Time to Get our House in Order

by Diane Rufino,  June 14, 2010

Liberals believe that the government is the answer.  I believe it is the problem.  Liberals condemn capitalism by focusing on one of its problems – its ability to create greed.  Yes, there is greed in this country.  It has been so throughout history and even in biblical times.  That is the downside to our system.  But it is the very ability to “make too much” that drives the free market system.  Our system flows from natural laws of economics  – competition and risk-taking based on incentive to make large profits.  To regulate greed would have the government impose an unnatural regulation on capitalism.  And we all remember what happened when the government imposed “unnatural” regulations on the lending industry (lending rules which were to ignore all the safeguards that sound practices would usually demand) which resulted in the subprime mortgage crisis which started the country on its downward spiral.

This is not to say that capitalism should not be regulated at all.   Of course it should be regulated.  There needs to be ground rules.  Even George Washington believed in some regulation.  Without some regulation, there would be chaos.  There would always be those pushing the limits of the system for personal benefit, disregarding the risk it would pose to the system in general.  As Nikitas says: “To have an economic system without some regulations would be the same as having a society without criminal laws.”

But it an age where ethics and morality are barely fibers in our national fabric, what can we expect ?   Greed is NOT a Christian value and should never even be suggested as such.   I agree with liberals that greed is a vice that should never be accepted or embraced.  We have bad vices in every segment o f this nation, from the streets, on Wall Street, in industry, in Hollywood, and even in government.  And over the years, we’ve shown a habit of excusing them all, from Bill Clinton’s obsession with showing his willy and groping women to Timothy Geithner’s gross neglect to pay his federal income tax (and there are abuses on both sides).   We are simply seeing what happens when biblical principles, ethics, and morality are removed from our marketplace…  we get the Bernie Madoff’s and the Enrons.

There are certainly those who don’t mind looking at themselves in the mirror at night when they go to sleep knowing that families go without because of their greedy excesses.   But our system is still the best one around and should be left unburdened by the federal government (by unnatural regulations).  It is the only system that creates wealth, stimulates innovation, and encourages people to take risks that could ultimately turn out to benefit millions.  Our problem is in our decaying moral fiber rather than in a system that “allows” entrepreneurs to become overly wealthy.

I have been criticized for my position on our decaying public school systems and my advocacy for a lesser role of government.  Liberals suggest that this is an inconsistent position.  But nothing could be farther from the truth.  In fact, my position is exactly the position that our wise Founding Fathers took.  Education is a state issue and should be kept that way.  Chicago’s education problems of Chicago are not the same problems that Kansas has.  And to force a “one-size fits all” solution is not common sense.   Families with children in the public school system know how the system works.  Policy is created based on the lowest common denominator, and certainly not in the interests of those play by the rules, are good students, and who have hopes of getting a grade A education so they can get into a great college one day.  Local communities and states need to figure out plans to straighten their decaying school systems.  When there is a competition of ideas, as when groups are allowed to be creative and willing to take risks, that is when we are able to come up with solutions that work.  James Madison was very clear with regard to the Founder’s intent to divide the power between the states and the federal government.  He wrote in the Federalist Papers:  “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.  Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and property of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state.”

With regard to immigration, I agree completely with certain liberals when they say that we have sent mixed messages about immigration for years.  For example, Mr. Mike Hayes writes; “Corporations and, ultimately, consumers benefit from cheap labor.”  This is true.  And even individuals benefit from the cheap laborers who require only that they be paid in cash.  But we need to make the distinction between those who are here “legally” and those who are here “illegally.”   As a gentleman at the polls said to me earlier this month: “It’s hard to say that illegal immigration is bad.  After all, isn’t that what we are – a nation of immigrants ?”  I reminded him that we are a nation of laws.  The laws of the United States apply to everyone equally.  Mike suggested that we take a soft approach to our immigration problem because they (and I assume he is referring to Mexicans) work at jobs that many Americans refuse to even consider.  So, am I to understand that we need an illegal immigration problem so we don’t have to upset our fragile entitlement society ?  Wow, this sounds like a scenario that only a Democrat would think of !!   This concept that there are jobs that certain people refuse to do is a sore spot with many Americans.  Since when is anyone entitled to a decent job even when they don’t finish high school or don’t take the time to learn a skill or even take the time to learn how to speak decently.  Again, we see the negative results of an entitlement society.  Not only do we see sloth, but there is arrogance as well.  First we saw how it broke down the family structure.  [In 1965, when LBJ used the Aid to families with Dependent Children (AFDC), better known as welfare, to fight poverty in the African-American communities, there were still at least 78% of black children who had a mother and father living in the home.  Recipients of AFDC were primarily unmarried black females and their dependent children.  Today, the figure is reversed – 78% of black children do NOT have both a mother and father].   I would argue that a good chunk of our country’s problems stemmed and continue to stem from a breakdown of the family structure, from whatever the cause.  We need to be very careful of social programs and policies that the government creates under the guise of trying to “solve problems.”

Liberals have a jaded view of what the Founders of this nation intended for us.  For example, Mr. Hayes wrote that the Founders “intended to exploit slavery to make money while making sure they ensured freedom for people like themselves.”  It is a shame that people had to read that viewpoint because nothing, could be farther from the truth.  With the exception of only two states (Georgia and South Carolina), all other states were willing to abolish slavery or phase it out immediately.  Every state, except those two, had a provision in their state constitutions which abolished slavery outright, prohibited the import of slaves, or provided that it would be phased out.   Only Georgia and South Carolina fought the outright abolition of slavery.  And not because they didn’t believe it was morally reprehensible.  They needed time to transition their agricultural-based economy which was dependent on slaves to one that would not be dependent.  The compromise was a 20-year grace period with which to the states would wean themselves from a dependence on slavery and abolish the practice.  A provision was even included in the Constitution to memorialize this compromise.  In Article I which addressed the powers delegated to the legislative branch, under subpart 9, the Founders included a list of “Powers which are forbidden to the Congress.”  Article I, subpart 9.1 read:  “There will be no prohibition of slavery before 1808.”  In other words, by 1808, the Congress would have the express power to abolish slavery for good.  I think this evidences a clear intention on the part of our Founders to right the injustice that was pursued in colonial times.

If anyone still believes that there were not noble intentions of ridding our new nation of slavery, let him read the words of our Founders.  Let them read the words of every delegate who attended the Constitutional Convention in 1787.  Every delegate deplored slavery.  Almost every delegate wanted to begin their new nation true to the words in the Declaration of Independence – “We hold these self-evident truths that all men are created equal…”   Even the representatives from Georgia and South Carolina understood slavery was morally reprehensible.  Perhaps most notable were the words of George Mason of Virginia, who offered this solemn premonition: “This infernal traffic originated in the avarice of British merchants. The British government constantly checked the attempts of Virginia to put a stop to it.  The present question concerns not the importing states alone but the whole Union.  Maryland and Virginia have already prohibited the importation of slaves expressly.  North Carolina had done the same in substance.  Slavery discourages arts and manufacturing.  The poor despise labor when they know there are slaves to do it.  Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant.  They bring the judgment of Heaven on a country.  As Nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must in this.  By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins by national calamities.”   Perhaps Providence did punish the nation with the Civil War and the killing of brothers and cousins.

As Thomas Jefferson was nearing the end of his life, and as he realized that he would not see the end of slavery in his lifetime (states were still bickering and trying to frustrate a majority in Congress to pass a bill to abolish slavery), he stated that it was his greatest regret that he was personally unsuccessful in bringing about the end of slavery.  This great man, who authored the Declaration of Independence, served two terms as President of the United States (1801-1809), made the largest and cheapest purchase of land to grow this country (Louisiana Purchase), was Governor of Virginia, authored numerous of our early and founding documents, and communicated aggressively with James Madison to help guide and write the Constitution asked only that his tombstone mark his life with three accomplishments:  As the father of Religious freedom, as the author of the Declaration of Independence, and as the father of the University of Virginia.  [It’s tragically ironic that the Supreme Court misused the words of the very man who prided himself on giving this nation its freedom of religion to take that very freedom out of every part of public life].

The Founders absolutely understood how the society would develop.  The men who gave us the greatest nation on Earth weren’t just a couple of guys who went to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 to hammer out the wording of a Constitution that would be binding on all the states.  These men were visionaries.  These men did their homework. They were deeply devoted to creating a nation that would stand the test of time.  They wanted to come up with a foundation, a Constitution, that would not wither with the times.  And so for that purpose, they studied all the failed regimes of history and they looked at all the constitutions and founding documents of other nations and studied the reasons why they were unable to last long.  So, there is nothing that we’ve seen in our developing history that other nations haven’t dealt with and nothing that our Founders weren’t able to foresee.   As Machiavelli wrote: “Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results.”

The problem with ignoring history is that each time history repeats itself, the price goes up.  The stakes are higher.       From their studies of history’s failed regimes, they came up with core principles that are absolutely vital to prevent this country from going down those same paths.  They were wise enough to predict and to warn us of what would happen should we fail to honor and respect those principles.  And there is nothing we see here today in this country that the Founders have not written about or warned us about.  All we need to do is take the time and make the effort to read the legacy of documents they have left us.  The principles and concepts that the Founders gave us are the perfect template for a successful government and a successful and honorable nation are timeless.  They are not era-specific.  We are either too ignorant or too stubborn to believe that.

Liberals suggest that we are a more complex nation now than ever before and our system of government needs to grow with this increasing complexity.  Are we more complex than we were back in the 1700s and 18oos when we were nothing but a young nation of immigrants of every possible ethnicity, race, religion, and creed ?   Are we more complex than the early 1900’s when we saw a huge immigration of Irish, Germans, Italians, and other Europeans who had to assimilate into our communities ?   I don’t think that is possible.   Perhaps they mean that we are more complex because we have a new type of immigrant who wants to play by a different set of rules.  Perhaps they mean we are more complex because our new citizens and illegals are more concerned with challenging our foundations than embracing them ?   Perhaps they mean we are more complex because our new citizens and illegals are concerned with their differences than with all our similarities ?  Perhaps they mean that we are more complex because communities that were close and happy for many years now fear extortionist tactics from organizations like the ACLU to change their happy ways so that the new folks don’t feel offended.  Perhaps what the liberals are really suggesting is that people today need to be treated differently today than they needed to be treated years ago.   Of course that is hogwash.  The generations of Americans who gave us our most glorious achievements and periods of growth and enlightenment did so with only a few things to support them:  the US Constitution which gave them unlimited freedoms to pursue their dreams, the minds and bodies that God gave them, and their ambitions.  It is true that countries like South Korea, China, and India are technologically more advanced than we are.  It is also true that the US ranks only 18th out of the 36 industrialized nations with respect to education.  Economists are worried about our downward trend.  To lower standards because we want to become more “complex” and embrace our “multicultural” nature, is an un-American concept.  It is an insult to every family who wants and dreams of a more successful life for their children.  To say it’s OK to lower our standards because of multiculturism is like saying that today’s group of new Americans are intellectually incapable of meeting the same standards as Americans of earlier generations.  I find it insulting.  I see the best in people and I want to believe that if challenged ( if are tacit expectations for every person), then everyone can achieve more than those of the preceding generations.

Liberals claim that one of the biggest problems with the TEA Party movement is that it wishes for a time that will never return.  Here is where I differ most strongly with liberals.  I believe the TEA Party movement will achieve at least most of its goals.  I am not cynical like liberals are, but rather I am optimistic.  I am optimistic that people will rally around all that is good and right.  I believe when I believe people will see this as the calling of our time.  I already see the effect they are having and it makes me profoundly proud that my fellow citizens are embracing their history and their common heritage and want a revival that we haven’t seen in over a hundred years. I agree with what Rand Paul who, in his victory speech following the primary election in Kentucky (May 16, 2010), said: “I have a message from the TEA Party  – a message that is loud and clear and that doesn’t mince words: ‘WE’VE COME TO TAKE OUR GOVERNMENT BACK !  We’ve come to take our government back from the special interest groups who think that the federal government is their personal ATM machine and from the politicians who bring us oversized fake checks emblazoned with their signatures as if it was their money to give.’  Washington is horribly broken.  I think we stand on a precipice. We are encountering a day of reckoning and this movement – this TEA Party movement – is a message to Washington that we’re unhappy and we want things done differently.

The TEA Party movement is huge. The mandate of our victory tonight is huge. What you have done and what we have done here can transform America.  I think America’s greatness hinges on us doing something to save the country. The TEA Party movement is about saving the country from a mountain of debt which is devouring the country and can lead to chaos.”

The TEA Party movement is about getting back to the principles that our Founders set out for us.  It is about embracing those concepts and principles that have proven themselves to be productive and fair, as opposed to destructive and unfair.  The TEA Party movement is guided by the four simple principles on which our nation was founded:  (1)  There is a Creator;  (2)  We derive our basic human rights from our Creator;  (3)  The role of the government is to protect these rights we derive from our Creator; and  (4)  All other power that the government has comes from the governed (the people).

The Declaration of Independence is the value system on which our Constitution was based.  Good and decent and very patriotic people of this country are saying “enough” to big government, massive government spending, counterproductive policies that are weakening the character of the nation, and politicians who ignore their oaths and use the “peoples’ seats” to pursue their own agenda.  Our country is suffering for all these.   It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that.  Make no mistake….  the Tea Party movement is significant.  It is probably just as significant as the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s.  The TEA parties  are already having an impact far beyond their membership numbers, as seen in the historic election in Massachusetts which wrestled a Senate seat from the likes of Teddy Kennedy to give to Scott Brown.  And they’ve been impacting elections ever since.  As Nikitas explains: “The Tea Party movement is a genuine, nationwide grass-roots movement that does not have a fixed leader, but has bubbled up from the people. This is unique. It is an authentically democratic force based on Constitutional principles that wants a peaceful transformation for America. It was not dreamed up in Washington. It is populated not by activists or college students who have few other responsibilities, but by hard-working people who need to take time out from their busy lives in order to express themselves.  Tea Party activists are well-informed, well-behaved, clean cut, middle-class tax-paying people from every state who are trying to prevent the nation from slipping further into the type of decay and debt that the Founding Fathers warned against.”   In comparison to elections and smear campaigns, which are funded by special interests, the TEA Party movement is being funded by people’s own hard-earned money from within the United States, and by citizens and ideas that are totally American. These participants know that when the people have a grievance with their government that they have the right to challenge and even change that government as provided in the Declaration of Independence.

But how is it that all of a sudden things have gotten so bad so fast ?   It isn’t just what the politicians are doing in Washington.  It’s also what the people themselves are doing…  Or not doing.   Or perhaps what they’ve become.   I’ve struggled over the years to put my finger on what is the root cause of our ideological shift in this country.  The country today certainly isn’t the country I grew up in 30-40 years ago.  Then one afternoon as I was driving through town, I came to a stop at a red light.  My windows were open and the car next to me had all its windows down and was blasting loud rap music with the reinforced loud beat.  I couldn’t hear my radio, couldn’t hear my daughter, and frankly, I could feel the beat in my chest to the point that it was physically uncomfortable.  I yelled over to please lower the music but the young man yelled back: “I have the right to listen to my music as loud as I want to in my car.”   That’s when it hit me….   This is exactly what is wrong with this country.   This young man felt that his right to listen to his loud obnoxious music at a decibel level loud enough for an entire block to hear was more important than my right to silence within my own personal space.  We are in an era where people don’t really know their rights, they are arrogant, they are selfish, and they disrespectful for the rights of others.  They think their rights are more important than everyone else’s.  And they don’t think for a minute about disrespecting the rights of others or even taking them away.  Nevermind that 95% of members of a school system enjoys their morning prayer.  A father of one student who personally is offended by the prayer because he is an atheist (even though the daughter herself doesn’t mind the prayer) files a lawsuit to make sure that the 95% are denied their rights.  Nevermind that members of a local County Board of Commissioners have enjoyed opening their sessions with a prayer for many years, asking for guidance to serve the community wisely.  A woman who happens to attend the open meeting, a wicken, contacts the ACLU and files a suit to make sure they can no longer enjoy the prayer.  Out in the middle of the Mojave Desert, there is a cross which had been erected in 1934 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars to honor the American dead in World War I (as was the custom at the time, think Arlington Cemetery, the memorial at Normandy Beach).  Today, that cross is surrounded by a plywood box because a former park ranger, a former government employee, decided that the cross, being on federal land, was offensive to him.  He contacted the ACLU and now he is having his day before the Supreme Court to take down this simple cross in the middle of the massive desert, regardless what this symbol means to those who fought and to those families whose loved ones died.   [Newdow v. Rio LindaUnion School County District;  Joyner et al v. Forsyth County;   Salazar v. Buono ]  Nevermind that a fully formed fetus needs the life support that its mother provides.  If the woman decides her career is more important or that she doesn’t want to carry the fetus any longer, her right to an empty womb outweighs the baby’s right to life.  A decision to take a life…. Out on the streets, we would call that premeditated murder, a capital offense.  And then we have the National Day of Prayer…  a national tradition beginning from our earliest days.  Last month, a Wisconsin federal judge declared the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, saying it violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.  The case was brought by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a group of less than 15,000 people.  As a spokesman for the Foundation articulated:  “It’s an invasion of the freedom of conscience of Americans to have their president direct their prayer or tell them to pray.”  I don’t recall in my entire life when anyone was forced to pray on this national day of remembrance.  I barely can even remember the date each May.  So, a group that represents about one thousandth of one percent of our national population thinks their rights are more important.   I dare say, all of these acts are examples of what is wrong with this country.

Equally as offensive is the trend which has our elected officials using their time in Washington to destroy the integrity of the government and Constitution that was provided to us by men more qualified and worthy than we’re ever likely to find today.  We have crooks making rules that we’re expected to live by.  We have people taking oaths to uphold a document (the Constitution) that they’ve never laid eyes on.  Our very existence is at stake every time an act of Congress oversteps its Constitutional authority which goes unchallenged.   Our very existence becomes threatened every time we take a chance and have the Supreme Court decide matters of national law for we never know when they will decide to legislate from the bench rather than uphold the intent of our master document….  The very document to which it owes its existence. Democratic Congressman Phil Hare from Illinois recently told his constituents what he thinks about his oath to uphold the Constitution.  When questioned over the constitutionality of forcing 30 million Americans to buy federally-mandated health insurance, insurance from private companies by a member of the public who asked:  “Where in the Constitution does it says the government can do that?”,  Hare replied: “I don’t worry about the Constitution on this to be honest.”

Fellow Americans, to be honest, we can’t afford to have public servants like Phil Hare.   [Phil Hare also went on to misquote the Declaration of Independence].

If the future of this country continues in the direction it is headed, then we have truly lost sight of everything that our Founders handed to us.  If we continue to abandon the standards and principles we’ve held dear for most of our history, then we are no more worthy of a democratic republic to safeguard our rights than were the depraved Romans or the rebellious Israelites after being rescued out of bondage in Egypt.   We need to seriously think about what kind of future we plan to hand down to our children.  We can’t let them down.

I’m not willing to give up on the system that our Founders gave us.   Liberals are.  And too many are all too happy to do so.  I may not know exactly how to fix all that is broken, but I know who can –  Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton.  They’ve left us plenty of instructions on what we need to do to keep the system that we have and keep it working as intended.  It’s about time we take the opportunity  to know them.  To study them.  And read the legacy of documents and writings they left us.  It was their vision and brilliance which has given us the ability to remain for 223 years without changing our form of government.   No other nation in modern history has been able to last that long without such a change.  We are on the verge of tinkering with our system to the point that it will finally be too inflexible and incapable of effectively running this country.  And I don’t want to imagine which countries are going to be lurking nearby when it does.

There’s an old saying among my people.  When there is disharmony in the home or one spouse suspects the other of being unfaithful, the Italian mother will say: “Get your house in order.”   And so I say to all of us Americans…  Let’s get our house in order.

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