Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Meet the Republicans...

I had a really disconcerting encounter today. I sat down to eat lunch with a few of my friends; business majors who enjoy discussing politics. The tv was set on election coverage, so we began discussing politics. I told them I was voting for Obama and I was essentially tired of spending billions of dollars in the desert to increase our capital under the Bush regime, and it doesn't even seem to be working. My buddies were telling me that the Democrats are going to be spending billions on social programs, which will have no capital return, wasting our money to inflate the government. Revoking our "freedom." We were off and running.

I don't believe our country is anywhere close to espousing equality. Capitalism inherently sets up class-based hierarchies. The one who owns the capital controls the one who doesn't and seeks to gain more capital, often at the expense of the workers. Our government has created a lot of checks on that process to ensure that people aren't entirely destroyed by the system, but the rich continue to get richer and the poor continue to get poorer. The system perpetuates itself. After a few generations, the rich are established in their wealth and the poor are established in their lack of wealth. It's a very difficult thing to break free of, which is why we have social programs to help those who have been chewed up and spit out onto the bottom rung of society.

"But," my friends said, "the poor people just need to change their attitudes! They're mooching of the system, content to be poor. If they'd just work harder and stop being lazy, they could pull themselves up by their own boot-straps! It's their fault!"

I cocked my head to the side and furrowed my brow. Do these guys really believe this stuff? Do they really believe that a single mom with a kid living in a trailer park is just lazy? Do they really believe that it's her fault and if she'd just work a little harder she'd be able to break out of poverty? That's ludicrous.

I then said something about how if we could really figure out how to achieve some harmonious type of socialism or even communism we'd all be much better off as far as equality is concerned.

At this point (and I was pretty hurt by this) they all literally sat there and laughed in my face.

"Don't you get it? That's limiting our freedom to make money! How stupid do you have to be to give up freedom?" And then I understood. We're not raised in this country to worry about each other or to actually want to create equality. We're raised to love material wealth. My friends and I weren't going to get anywhere. We have entirely different views on why we're alive.

I guess I already knew what they were telling me, or should have known it. I was raised in this culture. I could have put the pieces together myself, but I was really shocked when I realized that they really do believe what they're saying. They're buying into the whole thing, and it scares me. I don't use that term lightly. I'm genuinely scared for the future of the planet if people like that continue to propagate themselves. I'm scared.


Anonymous said...

Here via the Buddha Diaries, since you left a nice coment about my blog on his post.

I find that I can't have very close friendships with peole who take a such a right-wing stance. I just find it too frustrating. The kind of ignorance your friends were displaying in that conversation left me with only one duggestion: find new friends. Seriously. It sounds like you need more like-minded people in your life.

Anonymous said...

I agree with both of you completely.

Anonymous said...

So what are you going to do about it?

rob winger said...

hey mark,
is the problem the system, or the people?
where does the economy work better than in capatilism?
when has communism worked well?
what socialist countries really take care of their poor?

again, i think any of these systems might work. if it wasn't for our human condition. broken.

ok, there are people like you that really do care, and i believe we make a difference in the world. but you are right--the world pretty much follows the golden rule: those who have the gold make the rules.

and don't get rid of your friends who think totally differnt than you.you are a smart guy that can sort it all out. my best friends have been people who have a very diffent perspective on life, and mine has been deeply enriched by their honesty. so hang on to those friends.

unless they are total jerks. which those friends might be.

grace and peace