Civilization on the Cheap

by James Wallace Harris, Tuesday, August 8, 2018

Detailed Red-Blue voting by New York Times.

Every red spot on this map represents where a majority of people believe the needy should to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and a conviction we should reward the rich even more. Red represents a rejection of the Christian ideal of healing the sick and helping the poor. Red represents a growing philosophy of self-interest over everyone’s interests. But what does this red tide ultimately mean?

Whenever I talk to Republicans they complain bitterly about taxes. They passionately resent their tax money spent on helping the poor. Their attitude seems to be, “I’ve got mine, fuck everyone else,” although they say, “I work for my money, why should I give it to people that don’t?” I think their failure to see a larger picture is going to destroy us.

There is no precise definition of conservative belief. Most conservatives are anti-taxes, anti-big-government. A certain percentage of them fear that America is losing its White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant make-up. Many of them appear to be fundamental Christian. Collectively, they have quite a lot of political power, even though their majority might have technically shrunk to a minority.

What bothers me is conservatives are gutting our civilization both fiscally, ethically, and culturally. The New York Times recently ran “Political Bubbles and Hidden Diversity: Highlights From a Very Detailed Map of the 2016 Election.” If you study their interactive map which I borrowed above it reveals just where the red and blue voters are. Is it urban versus rural? Is it white versus diversity? Is it old versus new? Red represents a growing philosophy that threatens liberal philosophy and the evolutionary advances brought about the Enlightenment.

Ultimately, the red wants to pay fewer taxes.

Their tax cuts mean we have less money to finance our civilization. Conservatives want civilization on the cheap. They delude themselves into believing all taxes are bad. They buy into the idea that all citizens should be taxed equally, ignoring that some citizens receive thousands of times more benefits of civilization than they contribute, and others have thousands of times less opportunity. People who get to live with mansions, yachts, and private jets should pay a greater percentage of civilizations costs than people who live with little. It’s impossible to rationalize the morality of private jets, so getting to live in such luxury should require helping those who don’t to at least have the basics.

But the real point is we all share the same civilization. We’re all contributing to its success. We can choose what we want our civilization to be. Do we want to live in a civilization that allows so few to have multiple mansions and so many to be homeless? Do we want to live in a civilization where we ignore our own self-destructive ways? Do we want to live in a civilization that allows so many to struggle to pay for medical care while so many others don’t? Do we want to live in a civilization where the lucky live off the unlucky? Do we want to live in a civilization where those with money can buy laws to make them richer by shafting those without money?

Every civilization is like a game. Usually, only a few make the rules. Democracies are supposed to be games where everyone decides on the rules together. That’s not true anymore.

Plutocrats have decided they want our American civilization to cost as little as possible. We’ll get what we pay for. Unless people start voting blue in November, we’ll be buying a cheaper civilization with cheaper schools, cheaper universities, cheaper science, cheaper healthcare, cheaper infrastructure, cheaper police and fire services, cheaper everything but a top-of-the-line military and more expensive politicians.


3 thoughts on “Civilization on the Cheap”

  1. Listening can work better than talking. I’m a Libertarian, but I understand Republican’s reluctance to subsidize failed, sanctimonious-sounding programs that pretend to care but actually only burnish the credentials of those who will not soil their hands to actually help the poor. When I ask friends to join me working at soup kitchens, food banks, visit child care facilities, or housing projects, I’m looked at as if I’m a leper. People want to throw money over a wall then turn their backs.

    If money could solve the problem it would have been solved years ago. Welfare since the 60’s has become a growth industry. That isn’t because some people are doing well (have become ‘rich’) and don’t want tax money misspent. Lot’s of tax money has been spent ineffectively. When I advocate that we apply a serious metric to our poverty programs—one based on actually reducing poverty and its causes rather than feeling good about how much money we can spend—it is not Conservatives that shout me down … call me ‘racist’, ‘sexist’, ‘Nazi’, many other non-productive terms.

    I’m convinced that any real solution has to begin with pushing back from cherished delusions and value signaling and facing reality.

    1. But we shouldn’t throw out babies with the bathwater. Instead of wantonly cutting taxes we should learn to cut out bad spending and learn how to spend wisely in new ways. We don’t try new ideas enough. The simplicity of only cutting taxes is no solution.

      Ultimately we have to solve our problems. We can’t just ignore them. Conservatives unwavering stance on no new taxes is too inflexible. When gas prices dropped sharply awhile back, we should have raised the federal gas taxes to help rebuild the infrastructure. Such a tax increase back then would have had no impact on consumers.

      This country needs a lot of rebuilding. We need an ethical safety net. We need to convert our society to one that is sustainable for the environment. We need to overhaul the education system in many ways. We need to overhaul the power grid. We need to harden the internet. We need to put more government money into medical research to lower its overall costs. We need to prepare for climate change changes. We need to prepare for mass migrations of refugees. The list is long. Ignoring it will only cost dearly in the future.

      We can’t keep cutting taxes without cutting spending, and we can’t keep destroying the middle class and allow the rich everything they want. Because sooner or later, the bill will come due. Every day I read more news reports that suggest we’re on a downhill slide towards the collapse of our civilization.

      I’ve got a limited number of years left and no children, so I don’t have much to worry about. But anyone who is young or who has children should be.

  2. Failure to invest in our children will bring ruination. Failure to build a rational healthcare system–like Japan’s for example–will cripple our country in the long run. Failure to address environmental issues like Climate Change will kill 1.5 million people a year by 2090 according to a University of Chicago study. Decisions (or non-decisions) have consequences.

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