Monday, September 12, 2005

The Case for "Common Good"

George Lakoff has been promoting the case for "Common Good" for some time now, but he writes about it with new a perspective and forcefulness after Hurricane Katrina. Read full text: The Post-Katrina Era

No one is saying people shouldn't take responsibility for their choices and how they lead their lives, but that we as a society are better as a whole when we look after each other. That's common sense and moral, regardless of your faith or non-faith.

I also recommend reading Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. It's another wake up call full of examples, both historic and modern showing how we ignore the common good at our own peril. Will we as a society work together to avert catastrophe or will we persist in our selfish ways destroying the planet and what we leave our children? - IFK Editor

By Lakoff: The Katrina tragedy should become a watershed in American politics. This was when the usually invisible people suddenly appeared in all the anguish of their lives -- the impoverished, the old, the infirm, the kids and the low-wage workers with no cars, TVs or credit cards. They showed up on America's doorsteps, entered the living rooms and stayed. Katrina will not go away soon, and she has the power to change America.

The moral of Katrina is mostly being missed. It is not just a failure of execution (William Kristol), or that bad things just happen (Laura Bush). It was not just indifference by the President, or a lack of accountability, or a failure of federal-state communication, or corrupt appointments in FEMA, or the cutting of budgets for fixing levees, or the inexcusable absence of the National Guard off in Iraq. It was all of these and more, but they are the effects, not the cause.

The cause was political through and through -- a matter of values and principles. The progressive-liberal values are America's values, and we need to go back to them. The heart of progressive-liberal values is simple: empathy (caring about and for people) and responsibility (acting responsibly on that empathy). These values translate into a simple principle: Use the common wealth for the common good to better all our lives. In short, promoting the common good is the central role of government.


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