The personalities are fleeting but the principles are permanent. Hopefully not semi-permanent.
I’m talking about how we organize as a group of 305 million individuals, the grand experiment in self-government that was launched 232 years ago and will hopefully extend through future generations (feels quite shaky now, though, doesn’t it?).
So let’s take a break from the campaign crud and think beyond the relative temporariness of all the faces we’ve grown to love and/or hate.
(I loved when SNL Weekend Update announced the winner of the VP debate: the person you already liked. So true! I watched the Twitter stream during the debate and noted that it was more an exercise in entrenchment than enlightenment.)
Is the polarization on the candidates due to our being easily swayed by smears, minutiae, and manipulation? Or is it because we have fundamental disagreements on what our political and economic systems should look like? I’d like to explore the latter.
I hope many of you will engage in this discussion. It’s harder to examine your core beliefs than to “go with your gut” on a candidate, and I hope you’ll indulge me. Just four questions.
Leave comments here or do a post on your own blog. I’d like to reach beyond my own readers to see others’ ideas of utopia. You can even add a question if you want — make the question(s) your own. And I don’t even need to say that we should stay respectful, right?
Whether you are in or outside of the US, I am interested in hearing from you.
1. Overall,* do you believe people are basically bad (1) or good (100)? Try to put a number on it.
2. Overall, do you think the best economic system would reward people based on what they need (1) or on what they deserve (100)? Again, put a number on it.
3. What do you think are the main functions (say, 5-10 of them) of government? You could even divide your list into (a) Federal and (b) State/Local.
4. In an ideal society, what percentage of the wealth created by citizens should go to fund government**? In other words, what is a fair price to pay for the functions of government you list in #3?
* Yes, in all these rating questions there will be “it depends” and “in some cases” and innumerable qualifiers. I am asking you to think overall.
** As a benchmark, all three levels of government currently consumed 38.8% in 2006 (data from Economic Report of the President, February, 2008.