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Social Darwinism revisited

To the Editor:

I would like to reply to a letter by Paul Lindahl ["Ideas: Social Darwinism and Capitalism are not the same," March 12]. Many people have commented on the length of my previous letter, so I will try to keep this one short.

First, I'd like to set the record straight. I was not quoting Lindahl when I noted that someone had said to me,"I don't have to live life; I can read it." It is strange that Lindahl attributed the quote to himself. I am sorry if Lindahl took it personally. But obviously, it inspired him to write his letter.

Yes, it is unfortunate that I had mentioned Social Darwinism and Capitalism in the same breath without taking pains to make the distinction between the two. I do not doubt Lindahl's motives. I believe that he is a man of idealism. However, all too often have I heard from the mouths of neo-conservatives,"Let them figure it out for themselves."

Whichever way you look at it, leaving the weaker members of society to fend for themselves stinks of Social Darwinism.

What is a laid-off, 40-year-old, blue-collar worker going to do to feed his family? Go to computer programming school? Where is the food going to come from if he does?

Ideally, our government and society should be worrying about long-range problems. But, in the immediate situations, weaker members of society need help.

I believe that, if one expects something from society, society should expect something in return. Life's a big two-way street. I don't understand why the concept of "giving to society" conjures up horrible visions of emptying one's pockets to Uncle Sam. Certainly, you know that one's time and effort is much harder to give.

This is why we are in the predicament we are in today. It is so much easier to give money that people have been hoping that the money would make the problems go away. I am certainly not in favor of free handouts. It is just a crying shame that so many people are unemployed when we know that there are so many things that need to be done. I imagine that the profit margin on paying people to do some of these things is too low. Maybe there isn't one.

It is a disgrace for the selfish to pass off Social Darwinism in the guise of "free society." I believe that most of these "freedom-fighters" are selfish, and yet, I have not denied them their right to be selfish. I merely point out what, I believe, are the consequences of their actions.

You don't have to give your money. Your time and effort are much better. But the "capitalists" don't give. (cf. Industrial Revolution). They have never given a damn.

I hope that I don't have to write again. I running out of metaphors like "Life's a big two-way street." Besides, as Lindahl duly pointed out in his letter, I'm probably stretching my literacy.

Thomas Foo '85->