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Thank God that I learned most of what I know about the agonies of withdrawal from drug addiction from the movies and TV. The dramatized depictions convinced me that it’s an experience no sane person would wish upon themselves or anyone else they didn’t passionately hate.

I found myself thinking about this as I read another story about the ongoing mimicry of deliberation we’re supposed to accept as serious congressional action on the debt-ceiling issue. I remembered the oscillation between pathetic entreaty and angry abuse the suffering addicts heaped upon the friend or other interested party who took on the thankless task of nursing them through the physical and emotion seizures that marked their journey to and through the gates of self-inflicted hell.

Their pathetic entreaties played on the natural sympathy of those weak in will or understanding. Such weakness might lead them to succumb to a delusory impulse of compassion long enough to “help” the tortured souls get the “fix” that offers deceitful relief. On the other hand, tirades of abuse treated the Good Samaritans as though their unwillingness to do so made them no better than torturers. Of course, both these extremes come from a place blind to the fact that the real cause of the torture is the addiction, and whatever syndrome of personal passion, treacherous experience and moral confusion betrays people into the pitiless chains of drug enslavement.

These days, power-addicted politicians (and the media claques that toe their party line) are heaping all kinds of abuse on anyone who sincerely insists that their ever-increasing orgy of ambition-driven debt increases must stop here and now. Getting and spending, these fiscal mad-bellies lay waste the nation’s power. They abuse America’s resources to pursue the wily stratagems whereby they lure more and more of our people to get hooked on the habitual expectation that another dose of government spending will fix whatever ailment they fear most. Whilst America’s strength ebbs, while its economic sinews weaken and waste away, whilst the internal organs of its productive life gradually shut down and fail, these self-serving pols maneuver to expand the lucrative power-profiting empire through which they distribute the soul-destroying drug of government dependency.

Anyone who stands against this expansion they blast as incompetent or heartless, inexperienced or crazy. Meanwhile, among the people at large, the subservient addicts enthralled by government “fixes” take up the cry. They join in media-manipulated mobs gathering to attack those resolved to withhold the politicians’ drug of choice, a fiscal discipline that offers the way truly to escape the steadily constricting meshes of government control and domination.

It’s encouraging that an ever-growing number of Americans are prone to agree that the fiscal mad-bellies must be stopped. Sadly, though, too many of them have yet to realize that the twin-party politicians (mostly in the GOP) now scrambling to pose as their champions are themselves utterly addicted to resources of political influence they cannot obtain except by constantly expanding the government’s control over the nation’s money and other resources. Like vampires in search of new supplies of blood, they must have expansive government to feed the existing political system’s endless pursuit of power after power.

What are we to make of those who promise larger cuts when they, too, live upon the blood that flows from them? Promised cuts in spending serve only to fill the buffers of anxiety used to keep up the steady pressure of fear and hope America’s would-be masters now use to manipulate the American people. And their manipulation will succeed as long as gullible people cooperate in their way of doing politics, which uses the lion’s share of spending to sustain the regime of special-interest bribery on which both the Republican and Democratic parties base their power.

Instead of the politics that uses public resources to bribe people, we need to forge a way of doing politics that restricts public resources to uses that serve the good of the whole people (their common good), while leaving it to individuals and their private associations to take primary responsibility for special interests that fall short of or transcend that common good. This means that instead of a budgeting approach based on squabbling about increases and cutbacks, we need to make good on the approach that: a) specifies, in terms of the common good (i.e., the good of the whole people), the priorities for government expenditures; b) allocates government revenues in accordance with those priorities; c) eliminates all government expenditures substantially intended to fix the problems, alleviate the cares or address the concerns of particular individuals or groups, instead of the common good.

Of course a budget approach aimed at serving the common good assumes elections won by politicians who achieve their victories by uniting people of good conscience around a standard of right action that evokes and applies the understanding of right that informs and constitutes the common identity of the nation. Such politicians will sincerely act on what was said of America by a leader who deserves to be called what so many now falsely claim to be, a Republican:

These communities, by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to his creatures. …

Now, my countrymen, if you have been taught doctrines conflicting with the great landmarks of the Declaration of Independence; if you have listened to suggestions which would take away from its grandeur and mutilate the fair symmetry of its proportions; if you have been inclined to believe that all men are not created equal in those inalienable rights enumerated by our charter of liberty, let me entreat you to come back. Return to the fountain whose waters spring close by the blood of the Revolution. Think nothing of me – take no thought for the political fate of any man whomsoever – but come back to the truths that are in the Declaration of Independence. You may do anything with me you choose, if you will but heed these sacred principles. You may not only defeat me for the Senate, but you may take me and put me to death. While pretending no indifference to earthly honors, I do claim to be actuated in this contest by something higher than an anxiety for office. I charge you to drop every paltry and insignificant thought for any man’s success. It is nothing; I am nothing; Judge Douglas is nothing. But do not destroy that immortal emblem of Humanity – the Declaration of American Independence.

– Abraham Lincoln, Lewiston, Ill., Aug. 17, 1858

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