Cartier: Part II on the discussion of Socialism (column)
Part II, on the discussion of Socialism. I wrote a column about six years ago that began with an unexpected quote from Rob Lowe, where he stated, “Democrats are big on empathy and Republicans are big on logic.” This links right in with today’s debate.
How can the best and brightest from both sides of the aisle create such opposing solutions to the same issues? The Democrats like to wave the empathy flag (free stuff) and Republicans, while equally empathetic, must be the ones based in reality (how do we pay for it?).
Democrats consider the only solution to economic challenge is the increase of government programs. They truly feel that people will perish without government intervention, particularly if they belong to an underrepresented Identity Group. Yet, the qualifications for public assistance require giving up many of the freedoms we consider sacred.
We can all identify with those in crisis because everyone at some point needs help, which is why we do provide a safety net (Medicaid and Welfare) for unexpected trauma. Yet, no one wants trauma as a way of life. Inadvertently, we encourage it by creating programs that have no escape route; we doom those in need to a lifetime of misery because they are trapped in a cycle of poverty.
We discover that most welfare fraud is caused by those who challenge the regulations after their crisis, which prohibit the earning of additional income. They risk forfeiture of benefits and even jail time because they discover that their innate desire to grow and contribute back is impossible to contain — it goes against the grain of the American spirit.
Republicans view people for their potential, regardless of their current circumstance — bad things happen to everyone (logic). They would rather inspire greatness than encourage dependency. There is a deeply held belief that we can do much more than we often think possible, and our economy rewards creativity, passion and hard work, with a shot at living our dreams.
No one dreams of being on government assistance and should not be condemned to a marginalized life because of a short-term need. Making people indebted to government is demeaning to the recipient, and negatively impacts the individual, their family’s future and the American economy.
We hear of “equity” but that doesn’t exist anywhere in life. There will always be those who have more than us. There isn’t even equity within families; all are born with different talents, temperaments and, frequently, advantages (firstborn over the middle child). In a socialist system, government officials have more than anyone else — it is not equal, either. What we fight for is the freedom of opportunity. The ability to succeed or fail on our own terms.
Our history was built by independent thinkers and doers, who were rebelliously determined. They all selected a harder life than where they originated and the last thing they wanted was to be just like everyone else.
We must also understand, there is a difference between social programs and Socialism — it’s a matter of degree and control. When we speak of vastly expanding social programs (empathy), the money must come from somewhere (logic), and if you expand too greatly, you must begin taking money from sources that otherwise contribute to our nation’s growth, ultimately, “running out of other people’s money” (Thatcher) because there will always be more need than money available. Socialism is an idealistic theory, which has historically proven to be unsustainable. We must not be oblivious to the long-term consequences of our good intentions.
Yet, because we can’t do everything, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do anything. Evaluating our existing programs and making them more efficient and accessible to those they were designed to help is essential (logic). Creating networks of charitable organizations and generating community support provides the most desired safety net possible, caring neighbors and friends (empathy).
Empathy is strong in our country because we all understand that feeling of helplessness, which occurs when our personal world comes crashing down. We also know the inspiration of achievement, when we overcome those challenges and succeed beyond our own imagination. When allowed to soar, we are capable of changing the world, and we have.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are no quick fixes to our nation’s challenges; it certainly isn’t Socialism. It often begins with program expansion, then when more money is needed, it will require taking from some, to give to others, and the only winners are those who do the taking — government.
As Churchill stated, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others,” or more colloquially, don’t fix what ain’t broke.