Fair Market Values

Gold standards, principles, and a fiat morality

I haven’t written in a good while. One of the primary reasons has been that there is a metric shit ton of content pushed out every single day concerning the moral, ethical, and philosophical blunders, ironies, and lessons to be observed in the arena of politics.

Frankly, I don’t want to merely contribute more noise to the discussion. Plenty of authors are doing a fine job as is, no need for me to drop my two cents in at every turn.

So, while I can’t necessarily say that I’m back, I can say that something I read this morning felt very much worth discussing.

It was the Opinion Today email that I receive every morning from the New York Times. It serves as a great summary of the most important happenings as well as a gateway to many other gifted and astute writers across a spectrum of publications.

This morning’s edition concerned Rod Rosenstein’s previously golden reputation becoming tainted as the Comey saga continues to unfold. The tl;dr version is that Rosenstein used to have conviction and was to be the hopeful compass for an administration that only knows how to lose their way.

Yet a mere two weeks into the job he has failed to live up to these expectations. Miserably so.

The Cost of Tea in China

Leonhardt’s push this morning was that there should be such a thing as integrity and dignity in our political figures. That one shouldn’t lose sight of their guiding principles, but rather ought to hold firm, especially in the most trying of times, to the their values.

In his own words:

There is no job, not even at the highest levels of government, that is worth your reputation. (emphases mine)

He also quotes a leading Republican strategist, Peter Wehner:

“The Republicans who have so far stood in lock step with Mr. Trump, defending him at every turn, need to ask themselves whether they want to continue to be complicit in this institutional assault. By now it should be clear to them that having Donald Trump’s back will cost them their integrity.” (emphases mine)

But there’s a foundational problem with these sentiments. One that the Trump presidency is making undeniable.

In the market of morality, what we used to assume were bedrock values are now just commodities along every other potential good being sold, not the gold standard by which all things are weighed.

We’ve beaten off to capitalism so long and hard that we’ve let it get its grimy hands all over what, just a few generations ago, was our country’s very foundation: our principles.

Those principles have slowly but surely been sold on the auction blocks of power, expediency, wealth, and notoriety. Or, in the case of our narrative concerning the burnt-out and cynical Trump voter this past election, the auction block of sticking-it-to-the-man and burning down the house.

So why care about reputation? Those can be salvaged or reinvented, let’s get that paper. And integrity? Seems that Americans don’t value it currently so why should anyone in the administration, especially if it stands in the way of making an actual, hard profit.

Whatever the case may be, the reality is that the proverbial gold standard has been done away with. Decimated, really.

As fitting as could be, Trump has been to basic American values of honesty, integrity, and decency what Nixon was to our currency’s relationship to gold.

That doesn’t mean we can’t value these things. It certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. But, living in a fiat market of morality means that we can only hope the value we place on principles like honesty and integrity corresponds with their current fair market value. Otherwise our moral dollars won’t be worth the outraged tweets they’re printed on.

Unfortunately we are already well aware that these first chapters of the Trump presidency are full of moral and ethical Chapter 13's.


EPILOGUE

Another reason I’ve been incapable of writing as of late is that I was beginning to pivot from spouting soapbox stories to something more personal and, at least hopefully, impactful.

I interviewed an old friend who is a transgender woman in hopes of writing her story in a way that didn’t deride those who share my strongly Conservative background nor let them get away with many of its misunderstandings. Bridging the divide between left and right is very important to me and I think I have had the requisite journey to help build a crossing.

I have slowly chipped away at the article, but truth be told am terrified at what I feel will certainly be an injustice to Kristi’s person and story. Please pester me on Twitter or here to keep prodding me forward.