Ki Gulbranson owns a logo apparel shop, deals in jewelry on the side and referees youth soccer games. He makes about $39,000 a year and wants you to know that he does not need any help from the federal government.
He says that too many Americans lean on taxpayers rather than living within their means. He supports politicians who promise to cut government spending. In 2010, he printed T-shirts for the Tea Party campaign of a neighbor, Chip Cravaack, who ousted this region’s long-serving Democratic congressman.
Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice.
Progressives believe in the redistribution of wealth, so we’re not usually too upset by this state of affairs. That’s what it means to be one country. E pluribus unum, and all that. We’re happy to help, because we think we’ve got a stake in making sure kids in rural Alabama get educations and seniors in Arizona get healthcare. What’s good for them is good for all of us. We also like to think they’d help us out if our positions were reversed. It’s an investment in making America stronger, and we feel fine about that.
This isn’t to say that there’s a clear-cut line between religion and philosophy; “Eastern” philosophy, like “Western” philosophy, is marked by what Heidegger called “onto-theology,” the subordination of conceptual rigor to religious ideology. And as in the West, various South and East Asian thinkers have at various points in time attempted with greater or lesser energy to resist this subordination and emphasize conceptual thinking. As in the West, we can identify three primary intellectual traditions: mainstream religious practice, heterodox or esoteric mystical or semi-religious practice, and conceptual practice, each marked by various degrees of onto-theological subordination. In other words, there are thinkers who are more or less religious. There are thinkers who are more or less mystical. There are thinkers who are more or less conceptually rigorous. Thinkers gonna think; priests gonna preach; mystics gonna mystify. This has nothing to do with racial or ethnic predisposition. It has to do with a given individual’s approach to thought.