Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Above Self Interest

Getting married was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and I’m not thinking about the obvious reasons for the purpose of this post. They apply, I certainly enjoy being married, but I’m using that relationship to discuss something different.

Being married gives me an almost daily exercise in being part of something bigger than myself. It lends a sense of responsibility, and a deeper sense of purpose. Decisions are no longer about what serves me, or what feels good to me, but are about what is best for the marriage.

In reading and participating in political discussion, I sense a lack of the larger perspective in our national dialog. “Health care reform is good,” I read, “because I spent many years without insurance.” Or we vote for a politician who proposes to lower taxes because, “I don’t want to pay taxes.” We claim we are selfless and thinking of others by saying that we support Social Security because, “My mother depends on it to live.”

If everyone had that perception no person would ever join the military and go in harm’s way in defense of his nation, but the number of people willing to do that is down to less than one percent. Barely half of us even vote.

CBS News has a “formula” for the news item that they follow virtually every time. They give the headline, and then they bring it down to one individual. “The East Coast is experiencing major floods,” they say, and then the camera shows a woman on the street. “Jane Doe has lived in her home for seventeen years…” An entire coast is underwater, and they are making it about one person.

If nothing else, the formula has become trite, but one person is not a national concern. In focusing on the “human interest,” they do not show the scope of the widespread disaster unfolding and affecting entire states.

I think we should have universal health care, but not because of anything to do with me. I believe we should have it because it would strengthen our economy if it was implemented without the government borrowing money. For that reason, my taxes should be raised to pay for it.

Furthermore, because of the current state of government finances, I intend to vote against anyone who promises to cut my taxes at this point. How many liberals have similar thoughts, especially the part about taxes?


  1. Good points but I think our tax dollars are often wasted and I resent being asked to pay a penny more in taxes to any level of govt.

  2. Which, I think, Cabbie, misses my point. It isn't about my taxes or about what I pay. If waste is an issue then my resentment should be aimed at the waste of a national resource, and not at the waste of what I pay.