Sunday, August 23, 2015

My Sunday Feeling

Facebook is a many splendored thing.  It is a fun and useful way to keep up with friends and relatives.  Once upon a time, back in the days when I kept a paper calendar, I had an address book that contained where I logged the birthdays of those that were near and dear to me.  Now I pretty much rely on Facebook to let me know when somebody has made another trip around the sun.

Facebook also provides one, if one is paying attention, with something of a Rorschach test of the psyche as it obtains around these here parts.  One is frequently encouraged to "like" certain statements regarding religious or political pronouncements.  I'm guessing that somewhere somebody or some entity keeps track of this stuff.  I know in the political sphere such nose counting goes on.  It wouldn't surprise me if the folks that put out these other pronouncements for approval by the Facebook audience did likewise.

I never, or hardly ever, participate in this sort of commerce.  One reason is that the world is a pretty complicated place.  Pamphleteering on Facebook is not typically given to nuance.  Here's an example.

Last night-and I am working on recall here-somebody put up the following pronouncement that went something like this.

" We are told by the media not to judge all Muslims by the actions of a few.  And yet, all gun owners are blamed when a single deranged person commits a mass killing with a gun.  
   They say that Social Security is going broke.  How come nobody says that about welfare?

   'Like' this if you agree!"

This was posted by an otherwise reasonable and intelligent person.  It received an "amen" from another.  And I'm certain that before the night was over it had made the rounds out there.

The problem with this kind of statement is that it, to borrow from my line of work, assumes facts not in evidence.  

In the first place, while I know there are zealots on both sides of the gun control issue, I don't think people blame the average gun owners for gun violence.  My friend Chris Riviere is an avid sportsman.  He is a law abiding and responsible gun owner.  I no more blame him for what happened in Lafayette earlier this summer than I blame myself.  

I might blame the nation's policies on gun control but I don't blame individuals. And I don't know if anyone else that does either.

Secondly, Social Security is not "going broke." As those known communists at Forbes Magazine said in an article I read last summer that it is "a logical impossibility" for the program to run out of money.  It referred to such statements as "much ado about nothing." 

That's because there is a crucial difference between an "actuarial shortfall" on a long term basis and actual insolvency.  This has always happened from time to time and it has always gotten solved, typically through the liquidation of treasuries in which the Social Security Administration has invested. 

As to the "issue" (for lack of a better word) of the abundance of "welfare" insinuated by the post I would just ask "define welfare." Apart from Social Security, and other Federal retirement systems, there are no need based income program.  There is no "dole" here as there is in Great Britain.  Surely, there are various anti-poverty programs involving health care, housing and nutrition to name but a few. Perhaps that is the "welfare" complained of in the Facebook post.

However, if one were to define "welfare" as any financial benefit conferred by the government (and just so we're clear "providing for the general welfare" of the country is in the Constitution) the class of recipients of such largess gets broader and deeper.  How about corporate taxation or relative lack thereof?  How about cities funding sports facilities built by billionaires? How about tax-exemptions for churches? And televangelists?

How about the deduction of the interest I pay on my mortgage each year?  When viewed through this wider lens the discussion more closely follows the principle of the gored ox more than anything else.

The world is a complicated place.  Nuance prevails in reality.  Facebook is better suited for announcing birthdays and showing selfies of narcissists at lunch.  It is not the best forum for highfalutin political discourse although it does serve as something of a Rorschach test for the occasional strain of paranoia which obtains out there. Nothing more. Nothing less.

"Like" this if you agree!  


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