This is the second time this month, and possibly in my entire life, that I've linked to Huffington Post. There's a reason for that. In 2007, I decided that there was simply nothing worth the angst that came from reading the ad hominem attacks and strawman comments that monopolized the conversation, even going so far as to block the site in my router so I couldn't accidentally click on a link and end up there by mistake.
But passions fade, and when that router became a casualty of a plumbing crisis I never got around to setting up the block list in the replacement.
When I read an excerpt from a HuffPo article in another forum yesterday, I was surprised to see that the content was - gasp - agreeable. I hesitated, but then steeled myself for the worst and proceeded to bravely click the link.
I read the whole thing without my head exploding, which I still consider to be nothing short of a miracle, and now here I am, encouraging you to do the same. You'll find that initially much of it consists of talking points that we who argue with strangers on the internet are already familiar, but stick with it because here's a sample of what captivated me:
More subtly, but infinitely more destructive in the long run, is that the recipient of help is completely unconnected to the individuals taxpayers who are providing the help. Recipients cannot see the impact of the giving on those who gave. This is literally a de-humanization of a huge set of human transactions, as it eliminates the natural human responses of reciprocity and responsibility toward those who help us. Since the welfare state delivers help in a way that seems to come from no person, the perceived cost is zero. Why then, would any recipient feel grateful toward, or any moral obligation to, those who provided the help? Responsibility wouldn't need to be legislated if we had not instituted a system that demolishes it.
Consider it nailed.
As a political realist, the idea that people don't want government to provide safety nets is simply not a winning position. In fact, I think it's possible that we could swing too far the other way, and create a government that is even more dehumanized than the behemoth that we have now. (Think about it - right now, they have to at least pretend to care.)
What can and should be challenged is this idea that all of our help has to come from Washington D.C. In the long run, it would be far more effective to produce 50 different solutions as a result of 50 different states devising 50 different plans and let the people most effected work it out amongst themselves.
After you've read the article, be sure to scroll through the comments. Yes, some of them still don't get it, but many of them do, and more of them seem to get about half of it. That's the sign of real shift in political thought. Seeing so much support for this particular philosophical position on a site that was a progressive stronghold only 4 short years ago is yet another sign that while we still have literally decades of actual political work to do, at least some lines of conversation are beginning to open again.
And to prove that I'm willing to do my part, HuffPo shall remain unblocked for yet another day.