Glenn Beck and John Kerry Agree!

3 04 2008

Driving along listening to the car radio this morning, I got an earful from Glenn Beck about the value of pain and shame and struggle, how poor people unable to help themselves should not be given a blank check, supported unconditionally by our government at taxpayer expense like the New Deal. He connected it to global efforts against hunger and malnutrition, said peoples of the world needed to stand up for themselves instead of our government bailing them out the way we did Bear Stearns.

Then after I got home, I turned on CNN to hear Andrea Mitchell interviewing John Kerry — and he was saying the exact same thing, with the same rationale!

Except Kerry (and Barack Obama too, who Kerry named as in the same camp) meant our foreign war, not domestic welfare — he was speaking against McCain as too willing to help for too long in Iraq, how we would never “win” a victory over their problems, those people and their leaders would just have to stand up for themselves, and that giving them help isn’t really help but disabling, if they’re allowed to count on it for the long term, because it would keep them from pulling themselves up out of it, that instead our government needed to set conditions, motivate them by letting them feel the pain and suffering their current condition logically leads to, and require changed behaviors from them that we deem worthy, make it clear US taxpayers are not bailing them out unconditionally.

Hearing them in such close juxtaposition, it was weird!

My mind turned to the mortgage situation, wondering about this idea of letting people feel enough pain to “motivate” them to do better next time instead of bailing them out this time. But wait — Kerry and Obama et al (Chuck Schumer especially comes to mind) are playing that one from the opposite side of the field, aren’t they?

And Glenn Beck, after his whole rant about bootstraps and pride and hard work, wound up saying if he found himself too poor to help himself, he could still afford to spurn government help because his private charities and church would never let him down. Why doesn’t that help have the same negative effect then? — it is “tough love?”

Don’t ask me what all this means. But I will ask you, if you are such a blind believer of either “side” that you wonder what I’m even talking about — what are you thinking about? And if it’s not trying to make sense of such troubling “moral” and policy contradictions and figure out how to move past them, then why not?

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2 responses

4 04 2008
Nance Confer

It is discouraging that we can’t seem to just say “we made a mess but we have to leave now.” “Yes, we know it’s morally reprehensible but we have no better plan.” “Yes, we know you will continue to hate us but really we don’t know how to help.”

But that’s not politically feasible so we have to listen to garbage about the Iraqi’s needing to do for themselves. After we put them in the position they are now in.

Maybe we could explain to Iraq that we still haven’t figured out how to live and prosper with the black population in this country after decades of messing them up.

We’re just not that bright, maybe. Stop expecting us to know how to fix things after we screw them up!

Nance

4 04 2008
JJ

Also the pitched moral overlay on policy (from both sides) just chokes off productive, mutually satisfying solutions and it punishes by exclusion anyone in the mix who is looking for those solutions rather than taking some self-righteous moral line.

And this part particularly just chills me, when I remember National Spank Out Day is coming April 30, in the wake of that media-hyped, religion-justified, homeschool child abuse case in CA:

. . . this idea of letting people feel enough pain to “motivate” them to do better next time

Never mind Iraq then, what about America and our own kids, in schools and churches and housing projects, and homes for unwed mothers?
Doesn’t this sound like we have a whole red-meat–and-blue-denim government full of punitive-minded parents? No wonder I see moralism and paternalism rather than effective problem-solving leadership and real education, riddling our government and culture.

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