To paraphrase a real estate agent quoted elsewhere in this edition, “There are two things that people recoil from: new ideas and higher taxes.” In both cases, immediate knee-jerk reactions need to be tempered by a deliberate exercise of reason, something that seems to be in short supply in national policy making circles in these times.
There is an ugly current that has drifted into the national psyche in the last 30 or so years, which is a sense of angry individual entitlement spiced by the hateful theories of Ayn Rand and her ilk. Rand held that subordinating individual wants to a sense of a wider social responsibility is a sign of weakness, and anger is the best response to a society that seemingly imposes such a mandate. Therefore, for those who’ve embraced the Ayn Rand point of view, every tax is an evil and every suggestion of innovation and change is almost automatically suspect.
We now know that Ayn Rand was an important asset of J. Edgar Hoover, his FBI and those it served, a great irony, for sure. In the name of the kind of “freedom” that Rand gave lip service to, the FBI threw a police-state-like blanket over American society after World War II and the McCarthy Era “Red Scare,” something which the National Security Agency has only continued to perfect, 1984-style, in the age of electronic intelligence. Rand and the NSA in bed together, who would have thought!
So we see in the American society of the last 30 years that these ideas run parallel, of delusional “freedom,” on the one hand, and the NSA run amok on the other. Never have the tastes of Americans been more in lock step with conformity as defined by top-down mega-corporate control over the media and elections, and with choices between red and blue hair, or Steelers versus Packers loyalty, being considered expressions of “freedom.”
This is also reflective of the “us versus them” mentality that accompanies all of this, from angry rivals in impotent sports fandom, to the growing sentiment to taking sides in everything from partisan politics, to red versus blue America, to police versus the communities they allegedly serve, as the Justice Department has found to be the case almost beyond belief in Ferguson, Missouri, but is equally true in many more places, as well.
All this having been said, in a well-heeled, well-educated community like the City of Falls Church, one can hope that reason and good intentions, the countervailing forces and antidotes to all this madness, can hold sway, and that includes an ability to recognize the importance of a first-rate school system, not only in terms of its benefits in themselves, but for the stability of the wider community, also.
Our City Council is too often paralyzed by the angriest, most “in your face” voices. Instead, they should be informed by the landslide school referendum outcome last November.