Paul E. Scates
September 4, 2002
Anyone above the age of forty-five or fifty, or any honest person who has studied the history of this nation, can tell you that something has gone terribly wrong with our country. Sociologists, political scientists, psychologists and other experts all have their explanations, backed by supposedly unbiased research and statistics. But I have my own explanations, borne out by fifty-two years of living in a country that seems hell-bent (literally) on destroying itself. Here are a few of the things I see wrong with the United States today—
Professional politicians. George Washington, after leading the Continental Army to victory against the British, sought to return to his life as a planter in Virginia. But he was the overwhelming selection of the Continental Congress to be our first president. Though he also reluctantly accepted a second term, he refused a third, setting a two-term precedent that was later made into law. Was it because he was so keenly aware of the dangers of one man staying too long in a position of power that he stepped down? How many politicians today have to be practically coerced into serving, as he was? And how many step aside after briefly serving in order to make way for other able citizens?
No, the image most of us have of ‘public servants´ is one of greedy manipulation and self-serving rhetoric, of men and women willing to say and do anything to acquire the offices they seek, and keep them once attained. We no longer demand integrity, honesty and character of our political leaders, and they´re sure living down to our demands. Imagine any Congressman or Senator not of retirement age willingly stepping down today, unless it´s because of scandal. Considering Kennedy, Condit, Traficant and Torricelli, just imagine them willingly stepping down, period.
Shouldn´t our representatives be those who endure and understand the ups and downs of life that most of us experience—saving for our children´s college, sometimes scuffling to pay the mortgage, worrying when there are unexpected car or home repairs, concerned about layoffs or downsizing, etc. At $155,000 per year, plus a million or more each for expenses, exactly what part of the normal lives of most Americans do these dilettantes live or understand? How can those who live such pampered, catered-to and privileged lives represent the rest of us? They can´t, of course, and they certainly don´t. They represent and benefit themselves and their own careers, and further their own personal ideologies. Why do we allow such people to make the laws by which we must live, and waste billions of our tax dollars to further their own careers?
Lawyers. Yes, attorneys may serve a useful function in society, but only insofar as that function is strictly limited. A few years ago, we were graduating more lawyers each year than existed in the rest of the world (explains a lot, doesn´t it?). Why is having too many lawyers a problem? Because there must be enough work to support the lawyerly class, and they influence the attitudes of the rest of society to ensure there is. Since the end of World War II, the simultaneous burgeoning of the number of lawyers and the rise of the psychoanalytical industry has created in this nation an entitlement attitude.
When people encounter any disappointment, hardship or difficulty, the psychiatrists assure us that it´s not our fault. Oh, but it´s somebody´s fault, the lawyers tell us…and make sure we sue them forthwith! ‘Those are just the breaks of life´ and the idea that our personal behavior and choices cause most of the difficulties we encounter in life are ideas no longer accepted, lest we have to confront the responsibility for our own lives. That wouldn´t do for lawyers, since we can´t sue ourselves, so it must always be someone else´s fault. That attitude has pervaded all of American life, with disastrous results.
Oh, and ‘rights´…lawyers are indignant whenever a potential client is denied his or her rights (whether they actually exist in fact or not). Thus the ‘right to privacy´ that legal scholars and statesmen missed for 150 years, yet was ‘discovered´ in the Constitution by modern judges (lawyers on steroids) back in the 1970s. Or the right to unfettered expression of sexual preference, or to equal outcome rather than equal opportunity (a lawyer´s favorite ‘right,´ for it provides limitless billable hours fighting the ‘injustice´ of different levels of success).
Over 400 years ago, William Shakespeare wrote the play Henry VI , in which the character Dick the Butcher uttered that famous line, ‘The first thing we do, let´s kill all the lawyers.´ (Dick the Butcher for President!)
Teachers who indoctrinate rather than educate. Recently the local school board was crowing about the improvement in our public schools because the marks on national tests had risen about four points from a few years back…from 52 to 56! While that´s better than declining four points, fifty-six percent is still a dismal failure!
Why is it that the public schools—where one could once get a decent grounding in the fundamentals of reading and comprehension, math, science, history and social studies—no longer teach our children the basic facts and skills required to live a decent life or be responsible citizens? Has the subject matter changed so much? Or is it something else?
Distinguished economist, author and social critic Thomas Sowell has written often about the state of education in this country. He points out that teaching degrees don´t even require teachers to be proficient in their academic area! He also writes about the philosophy and politics of college education departments, which instill the socialist, mechanistic worldview of Dewey and others. Teachers thus readily agree to teach how to put on condoms while ignoring American history as ‘jingoistic´ and biased…defend homosexuality as normal while decrying Christianity as judgmental…and promote self-esteem to students who can´t even spell it!
In colleges and universities, the assault on traditional American values — moral, ethical, philosophical, religious, etc. — is undisguised and almost universal. The political correctness of the left ensures that Marxism, socialism, the victim-hood of minorities and women, etc., are beyond question and taught as fact … taught to the very people who then ‘teach´ our children these same ideologies, even while neglecting their real education. Special reading programs for seniors in high school say all that´s needed to be said about public education in this country today.
We, the people. I could continue to list other sources of the ills afflicting our nation today—race-baiting demagogues, incompetent and slothful workers, crooked CEOs, etc. But the ultimate responsibility for all our problems rests squarely on the shoulders of the American citizens…and we´ve neglected our duty.
We´ve been living off the economic capital of previous generations who did take the time to fulfill their responsibilities, and off the moral capital and culture created by their faithfulness to G-d. But today´s shaky economy and woeful cultural standards are what we have created by our apathy and irresponsibility. Just as we praised previous generations for passing on freedom, opportunity and spiritual truth, future generations will damn us for the legacy of immorality, self-centeredness and corruption that´s just beginning to be manifest itself.
Did you think there really wasn´t going to be a payday for the years of sloth and neglect of our responsibilities? A nation is what its people make it. What have you contributed to maintaining the moral, cultural and spiritual climate that once brought America to greatness?
The American people, through their morals, character and commitment to principles and standards, are the engine that drives this nation. The nation´s ultimate problem today is that you and I have abandoned the principles of G-d that were the foundation of previous generations, principles that proved to be practical, beneficial and productive. We´ve traded the blessings that came from faithfulness to those principles in exchange for humanism, socialism and status as eternal victims, with government as our savior. The only deal in history more shameful involved thirty pieces of silver!
This is a democratic republic, and ‘we, the people´ is more than just a rhetorical phrase. We not only have the right and the ability to create our own future, but we have the responsibility to do so. Shirking that responsibility doesn´t absolve us from the consequences, and substituting man´s flawed theories for G-d´s proven standards simply makes us guilty before Him, and before future generations. The Bible tells us that men will choose to turn away from G-d, but Pogo said it even more clearly: ‘We have met the enemy, and it is us.´ You want the truth about what´s wrong with the U.S.? Go look in the mirror.
Paul Scates is a Constitutional Conservative and a Christian who offers his commentary to 'we, the people,' who bear the ultimate responsibility for the actions of our elected representatives, and for preserving our Constitutional liberties. Paul served as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam, his interests include history, government and cultural issues. You may e-mail Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Decaying Society
8 sep 2002