Moral lessons from “The Wire”: Good and bad doesn’t matter for the top dogs

I have been hooked to “The Wire” a popular TV series of the early 2000s. The show is about drug mafias in Baltimore and the police force that tries to keep up with their tactics to push drugs on the street corners. Here is one such learning from the show.

2224ecb81c9ebbec8f96baf51a05a82554-10-the-wire-ranking.2x.h600.w512.jpgLet us imagine that there are two worlds: the good and the bad in the Narco universe.

In the bad world, there are incentives for doing bad; violence, shooting members of rival gangs, theft, and selling drugs of-course. When a recruit enters this world he commits that he will do whatever it takes to push the product and maintain the integrity of the narcotic supply chain. If down the line the recruit changes his mind, he is simply clipped/killed. There is huge negative incentivization to enter the good world from the bad world.

Education, living righteously and honestly becomes tough. Entering the good world thus becomes prohibitive as one is trapped in the deep maze of drug peddling. The bosses of this world, however, try to enter the good world by developing operations that convert their dirty money into good money. The bad world bosses don’t want to catch heat or any loose ends.

In the good world, there are incentives in place to do good. Needless to say, bad deeds are punished with the same efficacy as good deeds are punished in the bad world. In the show, the bosses of the good world are most of the time involved in the operations that deal with enabling the bad bosses to launder their money.

At the very top, everyone is in cahoots with each other. The meaning of values, morals good and bad just collapses. Lesser mortals react to rewards and punishment. They do good and bad deeds to survive. All this chaos settles down at the top. I think all that the rich and powerful want is to diminish the boundaries between good and bad deeds. At their levels, they are only “deeds” or actions that they take to be happy and enjoy life.