How do you convince children to eat their food? You might say, “Think of all the children starving in poor countries and how lucky you are to have food.” If you want to get ahead in the social world, you might argue, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” You may believe that you should be able to express yourself, say what’s on your mind, and promote your own goals. If so, your orientation is fairly typical for Americans.
We have all bumped up against taboo topics in everyday conversation, at work, in public discourse, and in popular culture. Death is one obvious example. It is difficult for death to get the attention it deserves as a fact of life, so we create forums like “Death Cafés” to talk about it.
When the two of us talk to people about climate disruption, there are three common responses. The first is something like, “Don’t disrupt my beautiful life.” The second is, “That’s too upsetting; let’s talk about something else.” The third is, “There’s nothing I can do.”
It is common to hear people asserting their rights in many different ways. One is a shallow version of rights, such as when someone insists: “I have a right to faster service at this restaurant or a right to get my questions answered by a human being rather than a bot.” At a deeper level, however, certain rights get established by the society as a whole and should apply to everyone: protecting safety and life, free speech, freedom of religious expression, the right to bear arms, the right to property, the right to protection from discrimination of various types, due process, freedom from unjust imprisonment, etc.
Recently, Fox News host Tucker Carlson said that Representative Ilhan Omar has “undisguised contempt for the United States and for its people.” Omar responded that, “Not gonna lie, it’s kinda fun watching a racist fool like this weeping about my presence in Congress.”
We hear the terms capitalism and socialism often these days, but rarely do we hear definitions or explanations. Politicians and commentators say things like, “There is no good alternative to capitalism!” or “Socialism is the fairest and best system,” as if these were all-or-nothing propositions. This kind of talk leaves most discussions with a simplistic either-or conclusion, and without touching the ground of economic or political reality. Although types of economic systems are complex topics that cannot be reasonably treated in a short piece like this, we’d like to make a few points about these terms to help readers consider them further.