by Diane Rufino, June 14, 2010
Recently I read an article from a gentleman who has a fairly liberal point of view. Not only did he criticize and admonish the TEA Party movement (called them a bunch of “malcontents”), he also stated that here in this country, we need to balance out the needs of both individual liberty and societal progress. In other words, he suggested that if the government needs to burden some of our liberties in order to promote societal progress, so be it. Now, while I appreciate the need for societal progress, I firmly believe it should never be at the expense of individual liberty. That is my personal opinion, of course. The role of the government is to provide and protect Equal Rights, not equal things. Unfortunately, people have watched the government try to embrace societal progress by destroying the very things the country was founded on (and frankly, the very things that made us the greatest nation in the world) – hard work, decent and productive values, personal responsibility, a commitment to education, and an ambition to pursue the American Dream. Over the years, the government is more interested in spreading wealth than in promoting an attitude for personal growth and success. It is more interested in promoting dependence than healthy values. The government is more willing to accommodate unproductive lifestyles than provide guidelines to productivity. The government is more interested in entrenching entitlement programs as a way of life than trying to end the generational abuse it has become. Too many members of this generation and those to follow will have no clue who signed the Declaration of Independence but they will know how to cheat the system.
The article mentioned stated that we need to advance societal progress, but how does the increasing discrimination and mockery of Christians achieve that goal? The government demands we be more tolerant to the Muslim faith yet demands we take down every cross on any piece of public property. Christians didn’t blow up the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, or try to take out the heart of Washington DC, killing over 3,000 innocent Americans. Christians only gave this country the very foundation that protects our fundamental liberties. Let’s not forget that inconvenient truth. As Newt Gingrich said: “I think a country which was founded on the premise that our rights come from our Creator has some right to decide that our Creator can appear in public life.” How does the government’s increasing disdain of the wealthy achieve that goal ? The wealthy pay a disproportionately higher rate of taxes. They make the donations which grows our hospitals and universities. They make the endowments to the arts and sciences and donate the money for the scholarships that so many students. They’ve donated the money to build libraries, museums, centers of art and entertainment, and other buildings to enhance our society and culture. They donate medicine to poor people and equipment to schools. Everyone in this nation is touched firsthand by the charity of the wealthy. Yet apparently tolerance doesn’t extend to the wealthy.
The article mentioned says we need to advance societal progress, but why does that mean we have to ignore our most fundamental founding principle, which is that we are a Republic. Why doesn’t government take a stand and remind the world of what this country stands for – “The Republic for which we stand” – which means we have elected officials to represent us but they are constrained by a body of laws. We are a nation of laws. No one is above it, except of course, those in Washington. We don’t mind embracing immigrants because after all, we are a nation of immigrants, but we demand that they follow our laws. Years ago, when people came to the United States for a better life, they actually did so in an active way. THEY took the initiative to improve their lives. They practiced trades of their motherlands, they started businesses, they learned our language and began to excel in our schools. They contributed to our wealth of patents and contributed to our lead in science and technology. They didn’t come here to get a guaranteed check or try to avoid an obligation to contribute in a meaningful way to this country. They gladly learned the English language and put aside their cultural identity to some extent to become something far more important – an American. Societal progress occurs when everyone is on the same page, everyone has an equal stake, and when everyone can relate to one another with as many common denominators as possible.
The article mentioned says we need to advance societal progress but why does that seem to translate into decaying school systems? For those of us with children in the public school systems, it seems that the government is willing to allow this country to go backwards in education, all for the sake of societal progress. Sure, the government talks the talk, but the reality is that reforms are aimed more at social goals than educational goals. Our schools still seem to spend more time on diversity issues than on lessons which might, for example, help them appreciate why this country is the greatest nation on Earth. Perhaps that is even one reason why students today don’t show proper respect during the Pledge of Allegiance. Our education scores and goals continue to decline. We were embarrassed in the 50’s when the Russians won the race to put a satellite in space with Sputnik. But we caught up and never looked back. Until now, that is. The government, for the sake of embracing societal progress and social pandering, has allowed the school systems to become more of a daycare center and halfway house, than to do what we need it to do – to teach our students to be college-worthy and ready to CONTRIBUTE to society rather than be a burden on it. We have year-round schools in many cities not for any educational goal, but merely because it keeps kids off the streets in the summer months when violence normally spikes. Keeping teens in school seems to serve a purpose for keeping crime and drug use down. Is this is societal progress? Following the wisdom of our government, our schools have never had such low basic skills scores. Not only have we fallen behind by our own standards, but we are no longer competitive in the world in education. Countries like South Korea, China, and India have passed us by in new technology such as renewable energy. We are losing our footing. But here at home, we seem more concerned at making societal progress and being politically correct and “compassionate.’ For the first time ever, more non-Americans are being granted US patents than Americans.
The reason people today are passionate and seemingly unyielding in opposition to the programs like Healthcare is because they have finally had enough. The government is nothing like the government the Founders had created nor envisioned. You say that while “our system of representative democracy is not the most efficient political system devised by man, it is the best attempt to balance out the needs of both individual liberty and societal progress.” I would absolutely agree. But there is one pesky little thing that we should never forget and that is allegiance. Again, we are a Republic, so while our officials might want to champion societal progress, they cannot violate the Constitution. The oath that our elected government officials must take is direct: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office (of President of the United States), and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Our Founding Fathers were absolutely clear about the purpose of the Constitution and our form of government, and there is a growing number of Americans who have found a growing respect for that magnificent document and for our Founding Fathers, as well as a growing disrespect for Washington simply because of the repeated abuses of that perfect system we were once given. Limited government and the set of guiding principles provided to us by men far wiser than anyone we have in government now are a thing of the past, and society has been paying dearly for each abuse. People are reading their history and doing their homework and are voicing their concerns. Bill Clinton and Geraldo Rivera have likened these people to kooks and warned that they are a source of potential violence. Bill Clinton even warned us recently to watch what we say and choose our words carefully. Hey Bill, do the words: “I did not have sex with that woman” come to mind ? Got to hand it to him. Someone give that man a cigar.
The big concern of the “malcontents” is over an ever-increasing government, an unfair tax code, disregard for the Constitution, and a recent disregard of a clear message from the people. People want the government off their backs, out of their lives, and out of their pockets and they continually see government go further in those directions. Some people don’t mind because they don’t have a sufficient stake in such matters. Those who don’t pay taxes don’t have a stake. Those who want more benefits and services from the government because they can’t pay for such themselves don’t have a stake. These are the people who are NOT speaking out against the abuses to our Constitution and to our individual rights. The “malcontents” aren’t being irrational. They are showing a growing frustration. Our central government’s system of checks and balances has failed us. The executive, legislative, and judicial branches are supposed to keep checks and balances on each other so that none becomes too powerful or offends the Constitution. Our Presidents have become bullies to the Congress. They make deals, in private, and threaten political death if Congressmen don’t vote according to the wishes of the High Office, violating the very oath they took to uphold the Constitution. They prevent the system of checks and balances from working. Maybe that’s why our Founders warned that our system of government was meant only for moral and ethical politicians. The individual States used to be another check and balance, but we’ve seen how the Supreme Court and government has completely neutered them over the years. And finally, the people themselves are the last of the checks and balances. It seems that it is here, with the people, that we see the last vestige of common sense and loyalty and respect for those who gave us the greatest system on the planet. Finally, people are taking their roles as vigilant and responsible citizens seriously and with passion. They are our modern-day Defenders of the Constitution. Many have been blessed in their lives because of all the Constitution has allowed them to do.
So while people like Bill Clinton and Gerald Rivera warn rightfully-concerned citizens to watch their words and their tone, others like Judge As Judge Andrew Napolitano, the Fox News senior legal analyst and my former Constitutional Law professor, have been telling people to stand up for their freedoms and for our country. He encourages the TEA Party movements and other conservative grassroots movements. Judge Napolitano has been spreading this message from coast to coast: “These gatherings are more important than you can imagine, because in the long history of the world only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its maximum hour of danger. You are that generation! This is your role! This is that time! Freedom must be defended from every assailant in every corner of this country… from outside the country, from inside the country, and especially from the government who wants to take it away from us.”
Make no mistake, Healthcare reform has crossed the line. Congress has overstepped its Constitutionally-granted powers to regulate human behavior. Under the Commerce Clause, mandates by the government typically apply to people as parties to economic transactions (when they “have a substantial effect on interstate commerce or touch on interstate commerce in a substantial way”), and not simply as individuals. The issue for a majority of Americans therefore is this “individual mandate” – this new government creation, this requirement that almost every U.S. citizen must buy government-approved health insurance. Failure to comply will be punished by an annual tax penalty that by 2016 will rise to $750 or 2% of income by 2016, whichever is higher (Note that Healthcare itself, will take effect in 2014, even though we will be starting to fund it as soon as Congress approves the appropriations bill). For those who have read this piece of legislation, we see again that those who make below a certain annual salary will be exempt. It is another step, a giant step, down the road to socialism. Not social progress, but socialism. It looks to be another massive entitlement program that only a percentage of Americans will pay for. Plus we get the government farther up our posteriors. Sounds like a lose-lose proposition to the middle and upper class. We certainly understand why people look to the government for more and more services and protections. It’s because too many aren’t willing to take responsibility for lifestyle choices or they can’t afford such services on their own. When enough such people become a large voting block, then we have to worry about loss of individual liberty, because as I’ve commented before, whenever the government steps in to tell us how to live our lives, how to spend our money, and what we must to do, then my friends, we indeed begin to lose our precious freedoms. When the government tells a young healthy person, who is trying to save to buy a house that he must purchase healthcare insurance from the government, what the government is really doing is denying him his freedom of choice, is invading his freedom of privacy (because now the government will have intimate knowledge of health status), is going to eventually decide what medical coverage he is entitled to get, and the bottom line, is taking his money to spread out to pay for everyone else to have medical insurance and coverage.
But back to the issue of social progress. If the government is really interested in societal progress rather than simply promoting its own agenda, let me ask you this: Why is the government adding 17,000 more IRS jobs whose sole purpose is to make sure that Americans are mandatorily signing up for its healthcare insurance and not using government resources to do something about the parenting crisis and increasing violence in this country? The government is clearly more interested in scrutinizing people’s tax statements and bank accounts to see who is not signing up for and paying premiums for healthcare than they are in finding out who isn’t sending their children to school. Which do you think says more about societal progress?
If the government is really interested in societal progress rather than simply promoting its own agenda (redistribution for the sake of social equality) let me ask this: Why does our current President and Vice President have such obvious disdain for people who have worked hard and sacrificed tremendously to get a good education and build a career ? Embracing people like that would seem to be societal progress, wouldn’t it? But the government doesn’t see it that way. Joe Biden announced that people who make over $250,000 should pay more in taxes because “It’s their patriotic duty!” Where is the patriotic duty of the poorer Americans to finish high school, stop having children while they are teenagers and without being married, and get properly educated so they can get a job and help support their families and help support this country !! President Obama bluntly told an audience in Illinois on April 29, 2010: ““We’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money…” And it’s not the first time he’s used the line: “At a certain point, you’ve made enough money.” He used it plenty of times on the campaign trail in 2008. So his disdain is as strong as ever. It’s a very dangerous thing when the government arbitrarily decides when Americans are making too much and therefore feels the country is entitled to it.
I have one last question: How can we justify the burden on our liberties when instead of societal progress, we see a shifting dynamic in this country for the worse? Over 50% of Americans don’t make enough money to pay income tax. They are exempted from it. Every single American has an equal opportunity to get a good public school education. Social programs have demanded that. So why is the trend showing an increase in low incomes? A minority of Americans (about 48%) are paying federal income tax which runs the government’s programs and pays the government’s salaries. The size of government keeps increasing, the number of government programs keeps increasing, and the number of government employees grows, but a smaller percentage of Americans will be forced to fund it all. And those who are NOT contributing are reproducing at a faster rate or coming into this country in higher numbers than those who are contributing. And we have already seen how actively they are taking part in their children’s education and how well they are raising their children. The growing dependent class (because there is no incentive to “change”) will need more social services and will continue to spend other people’s money. All the while, the percentage of Americans exempt from paying income tax is expected to increase. So, in fact, we don’t have a government interested in promoting societal progress. We have a government comfortable in accommodating societal problems. And that is exactly what it does… It accommodates societal problems. It isn’t interested in solving them.
I ask: Where is the progress? I see greater tolerance, but I certainly don’t see any progress. The government needs to stay true to certain basic and fundamental principles which keep this country true to the ideals which are embraced by our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (as originally ratified). It must never compromise individual liberty. Absolutely NEVER. That is a slippery slope that could easily lead to the destruction of very fabric of this nation. The government was initially charged with three things: national security, regulation of interstate commerce (no prejudice or unfair burdens on commerce among and between the states), and protection of individual liberties. It was the only reason the individual States agreed to form the “United” States and ratify the Constitution. Already we know that the government has failed in securing our borders. If it fails to protect our individual liberties, then the very need for a central government becomes moot, doesn’t it? We need a government that SOLVES social issues, and doesn’t panders to them. We certainly don’t expect the government to compromise our Constitution to address social issues. Finally, the Constitution needs to be re-respected and it needs to reward the best in people and reward those who seek to develop themselves to their highest potential, instead of punishing them for it. And that is exactly the message the “malcontents” are out there everyday and in every city trying to promote.