be a savage beast.

Why do I think that?
It comes, I guess, from years of observation. Mankind has a huge, nearly insatiable appetite. He will do what he may to satisfy his craving. Take it as an old man’s observation!

There are certainly enough human examples in this country and around the world and they needn’t be so celebrated as Genghis Khan. Bernie Madoff will do quite well, thank you very much. And here, locally, so will Tom Petters and Denny Hecker. (You national readers can insert names from your own regions.)

This is why societies try (and have always tried) to order themselves and establish standards of behavior through rules of law.

A long, gloomy and tiring dissertation could be at hand, I suppose, but I will not go there. To be brief, I will say it succinctly: I worry about the adored themes of political dissertation in these days that call for deregulation of industry and commerce – these camouflaged calls for more freedom to operation, compete and succeed. In my lifetime I have seen too many examples of deregulation’s failure and the chaos and pain that such failure can bring. Most recently, you need only look at the mortgage lending and banking industry’s performance over the last two decades.

I do not trust the Koch Brothers! Don’t ask me why? I would struggle with an answer. It is the same inner, common sense that made me so shake my head in disbelief when I heard mortgage companies advertising that they had hoards of money to lend even to people who could make no down-payment whatsoever and even to people who had serious past histories of poor credit. You want to know just how bad the Koch brothers are, well google exactly that sometime and then sit back for hours and hours and read about these bad asses.

I don’t trust Karl Rove. I don’t trust Dick Cheney. I don’t trust Mike George (the sole funder of Strong America Now that supports Newt Gingrich). I don’t trust Newt Gingrich and his voracious appetites. I don’t trust Peter Thiel, who funds the Super Pac called Liberty, and all the personal and corporate freedom that he calls for. I also tend not to trust John Peterman of Whiteco Industries even though he made a contribution of a couple of thousand to Barack Obama’s campaign. He gave a million bucks to the American Crossroads Super Pac. In 2007, John McCain, for some reason, returned all the money that John Peterman gave to him. McCain didn’t like money from John Peterman.

I don’t mean to single these gentlemen out. They are only a few of the very successful businessmen and lobbyists who are calling for more deregulation and greater freedom for companies to operate as they please. Businesses and businessmen free from audit and oversight and regulation are like the proverbial “kid in a candy store.” Sticky fingers are a problem!

Do I sound too pessimistic and negative? I was a student of social theories (how societies organize and comport themselves). It’s too bad, but societies need laws, regulation and organization to keep their people from becoming savages. Things like that haven’t changed. It is as old as the earliest civilizations. Businesses need serious regulation also.

To close, had the banking, lending and mortgage industry been more seriously regulated we probably would have avoided the tough last few years we’ve gone through.

“The aim of mankind should be to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.” [Edith Hamilton]

The above quotation, used by Bobby Kennedy in his extemporaneous remarks on the occasion of Martin Luther King’s assassination, has often been attributed to Aeschylus, but that is likely not correct. The extraordinary expert of Greek mythology and history, Edith Hamilton, used it a number of times in her speeches and often in explaining the necessity to check the appetites of ancient societies. However, it was certainly a theme of many of the plays of the ancient Greek playwright.

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1 comment:

  1. "Mankind has a huge, nearly insatiable appetite" - how very true! The root of all evils except when applied to the arts.