Friday, January 15, 2016

Ponder: "a world where you get what is coming to you"

"The good news is that Americans don't settle for poor government performance.  The bad news is that they may not see their own inconsistent demands--ever-lower taxes, ever-better services--as part of the problem.
It will take sacrifice, preferably shared, to solve the country's long-term deficit and many other structural problems.  Leaders who constantly tell their constituents, in effect, "ask what your country can do for you" are not preparing them for that.
The current political usage of "deserve,"  in short, is about validating grievances, not settling priorities among them.  The word, meant in that way, probably would not have escaped the lips of Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
That memorably mordant sociology professor worked for presidents of both parties in the '60s and '70s and got elected senator of New York as a Democrat in 1976--despite his belief that, as he once put it, "for most persons, it would be exceedingly painful to live in a world where you get what is coming to you."
Charles Lane, The Politics that We Deserve."  The Washington Post 16 Jan 2016, A23.

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