Equality and Greenberg
The state's other newspaper recently ran a piece by longtime laissez-faire champion Paul Greenberg entitled "Down with equality." Mr. Greenberg suggests in his column that the meaning of the word "equality" has been changed since the time of our founding fathers. A word once meaning "equality only before the law" and "equality of opportunity," as Greenberg says, has undergone a profound transformation and now means "material equality — an equality of income, of property, of spoils," as he puts it.
What Mr. Greenberg is saying is that founders like Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith envisioned a level playing field where attributes like integrity and determination could win for one a position of power and material wealth within society. Or as he puts it, "an aristocracy of merit arising out of an equality of opportunity." Wow, by using the word "aristocracy," Mr. Greenberg doesn't even hide the fact he believes in a ruling class.
To put it plainly, Greenberg believes in a free market utopia where honest and hard-working individuals are rewarded for their efforts. Yes, the political right has its dreamers, too.
This all sounds good, but the fair and free market of opportunity so desired by Greenberg is only possible if everyone involved starts at the same level materially and educationally and conducts themselves morally while participating in the market. This, however, is not the reality of the situation. We don't all start life with the same opportunities laid before us. There's a lot of hard-working and honest people out there struggling, and with few, if any, prospects of doing better. And there are members of a ruling elite that seek to profit off the misery of the struggling masses.
If we truly want to achieve a free market of equal opportunity, as Mr. Greenberg says he wants, then we must acknowledge the playing field is not level and consider measures to even it a little. As most Americans know, freedom comes with a price. If we want more freedom of opportunity among the masses, then the privileged few may have to give up some freedom — at least the freedom to benefit disproportionately from the labors of others.
On 'Nowhere Man'
To Will Stephenson: Wow! What a joy to read your superbly composed feature ["The Ballad of Fred and Yoko," March 31]. As a veteran DJ and vinyl lover and a lesbian, I was deeply moved. What a great tribute to a tragic soul. Thanks.
From the web
In response to an Arkansas Blog post by David Ramsey on state Sen. Terry Rice's statement that Medicaid expansion to cover health care costs for the poor would be "enslaving" future generations, a term that state Sen. Stephanie Flowers, who is black, took exception to:
David, less than a year ago, your paper published an article by Ernest Dumas entitled "Slaves to the past." The force of the metaphor in Dumas' title is that we are, sometimes and to some extent, controlled by things that happened long ago. You can fight the metaphor all you want, but I find it hard to believe that a smart, well-read guy like you really finds its use all that unusual — apparently other Arkansas Times staffers do not. I think a more sober analysis of the metaphor is that, if anything, its use approaches a cliche. I appreciate that there are some members of the legislature with an almost entrepreneurial talent for taking offense, but this is a pretty slim reed.
Thanks for the link to the Arkansas Project — I think if you go back and read it, you'll see that there is a pretty strong argument that the .0004 percent figure is not the relevant one. Medicaid expansion on a national basis is very, very, very expensive.
Hi Dan! The argument that the .0004 percent figure is not the relevant one is not strong, but silly, as I already addressed in the post: "The Arkansas Legislature has no control over whether or not other states accept the Medicaid expansion."
The Arkansas Legislature's decision on Medicaid expansion has an impact on the debt so trivial as to be meaningless. You are well aware of this, but my understanding is that you oppose the state's decision to move forward with the Medicaid expansion for other reasons.
Dan Greenberg, for your enlightenment, my husband might have died seven years earlier than he did had he not had Medicare. As it happens, he was treated and remained in reasonably good health for most of the rest of his life.
I might now be in a nursing home because of increasing blindness with a resultant inability to drive. Or I might have developed another malady that could have led to my death, had it not been found and treated early, all with the assistance of Medicare.
I'm not about to deny anyone else the opportunity to have decent medical care on the basis that it's going to cost too much. That you would shows what kind of person you are.