While what follows here appears incredibly partisan, it isn't intended to be a political discussion as much as a philosophical one. But I guess that's what politics is though, philosophy in action (and sometimes inaction).
I happened to stumble across a nice little synopsis of the differences between Democrats and Republicans the other day that was so elegant, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Since the two parties are considerably more complex than the following characterization permits and I suppose its even arguable about whether the generalization applies, let's not get caught up in arguing how accurate these two ideologies are. Since there are undoubtedly people somewhere that fit these categories, let's restrict our discussions to them. I'll try to keep it abstract so we can avoid muddying the waters more than needed.
The distinction was thus: Repubs generally want the government to stay out of regulating business and administering programs (ie smaller government) with the exception of the military. They prefer lower taxes over government provided services, again with the exception of the military, which they basically want to be buffed up and pimped out as much as possible. They aren't much interested in social programs like Social Security and Medicare, nor are they much wont to spend on education or absorb business expenses stemming from say, environmental regulations and labor laws. The government wastes money and thus taxes should be kept as low as possible to force efficiency from the federal budgetary monster.
For the sake of a clear-cut example, Dems are just the opposite. They consider the government a plausible agent for providing services for the population. In terms of productive services that aid the populace in life, liberty, and their pursuits of happiness, the military doesn't offer much and hence military spending is seen as undesirable. The higher taxes required to fund the health, education, and other socially beneficial programs come primarily from the highest earners, ie those who can afford it.
Put so simply, I found myself rather disgusted with the former position. I wholly support the principles of efficiency espoused by the conservative sector of society and generally belief that a freer market is more robust and efficient that one heavily burdened by regulations or central planning. But the narrow-minded accounting of so-called free market conservatives who oppose say, environmental regulation and labor laws because of their "negative" impact on profitability illustrates that most evil of human shortcomings, hypocrisy. To truly address the profitability of an enterprise, doesn't it make sense that one consider ALL the costs of the undertaking, including social and environmental factors among others?
And the issue of taxation has me perplexed as well. No one likes to pay taxes, whether it be a penny on a dollar income or millions from the upper crust income. I understand that the higher percentages the richest members of society are burdened with equate to incredible sums of money, but once the taxes are paid, they still end up with more than most people had to start with before they paid their small tax bills. Given the option of a $500,000 annual salary that pays 50% ($250,000) in taxes, leaving me with $250,000 or a $50,000 annual salary with a 20% tax bite ($10,000) that leave $40,000 behind, no one is going to choose the lower wage because its a smaller percentage or total amount.
Why is it such a problem to pay taxes that benefit society? Where is the pride in taxes? Of course wasteful government puts a sting in the bite, but it is just horrific to me that a person would feel fine being taxed to fun a war machine (and presumably prisons) but objects to taxes that provide public services. Taxes that fund better schools and hospitals contribute to a safer, more stable society. Give the choice between a million dollars for education which will keep 999 of 1000 kids from turning into criminals vs a million dollar jail to lock up the 999 criminals from the 1000 who got shitty education, some people would prefer to build the jail. Or suggest that we buy off the dregs of society to keep them from fucking up their own and others' lives (while simultaneously providing a safety net for upstanding folks fallen on hard times, but that doesn't fit the rant here) for a reasonable price. Oh no! Best to build the jail rather than have dregs on welfare.
Our nation is the richest nation the known universe has ever produced. Richest in terms of dollars, in terms of knowledge, in terms of technology and information. But we squander it. Where is the pride in doing things that make life better for all involved? We claim to be patriots and supporters of our country, but we aren't. We have a nation of petty selfish brats without a glimmer of concern for the welfare of their fellow citizens.
And if that's the best the strongest, richest, most advanced nation on Earth can do for its own, what hope is there that it can actually begin to create a legacy worth caring about?Posted by Nutrimentia at May 9, 2003 12:50 AM | TrackBack