Competitive Enterprise Institute | 1899 L ST NW Floor 12, Washington, DC 20036 | Phone: 202-331-1010 | Fax: 202-331-0640
No, this is not another diatribe about the futility of many gun control laws and the geographic correlation between the level of gun crime and the hurdles law-abiding citizens have to surmount to provide for their own defense. Nor is it a rant about the media exploitation of tragedies like the recent Navy Yard shooting. It is a reflection on the home of the brave’s transformation into a nation of sheep, wolves, pigs, and sloths.
The American character, at least until recently, was unique and considered exceptional. What could be more obscene than being lectured to the contrary by a Russian despot throwing our president’s deprecating words back at him in the pages of The New York Times? Despite attempts to argue away history, ours was the only national character forged by millions of self-made strivers settling a new land under a unique formulation of self-government that strictly constrained the state in its powers, reach, and influence, leaving the people to thrive through the free exercise of their inalienable rights.
Those days are gone, our birthright progressively squandered. Yet, the Constitution’s constraints were not shredded overnight. First, it took getting the American people accustomed to a view of government as unlimited and ever-expanding, bringing the nation forward in an unstoppable march of state-directed “progress.” That task of indoctrination fell to our media, educational and cultural institutions. Judging by the evidence, they have succeeded.
Our forebears took arms against a level of government oppression that would be considered a Tea Partier’s dream compared to the burden of government we carry today. What productive person would not trade our imperious IRS for the comparatively light and distant hand of the mad King George? Why do we tolerate government intrusion into our persons, houses, papers, and effects that are supposedly held sacrosanct by a Bill of Rights? Why do we acquiesce when our government sends armed forces abroad in search of monsters to destroy? Why do we look the other way when fellow citizens are hauled off to rot in jail over the possession of a weed? How is it that any proposals to reduce government benefits are met with an outpouring of opprobrium, the most recent hue and cry raised over attempts to reduce the planned growth of a runaway free food program by five percent that has doubled in the last five years?
We are just living up to our training.
The purpose of training citizens to become sheep is to make the world easier for wolves. Wolves come in two varieties, the law making and the law breaking. It is not a coincidence that the nation that has among the most laws in the world also has the highest percentage of its population in prison.
God forbid we should attempt to defend ourselves rather than resist attacks. Can you imagine what would happen to a bunch of religious fanatics armed with box cutters if they tried to hijack a stagecoach? What would James Madison think of municipal police forces tricked out with military gear invading animal shelters for the crime of nursing a baby deer? What would Patrick Henry say if he saw the nation’s working people meekly lining up to be shorn every April 15?
And let’s not forget the pigs clamoring for their place at the public trough. Banks, energy firms, scientists, car manufacturers, sugar producers, agribusiness, universities—hardly a category of commerce doesn’t host its share of businesses on the dole, equipped with an army of lobbyists to keep the money flowing. This does not happen without extensive education.
Washington, D.C.’s transformation into a fountain of largesse has radically undermined Americans’ ability to even imagine how they might function under a government that permits our natural industriousness to flourish. We settle for an economy that grows at an anemic two percent rate because we listen to the admonitions of court economists, the media, and our educational establishment that things would be a lot worse without the Fed’s printing press working overtime. We sacrifice sure and steady progress for an illusory promise of equality that can only arrive when we reach the grave. Entire cities hide in their basements upon command, disarmed and in fear of confronting a couple of teenagers threatening us with pressure cookers.
The progressive package deal we’ve been sold is unraveling, both here and around the world. The safety, security, and prosperity promised in exchange for surrendering our liberty, self-reliance, and independence have proven illusory. Stagnation, dependency, and decline lay ahead, unless we change course and remember who we once were, and can be again.