In a column posted today by Thomas Sowell titled “The Moral Infrastructure,” he writes this (emphasis added):
There has been much concern, rightly expressed, about the rusting of bridges around the country, and the crumbling and corrosion of other parts of the physical infrastructure. But the crumbling of the moral infrastructure is no less deadly.
The police cannot maintain law and order, even if the political authorities do not tie their hands in advance or undermine them with second-guessing after the fact.
The police are the last line of defense against barbarism, but they are equipped only to handle that minority who are not stopped by the first lines of defense, beginning with the moral principles taught at home and upheld by families, schools, and communities.
But if everyone takes the path of least resistance — if politicians pander to particular constituencies and judges give only wrist slaps to particular groups or mobs who are currently in vogue, and educators indoctrinate their students with “non-judgmental” attitudes — then the moral infrastructure corrodes and crumbles.
The moral infrastructure is one of the intangibles, without which the tangibles don’t work. Like the physical infrastructure, its neglect in the short run invites disaster in the long run.