Sunday, October 06, 2013

Can We Afford To Do It Right?

When we are talking about government, the answer is generally "no."  Therein lies the problem.  We persist in believing that of course it's possible, because it's the right thing, and how can we do less?  But that's just insane.  It's a fallen world.  God gives no guarantees that something can be accomplished simply because it is desired.

Take warfare as an example. Slowly, over the centuries we added rules to it, rules to make it less horrible, such as not targeting civilians, or allowing parleys and surrenders. Nations, even good nations, sometimes broke these rules, but there was increasing attempt to honor them. We also treated the lives of our own soldiers as more and more precious, so that in the 21st C, we have fought with a minimum of death but investing in more and more expensive technology.  Wounded soldiers used to get a medal, and perhaps a tiny pension - not enough to live on anywhere - in more civilised places.  Now we have extensive rehabilitation for the wounded.  Because it is the right thing to do.  How can we not?  How could we look ourselves in the mirror?

Everyone else has looked at themselves in the mirror over the ages, but we expect more of ourselves.

I say this is the right course, and we cannot go back.  But it turns out to be an very expensive way to fight war, doesn't it?

People cheat in business, people pollute, people become disabled, people are treated unjustly.  We assume we can afford to fix these things.  What if that's not true?  What if doing things the right way means the economy doesn't produce enough jobs for people? Is that a fair tradeoff? At 5% unemployment?  10%? 25%?

We are horrified at the conditions people worked in, and still work in.  Miners, perhaps.  But they went into those jobs because they made more money than at the next one down.  The "dark satanic mills" were welcomed by farmers who had had too many years of having hanged themselves "on the expectation of plenty." Could people have afforded to do things the right way then?  Of course not.

Why then, do we expect a fairy-tale world where we can do it now?  Much mischief results from the stunning naivete which says we can do things right, because it's right. It is this thinking that is behind the idea that the rich have plenty, and if we just shook it loose from them a bit they would still have enough and so would everyone else.  It just isn't so.  There is nothing in our birth-contract which says that when the music stops, there are enough chairs for everyone.


Sam L. said...

There are those walking among us, or riding in palanquins, who believe it MUST be so.

james said...

Doing A "right" conflicts with doing B "right" and doing C "right" (e.g. healthcare) can require an infinite amount of money to squeeze an extra few minutes of life.

But in the magic world there is always a perfect solution, and we tell ourselves endless stories that illustrate that.

Texan99 said...

That's no way to get elected to office!