Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What mean "we," Kemosabe?

I'm back to reading Terrence Heath's blog. He doesn't post often, but many times what he says is insightful. From a month ago is a post about who we are. First of all, is there a "we"? The way GOP members act, there isn't. How we define "we" determines what kind of country we want. Yeah, this election is about the size of government. But it is also about whether we are in this together or not.

One way to define "we" is to ask how much I am willing to do for someone else. Am I willing to seek justice for someone not related to me? Put another way, am I willing to care for someone else's child? School teachers do it all the time. Firefighters too (Andrew Leonard knows what that's all about). And school teachers and firefighters are getting cut. Do we limit "we" to a household? A neighborhood, town, state, or nation? I'd even dare say it -- does "we" encompass the world? There are some problems that only get solved when "we" work on them together -- local schools are at one end of the definition of "we" and global warming at the other.

Heath goes on to quote Ezra Klein about how health care and education are similar to each other and different from everything else.

* Both are heavily subsidized by the gov't. Klein makes clear gov't subsidy doesn't send their costs out of control. The gov't subsidizes because the costs are already out of control. Because…

* A consumer can't say no to health care and education expenses. You can wait to buy a house or even not buy one. Same with a car. Health expenses don't wait. Neither does a child's 18th birthday.

* Market discipline doesn't work because the customer can't simply walk out of the store.

If we relied completely on the market then we would have to tell more people than we as a society are comfortable with they can't have the health care or education they need.

We can do it together. We should do it together.

If you're not old enough to know that strange word I used in the title, Wikipedia can help.

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