We connect on so may levels, enjoying laughs, sharing stories.
I tell my mall stories based on 15 years as a mall cop
Neighborhood pals, high school and college buddies share hilarious tales and hijinks.
Every conversation starts with the phrase “remember the time when”. We end up toasting to good times and pledging to “keep in touch”.
But the mood changes, awkward silence descends and in some cases acrimony takes hold when the following words are uttered:
- Left wing
- Right wing
- Trump/Rand Paul/Ted Cruz/and even the mention of Marjorie Taylor Green
So what do we have in common and where do we go from here? Hopefully, here is some common ground:
Everybody agrees that nobody should freeze to death or starve to death
Everybody agrees that children should be able to read, write, add , subtract, multiply, divide.
Everybody agrees that we all need to be safe, defined as not being murdered, raped, beaten, robbed, etc.
Everybody agrees that sick persons need basic medical attention (i.e., broken arm must be set, medicines need to be administered, life saving operations must be conducted, etc.)
How we achieve the aforementioned minimal bar, minimum standard for society to survive? Persons of all political/attitudinal strips seem to agree that if this safety net is ripped, society unravels.
So why is it that once any of the above listed terms are applied (liberal, conservative, etc.), we can not agree and we degenerate into an “us vs. them” mode?
What if we set the bar so low (with no political or philosophical label on that bar) that society could function without polarization and acrimony.
How might this look?
- It could be a GBI (Guaranteed Basic Income) based on principles of simplicity, efficiency, effectiveness. No big government, no means testing requiring the completion of forms affiliated with a bloated bureaucracy to coordinate a myriad of programs and regulations. This will appeal the the “small government” folks and those whose primary concern is cost-effectiveness and Return On Investment (ROI(). Nobody starves and nobody freezes, unless they squander their GBI (and conservatorships could be arranged for those most likely to squander). Everybody gets to read and write and everybody gets to live their life without being physically violated. Is that too much to ask for? I would hope that persons from every part of the political spectrum could buy into this concept. If you can not support this minimum standard of living, I would seriously question your callous perspective on humanity and I would watch my back when in your presence.
- It could be soup kitchen style food distribution. No frills
- It could be housing designed for short term needs to keep persons warm/dry. No frills.
- It could be clothing distributed to keep persons warm/dry. No frills
- It could be clinic style medical triage style to address immediate medical needs
- It could be education certifying that the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic are achieved (something that many of todays students can not demonstrate despite copious amounts of funding). No frills.
Most persons would agree to this baseline level of services . This would serve the dual purpose of keeping persons alive and stabilizing their circumstances enabling them to forge beyond the subsistence level. This would give them at least the opportunity to climb up the socio-economic ladder.
If the warring factions of the left/right, liberal/conservative, red/blue states could buy into this minimalist strategy, it might break the log jam and avoid getting bogged down in the minutia of policies, formulas, regulations, value/culture wars and petty grievances. It would be both humanitarian (saving people from falling off the financial cliff) and pragmatic (maximum impact with minimum cost). Arguments and priorities could be debated among the factions for programs extending beyond this minimalist strategy but at lease the log jam might be broken.
In essence, fiscal conservatism meets social progressivism.
Maybe then we could all get back to enjoying ourselves sharing stories, laughs, and good times. Ah the good old days!