In America there is no ‘one size fits all’

Aaron Hughey

By: Aaron Hughey

The more I watch cable TV, the more I read the newspaper and the more I listen to my colleagues, the more convinced I become that our real problem is an almost complete loss of perspective. 

Have we really come to a point in our history where we are no longer capable of developing complex and customized solutions to complex and multi-faceted problems? 

We no longer seem capable of appropriately dissecting critical issues and making subtle distinctions because we are too busy drawing arbitrary lines in the sand based on our immature and often inaccurate understanding of the principles that supposedly underlie our positions. 

In short, our entire decision-making apparatus is being increasingly short-circuited by either/or thinking at virtually every turn. 

Like many Americans, I believe strongly in the free market. Capitalism has been the most powerful engine of economic growth the world has ever seen. But in the absence of at least some rudimentary oversight, you end up with Standard Oil, AT&T and Goldman Sachs. 

Moreover, once someone “wins” the competition, free enterprise ceases to be a mechanism for cost containment and instead spawns uniform gas prices and cancer drugs that cost $100K. Every system needs rules; voluntary compliance has never worked and never will. 

I also believe unapologetically in the need for some government programs. Without Social Security, my grandparents would not have been able to survive their later years. They lived paycheck-to-paycheck all their work lives; saving for retirement was not an option.

At the same time, Social Security was allowed to evolve from a “safety net” in the 1930s to a program that put recipients’ kids through college in the 1970s. Left unchecked, government programs can precipitate more harm than good. 

The truth is that free market has limitations. Government programs have limitations. 

Both are needed. Both can be abused. Neither is perfect. 

Although the founding fathers obviously understood the importance of individual rights and personal responsibility, they also had a profound respect for what constituted the “common good,” and they incorporated this guiding principle into the fabric of our new nation.

Liberals who believe everyone should be taken care of are just as misguided as conservatives who believe everyone should simply take care of their own.

Anyone who has a “take it or leave it” attitude is an extremist. It doesn’t matter if you are conservative, liberal, communist, capitalist or anarchist. 

Compromise is a necessary part of life, regardless of whether we are talking about our personal relationships, our jobs or our elected representatives.  

The real danger to our collective future is not from terrorists, economic competition or immigration. Rather, our greatest threat is from within. 

The only way to meet everyone’s needs in a fair and equitable manner is to take individual differences into account at every stage of our decision-making.

We are never going to come together as a society as long as we have people who keep espousing a “one size fits all” approach.