Water Cooler – What Do You Owe Your Fellow Citizens?
What do you owe your fellow citizens? Do you even owe them anything? To me this is the big question that everyone should answer. I throw it on my conservative friends when I want to rile them up, but is it is worth asking of the folks on the left side of things.
Is your citizenship just a gift, conferring upon you the rights and privileges of being an American? Some folks will say that paying their taxes is more than they really should be doing for their fellow citizens. The argument usually includes some implication that the folks who are helped by unemployment benefits or Medicare or Medicaid are somehow undeserving.
This goes to that myth of rugged individuals that we have and that the President Obama, incredibly foolishly, repeated in his deficit reduction speech. The idea is that we are not in the business of making a nation that we all can benefit from, but instead of the reality that Benjamin Franklin expressed when he said “We must hang together or we shall surely hang apart.
Or if you don’t like Franklin, there is always Lincoln who a said “The government should only do those things that the individual can not do for himself”. Which includes things like roads, and schools (sorry homeschoolers, most of you really short change your kids) or sanitation or food inspection. Or yes, provide health care for the poor and elderly.
For myself I believe that we owe each other a lot. We owe it to each other to make sure that we are not leaving those who are unlucky or unfortunate behind. That we should be always speaking for the rights of the unliked or unlikable minorities. Those who are small and don’t have the voice that larger groups have.
I believe that we owe the next generation the opportunities that we had, and that right now that means that we must pay for the infrastructure they will need, that we must pay for the research that will create the new products or the processes that will allow our children and grandchildren to make the United States the massive product producing nation it was in our parents day.
We also owe our fellow citizens a modicum of respect. The most jingoistic rabid Tea Party member is still one of my fellow citizens. Just because he won’t extend the same level of respect to me, does not mean that I want to see him suffer or his or her children to have crappy schools or less opportunities. To me there are no “real” Americans because that implies that there are “unreal” Americans.
I don’t have a lot of illusions about the fact that some of these fellow citizens are not objectively great people, but if I want the kind of “we’re all in this together” nation I dream of, I have to take the ones I don’t like wit the ones I do.
So, that’s where I stand on this; in short (I know, I know, too late) I owe all of you my thoughts, my work to make this country better, my taxes, some modicum of respect and the clear proclamation that I won’t rest until we all have the same rights.
I understand that not everyone can or even should dedicate themselves to politics, I got my desire to do so from my parents who believed that because we had a nice middle class life we had to give back by assuring that as many as people as possible had the same chance to have what they have. That is what I owe, what about you?
What else is on your minds tonight Firedogs? The floor is yours.