William Larsen: Worthy discourse
Three recent columns in The Union deserve special mention. Each pertains greatly to the choice we will make in the coming election.
Dick Sciaroni’s insightful critique of the “Misguided Notions of Government” came first. No nasty polemic or attacks on patriotism here, just a straight-on look at the sane (and necessary) place of government in the modern world.
As Sciaroni notes, our founders did not rebel against government itself, (although even then there was a great division over state’s rights vs. federal regulation, driven mainly by the issue of slavery). The founders’ rebellion was against an imperialistic, despotic ruler who was exploiting the colonies as a cash cow for the home country. Founding their own government was their greatest concern, and if there will ever be rational dialogue on this issue, the government nay-sayers must understand that a central organizing force — whether on the local, state or national level — is an absolutely for a civilization to function and survive. Without government, as Sciaroni points out, “America would devolve into anarchy.”
The limitation of excessive and wasteful government is a legitimate question, but so is the question of how to maximize its effectiveness in the areas most clearly needed (e.g. defense, police protection, maintaining a livable environment, transportation safety, public health, veterans’ benefits, etc., etc., etc.). Surely, the founders were concerned with governmental overreach (and extremely diverse in their opinions on this issue), but they had the courage and negotiation skills to hammer out a governing document balancing their concerns. Which is just the point. Fear should not drive us into simplistic and irrational denial, but motivate us to take control of our destinies and live up to the founders’ example of staying together to negotiate seemingly impossible differences in the best interest of our nation. And this includes all our people, not simply those who already possess the means to thrive. It also means protecting the nation from undue special-interest manipulation, whether it be from a foreign, corporate or political source.
And this brings us to Darrell Berkheimer’s courageous query: “Is America still the greatest nation?” Good for you, Darrell. People used to get lynched asking questions like that, and if we don’t continue the tradition, it will likely happen again.
Actually, in an insidious manner, this type of oppression is already happening, as evidenced by Berkheimer’s voluminous research documenting the appalling low ball global ranking of the U.S.A. in nearly every aspect of human health and education. This is not speculation; it is fact. Proud to be an American at this time in history? Please, honestly consider: we rank 27th among wealthy countries in infant mortality; 34th in child poverty; 44th in health-care efficiency; 43rd in life expectancy; 64th in human security ; 19th in retirement security, and the list goes on and on. All this while ranking first in the number of super rich, with 43 percent of those lucky suckers living among (make that over) us. Oh yes, we also rank first in prison incarceration. Who can be proud of statistics like these?
As Berkheimer asks, just what is it that defines “greatness?” Trump would have you believe our military is shrinking to a dangerous level, and we need to increase military spending to “make America great again.” But he fails to tell you that we already spend more on military defense than the next 11 nations combined. Wow! Does that make up for our pitiful showing among other nations on virtually all measures of social and human welfare? Hardly.
In the November election, the critical issue is who do we believe? In an Aug. 25 column, Cameron Brown offers the analysis from the esteemed politifact.org which clearly shows Clinton as being far less dishonest in her public assertions than Trump (whose statements were “false or mostly false” 51 percent of the time). We all know that Clinton is no Girl Scout (actually, in my mind she’s an official gangster, but I expect that in politicians). She has extensive experience and contacts, knows the ropes from the inside out, and can get things done. Compared to her, Donald Trump is the anti-Christ.
Fear and hatred are dangerous emotions on which to base our decisions. We need to be adult about this. No matter how much voters may despise Clinton, she is the only candidate who gives even lip service to the shameful position our country has shrunk to in the area of human welfare. Our country may deserve better, but it cannot afford the alternative.
William Larsen lives in Nevada City.
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