“In Paul Ryan’s formulation, society is divided between the “makers” and the “takers.” The “takers” are those who benefit from public social programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, college-tuition assistance, and so on. In Ryan’s world, these people are a drag on the “makers” who are taxed to pay for the programs. Our economy produces optimum results when each is free to pursue his or her own self-interest, under this theory.”
The quote above is from a recent article in The Nation and it is exactly right. I’ve been ranting about the hateful, pathological ideologies of various versions of conservatism and libertarianism quite a bit lately; these are people who live in a society but pretend they do not live in a society. And I just do not understand this supremacist, meritocractic attitude; I seriously hate it.
Like the quote says above, folks like Paul Ryan, who adhere to pathological political ideologies which are grounded in twisted, arcane metaphysics/theology and anthropology, believe some people are just inherently superior to others. Some people are “makers” and some are “takers.” The “makers,” of course, are superior and deserve to lead because they have the “vision” and “ambition” and, therefore, should also be adorned with riches (i.e. economic power). After-all, they deserve it, right? They’ve earned it. But the “takers” are wretched, lazy slobs who simply want to take advantage of the makers’ brilliance. Somehow, the rich, powerful, superior “makers” are the victims here. This is Paul Ryan’s (and Ayn Rand’s) logic. Somehow the irony is lost on these people who accuse the “takers” of being the ones who are greedy and “entitled.” A classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, in my opinion. After all, it should be pretty clear that austere, meritocratic ideologies like this require a prerequisite sense of entitlement (e.g. “I’m entitled to my billions of dollars because I have worked hard my entire life and earned it; nobody helped me! I’m simply a self-made, ambitious, gifted, leader of men.”).
And speaking of dreary perspectives, I, admittedly, take a less overtly bleak Augustinian/Calvinistic approach to human nature and instread preference the Jewish naturalistic understanding that all of Creation is inherently GOOD and CREATIVE; Yes, that’s right I think all people are creative. ALL PEOPLE ARE MAKERS. Further, I think people are motivated by at least these few important things: autonomy (they want to feel like they have freedom to make decisions in and about their work), mastery (they want to master their vocational skills), and purpose (they want their work to make a difference).
Additionally, look, if there is a “personality type” who is “immobile,” or simply not motivated to be creative, then my default position (as I’ve written before) is to refrain from judgement and assume that the situation is more complex than I understand. And yes, after some further loving relational inquiry has been done, and new understandings have been found, it may turn out that that “immobile” person (or “the drain on society,” to use words Paul Ryan would be more comfortable with) may require special care and extra help (for whatever reason((s))) to become a healthier human and the best citizen they can be. For me, the phrase Marx often used fits well here: from each according to their ability, to each according to their need. We’re all creative, and we all have different abilities, different weaknesses, and different needs. Perfect. We help each other then. That’s what humans do.