Archive for the 'Entitlements' Category
While our recession looms and nightly newscasts highlight rage over Wall Street bonuses, we’re missing a larger and most formidable storyline. The only class warfare worth mentioning is between the citizen class and our ever burgeoning political class; the latter, intent on a tyrannical control over our everyday lives by those who purportedly know best.
Our founders spoke of this very possibility. They said that the demise of the United States and our way of life would not emanate from an external force, but from a soft tyranny eroding from within. It’s sometimes our very prosperity and resultant apathetic political non-participation that affords this political creep room to infest our Constitution and our way of life.
As we drove our kids to school, took in a football game, texted our friends, and shopped on Main Street, our elected representatives and the massive bureaucracy that follow them got in bed with big business. Don’t get me wrong, big business is fine when smartly regulated by sensible policies and law, but when those government regulators turn a blind eye, we’re all in trouble. Furthermore, while we slept, our Federal government bought our banks, our car companies, our insurance companies, and our mortgages. Enough is enough.
This divergence from our Constitution has already been played. During the fear and strife of World War I, Woodrow Wilson, nearly our first prominent liberal progressive steered our nation in a path that our founders never intended. Wilson’s notion of a Constitution that was not keeping up with the times, and his contempt for its restraining powers on the Executive branch, was thankfully thwarted by Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover in the roaring 20’s – 30’s. However, by the stock market crash of 1929 and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first of four Presidential terms commencing in 1932, Wilson’s ideas had pervaded the minds of many in Washington D.C. The mindset that government can or should seek to solve man’s problems instead of good old common sense solutions that only man can best devise for himself became a dominant theme in the 1930’s and early 1940’s.
It seems all too fitting that a narcissist politician such as FDR, bent on power at all costs, spearheaded a flurry of entitlements designed to control rather than aid our citizens. In the liberal progressive’s utopian world, our citizens were best cared for from cradle to grave by experts in government. FDR spoke of a Second Bill of Rights, one in which every man had “the right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation” Do you see how quickly we jumped from need to desire? Where would that subjective path take us?
An often overshadowed point in the discussion over how much governmental interference is right is the fact that government didn’t enable the greatest nation on Earth to flourish, our people did. Our Constitution was unique among the World’s political documents of it’s time and now. It essentially spoke of limits on government as opposed to what its citizens could or could not do.
While government slept in our nation, we harvested resources from a bountiful Earth, forged steel, steamed commerce across our nation, and exported the fruits of our labor on ocean-going vessels built by the hands of Americans in our shipyards. While government slept, America prospered.
I’m all too sorry to say, however, that the goliath of Washington and Wall Street together, has awakened with a vengeance. It needs to be fed and its appetite is vociferous. The bigger it gets, the more it consumes, the more it consumes, the bigger it gets. You get the picture. While we slept, a tyrannical creep swept into our lives.
In reliable fashion, however, the American people have begun to respond. That’s one spirit that may become distracted from time to time, but it never dulls. For the pride the American people gain from doing for themselves feeds this ongoing spirit in a way that a handful of politicians in Washington could only dream of restraining much less containing .
You see, at the end of the day, each and every American gets to choose with whom they’ll climb into bed. We all likely learned when we were young that no means no. Right now the American people are shouting NO to big government because they know that what makes their possessions valuable are not the material items themselves, but, the effort put forth to achieve those items. America was built brick by brick with the sweat and tears of its citizens and thank God the spirit of 310 million Americans will always be sufficient to battle tyranny at home as well as abroad.
At a time of great concern over individual economic vitality and our nation’s economic health we hear arguments for protectionist policies. Protectionism is basically a retreat from global markets and a ramping up of rhetoric like “Buy American”. This is too simple and too emotional of a response to what amounts to far greater economic problems. In short, the “Buy American” answer lacks any serious imagination and logical thought. I was very disappointed recently to see this type of language in our trillion dollar spending/stimulus plan. If this is what we are to pin our hopes, dreams, and aspirations on, we would all do well to stop imagining now.
Certain provisions in this recent 72 hour spend-a-thon demand that various infrastructure projects be built entirely of American made resources like steel and iron. Well, I don’t know if you too have noticed, but, we don’t produce much of that anymore for a reason. So how much will we overpay to repair our infrastructure? What’s the right price to pay for components and resources that were previously deemed less viable by our own free market system? So our precious and sparing tax dollars will buy less “stimulus” because the needs of a few will trump the many. That’s no American ideal I’m familiar with.
You see, the greatest benefit of free market capitalism is the unbiased and seemingly sound decision making of its participants. When governments see fit to leave well enough alone and when governments avoid over-regulation, the price of a good or service is relative to the cost of said goods and services. The more regulation, the more tax, and the more convoluted the price points become. Eventually the price of goods and services become indiscernible or worse yet, simply not viable to manufacture, produce, or offer at home.
So how then do so many of our brightest political and economic minds and policy makers come to the conclusion that protectionist policies are what we need now? I can come up with just a few possible reasons.
- 1. They have come so far from a notion of personal responsibility and accountability that they do not even realize its likely success as a way out of our most difficult problems, or,
- 2. They are beholden to the interest groups and/or unions that enabled them to take their offices and policy making platforms, or,
- 3. They don’t agree but they lack the political power and consequently the leadership required to persuade the opposition to the contrary.
All three of these possibilities seem particularly disturbing to me. In the case of the first, we have simply accepted that our predicaments must be someone else’s fault and of someone or something else’s volition. In essence, one is claiming they didn’t do it and they can’t present us with a clear plan on how to fix it so they hunker down and look outwards for a solution that will only come from within. It seems a far cry from the great thinking and ingenuity of our forefathers.
In the case of the second possible reason for our emotional ride towards protectionism, one needs only to review the enormous campaign and political party contributions to explain the positions of so many of our elected officials. These contributions don’t come without implicit strings attached. Nothing of the monetary sort comes for free in this country. The overwhelming amount of money that follows our congressmen and congresswomen continue to erode one of the pillars of the most successful government ever bestowed upon the Earth.
Finally, our third group of individuals may lay claim to the most despicable reason for our drive towards protectionism. In my humble opinion, these men and women are making a conscience choice not to succeed by their failure to stand up and take a stand. The United States has never before in history failed to meet its responsibilities at home and abroad. Well, one reason we have not failed before is due to the overwhelming amount of leaders our nation’s ideals and moral fabric have produced. That is what is most upsetting to me; our social systems are failing to create the American spirit necessary to perpetuate our greatness. And therein lies the problem, and worse yet, it creates a vicious cycle leading us right back to a nation of excuse makers.
So how bad is protectionism? As long as it is used as an excuse for our greed and as long as it masks our own acceptance of what we got ourselves into, it certainly won’t take us away from our problems. Worse yet, these ideas of protectionism were tried before at a time of tremendous suffering in the United States. During the height of the Great Depression we adopted several policies of the sort that are thought to have actually lengthened our financial hardships. In fact, after all of the New Deal measures were put in place by FDR, not one can be attributed with getting us out of our depression. It was only another brand of suffering that lifted us from the depths of our financial turmoil, WWII.
The minute our dire economic consequences were framed by our nation’s leaders and further propagated by a media full of sensationalists, all we heard was a plethora of excuses as to why we are in the mess to begin with. There will be plenty of time for these later. The excuses merely served as distractions to what we all know the problem to be anyway. Spend less and begin taking the personal responsibility for a nation addicted to credit and financial speculation. To derive these answers one need only look within what made us great in the first place. Our diversity of population with its penchant for assimilation along with our government’s ability to keep a hands off approach to our free spirits and lofty ambitions will surely right our ship.
You see, it’s precisely our unique background of diversity which has us poised for success on the international stage. We should revel at the chance to share our greatest export to the economies of the world, our unbridled and limitless enthusiasm and ingenuity. Simply put, we must be out there, because of who we are. There is no greater combination of talent and imagination worthy of bringing the world’s economies together and allowing them to work for all. Globalism if how we can best affect what happens to us and that in itself is taking personal responsibility for we the people of the United States of America.
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