Marilyn Writes

Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 year banking career, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, and other major industry publications. The American Bankers Association (ABA) published Barnewall’s Profitable Private Banking: the Complete Blueprint, in 1987. She taught private banking at Colorado University for the ABA and trained private bankers in Singapore.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

All Tyrants Use this Excuse

     Positive purpose doesn’t exist when the end justifies the means. All tyrants use this excuse.
     No matter how hard a person tries, there is no way to find a positive purpose in an evil action taken because, in the end, it helped someone or some group. Why? Because when good compromises with evil, there is only one winner -- and it is not good.
     For example, an FDA report determined that there is an increased rate of suicide among children taking antidepressants. Guess which age group represents one of the fastest growing markets for antidepressant drugs? Preschoolers!
     “Well, these poor, depressed kids need help!” Yes, they do. But it does not come in a bottle. It comes in healthy families that exemplify hope that the trials and tribulations of childhood will pass… that a loving, organized, and supportive environment is possible.
     You do not help one person by weakening another. You do not help people by treating symptoms to the exclusion of seeking the source of the problem and solving it.
     Another good example of the end justifying the means occurred in March of 2004 at the University of California, Los Angeles. The Director of UCLA’s Willed Body Program was arrested for stealing body parts from the medical school. The offender said that school officials knew he had cut up hundreds of cadavers and sold the pieces to large research corporations. One science graduate of UCLA’s Ph.D. program says “This is done with donated cadavers and,obviously, aborted babies.”
     Will research centers make good use of the body parts? That is not the right question, is it? The question is, does UCLA have the right to take body parts from cadavers, donated to them in good faith, and financially profit from them? Are women who have abortions told their unborn babies will be cut up for the benefit of science? How much money do abortion clinics earn from the sale of aborted fetuses? I can think of a dozen questions more meaningful than whether or not research centers will make good use of donated body parts.
     Positive purpose does not exist when the end justifies the means.
     In 1965, a famous British jurist, Lord Devlin, wrote “if men and women try to create a society in which there is no fundamental agreement about good and evil, they will fail.” Lord Devlin basically tells us that if we establish society on common core values but then surrender them, society will disintegrate.
     “For society is not something that can be kept together physically,” Lord Devlin says. “It is held by the invisible but fragile bonds of common beliefs and values… a common morality is part of the price for society which mankind must pay…”
     Does it help those who choose not to work to provide them with a lifelong income? No. It does help to give them short-term support while job training and a job are achieved… but I can personally attest that this is not the way the system works (or does not work, depending on your perspective).
     Does it help to tell young people to not worry about retirement because government will tax them during their working years and use that money to provide them with livable incomes during their golden years? Possibly… if the money is honestly held in trust for the people to whom it belongs. As we all know, there is no Social Security Trust Fund. There is no “lock box.” Well, to be more accurate, there is a Trust Fund and a lockbox… filled with IOUs from the government (which many economists believe is bankrupt). Reasonable people who trust their government do not save for their own future because of such promises. It sounds good. All things that are “easy” sound good. How many “easy things” do you know that work in the long-term? Social Security funds have been used to fund programs to win Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.
     Unfortunately, we have more poverty today than we did when the war started.
     Our movies promote violence and sex. Both offer instant gratification to youthful imaginations, but do nothing to uplift or point to a path of long-term fulfillment. The music kids listen to today -- I’m sorry,. I cannot call that trash music -- depresses. It does not uplift. I am so glad I was raised during the 1940s and 50s. It was a time where leaders from every segment of society, private and public, understood that it is impossible to have positive outcomes when actions taken must be excused by “the end justifies the means.” Not everyone lived by a positive creed, but people understood that good is positive and evil is negative.