I learned the bible story of Jacob and Esau as a child. The younger son, Jacob, was the momma’s boy. Esau, the older, was the he-man who hunted and brought great food home for his dad. One day Esau came in from hunting, famished. Rather than prepare a meal, he sold his “birthright” to his younger brother for a meal. This need for immediate comfort illustrates human nature at its worst. Though he wanted his birthright back, his short-sighted vision caused an irreversible consequence.
In the 1750’s, our nation’s Founders made the decision to reclaim the “birthright” given to all men, the right to liberty. They reversed the course of thousands of years of history and created a representative Republic to secure the rights of men, not trample upon them. This Republic weathered the storms of expansion, invention and a bloody civil war.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the winds of Progressivism began to blow around the world. Elitists and academics speculated about the best ways to regulate societies in order to “manage” people. The idea was to equalize outcomes among people and beat down the wealthy, of whom it was said, took advantage of the masses for their own financial benefit. Government had to be used to accomplish this.
In the century to follow, shrewd policy makers used crisis after crisis to steal more liberty from the individual and grant it to the “smart people” who were running government. The pinnacle of stolen liberty was reached during the Franklin Roosevelt administration when he successfully passed sweeping legislation designed to “take care of” people in need. With a financial crisis gripping the nation, he “took control” and squashed the private businesses he blamed for the problem in favor of centralized government control. (For a historical treatment of this, read The Forgotten Man, by Amity Schlaes.) Programs such as Social Security came into being during this time. The same Progressivism was advanced during the Johnson administration with the “Great Society” legislation. Programs such as Medicare and Medicaid appeared during these years.
Progressives have now succeeded in spending taxpayer money to bail out private corporations, invest in individual states to keep state workers on the job, pay people to turn in perfectly usable cars for new cars to prop up government-owned car companies, and passed legislation to force Americans to purchase health insurance. We are a long way from the limited government envisioned by the Founders.
Benjamin Franklin once wisely noted that an individual who would trade security for liberty will have neither. Our grandparents, parents, and we have traded our “birthright” of liberty for a false “security”. These programs begun to “secure” individuals have become a financial noose around our collective necks. All are fiscally broke and unsustainable and represent a clear and present danger to our financial futures.
We are at a pivotal place in history. Unlike Esau, we can reverse course. Where our Founders reclaimed the right to liberty on the battlefield, we have an opportunity to reclaim this basic right at the ballot box; one state, one district, one precinct, one vote at a time. We must reclaim our birthright to that which has been granted to us by no man, but by the Creator of the Universe. We must begin to reverse course and dismantle this Federal Bureaucracy that threatens the American citizen in a way that none living have ever experienced. It will take a century to do it, but we must be steadfast and we must not compromise on liberty. It must begin in 2010. We may not get another chance.