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Symptoms of a sick culture
Townhall.com ^ | July 6, 2012 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 07/06/2012 7:23:34 AM PDT by Kaslin

The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously remarked that, "The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself."

I've always liked that quote, but I think it misleads. That two plus two equals four is not a conservative truth or a liberal truth. It's simply the truth. (Moynihan himself recognized this when he even more famously said that people are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts.)

Regardless, it's true that culture is more important than politics. You could impose Sweden's laws on the Middle East tomorrow, but you'd be well-advised not to hold your breath waiting for the Saudis to turn into the Swedes of the Arabian Peninsula.

But it's also true that politics -- specifically, government -- can change cultures. It can be loud and bloody work, as with the abolition of slavery. Or the change can be more subtle. Twenty years ago, it was simply uncool to put on your seat belt. Now, everyone seems to do it reflexively. The law changed the culture, for the better.

Still, my biggest problem with Moynihan's insight is that he didn't think it all the way through. The "liberal truth" that politics can change a culture and save it from itself is double-edged. For just as politics can save the culture, politics can also destroy it.

Which brings me to Thomas Lopez, a 21-year old lifeguard in South Florida.

Two days before the Fourth of July, Lopez was fired for helping rescue a man drowning 1,500 feet outside of his designated zone.

"It was a long run, but someone needed my help. I wasn't going to say no," Lopez told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and other media outlets.

When Lopez filed his incident report, he was canned on the spot.

"They didn't tell me in a bad way. It was more like they were sorry, but rules are rules,'" Lopez said. "I couldn't believe what was happening."

The contractor that manages the lifeguard service has explained that the matter is out of their hands, too. Liability issues -- i.e., fear of lawsuits, insurance requirements, etc. -- demand a zero-tolerance policy for unauthorized lifesaving.

It's a small anecdote to be sure. But does anyone doubt that there's something about the legal regime in this country that's creating a headwind against basic human decency? And I'm not just talking about trial lawyers and the politicians who love them.

Last year, in Alameda, Calif., a man walked into the chilly -- but not exactly freezing -- waters of the Bay Area to commit suicide. It was a slow affair. The police and firefighters got there in plenty of time. But, due to union-backed rules, they simply declined to save the man's life. They just stood on the beach and watched.

Fire Chief Ricci Zombeck was asked what he would have done if it were a child, rather than a suicidal adult, slowly drowning out there. He responded that if he were on duty he'd have let the kid drown, but if he was off duty he would have saved him.

These are the symptoms of a sick culture.

These days, liberals are celebrating the moral triumph of their health-care reform. We're helping the uninsured! We're making government more humane and compassionate. And from one perspective, that's all true, I suppose.

But we're also changing the culture. In some areas it's obvious. For instance, religious institutions are being bullied into compliance with ObamaCare. In other ways the changes are far more subtle, even invisible (though if you follow the British media coverage of their state-run health system, you get a hint of what's coming; prepare for ever more debates about rationing, denying treatment to the "unworthy," euthanasia and the rest).

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sold ObamaCare on the grounds that it would be culturally liberating. People no longer would be "job-locked" because of health care, she explained. So, "if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work" and pursue your dreams.

And if your dream is to be a fireman, a lifeguard or, perhaps very soon, a doctor who isn't allowed to save lives, you may not have to leave your job at all. But if that's not your dream, get ready for a headwind.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: jonahgoldberg; lifeguard; rkselection; sickculture

1 posted on 07/06/2012 7:23:36 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
"House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sold ObamaCare on the grounds that it would be culturally liberating. People no longer would be "job-locked" because of health care, she explained. So, "if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work" and pursue your dreams."

Looking forward to the hippie hobo bongo player paying $2,000 in taxes every year for health care he probably rarely uses...

2 posted on 07/06/2012 7:28:35 AM PDT by StAnDeliver
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To: Kaslin

There are often situations where the moral choice, or rather the choice that needs to be made in that situation and the official authorized course of action conflict. This is more of a reflection of the curse of civilization, more people less freedom of decision, and more stupid rules.


3 posted on 07/06/2012 7:34:25 AM PDT by dog breath
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To: StAnDeliver

No results found for "hippie hobo bongo player".

Would make a great name for a rock band Hat tip Dave Barry

- and looks like nobody's taken it yet, so get out your copyright forms

4 posted on 07/06/2012 7:37:19 AM PDT by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: StAnDeliver

“Looking forward to the hippie hobo bongo player paying $2,000 in taxes every year for health care he probably rarely uses...”

If the hippie hobo bongo player takes care never to have a federal tax refund, he can get away with never paying this tax. And when diagnosed with cancer, he can immediately sign up for health insurance, as the law prohibits any private insurer from turning him down. Ain’t life sweet?


5 posted on 07/06/2012 7:37:19 AM PDT by DrC
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To: Kaslin
All I saw was your headline and my mind was sparked, so I printed out, for my PU truck rear window display;

CULTURE
DEFINES
SOCIETY

WHY ARE YOU
THROWING
NORMAN
ROCKWELL
UNDER THE BUS ?


Now I'll go read the article

6 posted on 07/06/2012 7:40:59 AM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true ... I have no proof ... but they're true)
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To: Kaslin

The saying...”Kill all the lawyers” comes to mind....


7 posted on 07/06/2012 7:52:33 AM PDT by goodnesswins (What has happened to America?)
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To: StAnDeliver

I knew a guy who was a Democratic activist and lawyer for a major landlord, who had a wife and child. He told me that when HillaryCare passed, he was going to quit his job and start working as a tenant advocate. Basically, the promise of free health care to him, was the opportunity to change from a productive and useful member of society into a pest and a parasite.

So what Nancy is saying is that ObamaCare will allow more people to become parasites.

Great.


8 posted on 07/06/2012 7:52:43 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (The Democratic Party strongly supports full civil rights for necro-Americans!)
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To: Kaslin

Such is the education/indoctrination of these individuals as statist stooges that they fail to notice their lack of perspective. They will chase a beer drinker down on a beach like a pack of lions on a zebra but a drowning man is on his own.


9 posted on 07/06/2012 7:56:47 AM PDT by relictele
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To: Kaslin
But does anyone doubt that there's something about the legal regime in this country that's creating a headwind against basic human decency?

This headwind against human decency is MUCH more than this, to the culture today following in Roman footsteps:

“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. ” (Benjamin Franklin)

10 posted on 07/06/2012 7:59:40 AM PDT by C210N ("ask not what the candidate can do for you, ask what you can do for the candidate" (Breitbart, 2012))
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To: StAnDeliver

11 posted on 07/06/2012 8:01:10 AM PDT by F15Eagle (1 John 5:4-5, 4:15, 5:13; John 3:17-18, 6:69, 11:25, 14:6, 20:31; Rom10:8-11; 1 Tim 2:5; Titus 3:4-5)
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To: Kaslin
Fire Chief Ricci Zombeck was asked what he would have done if it were a child, rather than a suicidal adult, slowly drowning out there. He responded that if he were on duty he'd have let the kid drown, but if he was off duty he would have saved him.

This sick monster shouldn't be the chief of anything.


12 posted on 07/06/2012 8:37:19 AM PDT by Cinnamontea
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To: DrC
"If the hippie hobo bongo player takes care never to have a federal tax refund, he can get away with never paying this tax."

Short of just not filing, if he deigns exemptions to come out to zero tax, Bobocare puts him at -$2,000.

So more likely, yeah, he never files, until as you mention, he gets cancer from smoking (everything). Bobocare signs him up, but his next visit in his hospital bed is from the IRS...

13 posted on 07/06/2012 8:39:15 AM PDT by StAnDeliver
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To: Kaslin
Way back in the 70s I had a Social Studies class (8th grade). Up to that point, we had had History classes, then it became Social Studies, and it got weird.

We did a lot of situational ethics. If you are in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean, should you kill and eat other passengers? If you have no money, and your child is sick, should you steal medicine? Lots of "educational" stuff like that.

The key lesson that the teacher wanted to spread was that there were no rules, you had to be ready to make things up as you went along, and that under certain circumstances, anything was permissible. I happen to think that this is a bad way of viewing the world. However, it becomes less bad if you add the corollary: If you are willing to accept the consequences, then perhaps you bend the rules to suit yourself.

That, it seems to me, was the camel's nose in the tent. We now have a society in which you can do (or not do) just about anything, and the notion that there may be consequences to your actions is simply offensive. Nothing is true. Everything is permitted. Free stuff for everyone.

I see the collapse as inevitable at this point.

14 posted on 07/06/2012 8:45:06 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Roger Taney? Not a bad Chief Justice. John Roberts? A really awful Chief Justice.)
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To: Kaslin
Elite liberals want our cultures to be as beautiful as Detroit's on a bad day.

The nice thing about a hopeless, pride-less existence is liberals will get to 'feel' so good about themselves for guaranteeing ‘health care’ (for those who don't really need care that's too expensive...) and sugar free drinks...

If you don't hate liberal elites, you're not paying attention.

15 posted on 07/06/2012 10:14:30 AM PDT by GOPJ (Speak truth to lies - to ignorance. Speak honesty to corruption . Stand-up to liberal elite liars..)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
"So what Nancy is saying is that ObamaCare will allow more people to become parasites."

Exactly. Let the peons eat aspirin. Or soylent green.

16 posted on 07/06/2012 10:17:52 AM PDT by StAnDeliver
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To: ClearCase_guy

Way back in the 70s I had a Social Studies class (8th grade). Up to that point, we had had History classes, then it became Social Studies, and it got weird.


You had history and American-American CIVICS. These were replaced with leftist divide and conquer Marxist studies, known as social studies. These studies are the Left’s brainwashing or re-education for revolution or what Obama calls ‘change.’ They did it in the name of conquering white racism and legally, in the name of the division of American society from America’s native Judeo Christian culture and values. As racist Chris Rock explained, American civics is ‘happy white people’s independence’ as if the ideals of American freedom are for whites only.


17 posted on 07/06/2012 10:18:29 AM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: ClearCase_guy
"I see the collapse as inevitable at this point."

As inevitable as a German guy working until 67 so a Greek guy can retire at 50.

18 posted on 07/06/2012 10:19:49 AM PDT by StAnDeliver
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To: ClearCase_guy
We did a lot of situational ethics. If you are in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean, should you kill and eat other passengers? If you have no money, and your child is sick, should you steal medicine? Lots of "educational" stuff like that. The key lesson that the teacher wanted to spread was that there were no rules, you had to be ready to make things up as you went along, and that under certain circumstances, anything was permissible.

One more reason conservatives have to get the amoral union goons out of the schools and put back real teachers... Teachers with values NOT born in some liberal gutter.

(ClearCase_guy - there's very few cases where people ever find themselves on the edge of ethics - most choices are in the rational middle - where it's NOT OK to steal - NOT OK to murder etc. I've never been on a lifeboat in the middle of an ocean - have you? Any freepers? It's our horrible union teachers pushing sick values... nothing more - and we need to object...)

19 posted on 07/06/2012 10:21:00 AM PDT by GOPJ (Speak truth to lies - to ignorance. Speak honesty to corruption . Stand-up to liberal elite liars..)
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To: StAnDeliver
Looking forward to the hippie hobo bongo player paying $2,000 in taxes every year for health care he probably rarely uses ...

At least, he'll have to pay hundreds of dollars in fines if he doesn't have insurance.

I have a son who wants to be an unpopular musician - Seriously! Popular musicians have sold out their personal musical vision! - and I'll have to warn him about needing enough income to pay his Obamacare tax ... er, fine ... er, freeloader penalty ...

If he's sleeping in his car in the Walmart parking lot anyway, he might as well get a job at the Walmart to pay the government.

20 posted on 07/06/2012 11:31:53 AM PDT by Tax-chick ("The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and bring me safe to His heavenly kingdom.")
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To: StAnDeliver

“his next visit in his hospital bed is from the IRS...”

I’m no tax attorney, but Obamacare expressly prevents IRS from relying on the standard tools of tax enforcement such as liens or criminal prosecution. They can impose fines/interest penalties on non-payment, but ultimately, the only “lever” they have is to deduct the penalty payment from a refund they otherwise would owe him.

Some have claimed tax payments are fungible, hence IRS can simply “declare” that the first $2,000 (or whatever the penalty for that taxpayer is) withheld or paid as an estimated tax is being used to pay off his tax penalty. If so, a filer who had carefully arranged to withold the exact amount owed in regular taxes would find themselves in arrears by $2,000 and the IRS would then be able to use all its enforcement powers to collect this balance. http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/michaelfcannon/2012/05/29/yes_the_irs_can_use_liens_and_incarceration_to_enforce_obamacares_individual_mandate/page/full/

I don’t know enough about IRS policies and procedures to know whether this claim is true. If it is, it would appear to flagrantly violate the spirit of the law as written. What’s the point of putting in provisions to protect against liens/criminal penalties if the IRS can just end-run them? But then again, perhaps this all was part of the deceptive packaging/marketing of this monstrosity.


21 posted on 07/06/2012 11:58:27 AM PDT by DrC
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