A randomly updated assortment of observations & quotations:
Bragging and complaining are two sides of the same coin: They’re both attempts to gain attention. One would have others praise them, the other to pity them. — Dec. 21, 2008
Desire and discontent are one and the same. One achieves; the other ruminates. — July 7, 2009
Hardship is the crucible of compassion. An easy life is an unsympathetic one. — July 23, 2009
Blessings are what you count when you don’t subscribe to the idea that you are solely responsible for your own success . — July 23, 2009
Political Apathy Destroys Life and Liberty
In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then… they came for me… And by that time there was no one left to speak up.
— Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)
Economic Policy Produces Real-World Consequences
In the United States, they came down first on the unions, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a union member;
And then they came for the mill workers, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a mill worker;
And then they came for the factory workers, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a factory worker;
And then they came for the white collar jobs, And by that time there was no one left to speak up for me;
At last they came for my children and grandchildren, And now they are paying the price for my mistakes.
— May 14, 2009, The Social Critic
The Liberal-Conservative Paradox
Liberals are accused of social engineering, conservatives of social Darwinism. The perceived pain of unfettered liberalism is unfettered influence at the expense of personal liberties; the perceived pain of unfettered conservatism is unfettered dog-eat-dog chaos at the expense of community cohesiveness. May I suggest that both are flawed extremes?
It comes down to two issues:
The first question: Who and what do we trust? Less government? More government? Smaller businesses? Bigger businesses?
The second question: Are we safe from corruption anywhere? And if we aren’t, can an ideology overcome it?
What’s absent but necessary to effectively dialogue is this: The recognition that human nature underlies every framework we create. The integrity or lack thereof of the individual participants, be they private or public, determines outcomes.
If we stopped buying into the “myth of virtue”, perhaps we would be free to build imperfect but more productive solutions. The irony is that we need to build consensus not because our ideas were inherently wrong but because the people that implement them inevitably were and are.
Those people are us.
The answer we seek isn’t political. It isn’t economic. It’s people. We have always been the problem and we will always be our own best hope. The sooner we see ourselves in each other, the sooner we heal.
— November 10, 2011, The Social Critic
To Each its Place
If you can read, write, add, subtract and land a job, thank a teacher.
If you enjoy security, thank a member of the armed services.
If you enjoy freedom, thank the Founding Fathers and the civil rights leaders.
If your boss lets you have bathroom breaks and you are permitted to go home and enjoy supper with your family, thank a union.
It isn’t pointed out enough, and that’s why it is going to be said here: The union movement in the US represented only a small fraction of the working population at its height but it did us all a favor influencing our pay and working conditions for the better. If the union movement has since overreached, you are entitled to your point of view. If you don’t appreciate why America gave rise to a middle class to begin with, you need to hit the books — the history books.
Full disclosure: The blog owner and author of the above is not a member of a union.
— February 2, 2012, The Social Critic