Sunday, September 04, 2005

Thinking about security

This thought came at Friends Meeting today... so called conservative politicos really push a doctrine based on rugged individualism.

Part of that doctrine is people can only acheive their potential if things like regulations got out of the way. Free market is preferable to controlled economy, taxes slow economic growth, and having to worry about externalities (pollution, migrant labor etc) threatens growth. If they're not with us, they're against us; thus we proceed with the coalition of the willing.

The other side of that coin is that factors that threaten our prosperity are being dragged down by people who don't make the quality of choices we make... so they tell us that social security will collapse if we don't have individual retirement accounts; universal health care doesn't control for moral hazzard; the bankrupt or unplanned pregnant, got themselves into their situation, don't look to the goverment for hand out, they need to learn personal responcibility... and so on. This the government the US voted for in November.

But Hobbes had a phrase to describe this life of rugged individualism: nasty, brutish and short. It happens all the time, in the form of chronic disease, poverty, bankruptcy. It was sadly magnified in New Orleans when the most vulnerable were abandoned to the city.

We're witnessing the outcome of the kind of government elected in November... and even back to the GOP revolution in '94. We're starving the beast of government programs... like FEMA, by spending gross amounts for a trumped up war, we're cutting domestic programs... like FEMA, and we're cutting taxes in the face of exploding deficits.

So if a philosophy of individualism has left us exposed, what's the alternative? The alternative is philosphy of mutual need... of social security, universal health care, real international coalitions for conflicts that don't involve oil. We need each other to deal successfully with personal and natural disaster. We can't fear free riders and moral hazzard from providing our communities with real aid, and real protection.

As much as we're going to hear about the swelling of contributions, what New Orleans needed to avoid catastrophe was government aid, the aid the Bush administration has been ignoring since 2001 at least. This goes for our health care, this goes for our social security, and this has to do with homeland security. Charity cannot fully do what government can, and in this case, ought to have done.

This means Democrats have a greater responsibility to expose the Orwellian joke of GOP politics... terrorism is not about Iraq, it is not about about the patriot act; individual health accounts will not save health care, private accounts will not save social security. Voters needs to get real and get skeptical of what they're told. I'm not voting for GOP individualism, I'm voting for liberal communities, and acknowledge that the smartest thing we can do to prevent disaster is spread risk: the tool for that is government. we have every right to expect that from our government and they failed.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Steve said...

Sam,

I don't think I've ever read a more eloquent summary of liberal values. This post is absolutely brilliant

Tuesday, 06 September, 2005  
Blogger Sam Teigen said...

Thanks, you're way to kind my friend. I really loved the Sara McMurray quip... that's gold.

Tuesday, 06 September, 2005  
Blogger josh narins said...

I'd just like to note that Republican voters tend to be from the country, while Democrat voters tend to be from the city.

City dwellers have to rely on strangers (the guy who serves their coffee) and tend to not even try to befriend all the people who make their lives work.

Country folk tend to know their neighbors, and want to be left alone.

But now I'm really afraid. How is urban vs country living rates changing in America? Are there less urbanites than before? Do 9/11 and Katrina reduce the number? Of course, ex-urban dwellers in the country don't all of a sudden become right wing nuts.

Friday, 09 September, 2005  
Blogger Sam Teigen said...

Though I see where the thought is going, I disagree. In both rural and urban commuunities, social networks are very important.

I don't accept that country folk want to be left alone, they help each other through coops, churches, auxilaries and so on. Likewise, city dwellers don't have such a disjointed experience. People get to know vendors, they create communities in food, church, readings, dance, and so on.

I feel the thrust of my post isn't so much urban vs. rural, as how people in all those communities will envision and demand a government that provides security. A big part of that is getting poor rural people to stop voting against their economic interests. And I feel that is more a confusing of "values" to role of governance.

Sunday, 11 September, 2005  
Blogger Marcus said...

Now, if only the Dems can see their way to adopting that view, firmly and strongly, I expect they will do much better at the polls.

Monday, 19 September, 2005  

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