Letters to the editor December 21

Taking responsibility for our values

“Humans are the value making animal.”

— Simone Weil

We can’t help it. Judgment is our gift and our curse. If there is no foundation for values outside humanity, is everything allowed? Not by us: we do not allow everything. Either by way of invoking God and religious sin or legislating against secular crime, we disallow particular behavior and encourage our “better selves.”

And there is no part of our social lives that is untouched by human judgment. We live in an age when we are defined as economic beings. We are less citizens than customers. American politicians for the last several decades have come to profess that the “free market,” if allowed, will make decisions that benefit all. This is a judgment that, in effect, surrenders judgment; as if an economy were “natural” and not a human construct. If it weren’t self-serving for the owners of this country, one could call this view naïve. Are we all really expected to be a race of Ayn Rand heroes? Are we a nation of individuals on our own, or a society, a civilization whose very purpose is to protect us from pitfalls while we try to make our individual way?

And is it the ”free market” making decisions? Are the consequences we are living with—lower wages, anxiety over the stability of our jobs, vulnerability to “populist” demagoguery—free from human decisions? Did the market decide to give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans? Was it the market that claimed that corporations are people and that money is speech? Is it the market deciding to eliminate the “protections” misnamed as “regulations?”

Other major economies, Germany for example, consider that the measure of a society’s well being includes the protection of its citizens from the fluctuations in the economy that affect their lives.

“Oh Lord, raise us up another FDR.”

Roy Tedoff

Hortonville, NY

Credit for the deck

It was great to see the Tusten Town Board taking credit and enjoying the new deck on Main Street. As all TRR readers can easily remember, most of this group fought tooth and nail for an alternative design—an absurd main street-disrupting overwrought and overdesigned $300,000-plus Beverly Hills terraced veranda. Councilperson Ned Lang and myself spoke up and spoke out, arguing for commonsense, that not only should no deck cost $300,000, but that there were substantial construction risks in this grandiose deck that could disrupt the awesome momentum of the businesses of Main Street—a truly catastrophic possibility.

As I said at the last board meeting, the next time the Tusten Town Board feels the itch to throw money away (deck, esplanade study), they should instead hand out grants, incentives and awards to Tusten businesses to help them grow and reward them for their effort. Put the money where it works best: in the hands of creative, hardworking risk-takers.

Charles Petersheim

Eldred, NY

 

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