(just stuff I happen to be thinking about)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What You Can Do for Your Country...

"Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." This famous quote by John F. Kennedy is probably the most necessary in our current political atmosphere. It stands against those who idolize the individual. Republicans tend to idolize the successful individual who deserves what they built and owes no one anything. Democrats tend to idolize the personal individual who can do anything they want, particularly anything sexual, without any regard to the consequences. Against both of these false idols stands this statement about personal responsibility for the community.

Consider, as an example, the amount of time, money, and energy that is wasted on treating sexually transmitted diseases, which, for the most part are entirely preventable by a little individual responsibility. The effectiveness of penicillin has been dangerously lessened by its overuse, not least of all on STD's. "Get the government out of my privates", they say, but their so-called private actions do have public consequences.

Consider, as another example, what billionaires do with their money. If they all invested it in new research, we would not complain. If they all gave it to charities, even when those charities are sub-optimal, we would not complain. But when they waste the money on cross-country flights where value is burned up in the form of jet fuel, and in advertising and lobbying where value is burned up in the form of people's time used to convince other people to do what is wrong, and so many other wastes, of course we want higher taxes on billionaires.

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