Last week I indicated that I would broaden the topics of my ranting to the greater arena of society. As with the health care crisis, it’s worthwhile trying to look to root causes to try to make sense of the current mess. It seems to me the further you get from the true root—our basic values—the more daunting and obfuscating the analysis. The problem is, the country is divided almost down the center when it comes to values.

Have you wondered, like I have, how equally intelligent, well-intentioned people can look at the same facts and circumstances and reach opposite conclusions? This is the quandary of the left-right divide of the American people. Those of you who have read my earlier rants know that I see things from a right of center viewpoint. But it wasn’t always so. I hail from that bastion of liberal thought, New York, and grew up with that perspective, a perspective my oldest friends, still living on the East Coast, still espouse. I suppose it’s ironic that I changed after moving to the opposite coast, another great bastion of liberal thought. In any case, having been in both camps, I’ve attempted to understand the divide ever since.

To discuss this intelligently, we first need to define the opposing viewpoints in the context of the facts, or how we interpret them. I see both governmental and private sector corruption. I believe they’ve grown in scope over the last couple of centuries. In speaking with my left-leaning friends, they view the private sector, typically epitomized by the corporations, as the major problem. Rampant greed has shifted wealth inordinately among the few from the many. Government exists to negate this by legislating and regulating, so that each can get his or her fair share. To the extent that this behavior has continued to flourish, the government is seen as having failed, corrupted by the very sector it was supposed to have reined in. It needs to do more.

Conservatives see the problem as over-regulation from a government that has grown too large and stifled the free market, shifting ever-larger portions of the GDP from the private to the public sector. Since the government is a non-producer, only extracting money through taxes and fees, this slows the economy and stifles innovation. It also corrupts the private sector by rewarding its favorites, creating an uneven playing field. It needs to do less.

The reason both views can coexist in an intelligent, analytical community, is that there is truth to both sides. Misdirection doesn’t necessarily depend on fallacies, only misguided assessments of evident truths. And reality usually resides somewhere between the extremes.

So whose reality is closest to what really is? And how do you prove it? I’ll explore this further in my next rant.


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