“A Tale of Two Moralities”
That’s the title of a recent Paul Krugman column. I have to take issue with this column. There isn’t anything I disagree with. But it’s way oversimplified; it leaves out too much.
He’s talking about the great political divide that’s tearing the country in two. The Left believes it’s “morally superior” for “the affluent to help the less fortunate.”
And the Right “believes that people have a right to keep what they earn, and that taxing them to support others, no matter how needy, amounts to theft.”
And this is why his column is too simplified. The people on the “Right” he’s talking about are Libertarians. They make up a tiny portion of the Right Wing. He doesn’t mention anything about “Christian” snakehandlers and Salem witch-hunters who want to take America back to the 1700s. Or the warmongering rednecks who want the U.S. to invade and occupy dozens of “backward” countries because we know what’s best for them. (And because We WANT the natural resources that God mistakenly put under their soil instead of ours.)
Of course, Republicans and conservatives all pretend they’re Libertarian. Judging by their political slogans, you’d think they really do want “the government off our backs,” and believe in “self-reliance,” “personal responsibility” and “the right to be left alone.” Those soundbites are a lot more appealing than “I hate queers, minorities and everybody who doesn’t go to my church” or “we oughtta just bomb all them third world countries back to Kingdom Come.”
But unfortunately those last two categories make up the vast majority of today’s Republican Party. They all screamed “Freedom died today!” when Obama signed the health care reform bill last Spring. But these same freedom-loving individualists were stone silent when we invaded Iraq under false pretenses, and when Dumbya established massive domestic spying programs and eliminated Habeas Corpus. When our government spends trillions of dollars on wars and the Prison Industrial Complex, the Right mysteriously forgets about their “right to keep what they earn.”
And I disagree with his description of liberals. I can’t speak for anybody else, but the reason I’m in favor of a public safety net (or “the nanny state” as wingtards like to call it) has nothing to do with whether it’s a “moral” issue or “the right thing to do.” I believe in having a safety net because it works. It’s better for the whole country. As the saying goes, “When everybody wins, we all win.” (Or whatever the exact wording is.)
When millions of Americans are unemployed, destitute, homeless, sick and not having access to health care — the entire country gets pulled down. I would assume that the rest of the industrialized world has become “socialistic” for practical, pragmatic reasons; not because of “morality” or “right and wrong.”
When a huge percentage of a country’s population is poor, scared shitless and pissed off — it means the system is NOT Working. Tunisia, anyone?
So that’s my quarrel with Paul Krugman’s column. The Left favors a safety net (“robbing Peter to pay Paul,” whatever you want to call it) because it makes the entire country a better place; not because it’s “moral” or “the right thing to do.”
And the Right is sure as hell NOT made up of freedom-loving individualists who just want the government to leave us alone.