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Meta-Political Musings

I'm cutting this because I ramble...
The NeoCons have successfully framed the debate about society and values in terms of "ownership" and "family values". But are these really the true American values that we want?

Christianity, in its purest form (most Christ-centered), is all about service, humility, promoting peace, and taking care of the less fortunate - even if they are "fallen". Jesus would have treated the lobbyist whores in Congress just like he did moneychangers in the temple. So the Neo-Cons aren't really demonstrating Christian values, are they?

Now, the great American myth is that, from the most humble immigrant beginnings, one can rise to wealth and greatness. The Neo-Con dogma, in fact, pushes this myth, with pure market capitalism, and deregulation. It's a religious belief, an underlying assumption for them. So much for a classless society - the myth itself implies that there are "classes", but that with effort and luck one can rise above one's self into a higher class. Implicit in it also is the fact that most people don't (or can't) rise above their class. Since the NeoCons see the "lower classes" as people without the drive and skill to "succeed", they feel justified in not trying to help those "failures" in any way. Hence the widening class (financial) divide, and the vanishing middle class.

Now, how can they reconcile their thinking of themselves as "good Christians" if they are engaged in a functional class war on the American middle class and lower class? Is this really an American value?

Is restricting reproductive choices and comprehensive sex education a promotion of "family values", when it leads to an increase in poverty, child neglect and/or abuse, poor prenatal care, transmission of STDs (some rather fatal), and family strife? I think not. Sure, it leads to bigger families, but those families are poorer, unhealthy physically and mentally, and less likely to realize the American myth of success out of nothing but faith and hard work - the deck is even more stacked against them!

Is corporate welfare good for the people of this country? You know, the ones the government is of, by and for? I don't think so. Subsidizing corporations who then proceed to ship jobs offshore to third world sweatshops and slave labor camps to save on labor costs and US taxes robs "the people" coming and going. A "global market" reduces wages across the world to what is paid in the sleaziest sweatshop or slave labor camp. Is this part of the American dream, or a Christian value? The NeoCons seem to think so.

Part of what has made this country the economic powerhouse it has been in the past is innovation, productivity, and opportunity.

Sending our creative jobs overseas sends our innovation offshore. Same with the productivity - we can't produce much if all the work is done in Chinese labor camps. What about opportunity? Well, gee, if our education, infrastructure and safety net have all been gutted, the opportunities presenting themselves to people here will dry up too. You can't educate yourself with nothing - you can't teach yourself from a library if there aren't any books, or if you have to work a subsistence job during all of the hours that it is open.

You can't be very innovative if you're starving, homeless, and disease ridden - all of your creative effort is spent on keeping yourself alive one more day, week. You can't very productive if you have no food and shelter, or all deathly ill without any care resources. You can't seize an opportunity if you're focussed on seizing what few scraps of food and shalter come your way.

The attitude of the NeoCons is one of "I've got mine, the rest of you can go hang" - preserving the status quo. This runs very counter to part of the great American - the dark horse, upsetting the status quo to bring a brighter future, the innovator made manifest. It's more pre-revolutionary war British - haves and have nots. Is this the future we want fore this country?

What are the real American values? I propose these:

1) Helping each other. Either through taxes, charity and/or mentoring, making sure that everyone has the security and knowledge needed to take a leap at the American dream. We take care of our young, our sick, and our old.

2) A merit based society. Where people are judged and dealt with based on their skills, not the circumstances of their birth. Again, it benefits us as a society to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to develop themselves to the fullest, not waste their life in hand-to-mouth poverty or indentured servitude to the military or some corporation.

3) A respect for privacy. When it comes to rights reserved to the people, privacy is fundamental. So many of the right enumerated in the constitution assume a respect for this fundamental concept - the secret ballot, the prohibition of quartering, the feedom of religion and press, the right to be secure in ones person and papers against unreasonable search and seizure, and many more. These all stem from the concept of personal sovereignty and privacy.

4) The rights of the individual trump the rights of a corporation, or a government. Corporations have no soul, and have only one hunger: money. Although founded by humans, they are not human, and will usually trample the rights of humans. They should be required to contribute to society, and the American social contract, not just benefit from it. Government should be the servant of the people, not their master and controller. If a law does not protect others, then it is frivilous. "Victimless crimes" aren't crimes, they are simply the overreaching power of the state (and/or special interests) trying to control the people.

5) Respect for the freedom and choices of others. Religious and civil institutions need to respect and advocate for individual freedom, including the freedom to chose what you believe to be harmful. As long as a person's choices do not interfere with another person's choices, let them go to hell in their own way. The idea of forcing a woman to be a walking incubator for an unwanted parasite, or forcing a man to be a donor of blood or organs because of some religious belief is horrific. The idea of "your freedom to practice your religion ends where my body begins" must pervade society.

I am willing to pay taxes (which for me as a single, childfree, non-homeowning professional are quite high) to assure that the American dream stays possible. I am not willing to pay taxes for corporate welfare, special interest pork, or wars of conquest and economic greed.

Congress, are you listening?

Copyright 2005 by Ravan Asteris. This article may be freely distributed with attribution.

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