Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The American Way?]

South Burlington, VT

I was listening to a program on NPR about health care. One man complained about having to buy insurance to get health care.  The program host said, "But insurance is the American way."   That struck me as very wrong..

So.  What is the American Way?  Mind Your Own Business (MYOB) is a moral very deeply embedded in the psyche of Americans. I think MYOB is a key factor in the culture wars, and the political upheavals leading to the election of Donald Trump.  But MYOB is hardly ever mentioned in public.

In the old days, if I saw my neighbor smoke, drink or do unhealthful things, it was my job to shut up and mind my own business.  But if we all have health insurance, then my neighbor's behavior affects my costs too.  His business becomes my business and my business becomes his.  If government gets involved it makes things much worse. Everyone's business becomes everyone else's and also the business of bureaucrats and congressmen.  That profoundly violates our beloved MYOB. That makes many Americans inclined to oppose it, and that inclination is exploited and inflamed by political parties that thrive on creating wedge issues.

I also note the county level red-blue election map of the USA.   There is an obvious strong correlation.  The blue counties are urban or at least those with the highest population density.  In low density areas, people provide their own transportation and they have their own grassy shaded areas to relax.  In cities, public transportation and public parks are a necessity.  The higher the population density the more imperative it is to act collectively rather than individually.  The most extreme case is that of a ship at sea.  At sea, the entire crew must act as a team under the direction of a captain who wields near-God-like authority.   If population density continues increasing, I see that as our inevitable future.



I am speaking about the deep deep cultural divide in this country that led to the election of Donald Trump.  But I hate to label is as Democrats versus Republicans, or even Liberals versus Conservatives versus Libertarians,  because all those labels carry baggage other than what I am discussing here. I think urban versus non-urban is close, but there are exceptions. I lack a good pair of words, so let me arbitrarily say yings and yangs.

Yings ask first, "What will we do on this question.?" Yings focus  on the "What" in the sentence whereas yangs  object to the "we" in the sentence.  Yangs would prefer to say, "What will you do about the question and what will I do?" Yang pollsters only care about what people think about issues.  They never stop to consider that some people resent some of the issues being public rather than private in the first place.   The very premise of polling and of media reporting is ying biased; almost by definition.

Media bias runs much deeper than favoring one party.  For example, I often hear extensive interviews of urban planners on TV or on NPR.  Urban planners are busy planning the 21st century for urban yings only.   They not only exclude non-urban yangs, they fail to recognize their very existence. There is no such thing as a non-urban planner because yangs don't make collective plans at all, they act individually.

Take the example of broadband Internet.  Yings ask, "What will we do to provide broadband for all Americans."  Yangs say, "Get government regulations and permits and taxes out of my way, and I will make my own Internet arrangements.  Give us the liberty to do whatever we want. Meanwhile, you MYOB."

Violent outbreaks between opposing protesters are already breaking out less than 1/2 year into Trump's first term.  I think 2020 will be very dark and ugly.

In the future, I'll write about what I think we need for yings and yangs to coexist; namely countries that are not geographically based.