Thursday, July 29, 2004

"Two" too much

Let me start by saying that I have respect for Sen. Edwards as a politician.  He is likable, intelligent, and a pretty good public speaker.  I actually was excited in anticipation of his speech last night. . .

But then something happened.  He changed, right before my eyes, from a well-oiled, well-spoken "man of the people" into a one-trick pony. 

And the last time I checked, average folks don't put much faith in talking horses.

But I digress. . .let's analyze Edwards' bread-and-butter, this claim of the "two Americas" that ought to be one.  He is comfortable speaking about this view, and it was the point in his speech last night where his oratory skills warmed to the highest levels.  Last night, it went something like this:  "there are two different Americas: one, for all of those people who have lived the American dream and don't have to worry; and another for most Americans, everybody else who struggle to make ends meet every single day. It doesn't have to be that way."  Interesting. . . 

Capitalism is an incentive-based free economy, where those that do the "best" in their trade have an opportunity to receive the greatest rewards.  The competition that exists in this type of economy works to the great benefit of the consumer, who is the real winner in this system. 

The motivation for participating in the competition, and definitely for making the sacrifices necessary to succeed in the rat-race, is entirely incentive-based.  Whether it be for an ideal like "doing better for the next generation than was done for us", or for tangible and immediate quality-of-life improvements, the reason folks compete for the golden ring is that the golden ring is worth the quest! 

But take away some of the incentives along the road--take away the better opportunities for educating your youth, or the opportunities for medical care from the best and brightest doctors and clinicians, or even the ability to keep more of your money for personal use--and you take away some of the reasons to excel at your job.  Suddenly just doing "enough" takes the place of going "that extra mile".  The lack of incentives will dull the competition. . .and that isn't good for capitalism. 

Listen, I think that the health care crisis is very serious--but I don't think universal health care is  a)  fiscally possible; or b) (and more importantly) the cure for the ailment (no pun intended).  And I am concerned about the level of education that students might be getting in the schools--but I don't think the government should establish an equilibrium for schools everywhere.  It would be dumbing down the debate, and would necessarily result in a dumbing-down of the level of education in places . 

A step backward for some in order for equitability for all is STILL a step backward for some--and that is NOT a position that the U.S. government should be advocating.  Capitalism relies on the "strongest" to constantly blaze trails in new directions, thereby improving the lives of the masses.  By "rolling back" the incentives that motivate trail-blazers, you actually stunt the entire country's growth in EVERY sector.

Kerry-Edwards might envision one America--but the question that begs to be asked is:  is it an America that you dream of?  An America where excellence is marginalized and where making an opportunity for yourself loses meaning?  An America short on invention and long on government involvement in your daily lives?  

Sen. Edwards should have used last night to show the world that he's a serious thinker and is prepared to tackle the duties of the second-highest office in the land.  Instead, he repeated a  message that, while wildly popular on the floor last night, doesn't actually provide any hope for the future of this country. 

At least he was passionate about his speech.  That's more than I expect to see tonight. 



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