Falling Into the Well

This week, a guest appearance from my Facebook friend, Scott Wilson, who also tries to illuminate the realities behind the rhetoric:

Take it away, Scott:

Combined with the austerity approach to the terrible economic mess we still seem to be in and the asinine legislation popping up at state levels, the recent increased vocals from inconvenienced, poor, put upon billionaires trend is really beginning to annoy me.....

A lil story....

I fell down a well. There is a wall to every side of me and a floor below. I try to climb up the side, but it is very slick and with no handholds, it matters not at all how strong I am. I will not make it up before I starve.

But since nobody pushed me in, and nobody conspires to keep me in, I am clearly free.

That dollar unfairly taxed from the banker to buy the rope to rescue me - give it back! For the banker in his mansion is now enslaved, coerced by the nanny state into contributing to my survival. But nobody is coercing me. His hardship trumps mine, because it was coerced. That is how it works. It's science.

The consistent failure in one of the ongoing political discussions in the country is conflating the state of being free/having freedom with the state of being free from human coercion. If I go to act and a man bars my way, I am not free. If I go to act and a bear bars my way, I am still not free. If someone must carefully plan their outings in ways that others do not, and they must avoid certain establishments and even certain regions - because they're particularly tasty to bears, for instance - they can smell them for miles - so they have to stay out of bear country -- it's not anyone's fault, it's just the bears, but that is still a freedom that I am lacking.

The political philosophy of some (in general terms, as I can't know everyone's specific version) hinges on the value judgement that government intervention that reduces any freedom at all is evil, no matter how much other freedom it creates. Which is conceivably a defensible position...but what many are doing here is to selectively redefine reality and language until any created opportunities (freedoms) are recast as illusory, unimportant, or even somehow harmful; and then taking that warped comparison and using it to claim that the other side must be in bad faith, must be only out for themselves, must be the evil ones, because their gain is so small and our loss so large...but it is not; it is only that they cannot stomach any loss whatsoever, that any step down gapes like a chasm.

If they would argue in a way that acknowledges this - by focusing on why government intervention is wrong, not by focusing on how the problem isn't as bad as they say or on oh it's those poor bigots who are the victims here - then I'm certain the argument would be much better received.

Which is only to say that one might make a cogent argument for that position - a cogent argument against which I would also be happy to argue.