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So, I’m A Liberal

Which basically just means that I agree with things liberals tend to say: misogyny is not cool, punishing the poor for being poor is not cool, entrenched systems that favour white folks for being white are not cool, etc etc etc.

The other day, I got into an argument (debate? I wish) with a family member (middle-aged, somewhere between working-class and middle-class) and she kept saying things like, “you choose to see things from a decidely liberal standpoint and choose to hold everyone elose responsible. I choose to view things from a conservative standpoint and expect people to be accoutable for their choices.” and also, “I am a product of my choices. Did anyone ever hold a gun to my head and make me make the choices I’ve made? The answer would be no. Conversation over.” (sic)

She didn’t manage to give any concrete examples of the choices she’d made, and how they were truly her choices (as in, the choices she would make in a fair society, rather than a series of Hobson’s choices and/or dilemmas) but I did make an attempt to illustrate how sometimes, the choices we are given are rubbish:

“I’m not sure we’re talking about the same things, then. I’m talking about a system in which my Prime Minister–a multi-millionaire from a wealthy background–claimed roughly $600 a month off the government for his disabled son, for the entirety of his son’s life, and then the government he’s in charge of has been reducing those welfare programmes and removing said benefits from equally disabled people who are *not* multi-millionaires from wealthy backgrounds (as well as adding on various sanctions for people who are in need of government assistance–while continuing to suggest that the wealthy should get *more* tax breaks).

I’m also talking about a system in which ______ (this relative’s adult daughter) suffers from a debilitating illness, yet had to file for the American equivalent of disability living allowance numerous times, because it is standard practice to refuse first-time claimants–who can’t work, who are unable to support themselves–and hope they just go away and/or starve. Maybe we have a different perspective on this; if my daughter had been forced to fight that hard for government assistance she was legally entitled to, after working and paying tax for decades, I’d feel that she’d been crapped on (and if you crap on my kids, you crap on me, in my eyes).

I’m also talking about a system in which working-class individuals are “held accountable” for having to make terrible choices, but corporations aren’t; like when corporations give their workers unsafe, pollutant-filled conditions to work in, which results in diseases like pulmonary fibrosis, just as an example. Papa died from PF–I suppose no one put a gun to his head and *forced* him to work for Union Camp, so I suppose the choice was all his–work in an unsafe environment, or let his family do without, or find another job… but since Union Camp never told him he was working in unsafe conditions, how was he to know that getting a different job might have prolonged his life by 20 years? (And paper factories were still causing workers to develop PF when I was a teenager–it’s not like they don’t know, they just don’t care and no one has the power to make them care.)

THAT is the system I think needs an overhaul. And you are never going to convince me that you think THAT system is a good one, or that it should just continue as it is. As a society, we can do better than that.”

What is interesting to me, is that you were the first person to explain anything about business ethics to me, when I was a kid. You explained very clearly some of the unethical things you had seen, and how to avoid making those mistakes. There is a serious discord between expecting better of small businesses/local business owners, and not expecting better of governments, corporations, and society at large. Isn’t there?”

I’d like to say I’ve received her response to my question, or even that I’m still waiting for one, but I’ve given up hope on her, really; on the other hand, I had a much more productive conversation with the oldest of my younger brothers (11 years my junior, and a college kid, at the minute) and people *his* age are the future… so, y’know. There’s still hope where it counts.

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