Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of February 28, 2011
Readers write in about conservative art, and America's deficit – in character.
Money, not art, persuades
In his Feb. 14 commentary "Conservative argument is no match for liberal art," Sam Guzman overstates art's persuasive power on today's populace.
Take the film "Avatar." He's right that it was a polemic wrapped in a great story, but it hasn't exactly ignited environmental fervor. Is the United States suddenly leading the fight on global warming due to the "Avatar" effect? No.
If real-life events like the Gulf oil spill can't motivate people to be green, how can art? Corporations already know how to manipulate people: Spend lots of money on lobbyists and funny ads. No need for artists.
On the character deficit
I take issue with Lawrence Reed's contention in his Feb. 7 commentary ("America's most serious deficit: personal character") that government programs are "bread and circuses."
Our nation has laws to ensure the protection of air and water resources. Profit-driven corporations, or cities facing deficits, are not going to forswear emissions unless required.
This example attests to a constructive federal role in our national well-being. The necessary interdependence between citizens and governments is testament to our recognition of both individual and shared responsibilities in modern society.
Let's make this relationship better, not imply that federal programs are superfluous or blame each other for "character deficits."
In Mr. Reed's ideal world, self-reliance would make government aid unnecessary, and charity would provide the only "safety net." But history shows that charity has never come anywhere near meeting the needs of those disadvantaged through no fault of their own. What about the enormous failure of character among those of us who could, and should, act more charitably?
Character is relevant to the discussion, but it isn't the difference between Reed and those of us who support Social Security, public education, and the health-care law.
It is no coincidence that personal character has eroded in our modern world, alongside the rise of the liability-shielding corporation. This contractual device for economic risk-taking has diluted personal responsibility in all areas of public life.
Corporate officers are shielded from personal loss behind corporate behavior. This model now also shapes our government and other institutions. There is a troubling capacity for amoral choices within group dynamics. "Businesslike" has meant that organizations don't employ the same level of ethics that an individual might bring to the decision.