Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Decline of Liberty

I was asked recently whom I blame for the decline of the United States.  Here is my response:


The proximate cause is Mr. Obama, but he is just the final result of a very long trend of increasing government power and decreasing freedom, which, as Thomas Jefferson noted, was inevitable:
“Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.”
                      -- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17, 157—61, 1784

I blame politicians for using crises to amass power, and for making people believe that the federal government should solve all of their problems, when the people themselves should solve their own problems locally and in their state. I blame them for buying votes by promising “free” unconstitutional services. And I blame them for pandering to the poor and disadvantaged, promising them the world, to be paid for by “rich corporations”, and “evil” capitalists on Wall Street.

I blame government employees at every level for believing that they should be given more and more of our money, and more and more power, and for believing that they are ennobled by it, and therefore have free license to re-make the world in their own image, because they “know” they are doing “wonderful” things. It becomes a religion for them.

I blame the judges, for interpreting the Constitution in bizarre ways, that were never intended by the Founders, in order to advance their own peculiar agendas and increase governmental power.

I blame the voters, for being deluded that they can get something for nothing – for believing that largess from the treasury is their right.

But mostly I blame school teachers for failing to teach the tenets of liberty to children. I had a few teachers who made the attempt, but even back then they were shouted down by the self-righteous liberal teachers who taught us that “if it saves one life” or “allows one more child to be fed” we should institute taxes, and institute restrictions, and ban products and behaviors – and in so doing create uncountable numbers of laws and regulations, enforced by vast and costly bureaucracies that then grow unchecked.  That vision of “progress”  was poured into the heads of children for several generations.  These children now have become the so-called leaders of today.
“I know, (there is) no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of society, but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
              -- Thomas Jefferson in an 1820 letter to William C. Jarvis

Even back when I was a kid, I knew that raw theft of a person’s rightful property, no matter under what pretenses, or for a seemingly noble purpose, is nonetheless wrong, even – or especially – if done by a mob masquerading as a government.

We are now getting to the point where our capitalism, despite its enormous strength, is starting to show symptoms of the vampires that have been sucking away more and more of its blood every year.

With nationalized health care, large new taxes, vast and complex regulations that companies spend enormous sums trying to obey, even more difficult hurdles for small businesses, and politically driven mandates for “social justice” and re-distribution of wealth (including mandatory home loans for people who can’t afford them, which was the cause of the current economic crisis), we have reached a point where the economy has become very fragile indeed.

Further crises will engender further government interventions, causing even more problems. And Mr. Obama knows that. And Mr. Obama will continue to use it to his advantage.
“…the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary."
-- H. L. Mencken, In Defense of Women, 1918
“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
                      -- Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s Chief of Staff, Interview with the Wall Street Journal, 2008

Our standard of living is falling drastically. I have very little hope of creating a large enough nest egg to retire on, as my parents and their peers in the 1960’s were easily able to do – and that on a single income. Young people today will have an even more difficult time amassing wealth.

The people are becoming more and more dependent on government. Like animals in a zoo, we are forgetting how to take care of ourselves, and expect the government to keep us safe in our persons, in our homes, in our communities, and in our finances. I fear we will never see the kind of freedom we had in the 1800’s, where people could head west, make a new life, and not be charged with child endangerment for traveling the Oregon Trail.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals. "
              -- C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock, 1948

The primary way government grows is not by taking away our freedoms, but by assuming our responsibilities. This makes us dependent. With government providing health care, and with an economy in decline, more and more of us will become serfs, living only by the good grace of the government. As such, our votes are already bought and paid for. It then becomes to our advantage as individuals to vote more and more entitlements for ourselves. The government is thus rewarded with more power as more people are pushed into poverty.

Of course this can’t go on forever. Or maybe it can. Most African countries have similar governmental systems, and have been living in poverty ever since they gained their independence from the colonial powers. Our decline faces that kind of end.

The question is how we can stop the decline. The first step is voting the Dems out in November, rescinding the health care law, and then making Obama a one-term president. But more importantly, we have to teach the American people about what Liberty really means, which includes the freedom to run your own life and business free of any interaction with the federal government (except maybe at the post office).

This is a hard road to follow with a people steeped since elementary school in socialist big government philosophies. Primarily, the older people are the ones who still remember freedom, and they are slowly dying off – or are being converted by government payments. The younger people are products of the school propaganda. They are the ones coming more and more into the majority.

But people in rural areas are still freedom-oriented because they still run their own lives. The people in the cities are the main drones of liberalism – dependent for years on government infrastructure and hand-outs.

You can see this in the 2008 Obama election results chart below that shows county-by-county percentages of votes for Obama and votes for McCain as shades of blue and red respectively:

Note that if you look at the blue areas as big cities and poor minorities you can realize that the vote for Obama was a vote from people simply expecting more free money. This is the demographic that Obama has been mining his whole career.

I see the blue as cancer eating in toward the heart.

I have but little hope that a re-institution of the philosophies of freedom can be effected without a calamity occurring first. And even then, a calamity would make it even more difficult to get our liberty back.

Perhaps the saving grace will lie in those outside of cities. Walt Whitman would be proud of his inland Americans, glowing still, in the map above, more than 140 years after he wrote:
Those of the open atmosphere, coarse, sunlit, fresh, nutritious,
Those that go their own gait, erect, stepping with freedom and command, leading not following,
Those with a never-quell'd audacity, those with sweet and lusty flesh clear of taint,
Those that look carelessly in the faces of Presidents and governors, as to say Who are you?

Those of earth-born passion, simple, never constrain'd, never obedient,
Those of inland America.

I don’t recognize Obama as my President. Not because of the birth certificate thing (although God only knows what his original, hand-written birth certificate says, if it even exists anymore). I deny him because his major precepts are un-American, take away my God-given freedoms, and are unconstitutional -- and are thus illegal and immoral. In the rational world of say 80 years ago, when the Constitution was the law of the land, he would have been impeached and thrown out of office within two months of his inauguration.

I’m with Walt Whitman.  It is time for true Americans to look Obama in the face and say, “Who the Hell do you think you are?”

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