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The Us and Them Mentality Monday March 19, 2012

The Us and Them Mentality

I am trying to figure out in my own mind, the difference between small l liberals and small c conservatives. Liberals believe that government exists to help the common man. Conservatives believe that every man should help himself and government should stay out of it.

Each is correct and each is incorrect because these theories do not account for human nature.

We have found that the more government helps the common man, the less he is motivated to help himself. Why work, when the government will pay you for not working. Why give your children a higher education when the government will give them the necessities of life as it did you. Why improve yourself when you can bitch that the government isnt doing enough for you.

On the other hand conservatives say, government stay out of our lives and the free market will do very well for everyone. What is good for us and our corporations is good for the economy. Is good for jobs and is good for shareholders.

But while they think they mean it, they really dont. Otherwise why would they lobby the government to give them huge subsidies, to decrease their taxes, to change the rules on patents and copyrights to give them greater and longer security.

This human nature factor I speak of is self-servinggreed. As a generalization, no one ever feels they have enough. They want and need more and yet they feel the other guy has more than he deserves. Everyone thinks that Labor unions, especially public worker unions, have too much power unless of course you are a member of a union. Then you feel that labor unions dont have sufficient power. Everyone feels that oil companies make excessive profits unless of course you are an executive or major stockholder in an oil company.

Everyone thinks that he is underpaid for his work, while the next guy is lazy and overpaid for his.

That is what I mean about human nature. We cannot have a perfect social or political system, because WE, the people who create and manage, any system, are imperfect.

I have chosen to call this theory the us and them mentality.

Perhaps I have oversimplified, but this makes sense to me. It is why on some issues I am a conservative and on some issue I am a liberal, and on some issues I really dont care - because they dont affect me. I am just as self-serving as the rest of mankind. Perhaps this is in our DNA. Our survival instinct to gather as much for ourselves and our own family and not worry about the neighbors.

If this is our basic nature, then the tension and struggle between individuals, classes and religions, will continue.