Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Learn, Remember, Think

A famous saying attributed to George Santayna is "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (in John Bartlett, comp., Familiar Quotations, 15th ed [1980], 703). I have heard it as follows: "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it." The exact wording isn't important, but the lesson to be learned is vital!
Did we remember the lesson that we should have learned with Bill Clinton: smooth talkers don't always have the character to make good presidents. He was so good-looking and charismatic that I was convinced the first time I watched him on television that he would probably be elected president. He was so smooth! I was certain that women would flock to vote for him. Worse yet, he was voted in for a second term. We sure are slow learners!
Did we remember the lesson that we should have learned with Jimmy Carter: weak presidents who don't stand firm against our enemies endanger all Americans. During his one term in office - thank goodness he didn't get a second term - America had problems both at home and abroad. At home we suffered from unemployment (7.5%) and severe inflation (15% in 1980). He was trying so hard to run our lives that he was telling us at what temperature we could keep our thermostats. Abroad, Soviets invaded Afghanistan, revolutionaries deposed the shah of Iran and gave control of Iran to Ayatollahs. Hundreds of officials of the shah's government were put to death by firing squads. On November 4, 1979, revolutionaries seized the U.S. Embassy in Teheran and held many Americans as hostages in Iran for more than a year. Iran did not release the hostages until just before Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president on January 20, 1981. Iran was smart enough to know that Reagan wouldn't be a push over like Jimmy Carter. Carter is easily the worst president I've seen during my life time.
Did we remember the lesson that we should have learned with FDR: keep the government out of the marketplace and out of our lives as much as possible. FDR gave us the "New Deal," the "Second New Deal," and a second Bill of Rights (Cass R. Sunstein, The Second Bill of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More Than Ever, (New York: Basic Books, 2006), 243, FDR apparently didn't consider "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as enough rights. His second bill of rights included 1) the right to a useful job [Would employers be forced to hire unqualified people?]; 2) the right for farmers to make a descent living [Where is the incentive to work harder and smarter?]; 3) the right of businessmen to trade without unfair competition or monopolies [competition forces companies to become better or go broke]; 4) the right to a descent home [this worked out well with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, didn't it?]; 5) the right to adequate medical care [Medicare/Medicaid/Obamacare]; 6) the right to economic protection in old age [Social Security], sickness [Medicare], accident, and unemployment [unemployment benefits]; 7) the right to a good education [Are tax payers supposed to cover college educations too?] The irony is that FDR wanted to give all these rights, but took away the citizens' right to own gold.
When people feel entitled to things like jobs, clothing, recreation, homes, etc. they lose the incentive to work hard, save for, and care for property. There is something about having to invest time, money and/or sweat in something to really appreciate it and feel ownership for it.
It looks to me like we elected a smooth-talking president who has weakened our country against our enemies and is trying to totally control our lives. If our country survives this president, what do we need to do to elect a good president who will honor the Constitution, protect our liberties, and hold off our enemies? We need to learn the lessons of the past and then remember them. We need to do our own thinking rather than letting other people do it for us. Matthew 7:16 gives us a good key: "Ye shall know them by their fruits." What have the candidates actually done as opposed to what they are promising to do? What individuals and groups have been their associates in past months and years? What kind of votes did they cast at lower levels of government?
Remember, if we don't learn from the past, we are "condemned to repeat it."

If weather permits I'll be gone for a few days. I'm flying out to Montague Island to hunt for some Sitka black tail deer with my husband and a couple of good friends. I'll see you when I get back.

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