My wish this Christmas would be for things that can never be. There are the usual “Peace on Earth, good will towards all” hopes, but they are tempered by the knowledge that mankind really does not seek this. So what are my wishes?
I wish for an understanding of the poor and how to help break the circle that entraps so many. The ideal of charity has been replaced now with the notion of public welfare. In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol we see his criticism of the state of social welfare and charity in Victorian England. In the end, Scrooge is brought to understand the interdependence of all in a society, but even Dickens did not foresee the shift from private charity to public welfare.
We have had varying degrees of federal welfare in the US now for 70 years, beginning with the introduction of the Emergency Relief and Construction Act of 1932. In 1935, The Social Security Act, expanded the payments given to the states to provide old-age assistance, aid for dependent children, and support for the blind. These are all important things, and it would seem society is better for doing it, but how do we determine when good intentions are flawed and lead to destruction? As in analogy, it is with good intentions we build dams to capture water for drinking, control flooding, provide hydro-electrical power, and perhaps a center for recreation, but what happens if that dam fails and the communities down stream are suddenly swept away?
As we look back on the last 70 years have we used our tax dollars to appreciably improve the lives of those we have invested in, or have we enslaved them to the very cycle of poverty we’ve attempted to cure? This issue is now a political chip, used by both sides to demean and vilify the opposition in their quest for power, influence, and personal gain, but who has an answer? Perhaps it is an unfortunate consequence of being human that not all are equal and some succeed while others fail. If so, then what should be the role of the government in comforting those who fail? Where in this discussion is the recognition that family seems to be critical to success and if the state destroys the family it destroys the individual. Do we learn any lessons from the last seventy years, or is this just another Sisyphean task the impoverished and we are bound together in?
I wish for leaders who are confident, honest, and forthright. I hope for men and woman who answer questions based on their beliefs, not what their advisors recommend as the politically correct thing to say. I am tired of the gamesmanship, the sniping or the worship of those who seek political office. It would be refreshing to just once hear them speak candidly. I know this is a false hope, I doubt politicians ever speak candidly, except to their most intimate acquaintances or supporters. With spies being used by both the Democrats and Republicans it seems increasingly unlikely that even these conversations will persist. The lessons from Mr. Romney’s speech about the 47% who are dependent on government will not be lost on the future candidates.
Finally, I wish for universal acceptance of independent thought. I see an ever-contracting circle of independent ideas. Today, if anyone questions the popular opinions they are immediately beat down by the groups they have offended. We have become a nation of the easily offended where only our own views are acceptable. We can’t listen to someone we disagree with and just walk away, turn the channel, or ignore them, we have to shove our opinions in their face, criticize their foolishness, and make them see the error of their way.