I’ve been getting in trouble lately, posting on Facebook and list serves and generally being surley and certain and sometimes, people have thanked me for being on their side, other times I've made people mad, but rarely for being factual or for being inaccurate. The liked or disliked what I wrote because they agreed or disagreed with my opinion.
We don’t seem to care much about facts. For example: it’s a fact that some Canadian government official came to America for surgery. That might suggest that there’s an American doctor with a better reputation for the surgery the official wanted, or a hospital that would provide quicker service for a price than he could get in Canada. It doesn’t prove anything about the Canadian health care system or the kind of care I could afford here in the US. It’s a fact that 70% of US bankruptcies are the result of catastrophic medical care. It’s a fact that Canada pays 75% of what the US does but has a lower infant mortality, longer lifespan, and a healthier population. Those facts by themselves might prove that their system is cheaper and better, or it might prove that Canadians are healthier people, or something else.
It’s interesting. We rarely applaud people for stating facts, but for supporting our prejudices. Sometimes we don't even seem to care about the difference between what we believe to be true, what we wish was true, and what is, in fact, true.
I was watching Law and Order the other day and a man was arrested for sexual trafficking in children. He made the defense that he was not himself a child molester, but was only involved in it for the money. Somehow this seemed to make his actions forgivable on the show I was watching. He was given the opportunity to plea bargain in order to get the “real” offenders. And I had to wonder what is wrong with the writers of the show that committing an atrocity is forgivable when it’s done for profit rather than sick compulsion. The pedophile needs to be locked up because he's a menace to society; the other guy just wants to make a buck and we let him go? How low does he have to get before we say money is not a valid excuse? How low before his right to earn a profit is curtained by what is decent? [That's me editorializing.]
I don’t think I have the right to profit at the expense of other people. I don’t mean that I and people in business don’t have the right to earn what others must pay for. I mean that I don’t have the right to make others suffer in order to get rich myself. I believe it’s immoral to make others go hungry so that I can have gold-plated faucets, to make others go without medical care so that I can have a second or third home in Bermuda or even a second car or a new bathroom. I think it’s wrong to participate in illegal activities merely because there’s money in it for me. That’s the reasoning of criminals. I’d go further. In some ways making a profit at the expense of others’ welfare seems a lot worse to me than stealing because you are hungry or breaking into a house because it’s raining and you’re homeless. It doesn't mean that I don't appreciate that laws make clear that breaking and entering and theft are wrong. But on a hierarchy of needs, I guess I think we should all have a safe place to sleep, food, medical care, free education, honorable employment, all those basic things, before anyone gets to live in a mansion. That's what I think.