The place where I work makes kosher bread and, when we need him, a Rabbi comes to certify that equipment and processes meet certain standards. One day the Rabbi and I were watching the story on CNN about Hamas rockets hitting Israel and impending war. I asked him what he thought about the news and he said that God had a message for Israel and the world. He said that it was not true that there has been fighting for thousands of years. He said there have been long periods of peace between Israel and her neighbors. He also had something to say about the Palestinians but at this point, my memory begins to fade. I think he would agree that long-term prospects for peace are hindered by because the Palestinians want more territory including Jerusalem and, ultimately, the destruction of Israel.
Although the situation seems impossible, the Rabbi did not give me the sense that he favored military action as a first choice. I think he would have preferred peace to conflict if possible. I did not have time to pursue his thoughts on God’s message for us so that will have to remain a mystery until we meet again, if ever. Most likely, his thoughts focused on bringing peace to our broken world.
I started thinking about this post the day after I cast my ballot in the last election.
The person I voted for in the presidential election didn’t win but I can’t say that I was jumping up and down thrilled with him either. I didn’t know a thing about all the other people in the election so the only thing to do was vote for the party that seemed to fit best with my ideals. The problem is that neither party really represents what I think is important. The party platforms are different but they are also extremist in their own way.
The Republicans seem to have the edge with regard to conservative moral issues like preserving traditional family values and they seem strong in supporting the constitution. The down side is that their economic policies, a repackaged version of supply side economics, are designed to redistribute wealth to big business and wealthy individuals at the expense of the little guy. They are likely to cut taxes but then throw old folks and people who legitimately need Medicaid under the bus to balance the budget. Increasing stockholder wealth is the goal and that can certainly add value to the little guy’s 401k but that benefit is only meaningful until the finance guys figure out that earnings can be increased by outsourcing the little guy’s job to some other little guys in India. Since I am a little guy, and most everyone else is too, that means I, and most other Americans, get the short end of the stick. Voting Republican is like cutting your own throat.
The Democrats are better at taking care of the little guy and they promote programs and tax policies that can make a difference for those in need. The problem is that they don’t have a convincing plan to pay for these programs and they are likely to support laws that undermine the family, suppress fee speech, undermine the constitution, and generally promote collectivism at the expense of the individual. On the international front they undermine Israel and hope that the Arab Spring will end with democratic societies throughout the Middle East. I fear that the people of the middle East are just exchanging one form of oppression for another and U. S. diplomatic efforts and sanctions will probably not win their hearts.
I think Ayn Rand would be horrified at the power these collectivists have come into in our day. But it would be a mistake to think that the battle today is between individualists and collectivists. The Republicans are not individualists as much as they are economic oppressors disguised as champions of individual rights. I work for a capitalist now and that is a refreshing change from my long history with governmental jobs and non profits. Working conditions these days are nothing like those described by Upton Sinclair (The Jungle), nevertheless, I find a lot of truth the work of Marx and Engles.
Is there no one that can lead us along a reasoned middle path?
Note: I watched an old Gary Cooper movie last week, The Fountainhead. The parallels to current events are hard to miss.