It’s fashionable these days to accuse people of being socialist. Not that I’m usually so in-style, but I did recently use it to describe someone I love. He and I like to spar over political views, which differ as far as the East is from the West, or– more specifically– as far as the left is from the right. I’m right. He’s wrong, I mean, left. In a recent exchange, he met my charge of socialism with: “It’s not socialism. It’s government recognizing its proper role to protect citizenry from those that would seek to gain at the expense of others.”
Sounds good. Then I thought, like in the French Revolution? If ever there was a time when the common man got his chance to run the show it was then. And without a hint of religion involved, just man and his ideas on justice. That’s why the French Revolution is such a great study. Its example and predecessor, the American Revolution, has little in common with it but the surname. The same intentions (to be rid of an unjust and unequal system and replace it with peace and prosperity for all) can have drastically different outcomes when just one ingredient is missing: God. It’s no secret the French got their idea from us. But they were too enlightened to involve God in the process. The French killed scores of evil rich people (please excuse the redundancy), confiscated their wealth, and redistributed it to the poor. There was so much blood involved in that do-over that the streets literally flowed with it.
Aristocratic heads on pikes – a cartoon from the French Revolution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The French Revolution was the Salem witch trials to the tenth power in senseless deaths. But which classic do American high schools assign? The Scarlet Pimpernel? Hardly. Maybe in Texas. If ever there was an injustice in literature class, it’s The Crucible. When those young minds are done assimilating Arthur Miller’s gem on the perils of religion and authority, and in case they missed the point the first time through, they get The Scarlet Letter. And no education is complete without the recent classic on why religion, i.e. conformity, sucks: The Giver. No wonder teens are staging their own personal revolutions. We replace Robinson Crusoe with Lord of the Flies and then get all surprised when kids start killing each other.
So when, in all of recorded history, has the government, especially by and through increasing its size and scope like a runaway avalanche, acted as protectorate of the citizenry to the greater good of anyone?
Rome. That was big government. We really do love to emulate Rome. They were the first to make devaluing their currency an art form. They scraped a bit of gold or silver off coins that came through the treasury in the form of taxes before sending them back out into circulation. With the scrapings they made lots of new money. That’s why our quarters have little lines on the edges to this day; initially it was to prove they’d not been scraped. Like many things which lost their original purpose, they linger and no one questions where those little lines came from or why they still exist. That makes me think of unions. If ever there was an idea deserving euthanasia…
Can someone give me an example of when big government actually did somebody some good? If you say the New Deal, we’re still paying for the Romanesque debt we incurred in that “deal.” No. The good has to be lasting. Here’s an example of what I mean:
I can make my financial situation seem really super TODAY by maxing out my credit cards (you know, raising my debt ceiling). Life can be sweet for as long as I can pay the interest on those cards, as long as I can put off the repo man.
So when you evaluate the state of the economy, don’t tell me things were great in times when we were just getting more credit cards.
My brother once rightly commented that if all of Americans were as fiscally unadventurous as my sister and me, that the market would instantly tube. Talk about unsustainable. We all have to spend more than we make so that our government can spend more than it makes so that our country can import more than it exports, so that our standard of living doesn’t change in the slightest.
Eventually the repo man will come gunning for America. Taking money away from those evil rich folks won’t pay for everything we’ve been charging. Plus, they’re leaving and taking their evil businesses with them. Can we add Atlas Shrugged to the high school reading list?
I invite you to give me some perspective. Until then, I’m believing big givernment (oops! I spelled that wrong) means big problems for everyone, even we plebeians who make less than 250 K. It costs big money to protect us from ourselves.
Uncle Sam BW (Photo credit: Wikipedia)