As we approach another Independence Day, I reflect on what has made this nation great and fret over the actions being taken that threaten its greatness. What cold irony it is that we celebrate our independence from one tyrannical ruler only to find ourselves struggling against an entire collection of them.
The threat is not from radical Islamic terrorists, small groups of home-grown radicals or the hyperbole espoused by pundits from both ends of the political spectrum. It is from those we chose to put in power – our elected officials.
Once power is gained, it is not easily relinquished. The simple human desire for self-preservation makes it a most-difficult task to voluntarily weaken one’s own position. It takes an extraordinary person to unselfishly accept loss of power – I would submit that few if not zero of those exist in power today. What that creates is a new aristocracy. Not one of inherited title, but of entitlement none-the-less. Tocqueville pondered the value of Democracy over Aristocracy, we are allowing the worse to replace the better.
How do they make their death-grip on power palatable to a large-enough portion of the American voting population? They condemn that which dilutes their power – freedom. They don’t directly attack individual freedoms, they use shame to get enough of the citizenry to give it away on their own.
Achievement is ego, success is greed, self-reliance is selfishness. How many times have we heard it? Selfish CEOs, greedy bankers, assaults on State and individual rights – all to diminish that which made this nation great.
Those of us that produce are selfish. We work hard to keep what we have earned and to have the right to assist those that deserve the help – which is certainly different than those that might demonstrate need. A person can be needy of a thing yet not be deserve it.
Why is it immoral to produce something of value and keep it for yourself, when it is moral for others who haven’t earned it to accept it? If it’s virtuous to give, isn’t it then selfish to take? – John Galt, Atlas Shrugged
This denouncing of those who produce, create wealth, and succeed serves only to take power from individuals and concentrate it in the government. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “Once works of the intellect had become sources of force and wealth, each development of science, each new piece of knowledge, each new idea had to be considered as a seed of power put within reach of the people.” He understood that a man’s success took power from central authority and gave it to the people. Our leaders understand this relationship and are working to reverse the flow of power by making the desire for success and reward .. evil.
The self-doubt this creates among the producers in the economy is dangerous. At what point will those that create wealth quit doing so because they do not wish to create wealth for someone that chooses to produce nothing? From another perspective, if the government takes from the producers and gives to non-producers, how long before all benevolence is performed through government programs? In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt weighs these questions (emphasis mine):
You know that you can’t give away everything and starve yourself. You’ve forced yourselves to live with undeserved, irrational guilt. Is it ever proper to help another man? No, if he demands it as his right or as a duty that you owe him. Yes, if it’s your own free choice based on your judgment of the value of that person and his struggle. This country wasn’t built by men who sought handouts.
This country was built by men who sought to earn, produce, trade. They asked for and expected nothing that they did not work for. This morality is one that is being shamed, pushed into the shadows, broken.
Power must be re-distributed, wealth must not. This Independence Day let us celebrate those still willing to be productive and take the power back from the new aristocracy in America.