Maslow, Ned Stark and the Common Good

Last week Ted Coine asked ‘what ever happened to the Common Good?’ At some point people stopped doing the right thing and started putting their individual selfish interests ahead of those of their organizations, countries or kingdoms: UBS, the nation of Greece, Queen Cersei, etc.

These days we see squabbling in Washington over the budget because no one wants to do the right thing for the country. Everyone talks to the hand about cutting costs so long as it is not in their backyard.

Just read Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Oklahoma) new report on wasteful government spending issued this week to learn about the $936,000 spent to stimulate online soap operas or $75,000 to promote awareness about the role Michigan plays in producing Christmas trees & poinsettia. Dr. Coburn writes: “Over the past 12 months, politicians argued, debated and lamented about how to reign in the federal government’s out of control spending. All the while, Washington was on a shopping binge, spending money we do not have on things we do not absolutely need. Instead of cutting wasteful spending, nearly $2.5 billion was added each day in 2011 to our national debt, which now exceeds $15 trillion.”

What happened to spending for the Common Good?

For those of you who believe $75,000 is not material when compared to $2.5 billion I say shame on you. It’s all those small, stupid expenses that add up. When times are tough at home we stop buying $5 lattes and eating out and shift our spending to what we need and make peanut butter sandwiches every day. (See Maslow.)

Finally, in A Game of Thrones, when Ned Stark became the Hand, King Robert wanted to hold a jousting tournament to honour the new Hand. But when Stark met with his council and learned that the kingdom was practically bankrupt Ned insisted that they don’t hold the tournament as they could not afford it. And besides, he didn’t want it.

The point I am trying to make is that anyone can spend money; but it takes a strong, responsible leader like Ned Stark to not spend it and make the tough decisions for the Common Good.

 

 

7 thoughts on “Maslow, Ned Stark and the Common Good

  1. The common good has been eroded over a long time of freeloading. In a democracy, most of us freeload. We have the democratic civic religion that all we have to do is vote. That is not true.

    Our business leaders have been told for many years that they do not have to be concerned about the common good. Just the good of the shareholders. That is not true.

    We have the capitalistic myth that an invisible hand will make sure that every turns out for the best if we are all as selfish as we want. That is not true.

    The financial sector has operated on the idea that they deserve any amount of money that they can squeeze out of the economy because they are smarter. And that the system needs to be set up so that they can make money like the good old days of five years ago. That is not true.

    We fought wars in central Asia without any sacrifice from anyone except the volunteer army. We were implicitly told that war had no cost – that it didn’t need to be in the budget. That is not true.

    We can live with any of these untruths for a while. If our predecessors left us with a good enough storehouse of common good. But eventually, we empty out that storehouse with the wink and the lie.

    In the next year, all of the politicians will fall over themselves telling us that we do not need to do anything difficult, that we can have all of the above and not each care for the common good, work for the common good and give up something for the common good. That is not true.

    For as long as we choose that untruth, we will skid along on the edge that we have fallen off of in the past several years.

    Only when we do the hard work to rebuild our storehouse of common good will we again become secure.

  2. The common good has been eroded over a long time of freeloading. In a democracy, most of us freeload. We have the democratic civic religion that all we have to do is vote. That is not true.

    Our business leaders have been told for many years that they do not have to be concerned about the common good. Just the good of the shareholders. That is not true.

    We have the capitalistic myth that an invisible hand will make sure that every turns out for the best if we are all as selfish as we want. That is not true.

    The financial sector has operated on the idea that they deserve any amount of money that they can squeeze out of the economy because they are smarter. And that the system needs to be set up so that they can make money like the good old days of five years ago. That is not true.

    We fought wars in central Asia without any sacrifice from anyone except the volunteer army. We were implicitly told that war had no cost – that it didn’t need to be in the budget. That is not true.

    We can live with any of these untruths for a while. If our predecessors left us with a good enough storehouse of common good. But eventually, we empty out that storehouse with the wink and the lie.

    In the next year, all of the politicians will fall over themselves telling us that we do not need to do anything difficult, that we can have all of the above and not each care for the common good, work for the common good and give up something for the common good. That is not true.

    For as long as we choose that untruth, we will skid along on the edge that we have fallen off of in the past several years.

    Only when we do the hard work to rebuild our storehouse of common good will we again become secure.

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