The party’s over


Photo by Philip MacKenzie from stock.xchng.com.

I think everyone pretty well  knows my politics.  I believe we are here to help everyone we can, and we should all pay our share.

The main issue now is our country is broke.

Today I heard the CIA has been secretly helping opposition in Syria since 2003 (courtesy of Wikileaks).  We still have tens of thousands of troops in Germany (war ended in 1945), tens of thousands in Japan and about 15 other countries.  And we are muddled down in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We can’t be the world’s police anymore;  I thought that was why the United Nations was formed over 60 years ago.

Our people can’t get work; yet we spent almost a billion in a few days bombing Lybia; our social and educational programs are being sliced, yet we spend 1/2 billion on a fighter plane.

The threat from major nations is not the same; we have to guard against terrorists here in the US and not create more by helping unpopular governments.

Get our military home, let them spend the money in the US and help when they are needed here.

Our credit rating is about to disappear, our population has no money or employment……We need radical action now!

12 comments on “The party’s over

  1. it’s weird. i remember seeing bumper stickers when i was younger that said something to the effect of “it’ll be a wonderful day when our children get a great education and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber” (paraphrased cause i don’t remember the exact wording. and i just kinda used to roll my eyes at the earnest hippieshness of it all. now, i get it.

  2. My friend,

    Are you willing to consider that the ills you cite are unavoidable consequences of the moral principles you advocate (“we are here to help everyone we can” and “we should all pay our fair share”)?

    Let’s take the first principle. Taken to the extreme, following it would be suicidal. A person is able to sacrifice everything he owns – even to the point of the goods necessary to the sustenance of own life – to help others, but to what end? He would be dead and no longer able to help himself, his loved ones, his community, or someone on the other side of the world. The principle as articulated, no matter how well-meant, is illogical. The help we give others must be something short of our capacity to help. Morality lies in discerning whom to help, and how.

    Now for the second principle: dissecting it reveals it is just as unworkable as the first. To whom does the pronoun “we” refer? Rich and poor? The able and disabled? The healthy and the infirm? Infants and adults? What shall we “pay” and to whom? What is the whole of which the “share” is part? What constitutes “fair” and who makes the determination?

    Aristotle proved long ago that the purpose of life is happiness, not self-sacrifice. Helping others may contribute to one’s happiness, but is not and cannot be an end unto itself. Yes, in extreme circumstances, e.g., a parent stepping in front of a bullet to save his child, happiness equates with death, the parent being happier that his child should live than the he should live while witnessing the murder of his child, but life presents such choices relatively rarely (fortunately).

    Throughout history, armed gangs calling themselves “government,” and the enablers of these thugs, have cynically and malevolently preached self-sacrifice as a means of controlling their victims. The acceptance of these ideas has soaked the world in blood.

    Charity and benevolence have righteous places in moral lives, but those of us who wish to lead moral lives must stop confusing these values with expropriation or confiscation. “Forced charity” is an oxymoron. Left to their own devices, human beings will help those in need. Peace on earth is incompatible with willing subservience to armed gangs who assert a monopoly on the use of force in a given territory. The sooner the great mass of us understand that, the sooner our children and their children may be free to live as human beings instead of as slaves.

    • John, helping everyone we can does not mean we go without. That’s helping everyone but yourself — certainly that’s not the intention. Bill Gates gives freely of his wealth, but does he go without? Is he in danger of dying of starvation? Of course not! What you’re talking about is co-dependency, which is NOT the same thing as helping.
      As for the rest of your post… you sound like you’re firmly in the Tea Party camp. And given the distaste you seem to have for “helping”, frankly, I wouldn’t want to depend on your assistance if I were in a bad spot. You write this: “Left to their own devices, human beings will help those in need” yet earlier you voice disdain for helping, calling it “suicidal”. Consistency of belief, anyone?

      • Smash: Your assertion “helping everyone we can does not mean we go without” is self-contradictory on its face. One must do without something, even if merely his own time, to help another. Contrary to your accusation, I do not argue against, or “voice disdain” for, helping others. I specifically cast help as a moral choice, saying (correctly) “Morality lies in discerning whom to help, and how.”

        We harbor imperfectly formed moral principles at our peril. I have demonstrated that to hold in our minds the idea “we are here to help everyone we can” is at best counterproductive and at worst self-destructive. But that is not to say we should avoid helping others.

        As for your suggestion I am “in the Tea Party camp,” you could not be more wrong. That you would draw such an inference from my words means both that you misunderstand the Tea Party and misunderstand me.

  3. John I appreciate your view but am puzzled as how what you are saying should not allow us to chop the hell out of defense where it only seems to be for the benefit of the generals, the mercenaries, and the builders of tools of war. We cannot afford it now, and there is no nation in the World equivalent to the ones we have faced in the past.

    • Jerry: I believe we should “chop the hell out of defense.” I agree with General Smedley Butler that “war is a racket.” I oppose standing armies altogether and believe that force should only be used in self-defense, and then only to the extent necessary to remove the proximate threat.

  4. Jerry – I agree, our government spends and spends on war and other countries while cutting the very things that help our own country stay afloat. It makes no sense whatsoever. Why is there NEVER any discussion of cutting war budgets? Why is it always about cutting the essential services that keep our society afloat? Republicans (or perhaps just Tea Party members) like to throw radical ideas out there like cutting funding for reproductive services when most of them likely don’t believe in what they are saying themselves. I see this as a political ploy tactic to draw attention to it, and minimize attention to other things. For example all of the other “smaller” agenda they have which are the real objectives in my opinion. I don’t think they ever meant for Planned Parenthood to be defunded (although they seem to think it might be fun to try and see what happens and how far their power could reach), I think they got exactly what they had wanted. Major cuts to everything most Americans rely on for societal growth. I was told today that I would be seeing a $1,000 or more reduction in my federal school loans which may cause me to drop out of school rather than pursuing the doctoral degree I was initially pursuing. I don’t see how it would be possible for me to go to school with a demanding course load while trying to work full time to meet my basic expenses. I don’t understand how these cuts to programs that better our society will be beneficial.

    John – to address your statement, I do not believe that humans (and especially Americans) are inherently benevolent beings. Not only are we evolutionarily predisposed to be selfish and compete (survival of the fittest, death to the weakest) which is evidenced particularly in the way Republicans are behaving lately if we are to equate money and power with “fitness”, which I imagine they do. But we are also conditioned by the media and our upbringings to value selfishness, material gain and immediate gratification of “wants” rather than “needs”. Leaving people to their own devices, I sincerely believe that only a very very small percentage of Americans would be philanthropic with their own wealth. There’s also the “group think” mentality problem where everyone figures “someone else will surely do it” and then nobody does it. “Forced charity” as you call it, is the only reasonable way that important programs be funded. If everyone was raised in a perfect economy, as middle or upper class white people who get a wonderful education and are taught the value of sharing and giving to others and everyone had nearly perfect parents, then I might believe it is possible to do away with social programs and government interference. But you are living outside of reality when you think this will work. The reality of the world is that there is mental illness, disabled, elderly, children in poverty, single-parent families, a failing economy where a guarantee of employment simply because you are “hard working” does not exist anymore, drug/alcoholic parents not really raising children or teaching them core values… you may say this is all on these people to “figure it out” but the fact is, that this is a majority of American households are in these situations and depend on the “forced charity” as you call it for survival oftentimes through no fault of their own. Sure there are plenty of lazy Americans just living off the system, but can you imagine what would happen (what IS going to happen) as these programs get cut? We can expect to see an increase in desperation/crime, pregnancies to parents without means of supporting children who then grow up repeating the cycle.

    This is just one example since I have personal experience with it, but I noticed while working with the homeless (most of whom had some sort of underlying mental illness) that many times their rationalization to their situation of sadness and loneliness was to get pregnant because then they would have someone who loved them unconditionally. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the foresight to know they would lose their children and the “system” would have to raise their kids. Many of them even had MULTIPLE children thinking that the next one would be different (and it never was). Can you stop for a minute and imagine what would happen when these kids and their homeless or mentally ill, or otherwise unfit parents start going hungry, cold, exhausted and desperate with no real foundation of a stable home and there is no federal programs in place to help them get to where they need to be to become a productive member of society? I don’t even have to describe the chaos when a majority of Americans become desperate for basic needs and the instinctual drive for survival kicks in. A majority of Americans are poor, and this scenario is one that has already started to play itself out. We will see a rise in the uneducated (cutting funding for teachers who already are getting docked pay, cutting funding for kids going to school, public school funding cuts), a rise in pregnancies in the poor population, more desperation, more instability etc. etc.

    Everything the Republicans want to cut are things that help bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. The only people who are proposing these things are the very wealthy elite, but for some reason, the less well-off Republicans who are NOT protected from the consequences of these budget cuts are actually going along with the wealthy elite without really thinking about what is going to happen. My father, for example, is a shining example. I was raised in an upper-middle class white family, conservative parents. My dad is always talking about how the government programs like unemployment etc. should be gotten rid of and that everyone should be responsible for themselves. He likes to be the shining beacon of an example of a guy who worked hard and got to where he did through hard work (which he did). Well, recently, his corporation outsourced his job and laid him off. Guess who is filing for unemployment and is REALLY relieved there is now an unemployment program to fall back to help him get back on his feet when something bad *gasp* happens to a hardworking American who did everything right.

    I really don’t understand how people can still be voting Republican after all that has been going on. It’s completely insane.

    I totally didn’t mean for this to be so long…. wow… SORRY! 🙂

  5. I apologize, Des, for not being able to answer your thoughtful remarks on mine point by point, but allow me to comment on just a couple of what I perceive to be the dominant themes or concepts.

    Throughout a lifetime of advocating the morality of self-government, whenever I have had a chance to thoroughly discuss political ideas with proponents of “forced charity,” in every case they have fallen back on the position, in effect, that man is inherently evil and must be forced to do good and help others. We are now many years into the Human Genome project and none of the advocates of original sin, if you will, has yet to point me to man’s evil gene.

    Man is neither inherently evil or good. Morality is learned. Charity and benevolence are moral goods that serve life and contribute to happiness, which is the purpose of life. Throughout history, human beings have helped one another without being forced to do so. The sense of life on which the idea of forced charity is based is simply wrong – demonstrably so.

    Similarly, I cannot count the number of times people have quoted Darwin without understanding him. “Survival of the fittest” does not mean or imply – never has meant or implied – that dog eat dog. It refers only to a biological capacity (“fitness”) for successful reproduction. For countless species, humans included, a capacity to empathize, sympathize, and help others is a manifestation of genetic fitness.

    Finally, you do yourself a grave disservice to fall for the Republican-Democrat dichotomy trap. There is no meaningful difference between them.

  6. John is a great friend of mine for many years and do not think he is opposed to restructuring the military and defense costs.

  7. John – Thanks for the response. To clarify, I never said anything about humans being genetically predisposed for evil. Well, I suppose that would depend on your definition of evil. I don’t necessarily think that being selfish is evil. Anyway, I still believe that humans are inherently selfish (not evil, but self serving) in that they have that intrinsic drive to do what is necessary to survive. The other point I was trying to make on that particular topic was the one you just made – that people learn through their lifetime, from their parents, from the media etc. what is expected of them and I do not think what is being taught in America currently are the values of giving to others and being generous. Nor do I think that would change if we suddenly abolished taxes and cut social programs.

    As for quoting Darwin, I didn’t. I made an feeble attempt to relate the theory of evolution to other things and I probably didn’t do a thorough enough job. Since evolutionary biology is what I am currently studying in college, I certainly don’t need it explained to me, but I do see your point. I think what I was thinking about when I wrote that was the idea that money will protect you, empower you, keep you healthy and safe and you would be more likely to reproduce viable offspring and they would be more likely to reproduce and so forth. Whereas those living in poverty die of hunger or freeze in inclement weather or otherwise cease to exist from lack of resources that are being siphoned and bogarted by the wealthy. Even if the poor were reproducing in greater numbers, it’s unlikely their offspring would be viable if they have no resources and we have no government help in place. This is just a theory of course, and I often suspect that many Republicans think that the poor will just “die” off and stop being a “problem” if resources are stripped from them. Or some have the hilarious idea that they will be forced to step up and take responsibility for themselves (even though many cannot for reasons I’ve mentioned previously).

    I’m honestly just quickly brainstorming here. I like that this thread has created a discourse about this. Although my math and chemistry homework are suffering in the process 😉 I use the polarity of Liberal vs Republican because they are easy to communicate, though I often disagree with both and agree with both. I often try to avoid labels and black and white thinking, but these labels are just easier to communicate my point and I’m tired. 🙂 I got two hours of sleep last night.

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