Things About Which I Am No Longer Certain

Is Clarence Thomas an evil subversive genius?

  • He’s been a punchline for so long as the silent Justice, the awkward other side to the Anita Hill case, the understudy to Antonin Scalia. At a certain point, a public figure becomes so inextricable from his/her public impression that the events/qualifications/reasons for that impression are lost. When it comes to Scalia, I may despise most of his decisions, but I never lose sight of what an incredible mind and writing ability he has. Thomas is harder to read (because there’s very little to read), and thereby harder to separate from the way he has been described by the press. And yet it is good, every now and then, to recognize that the justices on the Supreme Court are there for a reason, and an inability to make their impression felt is not one of them.
Are entitlements, or an “entitlement society,” possible/plausible/wise?
  • This is a major change for me. Growing up and then self-identifying as very liberal, for 28 years I would have given an unequivocating yes to every one of those questions. Perhaps I’m falling into the old cliche of becoming more conservative as I get older, but I’m wavering on my youthful righteous indignation. Do I think safety nets are a good idea, and a noble idea, and an altruistic idea? Yes, absolutely. I pay taxes (and will be willing to pay more once I’m making money again) because I believe I’ve been given a lot, and as a member of society and party to the social contract, I want to give back. I will never deny the value/necessity of public education and health care, as I believe the right to learn and the right to health are inalienable and fundamental to a just society. Those are two I stand firm on. But, while I don’t deny the validity and utility of unemployment entitlement, or Medicare, or legal aid, or Social Security, or any number of others (I don’t think I’m capable of making an argument against them on any moral grounds), I’m starting to wonder if they will ever be a practical or prudent investment. In today’s political climate, it seems impossible that some of the larger safety nets can be efficiently and usefully maintained. It is patently obvious that what matters most to our current government is not necessarily maintenance of its citizenry, but cutting costs. I disagree fundamentally with the way most of them have chosen to go about it (the economic bloat of the Military is a common liberal starting point, but I’m starting to come around on that, too, now that I’ve done some research and noticed just how many jobs it supports), but I don’t deny that at a certain point, the federal government is being asked to house, feed, and keep healthy a portion of the population significant enough in size that it is becoming increasingly financial impossible to do so (here is where I, as a member of the “Lost Generation” linked below, blame it all on those greedy Baby Boomers). I don’t deny that it is good and just and right to help support one’s country (and that means its people, not anything else), but at some point (and perhaps that point has not yet been reached, though I think it is close), we have to acknowledge that our current system of government is doing a terrible job of it, right? Can we continue to afford to mismanage and waste resources like this? Is it very wrong to maintain a skeleton safety net and put individual responsibility back on the individual? The altruistic, liberal side of me says these things are needed and must be kept viable, if at the cost of major reforms. The colder, more pragmatic side of me is starting to think that they need to be left by the wayside. It’s something I am struggling with.
Is Jim Harbaugh The One?
  • Don’t know. I hope so. But I was pretty excited about Mike Singletary after two games, too.
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