November 14, 2010

Bring Back Self-Sufficiency and Personal Responsibility

The U. S. Constitution doesn't guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Thomas Jefferson said, “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” What has happened in America when almost 50 percent are receiving some entitlement from the government? This is more than in any time in history. Granted, more have needed assistance during these uncertain times, but people becoming dependent upon the government has been an upward trend for many years. While that trend has continued, at the same time, the number of Americans not paying federal income taxes has grown to almost 45 percent in 2010, up from 39 percent in 2005, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research organization.

Jefferson also said, “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” Is that the point we have come to? The end of our democracy?

Our founding fathers created this country and stated in the Constitution that we were given by our creator inalienable rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but this has been enormously expanded and misinterpreted into endless rights to food, shelter and healthcare provided by the government. As James Madison said, “With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

Our ancestors came to this country to forge a new life, escaping oppressive governments in other lands. They took risks and responsibility. Where has that gone? What happened to pursuing dreams and becoming anything you wanted to be? What has happened to personal responsibility?

This downhill slide began with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his creation of Social Security in 1935. What was meant to help destitute elderly citizens has evolved into a retirement system for all. This dependency continued and was raised to new heights with President Lyndon Baines Johnson and the institution of Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps and Welfare. His Great Society meant a dependent society. Again, what was established to help those truly in need evolved into something way beyond the original intent.

That was only the beginning and now President Barack Hussein Obama has added healthcare for all. Although we already had Medicaid, which helps those in need with healthcare, Obama is heading us down the road of everyone being dependent on the government for medical care, so now we’ll be dependent on the government for our life. We’ve evolved into a society that expects handouts rather than the hand up. Unfortunately, we’re becoming dependent on government for our very life, liberty and happiness. This is very dangerous indeed.

Ben Franklin said, "I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.” This is evidenced in the inspiring story of Star Parker, who was a single welfare mother, but pulled herself out of it, went to college, has since run several businesses and become successful and independent.

As Parker puts it, dependency on government is the modern day slavery. Redistribution of wealth does not work and relies on the pretense that others can’t succeed on their own and pursue their own happiness.

Churches, individuals and non-profit organizations should be the sources of charity, not government. Americans are the most charitable people on earth. And charity should be temporary. We need to return to the principles of self-sufficiency and helping people to help themselves.

There is example after example where socialistically-inspired society does not work. In Jamestown, no one was allowed to own property for the first four years. The work was communal and the harvest was centralized in a single storehouse. There was no reward for hard work, so no one did. According to historical records, after four years, no crops were planted, houses fell apart, and the prime occupation of the men was bowling in the streets. Jamestown settlers nearly starved themselves to extinction under this experiment in socialism, but then survived and prospered after the institution of private property. Private enterprise and land ownership (along with voting rights and enjoying the fruits of one’s labor) combined to help Jamestown prosper.

Equal outcomes fail to motivate people or provide inspiration to do any more than the minimum. Entitlements or social insurance must be transformed from subsidized benefits for everyone regardless of need, to real insurance where the government creates an environment for free enterprise and competition that reduces cost risk and protects people against unexpected and devastating occurrences. An environment of competition in health plans across state lines and tort reform can lower costs. Individuals must also assume a greater role for their foreseeable retirement and medical needs through personal savings and insurance.

Socialism and perpetual social programs are idealistic theories. On the surface, such a utopia sounds great, but there is no substitute for the motivation and incentive of individual success. History has proven time and again that when people have the ability for self-betterment, they achieve and prosper. That is what has made America great.

The class of citizens, who provide at once their own food and their own raiment, may be viewed as the most truly independent and happy. ~ James Madison