Thank you, Steve, for this opportunity to offer a few BRIEF comments on the unfolding catastrophe produced by the unrestrained growth of government.
At the beginning of this century, under the leadership – such as it was – of that noted conservative Republican, William Jefferson Clinton, federal spending consumed less than 20% of our hard earned resources. A decade later, a bipartisan cabal of spending mavens jacked that up to 25%. Think about that. Fully 1/4 of everything Americans produce gets sucked into the federal maw. And that doesn’t include the 15% or so which funds local and state government.
Clinton’s record looks good in retrospect because he benefitted from the pro-growth policies adopted by Ronald Reagan and by the spending restraint – the best efforts of his wife notwithstanding – imposed upon him by Newt Gingrich and a Republican Congress which, back then, felt obliged, for purely partisan purposes, to actually act like conservatives. And the country prospered mightily.
Unfortunately, we are in the midst of a bipartisan spending blizzard. It is the measure of Obama/Pelosi, et al., that, as horribly irresponsible as George Bush and the Republican Congress were, they’re exponentially worse.
The reason for this can be found in Obama’s own words. In 2008, when Senator Kennedy got sick, then-Senator Obama substituted for him, giving the commencement address at Wesleyan. In that speech, he said, “our individual salvation depends upon our collective salvation”.
That pithy sentence summarizes precisely why we’re facing such a disaster. One major party has adopted a theory of America which is profoundly unamerican. That sentence gets it precisely backwards. Our collective salvation depends upon our individual salvation. Or, more accurately, the way to ensure collective prosperity is to maximize individual freedom. We are not individually free because we're collectively strong, we're collectively strong because we're individually free.
Americans have always believed in certain basic truths, and there’s a certain irony in the fact that the President of France understands them better than the President of the United States. President Sarkozy, speaking before the American Congress, said:
“Here, both the humblest and most illustrious citizens alike know that nothing is owed to them and that everything has to be earned. That's what constitutes the moral value of America.”
Our government is too big because far too many of our fellows feel that they are entitled to a large share of their neighbors’ money.
This is less a war for America’s wallet as it is a battle for America’s soul. Do we truly believe in individual freedom and individual responsibility? Or, on the contrary, to we believe that government exists to steal a large percentage of the produce of the productive and hand it to those who have not earned it?
As George Bernard Shaw said, “A government with the policy to rob Peter to pay Paul can be assured of the support of Paul.” And, thus, the question: are we to be a nation of self-reliant, freedom loving Peters, or a nation of greedy Pauls, living off the sweat of others?
That’s what this is about, ladies and gentlemen. Are Americans to be individually free, to earn what we can, and keep what we earn, with everyone expected to pull his own weight? Or a socialist paradise, in which everyone wallows equally in envy-driven poverty?
We are well along the path toward economic collapse. We see it in creeping inflation, driven by the obscene Obama deficits, debasing our currency; in the perpetual high unemployment which inevitably attends socialist governments; with the growing sense of entitlement displayed by too many Pauls amongst us. We stand at the precipice. If we don’t get control of spending now, and stop the inexorable growth of government, the nation Abraham Lincoln called the last best hope for mankind will fail. Instead of being a shining example to the rest of the world of the power of freedom, we will be abject proof that even a nation as allegedly proud of its freedom as are we can be undermined and destroyed by envy and greed: by people demanding -- claiming entitlement -- to things we have not earned.
This is not about money, it’s about freedom. If we don’t slay the spending dragon now, there will be no free tomorrows for our children. I, for one, don’t want to be a part of the generation that squandered American freedom and that bequeathed a bankrupt nation to its children. Freedom is worth fighting for. I sincerely hope the American people agree.