OUR CHARACTER COUNTS
by: Kim Weissman
January 18, 1998
|"Bill Clinton would
rather climb a tree to tell a lie than stand on the ground to tell the
truth." So said an Arkansas official familiar with
Clinton, during the 1992 presidential campaign. Democrat Senator Bob
Kerry has said, "Clinton's an unusually good liar. Unusually good. Do
you realize that?" In July, 1996, a Harris poll found that 56% of the
respondents thought that Bill or Hillary Clinton probably did something
illegal in relation to their Whitewater dealings, and 59% thought they
probably tried to cover up their wrongdoing. That same month, Clinton's
popularity among voters increased. And several short months after that,
Bill Clinton won re-election as President of the United States.
In 1992 Marion Barry, past and current democrat mayor of our nation's capitol, was released from jail where he had been sentenced for possession of crack cocaine. In 1994, following his release from prison, he was re-elected Mayor of Washington, D.C. According to the Washington Post, Barry is presently embroiled in a scandal for spending taxpayer money "as if he were the potentate of a rich kingdom", on items such as $30,000 to rent a cruise ship and $300 to buy a cake to celebrate his birthday, and $900 for Christmas decorations for his office. Barry had planned to spend $625,000 of taxpayer money on a luxury stadium skybox, until stopped by financial managers from the federal government. But never let it be said that Barry doesn't have the best interests of his constituents at heart: the city's job training programs have placed 1079 city residents in private sector jobs over 2 years, and has spent "only" $17.4 million to do so -- a modest $16,126 per job. The U.S. Labor Department has determined that the city's job training programs are the worst in the nation.
In Wisconsin, two democrat state legislators who were defeated for re-election in 1996 filed a lawsuit claiming that they have a right to hold office, and to the payments and benefits to which office holders are entitled. The target of their suit is a business group which ran advertisements which examined the voting records of the two, and they claimed that their resulting losses in the election deprived them of their property right to hold office. Their argument is that once someone is elected to office, that office becomes their private property and nobody can do anything to deprive them of their property. It used to be understood that it was the voters who got to decide who was "entitled" to serve the public in elective office (and our nation would be far better off if aspiring politicians took more serious note of that phrase "serve the public"). Despite such incredible arrogance, if these two legislators run for election again, does anyone seriously think that they won't get any votes? Of course they will, and they might even win. A state court judge dismissed their property rights claim with the comment that "There has been to date no express recognition of a property right in a holding of public office in Wisconsin."
In Massachusetts, a democrat state senator pled guilty to failing to file federal income tax returns for four years. She claimed that she needed all her resources to take special security precautions after having received a death threat in 1990. She apparently received police protection for two weeks, but then decided that she needed to spend thousands of her own money on security devices and personal protection. One of the great ironies in her case is that she is a staunchly anti-Second Amendment state senator, believing that private citizens should rely on police to protect them from violence and should not be permitted to arm themselves for self protection. Senator Wilkerson, however, apparently considered herself more important than mere citizens, deeming police protection inadequate for her. Upon being sentenced to six months of home detention (she must stay home from 9 PM until 7 AM) and two years probation, the senator said she did not intend to resign her office, but intended to continue to serve her constituents. Whereupon constituents who were present at her announcement burst into cheers and applause. Does anyone wonder what moral authority she retains to enact laws, when she thinks that existing laws do not apply to her? Relying on a Senate ethics committee recommendation, the State Senate voted 26-11 to allow Wilkerson to retain her Senate seat, merely removing her from a committee chairmanship.
These examples of the arrogance of those politicians we elect allegedly to represent us are but the tip of the iceberg. The demand by taxpayers that we be permitted -- PERMITTED -- to keep more of our own money through tax cuts is dismissed by our masters as "selfish". State referenda enacted to limit the terms of legislators are the subject of lawsuits, in which incumbent legislators actually sue their own constituents. The attitude is all too common in both state and federal legislators, that the laws which they enact to govern the people do not apply to them (it took the republican 104th congress to finally decide that a plethora of laws enacted over the years governing employee rights, health and safety will be applied to congress itself). The highest government officials, sworn to uphold the Constitution, instead seek ways to evade its mandates; for example: there are indications that Clinton will not submit the recent climate change treaty for the Constitutionally required Senate ratification (which will probably fail, and for good reason, since the science from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center shows global temperatures cooling, not warming), but will simply impose the terms of the treaty by regulatory mandate instead. Many people cheer when our government extorts -- there is no other word for it -- billions of dollars from tobacco companies on the specious claim that the money is needed to pay for the added health care costs associated with smokers, when the New England Journal of Medicine documents that smokers actually SAVE medical costs in the long run. And Bill Clinton is having a field day proposing new federal programs, to be paid for out of the tobacco money. The Mayor of Philadelphia then conceives the bright idea to use the same goofy rationale to sue gun manufacturers for "nuisance", because criminals cause added city clean up costs when they shoot people. Shall we next see the auto makers sued on the same grounds, to clean up the carnage on America's highways? After all, more that 29 people die in automobile accidents for each person killed in firearm accidents, and even if intentional homicides and suicides are included, more people still die by motor vehicle (43,484 in 1995) than by firearms (35,957 in 1995). Yet we ignore facts, ignore logic, ignore any pretense at rational thought, and cheer the government sanctioned theft.
Politicians at all levels treat the people of this country like five year olds, and brain damaged five year olds at that, who cannot make it through the day without some government program or agency or bureaucrat taking care of them. Yet, year after year, election after election, we keep re-electing these same types. We complain that they're all crooks (everybody else's congressman, of course, never our own, because we judge our own by how much of other taxpayer's money he can confiscate for us), but we continue to vote for them anyway. In 1996, fully 94% of all incumbents in the House were re-elected. In the landmark year 1994, when republicans broke the dictatorial 40 year democrat stranglehold over Congress, still 90.2% of House incumbents were re-elected. Why? Why do we have we so little respect for ourselves? Perhaps we simply don't care: complaining about arrogant politicians and out-of-control bureaucrats and government agencies sounds good for pollsters, maybe even makes us feel good. But unless some government outrage affects us personally, we are missing in action. Certainly, those who bear the brunt of out-of-control bureaucrats scream about how they are abused by their government, but who else cares? Who else lifts a finger when they personally are not the target? And it wouldn't take much. For example, every congressman represents about 600,000 constituents. What would happen if, the next time some federal agency did something outrageous, every congressman received letters, telegrams, faxes or phone calls of outrage from a mere one percent of their constituents? That would be 6000 expressions of anger per congressman, more than 2.6 million expressions of anger flooding congress. If that happened, how long before the offending bureaucrat is told in no uncertain terms by the relevant congressional oversight committee to shape up or ship out? But nobody cares until their own lives are destroyed. We get the government we deserve.
"It is difficult not to conclude that something about our moral perceptions and reactions has changed profoundly. If that change is permanent, the implications for our future are bleak." -- Robert Bork
We shall soon face a situation which we have not experienced for 30 years, a federal budget which, it is claimed, will produce a surplus. Whether or not this is true, or simply an accounting gimmick (likely), is not the point here. Assuming it is true, we have a choice: What to do with that "extra" money? On one side are those who say "give us back our money, let us run our own lives". Those are the people who prefer independence over government dependency. On the other side are people who say "spend more on federal programs". Those are the people who prefer dependency on government, who like government taking care of them. A recent poll showed that a mere 22% of the people prefer independence over government dependency, and fully 43% (perhaps not coincidentally, the same exact percentage of the popular vote which elected Bill Clinton in 1992) want more government spending, a bigger government, more dependency. Politicians treat the people like children who cannot survive without government help, because that's how we view ourselves. We like it that way. Liberal redistribution has triumphed, turning a once independent people into dependent children.
In 1831-32, Alexis de Tocqueville toured America and recorded his observations of the new republic, and of the self-reliant character of its people: "The citizen of the United States is taught from infancy to rely upon his own exertions, in order to resist the evils and the difficulties of life; he looks upon the social authority [ie: government] with an eye of mistrust and anxiety, and he claims its assistance only when he is unable to do without it. This habit may be traced even in the schools, where the children in their games are wont to submit to rules which they have themselves established, and to punish misdemeanors which they have themselves defined. The same spirit pervades every aspect of social life. There is no end which the human will despairs of attaining through the combined power of individuals united into a society...".
Today, Tocqueville would hardly recognize the country he visited. Nor would our Founders, who pledged "our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor" to bequeath us Independence.
HAD ENOUGH YET?: A certain democrat who is a potential candidate for president in 2000 opposes a flat tax on the grounds that it would raise the price of staples such as bread, thereby unduly harming the poor. It is interesting to note the current state of affairs, brought about in large part through the efforts of democrats such as this potential candidate while his party held control over Congress for 40 years: According to Americans for Tax Reform, 31% of the cost of a loaf of bread already goes to taxes: Federal Corporate Income Taxes, Federal Individual Income Taxes, Federal Employee Payroll Taxes, State Property Taxes, Local Property Taxes, State Corporate Income Taxes/Franchise Taxes, State Individual Income Taxes, State General Corporate License Fees, Local Business License Fees/Franchise Taxes, State Unemployment Compensation, Energy Taxes, Energy Environmental Surcharges, State Telephone Taxes, General Telephone Service Excise Tax, Toll Telephone Service Excise Tax, Local Business Income Taxes, Truck Excise Taxes, Highway Tire Excise Tax, Federal Gasoline Excise Tax, Diesel Fuel Excise Tax, Use Tax for Heavy Highway Vehicles, State Gasoline Tax, State Motor Vehicle and Operator Licenses, State Public Highway User Taxes and Tolls, Tire Disposal Fees, Oil Disposal Fees, Environmental Impact Tax, State Wheat Farmer Check-Off Tax, State Sales Tax, Local Sales Tax.
FOR MORE INFORMATION...
CDC, National Center for Health Statistics: http://www.cdc.gov/nchswww/
HAD ENOUGH YET?:
above article is the property of Kim Weissman, and is reprinted with
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