2076 Can America Make It?
By Howie Rich
More than perhaps any other nation in human history, the United States of America needs to brush up on its own history.
After all, a Republic founded 233 years ago in defiance of fiscal tyranny has once again succumbed to it – only this time we have no one to blame but ourselves.
Worse still, a frightening paradigm shift has completely overtaken the thinking of our nation's "leaders" in both political parties.
No longer is there any real debate as to whether the federal government should grow into new and undefined roles at the expense of our liberties (and our wallets) – the question has become how fast and how much of our individual and economic freedom these "leaders" should be permitted to deprive us of.
So let's dispense with the meaningless partisan sniping of our modern-day, 24-hour news cycle for a moment, because that's frankly the last place we're going to find the sort of wisdom we need to deal with these issues.
Let's dig a little deeper, shall we?
"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes," wrote Thomas Jefferson, one of many "wise and frugal" governing principles he committed to posterity.
Sadly, our country is now $13 trillion away from realizing his goal, thanks to a problem he predicted.
"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government," Jefferson added, a reminder to adhere to the basic limitations set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights – limitations on government that now no longer exist.
Obviously, the road to complete and total abandonment of America's founding fiscal and governmental ideals was a long one, and – to hear revisionist historians tell it – a necessary one.
Sort of like all of the trillions in recent federal interventionism was "necessary," according to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
In fact, Obama went so far as to say that our current national recession would be "irreversible" unless his bailout boondoggle was passed.
Interestingly enough, it was a creative definition of the "necessary and proper" clause – made infamous in the 1812 McCulloch v. Maryland ruling – that first enabled government to assume powers far beyond those originally enumerated by its founding documents.
What powers, you may ask? Whatever powers it deemed "necessary and proper," obviously.
Paired with the Commerce clause – sixteen little words that have also been interpreted as giving the federal government near-unlimited power to do whatever it pleases – the slippery slope toward future excesses was well-oiled.
After the Civil War came the Interstate Commerce Act, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and "stream of commerce" doctrine - all of which radically enhanced the federal government's authority at the expense of the states.
Then came the first "New Deal," which firmly centralized national power under a federal welfare state, but according to Franklin D. Roosevelt's own Treasury Secretary only made matters worse economically.
"We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work," said Henry Morganthau. "I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started … And an enormous debt to boot!"
Mark those words … because you very well may hear them again after eight years of Obama's "New Deal 2.0."
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them," Jefferson wrote.
At every turn along the way, America has failed to heed that advice.
All that remains to be seen is if we ever will.
The author is Chairman of Americans for Limited Government