Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rational Self-Interest

Interesting convo in the comments section over at Steve's jernt (guest-posted by aimai). On the broader points made by aimai in the post and comments, I think most sensible people would agree -- a flawed but generally supportable candidate is better than the Drumpfster fire being floated by the other party. Staying at home and clutching one's purity shawl does no one any good.

I would take some issue at the "it's not about you" meme, however. Not to sound like some asshole Randroid off the pages of Atlas Shrugged, but I vote for my own self-interest first. The very rich own the government, and the very poor have a number of programs available to them to help. Folks in the middle tend not to have those things.

So while I support the ACA, and will continue to do so, I resent the fact that the insurance my (government) employer provides sucks rhino balls, and costs me (and my employer) more and more every year, an entirely foreseeable consequence of enacting the grotesquely mutated final version of the ACA. When a cornerstone legislation is literally written by the industry it's designed to regulate, it's stupid not to expect consequences.

I do not expect other people to vote for my well-being, except in the most generalized communitarian sense. It is not their problem that I am literally taking home less money than I did two years ago because of increased insurance costs; it is my own fault for not finding another, better job, or creating some opportunity for myself, instead of Netflix-and-chilling with the wife after work. We all make our personal choices, and we all need to accept the consequences for them.

When we talk about people who are "vulnerable", it is useful to at least ask what the causes are for said vulnerability. There are plenty of issues that we can and should throw money at to address, for example mental health care, which is an increasing problem across the country. Cancer, being laid off, etc. There are plenty of things that are beyond our control, and I am glad to contribute to a system that helps those in real need.

But sometimes people's problems are self-inflicted, and stem from little more than poor decision making and impulse control. For example, when I encounter a 23-year-old woman who is pregnant with her fourth child by a fourth man (this is not a caricature; this is an actual person, and not even a terribly extreme or uncommon example), I want to tell her to fuck off and figure it out herself. I do not want to pay for her dumb decisions and irresponsibility. I find it incomprehensible that people have multiple children that they cannot remotely afford. I would happily contribute tax dollars to a program that paid people like that to stop cluttering the planet. Here's a couple grand, go get your fucking tubes tied. Everybody wins!

Maybe that's harsh. I don't care. A kid with a careless moron for a parent is almost certainly in for a harsh life. Everyone makes mistakes, so let's say the first one's free. But if you're on your fourth, by four different indigent motherfuckers who refuse to pay for their own offspring, then maybe it's time to put the cocks down, go to Planned Parenthood, and take some goddamned responsibility for your reproductive choices.

This is not a "moral" issue, nor the usual "pro-life" attempt to control women's sex lives. I honestly couldn't care less if someone sleeps with one person, or fifty, or a thousand, separately or all at once. But most working people have a hard enough time getting by on an honest job, and they don't need to be saddled with the ongoing irresponsibility of others, especially when a lot of the "vulnerable" can't even be bothered to vote in the first place.

I bitch constantly about the candidates that are offered, but I fucking well vote, every time. Midterms, down-ticket, referenda, everything. If something or someone comes on the ballot that I'm not familiar with, I take the time to educate myself. This is everyone's civic responsibility. The reason that we have so many idiot Republicans runningruining Congress and the state legislatures is that too many people are too lazy to vote in the midterms. Well, that's what you get when you don't show up -- a bag of dicks without a handle.

I've mentioned this before but it bears repeating:  the best thing about Bernie Sanders is the thing that got perhaps the least attention -- he made it clear from the outset of his campaign that it wasn't about him, but about us, that people who are serious about whatever "revolution" they think they're getting behind need to do more than chant slogans and vote once in a blue moon. Obama said much the same thing, incidentally, that the real "hope and change" came from each of us paying attention, staying informed, getting involved, AND voting.

Really, the voting part of it is just the cherry on top, the culmination of the work necessary to keep our eyes on the ball, to see who the fuckers really are and to send them home. Voting is not the end, it's the renewal of the cycle. Assuming HFC wins the election, it is then incumbent upon us to keep her honest, make sure she works harder for Main Street than for Wall Street. Being a citizen is a job with ongoing responsibilities, and we do ourselves a tremendous disservice by consistently viewing the process as merely a political Super Bowl.

The problem is not the handful of Berniebros who might stay home or vote for Drumpf; the problem is the number of people who are dead serious about voting for Drumpf. Seriously, how fucking dumb do you have to be to think that Drumpf is a good -- or even more than marginally competent -- businessman? He's a lifelong con man whose primary attribute has been his availability to the lamestream media who, to be fair, are just giving the morons what they want.

So before we head into the now-routine summer activity of rear-guard Nader-baiting among putative Democrats, let me just say this about that:  I don't owe my vote to any candidate, or any "less fortunate" person. Neither do you. It's a cheap rationale. You owe your vote to yourself, your family, your community, and what it's going to take to keep those things going. That's it. This whole "what about the vulnerable" shit just grinds my gears.

If someone has fallen on hard times, through bad luck or what-have-you, and just needs a hand up, I believe that most of us -- yes, even many conservatives -- sincerely want to help. Again, I am more than happy to contribute my tax dollars to a system that looks out for those folks, and have always voted accordingly. But I have zero interest in "helping" someone too dumb or lazy to get out of their own way, and who refuses to change their behavior.

In a country where too many people know far more about the latest reality-teevee cartoon character than they do about the issues and people that determine the trajectory of their lives, it's hard to generate much sympathy for such people. Almost all of us have access to the internets and the library, to twelve years of free public education. If they choose to spend their time impregnating each other and playing Candy Crush and watching the Kardashians, I not only can't help them, I don't want to.

No comments: