The “Gimme” Gene and the Common Good

I heard on TV the other night that some scientist had identified a gene that makes humans believe in God. That’s right. God put a little transmitter in us – some of us, anyway – so He could communicate with us. I bet that’s the gene that makes some of us concerned for the common good, not just our own selfish interests.

I know that just about every human on earth has a “gimme” gene. Somewhere in the DNA is a robust gene that prompts us to grab what we want without regard for the welfare of others.There must be constant conflict between this gene and the “common-good” one.

As I survey the parade of bland faces – overwhelmingly male, of course – that appear on my TV screen to argue in favor of the ongoing Republican insurgency, I imagine their “gimme” gene must be dominant.

They look so pleased with themselves, these drawling gentlemen with their self-satisfied eyes and neatly trimmed hair. These are the sons of privilege, well-deserved privilege in their eyes, I’m sure.

They go to church, these “sleek-headed men, men that sleep at night,” as Shakespeare’s Caesar might have described them. But God’s messages go in one ear and out the other.  Even if they have a “common-good” gene, they are far too busy congratulating themselves on their own piety and justifying their own privilege to hear what it has to say.

Apparently, these men are secure in the belief that they’re going to be all right if they block America’s ability to borrow the money needed to meet the country’s ongoing obligations. And they couldn’t care less if millions of other folks must suffer.

They are so insulated from reality that they believe the most astonishing things. One smiling rustic assured the TV camera that refusal to increase the government’s debt limit would “stabilize” the global economy because it would be a needed acknowledgment that the United States is going broke. This guy is a veterinarian so he must have been to some university, but he obviously skipped the class where they tried to explain how the global economy works.

Another knucklehead compared world finance to his household accounts. Some bills he pays right away, he explained. Others can wait. In other words, if the government can’t borrow, it should just pay what it can from the revenue that comes in every day. The way this guy sees it, the supercomputers that churn out hundreds of thousands of Uncle Sam’s checks a minute could be reprogrammed to cherry pick the debts he wants to pay, and all would be well.

Apparently, these latter-day “rebels” have been sold a bill of goods. They don’t seem to realize that if they sink the ship of state, they’re going under with the rest of us.

I guess it’s their ignorance we have to fear, not just their heartlessness and greed.

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