October 20, 2008

Back to the social welfare future

It's rare that science fiction actually predicts the future. Sure, the first Star Trek series got the cell phone right. But especially on social issues, most plots are about the here and now. This is not a bad thing, as science fiction and fantasy settings provide an aesthetic distance that gives freer range to the arguments being made.

One in a while, though, an artist sees the future so clearly that you can believe time machines exist. Namely, the British newspaper The Telegraph recently quoted "medical ethics expert Baroness Warnock" saying, "If you're demented, you're wasting people's lives--your family's lives--and you're wasting the resources of the National Health Service."

Now watch Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society. It covers the same issues and their implications brilliantly. Referring to the "Noble Rot Senior Citizens" (to translate the Japanese literally), in his grandiose, ends-justify-the-means soliloquy, the villain in the movie practically quotes Lady Warnock verbatim.

Two years ago, Kenji Kamiyama saw the future. Okay, he only saw two years into the future, but do that on a predictable basis and you'd be richer and wiser than Warren Buffet.

I don't fear the kind of revenge exacted on behalf of Kamiyama's senior citizens against their Lady Warnocks ever becoming a reality, but I wouldn't be surprised by something metaphorically akin to it. In any case, I do expect to see this battle between the "haves" and the "want-to-haves" looming up in our rearview mirrors very soon.

To be sure, I'm not too worried, as I happen to be just old enough (a very late baby-boomer) to anticipate getting grandfathered into whatever soak-the-younger-generation scheme gets conjured up in the name of compassionately "sharing the wealth," just before the whole system goes broke.

Labels: , , ,


# posted by Blogger C. L. Hanson
You seem to assume that a loss for the Republicans implies a win for the other ideology "share the wealth" as though politics were to fit simply and forever into the traditional "left" and "right" boxes.

You're locked in the cold war, bud. Wake up and smell the twenty-first century. ;^)
10/21/2008 4:34 AM

# posted by Blogger Eugene
To be sure, "Share the Wealth" was Huey Long's campaign slogan. Mr. Obama used the same syntax but the verb "spread." A Kinsley gaffe, perhaps, though it's not clear from the actual context that he was referring to taxes. (Don't let accuracy stop the rhetoric!)

Even if he was, both candidates are living in an upside-down Lake Wobegon, where every taxpayer is below average, and the Scrooge McDucks of the world will pay for everything. I'm not counting on it. Mr. Taxpayer, meet Mr. Loophole!

For real below-average taxpayers like myself, income taxes are pocket change. FICA is the killer. Yet I hypocritically plan on collecting! In any case, the Republicans have done such a good job spreading the graft, I won't be sorry to see them go.

Plus, I can't get over the irony of a candidate railing against pork barrel spending while running his campaign on the taxpayer's dime.
10/21/2008 9:20 AM

# posted by Blogger Joe
Except politics do fit into right and left boxes. What doesn't are the political parties. Just because some Republicans are further left on some issues than some Democrats, doesn't invalidate the general philosophy of left vs. right.

The views on the size and function of government can be quite easily distributed until you get to the extremes, where they become distinctions without a difference.

There really is a difference between those who believe people can run their lives better than the government can and those that don't. There is also a big and substantive difference between those who believe government has a social welfare obligation and those that don't.

Pretending we live in some sort of "post political" world is hogwash.
10/26/2008 10:13 PM

# posted by Blogger Joe
To put it another way, genuine political differences are more than disagreements on semantics.
10/26/2008 10:19 PM