I’m presenting two scenarios that may seem unconnected. They’re not. Each is a metaphor for the other. |
During a previous career I observed firsthand the manufacturing sector for a number of Fortune 500 companies, I was constantly entertained by blatant mendacity and hypocrisy, the culture itself a metaphor for American society. The production cycle was consistently under pressure to meet “monthly numbers” for the benefit of stockholders even if the result was long-term harm. Products were rammed through the system with quality an afterthought. If, God forbid, quality control (QC) stopped the line because products did not meet standards defined in drawings and specifications, vein-popping anger ensued featuring shouting matches and threats. From my experience, I surmise QC was mainly intended as a smoke screen to fake out customers, and guard against liability much the same as non-disclaimer labels on cigarettes. The members of the department weren’t supposed to actually do anything. Here’s a typical setting:
MFG: “Why did your inspector reject this product? There’s nothing wrong with it! Stop nitpicking! I’d buy it and put it in my house.”
QC: “It does not meet engineering and customer requirements. If it’s a so-called good product, change the spec otherwise fix it.”
MFG: “I don’t have time for that right now. I’ve got to get out production*. Besides, those engineers have their heads up their asses. The spec is too tight; it’s not real-world. C’mon, you weenie, let it go; look the other way. I’ll take care of it next week. Promise.”
*Author’s note: People do what they are rewarded to do.
QC: “So get the spec changed to real-world. If I let a defective product go I’m the guy could end up in court during a product liability suit.”
MFG guy is highly pissed off, cusses out QC guy, and stomps off but returns with SALES guy: “This guy represents the customer, and he says they’ll buy it.”
SALES guy nods; after all, his bonus is at risk.
QC: “Fine. Then write a deviation specifying quantity of products allowed with this defect with engineering’s signature, and a date the deviation expires. Then save yourself the hassle next month and see engineering about a permanent specification change.”
MFG: “You guys and your negative attitudes are a huge problem for this company. If we don’t make our numbers, I’m going to get you fired.”
That daily conversation went on month-after-month; year-after-year. Management usually supported MFG because those QC people, well, they were always finding something wrong; they just didn’t get it.
With that in mind…
Once upon a time in pursuit of a business opportunity I lived for a year in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Previous to that quest I spent time in a number of other Middle Eastern countries, Egypt and United Arab Emirates (UAE) to name two. I was also taken prisoner in Iraq, a story reported previously. Throughout the entire region, sometimes referred to as the Fertile Crescent, a system of Islamic justice as outlined and prescribed in the Holy Qur’an is enforced. This system is known as Shariah Law. Since Torah is contained within the Qur’an, it is not surprising that Shariah contains elements of the Law of Moses. For those keeping score Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed are the four major prophets of Islam.
As to how consistently the Law is administered and enforced from country-to-country I cannot say, but it varies based on the ideology of the particular government in power. Turkey is moderate and Iran is very strict, but the latter only since the Shah (Pahlavi) was ousted in favor of rule by mullahs. Iran is the red-headed stepchild of the area in that they follow Shia Islam while 90 percent of Muslims are Sunni, they speak Farsi instead of Arabic, and they are Caucasian not Semite.
Since KSA is the most orthodox country of the Sunni majority, and is the location of Islam’s two most holy sites* (Mecca and Medina); I will comment a bit later about enforcement of the Law there. Before I do, consider this: even the Ten Commandments handed down by Moses became complicated during administration of the Law. The Pharisees underwrote the Ten with 613 additional rules-and-regulations. US Law is even more complicated as attested by a visit to any legal library each containing thousands of tomes all dealing with (one way or another) the crime of theft. Look again at the Ten. Everything deals with different forms of theft, does it not? Lawyers like to complicate because complication yields confusion, which yields billable hours. Me, I like to simplify.
*Author’s note: The Kaabah is in Mecca’s Grand Mosque, and Medina is the site of the Quba Mosque, which contains the remains of Mohammed. The latter is also referred to as the Prophet’s Mosque.
Other Islamic countries where I have worked include the Indonesian Islands and Malaysia; and on the tip of the Malay peninsula, the City State of Singapore. Singapore is not officially an Islamic State, but does have laws that closely resemble Shariah. In Singapore the laws are posted plainly everywhere, even in the telephone directory, along with the penalty for breaking a particular law. When a lawbreaker is punished the details of his/her suffering are (almost gleefully) reported in the newspaper. A question for American visitors to Singapore: Because you consider yourself “entitled, exceptional, and special” do you think you should be able NOT to flush public toilets, spit on the street, and throw your gum where you please? Go ahead, as long as you don’t mind a stiff fine, jail time, and a couple of whacks with the rattan. I only bring this up because of the hew-and-cry in support of President Clinton who in 1994 tried to intercede in favor of a young American vandal, Michael Fay. Clinton was told to mind his business and punishment was enforced—four strokes (reduced from six) with the rattan. Getting whacked on the backside may not sound that painful, but local accounts mention it is not uncommon for recipients to lose control of their bowels when being caned. The pain is said to be excruciating. When I lived in KSA, Shariah Law was enforced strictly according to the Qur’an by an Islamic court. The Kingdom does have lawyers, which are used only for business contracts, etc. Criminal and civil law are the purview of the imams. The dominant form of Sunni Islam is Salafiyya, sometimes called Wahhabism (a derogatory term), which is intended to purify the practice of Islam of innovations that deviate from the seventh century teachings of Mohammed. Some Westerners consider that intolerant or ultra-conservative. Nevertheless, that is the law of the land.
Some of the better known laws are: 1) outside the home women must wear black abaya (called chador in Iran and burqa in South Asia) with full face veil; 2) women cannot drive; 3) women cannot work except in medicine or education; 4) no pork products; 5) no alcohol or nonprescription drugs; 6) adultery is conversation between any man and woman not related by blood or marriage; 7) no tattoos and piercings; 8) circumcision is mandatory; and 9) no capital offenses allowed. Penalties for violating the law are severe. For murder, rape, kidnapping, molestation, and use or possession of drugs the penalty is death—and not after a lengthy, expensive trial. Sentence is carried out next Friday. Justice is swift. For alcohol and adultery punishment is public flogging or caning and time in jail. For the latter the woman may be stoned depending upon the judgment. A Lebanese co-worker told me he’d rather face death than be placed in a KSA jail. 300 prisoners are herded into a place designed for 50; rations are poor; and there is no temperature control. Jail is considered punishment, and inmates are considered to have forfeited any human rights by choosing antisocial behavior. Atonement is demanded and nonnegotiable.
In some countries interpretation of Shariah has gone over the top. I won’t attempt to list the excesses of the Taliban. There are also those militant groups (Muslim Brotherhood, et. al.) who try to enforce what they claim is God’s will by use of explosives.
So what are the benefits of Shariah Law? For one thing there are no drug problems where the Law is in effect. Also, capital crime rates for robbery, murder, kidnapping, and rape are extremely low. I once wondered if a version like, say, Shariah-Lite could be beneficial in the America. (Refer to my article written March 15, 2012 entitled, “Shariah Law for the USA?”.) The problem would be (as always) interpretation and administration. We all know the human condition; that is, down the road some command-and-control hard-ass might revert to Shariah-Heavy.
If we take a look at the number of murders per 100,000 people that occurred in 2012, according to FBI statistics, the top six (developed nations) rank as follows: US – 4.7; Great Britain – 1.2; France – 1.1; Australia – 1.0; Germany – 0.8; and Japan – 0.4. Nationwide there were 14,827 murders in 2012, which is significantly down from our all-time high of 24,526 in 1993. The 1993 number was tied to an epidemic of crack cocaine use. Alcohol and tobacco use is also declining.
Tracking reported rapes in the US since 2005, the number is consistently around 200,000; however, it is estimated that about 59 percent of rapes go unreported. These data are from the US Department of Justice (DOJ).
According to the US Bureau of Statistics, about one-quarter of those who commit violent crimes are habitual drug users. Based on the above violent crime numbers, in KSA the population would be decreased by about 600,000 annually.
Consider this: Since the beginning of recorded history until about 60 years ago the world population averaged around two billion. I remember in sixth grade reading the US population was 170 million and the world population was nearing three billion. Today the world has seven billion inhabitants or about five billion too many. No wonder crime rates increase; the whole planet is being stressed. As politically incorrect as it sounds, the fact is there exists many more evil and whacked-out individuals than ever before.
I have yet to find an official who disagrees that US prisons do not rehabilitate. In fact, prison society is pure chaos, and makes inmates worse for the experience. The environment promotes rampant racial violence, drug use, and homosexual raping. These wonderful people, rapists, child-molesters, murderers, are then loosed on the masses to find new victims. Think about it: wouldn’t it be better if they were thinned from the herd? (C’mon you opponents of the death penalty; you who think homicidal maniacs deserve rights while dead victims do not. Here I’m mainly addressing the hypocritical, anti-capital punishment opponents who rejoiced when Cheney had a heart attack; and the Occupy Wall Street gang who said older people should hurry up and die. You can’t have it both ways. Either you’re a Darwinist or you’re not; i.e., if death is good enough for Cheney and older people it should be good enough for killers.)
The problem is simple, and I’m a simple man. Clearly what we’re doing is not working. We’re like MFG guy. Laws are on the books, but are ignored because of some group’s agenda. Either enforce the law or change the law. The solution is only complicated because we want it to be.
Copyright by Gene Myers, author of AFTER HOURS: ADVENTURES OF AN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESSMAN (2009), Strategic Publishing Group, New York, NY – a hilarious account of the author’s overseas travels; and SONGS FROM LATTYS GROVE (2010), PublishAmerica, Fredericksburg, MD - a mildly sinister, but amusing work of fiction. Both are available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and available in Amazon Kindle and Nook formats. Watch for SALT HIS TAIL, a catch-me-if-you can crime thriller.
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manufacturing, Shariah Law, Singapore, FBI statistics, US prisons,