Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to (Re)Create a Free Country

In Dennis Praeger's latest column, he explains why he's voting Nov. 2 for a party, not an individual candidate. His reasons are mostly sound. He recognizes that (a) the Democrat party is a lost cause (that's been true since McGovern ran), and (b) Republicans, imperfect as they are, are our only hope, politically speaking.

But it's those last two words (mine, not his) that are important. He says,
"It is probably accurate to say that no country in the world has less government intervention in the lives of its citizens than America does,"
on his way to making an accurate point about the Democratic Party being indistinguishable from a garden-variety European Social Democrat one.

The latter point is true, the first not fully accurate. Sadly, "less government intervention" is not nearly so true as it used to be.

In 1859 it was rare for an individual to have any contact with the Federal government at all, or to be much influenced by its actions. (Read Vilhelm Moberg's Swedish immigrant epic, The Immigrants).

Even by 1890 this was still a free country. There was graft and corruption, but it was limited mostly to the transportation system. Individual citizens paid no income tax. There was no EPA to tell farmers they couldn't drain a mud puddle. You could erect a barn without a permit containing 'guidelines' dictated by the DoE.

By 1912, all that was rapidly beginning to change in significant ways. The establishment of the Federal Reserve and the passage of the 16th Amendment were sharp bends in the curve that graphs the path to totalitarianism.

By 1940 the die was all but cast, despite the Supreme Court rolling back a lot of FDR's dictatorial policies. With Social Security, farm subsidies made permanent, and the alphabet soup of Federal agencies, government 'management' of the private lives of citizens became the norm.

But the real throttling of freedom in America came in the mid-1960s when the country was finally swamped philosophically by Progressivism in its deepest cultural forms. Medicare was just one political expression of that.

Reagan held the line for a little while, and rolled back some onerous taxes and regulations. But it was a blip in the overall trend. Today, you can't watch a TV ad, catch a current movie, or even walk into a grocery store without seeing the evidence of that period's nihilism.

To really become a free country again, the Federal leviathan will have to be pared back a century's worth of intrusions, at least. That means eliminating the Dept of Ed, HHS, the Federal Reserve, the DoE, and a good deal more. It will mean making illegal the spoils system that has allowed Congressmen to act as distributors of Federal money to constituents back home. It will mean, especially, paring back the Executive branch to its original purposes.

But beyond the political changes, we'll never recreate America as the land of the free until we make radical improvements to the culture that perpetuates our present political system. That starts with radical changes to education, including privatizing the school system and flushing out the Progressivism oozing from its every pore.

That's a very big set of very difficult tasks, to be sure, but it's the only long-term solution. Americans are used to taking big, bold steps. Time to begin the journey and voting a certain way is only the smallest first step.

No comments: