What do we owe each other
I wrote a long essay on the current health care bill and how it’s being sold to us. I dug into why it’s a bad idea, how it will further drive Americans into the haves and have nots, and how it shoves more of the burden of the cost of being a civilized society onto the working and corporate serf class. I edited it, filled it with clever asides and the personal experiences of people I know and love.
I deleted it.
No one who reads it will change their mind about anything involved. Every election cycle, we’re told by the polls that Americans want the health care system in America fixed, and anyone who tries anything to do so is ripped apart and may as well go into hiding.
I keep thinking about the phrase “What we owe each other.”
The minute I write that phrase, I hear people, mostly Americans (and mostly a specific privileged subset of Americans) say “Nothing.”
I don’t believe that. I just don’t. Human beings are a species that is social. The quickest way to break a person is to remove human contact. The punishment that narcissists and abusers favor is to remove their victim’s social network (I know, I’ve had people attempt it before). Our young are unable to care for themselves for years, meaning that we need to parent our young for years, unlike horses, turtles, fish, etc… That means we have to have tribes, families, cultures and civilizations.
However, there is a growing strain of so-called “individualists” who feel that it’s OK to take without giving. That aggression is to be worshipped. That ripping people off, exploiting them, and leaving them with nothing is just the way of the world. They argue we need to remove protections for those who don’t have power because, well, everyone should be able to succeed on their own through rugged individualism.
What about those who are developmentally disabled? What about those whose talents aren’t suited for cutthroat capitalism? What about those who don’t have the family and intergenerational supports that more successful people do? What about those who do the necessary, but undervalued jobs that have to be done for our cities and societies to function?
Are they lesser beings? Are they to be left behind in the rat race?
“Those who do not work, do not eat” is tossed around by these folks, and for some reason, we don’t see this mindset as evil.
What DO we owe each other?