“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”
― Thomas Paine,
The American Crisis
FROM THE FRONT
By Len Semas Main Feature 2/1/2016)
AN AMERICAN CRISIS
Thomas Paine was thirty-nine when he wrote The American Crisis (published December 23, 1776 and continuing in several parts to 1783). The opening line is eerily suggestive of the current state of our country: "These are the times that try men’s souls.” One might argue that at the time of the American Revolution, citizens actually fared better than today. After all, they had but one despot in King George III; today, we have 545, representing the three branches of our government. The King had limited contact with the colonists, with enumerated abuses stated in the Declaration of Independence, whereas our government pervasively invades every corner of our lives.
It is important to distinguish between our country and our government. America is the greatest country on earth. It is so because of the philosophy under which it was founded and the intrinsic character of the American people. Our government was a creation of the people, in accordance with the provisions of our founding principles and documents, to be guided by them. Alas, it is not any longer. It is, in fact, the most serious threat to our founding principles and has secured for itself far greater resistance to constraint than King George ever possessed. Government has become a tyrant, not a servant as was intended; it has become ruinous to the liberty of the people, not protective of it. An American crisis once again afflicts our great nation, and we have ignored it far too long. It is this crisis that has given rise to the appeal of “outsiders,” such as Trump and Cruz. The “insiders” still don’t get it.
Not Just the Economy, Stupid
As we are embroiled in an economic calamity of gigantic proportions, it is tempting to think that that is the problem. It is not. It is merely symptomatic of a much broader and deeper disease of long-standing. It has also become an excuse to further leverage the reach of government into our lives and pocket books. Trillions of dollars of Americans' money is being tossed about as if it were small change. Tens of billions for one set of political cronies or another. Justifications based on job losses, financial instability, or hardship are not sufficient reasons for violating the fundamental freedom of Americans. No bank, and no company, should be considered too big to fail. No company or industry should be punished or rewarded based on political expediency or favoritism. Government should not be a tool for either social or economic engineering.
The Primary Tool of Tyranny
The year 1913 was a watershed for government to commence its path to tyranny. The weapon it created was the income tax. The founders feared taxation on income for good reason; they supported only a tax on consumption (sales tax) or tariffs on foreign goods. Such methods of securing revenue were visible, limited to the intended purpose, and controllable by the citizen-consumers. The income tax, by contrast, set up a means for rewarding or punishing citizens, invading their privacy, and gaining control over them, creating subsidies and penalties, and tinkering in all manners of social engineering. The income tax created the possibility of unrestrained growth in government and uncontrolled violation of the rights of citizens.
Individual Freedom and Responsibility
Many government programs have been established which rob citizens of the either the right to provide for themselves, or any sense of duty to do so. Among the worst offenders are retirement, health care, and education.
The Social Security Program was established as a “safety net,” with limited contribution from all so that the needy few would not be turned out into the streets. What began well intentioned turned into a Ponzi scheme disaster, with an ever- increasing need to fund greater benefits, empowering government as a savior to the recipients. The safety net became a full-fledged retirement program, without individual control, but with an invasive duty to pay, nonetheless. Private alternatives, such as those afforded public employees, was not allowed.
Health care is rapidly moving in the same direction as social security. Limited emergency care for those unable to pay has morphed into a system where citizens who do pay, directly or through insurance programs, pay huge costs to offset those who don't. Obamacare is the “crown jewel” of this take-over of the private health care option. Like social security, it is moving toward pure socialism, which will be achieved with a “single-payer” (government) system advocated by some.
Public education seems like an innocent enough concept, except that it is more based on indoctrination than education. It is mistakenly thought of as "free" though in most states it consumes the large majority of state and local budgets, while thirsting for more still. Once again, there is little control over the programs or the spending - money is simply taken and consumed as the bureaucrats dictate. Worse, the decisions and dictates are increasingly nationalized, making control or reform impossible. “No Child Left Behind” and “Common Core” are the latest intrusions into the education system, with a “government knows best” mentality. Those who resort to home or private schooling simply pay twice, while still subsidizing the public system for both legal and illegal residents. The ironies in the current system is that private education will provide a better product at a lower cost.
Laws and Regulations
No one knows how many laws there are, together with bureaucratic regulations to clarify, administer and enforce them. Suffice it to say that most law-abiding citizens could not leave their homes for a day without breaking one law or another. Like taxes, laws are made not for the legitimate purpose of making us safer or more secure in our liberties. They are made for creating revenue, penalizing enemies or rewarding friends, advancing special agendas, and other purposes having little to do with either justice or safety. The process is made worse by an omnipresent focus on creating laws, never revising, consolidating, or abolishing them. Our legal system does not protect our interests in liberty and justice; it violates or extinguishes them.
Protection of our borders and our way of life are among the most basic reasons for government to exist. Yet it fails miserably. In 1986 we legalized some 3.6 million people living in our country illegally, only to have the hoards continue to grow to 12-20 million in subsequent years. We continue to permit – even encourage - the entry into our country of people with cultural values that compete or even conflict with our own. In the worst cases, we even allow those to come who wish to destroy us.
Under the guise of a huge global warming fraud, many stand prepared to yield significant sovereignty to the U.N. and other international bodies. We are undergoing a gradual shift in our international presence from participation to subjugation. Liberal/Democrat/Progressives believe that is a fine thing.
We have burdened employers with obligations for personal benefits having nothing to do with the true nature of the enterprise: to make money. We have discouraged entrepreneurship and small company innovation by regulation and interference, while at the same time favoring consolidation of large companies into giant monopolies or oligopolies. We have given special treatment in the form of contracts and subsidies to some, often based on political contributions, not competition and performance. We have entered into trade relationships more beneficial to our trading partners than to our citizens. Our manufacturing, financial, energy (until recent years with shale oil), and other needs are so incapacitated that we are vulnerable to and dependent upon other nations. We ship iron ore to China to make steel that is shipped back to the U.S. We have allowed lawyers to pursue consumer protection and product liability issues to an idiotic degree, advancing the notion that no one should be responsible for making informed decisions to protect their self-interest. We blame products, rather than perpetrators, for the abuse and misuse of products such as guns, not because it is proper, but because of “deep pockets” milked by lawyer-politicians.
Attack on Culture
Although we were founded as a nation under a Christian philosophy and a respect for our Creator, we have wrongly moved to limit - even deny - such a connection in the public sphere. We have promoted other philosophies and religions at the expense of our own founding belief system. The result has not been to preserve freedom of religious choice, but to promote godlessness or to elevate other cultures above our own. We have succumbed to a gay agenda that promotes aberrant lifestyles to legitimate standing with the natural bond of a man and woman. We have catered to any number of interests that are special in nature, at the expense of the general welfare, including the forfeiture of our common language.
Great debate and ultimately, compromise, resulted in a governmental system based on Federalism. The delicate balance was part national in character, and part federal, that is, preserving state's rights. The specific intention was to promote to national control those things that best served the people as a whole, such as a national defense. All other rights and duties were to be reserved to the states or to the people themselves. Since 1913, the balance of duties and control has shifted dramatically to national control of our lives. Through tortured court decisions, reckless legislation, power grabbing executive orders, and even naive abandonment of our personal responsibilities, national government has come to dominance. The result is an ugly perversion of what the people founded, and what George Orwell predicted in his classis work, Nineteen Eighty-Four.”
Increasingly, money and resources of citizens is confiscated for purposes not essential to their well-being, or otherwise constitutionally justified. Foreign aid is given, wars are fought and foreign dictators are assuaged with the money taken from Americans without their consent. The culprit in this violation of citizen's rights is a governmental sense of moral purpose. No such purpose, however, exists - only the need of government to act constitutionally in our nation's self-interest as it is expressly empowered. It is the great desire of Liberals, Statists and Internationalists to take your money based on their perception of goodness or need.
Elite Political Class
Those running government were never intended to be a permanent class, much less a royal one. But they are. The rules of politics, aided by an irresponsible media and a thirst for celebrity has overruled a respect for ideas, wisdom, and duty. Thus was Hillary Clinton crowned senator, thus was Caroline Kennedy courted for the same office, and thus has Harry Reid groomed his sons for their ascendancy to public life. Many would love Chelsea Clinton to be next in line! The rules so favor those in power, the money is so controlled by special interest quid pro quos, and the system so filled with corruption, it is impossible to unseat the insiders. The most transparent political crooks are lightly punished, while the majority engage in unsavory dealings as a matter of course - and of self-preservation. Public office is sought not to serve the whole, but to benefit the few, with oneself at the top of the list. There is no discernable difference between today's political elite and the royal class under the English king and his aristocracy. None.
The Move toward Socialism
Socialism is the ultimate reward for the powerful and the greedy. It advances incrementally by promising more and more to the many to meet their needs; it is a seduction of the lazy, the ill prepared, the gradually indoctrinated, and the weak. It is like the curtain of the Wizard of Oz, behind which those in control live very much different lives. One might ask, if equality among the masses is so great, why is it that the leadership exempt themselves from its mandates? The beneficiaries of monarchies are monarchs and those of socialist systems are the Socialist leaders. Only in a capitalist republic such as ours used to be is the individual truly free to rise or fall based on personal choice and accomplishment. When government takes away the freedom to fail, it removes the freedom to succeed as well.
America is in crisis, and it is of our own doing. We have allowed it in small increments, every time government promised to make life better by taking on a role that was not its to take. “Government is created or abolished by the people. When government instituted by the people becomes destructive to the purposes for which it was formed, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and institute new government to preserve the safety and happiness of the people.” [paraphrased] Sound familiar? It should – these words are from the Declaration of Independence. This was the basis on which our government was first formed and our liberty secured. It remains to be seen whether the people of this great republic will exercise the power granted them by their founding documents and principles.
The coming presidential election will be a barometer or our failure or success in doing so .