Jewish World Review July 6, 2012/ 16 Tamuz, 5772
Symptoms of a sick culture
By Jonah Goldberg
The late Sen.
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
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
Two days before the
"It was a long run, but someone needed my help. I wasn't going to say no," Lopez told the
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
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
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.
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