By Tom Quiner
America is exceptional because our character is exceptional.
Our national attitude and philosophy of life were set out eloquently by our Founding Fathers, first in the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The Founders built on this philosophy with a blueprint for our nation as presented in the preamble of the Constitution:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The American character has been something to behold. It is characterized by a healthy blend of rugged individualism and civic-mindedness. Americans are optimist and have historically had a can-do attitude. Nothing can stop us. We are willing to sacrifice and defer immediate gratification in order to build a better tomorrow for our posterity. We are generous, faith-filled, and the most freedom-loving people God ever created.
Have we reached a point in our history, though, when our government, at all levels, is corrupting our national character? Is it possible the essence of America’s greatness is being degraded by the government of the people, by the people, and for the people?
Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan put it this way:
“There is a real fear that government, with all its layers, its growth, its size, its imperviousness, is changing, or has changed, who we are. And that if we lose who we are, as Americans, we lose everything.”
Let me give you an example. Congress recently passed legislation that will require businesses to issue a 1099 form for every product and service on which they spend more than $600. I had coffee this morning with an insurance executive in a company here in Des Moines, Iowa. He said that single piece of legislation will require them to issue 17,000 additional forms next year.
Is this what made our nation great, requiring businesses to fill out 17,000 more forms on top of the thousands they already have to complete at the local, state, and national level? Americans are innovative, energetic entrepreneurs. Our rapidly expanding bureaucracy is sucking the lifeblood out of the real job creators in America: our businesses.
This little piece of government intrusion sucks a little bit of the greatness out of our character by forcing us to divert our focus toward bureaucratic minutiae instead of grand designs. That’s not who we are.
Is it any wonder unemployment remains so high?
In the lead editorial of the Des Moines Register this morning, even this extremely liberal editorial board calls for scaling back wages and benefits for government employees. The idea of promoting the general welfare and securing the blessings of liberty for our posterity have been corrupted by the decision of legislators of both parties to extend lavish pay and benefits to public unions at the expense of the private sector who foot the bills.
It gets worse. An article in today’s Financial Times says:
“Big US cities could be squeezed by unfunded public pensions as they and counties face a $574 billion funding gap.”
It gets worse. The Financial Times adds:
“The gap at the municipal level would be in addition to $3,000 billion in unfunded liabilities already estimated for state-run pensions, according to research from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the University of Rochester.”
We’re saddling our posterity with unimaginable debt. That’s not good for our national character.
Our character is being eroded in many ways. The Supreme Court told us in 1973 that, in fact, we truly do not have a right to life, even though 45 states at the times had laws on the books defending the right to life. In one day, those democratically-enacted laws vanished.
We are paying a price for the degradation of the value of life to this very day. One out of three pregnancies in the African-American community end in abortion. Their birth rate has fallen below replacement levels. The African-American race is dying a slow death. The overall replacement birth rate for America has also declined precipitously at a time in our history when we need a high birth rate to pay for tomorrow’s unfunded liabilities mentioned above.
In other words, our Government has created a system that requires the unborn to pay for benefits they will never enjoy. The only way to avoid the price tag is to be aborted!
Is that the kind of national character we want?
Government has dealt a serious blow to our character by systematically degrading the institution of marriage over the past twenty to thirty years. Marriage was designed to protect children and mothers from wayward men. It was a social construct to keep men honest, to civilize them, so to speak.
In this land of the faithful, it was even more, it was a Sacramental institution,the sacred steward of the family unit, which has been the dynamic engine for our social order.
Government is degrading marriage. No-fault divorce laws changed the focus of marriage away from the children. Marriage became all about the relationship. Divorce is easier. More children live in broken homes. More children are living broken lives.
With marriage now focused on the relationship instead of the children, it was inevitable for courts to allow it to be redefined, even if the people didn’t want it redefined.
Our character has been eroded beyond calculation since we became a land that made the unborn and children second-class citizens.
To pay for the mess government has created, they have turned to publicly-endorsed gambling. Iowa has more casinos per capita than Las Vegas. Iowa has a lottery.
Is this good for our national character?
Do we want to become like Europe? They’re dying, because their birth rate is even lower than ours.
Countries like Greece are broke. People are rioting because they’re being asked to pay the piper for their country’s profligacy.
People are rioting in France because they don’t want their retirement age raised to 62!
Americans really dislike the elites of both parties, Democrats more so simply because they’re in power. Here’s what we’re saying: let’s restore our national character.
Let us live within our means.
Let us promote independence, not dependence.
Allow us to create and prosper. Don’t punish us for being successful.
Allow us to self-actualize. Don’t drag us down with 17,000 new forms we have to fill out.
Let us again proclaim that everyone has a fundamental right to life.
This is a gallant country. Allow us to be gallant again.