politics, economy, etc.

Social Cohesion via Shared Misery

Over the past several years, I have had the privilege to work with a number of Canadians.  As our current redistributor-in-chief has sought the government seizure of 1/6th of our economy, health care is a frequent point of discussion.  The people with whom I have spoken on this subject are, generally, very intelligent.  This fact makes the nature of our discussions maddeningly frustrating.   You see, I cannot fathom how otherwise intelligent people make statements like, “the U.S. should adopt a national health care model to help with social cohesion”.

The first time I heard this term I decided to look it up.  Let me spare you the agony of reading the definitions fashioned by tenured sociology professors.  The working definition is “anything that brings people closer together (as long as it is an approved “progressive” method of bringing people together)”.  I added the parenthetical comment based on personal experience.  You see, in every case that I have heard the term “social cohesion”, I have suggested a simple way of bringing society together.  I have suggested that to bring us all together into perfect “social cohesion” all that is needed is a societal acknowledgment that there is a single, sovereign, loving, omnipotent God who can only be reached through belief in His son Jesus Christ.

The response to this suggestion has been less than enthusiastic.  In fact, the response is only slightly less “rocky” than the response that Stephen received from the Sanhedrin in Acts 7.  I have been told that it is this type of narrow minded thinking that has lead to nearly all of the wars throughout history.  (Anyone who doubts that our schools are turning out historical scholars should re-read that last sentence.)  It is true that Christianity lead to nearly every war in history except: Iraq, Afghanistan, Granada, Vietnam, World War I  World War II, the War of Northern Aggression (those same history courses call this the Civil War), the War of 1812, the Revolutionary War, the Spanish American War, etc.  What they refer to as “narrow minded” thinking is, in fact, “narrow gate” thinking and there will be an eternity of opportunities to re-think their positions.  However, for now, let me leave that discussion and get back to the question at hand.

Is “social cohesion” a desired outcome in and of itself?  After the titanic sunk and everyone was clinging to flotsam as they froze to death, I suspect there was a great deal of social cohesion.  I would, further, assume that residents of the Soviet gulag had a great deal of social cohesion. In fact, nearly every instance where I think of communities rallying together it is around a tragedy.  (I was educated in a government school, but, I think the term to use here is:  irony.)

My examples are, of course, extreme.  However, the point is valid.  Why would we pursue a path that has been followed by many that, in all cases, leads to undesirable outcomes simply to create a sense of social cohesion?  In every discussion, my Canadian colleagues will acknowledge these facts:

  • Government programs are less efficient than their market counterparts;
  • These inefficiencies lead to a scarcity of resources;
  • Corruption is rampant in a system that is both government controlled and has a scarcity of resources;
  • Anything that is perceived as “free” will get over-used to the point that it exacerbates the supply problems;
  • Rationing is a natural outcome of limited supply.

However, they all end by saying, “the U.S. should do this for social cohesion”.  To paraphrase a common refrain from my grandfather, “them boys has done been educated past their common sense”.

2 replies on “Social Cohesion via Shared Misery”

I agree that “Christian” opposition was a key component to stoking the fires that lead to the Civil War. (I put Christian in quotes because I suspect that most would take issue with the actions of Reverend Beecher and John Brown. The former called for murder and the latter carried it out.) However, there was a complex mix of issues surrounding the industrialized North’s want for tariffs and government intervention into trade. At the same time, Southerners were looking for state sovereignty. John Calhoun was an advocate of avoiding secession by simply nullifying any unsavory federal decrees in individual states. My point was simply that the premise of most wars being caused primarily and wholly for Christian religious reasons is preposterous. You are correct, however, in your assertion that using the Civil War as an example does weaken the argument a bit. (As a native of the South I couldn’t resist the easy gag of “War of Northern Aggression”). Thanks for the comments.

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