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|Unrestrained Greed Threatens Capitalism|
|Commentary/Politics - Editorials|
|Written by Kathleen McCarthy|
|Wednesday, 22 April 2009 10:41|
The First Amendment Center has since 1997 annually surveyed Americans' attitudes toward and knowledge of the First Amendment. Last September, on Constitution Day, the Center released its 2008 results, sadly demonstrating the worst level of awareness amongst those surveyed ever.
The survey found that just 3 percent of those questioned could name "petition" as one of the five freedoms in the First Amendment. Only "speech" was named by a majority of respondents, 56 percent. Less than 20 percent named religion, press, or assembly.
The State of the First Amendment 2008 survey, including questions and responses, as well as survey methodology, is available online at FirstAmendmentCenter.org/sofa_reports/.
It is boiling down to this: How meaningful is the United States Constitution to Americans, and are the founding principles still relevant, let alone worth fighting for? It is that simple. The U.S. Constitution is the single most revolutionary document in the history of governance, bar none, and through its establishment created the most innovative and prosperous nation on Earth.
The defining principles of this document are rooted in liberty, equality, justice, and the pursuit of happiness through a republic governed by the rule of law. At the heart of the U.S. Constitution is a profound reverence for individual life, thereby reflecting a deeply spiritual core that honors the Creator.
Until now, America has continually prospered under the economic model of capitalism, which requires pure competition as its primary directive wherever possible. Capitalism also demands that as resources are employed successfully, the gains are experienced across the board. In other words, everyone rises together. It is the only economic model available that allows all members of a society who participate to share in prosperity. More importantly, there are no barriers based on caste systems, race, religion, gender, age, nationality, sexual preference, or any other variable.
The one thing that threatens capitalism, and any other economic model under the sun, is unrestrained greed. History has proven time and again that greed has been the ruination of every significant empire since the dawn of man, whether a republic, monarchy, or socialist state, it doesn't matter. No economy can survive if greed goes unrestrained.
Of all the economic models to account for greed, capitalism has the best chance of overcoming it, especially if coupled with a republic form of governance, and a free people. In fact, capitalism is probably the only model that can contain greed and still provide unlimited opportunity for its citizenry. No other model provides a natural deterrence to greed while operating under free-market conditions.
The problem with America's economy is not capitalism. It is the corruption of capitalism that is bringing down our empire, so to speak. Competition is essential for capitalism to work. But when government -- which includes legislators, the administration, and the entrenched bureaucrats that abound -- gives unfair advantages to favored sectors of an economy (farm subsidies, corporate welfare, etc.), then competition can no longer work properly. It is that simple. When our lawmakers and enforcers turn a blind eye to the rule of law, capitalism fails in the extreme, allowing an ever-widening gap between high and low income within a society.
It is the massive corruption currently thriving between big business and big government that is at the heart of our troubles. This corruption, by extension, then contaminates most aspects of our social networks, as well. Today, we have obscene wealth accumulation not because it is earned or deserved, but because it is unfairly gained at the expense of other economic sectors who are hamstrung by the failure of those governing to implement the laws that would otherwise stop the fraudulent practices that abound.
There was a time when, if fraud was uncovered, our lawmakers acted swiftly to prosecute under the law, writing necessary legislation that would better prevent such future larceny. Today, our lawmakers not only ignore the laws available for prosecution, but where none exist, no action whatsoever is taken. In fact, resources are withheld from proper investigation. In every sense of the phrase, the fox is watching the henhouse. This, more than anything else relative to the current economic crisis that afflicts us, is responsible for undermining confidence in our nation and its inability to "recover."
The econo-political corruption has less to do with political parties and more to do with entrenched bureaucrats and politicians who have too long prospered, if not always illegally, most certainly unethically, in partnership with a cabal of corporate elite who have been beneficiaries of political favor for so long that such gain has become acceptable business practice in their minds, and in many ways, the minds of voters who continue to re-elect so many of the perpetrators. Additionally, the supreme arrogance that underscores this laissez-faire attitude is evidenced by the passage of two of the largest spending/borrowing bills in U.S. history without a single legislator having first read either bill before approving it!
No self-respecting Republican or Democrat can honestly point the finger at Obama or Bush, respectively, and blame just that administration. Both are entirely culpable for the out-of-control spending, borrowing, and taxing that got it start in earnest last fall under Bush's watch, only to be dangerously compounded under Obama's. It borders on the inane to hold one or the other responsible, and not both. It is seriously delusional for Republicans/conservatives to contest Obama's spending/borrowing policies without the same contest for Bush's. And vice versa. Democrats/liberals are equally delusional to think that it is only Bush's fault for his bailout spending, but not for Obama's stimulus spending. Add to that Obama's budget proposal that easily triples the deficit, assuming lower interest rates on that future debt. Should inflation occur, which is highly likely, then those numbers could quadruple again and again. This really is beyond conscionable.
Most Americans have no clue how U.S. politicians and bureaucrats justify such enormous budgets. Basically, they use U.S. Census data. Remember that one of Obama's first acts as President was to remove the Census Bureau from the legislative branch's purview to that of the Executive Branch. It is no small wonder. This way it controls all the data compiled by the Census Bureau, including effectively censoring it from the rest of us.
All future projections, including most importantly revenue, come from this department's data. Every U.S. hospital, clinic, health organization, etc. is obliged to report its number of births to the Census Bureau, along with relative data regarding gender, race, address, parents, religion if available, and any congenital issues relative to health. It is from this data that the government believes it can accurately predict collectible future tax revenues once these individuals are old enough to work.
The flaws in this process are obvious, mostly because they are not nearly as predictable as the government would have us believe, and therefore unreliable out of the gate. Yet these projections supply the principal justification for the current spending and borrowing that our legislators are engaging in.
Add to these income projections and taxable revenue from an influx of illegal immigrants made instantly legal through amnesty, and the agenda behind a sweeping policy of amnesty becomes crystal clear. The government needs those taxes, too, to help fund the current level of spending. In fact, an overall open-borders policy could potentially significantly add to future tax rolls, again bringing clarity to the agenda that drives those who are lobbying hard for this very program. What is not considered in this equation is the enormous expense that accompanies such lopsided policies. These projections reflect grossly inadequate, short-term visions on the part of our leaders.
There is only one way out of this ever-increasing economic spiral downward, and that is to re-embrace the U.S. Constitution and get back principles that work. Big business and big government must be separated, with a primary focus on what's best for consumers and constituents/taxpayers. We will need to overhaul Congress by electing all new legislators with strict mandates and new legislation that holds them unequivocally accountable.
The new standard of measurement must be on what each legislator does, not what he or she says. Americans have been the willing victims of decades of empty promises during campaigns, only to have those promises reneged upon practically from the day these folks are elected because there have never been any real consequences for such civic betrayal, only reward through personal gain for those elected, including absurdly generous benefits that are perpetual whether the person is re-elected or not.
So let's start today. Put aside political party affiliation for now. No more Democrat/Republican/independent/Libertarian/etc. for the moment. No more liberal versus conservative. No more Obama supporters versus Bush supporters or Obama detractors versus Bush detractors. Turn off all the Hannitys, O'Reillys, and Becks, along with the Matthews, Olbermanns, and Maddens of mainstream television because, honestly, they do as much harm as the legislators with their constant fueling of the coliseum mentality in their politics. It is petty and unproductive. You can watch these pundits for an entire week and learn nothing new, let alone truly relevant.
Next, we'll consider each legislator (local, state, and national), as well as the president, who is answerable for the actions of his appointees, through the simple lens of specific actions or deliberate inactions (my grandma used to call these "sins of omission"). What was promised during the campaign versus what has actually been done, or not done, since taking office? Is the action/nonaction consistent with the issues or policies you, the voter, favor, or is it contrary to the same?
This exercise requires a level of self-honesty for truth to out. No excuse-making allowed. Actions are actions, and measurable against each legislator's promises and our expectations, and as a deferential against similar actions of predecessors. In the final analysis, the actions of our elected leaders reflect who they are politically. Our legislators either measure up to the standard of simple integrity that dictates they deliver on their promises and represent us according to our will, or they don't.
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