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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|"May God grant us the wisdom to discover right, the will to choose it, and the strength to make it endure. "|
I think Americans proceed on the assumption, for the most part, that our way of life is a birthright, and that it can never be taken away from us.
I think the ancient Athenians probably thought the same thing.
Alexander Tyler (Tytler?), a Scottish history professor circa 1787, is commonly credited with the following observations about the fall of the Athenian Republic 2,000 years earlier:
"A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury."
"From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."
"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning
of history, has been about 200 years."
In relation to what I wrote a few days back, I think this is remarkably pertinent.
We have looked to the government to solve our problems, to manage our lifestyles, to take care of our opportunities, and keep us healthy, and, as a result, have elected to Congress people who are telling us all about how they best can do that for us.
Those "generous gifts" Tyler wrote about certainly include everything from guaranteed retirement benefits to welfare when we don't work to drug benefits for when we are sick to automatic health care. And that is all before we get around to talking about the $700 BILLION bailout of the financial sector. I believe that the Founding Fathers would be ill at the thought of the size of the American bureaucracy these days, the vast majority of it in place simply to administer all of the things the government does FOR us.
And, among the things we will be deciding on Tuesday are the following:
:whether the government should commit another $150 billion to a "rescue" for Americans struggling due to the economy (because the $168 billion from February worked SO well . . . )
:whether any plan to move Social Security benefits out of conservative (investment-wise) government programs and into the market sector would be allowed
:whether the government should provide for the health care of every American, or whether the government should facilitate the privilege Americans finding their own best health care plan.
And, given the current state of the polls, I think it's becoming increasingly inevitable that America is poised to elect even more people who think the government is responsible for distributing generous gifts to the general populace.
And, in a note of full disclosure, I must admit that my family has been the beneficiaries of those generous gifts. Not just the people under my own roof, who have been helped by extended unemployment benefits, but people I love dearly who look to the promise their government made to them 50 years ago to take care of them in their retirement and those whose health situations are so dire that they cannot manage the costs on their own.
But we crossed an interesting threshold a few weeks ago, with the government bailout of an entire sector of the economy. Now, there's even talk of the government holding an equity share in many banks, and the international community has stepped up and matched the American example of corporate welfare, in a strange show of international cooperation.
Tell me, someone, when the government "bails out" a mortgage holder as it now plans to do (not just the mortgage lender), does that mortgage holder then become dependent on the government for their "American dream?" Exactly how many homes will the government end up holding the note to by the time this is all over?
And what will become of individual property rights, already under assault by The Supreme Court in Kelo v. New London , once the government starts to "own" a significant number of the private homes in America?
Tyler described eight stages of a Democracy/Republic's life:
1. from bondage to spiritual faith;
2. from spiritual faith to great courage;
3. from courage to liberty;
4. from liberty to abundance;
5. from abundance to complacency;
6. from complacency to apathy;
7. from apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage"
The first steps of this country were taken by men and women seeking religious freedom, which they could not practice at home, but were still taken in the shadow of foreign Kings; the second steps produced men who would utter such courageous thoughts as "Hang together, or we shall surely hang apart" and "Give me Liberty or give me Death" and ". . . our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor;" the third steps were taken by Giants like Washington, Madison, and Adams, to be followed in kind by Lincoln, and T. Roosevelt; which led to an age in which America was the engine of the world, a fifty-year period in which no country approached America's philosophical, economic and military preimminence; in that preimminence, however, we got comfortable and began to expect comfort, and when we could not make our own comfort the government began to step in to provide it for us.
I'm not entirely sure, in the last steps of that timeline, just where we are right now as a country. To be sure, there are tens of millions who still value our freedoms, understand that our abundance flow from those freedoms, and recognize that it is all due to the living presence of a Bountiful God.
But we seem to be a minority now. We have, through the offices of our elections, chosen to abandon any official reference to God, come to find contempt for the warriors that defend us every day, make mockeries and scapegoats of those who are adept at creating abundance, and have a political discourse marked by apologizing for who and what we are. Indeed, it has gone so far that the man who seems poised to be the next President of the United States claimed to an audience that he is "a citizen of the world," who now promises a income tax rebate to 95% of Americans--including 45% of whom DO NOT EVEN PAY INCOME TAXES!--whose wife has "never been proud of this country in her adult life," and who thinks the solution lies in capitulating our position of leadership in the world.
And if you don't think we could ever be truly dependent, think about what happens if a storm wipes out our oil rigs in the Gulf and Iran chooses THAT moment to close down the Straits of Hormuz. And that's before you give much thought to a Russia that sits on huge reserves of petroleum and has shown a remarkable willingness, of late, to flex its military might against neighbors with important energy infrastructure.
So then consider what an Obama Presidency could mean: a crippling economic crisis which his predecessor has used to vastly expand the powers of government, a security situation in which the entire government rushed to put in place structures that vastly expand the powers of government, a megalomaniacal tendency to pronounce ex cathedra the wisdom of his own piety, a press corps which has been equally fanatical in covering all his faults, and a following that has already shown a tendency to silence criticism using official channels, to intimidate broadcasters who air criticism, and who have even promised to bring back the "Fairness Doctrine" (to really end the debate) WHEN it gets a substantial enough majority.
And the alternative, frankly, isn't all that much more palatable. While all the same situations are in place, McCain's signature legislative accomplishment in the last ten years was an act that makes it HARDER for individuals to act to influence their government, and whose most recent major legislative effort was to GIVE all of the protections and priveleges of American citizenship to millions of those whose only qualification was breaking the law. And, for a man whose great domestic claim is fiscal conservatism, he showed little trepidation at signing off on a $700 billion bailout.
If this is the best we can do in a country of 300 million, I am forced to wonder:
Do we have the strength to make this Republic endure?