Stratification Vs Political And Economic Ideals


The politics of the high stakes 2012 presidential election season are hotter than a deep fried potato, especially after the Biden/Ryan debate.  One of the major themes that stick out like broken glass in a sorry foot is that of big vs small government.

What really fuels that debate are actually the ideas of personal responsibility and accountability.  Basically, those in favor of big government claim that we need big government to protect the interests of the masses from those who would unfairly exploit them, such as powerful, greedy corporations.

The side in favor of small government claims that big government limits people’s rights with unnecessary regulations.  Their main concerns include regulation holding back progress, as well as people using government as a crutch at the expense of others through taxes (in other words a welfare state).

Typically, what you see in the political parties is democrats tend to go for big government and republicans tend to champion small government.  Slightly more specifically, yet still generally, democrats are socially and fiscally liberal while republicans are socially and fiscally conservative (it doesn’t always actually play out like that in reality).

Personally, I tend to associate with libertarians, who are socially liberal and fiscally conservative.  My thinking is that individuals should have the opportunity to practice individual responsibility without the government stepping in and playing mommy.

Republicans make similar claims about the role of government, except they don’t apply the principals to social policy due to religious proclivities.

A lot of people who I have talked to about politics who are either republican or libertarian echo the theme that the government should not coddle individuals. They claim individual accountability needs to be free from government so that we can maximize growth as a society.  Most of these people have proclaimed their disdain for the lazy masses long before Romney made his 47% remarks.  The general consensus being that if only people worked hard that they could be wealthy too.

I agree that personal responsibility is crucial to personal success, and society by proxy.  I also agree that the government should stay out of my personal life. The ideas behind free market capitalism sound great to me.  However, I think the right, and even libertarians, fall into the same trap as the left.

On the surface you see a picture painted depicting a struggle between egalitarianism versus meritocracy.  The problem is that both sides are selling egalitarian packages.  The left doesn’t try very hard to hide its egalitarian ideals. They want the government to have the power to give everyone a chance to achieve their dreams.

Those for small government are no better when you consider that they claim anybody can become wealthy and achieve their dreams if they work hard and the government gets out of the way.

Do you see the common thread yet? People all over the political spectrum are trying to sell this pipe dream that everyone can achieve their dreams if only x, y, and z.  Both sides champion a different kind of egalitarianism.  One side thinks everyone is inherently equal while the other side thinks we can all be equal.

Neither is true and flies in the face natural stratification.  This is especially ironic for those people who claim free markets work best because of human nature.

Human beings, like many mammals, engage in societal stratification.  There have always been those few who held power over the masses. Sure, with our current government and economy the rules of engagement have changed. However, the name and goal of the game is the same.

Everyone is out to get what he or she wants.  Everybody has their own level of worth, which can vary depending on what you’re judging. Even though everybody has their own desires and worth, most of them are not on the top of the pyramid.

The way it works is those with more individual worth to the whole will rise to the top, although in many cases it’s more like a climb up a jagged mountain of razor blades.  Those with less worth sink to the bottom.

You can’t expect the bottom of the pyramid to find itself on top, nor can you expect the top to fall to the bottom and still have a pyramid.

The reality is everyone wants government to be influenced in a way that benefits them.  Because everyone has a different idea of what they want, they will side with whomever claims will give it to them.   The disgusting beauty of it all is how many different ideals clash over what turns out to be the same end game.



Bill Drew
Posted on October 12th, 2012

Well written.
I’m impressed!
Great job!

Posted on October 13th, 2012

True, many social conservatives assert (or imply) that anyone can succeed with enough effort. But it’s not necessarily fundamental to the ideology behind it. It could be that the elite, based on their understanding that popular approval is necessary in order to get their policies passed, trumpet this pipe dream because their true belief (“I’m better than you, and thus should be able to become more successful”) wouldn’t earn them many brownie points with the masses. I think it’s more sugar-coating than idealism.

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