10 November 2006

American elections

In reply to a comment on the US Congressional elections by golodhwgwath over on LiveJournal someone (non-American) commented that they now hoped that the US Congress would now tell the President that they money he wanted to spwnd on wars and bombs they were going to spend on hospitals and education.

My reply was:

Seconded, from another non-American.

One of the things I find quite bewildering, reading stuff on the net, is the number of Americans who claim to be Christians, and yet are prepared to argue vehemently, and indeed self-righteously, about how positively immoral it is to spend money on healing the sick, and yet believe it is quite moral to spend that money on fragmentation bombs to shred little children to pieces.

And they urge their fellow Christians, as Christians to vote for politicians who promise to do those things.

It's a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack!

This is a reply to a post in LiveJournal.

I tried to reply in the LiveJournal comments, but kept getting this message:

Gateway Timeout
The following error occurred:

[code=GATEWAY_TIMEOUT] A gateway timeout occurred. The server is unreachable. Retry the request.
Please contact the administrator.


Nathan said...

It's all a matter of perspective. Those same Christians would insist that it is immoral to take money from one person and give it to another, that it removes the goodness of an act to force it. I very much doubt they would say it is immoral to spend money on the sick, they would just diagree with you on the proper source of that money. In a way, they have more faith in the common man and less in government. It's an American tradition, and it's why we left the places we came from.

As far as the morality of spending money on blowing up people and things goes, again, it's perspective. You have the valuable and important small perspective, seeing the individual bystanders and the pain caused by war. They have a larger perspective, seeing the grand design of freeing the world from those who menace it, in an admittedly Occidentally superior fashion.

We all have blinders, and we all see the world either in detail or in scheme. Those who tend towards the left side of politics see the detail, those towards the right see the scheme. At the same time, we trust that the other side of our blinder will take care of itself. The right assumes that individuals can take the most just course of action given freedom from the government, and the left assumes that government will take the most just course of action given freedom from the people.

Both sides are probably wrong, which is why the 50-50 split of America is probably healthy.

Steve Hayes said...

It is indeed a matter of perspective, and perspective depends on where you are standing.

If the most immoral thing is taking money from one person to give it to another, why is it, in the view of those who are standing close to this, so that it looms so much larger in their worldview than healing, so much more evil to take money from other people in order to heal people than take money from other people in order to kill people?

Nathan said...

For two reasons: one, the issue is not money, and two, killing isn't the point.

The issue isn't money, it is freedom. Those on the right want people to be free to help those less fortunate, those on the left want to force everyone to do so. The left has been modestly successful at this, but it wasn't always so. Lyndon Johnson pushed through the Great Society program, which transformed the American government into a much more socialist entity, with the refrain "people shouldn't have to depend on charity." The people were getting helped, and indeed, medical care was about a tenth as expensive then as it is now, he just wanted the government to take the role of charity. Something it has done in a manner the right tends to find inefficient, and the left tends to find underfunded.

Those who join the armed forces do so freely in America, so there is no percieved loss of freedom there. And it must be remembered that those who continue to support the war in Iraq do so, not because they want more killing, but because they want to a) reduce the ability of terrorist organisations to kill anyone and b) engage the terrorists somewhere besides downtown New York.

The point I guess is the principles. The principle of freedom from government mitigates against the implementation of nationalized health care, and the principle of freedom from terrorism in the United States keeps us fighting enemies in places where they can do minimal harm to the US, proper. That certainly isn't fair in the eyes of Iraqis, who have us tearing up their backyard, but it makes a lot more sense to the Americans, who'd rather be hunting down guys planting IEDs in Fallujah than in Phoenix.


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