Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Is the budget a moral document?

A reader just sent a note that asks a profound question: "Do you believe the budget is a moral document that should meet the needs of all South Carolinians?"

"Moral" is a loaded word. What's moral to one may not be moral to another; that's one of the core principles of "moral relativism," the argument that two-plus-two doesn't always equal four.

The great teachers are the ones who teach us to keep Merriam and Webster nearby and consult them frequently. And according to old Merriam and Webster, "moral" has a number of solid definitions:
a : of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior: ethical
b : expressing or teaching a conception of right behavior
c : conforming to a standard of right behavior
d : sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment
e : capable of right and wrong action
"Moral" seems to mean doing, being or reflecting what's right. Based on that standard, then the answer is certainly yes, the budget should be a moral document; the state's budget should do, be and reflect what is right.

But Merriam and Webster go a step further and offer a list of words that are synonymous with "moral":
all right, decent, ethical, honest, honorable, just, good, nice, right, righteous, right-minded, straight, true, upright, virtuous
and another handful of words that mean the OPPOSITE of "moral":
bad, dishonest, dishonorable, evil, evil-minded, immoral, indecent, sinful, unethical, unrighteous, wicked, wrong
With guidance like this, how can you go wrong? Yes, the state budget should definitely be a moral document.

However, my correspondent didn't ask whether the budget SHOULD BE a moral document; they asked if it IS a moral document... and one that meets the needs of all South Carolinians.

Which is what makes the question a profound one. So click here and do your part. It's the moral thing to do.

Then go here and poke someone with it.

Then go here and check out the video that, unfortunately, confirms what we suspect about how our neighbors think of us.

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