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?