To your excellent points, Tim, and this one in particular- this of course reeks of socialism, an experiment that doesn’t work and most certainly doesn’t appeal (well, with the exception of those who would benefit from it).

There is no utopia that I could imagine where we are all equal. First of all, we aren’t, in the sense that we are each gifted or burdened- or both- with abilities and disabilities, motivation or lack thereof. To wit and I’m just going to pull one example that irritates me a lot (and keep mind my politics are very middle of the road). An issue we are growing, literally, in America is obesity. While I’ve done my fair share of studying on this topic, have spent my own time being obese and dropped some 8o lbs thirty years ago this year through damned hard work and discipline, I recognize that not all obesity is caused by laziness and poor food habits. However diabetes, obesity and the lifestyle illnesses that millions suffer and millions more will suffer ARE often caused by poor choices, brought on in part by far too much convenience and lousy food. Again-VERY broad debate (pun intended, I’ve been a double wide myself). However, in Maine, there was a debate about a year ago about ending the use of food stamps for soda and candy. And their argument, with which I happen to agree- is that the SNAP program was intended to support food, not uphold bad habits that lead to further illness, cost to the taxpayer.

Now look, my beloved Dem friends might have an issue with this, but I don’t. If you and I have to pay taxes, I am in no state of mind to support people’s bad choices which cost them and us and the country billions in healthcare. We could use the word fair here (and I appreciate your challenge on the question, here’s a perfect example, perhaps), and throw down the gauntlet: why should anyone pay for your bad habits? If you want candy and soda pay for it yourself. Why should the Feds- which means all of us- subsidize evil life habits which cost us all? This kind of debate which illustrates I think the strata that exist, those who will work those who won’t, and what is society’s responsibility to constantly uphold lousy habits, is part of what I think you may be referring to (although I chose the weight issue specifically because I write about fitness, we could include land use/rights/ownership).

I read once in a religious piece that there will always be poor people. There will always be rich people. I think that we as Americans, and what draws others to this country, feel very strongly about self-reliance, and self-actualization. I think most of us feel that what we earn is our own but recognize that taxation for the larger good has an important role-one which should by rights I believe include thoughtful management of the resources that exist. Where I begin to feel an imposition — as in the example above — is where people expect to be receiving stipends without paying something back into the system, which should serve the good of the nation. The environment that we created, which allows those of us who by luck, chance, extremely hard work, inspiration etc. to rise, succeed or fail on our merits still works better than most. By comparison I’d hate to live in a country where I didn’t have the right to own my own intellectual property. Or own land. Or if I got too rich the gov would come looking to find out where my sudden wealth came from (I can’t recall but I think that was Cambodia, where I spent time a few years back).

I think part of the point is that freedom, which is defined individually and uniquely by each of us, is in part the freedom to fail, to make choices within a structure, and to make choices that affect the welfare of ourselves and those we love. That’s still our promise.

Part of what your discussion brought up is the very large house in Albuquerque that a successful friend of mine bought just recently. It could house an African village. It’s vast and gorgeous and displays the art she has collected from years of hard work and international travel. By whose dictate should she fling her doors open to an entire African village just because they need a roof? It’s hers, she bought it with money she earned. I feel the same way about the house I have worked hard to pay for. By comparison to those people in Africa, we are monumentally rich. In this country, we aren’t so much. Certainly not me.

Being ex-military and having worked for Rocky Flats, a plutonium trigger device manufacturing facility, I recognize that the cost of a war, any war, and most especially the use of nuclear power which the current Administration seems virtually pulling at the bit to use to demonstrate American might is enormous. We are too small a world for the devastation that these tools can cause to be contained. Too many people today I believe talk and think as though you can bomb locally and the fallout will just hang around. That lack of understanding about the enormity of the devastation, how a nuclear winter can spread and affect vast portions of the world, terrifies me. I never thought I’d see this issue come up again in my lifetime after the Bay of Pigs but here we are. I still see Pakistan and India as among those world areas along with the Middle East which could pop like a firecracker.

Again, Tim, when I ask what fair looks like, the reason I pose the question is because people in power have been making the (I believe sometimes specious) argument that America hasn’t been treated “fairly” in the world. I have difficulty with this notion, if for no other reason than the level at which we and other rich nations have consumed at the cost of other people. One could ask how fair is that? It brings up a whole other set of questions- chances are I have no answers to that either, but you could reasonably point that a lot of peoples of the paid for our way of life. That would be hard to argue. Man does take advantage of man for his own benefit. What’s fair? I don’t know. Survival of the fittest (well that wouldn’t be America right now, pardon my poke at our collective bellies)? Again, I don’t know.

I will note that when we’re discussing China, which has become as rapacious as any nation ever was in the world, the issue of fair treatment is a good one, especially when it comes to trade secrets and theft of intellectual property. We underestimated this one, big time, and we also betted on thier choosing a different direction. I get the impression that Imperial China and Imperial Russia are going to continue to expand at everyone’s expense. China has a lot of mouths to feed. They intend to feed them and continue to expand their influence through their bridge building (in exchange for resource and land rights) in the world. This isn’t charity. It’s colonization. And it’s damned effective.

Again, many moving parts. My brain could go on fire. Good conversation. My iPad isn’t allowing me to go back and reread your comments so I probably wandered a bit here. And it’s nearly 4 am.

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Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

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