Friday, December 14, 2012

The Politics of Selfishness

In another crass classic column in the Kennebec Journal by M.D. Harmon titled, “If more murder victims had guns, maybe they wouldn't be killed,” he engages in an outrageous blame the victim screed:

 “…if Kasandra Perkins had a gun, that is what could have helped her be alive today. But she was defenseless against an [sic] violent man's rage, and so she died.”

Pushing Harmon’s wild-west, everybody-packing, shoot-em-up, and dangerous gun fantasy aside for the time being, one must wonder what prompts such a blatant and boorish blame the victim stance. There is a straightforward unstated motivation - responsibility avoidance.

Stating that a woman victim died in a horrible murder because she did not have a gun, Harmon pushes the blame for what occurred onto the victim. He and therefore society is not responsible. Sound laws to reduce gun violence that society could enact are unnecessary because the victim had a less government intrusiveness recourse available and did not take personal responsibility for her own defense. ‘It was her problem, not mine’ is the implication.

The proceeding convoluted inane formula forms the core of much of the mindset currently expressed in the right wing’s “politics of selfishness.”
  • Individuals languish in poverty because they are completely responsible for their own position in life; governments bear no responsibility to provide any services.
  • Elderly individuals had a lifetime to save for retirement; Social Security and Medicare actually encourage an abdication of responsibility.
  • The responsibility for environment degradation lies with individual litterers and consumers not packagers and manufacturers.
  • Clean elections funding violates individual (i.e. corporate too) power regardless of any suggested common level playing field good.
  • The safety of food and medicine is best determined by individual consumers doing their own research not some regulator or government researcher.
  • Banking and finance practices are best left to wonders of the free market where individuals will win or lose according to their own wits.
  • The idea of a good well funded public education available for all should be replaced by individuals buying the educations they can afford.
On and on the “politics of selfishness” goes, destroying what we hold in common care and concern as society. The worshipers of the "politics of selfishness” are a large and wide alliance of so called “liberty” libertarian leaning Republicans, anti-any-tax tea partiers, corporate GOP profits before people operatives, and the audiences and purveyors of the talk radio and faux news entertainment industry. The “politics of selfishness” absolves its adherents of societal commitments made through just taxation, recognizing regulatory realities, and far more philosophically important - citizenship responsibility.

To paraphrase a worn out gun quote: ‘Taxes, protecting people, and shared responsibility doesn’t kill societies; the "politics of selfishness” does.’

Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Dinner with Paul

Senate President Justin Alfond can’t seem to get a meeting with Governor Paul LePage despite the current critical budget concerns afflicting the state. So with all good intent, Senator Alfond has extended an invitation to the Governor and his wife to break bread. It’s a start to building a relationship that the people of Maine need to have for the wheels of governance and political cooperation, consensus, and compromise to turn in the direction of solutions and progress.

Now Senator Alfond has basically said that the dinner can be anywhere the Governor chooses to dine. My suggestion is that ought to be at a private residence or even the Blaine House which belongs to the people of Maine. While some might think it would be best to serve a large helping of crow and a fat slice of humble pie to Paul LePage, I’ll risk proposing a menu.

First there ought to be no neckties and formalities along with a comfortable sit down to a long pre-meal get-to-know-you chat with simple hors d'oeuvres and a couple craft beers from Bayside Bowl. Dinner probably ought to be of the meat/seafood and Maine potatoes kind but the talk-no-politics-at-dinner rule should be shucked. After all that is precisely why we need you guys to get together. Dessert hopefully will be a lingering affair with maybe coffee or an after dinner nightcap occurring because it’s hard to end the conversation.

Dinner invitations can always present the tricky little problem of how you return the favor once the meal has been concluded. Do you extend an invite to dine again or what? I’d offer that if Governor LePage followed up by inviting Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Laura Eves to dinner or even a good hearty breakfast that Maine people would breath a sigh of relief and gain some confidence that the wheels of governance have not ground to a halt because of any one person.

Let’s hope the dinner offer is not spurned and pushed aside with other excuses. Without doubt, Governor LePage, the people of Maine do expect you to accept President Alfond’s courteous invitation. There’s really no downside to dinner. It will be private, you can be you, and we all have to nourish ourselves and our important relationships.