And my Tea Party was hateful?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Short Story

My High School Literature teacher constantly assigned readings from dead guys who had no impact on the life I lived (or I mistakenly thought at 16). I considered the class a waste of time until one assignment came across my desk. I was to write a report on a short story, “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. The piece is only a few short pages, but those pages changed how I viewed the world from thence forth. Vonnegut envisioned a future where equality was mandated and enforced by the government. No person was more intelligent or beautiful than the other. We were all the same. No fine artists, musicians or great scientists could exist. We were all to be as average as the next man. While the piece is a stretch of the imagination, it illustrates the point the equity cannot be enforced by law without grave consequences to the society as a whole.

Our Founding Fathers were quick to note that “all men were created equal”, but never guaranteed that all men would remain equal. How will the Handicapper General insure all Americans have adequate housing, health care and retirement without destroying the ability of the people to dream of a better life? Are we as a nation willing to sacrifice our own desires in the name of equity? Does freedom even imply equity or merely the chance to create our own way? The Framers struggled with these issues and we still struggle with the same issues today.

The desire for no person to suffer can often cloud the vision of our leaders. No one wants a Grandmother to retire late or a child to live in a bad neighborhood. Everyone wants life to be fair, but it is simply not possible. The government can not and should not serve as the Handicapper General, because we are plenty capable of handicapping ourselves. As Vonnegut dreamed of the physical limitations on those of superior strength, Congress and the Obama campaign seek to place handicaps on those of above average success. Will we allow the government to saddle our businesses with bags of bird shot? Or will we admit to our handicaps and try to overcome them?

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