The haunting fear

Posted 4 August 2010 by

Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. —H. L. Mencken, US editor (1880–1956)

To listen to some reactionary types in the United States, the government cannot do anything. Never mind who had to clean up the mess after Wall Street was given the deregulation it wanted in the 1990s and early 2000s. For that matter, this does not mention what lack of regulation of Wall Street in the 1920s caused.

These people are also afraid of government taking over health care in the United States through reform efforts. Who cares if we pay twice what any other country pays for health care, we have a significant portion of uninsured people, and someone living in Cuba has a longer life expectancy than someone in the United States (Health Care Statistics in the United States).

There is the clarion call that the federal government is not authorized by the Constitution to establish some sort of universal health care system in the United States. Who cares if Article I, Section 8 states, “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States….” What else is health care, but “general welfare”?

It is funny how these people ignore the Constitutions lack of specific authorization for federal government to establish an Air Force. What else is the Air Force, but part of “common Defence”? (Let us not talk about where the CIA enters into this, please.)

We gather together
to ask the Lord’s blessing;
he chastens and hastens
his will to make known.
The wicked oppressing
now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to his name,
he forgets not his own.

These words from the Nederlandtsch Gedencklanck, as translated by Theodore Baker, are associated most frequently with the Puritans and Thanksgiving in the United States. Even though we sing (which is praying twice) for “the wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,” we have reactionary people who distress us through an entirely irrational fear that government will do worse than what private enterprise is already doing in the United States.

I am not calling for a totally socialist state, just as I am not calling for a totally capitalist state. Replacing one extreme will not solve anything. That would provide a mirror image of what we now experience, and would be just as ineffective. Maybe we need to remember the reforms introduced by former US president Teddy Roosevelt?

Could we have some balance? Was private business able to prevent the Gulf Oil Spill, given the lack regulatory environment there?

Why do the reactionary among us have that haunting fear that government somewhere, somehow may hold the solution?

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