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How did this happen? A cosmic collision

  • By Matt Walsh
  • | 7:11 a.m. November 15, 2013
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
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The world is a bell curve. Our nation is a bell curve. Americans are a bell curve.

Collectivists, statists, and, let's be honest, way too many Democrats refuse to accept this indisputable fact.

From the beginning of biblical times to today, there have always been poor people, middle-class people and rich people. There have always been really sick or handicapped people, healthy people and super-healthy people. There have always been below-average intelligence people, average intelligence people and really smart people. There have always been lazy people, average achievers and extraordinary achievers.

And there always will be.

And yet,with all of their being, the collectivists, statists and Obama-ites act with the invincibly ignorant delusion that by tilting the world with laws and government coercion — by using the force of prison or a gun at your head — they can turn bell curves into flat lines so that everyone is equal and all misery is eliminated.

This is the belief behind Obamacare. This is the belief behind government-controlled public education. This is why we have 43% income-tax rates and why politicians advocate $15-an-hour minimum wages.

(Side note: If a higher minimum wage will lift people out of poverty, why stop at $15 an hour? Why don't we go all the way? Why not make it $200 an hour, $300 an hour, $500 an hour? Then no one would be poor!)

The most remarkable thing of all is that the majority of American voters bought and are buying this massive con: that the federal government, by coercive decree, can provide equal material well-being to all.

Please think about the following seriously: What rational, logical evidence exists to convince anyone that our federal government could create a “market” that would administer and manage health insurance and high-quality health care services for 300 million people in an orderly, efficient, low-cost economic system?


Surely, you might think an intelligent, rational person would dismiss that idea just on the basis of the monumental fact our federal government spends more than $3 billion a year than it takes in and is $17 trillion in debt. How does that not register?

And yet, in 2010, 219 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 60 Democrats in the U.S. Senate — no Republicans in either house — voted to impose the “Affordable Care Act” on the American public. What's worse, they did it without reading the law they were adopting.

This would be unfathomable were it not the norm.

110-year shift
How does this happen?

How does something so truly and obviously implausible and so destructive of individual freedom become “the law” of the land?

There is no single answer. The reasons are many. But in broad terms, you can point to three unconnected phenomena that eventually come together in a cosmic collision. A matter of time:
• 110 years of a cultural shift away from the nation's roots — from the 1900s of Teddy Roosevelt to Obama;
• The human frailty of those who pursue power and the law to force us to behave according to their mores;
• And perhaps most important, our failure to educate the past three generations about our national, historical roots.

There are lessons in all of this.

The cultural shift: From the adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1789 to the Civil War, historians write that Americans embraced the culture of freedom — individual freedom, freedom of religion — and limited government. They lived the vision of the Founding Fathers.

But after the Civil War and for the next 50 years, thanks in large part to immigration and the industrial revolution, the U.S. economy grew at an extraordinary pace. And human nature being what it is, as free-market capitalism produced deserved wealth for the most brilliant innovators and producers, as well as undeserved wealth for some overzealous actors; as it also spread wealth among more than ever before, beneficiaries of the producers; there also arose the few who sought government power to regulate, intervene and control capitalism's winners and losers.

Indeed, from the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt in 1900 through that of Barack Obama, one president after another, and one Congress after another ushered in more and more government intervention and expansion. The only exceptions in that 110 years: Calvin Coolidge and, to an extent, Ronald Reagan.

Why the worst get on top
This nearly unbroken trend of government growth is aptly described in Friedrich Hayek's “The Road to Serfdom,” in the chapter he entitled “Why the Worst Get on Top” (see box, page 18). In short, Hayek describes the tactics of modern-day politicians, certainly those tactics of our current president: Promise the gullible “stuff” they want; drum it into their minds incessantly; and portray the opposition as the mortal, evil enemy.

But of all of the reasons for today's Obamacare predicament, the one for which all of us should shoulder responsibility is lack of education. A lack of educating our children and grandchildren on our Founders' principles; the meaning of individual freedom versus altruism; and true capitalism versus statism and crony capitalism.

Generations have been taught in public education to place the group ahead of the individual; government ahead of capitalism, leaving many unaware that those positions limit their freedom and opportunities.

If you read the McGraw-Hill middle school and high school textbooks on American history, there is nary an explanation of the merits of capitalism versus other socio-economic systems. Nowhere will you find that capitalism has increased the wealth and condition of more people than any other governmental or economic system in the history of the world.

To the contrary, the narrative is always in the frame of how government comes to the rescue, how it steps in, as stated in McGraw-Hill's “The American Vision,” “to ensure the interests of private concerns did not hurt public interest.” Capitalism is always bad. Or, progressives' “efforts expanded democracy and improved the quality of life for millions of Americans.”

In “The State of State U.S. History Standards 2011,” published by the Thomas Fordham Institute, education scholars Chester E. Finn Jr. and Kathleen Porter-Magee write: “... We have mounting evidence that American education is ... creating a generation of students who don't understand or value our own nation's history.” In the book's ranking of state's history education standards, 28 states earned D's, 13 earned F's. Florida earned a C.

No turning of the trendlines
In an interview with historian David McCullough for the Bradley Project on American National Identity, McCullough offered this somber conclusion: “The next generation of Americans will know less than their parents about our history and founding ideals. And many Americans are more aware of what divides us than of what unites us.”

Put it altogether, and you can see the future and the lessons we should be learning: There appears to be no reversal at the federal level of the trendlines toward greater government intervention and expansion and less individual and economic freedom. It's painful to think we must live three more years under the collectivist vision of the current president.

Unless future generations know otherwise — that freedom and capitalism create more wealth and higher standards of living than servitude and statism — that bell curve will indeed be flattened. But we all will be much poorer and less free for it. Guaranteed.

Why the worst get on top
“It is the lowest common denominator which unites the largest number of people. If a numerous group is needed, strong enough to impose their views on the values of life on all the rest, it will never be those with highly differentiated and developed tastes — it will be those who form the 'mass' in the derogatory sense of the term, the least original and independent, who will be able to put the weight of their numbers behind their particular ideals.

“ ... In the second negative principle of selection: He will be able to obtain the support of all the docile and gullible, who have no strong convictions of their own but are prepared to accept a ready-made system of values if it is only drummed into their ears sufficiently loudly and frequently ...

“... The third and perhaps most important negative element of selection enters. It seems to be almost a law of human nature that is easier for people to agree on a negative program — on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of those better off — than on any positive task. The contrast between the 'we' and the 'they,' the common fight against those outside the group, seems to be an essential ingredient in any creed which will solidly knit together a group for common action.

“It is consequently always employed by those who seek, not merely support of a policy, but the unreserved allegiance of huge masses.”

-Friedrich Hayek "Why the Worst Get on Top,” “The Road to Serfdom”


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