A little over two centuries ago, a historian named Alexander Tyler made a chilling prediction that could easily be applied to America today. While he spoke of the ancient Athenians, the principles apply to modern-day America.

He wrote, “The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back into bondage.”

A most chilling observation in this “prophecy” is that civilizations rise and fall in 200-year cycles. Based upon this observation, could America already be three decades beyond the deadline? Could it be that the signs of “dependency and bondage” that Tyler spoke of have manifested and, though unnoticed, are all around us today?

America was not founded as a democracy but as a republic, yet it operates on democratic principles. Here was Tyler’s raison d’être for the decline and fall of a democracy; “A democracy,” he observed, “is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”

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Could it be that today’s politicians, bureaucrats, social workers and think-tank elitists who promote “safety nets” are, in fact, setting the groundwork for the ultimate collapse of the land of the free and the home of the brave? Their positions are often stated thusly, “We don’t want anyone to fail, so we are going to make sure everyone has a safety net. It doesn’t matter whether you work hard, sacrifice and struggle, or if you simply sit back in a rocking chair and watch TV.”

Their position is that everyone should “share equally” and ensure that the non-achievers don’t feel bad; achievers will be punished via tax-and-spend policies. The government will take care of the have nots by taking from those that have.

People now look to the government to care for some from cradle to grave. That way, “no one feels like a failure. What could be fairer?”

Unfortunately, that is the kind of thinking that has always nurtured socialism, communism and runaway welfare states. The irony is, “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. These safety nets tend to eliminate the virtues of hard work, thrift, sacrifice and personal responsibility. If everyone is responsible, no one is responsible. If no one excels, everyone fails. Eventually people adopt the attitude, “What’s the use? I get the same result whether or not I work!”

Today, social engineers, to “foster equality,” have introduced policies in our schools that eliminate competition and traditional letter grades, and then wonder why students are no longer motivated to excel. We provide welfare and food stamps and call it a “right, an entitlement.” “We’ll make these programs better and more inclusive,” and then wonder why we can’t get anyone to take entry-level jobs anymore.

The simple truth is, socialism has failed everywhere it has been tried, yet bureaucrats, pseudo intellectuals and social engineers keep trying to make it work in America. They keep expanding the social bureaucracy and pouring our money into a failing welfare system.

A half century, and more than $20 trillion (yes, $20 trillion!) after LBJ launched his “War on Poverty,” we are farther than ever from the goal of eliminating poverty. You don’t encourage people to achieve and become productive by removing incentives to do so, eliminating individual responsibility and removing the freedom to fail. However well-intentioned, this elitist, socialist approach to solving the problem of poverty actually makes it worse. It is a horrible, malignant, degrading thing to take away a person’s right to fail. It is, in actuality, an act of enslavement, an insult against a person’s individual sovereignty.

Yes, we pledge allegiance – and our fair share of taxes – to our representative form of government, but not our sovereignty and decision-making ability as free moral agents. Once we surrender our sovereignty to the government, it becomes our master and we deserve what we get.

Only when we take responsibility for our own lives, our own successes or failures, do we, not the government, become the sovereign masters of our own lives – and thus, America, if it is the home of the brave, remains the land of the free.

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