Monday, November 09, 2009

Berlin Wall... 20 years on

What a great day! It is amazing to look back and remember the thirty year or so stretch when East and West Germany were so separated. It is a stark testimony to the failure of twentieth century communism in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

The basic principles I take from this failed experiment are two-fold: 1) competition is key to human thriving and excellence and 2) the goal of making everything free is a phantom one. What you do with these two principles of course will have to face the complexities of reality. For example, it does not translate into unbridled capitalism, which arguably has its own set of failures, not least the economic crisis of these last year or the social plight of countless little people during the Industrial Revolution. Adam Smith meant for capitalism to empower the little person, not to create a new economic aristocracy.

We need objectivity seeking geniuses with strong human values to translate these principles into political reality. By "strong human values" I mean individuals who do not dismiss those who, when left to their own devices, will fail (everyone from the mentally challenged to some people who live near me). They are part of the social contract. By "objectivity seeking" I mean non-partisans, which would not include those economists for whom unbridled capitalism has become a religion to itself.

So I am not competent to judge whether the current "public option" under discussion is sound or not. I do suspect America should have one to cover everyone--as long as it does not sabotage true competition in the mainstream marketplace, and I realize that is a big "if" in the current discussion. And I am not opposed to, for lack of a better term, "welfare," as long as its primary goal is the empowerment or, frankly, placement of those who for whatever reason lack the ability or impetus to support themselves. Where to start on that one, I don't know.

I saw a well intentioned Christian video recently about how great it would be if everything were free. I don't even know if that principle will apply in the kingdom of God! For whatever reason, the vast majority of human beings do not seem to do anything noteworthy by their own impetus. Work and competition are who we are. It is hard to imagine anyone from eastern Europe or the former Soviet Union producing a video like that.

Communism simply does not work given human nature--at least most of our human natures.


Anonymous said...

If you believe all of that stuff you wrote, why did you vote for Obama?

Keith Drury said...

thinking of a cartain video we saw in church?

Ken Schenck said...

To Drury: "No comment."

To Craig: Balance of power, to get us out of the Republican rut we were in. I think my comments above characterize me as a moderate with Republican leanings.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Yes, The Berlin Wall. They have a part of it in the Journalism/Media musuem in D.C.

NPR sounded pretty "conservative" today talking about the fall of the Berlin Wall. A lady whose parents had been imprisoned...Wow, do we ever have it so good! Freedom is such a blessing. We should never take it for granted. And this we celebrate because of Veteran's Day, Wednesday!

Ken Schenck said...

I have always found the hosts of Talk of the Nation and Morning Edition paragons of objectivity. I truly could not tell you how they vote given the discussions I have heard over the years. They really try to be fair to both sides. There are of course other shows on NPR that clearly lean more to the left.

::athada:: said...

Science News Friday is such a liberal rag :)

Anonymous said...

Well, if you consider yourself a moderate you sure got conned by a radical Marxist like Obama. I tried to warn you, but you went ahead and "drink the juice." I would think that a trained philosopher would be able to identify the "hope and change" con that went on last November. Now we will suffer the results for years to come.

Alan and Aimee Williams said...

Free. We often think that free means that many will want whatever it is and take it. That is rarely the case.

King David often comes to my mind when I hear about getting something for free (I Chronicles 21). I know I have taken this story out of context, but it still comes to mind.

Freedom and free things always come at a price. Somebody, somewhere had to pay. Money, time or even loss of life. That is the paradox of "free." "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." That freedom was a high price. It cost Jesus His life and it costs me everything to follow.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Aimee and Allan,
You are correct in saying that freedom costs, in regards to our country's liberties. But, fortunately, we have a volutary military, otherwise, we would be miltarizing the Stae, which we see in Communist China, or other tolataliarian regimes.

In regards to personal life choices, then these must be freely chosen too. We, in America, do not believe that another can subvert the rule of law in demanding allegience "to Jesus". Otherwise, we have totaltarian regimes, as the Taliban...

Liberty costs, in regards to those who believe in it and want to do what it takes to defend it's principles. This is where ethics determines where one's ultimate commitmints lie and where one will "die for the right of freedom and free choice".