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Cynicism's danger to the republic

Posted By Linda Bowles On 06/06/2000 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

The next election will reveal a great deal about the determination of the
American people to maintain their freedoms.

There are those who disagree. They argue that there is not a dime’s worth
of difference between the two major parties. They are suggesting that you
might as well not vote or that you might as well toss the dime in the air
and base your vote on how it comes down.

This cynicism is dangerous. It does not bode well for our republic. It
reflects a sense of fatalism and helplessness. It says there’s nothing the
people can do; the government will become whatever the government wants to
become. It is about time we looked at our votes in the context of history,
and it is about time we looked at campaign issues in the context of what
they portend for our republic.

There are brilliant thinkers to whom we should listen. For example,
shortly after the Constitution had been written, Ben Franklin was asked
about what kind of government the people had been given. As was his way, Old
Ben didn’t mince or waste words with his answer. He replied, “A Republic –
if you can keep it.”

Franklin understood that, sooner or later, government is the enemy of the
people. He knew, based on his understanding of history and his insight into
human nature, that corrupt and ambitious men would connive to subvert the
Constitution and transform the government from one that serves the people
into one that rules them.

More currently, another great thinker expanded upon the challenge issued
by Franklin. Milton Friedman was described by the prestigious journal The
Economist as “the greatest economist of the 20th century.” In his classic
book, “Capitalism and Freedom,” he wrote, “How can we keep the government we
create from becoming a Frankenstein that will destroy the very freedom we
establish it to protect? Our minds tell us, and history confirms, that the
great threat to freedom is the concentration of power.” Friedman added,
“Government is necessary to preserve our freedom, it is an instrument
through which we can exercise our freedom; yet by concentrating power in
political hands, it is also a threat to freedom.”

How does government threaten freedom? It does so with regulations, taxes,
fees, laws, mandates and programs. Power is finite. When power moves from
the people to the government, personal choices, rights and freedoms move
with it. As the power and authority of the government expands, the power and
authority of the people contracts.

It is a testimony to how far we have strayed from constitutional
principles and how much our vital freedoms have been diminished, that the
same government that defends the “sacred” right of a Marxist Cuban parent to
make bad decisions for his child denies the right of American parents,
particularly those who are poor, to make decisions about where their own
children can go to school and what they are taught. In America, government,
not father, knows best.

A debate is under way about whether it is a good idea to allow people to
have an option to manage a portion of the money they pay into Social
Security. The Government Party, sometimes known as the Democratic Party,
believes this is a “dangerous and risky scheme.” In America, government, not
the individual, knows best.

One of the issues in the campaign is whether, and how much, to cut taxes.
The Government Party warns that allowing people to keep more of their own
money is a very bad idea, one which will surely wreck the economy, increase
the deficit, lead to higher interest rates, destroy Social Security, take
money from education, and increase the number of starving children.

The only way to reduce the size and power of rogue government, with its
assaults on freedom, is to pass an iron-clad, constitutional requirement for
a balanced budget, and couple it with a significant across-the-board tax
decrease. This will force tax-addicted liberals to face the ghastly horror
from which they have been fleeing all their lives, as from the hounds of
hell: spending cuts.

All in all, the Government Party leaders are appalled at these
right-wing, extremist proposals that would expand the involvement of parents
in the education of their own children, give people a choice in the
investment of their own Social Security funds, and return surplus tax money
to the people who earned it.

They are afraid that these “dangerous and reckless” freedom schemes could
forestall their ascension to the role of societal overlords, and undo half a
century of conspiring and maneuvering to establish the government, rather
than the people, as the centerpiece of the American dream.


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