Thoughts and insights about life. Philosophy. Sociology. Politics. How to live life and get the most out of it.

California has been cited recently as a disaster and a total "basket case" that everyone is deserting. This narrative is particularly common in right wing political media. It is referred to as a state full of rampant socialism and communism. California is a state that is dying due to it's liberal policies, crazy people, and huge immigration. Right?

Well, at least economically, the facts don't support such statements and conclusions. Other states should be so lucky as to be the economy that is California. Let's review.

Is it possible we've reached a limit on the extreme focus on the individual in America? By this I mean the supremacy of the individual's rights with little regard for the group. I hope we have reached some limit.

American was created to include the then unique concept of individual "freedom" as in "it's a free country" to do as you please. The limit of freedom has always been when you cause harm to others. Your freedom ends when it negatively impacts me. But, there are many cases where this line between freedom/rights of the individual and those of the group are unclear. The classic example is you are not free to yell "fire" in a crowded theater (unless there is a fire). You are free to choose your own medical treatment but what if that choice impacts my health such as with vaccines?

In recent years, America has pushed firmly in the direction of individual rights. Group "rights" or freedom has nearly disappeared. This is true in many areas; speech, guns, health, and taxes to name a few.

We've reached a point where "freedom" is now used to exclude people rather than including them. Some examples:

Rabbi Elliot Kukla1 once described a woman with a brain injury who would sometimes fall to the floor. People around her would rush to immediately get her back on her feet, before she was quite ready. She told Kukla,

I think people rush to help me up because they are so uncomfortable with seeing an adult lying on the floor. But what I really need is for someone to get down on the ground with me.

A reminder to me for the next time I see someone in physical or emotional distress. Rather than acting on impulse driven primarily by what makes me feel better, pause to consider what will make them feel most comfortable, then do it.

1 Elliot Kukla is the first openly transgender person to be ordained by the Reform Jewish seminary Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.

Taxes are a tough topic. For some time now, many have espoused a philosophy that lower taxes are always better. It is time to re-evaluate that viewpoint. We need to determine what level of tax is appropriate for the services we are receiving and collectively agree to pay it. The products and services we want must be paid for.

We have already received more than we acknowledge.

While no one, certainly including me, wishes to pay more than necessary I also understand that taxes have an appropriate role and purpose. The continuous desire to always reduce taxes seems to me to go together with a quintessential American pride in the self-made man notion. If you feel that you alone made whatever success you enjoy happen all on your own then you likely also feel that you don't owe a debt to the society in which you live. You'd be wrong in that assessment.

The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

Jack London