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June 19, 2012

Aspire to Greatness or Denigrate That Goal?

Farrell Keough

We are immersed in what so many label “the silly season” of politics. While glib, this truly does not capture the essence of the bifurcation of our party system seen today. Truth be told, we are in the realm of Political Absolutism – no gradations – only this view or that and nary the twain shall meet.


A few weeks ago, we spoke of the Keynes versus Hayek perspectives of economic government influence. In short, this is the austerity, (cut government spending, allow companies to fail, and take your lumps) versus government monetary infusion (push government dollars into the economy to stimulate growth) as a mechanism to handle our current malaise.


What did we find? Basically, when you limit yourself to only one option, (Political Absolutism) you ensure that you cannot solve the real problems, and you have accepted the idiom that when you only own a hammer, everything in life is a nail. We all realize how foolish this perspective is; yet, when thrust into the realm of political ad hominem attacks, we accept that only black and white perspectives are true.


If we think about these influences, we will soon realize this polarization or Political Absolutism is necessary – we need to embrace what we believe we understand. But, once we have crossed that line of understanding, it is incumbent upon us to thoroughly think through all sides and determine if, in fact, there is room for alternatives and wise compromise! [Remember the days of President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil – they would argue like badgers during the day and have a drink together in the evening.]


So, let’s look at a local and common scenario to determine if, in fact, we are buying into these falsehoods, or if we have a legitimate basis for concern.


One of the current local and national issues has been the government union push for raises and no change to payments for insurance and retirement benefits. As displayed in Wisconsin, this fight took on not only national repercussions, but local implications as well since every state has some type of Department of Education.


In an attempt to simplify things, we faced two basic issues here in Frederick: 1) after 80 years of the state accepting responsibility for post-employment payments, it realized it could no longer pay its bills and simply passed them down to the counties, and 2) our local government teachers’ union determined to undertake a “work to contract” scenario well before their current agreement was even up for renewal.


But wait! This is where conservatives go astray and fall into the trap of class warfare promoted by liberal opponents. While we object to these union tactics of playing on the guilt of the tax paying public – we also desire people of all stripes to aspire to making the best income they are able.


So, what does this mean? Public service employees are a necessary and valuable asset to our nation, region, and locality. Having these employees aim for excellence is precisely what we desire of all employees – both public and private. We should not denigrate the individual for attempting to make the best negotiation they can for a job well done.


Excellent teachers are a rarity and we should happily embrace such professionals! To determine that simply because a person works for the government they should be far more limited than someone in the private sector is anathema to conservative values. We want all people to achieve excellence; and, in doing so, they should be paid commensurate to their abilities and the services provided to the larger public.


In short, don’t buy into the class warfare tactics of divide and conquer – public servants are a necessity and benefit to our society. That they, too, desire to provide the highest quality service and make a good income due to that work is a good thing, not something we should fight against! These people are as middle class as you and I – we need to bring all of us together under the same wise and well-established economic system we understand to work.


Once again, this does not mean we roll over and accept the fallacy and irrationality promoted by many government union officials. We have nothing to feel guilty about by pointing out that our tax base cannot provide everything for everyone. We simply don’t want to draw war lines like liberal counterparts based solely upon perceptions that you don’t deserve to aspire to the best income you can make.


When we realize we are going after certain groups, even if that group has used methods that are illegitimate, we must step back and remember that what separates the conservative ideology is the desire to raise all boats – not bring all boats down to the lowest level.


We know, articulate, and promote well established ideologies and economic systems. Our nation has brought more wealth to the world than any other – our economic system has given more people throughout the world the ability to move above their caste system or social standing.


We want to always remember that aspiring to greatness is what the American system is all about.


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