Our Own Worst Enemy

That odor you smell is the U.S. economy, wafting a 15 trillion dollar national debt, tens of trillions of dollars in underfunded obligations (Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Obamacare), real unemployment in the teens, and a currency that’s shrinking from Fed-inspired printing orgys. Foreign entanglements, be they necessary or otherwise,overburden an already fatigued military and continue to emaciate the treasury. If one has a job, they’re watching disposable incomes wither away as prices rise and, if one doesn’t, they may well be on the very edge of hopelessness. We complain about Congress with such astute invectives as, “They’re all crooks,” or, “Nothing we can do about it,” “One vote isn’t going to make a difference,” or, “The system is broken.”

People Say It’s the System

We all have a ready-list of who’s to blame; from the evil banks and corporations to lobbyists, partisans, rich, poor, the apathetic, the power brokers, the insiders, the outsiders, wherever the poo sticks. But, if we reacquaint ourselves with the way it works, and by that I mean the world according to Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton and Jay, we should begin to focus on a more sinister culprit.

Has the System Failed Us? (Or Have We Failed the System?)

When the Constitution was born in 1787 a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, have we got a Republic or a Monarchy?” His now famous reply was, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

What our founder implied is that it is much on US as to whether this experiment in the self-governance of man will succeed or fail. The framework was built, but the real work would forever be unfinished. They intended the process of government to be administered by elected representatives, but to be managed and, if necessary, enforced by the power of the governed. We the people were to be a large part of the equation.

But have we done our part? I dare say we have permitted representative government to lull us to sleep. When Election Day rolls around, we are considered to be stirred up if half of the eligible voting demographic bothers to cast a ballot. Time after time, we return the usual suspects to our Congress, KNOWING that they will serve us poorly, because it is easier than caring about the world beyond our driveway. We ignore fraud, treason, perjury, insider trading, sexual abuse, graft, financial mismanagement and astronomical compensation so we don’t have to be troubled to study, comprehend and take action. We’ve let moral relativism give a pass to things that should fail on every scale of decency. We have lost the self-esteem that came with personal honor and moral fortitude, to wit we are truly bankrupt.

Why Do We Play This Game?

Einstein professed that doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result, was the very definition of insanity. Much as we, the body politic, would like to infer that axiom on our government, I contend that it is more the case with us.

For instance:

Harry Reid (D-NV) is a career politician that enjoys being in your employ. He has served almost 30 years in the U.S. House and Senate, working on laws for the rest of us to follow while he enjoys the many exemptions we choose to ignore. His pay has increased steadily throughout his tenure and his dutiful “service” has also served himself. On a“humble” salary that has peaked at $193,400 a year[1], and collateral pursuits, he has managed to amass a net worth of somewhere between $3.1 million and $10.3 million[2]. He is limited by rules of the Congress to collect any additional earned income of greater than 15% of his base rate[3]. This suggests that he must possess a superior mind for investment; but with the people’s money – not so much.

John Boehner (R-OH) worked for many years in the private sector, but is still considered a career politician. Twenty years of government service has contributed to his net worth of between $2.1 million and $6.1 million[4]. We pay him $223,500[5] a year to perform the duties of Speaker of the House.

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), with a yearly salary of $174,000[6] and no particular skill at positively affecting the U.S. economy, has managed to pile up a net worth of $5.9 million to perhaps $196 million[7] with her businessman husband. She has served about 25 years in Congress.

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has gone more than 38 years without holding a private sector job. Now, at the pinnacle of his career, he makes $193,400[8] for Minority Leader duties in the Senate. His personal fortune is somewhere between $9.8 million and $44.5 million[9] – not bad for spending the better part of a lifetime serving one’s country.

The people of America have paid dearly for the services of this leadership, tens of millions between these four examples (now envision the Congress as a whole). Obviously they’ve demonstrated an extraordinary financial acuity, yet we still can’t balance the damned budget. What great risk would we incur by clearing both Houses of Congress to refill it with unknowns from Anytown, USA? Would they make bad decisions? Would they use their power for personal enrichment? Would they waste taxpayer’s money on pork barrel laws that barely qualify as constitutional? THAT’S WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW!

Grow our government to a size we cannot fathom, replete with bureaucrats and politicians of the usual persuasion, and they will no longer serve US, we will serve THEM.

[1] Congressional Research Service Report: “Congressional Salaries & Allowances.” Ida A. Brudnick – Analyst on the Congress.  June 28, 2011.

[2] Center for Responsive Politics.  Website: www.opensecrets.org .

[3] Ref. endnote 1.

[4] Ref. endnote.2.

[5] Ref. endnote 1.

[6] Ref. endnote 1.

[7] Ref. endnote 2.

[8] Ref. endnote 1.

[9] Ref. endnote 2.


Do We Care About America?

When did it become epiphanous for Americans to hate America? I’m not referring to distrust, or dissent or even cynical disgust; I mean pure, untethered hatred for everything we stand for. In my considerable past I recall, of course, foreign enmity, the usual communist/socialist crowd, a hand full of disturbed revolutionaries and the occasional malcontented citizen, but when did the decision get made to scrap the whole experiment? These days, you can’t stare down a weather vane and not encounter privileged children, clergy and even congressmen harping about the perceived “unfairness” of life in America. None repressed, none endangered, but never was victimhood honed to such a fine skill.

We’ve descended a far cry from a people who built a nation with axes and plows. Our grandfathers would disavow our lunatic assertions that, as a society, we are due universal healthcare, near-unending unemployment handouts and welfare programs, abortion on demand, lifetime education, money for every conceivable desire and cradle-to-grave powdering from a central government with the dimensions to dispense it; right after they kicked our asses. Have we no integrity, no devotion to heredity, no sense of our original charter and the duty we have to those who died to place us here? Comparatively speaking, few generations of Americans have suffered so little and appreciated it less.

We are not a perfect country. To be sure, chapters of our history are written with the shame of regrettable decisions, and even in the indelible blood of innocents, but for the largest part of our existence we have suffered to get it right. In contrast to most of the world’s notable civilizations, we stand unique for transcending injury in favor of justice. Here the rule of law became the concept that freed men to envision great things, risk, accomplish, succeed and even fail in valiant attempt. If there is another nation on earth that can more effectively nurture a single human being’s desire to do better, I know not of it.

Whether we task ourselves to bear the weight of our passage or not, we must give respect to those who kicked the rail and gave us launch. Like it or not, we are the benefactors of every sacrifice our ancestors endured in order to preserve this day. As you walk the path they cleared free to travel without restriction, free to dream unfettered dreams, to live, love, have a family, and pursue happiness in all its forms, you can’t refute the undeniable truth that the price for this was paid forward by someone who really suffered. Many a young life ended, many a destiny diverted — for what; so that we, the progeny, could play at destruction from within?

We have a choice here, but the options are narrow. Our founding insists that one cannot have freedom without self-reliance, liberty without responsibility, prosperity without effort. To this ambition we owe our legacy and our treasured knowledge that man is superior to his government. The alternative will bend us to submission, subjugate and introduce us to obedience ensured by force. Forget perfection, forget sanity, forget reason, the generation that would end liberty would thus bequeath the dreams of their children to the State.

Do we care about America; enough to restore it? Is there time left to reverse this hate America first trend before we are beyond repair? Are we the land of the truly free and the home of those brave enough to want it? I pray there are enough of us left who love our story and revere our founding principles to devote an emphatic – YES.