Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Immoral Nation

There has been a lot of back and forth at the places I post (Classical Values and Power and Control) about America becoming an immoral nation. So I have to asks a question of my readers and especially those commenting on my various posts. What can make America the moral nation that so many seem to crave?

Can government make people moral?

If so why did we give up on all the goodness that alcohol prohibition was responsible for?

OK. Scratch that. It seems that when government gets involved in the morality business it only makes things worse.

America is a mainly Christian church going nation - so can churches make people moral?

If so why are so many people who have had church weddings divorced? Why are there so many children of divorce from parents married in church?


OK. Government can't make people moral and churches are failing at the job as well.

Any one care to suggest fall back position?

Cross Posted at Classical Values


Pal2Pal said...

When you find that party, will you please let me know, so I can sign up too.

Tom Cuddihy said...

Fair question, simon.

No, government cannot make people moral. But government can most assuredly encourage either moral or immoral behavior.

Take welfare, for example. As implemented throughout the 70s and 80s, welfare actively (and some say deliberately) encouraged fatherlessness, idleness and substance abuse by *punishing* marriage and work with a removal of benefits.

Government, like it or not, is almost always involved in the morality business, because regulations, levies and laws always either encourage or discourage behavior of one kind or another.

The conservative principle of responsible governance is similar to the Hippocratic oath -- the first principle of responsible government is to first do no harm.

I should point out that the presumption that drug and alcohol prohibition is a core or even traditional conservative position is entirely mistaken. Social conservatives tend to be anti-prohibition of all kinds. That's why we still smoke in public, think the drinking age of 21 is a disaster that causes binge drinking, and oppose liberal measures such as the "fat content" and "transfat" innovations that blue municipalities like Chicago and New York have proposed.

It's not hard to figure out. The advancing prohibition urge arises most strongly in the bluest areas. Raising it as a point against social conservatives is entirely false--the entire presumption is a straw man that does nothing for your argument against social conservatism.

M. Simon said...


Yes. Both parties do it.

However, considering our impending war with Mexico as that government is taken over by the narcos I'd like to see the Republican Party take the lead against drug prohibition.

After all drug prohibition is a radical experiment that has failed. The conservative position ought to be to return to the situation before the radical experiment started.

Tom Cuddihy said...

Good. I agree. Republicans taking the lead on ending drug prohibition would be good for freedom in general.

Now can we stop equating those who want to stop active government encouragement of destructive practices -- like sodomy with gay marriage -- with those who want coercive government discouragement of destructive practices --like hard drug use.

The conservative principle demands that government stop encouraging immorality, which is decidely different from coercive discouragement of immorality.

It's the wide gulf between wanting the NEA to stop promoting sex ed for kindergartners and the strawman of wanting to empower a Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue.

M. Simon said...


Government out of marriage. Another radical innovation that has been tried long enough and proved a failure.

Let me add that the public (socialist) school system is another of those radical ideas that has failed.

And as long as we are on the gay thing: could government please do something about Gay Penguins stealing hetro penguin's children?

It is a disgrace. And it is happening in public. The government needs to do something. For the children. Human and penguin.