Promoting the General Welfare: what it takes to be free.

I started a project some time ago to address the preamble to the US constitution. This seems like a very fine time to return to the next point, and maybe a little topical. Let me, finally, address the idea of “General Welfare” .

Webster defines it, partly, as ” the enjoyment of health and the common blessings of life”. This is truly the way I feel it was meant. Education, health care, and a fair shot at turning your life into something you are proud of.

Health and general well being for every citizen, maybe even resident, of the most powerful country in the world shouldn’t be too lofty a goal. We should be able to take care of our people, most especially our children, body and mind. No one should suffer needlessly. Health care is a virtue we should offer up at least as readily as we claim to offer education, and both should be healed to higher standards than what we have today if we are really going to promote freedom and well being. No person who is restrained in body or mind can be free.

The only thing holding us back is some completely misguided “us versus them” mentality that requires proponents to believe that there is a limited amount of success to be had here in the US, and that by holding others back, they will be more likely to get a larger share. It requires them to call the poor “lazy”, the uneducated “dumb”, and the underprivileged “greedy”. It requires that we alienate other Americans, and try to tell them that they don’t deserve a better life than what fate handed them, or they would have been handed a better one. It requires that we, the people striving to do better for ourselves, fight with each other rather than calling out the people who have money, fame, or power, and demanding that they share what they have won only by exploiting the system and everyone else in the country. That isn’t to say that they don’t deserve more for playing the game well, but that they have to allow other people some chance to play also.

So, we need healthcare for all. Personally, I think the idea that we can’t have a public option because the for-profit companies couldn’t compete is an excellent reason to have a public option, but that’s me. As long as healthcare is universally available and affordable, I can live with the system we have. It is, of course, not universally affordable, but that’s a fight for another day.

Education, likewise, should be a higher priority. And, yes, I think we should teach facts and only facts, and let the students make up their own minds about whatever they are taught in Sunday School. We are falling farther and farther behind in math, science, and even the arts, and that is because we are the only industrial nation that allows schools funded with public money to teach that the Loch Ness Monster is real, and that is proof of a young Earth. We aren’t doing our kids any favors by allowing them to be confused about how the world works in the name of their parents’ religion. Religion can be a great thing, but it has no place in public education where we are trying to build a sense of community and civic purpose. We can’t do that if we spend time focusing teacher attention on decisive and ludicrous topics.

In short, we have a long way to go. We’ve made progress, recently, in the area of healthcare, but only such that no one will take up the fight again for at least a generation, and we’ll be stuck with these half-measures in the mean time. We are slipping ever backward on education, and there is no way forward without stepping on toes. We need to decide what our priorities are, and whether we want to live up to the best of the Founding Father’s vision, or down to the worst of it. They didn’t treat women as whole people, and it wasn’t changed until 1920. They compromised on slavery, pushing the problem off on the future, which lead directly to the Civil War and cost 25 times more American lives than did the Revolution. As I have said before, our America is better than theirs.

Do we not want to keep it that way?

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