An interesting article came out in the New York Times this week entitled “America’s Best Days May Be Behind It” in which the writer observes: “… the explosion of innovation and prosperity from 1920 through 1970 was a one-time phenomenon. From now on, progress will continue at the more gradual pace of both the last 40 years and the period before 1920.”

Clearly, economies rise and fall through any nation’s history – here’s a list of the 13 worst recessions, depressions, and panics in America – but I can see the article’s point. America is no longer the powerhouse of industry it once was. We seem to be in decline.

Consider this passage from Bill Bryson’s excellent book, “At Home: A Short History of Private Life.” Focusing on the year 1851 during which England’s influence unquestionably reigned supreme across the globe and its industrial revolution dominated manufacturing, it opens with the Great Exhibition of 1851, which featured displays from all over the world. America’s exhibit, it seems, hit a glitch:

The United States’ section almost didn’t get filled at all. Congress, in a mood of parsimony, refused to extend funds, so the money had to be raised privately. Unfortunately, when the American products arrived in London it was discovered that the organizers had paid only enough to get the goods to the docks and not onward to Hyde Park. Nor evidently had any money been set aside to erect the displays and man them for five and a half months. Fortunately, the American philanthropist George Peabody, living in London, stepped in and provided $15,000 in emergency funding, rescuing the American delegation from its self-generated crisis. All this reinforced the more or less universal conviction that Americans were little more than amiable backwoodsmen not yet ready for unsupervised outings on the world stage.

So when the displays were erected it came as something of a surprise to discover that the American section was an outpost of wizardry and wonder. Nearly all the American machines did things that the world earnestly wished machines to do – stamp out nails, cut stone, mold candles – but with a neatness, dispatch, and tireless reliability that left other nations blinking. … For many Europeans this was the first unsettling hint that those tobacco-chewing rustics across the water were quietly creating the next industrial colossus – a transformation so improbable that most wouldn’t believe it even as it was happening.

What was happening in America in 1851?

Some things were very good. People had a strong belief in, and reliance upon, God. Government interference in our personal lives was low. Morals and responsibility were high. Illegitimacy was virtually unknown. Men were expected to provide for their wives and children. Nearly everyone had a legacy of thrift, self-sufficiency and hard work. No one expected handouts.

Some things were very bad. Working hours were brutally long and physically demanding. Slavery still existed. Native Americans were being swept aside by government mandate. Medical care was primitive at best. The government was in an unholy alliance with banks and businesses.

But the trajectory of America was, slowly and surely, upwards. Individual liberty corrected many of our nation’s wrongs over the subsequent century.

So here’s a question – what changed? Why should America’s best days be behind it? Our nation is still the breadbasket of the world. We still have massive natural resources. We have phenomenal medical technology. We have personal electronics up the wazoo.

Yet we have a population that ranges from functionally illiterate to highly “educated” but is dumb as rocks. We have illegitimacy up to 70 percent in some demographics. We have rotting cities that are virtual war zones. We have huge manufacturing sectors that have entirely given up the notion of producing products domestically and instead have moved overseas. (And we still have an unholy alliance between government, banks and big businesses.)

Today we’ve reversed our good-to-bad ratio. Many of the things that were very bad (slavery, etc.) have been corrected. Many of the things that were very good are being crushed.

Belief in, and reliance upon, God has dropped precipitously. Government interference in our personal lives is high. Morals and responsibility are low. Illegitimacy has skyrocketed. Men make babies and walk away. Women have turned to government handouts to support those babies, or have government-funded abortions to kill them. Thrift and self-sufficiency are distant memories. Handouts are now multi-generational legacies.

The trouble is that progressives have taken over. They’ve gone far beyond the notion of correcting legitimate grievances to the creation of a fake “utopia” based on goals that can only be achieved through coercive force. Ironically, the more “progressive” our nation becomes, the more we “regress” in terms of self-sufficiency, independence, creativity, manufacturing, production, innovation and other benchmarks of a prosperous, successful nation.

Progressive thought has overtaken our politicians, our media and our schools. Progressives have filled our children’s heads with baloney about climate change and diversity. Progressives claim God isn’t necessary and neither is a father. Progressives inhibit manufacturing and resource development through excessive government regulations. Progressives raise taxes so high that both parents must work, weakening the strength and cohesiveness of families. Progressives encourage children to be placed in daycare, then preschool, then government schools where they are carefully indoctrinated in ideals contrary to the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Progressive activist judges create laws in accordance with their personal agenda rather than constitutional mandates. Progressives manufacture “rights” out of thin air (the right not to be offended, the right to kill babies, etc.).

Do you get my drift? In a nutshell, progressivism is ruining America. Our nation will continue its decline unless its people recapture the qualities our Founding Fathers envisioned: minimal government, a balanced budget, maximum personal responsibility, thrift, strong families, hard work and an unshakeable faith in God.

I suppose this is all cyclical. After all, the famous quote attributed (probably incorrectly) to Alexander Fraser Tytler remains eerily prescient for America:

A democracy 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.

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 selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back into bondage.

We’re at the “dependence” station, folks. Sadly, the train seems to be running on time. Pray to God and hang on. We’ve got a bumpy ride ahead.

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