Chris Jepson: Thoughts too taxing to consider

Chris Jepson

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The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. — F. Scott Fitzgerald

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I confess to being a “liberal” for one primary reason: Based on where we’ve arrived as a culture (America), I see no viable alternative to liberalism in addressing societal ills.

I am not, in other words, some softhearted, indiscriminate redistributionist hell-bent on playing the metaphorical Robin Hood.

What I do not understand about modern Republican conservatism (Tea Party types, et al.) is two-fold. One, Republicans offer no viable solutions to any of America’s pressing problems (poverty, pollution, declining middle class wealth, injustice, etc.) without, two, asserting that capitalism is “the” answer for all that ails America. If only we unshackled the colossus of capitalism, all would be right in the commonwealth. This is manifestly simplistic and I am continually amazed such ludicrous arguments are proffered.

Capitalism is as much a philosophy as it is an economic system. It is an evolving (over hundreds of years) system (with competing theories), one that offers different “rewards, incentives and penalties” based on one’s ability to successfully access, understand and navigate its principles and practices. Twenty-first century capitalism is a markedly different animal from late 19th century capitalism (see: Gilded Age) as well as capitalism after the 1930s Great Depression. The Roosevelts, both Teddy and Franklin, had a significant impact on America’s economic system.

We see dramatic changes today with recent Supreme Court decisions regarding the status of corporations as well as the rise of international conglomerates that have no real allegiance to their host nation (see: outsourcing and inversion), just the vested interests of their stockholders and management. The economic statistics of the past 30 years indicate the uber-rich have prospered far more than America’s middle class, and that the rate of poverty in America is accelerating. Capitalism hasn’t been “fettered” at all for those fortunate few at the very top of our economic chew chain, and to suggest that if we just got government off our capitalistic backs (taxes/regulations/civic employees), well, the “rising tide lifting all boats” argument is clearly a discredited line of reasoning.

Republicans would surreptitiously gut Social Security, eliminate Medicare, and eliminate any federal program (or state program for that matter) providing a “safety-net” for those Americans who cannot adequately fend for themselves (either temporarily – a bout of unemployment – or permanently because of a debilitating illness). I ask: what do you logically do for those Americans who cannot provide for themselves or their families? Charity cannot possibly handle this responsibility because the numbers are far too large.

The simplistic jargon of unleashing the miracle of capitalism is just that. If you do not want to support poor children (or any individual for that matter), I get it. Ideally I do not want to support anyone either. But how do we arrive at that point (self-sufficiency)? Over what period of time? And what specifically do we do — collectively as Americans — to address our problem(s)? You are no more than the town simpleton (or shill) to consistently advocate tax cuts and deregulation as anything more than a policy of enriching the already well-off.

Go ahead Republicans, entertain opposing ideas. Try it. But if you have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time, it may prove, uh, too taxing.