Friday, October 24, 2008

Once Upon a Time in America

Continuing to read Garret's The People's Pottage, and found this gem of how Americans used to think, used to be.

[Americans] were deeply imbued with the traditions and maxims of individual resourcefulness---a people who grimly treasured in their anthology of political wisdom the words of Grover Cleveland, who vetoed a Federal loan of only ten thousand dollars for drought relief in Texas, saying: "I do not believe that the power and duty of the general Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering . . . A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people. . . . Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our National character."

Which was only one more way of saying a hard truth that was implicit in the American way of thinking, namely, that when people support the government they control government, but when the government supports the people it will control them.
(The People's Pottage, p. 55)

Americans used to take pride in supporting themselves, in freedom. Today, they can't give away their freedom fast enough, and crave the paternalistic protection of the government. Just compare America's embarrassing reaction to Hurricane Katrina, in which many shamelessly demanded Federal aid.

We have become a nation of beggars. And self-righteous beggars, at that.

4 comments:

Jim May said...

These actions are to be "limited and temporary."

Sure. As "limited and temporary" as the income tax.

Chuck said...

Just for the duration of the "emergency," you understand. After that, laissez-faire!

Edelweiza said...

Reading this post has made me learn something new about Americans.

Chuck said...

Well, the glimpse of American character evident in the excerpt is unfortunately a thing of the past. Now, we are just like everyone else. No better, no worse.

Our nation was founded to be a better place, a land of freedom and limitless opportunity for anyone, from anywhere, who wanted to be the best they could be.

Sadly, that is all gone. God knows when it will ever return, in America, or anywhere else.