Monday, January 28, 2008

A Response to GDAEman

I was going to respond to GDAEman's comment to this post in the comments section. I didn't realize I was writing another complete post!

An introduction is in order: GDAEman is a regular commenter on the Patriots and Tyrants blog co-hosted by Scott and me. (If you consider our posting on P&T to be regular.) If you looked at all three of our personal blogs, you would probably say that we shouldn't be agreeing on anything. However, we all believe there is a greater good than the two political parties we succumb to, and have some good conversations that transcend the current goo called U.S. Politics.

I also added GDAEman to my links on the right today. Welcome, GDAEman!

Here it goes.


Agreed that we have gotten smarter on some principles, and made amends (pun intended). There is something to be said about "life, liberty, and property" though, that gets lost in the mix.

That which I am given, I tend to find less valuable. I'm not talking about family heirlooms or priceless treasures here, which are given to us and are extremely valuable, but primarily only to us. I am talking about commodities on the low end, and common assets that were once seen as luxuries - houses, cars, etc. - on the high end.

Those things that I earn - through profits, wages, battle, debate - I tend to defend and protect. Why do inventors protect and defend their ideas? Because of the years of toil and strain. It's pride of ownership.

What happens when pride of ownership disappears? When someone buys a house, and gets it on a zero down-pay mortgage, then cannot afford the mortgage, what did they really lose? Not the $20,000 they saved up for 5-10 years, because they didn't save it in the first place. Not the ding to their credit score, since their credit score might have been bad already. And who cares when it is socially acceptable to declare bankruptcy at the drop of a hat?

I'm not bundling everyone into the same category here in the sub-prime fiasco. My point is that it's easy to distance yourself from failure when there is nothing to defend, nothing that you owned.

We don't have to earn much nowadays to have more than people in 65-70% of the world. The monthly earnings of some entitlement recipients, which aren't taxed, rival the post-tax discretionary incomes of some low-level professionals and many blue collar workers. We look to be given more, instead of looking to work for more.

We are so far removed from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, where U.S. liberty was defended on American soil. This pride of ownership issue not only applies to tangible goods, but to ideals as well. Today, we take our liberties for granted, as though they were given to us as a gift, not as something for which we sacrificed lives. We don't "own" our country any more. Pride of ownership is taboo, because it makes those that don't own feel inferior. We can't have that now, can we? Instead, we must build up their self-esteem, tell them how wonderful they are, yet still not nurture them into being thoughtful, productive, progressive members of society.

What I'm saying is that we are a country of enablers. We enable politicians to take us for granted, to use us as their own pieces on their big Risk game board. I can hear it now:

"I want to be red this time."
"Okay, I'll be blue."
"Can I play, too?"
"No! There is only enough room for two of us."
"But what about all those other playing pieces?"
"Won't work. We'll both gang up on you so you can't win."
We enable businesses to take advantage of us by trying to create legal monopolies and stifling competition. We accept 'free' offers for cell phones, wireless service, and for 'click points' on websites. Or we register our buying habits with grocery stores...gas card companies...all so we can pay a little less, or nothing at all, on our next gas purchase or big-ticket-I-still-can't-afford-it fantasy vacation (it's for the children, after all). Nothing like letting all these companies know exactly what our buying habits are. We might as well just give them the keys to the house!

We enable political action groups to tell us when to emote, while never actually delving into why they want us to emote. Why should I MoveOn, when it's just about bashing the Right? Same with Kos. Same with many right-leaning websites. Heck, lefties bash Kucinich and righties bash Paul. What's up with that? Each party now cannibalizes their own non-conformists, instead of letting the voters give them the thumbs up or thumbs down.

We enable the media to whittle down our presidential nominee list for us by volume of positive or negative coverage.

And, conversely, politicians enable us to ask for more, because they keep giving it to us. We get lazier and lazier, ask for more and more, and defend what we have less and less.

Okay, enough ranting. My point is that the Constitution may have been written by wealthy men looking to protect their assets from other wealthy men, but look what happens when we don't want to protect anything - ideals, borders, faiths, liberties. I remember seeing a graphic about the rise and fall of civilizations, I think by Benjamin Disraeli. Looking at the natural regression of civilization after we get "too much", civilization declines rather quickly. From what I recall of the representative graphic, we are almost halfway down the decline.

Geez, I didn't think I would be writing a sub-post. :-)


***I wish I could find that graphic somewhere, something about the body politic. Someone please help; even just citing a legitimate reference would be good.

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