Monday, May 9, 2011

Posting Redux

I have been absent for a while because I have been struggling with illness, work, and depression, but I shall make an effort to resume posting.

Someone asked recently why I was silent during "the most deplorable period in American history." While I do not think this period is our most deplorable - I would have chosen the period immediately preceding the Civil War for that distinction - I remain deeply concerned about the current condition and the future of the nation. I heard recently that the International Monetary Fund had informed the European Economic Union, by way of warning, that the United States has "no viable plan" to deal with its debt, and that China would overtake us as the world's leading economy within five years. I fear this is true, and it means, among many other things, that we are witnessing our nation's deterioration into a second-rate power, and that we will leave our children and grandchildren a country less prosperous and dynamic than the one we inherited. The great irony of course is that China is succeeding by adopting the methods which we are abandoning as we seek to become more like the nation that China no longer wishes to be - centralized, collectivist, socialist.

This is a sad state of affairs, and I feel that I must take a bit of the blame for it, since I was a leader in a generation of youth that believed that government was the solution to the nation's inequalities, and that socialism was the cure for its economic injustices. And while I think we were right insofar as the Civil Rights struggle and the campaign to end the war in Vietnam were concerned, we were wrong in just about every other regard. Nonetheless, through our strident activism, we left a legacy of the growth of government and the corresponding diminution of individual liberty, and of reliance on the power of government as a first and not as a final resort.

We now see the effects of that philosophy: More Americans are dependent on government assistance than ever before - fully 20 percent by some estimates - and government is the single biggest employer in the nation; the tax code in its baroque illogic punishes achievement, enterprise, and the desire to excel, while making it impossible for the middle class to accumulate wealth; our health care system is being collectivized and nationalized under a bureaucracy infamous for waste, incompetence and indifference; the public education system, which is the prisoner of the teachers unions and their servile cronies in the Democratic Party, is a disgrace (I heard yesterday that 47 percent of the people of Detroit are illiterate!); the nation's infrastructure is decaying at an alarming rate; and mediocrity and cynical self-interest have become the chief virtues of our political system.

It is no wonder that we are in the dire condition in which we find ourselves. And all this in pursuit of a phony ideal of fairness which exists only in the minds of the left-wing elite, and which they use government to impose on the rest of us whether we agree or not. Has it not become amply clear that this "fairness" is always purchased at the price of freedom? And while we, in my generation of youths, fought for fairness in race relations, we never intended, indeed, never even imagined, that that goal would one day be so inflated and distorted as to result in such atrocities as the government rationed health care and the death panels of the new health care law. For if everyone is guaranteed the freedom to live by the government, under the liberals' fairness doctrine, we must all also accept the responsibility to die when the government decides that our lives are no longer of any value. That is the ultimate form of leftist fairness: The right to life, liberty and happiness, so long as the government bureaucracy decides it makes actuarial sense for us to possess it.

The Constitution is being stood on its head by the left, for whom Cuba is a better model of fairness than America. Now the rights which the Founders declared came only from God are depicted as coming from government, in which God no longer plays a part. The left in this country has succeeded finally in doing what the Bolsheviks did from the start: secularize the nation's public life, substituting their own ambitions, values, and power for that primary source of power from which all rights flow. It is the collectivist inevitability of which Trotsky, of all people, warned - the substitution of central power for popular sovereignty - and, excuse me my friends, but President Obama is the convenient stooge of that ideology.

The left has now succeeded in realizing the socialist vision which we, as twenty-year-olds in the '70s intoxicated ourselves with, and the result is that our system is poorer, more unfair, less dynamic and productive, less innovative and entrepreneurial, more unequal, more destructive of the human spirit, and makes far less sense politically, socially, and economically than did the one against which we were struggling. My generation has won, and I apologize for it.