Peggy Noonan wrote about a TSA agent in New York who mentioned that years ago we had Steven Jobs, Bob Hope, and Johnny Cash. However, with their death, we are now without jobs, hope, and cash. She found that statement humorous but poignant. She went on in her article describing how Jobs represented the “dynamism” of American commerce, Hope represented humor and good cheer, while Cash represented “American Soulfulness.” She then went on to say that the deaths of these individuals symbolize the current moment in American history. Noonan is a writer, trying to get us to read her articles, and thus will attempt to wax eloquent, but I do think she has a point.
Earlier I mentioned how I just may consider myself an economic socialist, a liberal in politics (which almost makes me choke), and a cultural conservative. I said this in response to a book I am reading by David Bell, “The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism.” What did he mean by these terms? And how can I, as a conservative Christian, say that I am an economic socialist, etc?
Bell notes that economic pursuit is seen at being “instrumental,” in other words an activity in place to accomplish a goal, wealth. Economic pursuit is viewed as amoral, as long as it is accomplished according to the law of the land. Therefore, an ethical business pursuit is accomplished as long as it does not break the law. I disagree with this. I think there is a moral minimum that must be adhered to when we do business. I think we can work, accumulate wealth, but to whom much is given much is required. Those of us that are fortunate should be willing to share with those that are not. I believe there is a limit to how much money is necessary for a comfortable life. This is what makes me an economic socialist. Not a political system, or even a government system that taxes me, but a willingness on my part to be innovative, driven, but compassionate.
Being a political liberal may a bit a bit of a stretch for me. I don’t believe in big government, but as I explored what Bell meant by being a political liberal I could fit into his characteristics. “Yet, I am a liberal in politics – defining both terms in a Kantian sense. I am liberal in that within the polity, I believe the individual should be the primary actor, not the group.” He goes on to say, “I believe in the principle of individual achievement, rather than inherited, or prescribed allocation of social positions. But I am not an egalitarian in the current, fashionable sense that the law should make persons equal.” Now that I read this again, it sounds pretty conservative to me.
I am cultural conservative. Especially in relation to Bell’s definition of culture. “Culture, for me, is the effort to provide a coherent set of answers to the existential predicaments that confront all human beings in the passage of their lives.” Therefore, tradition and history play a role in understanding how we got here, and gives a sense of security for where we are going.
Bell has done a good job of defining terms, so I feel quite comfortable in aligning myself with his definitions. The question then becomes what do I do from here? How does this understanding change my attitude or action?
Do we have no jobs, hope, and cash? Do we give up and give in to the victim mentality that is driving folks to the parks to protest? How do I connect the ideas of a TSA agent and David Bell?
Here are my initial thoughts. We cannot, as a nation, allow our creative and innovative desire to die. We cannot fall into this sense of entitlement where there is no hope, and fall into the lie that we are being cheated by the rich. We are a nation of dialogue and destiny. We cannot forget that, because if we do they win. Whoever they are! Dialogue is not the easy road, it is a road less traveled, especially now, where our political leaders are refusing to talk. The rich need to recognize their responsibility, but dealing with the poor is a bit more complicated. There are those that just need a little help to get a leg up, and we need to provide that. But there are those that want to take advantage of the social systems in place. However, I as an economic socialist, political liberal, and cultural conservative must not throw the social systems out that are helping the poor, because of the few that are taking advantage. We can’t give up, there are jobs, hope and cash. We are still the largest economy in the world. We just need to do things a bit different than we have in the past, and I hope we learn.
And that is my thought for the day!