I was met with an interesting exchange today. I had a chance to ask someone I know to be a devoted Democrat, whether or not they would vote for Barack Obama again after everything we’ve seen thus far. Skyrocketing unemployment. Stock market roller coaster rides. A credit downgrade. An exploding national debt. I didn’t bring any of this up; I kept it to myself while I posed the question. May it be duly noted that I asked if I may pose the question, so as not to force her into an unwanted political debate.
Me: May I ask why that is? (Interjecting no commentary)
Her: I trust his judgment; his intelligence; his ideas. I just trust him. None of this mess is his fault. He inherited all of this. I just can’t believe what the Republicans are doing to this country. When I think of all those “good ‘ol boy” CEOs and their companies making their millions, and shipping their businesses overseas so as to not have to pay taxes, it just makes me so mad. It’s all about the money. All they care about is making money. We are so obsessed in this country with making money that it’s just going to destroy us. These Republicans and their horrible ideas….pushing these wars in the name of Christianity…all this stuff. We’re just going to go down.
I proceeded to let her talk for a few minutes, hoping to get in a quick question about national debt, or the war in Libya, one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, etc. Remember folks, despite the ragged excuse that this is STILL Bush’s fault, this president has accumulated more debt than all his predecessors, COMBINED. I wanted to point out that I agreed with her in that Barack Obama did indeed inherit quiet a chunk of debt. I also wanted to point out that George W. Bush racked up the majority of his skyrocketing debt due to fighting the War on Terror. (I know, I know….that’s a whole new can of worms. We’ll get into that later). The point is, it’s understandable to incur a debt while fighting a war. Meanwhile, this President has racked up massive debt from primarily domestic spending!
Long story short, I couldn’t find a point of interjection for my question on the debt, or anything else. I was also quickly coming to the understanding that I could probably tell her the sky was blue and she’d argue that it wasn’t simply because the sentence exited the mouth of a conservative. So, I decided I’d wrap it up this way:
Me: Well, I think people would do well to learn from the lessons of history. I think that many of the answers to our problems would come if we’d just learn from what we’ve done wrong in the past.
Her: Yes, no one turns to history these days! (Not realizing that by agreeing with me she’s validating my point. We’ve been in this predicament before! Most recently, during the Carter Administration. The Obama Administration is the Carter Administration on steroids. “Learning” from history would indicate that these policies have been tried, recently, and they have not worked!)
Me: Well, that’s because it isn’t taught. (By “not taught,” I mean that it is either replaced with a glossy, politically correct view of the world otherwise known as “Social Studies,” or it’s simply taught with such a revisionist slant that it’s unrecognizable.)
Her: Of course it’s taught! But people just don’t listen to it. The point is, the good ol’ boys just want to keep on making money. This capitalism….what it’s done to our country; it’s made everything about making money…it’s going to destroy us.
I tried once again to veer into more specific areas and she instantly tried to shut me down by telling me that she really didn’t think we should talk politics anymore. She ended our conversation by telling me that it’s a big world out there, and that I have a lot to learn, “kiddo.”
According to her recurring theme, making good money is destructive and unfair. So, may I pose the (excuse the pun) $64,000 question?
Is being rich such a bad thing?
As I listened to her talk to me, I came to the realization that what I was dealing with here was a unapologetic Socialist. She views capitalism and all its byproducts as divisive because in her heart of hearts, she would like to see across-the-board economic equality. It certainly sounds nice- no one has more money than the other. No distinction by economic status. Naturally people envision a sort of “upper middle class” world. Enter Winston Churchill. He once said that “Socialism is the equal distribution of poverty.” He’s right! Socialism in the Utopian sense has never, ever worked, and where it has not completely destroyed an economy, it has created one in which everyone (except those who’ve figured out how to beat the system, or who are lucky enough to be part of the political “elite”) lives in mediocrity.
Where would we be without the wealthy? The job creators, the investors in inventions and new technology, the risk-takers….all of which drive the economy! Why else do we attend school, learn, grow, and strive to be the best that we can be if it is all for a life mediocrity? Though not all strive to be millionaires (and most will not achieve this status), all of us strive for a better life for ourselves, and our families. This is all possible because of our free market capitalist system. We are guaranteed the right to pursue happiness. We are not guaranteed equality in economic stature. If this were the case, we would be ensnared in a web of economic “equality” that wouldn’t sputter past lower middle class at best.
May I also point out that even the most selfish, money hungry multi-millionaire still benefits society with the massive tax load he or she pays, the people they employ, the goods and services they purchase with their millions, etc.? I’ve said this before, but I’m certainly glad the company that employs me makes so much money. It puts money in MY bank as a result. I’m able to pay my bills, pay off my student loans, and pursue my own interests and desires.
Though corruption unequivocally exists in any system (capitalism being no exception), in so many cases a free market has done far more good than ill; and has promoted an unbridled enterprising spirit in those who have lived under such precepts.
That is the beauty of this nation. It is the beauty of true freedom. So long as you harm no one in your pursuit of happiness, succeed away! What’s so evil about that? That is true equality. The chance to have a go at it, succeed or fail. The point is that you had the freedom to try!