A few weeks ago, Bill Clinton warned of a “you’re-on-your-own” approach to government versus a “we’re-in-this-together” mode. The makers/takers distinction feeds directly in that YOYO mindset, and you can see it embodied in the privatization or voucher schemes for social insurance, the Paul Ryan/House budget which cuts from the poor to give to the rich, the attack on the safety net, the proposed cuts to mobility enhancers like college aid, the repeal of health reform designed to reduce the number of uninsured, all fed by false claims as to the shares of Americans who don’t pay taxes or who needlessly depend on government largesse.
All of us need some help at some point. Sometimes that help comes from family, sometimes from government, typically from some combination of both, but no one goes it alone. If you’re lucky, have people who care for you, or have the wherewithal to seek it out yourself, there will be a ladder in front of you at some point. That doesn’t make you a taker—you’ll have to climb it yourself.
Right now, I’m hearing a lot from people who were born on third yet think they hit a triple. They’re telling me that the role of government is to kick out those ladders. But they are wrong. The role of government is to make sure those ladders are there, along with insurance against ill-health and penury in old age, a safety net when the economic bottom falls out, investments in the public goods the market won’t provide, protections against negative externalities like pollution and market bubbles that private markets fail to price in, and so on.
And the more we think in terms of YOYOs and makers and takers, the less likely we are to recognize how important this role is and how dangerously close we are coming to rejecting it.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2005—Say "hi" to Street Prophets:
As some of you may have seen at Pastordan's recommended diary, the first official Daily Kos spinoff site is up and running. Pastordan and I have timed up on Street Prophets, an exploration religion and politics from the perspective of the Left.
Politics can make odd bedfellows. I'm an atheist, and can be fairly militant about it at times (especially when religion encroaches unwanted into my personal space). But, there's no denying the importance of faith to millions of people's personal lives and to the political process itself. […]
Street Prophets won't be for everyone. No site is. But I have no doubt it'll grow to be a vital little corner of the blogosphere.