Changing The Argument
We argue a lot these days.
If something is green, within minutes there will be people lined up on one side arguing that it is actually blue with pretty much an equal number on the other arguing that it is actually yellow. Reluctantly, they will agree that it is a combination of the two but then the argument will be about how much yellow or how much blue is actually involved.
The arguments aren’t even consistent based on ideology.
Progressives will rail against the profiteering of large corporations while ignoring the enrichment of environmental darling like Al Gore. They’re even prepared to gloss over his attempt to avoid increased taxes on the sale of his television network by trying to rush the sale through before December 31 in order to avoid paying additional taxes. It doesn’t stop them from demanding that corporate America pay more though.
And the right isn’t any better.
We’re quick to point fingers at the entitlement demands of progressives but very slow to condemn the corporate welfare that our tax money doles out in the form of privileged tax breaks and outright cash.
One that really gets under my hat is so petty that it never ceases to amaze me every time it happens and I’ve lived through the argument more than once.
Somebody gets the idea that it would be great if we brought NHL hockey or some other professional sport to town and I agree. It is a good idea. Then the demands and campaigns begin for the government to get involved which always means the government should support the initiative by forking over some cash, usually somewhere in multiples of millions.
Let’s put aside the idea that government probably shouldn’t be in the business of subsidizing private businesses like sports franchises. The thing that annoys me is that many of the same people who think professional sports should be subsidized call into open line talk shows and write letters to the editor complaining about government subsidizing the arts.
They go absolutely red in the face over the idea that City Hall handed out a few thousand to some theatre company after having spent months encouraging them to dole out a million or two to support football.
The issue isn’t football or theatre; the issue is whether or not government should be subsidizing either but we’re so busy arguing over the things we do and do support we ignore what we should be discussing and debating.
It’s like arguing over whether it was the iceberg or the captain were responsible for the sinking of the Titanic rather than discussing how everyone is going to get off the ship before it goes down.
Sometimes the arguments become so extreme that they no longer have a relationship to the original issue. The Sandy Hook shooting is just one tragic example of an argument spinning out of control.
It has become an argument over gun control rather than a debate about what causes someone to go on a murderous rampage. The argument has become so extreme that some have gone so far as to criticize some of the parents who lost children in that terrible shooting while others have likened it to a government trying to suppress the people into slavery.
Meanwhile, back in reality, there are people still killing others for reasons we neither understand nor have tried to address.
Pick the issue and it’s pretty much the same thing.
With only a few deluded exceptions, we all agree that our nations are carrying too much debt and it is reasonable for people to have different ideas on how to address that issue except we aren’t. Instead we are arguing over who caused it which leads us to believe that all we have to do is shut down the other side and the problem will be resolved.
Instead of debating the best way to reduce debt, we argue over who is responsible for creating it. All that succeeds in doing is entrenching positions because nobody likes to admit that they’re wrong. Consequently, we dig in our heels and defend the indefensible.
The fact is, and we all know it, reducing the debt will only happen when we reign in government spending and rationalize a truly fair taxation system. In the United States, this means that there is a serious need to address the inequity of having 47% of the country paying no income tax at all and eliminating many of the unfair tax deductions on the wealthy. It also means reducing government regulation and spending both of which complicate things and there is unnecessary expense in complexity.
We should be debating how to achieve that rather than who is responsible. The ship has hit the iceberg. It no longer matters whether it was the captain or the iceberg’s fault.
This is one of the reasons I am so critical of government generally and politicians in particular. They thrive on our division because it provides both opportunity and means to avoid accountability and to retain power. If we forget that we are Americans or Canadians in favour of being Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives or Liberals, we forget that we share common purpose.
Ronald Regan was a great president; not because of his policies necessarily. He wasn’t all that more visionary than most but he did something most politicians fail to do these days. He made Americans remember and be proud of the fact they were Americans. He made Americans remember they were Americans before they were Republican or Democrat and that is the first step in finding solutions.
A nation is stronger when its people are united as a people even in their disagreements politically. When you compare the debate today to the kind of debates that took place in the Regan Era, the difference is like that between day and night.
Nobody accused the government of being oppressive; instead the debated the issues and considerably more civilly than they do these days. People didn’t hate fellow Americans on the other side, they simply disagreed with them.
Today, it is all emotion and that emotion is expressed in anger born in fear. We are, quite simply, afraid. We’re afraid of terrorism, the explosion of random violence around us and economic devastation. Some are so afraid of their governments, they propose withdrawing from their country and forming a new smaller nation that might be more manageable and less intimidating.
We all know what we’re afraid of but we’re afraid to confront it. together Instead we blame the rack instead of looking underneath it because we’re afraid of what might scurry out. and so we blame and accuse, argue and attack – not the root causes of our fears – but each other and in the end, there is no relief to be found there.
And not many solutions either.
So how many people would it take to change a light bulb these day? Ten! Five to argue for a new light bulb and five to argue how the old light bulb was much better.
© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
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