November 11, 2011 · 7:24 pm
I am guessing that most people are exhausted with the Sandusky/ Penn State story, but I cannot stop thinking about what we can all learn from this tragedy. It is hard to conceive how reputable people could so easily turn their back when confronted with such evil. Or is it?
We humans have a long history of “selective morality.” For example, assume that Mike McQueary, the graduate assistant who witnessed the rape, had accidentally come across a janitor raping a 10 year-old boy in the shower. Would his actions been different? No doubt. He would have intervened to stop the rape, and would have called the police immediately. But when he saw that the perpetrator was Coach Sandusky, he chose a very different course of action.
Why? Coach Sandusky was important to the Penn State Football Program, and the Penn State Football Program was important to Penn State. Penn State has (had?) a great reputation as an outstanding university, and the Football Program was part of that great reputation (not to mention the tens of million of dollars generated by the Football Program). All the way to the very top, basic human morals were compromised.
When human beings are happy with the “status quo” all too often they will condone immorality, to protect the status quo. The compromise may be by an individual, a small group of people, an entire country or a global organization. We have all seen this behavior to one degree or another in our own lives. Here are just a few examples that have become part of our history.
Small Group: The My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War
An entire country: Germany-The Holocaust
Global Organization: The Catholic Church
Each example demonstrates the ability of moral people to set aside their morality to protect the status quo. Most combat soldiers and Marines are appalled when an atrocity is committed. The vast majority of the Germans were moral people. And the good and moral work of the Catholic Church is well known. But the human capacity for ignoring evil exists in everyone.
When the students at Penn State were rioting the other night, it was all about protecting the status quo at Penn State, morality be damned. I would liked to have asked those students, if 10 years from now when they have children, would they be willing to send their children to a summer camp run by Coach Sandusky?
October 11, 2011 · 5:11 pm
You would be hard pressed to find an individual who believes that the Social Security System as structured today’ is sustainable in the future. Since the time when Social Security was established, the life expectancy for both men and women has increased by more than 10 years. The average individual in the System today can expect to enjoy a longer life and healthier lifestyle than past generations and the expectations of longer longevity continues to move ahead. The bad news is the current system does not provide the resources necessary to fund the additional years.
For example, lets assume you saved enough money to fund each of your 3 children’s college education. Your oldest child decides to take 5 or 6 years to get a degree. Would you take money, from the college fund of the younger siblings, to pay for one or two more years of college? Probably not, instead you would insist that you child completes their degree in the required 4 years. (I may not agree with Governor Perry on a lot of issues but he was pretty close to the mark when he called the current system a legal Ponzi Scheme.)
But here is where the analogy breaks down. You cannot insist that an individual die according to the life expectancy that existed when social security was established. But we need to recognize that things change. I am delighted that my life expectancy is much greater than my father’s or grandfather’s, and I am certain they would have enjoyed a few additional years if possible.
The solutions are obvious but politically difficult to implement. Either additional tax must be paid into the system or the retirement age must be extended over time to reflect current life expectancies. Of course, no one wants to pay more taxes or to work additional years before collecting social security. We are all basically selfish and seem to be willing to take money from the younger generations to fund those additional years we did not fund. And virtually no politician has the courage to tell the American people the truth.
We will eventually “take the medicine” and solve the problem. We have no choice. But it will take far longer than it should. True “leaders” always set a great example for those they lead. Maybe we would all be more willing to accept the solutions if our “political leaders” (an obvious oxymoron) set a good example by reducing their own pension and medical benefits.