Monday, March 07, 2011


Irreconcilable Differences

A symptom of the decline which I wrote about in my previous post is the irreconcilable differences between our two main political parties.  The parties have completely different visions of what our country should be li0ke in the future.  This is a situation quite different from the differences between Republicans and Democrats when I was a high school student.  There were differences in those days also, but it was possible to find workable compromises that neither party liked very much but which both would accept.

Social Security was one such compromise.  Southern Democrats didn't want Negro farm laborers to be included.  Since the constitution is color-blind, the law excluded all farm workers and farmers.  Government workers who already had pension plans were also excluded.  The important thing is that both parties accepted the system with compromises although neither was completely satisfied with the result.

Today there are two very different competing views about what the United States should be like.  In one view there should be "free" (i.e., tax-supported) services to provide education and good health care for everyone.  In the other view individual citizens would be self-sufficient and self-reliant and would not depend on such "free" services as health care and education.  In the first view our country should try to become more and more like the countries of western Europe in which high taxes provide free college education, free health care, free retirement benefits, and the like.  In the second view our country should look to its own past in which hard-working pioneers tamed the land, built farms and grew their own food, made their own clothing, and used effective folk medicine to cure diseases.  Education was provided by reading books next to the fire in the fireplace (like Lincoln).

There seems to be no acceptable middle ground between these views.  We seem doomed to experience a century of decline, followed by a change of dynasty (i.e., governance).
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