More on integrity—or the lack thereof….

When people think about culture, they tend to think about the physical stuff:  how people dress, food, music, visual arts.  We might think about what people believe.  Of course, our baseline—-our emic view, is what WE believe. What we believe is normal.  Everything else is either  bad, good, strange, funny, gross, shocking, beautiful, or whatever… in relation to what we call normal.

One idea, or value that we in America hold as a given—and actually what has made our economy thrive—is our cultural belief in credit, and honorably paying ones debts and honoring our commitments.  Since the economy  blew up—& we now know this happened because of the behavior of the banking and credit sectors  (including insurance)—industries based on the concept of  honoring commitments and being honest about them—-all bets are off.

In the early 1990’s Carter Roeber, a student at Northwestern University, under the guidance of anthropologist Karen Tranberg Hansen, went to Zambia  to study the concept of trust and credit in another culture.

Shylocks and Mabisinesi: Trust, Informal Credit and Commercial Culture In Kabwe, Zambia” was the dissertation he wrote.

What Carter learned about credit was that the less education and social standing people have, the less long-term their view (as a community) is, and the less access to credit they have.   Thus, they pay more for credit.   In fact, they end up paying a high rate of interest—what we used to call in the U.S. a juice loan.   It was what ‘The Mob’ squeezed out of you if you didn’t pay up.

Because they are not allowed to borrow from formal sources like banks,  they  pawn stuff & go to informal moneylenders.

This is important because our whole economy in the U.S. is based on access to credit. Now, what has happened is, that as our educational system is failing, and more and more people are innumerate and don’t understand interest or how it is calculated, they are going to PayDay loan shops & doing what the uneducated Zambians were doing 20  years ago.  Only this is America.  And it’s legal because it is not illegal.  & this will create more desperate people more likely to become involved in dangerous criminal activity.

That is one problem with lack of integrity

Here is a different example   In  the 1980s, many members of the American Miniature Schnauzer Club  realized that  many of the dogs they bred were  ending up  with  juvenile cataracts.  They realized it was no coincidence that so many dogs were going blind by the age of 2. They knew it was a hereditary condition.   They wanted to breed genetically sound dogs because they loved the dogs they were breeding. So , working with veterinary opthamologists, they embarked on a test breeding program to eliminate  Congenital Juvenile Cataracts— CJC.

They learned that  bitches who were blind, bred to males who might be carriers, produced a statistically significant number of puppies who would develop cataracts.  This way, they were able to eliminate  dogs of their own breeding who were carriers of CJC.

This was heartbreaking for many hobby breeders. They had to sell  some beloved dogs as pets (or keep them & not breed them) & start all over again.  In less than 10 years, they virtually eliminated CJC in well bred Miniature Schnauzers.  Notice, I do not say AKC registered Schnauzers, because hobby breeders are not the only ones breeding  AKC Miniature Schnauzers.  Backyard breeders & puppy mills also breed Schnauzers, & most of these people do not consult a veterinarian before they breed their dogs, and even if they did, virtually no veterinarian would advise them to have their dogs’ eyes dilated &  request a Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certificate.

And here is what happened:  those ethical hobby breeders  originally gave the  Schnauzer pups that were carriers of blindness (but not blind themselves) away—without AKC papers… and they explained to those puppy buyers why the pups were being given away and were not to be bred. But what the hobby breeders learned was that  NOT EVERYBODY HAS INTEGRITY.  & what started happening was that  those puppy buyers would find each other & breed to each others dogs, & they could get a Continental Kennel Club or APRI  registration (of course, this means nothing, but they sell the pups as registered…or puppy mill breeders would have left over registration forms from other litters …You can ask the AKC for all the registration forms you want—they do not check), so they’d register these  breedable dogs.

Ultimately, the ethical hobby breeders learned what was happening & started neutering the pups at a very young age—selling them neutered—so this would not be a problem, but the horse had escaped from the barn as they say…& that is why knowing the breeder, and knowing that others know the breeder—is important.

How are these issues of integrity related?  What does breeding dogs have to do with  honoring one’s word?  We are losing this integrity in the U.S.

It’s not illegal, so it must be legal…  If you are not an informed consumer, you will be screwed…and it may break your heart.

This is why I don’t trust organized religion. The leaders are so often involved in unethical behavior themselves while trying to bamboozle a flock into behaving.


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