I’ve been listening to commentary lately about the “common good”, mostly in relation to Obamacare and whether harming some for the sake of others is immoral. I’m not even going to get started on Obama or Obamacare…or anything political. Not on this blog. I’ll save that for my political writing. 🙂
However, I’m interested in who Good is and what’s so common about him. Yes, it’s a tongue in cheek question, but who are these people that make up those that are supposedly benefited when we speak of the “common good”. I would submit to you that the common good is an illusion. That’s not to say that there is no such thing as the common good, but that the phrase has lost all meaning when those who sacrifice for the true common good are suddenly forced to sacrifice.
Let me explain.
The Common Good Benefits From Voluntary Sacrifice
You earn your money the hard way as a freelancer. You have to hunt down your own clients, write proposals, and finally you get work and earn money. If you decide to donate to a charity organization, then you are “sacrificing” a part of your pay for the common good – an organization that helps others.
However, when a government steps in and says, “You know, even though you don’t use health insurance, you have no need for health insurance, and you don’t have the money to buy health insurance, I’m going to force you to buy health insurance or fine you ridiculously if you don’t buy it,” you start to harm the common good.
Why? I’m so glad you asked.
Peace of Mind is Part of the Common Good
In order to help people, commonly, you need to have a sense of peace of mind. In other words, the common good is benefited when those who are truly in need know that they are being looked out for and those who have voluntarily give in order to help. When people start living in a state where they’re afraid that the government is going to impose crazy laws that take from some and give to others outside of standard taxes, nobody is being benefited. I’m not rich. I’m not sitting pretty in a corporate office with a window seat making millions of dollars per year. I work hard for every penny I make and I have very little excess. Yet money I don’t really have is being taken from me to help…who, the poor? Others? I’m certainly not the rich! And in fact, I know people living below the poverty line who are being adversely impacted by Obamacare. (Again, we’re using this as an example, not talking about the policy itself.) So who, then, is it helping? Who makes up the commons of society?
Real Solutions for the Common Good
Do you know what I think would really help people? If the government backed off. Seriously. See, people are a lot smarter than the government is giving us credit for. We know how to manage money, make money, set up businesses, grow out businesses, hire people, give to others, help people, make decisions about our healthcare, and many other things. I think the common people are already good. We don’t need people to sacrifice, we need people to stop being greedy in the first place. What is the greater good? Is it defined as the greatest number of people, as Luis Gutierrez, a congressman from Illinois, said on The O’Reilly Factor tonight? If so, then why are the greatest number of people suffering because of laws made by a handful of people? And is this democracy?
The way that the greatest number of people are going to thrive is if we go back to our roots and get government out of our pockets, out of our lives, and off our backs. Because we ARE the greatest number, not them. For the people by the people? Not anymore. Instead, it’s for the government by way of manipulating and bullying the people.
Just my two cents. 🙂