Marc Steyn, a Canadien born author of a best seller titled “America Alone” and a new book titled “After America”. Let me just say first that I have not read either. I’ve been a bit busy writing my own stuff and not reading other people’s. But I have watched interviews with him and read excerpts. From what I can tell, the man is brilliant.
If I were to interview him though, I would ask him this question. “Sir, I agree with what you say, the Americans have voted themselves a certain lifestyle that someone else, namely future generations will have to pay for. Could this have been avoided? And what could we have done to avoid this?” I would love to hear his answer.
The reason I would love to hear his answer is that I am not sure it could have been. Americans are after all human beings. In hindsight, everything that has led us to the brink of ruin, could have probably been predicted, but would anyone have taken it seriously?
Go back to past generations in this country. We started as a nation of mostly farmers and tradesmen. For generations, Americans worked hard back-breaking work to eek out a meeger living. Each generation hoped for better things, an easier life for their children. Invention and entrepreneurship were encouraged. “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”
With this, newer and better products appeared. Tools and appliances and machines were invented, marketed, sold to try and improve on how each of us did things. From laundry to dishes, from travel to you-name-it. Prosperity abounded and people got rich. Filthy rich. Even our poor were better off than the wealthy of most countries.
Unfortunately, with human nature, there are certain inevitabilities. One is that in a free market system, a few go-getters get really wealthy. The rest end up working for them. But in America where everyone gets a vote and the CEO’s vote counts the same as the custodian’s, the ballot box was a place to get even. And since there are many more janitors, truck drivers, brick layers, ditch diggers, cab drivers, cashiers, waitresses, clerks, and bus boys in the world than there are CEOs, well you can do the math.
Politicians used this to their advantage. They created this class warfare. Let’s punish the rich. They can afford it. But not once did any of us look into the future at what this would eventually cause. It destroyed incentive. “Why work hard when my neighbor is doing nothing and yet lives the same lifestyle I live?” “ Why take the risk of going into business for myself when I’ll just end up paying all my profits in taxes?”
When people have no vision of the reward or the punishment from the actions they take today, they become lazy and indifferent. We have had decades now of “why worry about tomorrow, that’s someone else’s problem?” Well, tomorrow is fast approaching. Can this be turned around? Or will it turn around all on its own? Is it turning around as we speak?
This “recession” has been a reality check in many ways. If nothing else, it has helped dismiss the notion that everything is always going to be milk and honey just because we are Americans. There has been a generation or two of people in this country who had never previously known a time where jobs were plentiful and available at the drop of a hat. They’ve never known “hard times.” Their lives have been pretty darn soft. They’ve always had a soft bed, plenty to eat and drink, toys to play with, cars to drive them places, etc. They have grown up thinking they were entitled to these things. After all, they did not work for them. Their parents did. When mom and dad have always been able to give them what they “need” it’s been pretty easy to assume that’s what they are there for. And in many ways, the government became “mom and dad”.
When things are cushy, another thing goes out the window too. That’s morals. “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.” All of our modern conveniences created more idle hands than ever before. When a task that used to take hours now only takes seconds, that creates a lot of free time. Time to get into mischief. Couple this with the fact that humans tend to get complacent when things are going well, and our moral decay was perhaps inevitable. Ever notice that when people are going through really tough times, they normally bring God into it. Some people go to Him for help. Some to curse at Him and blame Him. But almost nobody leaves Him out entirely. Conversely, when things are going well, God is put on the back burner.
Is it any wonder that the more wealthy and prosperous we became, the less we cared about God? We decided God no longer fit into our lives. We didn’t need Him after all, we were doing just fine. Isn’t it also interesting that the more we shoved Him aside, the more our country went into decay? Coincidence?
Perhaps, if America does survive this, but our country does go through some kind of economic “cleansing” where there are no more safety nets, people will re-discover what it means to work hard and spend time and money wisely. Maybe they will realize that they are not invincible, and that they need help from God. We can only hope. And Pray.