Nothing – in the history of the world – conceived, engineered, built, or otherwise created by Man has any real permanence. All of Mankind’s towering achievements are subject to inevitable decay and destruction. Whether a structure, philosophy, society, or form of government, each is inherently flawed by the limited thinking and understanding of its creator(s); thereby, containing within itself the ultimate cause of its own demise.
In the world of consumable food products, we know that even those products that have been preserved in one fashion or another will spoil after a period of time or lose their nutritional value. Thus, we affix an expiration date beyond which that item may not be sold, even though it may still be edible for some time beyond its determined expiration.
In 1787, at the time that the Constitution was adopted by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and shortly thereafter ratified by conventions in the original thirteen states, Alexander Fraser Tytler (also known as Lord Woodhouselee), a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, analyzed the history of democracy and expressed the following:
“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. [It] will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. 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 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, those 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; and from dependence back into bondage.”
Sadly, if Lord Woodhouselee’s analysis is accurate, America is well past its prime. Perhaps, its expiration date has already lapsed, and we, its people, are living through that confusing period between point of no return and actual, recognized demise.
With $3 trillion in federal bailouts over the past 18 months, it appears that an apathetic America is evolving into a state of dependency on the federal government that would have appalled our Founding Fathers. Insurance and financial giants AIG, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs owe their continued existence to the American taxpayer via our growing federal government, as do automakers Chrysler and General Motors. What our economy would look like today absent these bailouts is uncertain. What is certain, however, is that our record levels of indebtedness will be a drag on economic growth for years, if not decades to come and the bane of the existence of future generations.
Prior to the Great Depression, American citizenry and enterprise possessed a self-reliance and spiritual faith that propelled this Nation to heights unseen in the history of our planet. Since that time, the quest for security has eroded personal liberties and created dependency on governmental largesse, even by many of our most self-reliant citizens and well-known companies. The growth of entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and AFDC among others, while giving a helping hand to some, has had a narcotic effect upon many with estimates of up to 40% of the current population receiving payment monthly from some form of government entitlement program. In commerce and industry, lucrative government contracts and protectionist trade legislation can spell the difference between profitability and failure.
The desire for security is both seductive and compelling. It works at odds to the “eternal vigilance” required to maintain a free society. Our Founders possessed an abundance of the self-reliance and spiritual faith of which Lord Woodhouselee spoke. Self-reliance and spiritual faith are really, in the final analysis, the flip sides of the same coin. With spiritual faith comes knowledge of the Truth of our Being – that our Creator is the source of all good and the only source upon which we can always depend. Armed with the Truth, our Founding Fathers and their descendants depended not upon government programs but upon their expression of that Truth to confidently build a nation that became a beacon of hope to the rest of the world.
Today, that beacon has dimmed, shrouded by the burden of big government and the concomitant taxation and governmental intrusion into virtually every phase of the lives of our citizens. Yet, many in the world still covet what we have. Perhaps, we can save our country and the world by returning to the spiritual faith, knowledge of the Truth, and self-reliance that have built a great nation. The Truth knows no limits and has no expiration. If we embrace It, neither do we.