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When I was growing up, we had chickens. They were called game birds, wild and independent birds, which, given the chance, would simply “fly the coop.” So, my dad would go out and clip one of their wings so they couldn’t fly.
The liberty of those birds was completely restricted by clipping that one wing, so we kept those chickens penned, and my job was to feed them every day. Those birds never had to worry about storms, foxes, dogs or any other risks that wild birds face. They had all the food and shelter they wanted – but they were not free.
As sovereign beings, made in the image and likeness of God, we have the freedom to succeed, and this freedom to succeed always carries with it the freedom to fail. If one is not free to fail, one cannot truly succeed.
A historian named Alexander Tyler is reputed to have predicted that the American way of life could not endure because people do not want to take responsibility for their own choices. In a democratic society, he said, “people will invariably hand over their sovereign responsibility and freedom to that government which promises the most benefits.” He further observed “a democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority only votes for candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by dictatorship.” Tyler made this chilling statement more than 200 years ago.
Recorded history seems to indicate that civilizations rise and fall in 200-year cycles. America is almost 40 years past that point and apparently ready for collapse and dictatorship, because the signs of dependency and imminent bondage are all around us.
This dependency (leading to bondage) is encouraged today by politicians, bureaucrats, social workers and think-tank elitists who pontificate, “We don’t want anyone to fail, so we’re going to make sure everyone has a safety net. It doesn’t matter whether you work hard, sacrifice and struggle, or if you just sit on your blessed assurance and take it easy. We want everyone to share equally. We want everyone to have everything they want. The government will take care of you. If you don’t want to struggle and sacrifice to succeed, that’s OK; and just to make sure the success of other people don’t make you feel bad, we will punish the achievers. We will take from those who have and give to those who have not. The government will take care of you cradle-to-grave. That way nobody fails. What could be more fair?” Didn’t I hear one of the candidates say “the rich must pay their fair share”?
That kind of thinking produces socialism, communism and runaway welfare states. The irony is these so-called safety nets don’t actually keep anyone from failing; in fact, they guarantee mass failure by removing the incentive to work hard, take risks and succeed. Safety nets eliminate the rewards of the Judeo-Christian virtues of hard work, sacrifice, personal responsibility and thrift.
When no one excels, everyone fails.
Eventually the people begin to say, “What’s the use? I get the same result whether I work or not. I might as well lie back in my hammock and join the non-achievers.”
Social engineers eliminate competition and traditional letter grades from the education system and then wonder why students are no longer motivated. They provide welfare and food stamps and call it “a right” or “an entitlement.” They make these programs better and more inclusive, and then they wonder why we can’t get anyone to take entry-level jobs anymore. Socialism has invariably failed. Yet the bureaucrats, pseudo intellectuals and social engineers keep trying to make it work in America.
They keep expanding the social bureaucracy and pouring money into a failed welfare system. According to Heritage Senior Research Fellow Robert Rector, the cost of all military wars in U.S. history, from the Revolutionary War to the current war in Afghanistan, has been $6.98 trillion. Rector further states that since Johnson launched the War on Poverty in the 1960s, the government has spent $19.8 trillion (in inflation-adjusted 2011 dollars). In other words, the War on Poverty has cost almost three times as much as all other wars combined, and we are further than ever from winning that war.
You don’t encourage people to achieve and become productive by taking away their incentives and sovereign responsibility and eliminating the freedom to fail. However well-intentioned, this elitist, socialist approach to solving the problem of poverty actually makes the situation worse. It is a horrible, malignant and degrading thing to take away a person’s right to fail. It is an active enslavement and an insult against a person’s sovereignty.
Yes, we pledge our allegiance and our fair share of taxes to our government, but not our sovereignty, not our “decisionability” (the power to make our own choices). Once we surrender our sovereignty to the government, government becomes our master and we deserve just what we get – or don’t get.
However, when we all take responsibility for our own lives, our own success or failure, then “We the People” become the sovereign masters, not the government.