America, The Not-So-Beautiful Part

Posted: February 6, 2010 in Justice, Lessons

Seeing the headline from the Tea Party Convention claiming “Obama is a Socialist” makes my head hurt. A couple of days ago I heard Justice Kennedy, with whom I often disagree, say that (a) we ought to be able to disagree and still treat each other well, and (b) democracy depends on an educated citizenry. With those most valid points in mind, the headline from the Tea Party Convention makes my head hurt.

First of all, I would kindly request that everyone learn a little bit about economic theory before entertaining accusations that someone “is” something they don’t claim to be. And second, once you realize statements to be false, please don’t engage in inflammatory rhetoric because there are unfortunately many out there who won’t accede to my first request.

Okay boys and girls, here’s my two cents:

* The United States of America’s way of life rests on a foundation of self-interest. This is difficult medicine to swallow for everyone who wants to claim that America is a Christian nation, or should be, or whathaveyou. The foundation of our economic system is that everyone trying to look out for themselves will somehow end up benefitting everyone (concepts such as “free market” and “invisible hand” decorate our economic vocabulary). The foundation of our legal and political system is also based on self-interest: everyone standing up for their own interests (e.g. political parties and special interest groups in the political realm, and the adversary system in the legal realm) will somehow produce justice for all.

* But. We recognized a long time ago that this doesn’t really work in its pure sense. When everyone works for their own self-interest, people get left out. Selfishness doesn’t really produce a utopian world for all. So. We still operate from a base where self-interest is the driving force, but we go ahead and make rules and laws and such that try to ameliorate the negatives that emerge.

* Therefore. Because someone wants government to step in more in certain situations than others does not make the former a socialist any more than it makes the latter a selfish bastard.

You may now return to your regular programming schedule.

  1. James Jones says:

    Our country talks as if everyone is going to have the moral integrity to look out for their neighbor while still looking out for number one. That is just not true. I mean, God even recognized this when he gave the law to Israel (Deut 15; Lev 23, 26). God controlled how they conducted their business for the well-being of others.

    Did Israelites abuse this? Sure. There will always be those that abuse law — it is called sin. But, as God acknowledged in his word, there were people that abused both by being lazy and by being greedy.

    Socialism will not cure greed, and capitalism will not cure laziness…. See More

  2. wjcsydney says:

    Well put, Al.

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