Thursday, December 8, 2016

One for All and All for Me

Can prosperity and democracy coexist?

In today's Financial Times, David Pilling writes that democracy is flourishing in Africa: "America has gone from idealism to cynicism in a few generations. Many Africans are still idealists."

But I wonder if – rather than cynicism – our lust for democracy competes with our lust for riches and a confirmation of personal ideals. Just as capitalists aren't really keen on competition and the sharing of profits with competitors, perhaps – as individuals – we don't want to share government-conferred benefits, favoritism, and top-dog status with the next generation or next wave of ladder climbers. When twice as many children as seniors are below the poverty line while seniors garner 50 percent of federal benefits, is it any wonder that seniors vote in far greater numbers than voting-age youth?

It's understandable that we're jealous of that which is ours. But now it seems that our economic gains and closely held beliefs outweigh our democracy and collective well-being. I hope that changes.