Friday, October 16, 2009

The Themes Presented

The half a blurb I left in my previous post summarizes the thoughts that I've been wrestling with lately - what relation does personal responsibility have with 'rights' and as a corollary, if you have a right to something, to whom can you appeal for it's satisfaction? Since I haven't written in quite a while, my intention for this post is to free-associatively ramble in a Joe Posnanski sort of way and then return to this blog for inspiration in the future.

At any rate, I get the sense that the class I'm taking this semester, as a group, leans heavily towards a socialist, if not communist political ideology. I, on the other hand, have long prized the free-market system. What does this mean? More than anything else, I think it's a learning opportunity non pareil.

I learn through dialectics - thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Coming into this class, there's really nothing I prize more than ability coupled with drive, resilience, that hardiness of spirit that refuses to quit, ingenuity and aggressiveness. These are the qualities that I would list if I were to imagine the human form at its apotheosis. Yes in truth, I value these attributes more than I do kindness, gentleness and especially humility. Although, I profess Christianity as my faith, I haven't found a satisfying response to Ayn Rand's criticism. That's another dialectic in progress.
The values in John Galt's speech, I truly see them as values.

But at the same time, I value human life. I don't want to see others starve, injure themselves or live in ignorance. The qualities I admire so much can be learned. I was not born industrious or gutsy. I think back to my own development as a person and I was lazy, timid, afraid of challenges but always craving respect and acknowledgement. I learned effort. I learned courage. I learned ingenuity. And others may not be the supermen producers of a Rand-ian novel but everyone can improve.

And so there I arrive at the only tenuous conclusion I have so far. It has to start with individual responsibility. Above all, I hate the idea of hand-outs and I hate the idea of charity. I would not work if my work went to someone else's welfare, if I produced only to see the work of my hands feed a mouth not my own. But I don't have any qualms about living my life, giving my life to live as an example to others and to give freely of my own accord. In my own view, there is a tremendously deep dissatisfaction with the government taking my work and distributing it as it sees fit.

I don't claim to have the most effective plan in any way, but my feelings are based upon a very visceral reaction that I must trust my judgement and not entrust it to others. But this argumentation is circular.

I can't even begin to entertain the idea that the government should be responsible for distributive justice or even for the premise that the disparity is something that other's should close for them.

But that's not the argument, is it? That's something of a straw man. The Communist position of re-distributing capital is obviously trash to be discarded but what's more difficult to answer is the fact of systemic inequalities that prevent any serious discussion of bootstrapping yourself. What opportunity do you have to do so because of brain damage caused by eating paint chips as a kid. Why didn't your parents stop you? They might have, had they not been working 2 jobs to provide for necessities. What kind of boot-strapping can occur in that scenario?

And for that I truly have no answer. But at the very least, I think it's a question that promises fruitful exploration.

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