You Cannot Take the Morals Out of Politics

First Published: 2001-07-22

Often a parent clarifies his own ideas in conversations with his children. This was certainly the case in the E-mail of a Director of the Institute for Economic Freedom and his son who resides, works and now votes in Manhattan. The following is a Father-s reply:

“Dear Son. In your E-mail of November 9, the Sunday after the election, you said that you voted for Hilary Clinton because -She deserved it.- Regrettably you did not listen to your father’s advice. Then your E-mail rambled a bit. You said, -Politicians should never embody moral values.- I assume that you did not say this just to provoke comments on socialists, liberal elitists, -women libers- and -environmental wackos-.

“So let me reply by saying that every society from the most primitive to the most advanced has rules of behaviour for individuals and groups. And since the beginning of time the custodians of these rules have been chiefs, clergy, legislators, prosecutors and judges.

“The more honest and ethical that people are with each other… the less burdensome are the rules and the greater the personal freedom. Literally a society is most efficient where the rules produce, or deal with, the least -social friction-. Friction raises the cost of every business transaction in the country. It so happens that in the modern world the more that people act in accordance with guidelines, for instance, like the -Ten Commandments-… the lower the social friction and transaction costs… producing greater economic growth. This should warm the hearts of all clerics.

“I have two stories on morality… state and private. The first is really big, the present -blacklisting- crisis. The catalyst of this crisis is that… for better or for worse… the U.S Government pushes drug interdiction in its war on drugs. In this connection the Bahamas signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the U.S. in 1992. Under it either country can use the other-s legal system to pursue criminal suspects.

“Apparently the U.S. presented 300 requests under this contract and until very recently all produced the same results… a brief acknowledgement of receipt. Unfortunately the Bahamian drug lords and a network of lawyers, politicians, policemen, prosecutors, justices, and bureaucrats corrupt the justice system. The 300 alleged criminals include Bahamians… so… nothing was done with the requests. That is… nothing was done until the U. S. got fed up. It will retaliate against the offshore banking industry starting January 1, 2001 until the Bahamian Government changes its -safe haven for the chosen- policy.

“My second example involves stealing, or -tiefing-, that is widely accepted. This example is described on It is the classic real estate scam where the unscrupulous exploit the vulnerable. It involves an aged mother, two sisters who inherit commercial real estate, an intimidating lessee with a shady past, difficult evictions, a forced occupation of the premises and support of the perpetrator by an -old boy- network of policemen, judges and bureaucrats. Already this has gone on for two years. How long will it last? I have a lawyer friend who is a plaintiff in another case that has been -in the courts- for 45 years.

“What is being done about this sorry state of affairs? The Government is setting up an Intelligence Unit that will be the “fast track” through the jungle for selected plaintiffs like the U.S. Government. This may allow the Bahamian Government to get the money-laundering monkey off its back without taking on the truly difficult task of cleaning up the justice system. All other plaintiffs, both foreign and Bahamian, will be stuck with the present legal system… a clear double standard.

“My Son… you cannot take morals out of politics. The only question is -Does a country have a good set or a bad set? Or a shade in-between?- Love… Dad”

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