Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The only fear is...Bush

Since there's a better chance of winning the lottery than having the NY Times print a letter, I'll post my reaction to the letter below right here.

The subject of the writer's letter was a Bob Herbert article, "A Radical in the White House" (4/18/05).

Herbert celebrated Franklin Delano Roosevelt's optimism, praising him for giving "hope and a sense of the possible to a nation in dire need," and for calling on Americans to not give in to fear.

Sixty years ago, FDR called on Americans to adopt "a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race or creed."

Unfortunately, we're a long way from achieving FDR's goal, and "The nation is now in the hands of leaders who are experts at exploiting fear, and indifferent to the needs and hopes, even the suffering, of ordinary people," wrote Herbert.

Quoting Roosevelt, Herbert said, "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

This writer responded:

Unlike F.D.R., George W. Bush - a conservative in the White House - espouses a bill of opportunities, not rights: the opportunity for a useful and remunerative job; the opportunity to earn enough for adequate food, clothing and recreation; and the opportunity for every farmer to grow and sell products at a return that provides a decent living.

The bill of opportunities also includes the opportunity for a decent home and adequate medical care; the opportunity for adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment; and the opportunity for a good education.

Most important, it includes the right of every person, according to his or her abilities, to convert these opportunities into reality.

Arun Khanna
Indianapolis, April 18, 2005

That there should be a focus on opportunity goes without saying. Everyone agrees. The problem has always been that too few people profit from their advantages in opportunity without paying enough back to the society that gives them those opportunities.

The fault I find with the writer's perspective, and with society generally, is that opportunity works better for those who enjoy the advantages of property and wealth, education, race, natural ability, and family class. Focusing on opportunity without protecting rights gives winners all the gains, and losers all the losses. That's not just immoral--it's inhumane (i.e., it diminishes our humanity), and it's ultimately bad for the survival of our species and the planet we inhabit.


Post a Comment

<< Home