Some More Thoughts About Pudding

“What if there were flavors other than chocolate?” — The last words of a freethinker who was burned at the stake, illustrating the dangers of wandering too far into the deep philosophy of pudding cups.

This post became necessary after reading some comments and having several conversations concerning my original thoughts about pudding. The piece was flawed. I had intended to relate the story of a minor epiphany, become distracted explaining the nature of the epiphany, and ended by neither successfully telling the story nor explaining the realization.

The point of the first piece was to illustrate a principle. I am not here concerned with making an argument over the validity of the principle, because I think that will take too much time. The principle is this: One of the dominant ideas of American culture is the idea of fixing problems. We find evidence of injustice, locate the cause, determine who is responsible, (you should imagine Law and Order black-screens and sound effects between each step) and pass legislation to keep it from ever happening again. Read around on the internet a bit: people are constantly drumming up injustices or problems and trying to get us fired up to do something about it.

Now, the conservative (at least my conservative) ideology is slightly different, not in the desire to solve problems, but perhaps in the nature of the solutions. My Conservativism likes to identify problems and likes to solve them and likes to dream about effective legislation that would do so, BUT the key difference is in the order of the operation. First, “can I, personally, fix this myself?” Then, and only then, if the answer is no or a very limited yes, “how should the government involve itself?”

In my story about the pudding cup, what I failed to show was that the problem was my reaction a difficulty. My first thought at trouble with a pudding cup lid was “someone should fix this” instead of a much more reasonable, scientific, and conservative “maybe I’m opening these things incorrectly.”

I think the political talking point about such ideas is “personal responsibility”; I think it should be replaced with “correct order of mental operations in the face of adversity”.

Parting shot, fired wildly over the back of the shoulder – I believe it was the kind of thinking I have just described that led to the almost-passing of universal health care laws and I am glad it didn’t. I don’t think it would have solved the problem, it only would have placed the blame.

Second shot, fired even more inaccurately – Obama’s rhetoric in general seems to find a lot of blame.


About Derrick

Derrick lives and works in South Carolina where he teaches English at a technical college and raises his two small children with his wife, Danielle.
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5 Responses to Some More Thoughts About Pudding

  1. YouAreRidiculous says:

    What would your proposition be to rectify the current state of our healthcare system? You think this is a problem that does not require the involvement of the government?

    Here is something that I think is kind of strange…an irony that has so many layers that it just keeps going and going. It begins with the conservative (? words like conservative and liberal have very little meaning at this point, especially conservative, which apparently encompasses a self-righteous moral conservatism, fiscal policies that want to see less money spent on programs and more on the military, the formal Tea Party, libertarian concepts, and probably more) ideology that the first question we ask is whether or not this problem can be solved on the individual level. Of course the problem can be solved on the individual level…the entire population of the planet is made of individuals, and if everyone did the right thing all the time, all the problems would be solved. But the question assumes things about peoples desire or even willingness to do the right thing. Frequently it is the individuals who demand we ask this question first that advocate for a vicious form of unregulated capitalism that results in atrocious work environments, child labor, and worse. Ironically, this same demographic tend toward Evangelical Christianity, a religion with crystal clear doctrines considering the depravity of man. Many people aren’t willing to do what’s best for themselves or their own families because of this depravity, it is absolutely laughable to assume that solutions can be found by demanding that people do the right thing (assuming once again that the right thing being performed by all the individuals would solve all the problems) on a scale that extends beyond the immediate gratification of that individual.

    Unfortunately, what I see is that these same Evangelical Christians tend not to give a flying fuck about the poor. Once again, this is in spite of the fact that they purport to have a source of absolute truth that absolutely demands that society take care of the poor (incidentally, that demand is legislated in the OT, though it is fair to note that we no longer live in a Theocracy, so it is the right of every Christian to not give a single shit about the poor because they get to vote on whether or not the poor deserve to have decent lives and there is no supreme authority demanding they do anything within the parameters of whatever passes for a justice system here). They object to government programs on the grounds that the church should be doing this, and then they fail spectacularly to actually take that responsibility seriously.

    I am more than happy to acknowledge that my own perspective may have very similar flaws at its foundation. I tend to see the government as a means of curbing human nature by legislating against our filthy depravity and forcing us to hand over money to care for those in need. This also means that I tend to naively believe that as the government moves, it seeks the good of the people. This naivete does not fully extend to the point that I deny the concept of depravity in my government officials (though I am frequently tempted to believe that they are more altruistic than they probably are), but I do believe that the massive quantity of checks and balances that exist within the government serve to curb that depravity as well. I am fully aware of the fact that governmental bureaucracy is probably not the most efficient means of caring for those in need, but I don’t currently see an alternative, so I try to keep my chin up and stay positive as Logan insists. It is certainly a less than perfect system, but we live in a seriously fucked up world, and personally I am willing to see the government seek to legislate as much of the fuckeduppedness (pronounce the ‘ed’ like the beginning of ‘education) away as possible.

    Anyway, that is enough opaque rambling for now…I await your concession

    • Derrick says:

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head as far as the evangelical position goes. They (we?) too often fail to practice what they preach. And you’re probably right about some of the other things.

      For healthcare, I want to see the consumer take charge. I think if people realized the power of their money that the new system would have to change drastically, especially if the government became less involved. The main cause behind the exorbitant cost of healthcare (and I have had some recent experience with this) is the fact that insurance both private and governmental can pay such artificial prices. If the healthcare industry had to obey the rules of capitalism just a little bit (just a little bit. Not entirely) then I think it would be a much better system. My example is my children–Liam, who was not covered by insurance, cost about 3,000 dollars; Amelia, because she is covered by insurance, will cost closer to 30,000. The system is ridiculous. If the consumer realized his power as a consumer instead turning to the government’s power as an institution, then places that practiced medicine reasonably would flourish and those that didn’t wouldn’t.

      The idea I was going for is a principle that I’ll honestly admit is rarely practical. It’s an ideal, however, that I still think is valuable.

  2. YouAreRidiculous says:

    Incidentally, I recommend against wild shots fired over your shoulder, be they more or less accurate…you are likely to accidentally shoot a baby in the face.

  3. ” I think if people realized the power of their money that the new system would have to change drastically, especially if the government became less involved. ”

    I agree with statement with everything except healthcare. And it is not that you are wrong you are still right. It is that when your choice is pay the stupid high price or let your loved one suffer/die people always pay. That is why healthcare costs so much.

    We have to have it and we will dream about change but when it is our turn we will pay.

    for this reason I think the government is one of the few chances we have of seeing legit change in healthcare. and while their bureaucracy sucks I do believe that they fear their constituents enough to have their best interest in mind when they have to

  4. Logan says:

    I don’t like the idea of healthcare being in the realm of the free market. It’s not the same. Ideally, a free market is where I have the ability to choose goods and services. In free markets I decide if, when, where, and how a engage in it. I’m afraid with healthcare, I am not free to choose when I’m in car accident, suffering from the elements of aging, have rare chronic illnesses and pre-existing conditin in which treatments are long and costly, or when I develop cancer. That aside, free market is alive and well when it comes to minor issues in healthcare such as routine clinic visits for check ups, colds, flu, preventative care and rashes. Additionally, childbirth, but to control prices couples will have to be willing to have more home births. But they don’t. Because in the end, 3,000 dollars — for most people– is worth the price. To the health insurance companies, 30,000 is a price they are willing to pay. The hidden hand is at play. Free markets are alive and well. I think the real debate is how elastic is certain healthcare cost in the market setting. Healthcare is too generalized– it’s a complex monstrosity. Not all care is equal. Diagnosing minor illnesses and providing antibiotic is very different than providing care for the elderly and our pts with chronic illness– that’s the root cause of our healthcare probłems. That and obesity. Oh yeah, doctors are bad businessman too. Third party administrators took it over. Who says you have to be a doctor in healthcare to be wealthy?

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