A couple of days ago, I was reading a story in the newspaper about President Obama's trip to Savannah where he had talked about the need for health care reform. As so-called journalists generally do these days, this writer had ended his story with a quote from a bystander that was meant to be an equal counterweight to everything the president had said. It's a stupid technique, because, in fact, there are not always two equal sides to every story. The truth and lies are not equal, and yet some who call themselves journalists insist on giving them moral equivalency.
Nevertheless, this local man was quoted as saying something to the effect that the government has no business getting involved in health care. The only thing that government should do is fight wars, build roads and run prisons. Other than those three things, it should stay out of our lives.
In this man's perfect world, there would be no police or fire departments. It would be every man or woman for his or herself. There would be no one inspecting to make sure that our food and our water are safe to consume. There would be no public schools or public libraries. There would be no parks or wildlife refuges. There would be no great public museums, no public transportation. For sure there would be no social safety net - no Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment benefits, Veterans' benefits, public hospitals, and, of course, it goes without saying that all the veterans' hospitals and clinics would have to be closed. There would be no NASA, no exploration of space, no transportation agencies making sure that planes and trains and automobiles and boats are safe for the public to travel in, and, naturally, there would be no watchdog EPA to try to make sure that our air is safe to breathe. There would be no diplomatic corps and no intelligence agents roaming the world and interacting with other governments and non-government groups with a view to making unnecessary that war that this man wants his government to fight.
In short, there would be no societal organization. Everything that it has taken human beings thousands of years to build up to make our lives more pleasant - in other words, civilization - would be chucked into the dustbin of history if this man and his ilk had their way and we could all go back to living in trees and wearing animal skins - if we are lucky.
The utter mind-numbing lack of awareness of the great sweep of human history and of the interdependence of us all boggles the imagination. But there are such people out there in the world and there are some reporters who will give them the time of day. Incredible.