By Harry Rogers
As a nation, we are indeed living on borrowed time?– indebted to foreigners and enslaved by a nearly insurmountable mountain of debt by virtue of Mr. Bernanke’s keyboard. The chimera of a sound currency held forth by what passes for leaders today is but a gilded wrapper on an odoriferous mound.
We see in the press and online the unending and vociferous wails of those who decry the possible loss of their favorite government plum. [From an 18th century political cartoon] “Don’t tax me, don’t tax thee. Tax that man behind the tree.”]
We hear daily of the terrible hardships of people who cannot get their free cell phone or who must sit at their computer and click a few buttons to receive their entitled portion of the public weal, without having to even look for work or lift more than one finger to obtain their daily bread. Real unemployment of 15% and 12 million illegals in our country and the govt. is still paying people not to work? Madness is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.
Recently, I saw the obituary of a local WWII veteran who had succumbed to the ravages of age. I wondered about the thoughts in the minds of that younger man and others like him who had suffered the cold, disease and horrors of war at: Valley Forge, Antietam, the Somme, Iwo Jima, the cliffs at Pointe-Du-Hoc, the Chosin Reservoir, the jungles of Indo-China, or the fiery sands of Arabia. Did they write a blank check, backed up with their lives, to preserve for posterity the “Pursuit of Happiness” or the “Guarantee” thereof? Did they share the belief of our founders that we were to be a “nation of laws and not of men” or were they willing to sacrifice so that we could have a ‘flexible and living’ system that could be made to impel anything the ruling class desires?
Answering a call to arms requires a belief in enduring principles that must be worth the potential sacrifice. Did those brave men suffer the deprivations and agonies of war to guarantee the God-given rights so artfully articulated in our founding documents and to protect our way of life? Or were they moved to action to ensure welfare, food stamps, 99 weeks of unemployment, in-state tuition for lawbreakers, profligate foreign aid to despots, limitless borrowing, and the political squandering of our national treasure, paid for with so much blood?
At the writing of the Declaration of Independence, the founders were well schooled in failed governmental experiments and the divine right of kings. They understood that it was the nature of an unrestrained government to ever increase its powers and control over the people, such that the return of tyranny was all but guaranteed. They enacted limits on government that should have been impossible to change. These checks and balances have been side-stepped in the interest of expediency and populism.
In 1787, Alexander Tytler, a Scottish scholar at the University of Edinburgh, remarked on the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier: “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.” “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.”
We find ourselves saddled with multi-thousand page “laws” passed by a ‘political class’ unwilling to read the provisions. A Congress that readily accepted the premise that “we must pass the bill so that we can know what is in it.” We must certainly now accept the proposition that we find ourselves with empowered tyrannical bureaucrats at our doorstep.
Laws passed with thousands of vague phrases and directives, unread by the proponents, will only serve as heavier shackles for the common man. This is the surest path to the unchecked growth of despotic government that our founders knew was inevitable in an unfettered body. President Reagan warned us when he said “Government is not a solution to our problems, government is the problem.”
He also said “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!”
We find our beloved country in deep despair with wars and rumors of more wars looming on the horizon. We have squandered our grandchildren’s inheritance on ‘bread and circuses.’ Our leaders have not only failed to plan but it appears that they most certainly have planned to fail. Sadly, we elected and re-elected these very people. Now we must face the consequences of our fifty-year folly.
The indenture for such foolishness shall not be easily redeemed. The longer we wait, the tougher the cure. For many years, we accepted the false promise that everyone can and should own a house. We are enduring the pain of that mistake today and will for many years to come. During this government-sanctioned plundering of our economy, we have looked into the abyss and have seen our reflection.
By tolerating the creation of endless debt, we have sown the seeds of our destruction. In bailing out those “too big to fail,” government has privatized the reward for risk while socializing the penalty for failure. The improbable solutions adopted to rectify the problems further belie the contempt that our so-called leaders have for the populace.
I experienced an epiphany one day in 2009 listening to a brief exchange on a radio talk show. The caller asked in frenzied and profound disbelief, “How will we ever pay this back?” The reply was as succinct as it was chilling. The host said, “If there was ever any thought of paying this back, we wouldn’t be doing it.” It was immediately obvious to me that the host had given voice to an undeniable truth.
Just as Nero fiddled while Rome burned, today we fixate on the lives of celebrities and the antics of petulant children on the sports field. Meanwhile we face a disaster of the highest order. We must soon make the decision of our and our children’s lifetime!
If we do not rein in the size and scope of government it will fail and the result will be a disruption of life and commerce that, due to our immense size, will engulf the world with devastating consequences. Nature abhors a vacuum. The emptiness occasioned by the absence of the strength and leadership of the United States will most likely not be filled with peace on earth and goodwill towards men.
What then is to become of our way of life here in the good old USA? Look to Greece, Spain, Syria, and Venezuela. The networks do not cover the depth of the upheaval in these countries because of the widespread belief that riots, insurrection, mass unemployment, and starvation will never happen here. They are wrong. It is starting but it will take a little longer because of our size and the vast wealth we have built up over 175 years. The mad scurry to dispose of our national treasure this past 50 years has left deep and enduring marks on our national psyche. In two generations we have unlearned the lessons of the Greatest Generation and have forsaken the foundations provided by the broad shoulders upon which they stood.
But I contend that the damage can be repaired if we start soon. The task is not yet impossible, but we are quickly approaching the point of no return.
The horrors of WWII are but a distant memory to most today, and even denied by some to have ever happened at all. The conditions that gave rise to that conflict are being recreated in many countries at present. The U.S., the greatest debtor nation in the history of the world, is an offender of the first magnitude. Who or what will fill the void created by a U.S. no longer prominent on the world stage? The details are foggy, but I am confident that the baser proclivities of human nature are sure to exert themselves in their fullest measure. That genie, once out of the bottle, will not go back without a fight. “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.” (Ronald Reagan)
In this next presidential election, we have a choice like no other in our lifetime. For fifty years, we have been poor stewards of our hard-won freedoms, but I contend that we can and must try to address our predicament. It’s been done before, (after the War for Independence, in 1835, after the Civil War, after the Great War, and after the Second War) even when the task seemed insurmountable.
The other choice is to ride the 747 of Destruction on its downward glide as it nosedives into a maelstrom of debt and upheaval. However, there will be free drinks on this flight and a vacation for everyone when we land. Few will even consider that this flight could have a fiery end. “That simply can’t happen here.”
Thomas Paine wrote of the desperation he witnessed as the remnants of the Continental Army slogged its way towards winter quarters in Morristown, he wrote in 1776: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we may obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly”
Think carefully as you cast your vote Nov. 6th. We must decide whether to opt for more free stuff or take the first dose of bitter medicine. Are there enough of us not yet dependent upon government largess to save our once great country? Even those who feed at the public trough must decide if we can once again consider doing for our county instead of asking what our country will be doing for us. It was a noble call in 1961 and even more poignant today.
What will you do?