To have a successful nation in terms of economics, social policies, arts, philosophy, discourse, politics and social interactions, you must have balance.
It’s not quite as easy as trying to keep your footing on a balance beam at the playground or gym, but neither is it as bad as trying to balance on the head of a pin. No, it’s more of a tightrope walk.
But you know what? The thing about tightrope walking is that people who do it for a living can do it well, almost all the time, and that’s because they work at it. And if they slip up in practice, there’s a net below to catch them and minimize the injury.
Capitalism is not a dirty word, nor are things like corporate incentives, urban (or rural) development or tax breaks. No matter what the left wing tells you.
Socialism is not a dirty word, nor are things like public services, regulation, welfare or the like. No matter what the right wing tells you.
I had a post a long time ago about the perils of using just one wing: You can’t freaking fly with just one wing. We need both. We need balance.
Listening to NPR today, a guy was speaking about the years following the Great Depression, in which many regulations, government interventions and social welfare programs came into play. They helped usher in a more responsible way of doing business and serving the citizenry, and it ushered in one of the best eras in the United States, in terms of economic growth and the betterment of families’ and workers’ lives. In fact, it is what created the middle class.
Today, we have people on the left who want to do nothing but penalize business and shut down various avenues to progress, and who want to clamp down so tight on how we use resources that millions would, in fact, probably perish as a result. On the right we have people who think that unfettering businesses is good, and that it’s better to use up our resources now, and hope we’ll find new ones later, rather than be responsible stewards of this planet.
I am not liberal. Despite many left-leaning views, I just am not liberal. Oh, I lean heavily in that direction, don’t get me wrong. But I believe in letting businesses reap rewards. What irks me is that they are allowed these days to do everything wrong and evil they like, and let everyone else pay the price later. There is no accountability. I know that not everyone can eat well and have good housing and get great healthcare. But in a world were precious few can even afford private healthcare anymore, even when they work hard for a living, I see no social justice.
When did social justice become such a dirty little phrase to so many people, most particularly the people who sometimes need it most? So many people in the Teabag Party who desperately need healthcare, but are willing to hand the keys over to companies who won’t pay them decent wages, give them enough time off for personal and health needs, and then also won’t pay pensions anymore, or provide health insurance. So many people who might have money in the bank if they weren’t so gung-ho about letting people in government loosen the reins on banks and thus putting their money in jeopardy.
As bad as I find the extreme left wing at times, at least more of them seem willing to walk the walk and talk the talk. If they are calling for people to live a more austere lifestyle, they are often doing it themselves. Still, there are bad actors there, too, people who want to live their lifestyle and not really contribute to the society in terms of work or taxes, either, which hurts the people around them and often mean they themselves are using public resources and dragging things down.
But still, it is the people on the right who boggle my mind the most. People who decry “Socialism” yet gladly pick up Social Security checks or use Medicaid or Medicare or don’t mind that taxes pay for wars overseas, or police in the cities, or street repair, or education.
Balance, people. Balance.
I don’t want things leaning all the way to the left. God, I’d hate that as much as a right-wing police state. But the fact is that for at least the past 20 years and, really, the past 30 at least, the pendulum has swung steadily to the right, and all the protection we had in place…all those safety nets underneath the tightrope…were left to languish, and sometimes were cannibalized to build up other and less important things.
We fell off the tightrope recently, my friends, and the nets only caught us barely. We need to rebuild, and we need to move more toward the left, to find our balance again.
If we don’t, the next fall may cripple or kill us.