Thursday, November 26, 2009

A More Decent Society

Reform would make us a more decent society, but also a less vibrant one. It would ease the anxiety of millions at the cost of future growth. It would heal a wound in the social fabric while piling another expensive and untouchable promise on top of the many such promises we’ve already made. America would be a less youthful, ragged and unforgiving nation, and a more middle-aged, civilized and sedate one.David Brooks; NY Times

I never thought I would see the day when I would agree with David Brooks, the syndicated Conservative columnist from the New York Times. But when you’re right, you’re right. This health care debate is about the values we hold as a nation and those things we think are important. However, after that point our views are markedly different. You see Mr. Brooks believes that wealth should only flow upwards from the middle and lower classes to the wealthy. He believes that by taxing the wealthy we stifle future growth and make ourselves a less vibrant nation. I would be curious as to how he would explain the Bush tax-breaks for the wealthy and how removing the regulations from Wall Street made us a more vibrant nation?

You see what Mr. Brooks fails to divulge is that giving money to rich people has never stimulated anything except profits made from capital manipulation and not the profits made from manufacturing anything. The goal of the wealthy is not to spend money but to hoard money; this is how you get to be wealthy by not spending your own money. His premise that if we continue to funnel money upward that this will insure the future growth of this nation is false and has historically been proven to be false. What has stimulated growth in our nation’s history have been those expensive promises that he and so many other compassionate Conservatives have been opposed to from their inception. It was not the robber-barons that made us a vibrant society; on the contrary it was those programs put in place that created the middle-class. If Mr. Brooks and his cronies had their way we would have two classes: the very wealthy and the rest of us.

But beyond the economic benefits of these “promises” there is also the moral imperative of a society to provide basic services to all of their people. Just once I would like to completely shut down this evil government for one week. For an entire week the government stops providing all the services it now provides and then see how these anti-government wing-nuts would respond. My guess is they would do rather well considering the have the funds to replace government services, but what about all of those folks without a pot to piss in or a window to throw out who turn out for these anti-government rallies? I remember during the Presidential campaign at McCain rallies when he would say Obama wants to raise taxes on those people earning over 250,000 dollars a year and there would be boos and then they would pan the audience and no one at the rally appeared to make over 50,000 a year and it was amazing to me to see their responses to policies that would benefit them.

Another thing that troubles me about the column is its inherent divisiveness. Mr. Brooks is attempting to appeal to the young to choose greed over compassion. As if money and the acquisition of stuff is all that defines a nation and a person and this conversation has come to dominate the health care debate in our country. What’s in it for me is the new mantra of our society. There was a time not long ago when sacrifices for our country was more than a bumper sticker; when having compassion on your fellow citizen’s did not have to be justified by a bottom line. It’s funny whenever we discuss helping the least of us we become suddenly fiscal hawks, but where were these fiscal hawks when Mr. Bush was funding two wars and giving tax-breaks to the richest among us? Why weren’t these expenditures scrutinized to the level that health reform has been?

The bottom line is that our systems are failing not just the least of us, but all of us and until we come to that conclusion jointly as people it will continue to do so. This debate isn’t really about right or left, rich or poor it is about what is best for us as nation. We have seen firsthand what the politics of greed has wrought us. Every twenty years we are brought to the brink of self destruction by a financial industry that puts profits not only before people but also our nation. But why should we believe our eyes when we can take the word of shrills like Mr. Brooks and believe beyond reality that the rich folks will take care of the rest of us once they get enough money. The only problem with that theory is that they will never get enough money and so it goes.

Wisdom: to live in the present, plan for the future, and profit from the past – Unknown
The Disputed Truth

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