Thursday, October 22, 2009

An American Dilemma

Americans are faced with taking sides on either of two models of what roles Americans can select.

One model is what I and others have characterized as the American Cowboy. The Cowboy is independent, self-sufficient, dislikes government and taxes, and believes in personal responsibility. The Cowboy, although generous on his own terms and kind to animals and children, doesn't want to see any of his tax dollars going to support people who aren't like him. The Cowboy is happiest when he can have his own house and property isolated from the bother of neighbors.

The other model is the American Liberal. The Liberal believes that he has a responsibility to take care of the needs of others as well as himself. Government and taxes exist to support the social and economic structure of which everyone is a part. The Liberal pays taxes so that all can share in services to provide, if needed, government supported transportation, housing, food, clothing, education and job training, employment, preventive health care, hospital and physician services. The Liberal likes to work with his neighbors and cooperate to improve the community.

Of course, these are extreme examples. Many Americans move from one role to the other over time.