RICHARD BABB: Damned by your conscience

By Richard Babb

The word “condemn” means “with damnation” so to be condemned by your conscience means being damned by it. Despite its ominous ring, being damned by your conscience is a good thing, a state where a voice impels you toward the moral. You stumble into the dead of night to dump the yapping stray puppy your children adopted that afternoon, then feel so lousy you get a new puppy (just a few hundred dollars, plus vet bills). Thus, you’ve been condemned by your conscience, and you did some penance.
But being condemned by your conscience assumes you have one. Plenty of people don’t, such as narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths. They can’t be self-damned in the existential sense, and a pity, because according to some Christian thought, they will rock along smashing up lives, until they‘re damned in the theological sense. They’ve created so much hell, eventually hell will be home. You Baptists are familiar with the concept. You Episcopalians … well it was a quaint notion at one time. Let’s drink to that.
The Republican leadership is wrangling with the president over raising the debt limit. Some agreement will take place not only because the fallout will be too severe, but Wall Street desires it, and while both parties are in the harem, the Republicans are usually first choice when Wall Street walks into the tent, winking and nodding.
The Republicans have been attempting to blame the whole debt fiasco on the President. But this one isn’t totally on him. Let’s go back in time, shall we?
The last time we had zero debt was 1836. When Clinton left office in 2000, the debt was $5.6 trillion. By the time Bush left office, the debt was $10.7 trillion. After three years, Obama has raised the debt to $14.3 trillion.
During the Bush years we engaged in two wars, cut the upper bracket tax rate, bailed out Wall Street, raised the debt limit eight times and to pay for it, borrowed buckets of foreign money. Bush so enraged the Tea Party, they took it to the streets. How well I remember those days: Power to the People, Bro. The 60’s again.
By the time Obama took office, the economy was diving like a Bungee jumping rat. To stop the swooning rodent, Obama pushed the stimulus. But a stimulus is not a permanent cure.
Both parties are responsible for the debt, but in this balancing equation, the Republicans are more culpable. And neither party has taken on the issue of Wall Street fraud.
Often the biggest lie is we can talk our way out of what we behaved our way into. Part of being damned by your conscience is taking responsibility for your actions.You go into the Wilderness, examine yourself and put things right. That isn’t happening in DC which suggests extreme denial, posturing for us rubes, or acting more like narcissists, sociopaths or psychopaths. You choose.
In Dantes’ Divine Comedy, above hell’s entrance is a sign: Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate – “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
Above the fireplace mantle, where the devils sit around warming their hands by the fires, is another sign: Populous vult decipi ergo decipiator. “People want to be deceived. Therefore let them be deceived.”
The point: Politicians are deceiving us about their culpability in the national debt and Wall Street fraud. If we don’t force accountability, we might as well abandon hope, because generally, if the money ain’t right, nothing goes right. The money ain’t been right for a while.
Richard Babb, an attorney, is a community columnist from Tupelo. He may be reached at

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