Tuesday, February 10, 2015

There is No “We” Nor Any “Core Values”

There is No “We” Nor Any “Core Values”

I hate to break it to you readers, writers, pundits and politicians, but there are no “we” or “core values” of the United States of America. However these two concepts are used indiscriminately as if there were such things. For example, by President Obama defending his latest scheme, “And in this moment we must do what other generations have done...” [part of his recent remarks on the American Graduation Initiative at Macomb Community College, Warren, Michigan.] People say “we” need to do this and “we” need to do that.  But there is no “we;” while their definition seems to be all Americans.  But all Americans don’t believe in the same things, so “we” cannot do what “other generations have done.” At the macro level there seems to be at least four factions of “we:” Republicans, Tea Party conservatives, Democrats, and progressive Democrats as significant political entities. In other words, when “we” must perform some action in order to make the country better, which we is it?                                

The editorial staff of the Wall Street Journal writes about the “West’s commitment to its core values…”[January 8, 2015 Opinion piece Islamist Terror in Paris.] As for core values, where do I begin? What are our America’s core values? They seem to revolve around “rights” as defined by some faction.  Not long ago abortion was considered immoral and was illegal. Genetically, humans desire survival of their seed and expansion of the species but forty-two years ago seven people – a majority of the Supreme Court justices – decided that abortion was a fundamental right of American women. Is abortion now a core value of the United States? It inarguably is a core foundation of liberal and Democrat ideology. Yet “right to Life” is supported by roughly half of Americans, according to some polls. So what is the core value? 

Not so many years ago homosexuality was considered an abomination against nature. The American Psychiatric Association only dropped homosexuality as a psychiatric diagnosis in 1973. Fifteen years ago two thirds of the nation believed homosexual behavior was not morally acceptable. Today’s society's rethinking of sexual orientation still has one-third of society disagreeing and this population is now targeted as prejudicial homophobes. So is homosexuality a core value?

While the Declaration of Independence stated that a self-evident truth is “all men are created equal” yet many of those drafting and signing that monumental document owned slaves.  It finally took a charismatic black man and the assassination of a president to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  There were advances along the way including six hundred thousand people killed in the Civil War and the passage in 1920 of the Nineteenth Amendment guaranteeing women’s right to vote. Equality in theory has been granted, but many argue vociferously that there is no equality for so-called African Americans, including lately the view that policemen target African American youths for death. So just what are American core values? Abortion, homosexuality, equality in theory or in practice?

What about criminal justice? Our Constitution provides for “the right to a speedy and public trial” by an impartial jury with other details. But it doesn’t require perfection in outcome, which, of course is impossible with human beings. But many Americans are demanding perfection in judgment and compensation for imperfection. Which is a core value?

The rule of law was once hailed as a foundational core value of American democracy. But it is under fire. A number of bills passed out of Congress and signed into law include the Defense of Marriage Act, federal drug laws including marijuana, and numerous laws  concerning undocumented immigrants, for example. All of these laws have been ignored, unenforced, or unilaterally altered arbitrarily by the president of the United States and his attorney general, both of whom are constitutionally obligated to enforce such laws. Is the rule of law still a core value as many believe? Or is taking into account a person’s circumstances, background and purported skin color in order to soften written laws depending on one’s feelings – “social justice” to many – now a core value?            

Other core value arguments revolve around social justice versus incarceration for crimes committed; free speech versus political correctness; capital punishment or not; the definition and use of “torture;”  

Commerce and its control was part of the reason for a schism between the colonies and Great Britain.  There should be little doubt that improvement in commerce was a core value of the founders, most having been successfully engaged in it.  Today, however, only around a quarter of Americans consider large corporations beneficial to this country. Many on the left seem to distrust business and the leaders thereof. They feel rigorous, close control of business is necessary and that to do so a large number of government employees are necessary. Though polls indicate government is thought beneficial. Interesting though, polls show three-quarters of Americans believe small businesses and technology companies are positive. Individual entrepreneurs who became leaders of corporations industrialized the United States and brought the greatest innovation and prosperity to more people than ever known in the world.  This has also brought millions of human beings on the planet out of abject poverty and up to a higher standard of living.

Business people such as the Carnegies, Harrimans, Mellons, Morgans, Rockefellers, Stanfords, and Vanderbilts of two centuries ago, the Edisons, Fords, Gateses, Jobses, Sarnoffs and Watsons of the last century and myriad others already in this new century has made the world a better place.  Yet the Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson Progressives labeled them Robber Barons; unregulated they were, but while accumulating and ostentatiously spending vast wealth, they also created the greatest country in the world. No doubt regulations were necessary, but perhaps for their own survival the Robber Barons would have changed. This incessant criticism of business has brought However today, the Progressives continue the disparagement of business and aggrandizement of government – lead by themselves, of course.

This has brought another tension of core values. Is free enterprise and successful prosperous business a core value or is more equality of wealth and wages a core value? Is society and our economy better served by the central control by Ivy League elites or the unplanned and raucous chaos of distributed “free enterprise?” Does business reward only the few, the 1%?

“Luck of the draw,”  more fairness and equality (what is the end goal? Where does it stop) – or perfection?

Profits are believed………….. PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans think the U.S. economy benefits when big businesses or small businesses make a profit, although, by 84% to 64%, more consider small-business profits helpful. Relatively few believe profits made by either type of business are harmful to the economy. None of these views have changed appreciably in nearly three years.

Big business is not wildly popular in America, particularly relative to small business. However, despite recent efforts to draw national attention to the perceived economic pitfalls of corporate wealth, nearly two-thirds of Americans still believe the profits big businesses make are more helpful than harmful to the nation's economy.
Importantly, the public's views on this are virtually unchanged from January 2010, spanning the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street movement. To the extent there is public concern about corporate profits being harmful, it is greater among nonwhites, college nongraduates, those in households earning less than $24,000 per year, and -- potentially important for the future -- adults under age 30, although even among these groups it is the minority view.

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