There are two stories in the Deseret News that offer a nice little contrast. In the first, the DesNews scrutinizes the political donations of the Huntsman family. The article states that the family, as a whole, donated about twice as much to Democrats as to Republicans (but this is not what the post is about). In the second, the DesNews finds that 82% of low-income families are fully employed and still not able to meet the basic necessities of modern life, such as food, shelter, and health care.
So what we have here in Utah, in part, which is a microcosm of our nation as a whole, is on the one end a very successful family worth billions of dollars and on the other end 94,000 working families with 243,000 children, struggling to keep a home or apartment, food on the table, and basic health care.
You should know right now that I am in kind of a liberal/upset mood, so I'm going to get a little indignant here.
This is ridiculous and it makes me angry. I have no beef with the Huntsmans, they donate a lot of time and money to charitable causes and they seem like good people. But we've created a society where two people with the same drive and work ethic live in two separate worlds. In one world your family owns several mansions and offers you the best education and best connections that money can buy, and in the other the kids are in over-crowded classrooms without physical and psychological security or basic healthcare. In one world you expect to inherit millions of dollars from the family business and in the other you inherit callouses on your hands and a healthy distrust for a society that will just wear you down.
And yet all we hear is that the government better not touch my money. The government better stop encouraging lazy people to live off the Nanny State. The government is singularly ill-equipped to deal with social problems. The Invisible Hand will sort it all out!
All of which is nonsense. The rich receive so much more benefit from society and the government each day than the poor do in years. The rich grow rich from the physical labor of the poor. The government is not perfect, but we have seen again and again the injustices of a laissez-faire philosophy. We have seen slavery, monopolies, gender and racial inequalities, depressions and recessions, and the like.
I'm not calling for socialism, and I'm not calling for complete income parity. I'm calling for a society that fosters the hopes and dreams of all of its members, each of whom has something important and essential and meaningful to offer. I'd like to see better public schools that give every kid a chance to learn and succeed, affordable higher education available to anyone that wants it (including more emphasis on vocational schools), a public health care system that makes sure every family has their basic health care needs met, and no family (absolutely zero families) worrying about what they are going to eat tomorrow because the cupboards are empty.
This is what being a liberal is all about. Equality. Do those beliefs make me less of a Mormon than a conservative? I openly scoff at the idea.
There are plenty of ways liberals and conservatives can work together, and I respect many, many conservatives and think they present a lot of good ideas. But the goal of both political ideologies must be equality and security (which are completely intertwined), and you can't just come to the table with ideas that merely reinforce a system that leads to the rich getting richer and getting more opportunities, and the poor getting poorer with fewer opportunities.
If conservatives want to champion less government involvement that is fine, but that is not enough. They have to come up with ideas that replace government action that promotes equality. Can we rely on individuals acting independently with human compassion alone to create justice and equality? History has shown that we cannot. The only society that I can think of that achieved such total equality was this one, and I'm not sure we should just sit around and wait for that to happen again any time soon.