I don’t know about you, but I am intrigued by the question “What kind of people are we?” Intrigued because at the core of this question is the answer to so many other questions.
How do we answer this? Of course, the world is changing around us very rapidly. Immigration patterns have certainly impacted our society. The economy influences how we think about ourselves. The speed and mechanisms of how information flows are also a huge impact.
And let us not forget our religious and ethical beliefs.
Are we a “good” people that cares about our fellow man, or are we a self-absorbed society that only cares about our own self-interest and personal benefit?
Now, before you blow off the rest of this column and flip over to the sports section, let’s think about a few implications.
If we proceed with the premise that we are a good people, a question such as health care will have a simple answer. Do we care about our fellow Americans regardless of economic or social standing? If we are good, the answer is “yes.”
And if the answer is “yes,” I would assert that the remainder is details. Let’s come up with the most cost-effective mechanism for obtaining the best outcomes for all of our people. Forget politics. We can make it happen if we just work together.
Some of you may disagree and say that government should not be in the business of health care. Churches and faith-based organizations used to provide these services, so we should go back to that model.
C’mon, folks. That ship sailed a long time ago. Government got involved for a variety of reasons (granted, not all of them good), and that is the system we are stuck with today.
Are we going to reverse 90+ years of governmental intervention in societal programs aimed at improving health care? It’s not going to happen.
It seems like a good people will take the tools that we have and work toward a better vision of health care.
What about homelessness? Would a “good” people turn their backs on a growing problem that only gets worse each day? Or do we take the selfish approach and say, “There is no problem”?
A good people would look at homelessness and find the root causes. Then they would orchestrate resources to address those causes, as well as ministering to the immediate needs of the homeless.
As in health care, we could find the solutions that are most cost-effective and apply those first. Good business practices and, dare I say, traditional conservative values could bolster good decision-making to address the problem.
What I see too much these days is conservatives throwing up their hands and walking away from the discussion, not willing to be part of the solution. In many ways, that cripples our ability to make better decisions and, ultimately, do the “good” thing.
How, then, do we choose an economic system that best serves our desire to be a “good” people? It seems the system that provides the most benefit to the most people would fit our definition.
In my opinion, the undisputed choice for this would be capitalism, since it has provided an astounding level of wealth and societal progress to those nations that embrace it. Full-blown communist and economically directed economies fail to produce at levels for all to benefit.
Unfortunately, capitalism is often associated with selfishness and greed. As the immortal Gordon Gecko stated in film, “greed is good.”
It would seem that the challenge for a “good” people is to combine the best aspects of a capitalistic society without sinking into the self-centeredness that derails efforts to be good in other areas such as homelessness and health care.
Many today equate capitalism with “income inequality” and social injustice. This would be in error as many examples exist where capitalism has resulted in excellent philanthropy and improvements in the human condition.
The Carnegie Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Nobel Awards come immediately to mind as fulfilling this criterion.
What kind of people do you want us to be? Answer that question, and maybe the answer will help move us all forward.
Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita. He can be reached at [email protected].