THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
By: Dr. Charles Ormsby – September, 2012
I don’t know how he squared his Progressive views with his American Creed (written around 1951), but I can endorse Alfange’s Creed without any reservation. In fact, his Creed has been displayed in my home since I first discovered it in the late sixties.
Alfange’s Creed does not imply that everyone must achieve the ideal he describes or that society shouldn’t put basic safety nets in place. But his American Creed does clearly present an attitude that America embraced during its first 150 years and that most Americans embraced as their personal ideal during that era. Some Americans still cling to this vision and honor those who seek to practice it.
It is because America has identified with the core beliefs embodied in this Creed and has rewarded those who have succeeded under this banner that America has achieved greatness. That greatness has enriched almost all Americans, raising 99% of Americans above the average standard of living in the rest of the world. In concert with other mostly-free countries, America has also helped raise the world’s average living standard substantially above earlier levels (as measured by reductions in child mortality, chronic diseases, malnutrition, and increases in life expectancies … not to mention color TVs and iPads!).
Of course there will always be some who cannot be productive and who are without family to help them. So, how should society provide a safety net for these citizens?
Historically, those in need were given help by private/religious charities. Those distributing the charity were accountable to the donors, who insisted that their gifts not be squandered, and those receiving the charity sought to become self-sufficient as soon as possible.
As American prosperity gained momentum, forces mobilized to have the government forcefully re-distribute “excess” wealth to the less fortunate. At first, the transfers were modest and the recipients were worthy – they were victims of real misfortune or circumstances beyond their reasonable control.
The ethics of private charity were inherited by the early government programs, but those ethics were not maintained for long. Two things happened.
First, private charities were driven out of the food-clothing-shelter business (the basic needs of recipients) by government welfare programs. Why should recipients seek to meet the tougher standards of private charities (including proving that they were trying to become self-sufficient), when government support was so easy to get and could be retained for long periods? And why should private donors give to charities providing this support if the government was handing out these benefits using taxpayer dollars?
Second, many recipients learned that those handing out the government welfare benefits were not concerned about the qualifications of recipients (it wasn’t their money) and that they could arrange their lives to perpetually qualify for these benefits. Numerous strategies worked: having multiple children with no husband/father, receiving income under the table, falsifying benefit applications, receiving benefits from multiple agencies, … anything except becoming productive and self-sufficient.
This would be bad enough, but over time the monster started growing multiple heads. The government became a mechanism to fund retirements. It became the mechanism for big businesses to gain competitive advantages over their less well connected competitors through tariffs, regulations, contracts, government-granted monopolies, and the tax code. It provided special privileges to unions. It grew government employment to provide a loyal corps of big-government advocates. It took control of education so it could shape the attitudes and minds of our nation’s youngsters.
Finally someone yelled, “But what about the Constitution?” The answer came back, “Shut up! We don’t care about no stink’n Constitution.”
Over time, the barriers to government control evaporated. Recently, penalty fees for refusing to buy government-directed healthcare policies were declared taxes and another constitutional protection against government control of our lives was erased.
We are now left with Obama’s vision of America. We openly embrace “The Life of Julia” and encourage our fellow citizens to live off the dole.
There are at least two major problems with this, both leading to a catastrophic result. The first is that this vision is degrading to those who try to live it as well as immoral because it is based on force and theft.
The second major problem is equally damning: it won’t work. A society based on Obama’s vision is destined to end in dictatorship and will ultimately collapse.
Alexis de Tocqueville knew this 175 years ago when he wrote the words at the beginning of this article in his treatise, “On Democracy in America.” His conclusion wasn’t based on supposition; it was based on thousands of years of human history.
The average lifespan of a democracy noted by de Toqueville was 200 years. This estimate probably has a large variance, but we are now at about 225 years and the disease he cites is rampant and all the forces that drive the dynamics of the predicted collapse – both political and financial – are clearly evident.
Which America do you want? One characterized by Alfange’s Creed that promises liberty and prosperity? Or a society that collapses in tyranny around lawless mobs demanding handouts?
You will decide our fate on November 6th.
Consider the choices carefully. Your children and grandchildren are depending on your good judgment.