‹ Go Back

Retire the Rescuer


“A born caretaker, I could probably develop a codependent relationship with a pet turtle.”

Interesting how a click of the mouse can change your perspective.

While composing my last post on the Odyssey, I searched for a figure for the 2012 defense budget ($683.7 billion). My underlying conviction is that the more we invest in defense, the more likely we are to have conflict. After all,  if you have something, you have to do what it’s for. In searching the Internet for that statistic, however, I found others that gave me a potentially transformative pause.

The site I happened on was www.usgovernmentspending.com. It is produced by a gentleman named Christopher Chantrill, and it caught my eye from the outset because the information seemed unusually objective. The standout figures were the following: (1) Government spending started out at the beginning of the 20th century a5 6.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). (2) It surged to 45 percent of GDP during the 2008 economic meltdown and is expected to settle at 40 percent of GDP. (3) Federal spending on health care alone has risen to around 7 percent of GDP–higher than the total of government spending as a percentage of GDP at the beginning of the century.

Hmmm. This is indeed an unsettling trend. Those irritating people I have tuned out have a point.

The detail on this web site shows how the percentages always rise during wartime and times of economic distress, both of which we are currently suffering. This also makes it very difficult to cut back on government spending right now. It may be years yet before we end our military engagement in the Middle East–if we don’t increase it. At the same time, economic distress is becoming a worldwide phenomenon, with growth beginning to slow in the bright spots of both China and India.

Government came to the aid of commerce and the citizenry during the Great Depression, the recession of 1980-82, and again in 2008. It was motivated by humanitarian goals in the passage of both Medicare and Medicaid legislation in the 1960s. One looks at those general actions, and they suggest that our democracy works, that it has repeatedly mobilized to serve  the collective good.

The shadow side is becoming manifest, however, and I suddenly got that on a personal level as I looked at these figures. I decided some time ago that I was working the archetype of Rescuer in life, with mixed results. A born caretaker, I could probably develop a codependent relationship with a pet turtle.  (Ooh. I should join Match.Com and put that in my profile. I would probably get many coffee

The statistics suggest that the government is also begun to work the archetype of Rescuer, and the mixed results are driving conservatives crazy. The problem is how to revise the programs that have created dependency and undermined individual initiative. As in the world of human relationships, the solution no doubt lies in setting boundaries but also in providing the opportunity or the inspiration for dependents to take care of their own stuff. The unemployed can be dependent; so can big corporations.

So I’m into it. These are the realizations that lead to further analysis and perhaps even to some constructive ideas. I’m switching from the archetype of The Rescuer to the archetype of The Rudder. (I just made that up.) Maybe we all need to take that on in an earnest way to move the ship of state in a better direction. I think I can relate this to the Odyssey. Ulysses tried to journey home by ship. It had a sail, but also oars. The symbolism is promising.



Comments are closed.