Obama vs Romney. McCain vs Obama. Bush vs Kerry. Gore vs Bush. Is the polarization of 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’m talking about how we organize as a group of 314 million individuals, the grand experiment in self-government that was launched 236 years ago and will hopefully extend through future generations.
So let’s take a break from the campaign crud and think beyond the relative temporariness of the faces we’ve grown to love and/or hate.
It’s more difficult to examine your core beliefs than to “go with your gut” on a candidate, and I hope you’ll indulge me in this — just four questions about what your core beliefs are on human nature (how much oversight is needed?) and the role of government (what should one set of people do to correct for the failings of another set?).
Answer the following questions by posting on your own blog or by leaving a comment. I’d like to reach beyond my own readers to see others’ ideas of utopia. 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.
A. Overall,1 do you believe people are basically bad (1) or good (100)? Try to put a number on it.
B. Overall, do you think the better economic system would reward people based on what they need or on what they deserve (meaning what people will pay for one’s skills/talents/expertise, according to its value to them)? Again, put a number on it, with (1) favoring need and (100) favoring deserve.
Note: admittedly we could have a whole other discussion about what someone “needs” and “deserves.”
C. What do you think are the main functions of government (say, 3-5 of them)? You could do one list for Federal and another for State & Local. If you need inspiration, you can check the preamble of the US Constitution.
D. In an ideal society, what percentage of the wealth created by citizens should go to fund government?2 In other words, what portion of the fruits of your labor should be spent at the discretion of you and your family, and what portion should fund the functions of government you list in Question C?
That’s it! Not that difficult, right? Visit the posts of others to learn about viewpoints besides your own.
Tune in next week for a follow up post on values clarification.
1 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.
2 As a benchmark, all three levels of government consumed 40.6% in 2011 (data from Economic Report of the President, February, 2012.)
This post was resurrected and reworked from one I did during the 2008 election.