Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Bureaucrats and Beggars


“No tyrant hand shall smite,
While with encircling might
All here are taught the Right
With Truth allied.”
               - Samuel F. Smith, 1832
                 My country, ’tis of Thee

There was a time when America had principles, although we may have fallen short, sometimes by far, there were tangible goal posts enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and our Bill of Rights. These documents are the primary sources from which we teach our children the principles that are to define America and what it means to be an American.

We place our hands over our hearts and recite the pledge of allegiance or sing the national anthem, but rarely do we ask are we living up to the what these classic American verses express and imply? Are we even trying, or are they repeated as an act of muscle memory rather than credo?

Have we abandoned what the Founders and Framers handed down to us at great expense? A cursory review of current events imply that we are doing that which is expedient, practical, and in our self-interest at the moment rather than living in the light of self evident truths. We flounder in increasingly rough and unfamiliar waters often acting in a manner diametrically opposed to who we teach our children we are and they are to become.

If we have changed course, then what is our new destination and what principles shall be our guides? How can we a make our way into the future with certainty and purpose while avoiding the certain chaos of management by mood?

In the following work I lay out my views, as simple and perhaps naive as they may be, on how America changed from a proud people and thriving beacon of freedom into a paranoid and self-seeking pack of mercenaries for merchants.

I love my country and the American people, and I write this as an act of love, with compassion for a nation that is still good but straying dangerously from its original intent. Please accept the following in this light.

With Truth allied,

Bureaucrats and Beggars

With the birth of the American Republic, THE PEOPLE prospered and from the seeds of thirteen former colonies huddled against the Atlantic coast a new nation blossomed and  grew from sea to shining sea.

Each successive generation expected to do better than their parents to their parents had before them, and they did. Each generation came to play their part in the American Dream as visionaries and builders who gave the visions substance and form.

I don't wish to paint a picture of a perfect society or a revised and idealized history. This would not reflect the truth. Nascent America had its share of problems. Between America’s birth and now there were many struggles. One struggle so catastrophic as to cost the lives of more than 600,000 Americans on both sides of a conflict which turned to a national conflagration. A struggle we know today as the American Civil War consumed those lives over the self-evident truth that “all men are created equal," a principle which both sides of the battle lines claimed to uphold.

Often, our principles can become tainted by how we define the words in which they are expressed. Does “Free” mean: (1) “not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be done as one wishes," -OR- (2) “to make available for a particular purpose?” The choice of definition is the difference between liberty or slavery and life or death. One hundred and fifty years after the  bodies of Civil War battles were buried, there are still bones of contention to pick.

There is more than military victories and the casualties of war in our history; there are economic booms and the inevitable busts which follow, and many other challenges met and overcame; epidemics, revolts, panics, genocides, scandals, massacres, and corruption. Even so, throughout all of these trials, with each successive generation, the wealth, health, and prosperity of THE PEOPLE grew at a phenomenal rate.

There was something unique, special, and ever so precious about this land that fueled its wondrous success. It wasn't resources, although they were plentiful. It wasn't THE PEOPLE themselves; they were a mix of immigrants and the indigenous with no notable difference from anywhere else with one exception. Liberty, the freedom to dream and pursuit that dreams wherever it may lead. The road to the American Dream may have begun with an idea, personal savings, and a lot of hard work. American industry would put the product into production, innovative marketers introduced it into a relatively unfettered market, and THE PEOPLE weighed its merit by voting with their hard earned dollars.

Sadly, today, this supply chain has changed drastically and not for the better. A new product must negotiate a labyrinth of government  regulations and standards, many of which were written to prevent or hobble competition for “favored” cronies of the legislators who introduced and passed them into law.

The Dream was accessible not only to innovators, inventors, marketers, and manufacturers, but to those who worked the land or tended livestock. The “salt of the earth” could earn their daily bread by the sweat of their brows.  

Once again, today the path of agriculture is fraught with roadblocks, checkpoints, and sentries who prevent or deter passage. Agricultural subsidies and USDA policies favor agribusiness over agriculture. One need only look to Monsanto's Roundup Ready® soybeans, USDA raids on farmers and ranchers to understand how competition has been pruned away by those who have the high priced but exponentially more compensated position of government crony. Monsanto has 29 lobbyist (including 20 “Revolving Door” staffers and even a former Congressman) working “the system” (our government) for its corporate interests every day. THE PEOPLE have zero lobbyists, except for the special (self)interest groups. All of whom are ever clamoring for more investment from the public coffers.

As America turned one-hundred years old, waves of immigrants by the millions from the furthest reaches of the Earth sold all they had to reach our shores in the hope of one day being one of THE PEOPLE. America flourished because the reality of the American dream was the combined results of THE PEOPLE’S individual dreams. The sum of the parts being greater than the whole. America and the principles it claimed  were the product of THE PEOPLE who placed principles above expedience, THE PEOPLE who dared to take risks rather than seek the refuge of security, THE PEOPLE who were free to dare, free to roll the dice,  and free to dream rather than trying to prevent or mitigate their fall.

The Founders risked their fortunes, families, and lives for the very principles we treat with no regard at all. We take these precious, nigh sacred things for granted or trade them as tokens for promises and entitlements. Those transient things come from the mouths of men, our Rights from the Hand of the Creator. One is intrinsic, inherent, and as much a human attribute as speech, the other lives at the mercy of a scribbling pen on a scrap of paper. The price of Liberty is eternal vigilance, and we have grown indifferent.

Something has changed over the last century slowly, almost imperceptibly, a silent coup has altered America and THE PEOPLE. Where once they interacted freely and the economy was their product, now almost every aspect of our lives is regulated, administered, overseen, permitted, licensed, allotted by quota, monopolized by fiat, owned, regulated, or managed by the government and its massive bureaucracy of agencies, departments, and administrations.

There are many today who believe the system no longer serves THE PEOPLE. Power politics managed by manipulating magnates invest millions in manufacturing public opinion to reap billions in return for the campaign contributions they selectivity placed in the hands of corrupted and corruptible candidates running for the Offices of State. Meanwhile, THE PEOPLE have been carved up and divided against one another by every demographic imagined or concocted, are ready to be served up like dinner on a plate.

Distracted by internal turmoil and fabricated external threats designed and distributed with the aid digital technology, THE PEOPLE are unaware of the list of their sinking ship, America. Social stability and common courtesy are at their worst when the call for the women and children is drowned out by a chorus of “Me first! Me first!”

Many new laws are introduced from without by foreign treaties, others laws come from within by way of administrative edicts, and the Legislature produces volumes upon volumes of indecipherable acts encoded in an arcane language only the select few can interpret with “accuracy”. The legal system has become more like divining omens from the gods rather than codified justice. All restricting, restraining, and reducing the liberty of THE PEOPLE, while indenturing their children's children's children with the expense of that which we cannot afford but want and wish never to pay for in full. Yes,  you can have your cake and eat it too.  The government now sets national goals, but nearly always falls short. The government incompetently mandates how we are to conduct our professional and personal lives, often to enrich the well connected. Cronyism has been redefine as “Capitalism”. God given Rights are diluted with man-made privileges until no one can discern the difference, nor do they care. The government has become a ubiquitous institution of high minded rhetoric with low budget performance. Free trade is enshrined in a 3,000 page document which contains the verbiage and implements of highly managed trade with the direct intent of enriching the few at the expense of the many.

The American Dream has become the Global Nightmare. When once we were the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, we have been reduced to a Nation of Bureaucrats and Beggars seeking the consent of those who rule over us, our children, our fortunes, our hearths, and our homes.

Soon, all we may have to pass on to our posterity will be apologies and the
tattered fragments of what our grandparents told us about the myth of the American Dream. Like all dreams, it ended when the dreamer awakens to a new reality.

The choice is ours, not politicians.
The answers must come from us.
THE PEOPLE must lead, or they will surely be left behind.
We must lose our illusion to regain the Dream.