Wednesday, September 09, 2009
a response to Sanford that got way too long for the comments
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Beck fan. Way back before he killed that puppy live on the radio.
Granted he's quite excitable, but I find it easier to appreciate a man that prefaces unlikely predictions with the admission that he might be wrong over a man that publicly flaunts his own childhood struggles in an attempt to gain credibility while simultaneously proclaiming his sorrow for the next generation and claiming a some righteous desire to eradicate the very hardship that made him what he is.
...imagine a segue into health care here...
Legislation is a poor substitute for cultural change. If you find someone that needs help, help them. If the threat of arrest for tax evasion is the only way to procure funds to help those in need, we have much larger problems, problems that will simply not be fixed by any added statute.
That is not to say that we already live in a utopia. Rather, there is no utopia. There will be no utopia. Striving for a better world is admirable, but gamble with your own property. Accountability will either sharpen your senses at first or dull your pride in the end. I suppose it is a hackneyed reference, but our right to the pursuit of happiness is not a guarantee of success. Nor does the right to life imply any particular quality of that life. It is liberty that gives you permission to embark on the former and thereby define the latter.
The largest hurdle I run into in the area of charitable giving is the fear of being swindled, taken, cheated. And, that fear will by no means be lessened by the helping hand of Father Government. And yet there is comfort in the assumption that the people redistributing my money "must" be doing so lawfully since they are government employees and are thereby directly accountable to the laws that our own representatives (or at least a majority of them) agreed upon (assuming they read all of the bill and researched current relevant law and precedent that might affect the interpretation of the text therein). Perhaps I should then say that we need more legislation to somehow make me safe from thieves and free to give to anyone that asks, secure in the knowledge that if they ask then they must have been approved by the board in charge of such things. How very complicated that simplicity would be.
In general I find efficiency to be a very good thing. Lithium based battery, better solar panels, sterling engines (not necessarily efficient conversion, but better than the relative nothing we have currently when it comes to affordable heat harvesting), algae ponds for CO2 utilization, et al. Great stuff. And yet there seems to be some important loss between an novel and the sparknotes for the novel. It's the same plot, the same characters. They're neatly organized and sectioned and titled. If efficiency is the highest goal, sparknotes should be better. Perhaps a synopsis or abstract does seem better to you, reader. However, based upon the popularity of the Harry Potter series for example (even with grown men, sad to say) I believe it is reasonable to conclude that there is some non-trivial portion of our society that does seek a deeper, albeit less succinct, experience when it comes to human stuff (pardon the scientific jargon).
Human life is complex. Even if you believe there is a simple motivation at the root of life, be it self-preservation, pleasure, fear, or something else entirely, to assume that a simple rule set inherently assures simple behavior is madness. Consider fractals or the various examples presented in I Robot (the book, not the movie).
We are not in and will never attain a Utopian society.
Human lives will be complex and imperfect leading to at least one of the following: discomfort, pain, agony, and death. If troublesome complexity exists in your own life, what makes you think that strangers hired by other strangers are more qualified than you to deal with it. More importantly, what makes you think that it should be their problem?
If you think we should help those who cannot help themselves, then do so yourself, encourage others to do likewise, and debate those that disagree. Don't whine to the government to "do something about it." Coward! If people are starving in your neighborhood and the government truly has the power to change their lives and you desire "something" to be done, then it is currently your fault that they are starving. There is nowhere to hide. How do you have the authority to lay blame and the immunity against it? There is no god-code here. This isn't Warcraft: Orcs & Humans.
I encourage you to find an efficient mechanism to convert hollow stagnant pity into hand-delivered foodstuffs. Perhaps, you're not an engineer and feel frightened by the idea of converting potential energy into kinetic energy yatta yatta yatta. For you there is always the conversion from hollow stagnant pity into mindless train-like repetition of Work, home, bed Work, home, bed... But, be advised that while soothing, this alternative method is not very efficient (and thereby not trendy) losing about 40% to wave after wave of self-loathing.