The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A quiet dinner conversation

While I was enjoying a reunion with an old buddy [Blast from the past], we had dinner at your usual over-priced steak house. A fine dinner. I should provide a little background before I get into this too deeply. Rick and Ellen are liberal. Faye and I are conservative. This can make conversations awkward if politics comes up as a subject... or even as a tangent. Rick wasn't always very liberal. He was mostly indifferent to politics, I thought. I got the impression that he still is. Ellen is more ideological, more invested.

When you have a marriage where the spouses disagree on political matters, when they are poles apart, one of two things will happen. One spouse will bend to the other or they'll be a divorce or murder in their future. I might be overstating the problem just a bit but I think I caught the essence. Often, the spouse with the weakest belief will simply "go along to get along."

As we talked, dancing around the 500 pound gorilla which is politics and which was sitting right there with us, the subject snuck into the conversation. It is difficult these days to avoid politics. The economy, however, came up and that led us into political philosophy. As we struggled to express ourselves regarding what should be done about the rapidly expanding national debt without offending each other or triggering an argument, Rick said something which has remained with me...

"I guess it depends upon what you think government should do. How much it should help."

I think my clever, witty, and sage response was "Bingo!" But I didn't yell it, I practically whispered it.

Because isn't Rick's premise what our current political battles are all about? And isn't that the essence of the battle between Left and Right?

I think we all agree that government should provide a safety net for those who find themselves in dire straits. The question is how that safety net should be constructed. Conservatives are not nearly as hard-hearted as they are portrayed. I think they strongly believe in the adage:

"Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life."

I also think conservatives are afraid of dependency. Not for themselves so much but for others. A common enough emotion, fear, that permeates both the liberal and conservative ideologies. Both worry about the weakness of people but not their own. They know they are strong, it's other people who are at risk. I share that fear.

My father was the most independent person I have ever known. He was willing to help others but wanted no help for himself unless it was absolutely necessary. Or he had some ulterior motive... like teaching me a lesson about hangovers and hot sun and building a shed(a story for another time). The worst part of his life came when he had to move into assisted living. It meant he was dependent upon others. It was official. To him it meant he was no longer a man.

I got that gene. Mine is weaker, though. I don't mind asking for help, I don't feel lessened by it.

But this isn't about that so much as it is about the role of government. Should government be the first place or the last place to look for assistance? I don't think that will ever be answered. Except by saying "It depends."

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