On April 5th The Signal published a column by Gary Horton entitled “America Has A Complex Complex” which brought a memory to mind for me.
When my daughter was a little girl she’d do finger-paintings for me. She’d sit at the table and smear random colors all over a piece of paper, and then turn to me.
Of course, all I could see was paint smeared randomly all over the page.
That’s what we have with this Horton column: a little kid’s finger-painting of what’s wrong with America. It makes no sense to the person reading it. Only in the mind of the “artist” who created it do any of the shapes or colors coalesce into a meaningful whole, as they’re randomly selected and applied.
Horton’s painting of an “industrial-congressional-complex” makes as much sense as my daughter’s finger-painting of a “sunrise”, meaning none. It’s a very pretty picture, quite colorful, but not at all representative of anything in the real world.
He’s taken disparate elements of our society which he considers flaws or shortcomings in its fabric and tried to tie them together into a neat package of cause and effect. But the fatal mistake in this approach is that it ignores the benefits that derive from that very same system.
We live in a society unique in the world, with freedoms and liberty, guaranteed in our Constitution, that are unparalleled anywhere. We’ve also – whether willingly or not – been forced to assume the mantle of being the defender of those freedoms on a global scale, both for ourselves and our allies.
There are costs, both overt and hidden, that accrue to those kinds of benefits and responsibilities. That’s just the way the world works.
I know Horton, and those like him, have a utopian vision of how they think things should be. I’ve been active in politics for about five decades, and have been debating these issues for all of that time. But utopia doesn’t exist, and never will. That’s just a fact.
Any society with freedoms such as ours is going to be a messy place. Open debate, electoral politics, federalism, equal access of competing interests, free-market economics, free speech, property rights, individual responsibility, open competition… these are all concepts that, when put in practice, will naturally lead to uneven results.
Equality of outcome can only be assured by the imposition of tyranny.
So… which system would you prefer?
(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)