It seems to me, when the people of a nation become so corrupt their word is no more valuable than a turd, business cannot be done. When business cannot be done the economy collapses like a popped balloon. Any economy requires, as a prerequisite, that people be trustworthy, even a socialist economy. In a socialist country, or a country turning to socialism, the morality of the people is eroded until they become utter reprobates like their leaders, and is why socialism fails every time it is tried. Which brings us to the thrust of this article, that one of the major problems in the US economy, (and economies around the world), is that people have become so immoral, such reprobates, lazy and liars that even if the government got out of the way, the economy wouldn’t start growing again until the people got back a tiny bit of their morality and human heartedness.
The proliferation of lawyers in a nation is not a sign an economy is mature but that the people cannot be trusted. Attorneys themselves are largely to blame since the incentive for them is to break contracts, stab others in the back, create the conditions where no one can be taken at their word, and the moral get molested by the immoral, calling it serving their client’s needs. The collapse of integrity is a windfall for lawyers and so they push it. Today you can’t buy a cup of coffee unless there is legal paperwork in triplicate and signed by a third party… explaining the dangers of hot coffee, the terms and conditions of the sale, refund policy, ingredients, limited liability, potential health concerns from drinking coffee to access, and the specifications of the cup.
As people get screwed over by unscrupulous connivers they will increasingly turn to government to protect them. The government is always too happy to become more powerful, and never gives up a whit of power, so a corrupt people wratchet their government to despotism. More regulation makes it harder for a person to make money legally, and so more will turn to stealing, cheating and conniving to get ahead. Why work when that option is all but closed… and business is done by larceny anyway? In such a country the government will take advantage of the people, the strong will abuse the weak and the family will turn against itself.
Of course corruption starts at the top and flows down the social ladder like sewage. The leaders are never held to the same standards as everyone else, that has always been the case everywhere and at all times, which shows there has never been a standard but only arbitrary rule. Human history is nothing but a list of corrupt kings, emperors and Presidents. The more corrupt and evil the larger their name is in history texts. I have maintained for years that it is impossible to live in a cesspool without smelling like it. The very few people who have held positions of power, who were not so utterly corrupt they stank like a cesspit, have pushed against this paradigm of arbitrary rule. Most of them were murdered as reward for their singular service to humanity.
In the few times and places where the people have not been fully corrupted by their elites, those nations in those times have seen unbounded prosperity, social harmony and civil justice. When a man or woman holds themselves to their handshake, profit is based on value, not getting a line in a contract past an unsuspecting chump. When value is the basis of profit everyone profits. Those who provide the most value, profit the most, simply by being honest because honesty is value. The butcher gets money to provide for his family, the buyer gets meat for her table…
The market system’s superiority is based on the fact that value is traded not goods and services. Goods and services are the currency but value is what is actually traded. When people get value for their money both parties win. When both parties to a transaction win the economy of that nation is improved a little bit. Magnify both parties winning, over the tens of thousands of transactions a day in a populous country, and the economy is improved drastically every hour of every day.
Honest people can negotiate hard terms, but when the negotiations are done, they both stick to the terms they negotiated, the conniver, despot and confidence man trades in lies however. Those who trade in lies, not value, create the conditions where people will turn to government and lawyers to protect them from their own butcher, car salesman, Realtor and haberdasher. The more a people must turn to those in power to protect themselves, the more corrupt society will become, which in turn creates more corruption creating a feedback loop that can only end in despotism, poverty and endemic violence.
Look around the world, those places that are hell holes are all characterized by corrupt governments, corrupt people and corrupt courts. See for yourself, where the government is despotic, where the people are connivers, where the courts only enforce arbitrary power, aren’t they always unsafe, poor, and prone to social upheavals? Then ask yourself, what nation on this planet would you want to raise your children, one where the people are corrupt, the government is tyrannical and the courts serve the powerful… or one where the people can be trusted, the government is limited and the courts serve justice? You can make a small difference, be honest, trade in value and hold yourself to the same, or better yet, a higher standard than you do others. Lead by example.