1.08.2009

Humanity in the Age of Aquarius

When a friends says...
i'm not all that sold on gov't health care. it'll still be the rich who get the best care. and the poor will still rely more on emergency care and they won't be able to afford the same level of preventive.
...and it makes me feel as if I've convinced him of something, maybe I need to reconsider what I'm trying to convince people of. The debate is superficially about economics and government intervention, etc. But there is an underlying assumption that is more difficult to address -- approximately, it has to do with whether we believe human nature is fixed or changeable.

But this isn't a question of individual human nature: I am a fundamentalist when it comes to the question of whether individuals can change -- I wholeheartedly believe they can. Indeed, the belief in the possibility of change at the individual level feels to me almost like the bedrock of my world view. But when it comes to GDP and international economics, we are asking whether "we all" can transcend our ancient natures enough to escape from the heirarchical nature of our social structures: that is, can the rich stop being entitled and the poor stop being trampled? Read about the "New Socialist Man."

I watched an awesome documentary about "The Story of India" the other night, and it was nice to get a visual refresher-course on something I hadn't thought much about since elementary school: the caste system. They interviewed one of the "untouchables," and I was surprised to hear in the interviewee's voice absolutely no trace of resentment or hopelessness; instead, total acceptance marked his face. In fact, the "untouchable" took some pride in the fact that even the Prime Minister would rely on a lowly untouchable when it comes to committing his body to cremation and the afterlife.

Total acceptance of our "station" in life. It's such a foreign concept. I remember the way it was taught in elementary school: "Look at how barbaric the Indians are, children -- aren't you lucky to be in America, where anyone can become the president?" Kind of, I guess...

Is it irresponsible to imagine a civilization in which the poorest citizens simply and almost-happily accept the fact that they will never have access to the quality of healthcare that others will? Can we turn our back on the concept of equality without turning our back on the notion of Justice?

I'm really not sure. But I like how it makes me wonder--

2 comments:

fenhopper said...

i think you've done more containing than convincing. i have always been socially liberal. very. but then consider my voting record:

92: bush
96: dole
00: bush
04: mccain
08: obama

mccain was a write-in. this was the beginning of my turn away from conservatism

obama isn't liberal enough for me and i'm starting to get that feeling of disappointment in his respect for the far right.

you've kept me from becoming a communist. for now.

but something in me has a real faith that gov't can be turned, by the people, into an organization that does their bidding and supports the agenda of fairness. so while i'm not sure gov't healthcare is the answer, gov't "something" has to be a big part of the answer. right after people stop being so stupid about consumption.

and that stipulation is why i'm kinda flirting hopelessness (in gov't) right now and wondering if gov't should just stop active evil cause it can't fight apathy or create active good.

so it's always up to us right?

unless dennis kucinich ever wins. i'll trust him to save america.

Casey said...

Well, that's fair. I completely sympathize. As I mentioned about two months ago, I'm actually not an extremist, and I'm not entirely committed to any economic principle... what I am committed to is knowing about the debate, and you're as informed as anybody if you've watched _Commanding Heights_. :)

In fact, I think now's a good time for progressive economic policies... but in the short term, that usually (historically) has meant a downturn in large-scale indicators like GDP. But as I remember saying in 215 -- so what? What's GDP to Juanita-Average American?

You identify another frustrating part of "it all" when you point to social issues: not because they seem to be consistent with a political philosophy (like maybe "small government" ideologists should be both pro-tax cut and anti-abortion-legislation), but simply because they seem unrelated... because there is no overarching political philosophy.

So then it's like this: what's more important to you: gay rights or the GDP? -- and really, we shouldn't have to choose...

Are people stupid about consumption? I hadn't heard that argument... what would you, Premeire General Fenhopper, like them to spend their money consuming?

96: Dole
00: Libertarian
04: Conscientious Objector
08: Obama
12: Quetzlcoatl

The point is, I agree with you -- the government should be doing much, much better. When I look at this HUGE deficit number, I see it this way: the government owes us that much... and they've got about the rest of my life to repay it or else... or else... or else my grandkids'll rip them a new one!

Altho, skeptically, I would push you: asking for "gov't 'something'" to do the bidding of "the people" sort of begs the question...