Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You Get What You Pay for

Remember that little piece of wisdom? And we believe it don't we? Nobody expects to get a good reliable car for $1000. Nobody expects a $5 pair of shoes will last more than a few days. A cheap tool will be made of inferior materials and won't do the job. You can't get a good guitar for $150. The list goes on. You get what you pay for. Now, I know there are exceptions, but they are rare. In any given situation, you can count on that little aphorism being true.

Why then do we expect anything different when it comes to government? We have this crazy (and I mean that term) movement called The Tea Party that wants to cut taxes and cut government spending... screw the common good. They aren't asking what will happen to roads, to schools, to the elderly, to children, to the poor, to those who for whatever reason live on the margins of life. Maybe they don't care. They say people should be responsible for themselves and they should, but we live in a society where all of us depend upon the commons just to stay alive. Unfortunately, the benefits of the commons are not equally distributed. Those of us who are doing well, in large degree do well because of an infrastructure that has been provided for us by others. They say that government is inept. To some degree, that is true, but to the degree that it is true, it is because it has been the agenda of many in the Republican Party to make it inept and weak so they could "drown it in the bathtub." They say we should trust the free market. Indeed, our market has produced the most affluent society ever to exist, but when allowed to run free it has also shown that it has no compassion and no commitment to anything beyond the bottom line. They say they don't trust government bureaucrats but forget that at least they are supposed to have the public interest at heart. Corporate bean counters often have a very different fiduciary responsibility. Public interest and common good are irrelevant and may be in conflict with their shareholders' interests and those interests always come first. And they say that those who are most productive should be able to keep all they have while the least should fend for themselves. I would argue that those who are most productive owe that in significant measure to the schools, connections, opportunities that the greater society has afforded them and that they owe those taxes to the society that makes their wealth possible.

You get what you pay for... there are no shortcuts when it comes to building a civil society with opportunity and possibility for all of its citizens.

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