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Monday, March 02, 2009

Failed Government?

Rush Limbaugh has been in the news this week, after making a speech where he said he hoped President Obama would fail. Of course, most people who heard his remarks found them offensive ... until we listened to the context he made them in. Then they seemed more sensible. But in general, I find Rush Limbaugh offensive and annoying. He rants and raves about things of which he seems to be largely ignorant. He strikes me as a man who leans mostly on his own understanding of things (which the Bible tells us is dangerous).

I think the issue I have with someone wishing failure on President Obama is the close irony that such thinking has with history. Remember the old adage about not remembering lessons from history --- and so being doomed to repeat them. Such appears to be the case with the United States of America and its precious democracy, filled with capitalism, freedom of speech and so forth. You see, some time ago, as I was figuring life out myself, I observed democracy in our country and how it dealt with the issues. I came to a thoughtful conclusion that man is too stupid to rule himself. That insight was given to me more than twenty years ago - and the evidence has consistently supported it. As it turns out, I was not the first person to arrive at such a radical conclusion.

About the time our original thirteen states adopted their new Constitution in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier: "A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government." He continued, "A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury." And he concluded, "From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loos fiscal policy, which is always followed by dictatorship."

Tyler said that the average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. In other words, most of history's great civilizations had a lifespan of about 200 years each. After that they would fail. Tyler explained that during those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:
  1. From bondage to spiritual faith;

  2. From spiritual faith to great courage;

  3. From courage to liberty;

  4. From liberty to abundance;

  5. From abundance to complacency;

  6. From complacency to apathy;

  7. From apathy to dependence;

  8. From dependence back into bondage;

Professor Joseph Olson of the Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota has opined that the United States appears to be following a similar trajectory. He explains that we are now somewhere between the complacency and apathy phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy. But he adds that more than 40% of the U.S. population has already reached the "governmental dependency" phase. More are piling into that category every day too.

With everything from auto manufacturing to banking to pornography, to state governments, school systems, airlines, pension funds and other entities turning to the government for a bailout - they are sure to become beholding to that government which bails them out. Aside from the question or whether or not this government has the capacity to bail us out of the mess we're in, one has to consider what we are becoming dependent on ... and what kind of bondage could result from such dependency.

It would seem to me that Rush Limbaugh could get his wish. Indeed President Obama could fail. Moreover, the U.S. government seems perilously close to fiscal failure because we are dependent on foreign countries to fund us right now. Our government's treasury is provided by countries that don't share our values and in the past have been hostile to us. Our country's energy is provided by countries that don't share our values and in the past have been hostile to us. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to imagine what our bondage could look like.

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