"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." -- JP Curran, 1790
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Why we are where we are...
As of today we, as a nation, are $10.6 trillion dollars in debt with next year’s anticipated deficit being $1 trillion more dollars! In simple terms, we are flat broke, living on credit cards, and the worst part is that no one seems to even really care to fix it. So what got us here? How did this superpower falter to the point of collapse? Believe it or not, the answer is pretty simple. America has become the spoiled child that favors litigation over accountability, handouts in the name of equality and security over freedom.
We’ve always had some issues with accountability in government. Politicians are not synonymous with leaders, and yet we seem to consistently attempt to make ourselves more susceptible to petty politics. Take for example our incessant desire for direct voting on almost every single issue. Pure democracy, better known as a mob rule mentality, has slowly taken away the Republican ideals of our founders. The US Senate, once considered a check from the national perspective on the spending-crazed US House, is now elected by popular vote thanks to the 17th Amendment. Senators, rather than being accountable to their state legislatures and therefore more accountable to the nation as a whole, are now thrown into the popular election mix just like Representatives. Here comes the pork! In D.C. we have 50 separate states looking to take what they can get from the other guys with little regard for national unity, and a curb in our spending. We have a government that just prints money at will, with little regard for the long-lasting effects on our children, and our grandchildren.
It’s no surprise that the decade that brought us such notable phrases as “greed is good,” also brought a new found sense of entitlement to wealth. The 1980’s marked some fairly prosperous times for many corporations, and those in business. The 1990’s seemed to justify this mentality, but instead of “hard work pays dividends” we got “instant gratification” and “buy now, pay later.” In taking this spoiled brat approach to living as a nation, and as individuals, this country put itself into increasing debt with no regard to the future.
Perhaps it’s our nation’s love of irony that has gotten us into trouble. You can’t procrastinate tilling your land, planting the seeds, watering and caring for your crops, and then harvesting them. You can’t begin planting in September and expect a harvest a couple of weeks later; the law of the harvest is absolute and non-negotiable. Wise people understand the law of the harvest, but there’s no irony in that! If a couple of supernerd college dropouts can form Microsoft and be successful, then we should just make our own rules! We can have it all now!
The problem is that many people tend to want to start at the top and work their way down to the bottom, instead of the other way around. In our consumer culture, keeping up with the Joneses has taken on a whole new meaning. Young couples are now not satisfied with a one bedroom apartment and night classes and overtime in order to make a better life. They must taken on increasing debts, mortgages they can’t afford, credit cards, store cards, car payments, loans, and a whole lot more in order to “buy now, pay later.”
We’ve done this as a nation. In order to purchase votes from various groups, both major parties have increased spending when there is no money to spend. It’s “buy now, pay later, government edition.” The problem is that no one seems to care about when later is, because everyone making the decisions assumes they’ll be long gone when it’s time to pay the piper! “Don’t worry citizen, trust us!” say the lawmakers and law enforcers! “We NEED to increase our debts to get out of debt!”
Does that make sense to you? We owe $10,600,000,000,000.00+ now, and rather than make payments on that debt, we are increasing our debt. If you owe $20,000 in credit card debt, should you 1) spend less than you earn and put the remainder on debt, or 2) spend more than you earn and take out 5 new credit cards? If you have an ounce of brains, then the choice is obvious, but our government is taking option 2 and laughing about it all along the way.
How we move forward...
It’s time to think Conservative and get serious, America. As individuals we must take responsibility, because we are accountable to ourselves. Government should be accountable to us, but we’re attempting to reverse that relationship for fear of the unknown! Stop worrying, stop being prideful, and roll up your sleeves and get to work. That’s what it’s going to take, nothing more, nothing less. CNN today ran a news story about a father of three teenagers who recently lost his job as a restaurant manager. The man was depressed and “ashamed” at his new status as an unemployed person, and he claimed that he couldn’t work as a pizza delivery driver. If you are without a job, and you have a family to take care of, you don’t have time to be “ashamed.” You need to be employed. If you don’t have one good job, find two bad ones temporarily.
Our grandparents did whatever they had to do to make ends meet. My great-grandparents, who raised many, many children during the Great Depression worked their fingers to the bone to provide for their children. Because of that, my grandparents scoffed at the idea of “buy now, pay later” and they were better off because of it.
I truly believe that Americans can learn their lesson from years of a lack of accountability, but we cannot do it with a President who talks in meaningless platitudes about serious policies. Hoping to change the way we hope about change does not stop the bleeding. “Yes we can!” does not specify what we can do to actually make government accountable.
We need a revolution of sorts in this nation, and here’s the first step: a new states-sponsored Constitutional Convention with the sole objective of establishing term limits on Congress. If we hold our Presidents to two terms in office, why should a Senator or Representative (those who actually set our budgets and tax policies!) serve for a lifetime? It’s unfortunate, but we have a 96% “freshman surge” in Congress, whereby leaders are usually re-elected once they hold the office. Let’s limit their time in office; there are just too many good citizens who could do as well a job as those lifetime “leaders.” Let’s limit Representatives to 2 separate 2-year terms, and Senators to just one 6 year term! Even with a popular vote, as created by the 17th Amendment, Senators would not be obligated to cater to any lobbyist group or pork-barrel project. They could, in turn, focus on the nation.
America, we need some real change, but it has to be tangible, and it has to be in accordance with the dreams of our founding fathers. We cannot expect to really hold government accountable until we hold ourselves accountable. Those who sit and wait to be acted upon are the mindless followers, God bless them, but they are not fit to lead this nation. You must act to take responsibility. Get yourself out of debt, and demand that the government do the same.
As a citizen in the state of Colorado, I’ve written my Representative (Doug Lamborne – R) on numerous occasions asking for a relief from incredible government spending and support for term limits. To date I haven’t even heard from a single staffer (which is in direct contrast to even my former Democratic leaders in the state of Georgia who did respond in some way or another). This will not stop me from continuing to write him about the same topics over and over again until I get either 1) a response, or 2) the primaries come in 2010 at which point serious consideration will be given to supporting an alternative candidate or a run against our current Representative. Conservative principles are our heritage, and they are what’s needed to get us from where we are, to where we can be as a great nation.
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