In his book, We're Right, They're Wrong, James Carville described the kind of Democrat he was by calling himself a 5/65 Democrat. That way, he said that people should either be working or going to school from the age of five to 65. It should be the business of government to not only make this as easy as possible, but they should be about protecting those beyond the two extremes.
However, it is another conversation in that book that I keep going back to in times like these. Notice that when a conservative talks about someone being successful they almost always frame that in financial terms. Someone starts a business and ends up making it big. Someone is a doctor, a lawyer, or stock broker. They are successful because the earn a lot of money. How do we know they are successful? They earn a lot of money. Do they earn a lot of money? They must be successful.
In the process of defining success in this manner they are able to successfully argue that raising taxes on the wealthy is punishing success. See, how they are able to do that? Now, we are talking about class warfare. We are rewarding the unsuccessful by providing them with government assistance and punishing the successful. Wow, when you consider it that way it almost makes you want to join the Tea Party doesn't it?
The problem is that success should not be defined that way. We have suddenly become a culture dedicated to winning. For those that go to some form of a church, ask yourselves if that is how the religious leader defines success. Did Jesus define success that way? How about Mohammed or Buddha? Was Krishna the first capitalist?
The problem in our country is that we as a people have been defined by what we do for so long that we have lost sight of what makes people successful. In short, we are what we do. Well, what happens when we don't have anything to do? What happens when we have to change what we do? Do we in fact change down to our very core?
The recent recession has harmed us more than it should have. The reasons are two-fold. First, we have been convinced that we are what we do. Well, when we lose our job then we become nothing. That is the economic equivalent to we are what we eat. When I was a kid, I saw a commercial where a son said he wanted to be just like his dad. I asked, "what happens if dad is a garbage man." He told me that it doesn't matter what you do as long as you do the best you can.
Secondly, we have been told that success and earning money are one in the same. Well, you lose your job and you lose your identity and feel like a loser. It almost makes you think that the conservative message crafters work for the pharmaceutical companies. Make people feel lousy and then give them a pill so they won't feel lousy, Not a bad business model I suppose.
This is where the whole 5/65 Democrats comes into play. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking balancing the budget is the most important priority. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking you are somehow less successful than someone else because you earn less money. The most important job I and everyone else ever has is the job of being a parent. The last time I checked, you can't be fired from that job and the pay isn't great. The rewards and benefits are if you are up for the challenge.