Fear or Faith… how about self interest

From John’s Blog “Dontbelieveinthesystem

Fear or Faith, You Decide

Let’s talk politics, let’s talk philosophy, let’s talk truth. I’m often hearing how the Republican party is supposed to represent small government. This is a myth. For proof, let’s look at federal spending over several administrations. I believe spending is as good as any number to represent the size of a government. It reflects how much they’re investing in various programs and the amount that tax-paying citizens are responsible for. In the table below, dollars have been normalized to the year 2000 values to account for inflation.

Over my lifetime, the federal government has grown under every administration (Republican or Democrat), except Nixon and Clinton, which represent both parties. I’d also like to note the soaring numbers under the current administration. The reason behind that trend is obviously the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.


This brings me to my next point: both parties believe in big government, the difference is what they believe the government should be doing. Republicans tend to favor spending more on the military, police, and corporate subsidies. Democrats tend to favor spending more on social welfare programs.

Note that these preferences are not absolute; life is not black and white. Republicans spend money on social programs, and Democrats spend money on military, police, and corporate subsidies. But we’re talking about tendencies. Where do they prefer to spend the money? What do they believe the government should be doing?

And this gets me to the second myth, which is actually a correlation of the first: Democrats and “liberals” want to meddle in everybody’s lives. They believe in big government and lot’s of rules and regulations.

To be honest, I agree. But the Republicans and “conservatives” are no different. They just want to have different rules and regulations. They want big government, but they want it in the form of police and military. And what is it that the police do? They impose rules and regulations. And what does the military do? It imposes the will of one country onto the will of another. It forces one country’s beliefs, norms, and values on other countries. Is that not “meddling” with people’s lives?

Undoubtedly, somebody will read this and say, “our military is to defend us from other ‘rouge’ nations” and it would take a whole post just to respond to that. But for now, let me say this: don’t you think that’s what they believe their military is for? Do you actually believe these other nations think of themselves as “rouges” out to spread “evil” in the world? Every nation believes its military exists to “defend” itself. But somebody is doing the “offending” and it’s always the other side isn’t it?

Back to subject….

Government’s role (whether Republican or Democrat) is to create rules and regulations, and to enforce them; to impose certain values and beliefs. When that is the government’s role what is at the heart of our action? Is it good will to man-kind? I doubt it. Is it a better world? Maybe we believe so, but I don’t think it’s working. No, I think it is fear. Fear that if people are not told what to do, what to believe, how to act, that chaos will rule. It is a lack of faith in the individual. Our current form of government is part of a view that everything must be controlled. Individuals are not to be trusted, they must be part of a system.

That’s why I don’t support Democrats, I don’t support Republicans, I don’t support “liberals’ or “conservatives”. I support free-thinking and a free society. I have faith in the individual, faith in the human heart, faith in what is at the heart of everything. And I dream of a society that is built on faith and love rather than fear. There’s something better out there.

John is a person that I respect very much and there have been many times that we’ve disagreed, or agreed, or agree on principle but disagree in action, on something.  So reading this, and having a brain warped from studying a German restaurant menu for a test, I fired an off the cuff  response.  I list it here because somewhere in the ramble of it all I think I made a good point, or maybe even two!  HA! 
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Sure, every nation is out for its own self interest, just as every individual is out for his own self interest (hence why anarchy cannot work).  I’m sure that Iran doesn’t think themselves as rogues.  Are they?  Depends on what view you take.  Why do they want nuclear facilities when they have oil for power?  N. Korea and nukes?  I’d rather pass on that.  Do they consider themselves rogues?  Probably not.  Are they dangerous?  I’d say so.

But perhaps there are others out there who don’t consider themselves rogues but who could use a good slapping around.  Example, most every drug dealer that I’ve met.  They might say that they are rogues in a sense that they do not work for “the man” or any of that cliche, and they act in a manner to support their views of dealing drugs.  It isn’t them that is wrong, it is that society is backwards for not accepting drugs.  Okay, sure… let me figure out how I can be less of a bigot and allow you and your drug induced lifestyle that includes your breaking into my vehicle twice, stealing three bikes, knocking on my third story apartment door at all hours of the day, and following  my girlfriend to the corner store.  I think not.  Some people just gotta be bitch slapped.  If this offends someone’s intellectual, ‘let’s talk out our problems’ sensibilities, then I suppose that person lives in la la land and has never been shot at, nearly mugged, chased by three people out to get a wallet, or have had their property broken into.

But I get off point.

Now, this is recognizable rhetoric from the left as it is being applied to America (let’s blame America first for everything, and America is only concocting reasons to invade helpless countries). 

Everybody is out for own self interest and not everyone is a David Thoreau or a Walt Whitman.  Some people are Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahlmer.  Should I, if I know about Ted, go next door and whack him?  Are governments of the world less diverse and abnormal in their characteristics than individuals you’d meet at a 7-11 on a Tuesday morning?  Oh no, they are just as diverse and warped. 

Oops, I used “warped” in the same sentence as I used the holy word “diversity”.  I can’t do that, the diversity police will come and arrest me.  Well, I suppose that in the name of allowing diversity to flourish, we should have allowed Iraqi officers to shoot Kurds tied to stakes with pistols.  I have the video, if you want to see it, I’ll email it to you.  Or the respect for diversity should should keep me to respect all religions, so the islamafascists that beheaded several people should be allowed as legitimate political protests and religious freedom.  Again, I have the videos of four different unfortunate people suffering from non-rogue, non-evil people.  I don’t see the Muslim world holding tribunals and sentencing those responsible for the beheadings on trial, as America has done, and doing, with soldiers who have crossed the line with prisoners in Iraq.  By the way, we are very nice to the prisoners, you should see the Iraqi Police treat suspects… not pretty.

Okay, so, 1, there is no acceptable definition of rogue nation, so this means that we should never go to war against a rogue nation (since obviously there is no such thing).  I would like to put up approval the definition of a nation that goes against the common courtesies and decencies allowed by most nations to its own citizens and non-combatants (which 9-11 certainly applies I believe), but then again, the UN is utterly incapable of this, heck, Libya and Sudan are members of the human rights committee and they voted the U.S. off of it (name one country that has ever,either through its government or the private actions of its citizens, dones as much for other people in the world as America), and member countries will turn deals with countries in danger of being a “rogue nation” for oil and money. 

Yeah, I know, America makes a buck… we’re capitalist, its what we do, but I disagree in that it is a bad thing.  How is it that we are so evil for making a buck by importing Nikes (when workers make more money in the factory than they do at the local field)and yet the leader of a rogue nation (oops, can’t use that word) doesn’t get in trouble when he routinely kills people left and right (I’ve seen the torture room for the Iraqi soccer team at Olympic stadium.  Uday, or Qusay, I get both of em confused, didn’nt like it when the soccer team lost)?

Since there is no definition of rogue nation that would allow us to go after, how about nations that threaten our national security?  And by the way, the Gulf War with Iraq was not over, it was a cease fire from Desert Storm and the economic sanctions were devestating the economy and health care of the country.  I recall the “medicine for Iraqi Children” tables at two different colleges and how me, a bastard of a gulf war veteran, was responsible for the fact that the children didn’t have aspirin. 

But to another point, not supporting Democrats or Republicans and all that jazz.  Good idea.  Jefferson said something that if the way to Heaven was with party politics, he wouldn’t go.  But he drank a lot of wine also, amalgamated congruent ideas into one, and ran his estate deep into debt, so we’ve gotta take Tom with a grain of sand now and then. 

Is it possible for people to truly be non-partisan?  I say that it isn’t.  The evidence for conformity is simply too strong in the human brain.  This isn’t ideaology or intellectualism or anything… it is biology and how we’re hardwired.  We learn by mimicry, we are social in nature, and we tend to group with others like ourselves.  How many conservative friends do you have (not counting me, because I came out of the conservative closet recently)?  I simply LOVE the goths and the (supposed) beats and hippies and alternative culture and, heck, any body who says that they are NOT mainstream.  But just look at them!  They are all the same!  A goth is a goth is a goth, and yet they (and the punk kids, and the street kids, and -insert name here- kids) all share trends that are the same.

Okay, I can hear you saying “yeah, but our (meaning this group of individuals that will not belong to any group but itself, which also begs the question, can you have a group of individuals?) only common traits will be respect for humanity, selfless caring for others, working to solve conflict and the evironmental problems of today, that is what we will share.  Okay, and I bet there will not be any dress codes the same, any music playlist the same on the IPODS (Nope, no Ani Difranco for you pal!  By the way, I LOVE Ani DiFranco… Dog Coffee and Imperfectly are two of my favorites, even though we disagree in philosophy), no cars the same, no houses the same, no… wait… I just remembered, that even with all of its uniqueness… everyone in Eugene (except for the Methodist Republicans) look, act, and do pretty much the same things.  And I’m not really that impressed with the altruistic side of the non-violent peaceniks in Eugene… some got pretty damn hateful with me, and I watched one of their peaceful protests down a city street where they spat on police officers who were telling them to get off the street.  How dare the police show up in riot gear… these are peaceful protestors (insert hacking a loogie sound here mixed in with screams of “I’m being oppressed” from “Monty Python the Holy Grail”).

So back to governement and roles and fear and such.  Governement should only make rules for the betterment of mankind.  Hmm… sounds similar to either the Christian Coalition, or Communist China, both I could do without.  But if people are not all that selfish, and everyone doesn’t work to serve the needs of others first, then how is government to enforce even small rules, like say, no speeding, or no riding your bike down a pedestrian mall (I still laugh about that episode)?  Think about this, service staff (waiters) in a restaurant are generally taught to help each other, that if the entire team is doing good, then the individual is going to do good. Sounds good and it works a lot of the time.  But then the restaurant gets busy and then Suzy forgets about helping out others, she only thinks about herself and how far behind she is.  {Screw the rest, I’m going under here!}  IF some place as simple as a restaurant loses it’s grip on altruism and selfless service with as few factors as there are, how on earth are we to have a nation or a world, where this isn’t going to happen? 

Should we try to help out the waiter next to our section?  Yes, because what is good for the restaurant is probably good for me.  So let’s go and help out those people in Rwanda who are being butchered (oops, forgot, the mighty U.N. said “screw that”).  But lets not, in our haste to exercise our human-ness, forget that we are still vicious little animals with odd little chemicals in our brains that make us like to watch American Idol, The Next Hot Model, Paris Hilton, and do things like furry conventions and genocide.  We might be social in nature, but we are ultimately selfish. 

Back to America, founded through a variety of converging interests and events in history (among them were the Pilgrims, but what about that crazy break dancing sect?) and chief among them were capitalist reasons.  America was created moreso out of capitalist ideals than religious freedom.  The founders understood that we weren’t always angels, so they devised as system of government where competition was the norm.

Lets hear it for self interest!  How can you love another if you can’t love yourself first?  How can you help another if you are taxed beyond all recognition? 

Is current government too large?  Most conservatives will tell you YES while singing and dancing to George M Cohans “yankee doodle dandy”.  Is there a huge chunk of the current spending going to the military, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the creation of a new part of the executive branch (dept of homeland security) as well as revamping the intelligence fields (I’m all for the Patriot Act.  What does it allow that we’ve not been able to do in going after the Mafia?  I’ve not met anyone who knows anyone pulled off the street into a black van for checking out the Communist Manifesto at the library.  I own two copies, so I guess I’m next!  But Abdul, who is sending blueprints of a skyscraper to Afghanistan, to people with Al Qaeda connections… yeah… we should probably pick this dude up and give him 20 questions), so it isn’t surprising that there is so much spending going on.

But I wonder.

Look at the average percentage of taxes paid by people per year or decade, and compare it to what donations to charity were in those same years.

Also, spending more on education too.  Not exactly a conservative thing here, we tend to want education be handled at a lower level.  But teachers unions and state systems have these big offices of various VIPs that recieve big salaries while they cut Timmy’s band class.  If this is our option, then lets spend more on a federal level, or have school vouchers.  Oops again, some people say this is a racist thing.  I guess they got the secret memo saying that only whites will get the vouchers, and that those given to inner city kids are really just monopoly money.

Okay… this turned into a long rant and I’ve got a date with the sunset in a nearby forest.  What I like about Portland (as compared to European cities) is that there is a little park virtulally around every corner!  Most of them I had no idea were there until I got a map, they blend in so well with the natural greenery of the city.  So it is off to view the Pileated Woodpecker in 60 acres of forest not farther than two miles from home. (editor’s note, this is quip about a post that John made that seemed to put European cities as so much better than American cities, with parks everywhere and all that jazz.  I made this purposefully erroneous to make a point).

Cheers John!  It is great to read your stuff, it gets me to thinking and I can’t wait for your rebuttal.

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