A national code of etiquette.
Because of the popular belief in cultural relativity, the U.S. society has evolved into a state where no one seems to know the difference between right and wrong. Laws are said to be made for practical purposes, not to define morality or to create ethical behavior among the citizens. Influential and popular philosophies include ethical relativism and multi-culturalism. Ethical relativism states that there is no objective or true ethical laws. All ethics are subjective decisions of individuals. The belief in multi-culturalism is similar. It states that all ethics are cultural and different cultures have different ethical values, all equally true and equally valid.
The result of the beliefs of ethical relativism and multiculturalism is that the ethical norms in the U.S. are continuing to deteriorate. The ethics on Wall Street have caused an international economic disaster. In some neighborhoods attack on the elderly and the shooting of innocent children is becoming a normal occurrence. The U.S. prison population is the highest in the world – and this is with one of the most liberal systems of justice in the world! Everyday etiquette continues correlates in a continual deterioration. Commonplace rudeness, almost unheard of a couple of decades ago is now the norm.
To correct this uncivil status, the country could vote upon an agree-upon set of ethical rules and national etiquette.
Thus, every four years, when a new President is elected, the voters could be presented with from ten to thirty proposals for ethical rules, not unlike the Code of Hammurabi or the Ten Commandments. Those rules that get over 80% of approval will be the ethical rules for the next four years. They will have no legal implications. They will be a secular declaration of the country as to what is right and what is wrong. These ethical standards would be considered tentatively absolute. They would be the standards that the U.S. society expects everyone to follow.
However, all laws regarding these behaviors would remain as they are.
The voters might accept ethical standards similar to the Code of Hammurabi or the 10 Commands. For example, 80% of the population might vote to approve some the following ethical guidelines:
You should not steal.
You should not threaten assault, assault or kill.
You should not force another person to have sex against his/her will.
You should not use vulgar language in public. (A list of words defined as vulgar could be listed.)
You should dress appropriately in public. This could include men wearing shirts and not displaying their underwear. It could include women not displaying their breasts.
You should treat others with basic etiquette. You should not be rude. You be considerate of other people. You should treat every person with respect.
You should treat the elderly with special respect.
Every citizen has social responsibility. They have the responsibility to help create a good quality of life for everyone.
You should obey the laws of the country.
You should not resist arrest and obey the reasonable requests of policemen.
You should not have children when you have no means of supporting them.
You should not engage in fornication. ?You should not engage in adultery.
If married or in a committed relationship, you should practice fidelity.
You should not engage in pornography.
You should not lie.
In this way the society would have an agreed-upon ethical standards, apart from the laws that are passed and enforced. Having a national, agree-upon, standard of ethical behavior could increase the quality of life of American significantly.
There must be an emphasis on the reduction of crime. Guaranteed employment and prison reform are key elements of this crime reduction.
The general prison policy could be that punishment and determent of crime could be units of contributory work rather than time spent deprived of personal freedom.
Thus instead of a person going to jail for 10 years, he could be sentenced to the equivilant of 10 years of contributory work and education. The prisoner could be paid a market value for his work and then all the costs of maintaining him – health, food, heat, and so on – could be deducted from his pay. Also restitution and child support could be deducted from his salary.
The problem with the current method of punishment is that, for many convicts, jail is not a punishment nor a deterrant!! They get food, shelter, and health care. They have a social life, they get entertainment, and they can go to school. Often they are safer in jail than on the streets.
A bigger punishment and a bigger deterrent for a career criminal would be to have to work, to contribute to society, and to get authentic education.
The sad truth about our prison system is that they have become male welfare hotels. A person commits a crime, especially one of drug dealing, and the state takes care of him for a period of time. Often for the career criminal, the state takes care of him for the rest of his life, whether he is in jail or out of jail. Often the state finances the raising of his children, and even allows him to impregnate women while in jail, after which the state picks up the bill for raising the child.
A dirty little secret about most career criminals is that they often unable to care for themselves. They cannot maintain a job and a home. They must take the produce of others and/or make the state support them. And certainly these criminals rarely can get a job in a competitive job market. It would be an interesting study to see what the average IQ and the average education was of today’s prison population.
Sentencing a person to many years in jail, who is unable or unwilling to support himself may be, unconsciously, exactly what the criminal wants.
There could also be two kinds of prisons and jails: The first prison could be for prisoners who sign a conract that they will obey the laws of the land and the rules of the prisons. These rules could include a code of behavior and a code of etiquette. These codes could include such behavior as : 1) treating employees and fellow prisoners with respect; 2) no profanity in public places; 3) no pornography displayed; 4) no gang involvement; 5) no drugs; 6) subordination to prison authorities; and 7) no violence (no returning violence for violence – he can only report the act of violence and use self-defence (which could be taught).
The other prison could be for those prisoners who refuse to sigh a contract or refuse to abide by the contract once signed.
The first kind of prison could have maximum amount of freedom and opportunity. The second kind of prison could be the least expensive, have the least amount of rights and freedoms, and have the least amount of luxuries. The prisoner could be deprived of the maximum amount of the benefits of society since he was committed to not contributing to the society.
See also a code of etiquette