Sue Lowden is the Republican who seems most likely to be Senate Majority leader Harry Reid’s opponent in next November’s General election. Reid is one of the officers-on-deck helping the Democrat party strike America’s colors and hoist the jolly roger of socialism. Nevada hasn’t yet migrated to Europe, (or completely succumbed to the migrant invasion from Mexico). So, many Nevadans still think socialism is a disease. Rumor has it, they also think the cure involves voting Harry Reid out of office.
And it’s probably true. But since Sue Lowden waxed nostalgic for the days when doctors were willing to be paid in kind, the Obama claque want us to believe are going to change their minds. Supposedly, the very thought that someone remembers how people once paid a chick for a check-up has convinced Nevadans to love the government health takeover. Better to let granny be culled by the Obama faction’s death panels than consider the possibility that government fabricated credit dollars aren’t the only medium of economic exchange.
Lowden has reportedly been intimidated into backing away from her barter remark. Perhaps, as common sense sometimes allows people to do, she spoke more wisely then she knew. However that may be, with a little thought her remarks lead to a serious insight about the real nature of economic life .
Woefully ignorant of the thinking behind their own agenda, the champions of socialism crow loudly at the supposed absurdity of thinking that people could work for anything but money. Apparently they’ve forgotten (or never knew) that Marx’s famous golden rule of economic distribution implies just that. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” didn’t in the first instance refer to money making. The ability in view has to do with productive skill. The need in question refers to the necessities of life like food, shelter and the equipment needed to deploy one’s abilities. In the strict sense, people don’t need money; they need the goods and services money can buy. But if those things are attainable in exchange for something else, money ceases to be the primary concern. As even professional money makers admit, there’s beyond a point beyond which the accumulation of money is just a way of measuring power.
Once people have satisfied their material needs many continue to work hard anyway. Not only that, they seek out challenges and strive for achievements that require them to work harder still. They do it because human aspirations go beyond food, shelter and physical satisfaction. Human beings also seek love, self-respect and the special peace that comes from the conviction that what they do makes a positive difference.
As I read some of the snide criticism of Lowden’s remarks, I found myself thinking of the Doc Adams character from the old western TV series, Gunsmoke. He was supposed to be the archetype of the American frontier doctor: never certain of being paid with money, but always sure where his next meal was coming from. Being the only doctor within a day’s ride for many of his patients, he was indispensable. The people who relied on him couldn’t always pay but they would never let him starve (unless they were starving themselves.) He tended their wounds and injuries, delivered their babies, and did what he could for their illnesses and chronic pains, all the while knowing that he was needed, respected and even loved by people he came to know intimately, in some ways better than they knew themselves. He never expected to enjoy the wealth and trappings of doctors with thriving practices in the big cities. But he rightly suspected that those doctors would never know the satisfaction of helping a community come to life in a new land, being valued all the while as a vital chamber of the beating heart that kept it alive.
I pity the sad, small-minded critics of Sue Lowden’s remarks. They seem to believe that the human need for such intangible satisfactions has been utterly extinguished by the mad materialism of contemporary life. For them perhaps it has. In their view of economics apparently nothing matters but the pursuit of dollar after dollar by people for whom their life’s work will never be more than a “job” and a paycheck.
But as the etymological origin of the word suggests, (it is taken from the Greek oikos=household, nomos=practical rule or standard) economics is also about what it takes to make a home. Money hunger isn’t what usually impels parents to care for their children, or children to honor their aging parents. The capacity for love, the need for a sense of belonging, the hope that comes from trusting that a helping hand will not be held back or slapped away; these characteristics are the reason treating someone like family has become a metaphor for caring human relations.
When it comes to health care, from the most ancient times the ethic of the medical profession included the obligation to treat all people like family, at least insofar as this meant not withholding critical care from someone in vital need. Sure, there have always been doctors mad for riches, but no one mistakes them for true exemplars of their profession. Don’t people still believe that health professionals take satisfaction in the healing, comfort and joy they can bring to those they serve? Isn’t this part of the reason people still trust doctors and nurses with their lives? They have to believe that somewhere in the doctors’ moral understanding, the score represented in the lives they have relieved of pain or saved from death, disfigurement or despair matters more than the tally of lifeless credit dollars numbered in their back accounts.
Principled conservatives actually think in terms of these intangible but real moral satisfactions, while the socialists who blather on about compassion and community insist on policies that measure people in terms of their incomes, and life in terms of its money value on the government’s books. Pretty much all the leftist ideologies have their roots in one form of intellectual materialism or another. On the contrary, conservative ideas of individual rights and responsibility take root in the soil of a more spiritual faith. They are informed and nourished by the remembrance of man’s origin- not in the ooze and slime of evolution’s irrational paradigm of senseless selection, but in the loving, intelligent will that is the spirit of the Creator, God.
True human sensibility derives from partaking of that spirit. The faith it engenders is what makes it possible to conceive of doctors who would deliver a child in exchange for a chicken, especially if it meant sharing dinner with the family they had just helped God to bless. I don’t find that laughable. I find it true to decent humanity, and admirable and full of hope. I find it true to the fact that people most often do their best when acting from sheer love of the good that comes of what they do. I understand why the socialists want us to think that’s ridiculous. It exposes the false promise of their banal bureaucratic utopia. They don’t want us to remember that bureaucracies don’t act on account of such love. They don’t want us to realize that the heaven of their materialist hopes is in fact a spiritless, hopeless, loveless hell on earth. They would rather we stay blind to the bleak landscape of their socialist sham utopia.
If I could have done so, I would have encouraged Sue Lowden not to stand down from her more-than-money vision of economic life. I would have encouraged her to stand down her critics instead, challenging them to take off their money obsessed blinders in order to recover a sense of economic life in which each gives according to his capacity to love what is right, and receives in exchange confirmation that his life has made a difference for the better. Such barter involves what money can’t buy, but it’s still a fair exchange.