The Death of an American Idea

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  1. Skull Pilot
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    The Death of the American Idea by Mark Steyn on National Review Online

    Unlike those excitable countries where the peasants overrun the presidential palace, settled democratic societies rarely vote to “go left.” Yet oddly enough that's where they've all gone. In its assumptions about the size of the state and the role of government, almost every advanced nation is more left than it was, and getting lefter. Even in America, federal spending (in inflation-adjusted 2007 dollars) has gone from $600 billion in 1965 to $3 trillion today. The Heritage Foundation put it in a convenient graph: It's pretty much a straight line across four decades, up, up, up. Doesn't make any difference who controls Congress, who's in the White House. The government just grows and grows, remorselessly. Every two years, the voters walk out of their town halls and school gyms and tell the exit pollsters that three-quarters of them are “moderates” or “conservatives” (ie, the center and the right) and barely 20 per cent are “liberals.” And then, regardless of how the vote went, big government just resumes its inexorable growth.

    “The greatest dangers to liberty,” wrote Justice Brandeis, “lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.”

    If you went back to the end of the 19th century and suggested to, say, William McKinley that one day Americans would find themselves choosing between a candidate promising to guarantee your mortgage and a candidate promising to give “tax cuts” to millions of people who pay no taxes he would scoff at you for concocting some patently absurd H G Wells dystopian fantasy. Yet it happened. Slowly, remorselessly, government metastasized to the point where it now seems entirely normal for Peggy Joseph of Sarasota, Florida to vote for Obama because “I won't have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won't have to worry about paying my mortgage.”

    I don't need Barack Obama's help to “spread the wealth around.” I spread my wealth around every time I hire somebody, expand my business, or just go to the general store and buy a quart of milk and loaf of bread....It's not a choice between hoarding and spreading, but a choice between who spreads it best: an individual free to make his own decisions about investment and spending, or Barney Frank. I don't find that a difficult question to answer. More to the point, put Barney & Co in charge of the spreading, and there'll be a lot less to spread.

    What happened to Americans?

    What caused our surrender to government?

    Have we all become so feeble and weak minded that the only solution we see to our problems and challenges is more government control over our lives?

    We are giving up our basic liberties to an insatiable beast. We throw one liberty after another into the maw of government like virgins into a volcano. Who will be the one to change our inexorable slide from liberty and freedom into government worship and subservience?

    In the face of unending and exponential government growth and control, what will be the catalyst for the people to say enough? Who will lead us back to liberty and freedom and away from servitude to the government. We already work for the government for 75 days a year just to pay our tax obligations. Now we have a president to be calling for 3 months of mandatory voluntary service.

    Where are the Patriots of old? The men who stood and died for individual freedom and liberty. Men who fought for the rights we so blithely take for granted and yes the rights we seem so eager to give up in return for government assistance.

    In the past, people wanting freedom moved from their oppressors to carve out a new civilization in a new land. We however cannot move. There is no place left to go. We must stand our ground and fight. Fight to regain control of our lives from the very government that once defended our liberties and freedom but that now demands we subjugate ourselves and lessen our grip on the very liberties it claims to provide.

    As we allow ourselves to be dependent on the government, we lose our grip on freedom by default while the government gains more control over our lives and tells us were freer than before.

    The 2008 Index of Government Dependency

    Americans have always expressed concern about becoming dependent on government,...

    This concern is also partly explained by a fear that the very nature of American democracy will change as citizens become more reliant on govern*ment. A citizenry that reaches a certain tipping point in its dependency on government runs the risk of evolving into a society that demands an ever-expanding state that caters to group self-interests rather than pursuing the public good.

    These demands will probably grow as more and more Americans pay no taxes for the government services they receive. In 2004, 39.6 million adult individuals paid no taxes, and millions more paid next to nothing. This number stood at 38.8 mil*lion in 2007, or 28 percent of all taxpayers. Some will wonder how likely it is that Congress can restrain the growth of dependency-creating pro*grams when more and more Americans pay noth*ing to receive aid.


    The growing realization that the flagship entitle*ment programs and the growing number of taxpay*ers with no financial stake in the government threaten to bankrupt that government has led to an increasing interest across the political spectrum in the growth of dependency-creating initiatives. Are we closing in on a tipping point that endangers the workings of our democracy?

    When do we stand up and tip the balance back to freedom from government dependency?
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2008

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