Coupled with the latest New York government scandal, the promised panacea of “ethics reform” is the catch phrase most favored to demonstrate the righteous indignation that follows its discovery. However, words still do mean things, so how do we reform something that never really existed in the first place? Given the reality of over 40 elected officials either indicted, charged, in jail or thrown out of office in the past 10 years for corruption, and now the latest arrests involving the Governor’s inner circle, it requires a delusional state of mind to pretend that any semblance of ethics exists in Albany today.
Clearly, ethics and morality were of grave concern for the founders. James Madison, writing as Publius in Federalist #51 reminded us that, .”if men were angels no government would be necessary.” Madison went on the state that the biggest challenge of self-governance would surly be the task of controlling the governed while also controlling itself.
The angels of Albany flew off long-ago, replaced with the powerless pigeons, left to peck away and compete for those few morsels strewn about by the amoral power brokers who provide just enough to stave off serious scrutiny. By turning governance into contests and pitting regions of the state into competitive events against each other in order to “win” what should rightly be shared, favors are curried, pockets are lined and votes are secured to make sure it all happens predictably, over and over again and again. By rigging the system, incumbents enjoy re-election rates of more than 90%.
The problem is, you can’t legislate morality.
Former Speaker of the House, Robert Winthrop said that, ..”men must be controlled either by the Bible or the bayonet.” Considering the bayonet of Federal Prosecutor Phreet Bharara is apparently the only defense New Yorkers can count on, maybe a re-examination of the power of the Bible is not only in order but long over-due.
George Washington said, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” And finally, Benjamin Franklin leaves us with this thought. “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” And in the headlines, we see the masters emerge.
Freedom of religion has been misinterpreted to become instead freedom from religion.
Man is not capable of properly defining morality and ethics. These are gifts from God, defined by God and found in the holy scriptures of God’s inspired word to man. What we define for ourselves can only have singular authority. We need the absolutes of God’s instructions to bolster our confidence and create the shared sense of righteousness that we can then depend upon in knowing the certainty of outcomes and the predictability of our performances. Only a commonly held believe in the words of the Almighty can create that sense of finality and righteousness.