It seems that now, more than ever, we live in a polarized society.

Conservatives rant about liberals, and liberals rant about conservatives.

The loudest voices often seem to come from the far right and the far left, and are often tinged with a personal hatred that defies any sort of rational discourse that might provide exploration of solutions to many of our problems. And the voice of the moderates, who proclaim to understand both sides, tend not to be accepted by either.

But I firmly believe that the most Obama-hating, tea partying, vitriolic, right wing, nutball conservatives and the most tree-hugging, left wing, loo loo brained, socialistic, bleeding heart liberals actually have more common ground than they realize, if they could let go of their rhetoric, anger and dogmatism, and admit that they actually agree on much, such as:

We should not reward the poor who either cannot or will not work by giving them more money for having more children that they cannot or will not care for.

By the same token, the babies and little children of the poor should not be deprived of the basic necessities of food, shelter, health care and education because they have the misfortune of being born of dysfunctional, incompetent, or just plain lazy parents.

Yes, rugged individualism is a wonderful thing, but that does not mean that the children of the unworthy should die in scores due to lack of basic necessities, which is more akin to the North Korean socioeconomic model than capitalism.

And while no one should die of starvation in these United States, food stamps being used for the purchase of T-bone steaks, seafood and jelly doughnuts, instead of basic nutrition, is wrong, as is the black marketing of food stamps for booze, drugs and cigarettes.

A health care system where some 50 million Americans without health insurance obtain their health care at an emergency room after a basic illness progresses to the point of becoming a life-threatening medical emergency or where emergency rooms get clogged with non emergency or hypochondriac patients who show up because they can't get in to see a doctor due to lack of insurance needs serious reform.

I don't know enough about Obamacare (and I'm not sure anybody really does) to predict whether it is or may evolve into a feasible improvement to the ills, inequities and inadequacies of the health care system in America, but major reform was past due, and we shall see.

It is better to spend tax dollars on publicly funded mental health intervention and treatment programs than it is on the aftermath of events in which mentally ill persons have violent meltdowns as a result of their unaddressed, treatable mental health conditions. Yes, the mentally ill are generally mooches on society, just like the children of the poor, unworthy and lazy, but to gut funding of their basic mental health needs under the guise of social program reform is not the answer.

Yes, parents are a child's first teacher. But if we condemn bad parenting as an excuse to cut funding of public education, which is the only option available for most children, then we need to start spending more tax dollars on prisons now, just like Mexico.

Our children should not have to share their Halloween candy with the child who is too lazy to trick or treat for himself. But a good parent would suggest that they should share some of their candy with the child who is blind, mentally handicapped, in a wheelchair, in the hospital or lives in a neighborhood where it's not safe for them to go trick-or-treating.

Now, can I see of show of hands of liberals, conservatives, and moderates who actually agree with most or all of these propositions, please?

See, perhaps we all agree on more than we realize.

Ken Garten is a Blue Springs attorney. Email him at