Archive for September, 2012

September 19, 2012

What do we expect from our government?

I rely on the government for many things. For some reason, freely admitting, and being grateful for this, makes me a deadbeat, moocher, entitled, victim, or worse, to some people.

I rely on the government for student loans, for a quality education which I would otherwise be unable to afford. Not everyone needs this, but I do.

I also rely on the government for ensuring the food I buy is not going to make me sick. For ensuring the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, traffic signs and signals to work properly so I can get to my destination safely and on time. For ensuring the police, firefighters, and other emergency first responders in case the worst should happen. For ensuring the water I drink isn’t contaminated by commercial companies over which I have no control. For ensuring none of the products I buy, from cars, electronics, appliances, clothes, tools, or hygienic products kill me. For ensuring I and the people around me receive decent educations. For ensuring competing companies can’t conspire to charge exorbitant prices for the things I really need. I need all of these things. Not only do I need these things, but everyone does.

I rely on the government for these things, because ensuring these responsibilities to anyone else ensures they will be more expensive, less reliable, and not something from which everyone would benefit.

To get these services which I think are basic and necessary and should not be considered luxuries, I am willing to pay higher taxes. I’m willing to pay taxes so that not only do I get these services, but so do my wife, children, and everyone else in this country.

Paying more taxes does not necessarily mean that I get these and more services, though. Sometimes, I’m just paying more taxes so other people can pay less taxes. In some cases, for example when the people are unemployed and cannot afford to pay as many taxes, I will accept the extra burden, because these people need the help. In other cases, like when the people do not need the extra help, then I do not accept the extra burden of more taxes. Not only do my taxes no longer go to providing services for everyone, but neither do those taxes that those other people no longer have to pay. Maybe those people do deserve extra privileges, but I don’t think it comes at the price of making other people suffer more than they have to.

Democrat. Liberal. Communist. Socialist. In the end, I don’t care what people try to label me. I’ll only identify with whatever label most closely matches, “trying to bring about the best world for as many people as possible, not just myself.”

September 7, 2012

Some programs just shouldn’t be privatized

Now that we’re on the road to universal health care, a question that I think we should be asking is, shouldn’t we just do away with the health insurance system? And most types of insurance, for that matter?

I realize that the knee-jerk reaction is to point out how far-fetched it would be for our country to head in that direction. After all, so many jobs and so much money is made off the insurance company, so the resistance they would mount over any such initiative is bound to be extraordinary.

However, ultimately these companies are making money by providing (and in many cases, withholding) protection for people, that really shouldn’t be treated as a luxury. If a person is sick and needs health care, they should be able to receive it, regardless of what type of coverage they might have, if any at all.

The federal government already invests tons of money investigating and preventing insurance fraud, so that proves that people recognize that the government should be involved in these matters.

Obviously, this means that we end up paying more taxes, but in the long run, it’s bound to cost the average citizen less than heath insurance premiums, life insurance premiums, house insurance premiums, and car insurance premiums. People don’t like when their taxes are raised, sure, but the tradeoff is more security when it comes to the important things in our lives, and a healthier, safer society as a whole.

Some people will dismiss these arguments simply because it makes me sound like a socialist, but I don’t think it makes you a socialist to argue that some programs and services just shouldn’t be privatized.

September 2, 2012

How do we address violence in this society?

Two days ago, an ex-marine killed two people and then himself at the New Jersey grocery store where he worked.

Last week, a 15 year old Maryland high school student opened fire on the first day of class, injuring one other student.

Nine days ago, a man in a business suit shoots an ex-coworker five times in the head at the Empire State Building, before being killed by two cops, who also injure 9 bystanders in the process.

18 days ago, a man shot and wounded a security guard at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. before being stopped. The attack appears to be politically motivated.

28 days ago, an Army veteran killed six and wounded four at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, before apparently committing suicide.

And most notably, it’s only been 44 days since James Holmes opened fire in an Aurora, CO movie theatre, killing 12 and wounding 58 others.

While many of these perpetrators had troubling backgrounds, none of them would actually fit our general ideas of a violent criminal.

So how do we respond to these isolated incidents of extreme violence by non-repeating offenders?

Do we lump them in with the way we respond to ordinary criminals? Or do we try to implement programs to identify and prevent these isolated incidents from occurring?

Up until now, the way we have been responding has done little good.

Collectively, we hold our breaths and cross our fingers and pray the next time doesn’t come, and then what? When it invariably comes, we all look at each other and shrug. Make some empty condolences, and then repeat the whole scenario.

Like all other social problems, this one does not have a simple solution. But because of that, we effectively don’t try to find any solution at all.

This country no longer tries new ideas to solve our problems. It’s either try the same old, tired, ineffective tactics that paint with a broad brush and clearly do not work, or don’t try at all. Treat it like we can’t do anything about it.

As a civilized society, we should always strive to completely eliminate tragedies like these, no matter how implausible. Because one is already too many.