Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22140 – 711:
I mentioned on Tuesday James of the world-renowned James Proclaims did a Villanelle as one of his filler pieces instead of a Haiku and the form fascinated me. I am working on it but that’s not what you are getting at the moment. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Go figure. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Originally written 11/28/08 – Herbdate: 17829 never posted anywhere. Sorry it’s a day late but I’m a dollar short.
We Americans have always been a fiercely independent lot and the people who came over in their little boat fleeing tyranny, oppression, religious persecution, and being burned at the stake for their beliefs. Fleeing England they spent several years in Holland before deciding to move their whole colony to America so they could “stay English.” They were not the Puritans, who wanted only to purify the Anglican Church and simplify it to following only the Bible, but they were Separatists. They had the extremely radical view that they should be allowed to choose their own religious leaders and be completely separate from the Church of England if they so chose. They needed financial backing and found businessmen who would back them and accompany them for their own reasons, one being profit. The “Pilgrims” as they later called the collective group of “Saints” from the church and “Strangers” (there actually being more, sixty-six, strangers, i.e., businessmen, than the forty-four saints) set sail from Plymouth, England, on September 16th, 1620 and arrived 2,700 miles, 66 days and one death later on November 11th in Cape Cod.
The idea of creating a “Civil Body Politick” in the Mayflower Compact for the purpose of maintaining law and order was very innovative for the time and solved several problems that had arisen between the Saints and the Strangers, bringing about a new way of looking at governance. They came together to solve a collective problem. This was the simplest example of government of the people, by the people. That little colony started because of fiercely independent people who did not even see themselves as such and their financial backers. The company that supported the venture and the businessmen that went along might, I suppose, be comparable to today’s venture capitalists that back entrepreneurs with wild inventions and crazy business plans that just might work and just might pay off. The spirit of independence and the love of being free and the idea of financial opportunity drove them here.
And thus it was e’er with the Americans. Fiercely independent-spirited and desiring from government only to be left alone except for those laws that the majority feel are for the good of all, otherwise free to do as they choose and get by on their own; these are the people who started building a nation, at first without even knowing it. Then came men like Patrick Henry, “What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God – I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”
Or the brave and loyal soldiers on both sides of our own internal conflict. Men who gave everything, fighting on both sides, willfully being in conditions that we won’t even subject our modern-day prisoners of war to. We know Lincoln was brave, facing the certainty of dividing the nation, to issue his Emancipation Proclamation but were not the Americans in the South, demanding their States’ Rights, equally brave and just as fiercely loyal and independent at the same time? Although the slavery issue dominates any discussion of what we have so peculiarly named, “The Civil War” (as though such a thing could be) there were issues of how the very core of our government works as well.
Over the years many oppressed people have looked to the shores of our nation and dreamed of coming here and being free to make their own way. People like my great-grandfather, serving under the Kaiser in the German Army with no voice to criticize the tyrant he served or his politics. He saved his pay and saved his pay and then, in a daring risk that would have meant a firing squad had he not succeeded, booked passage on an old-fashioned sailing ship and came over here at the turn of the last century. Stories my dad has told me and I have shared with you here show the man’s fiercely independent nature and love and respect for the glorious nation that took him in.
Another ancestor on my mother’s side came from Ireland during the potato famine to find a land with streets of gold. Poor farmers, poor as the dirt they farmed on, the idea of taking a handout from anyone, least of all a government, would have been repugnant at best. On the Irish side they had had handouts from the British government. Even though, once the English admitted the Irish were human, and had genuinely compassionate ideals, their programs, run by government officials, left millions to starve and die with food on hand. They knew how government programs work. My grandfather on the German side made moonshine during the depression and risked his life with notorious Chicago gangsters to feed his family. His pride and spirit would have been broken beyond repair to just ask for a handout of something he could either get by himself if he was smart enough and worked hard enough or maybe he just didn’t need all that bad anyway and could do without.
One of the things these people shared and a thing Teddy Roosevelt preached as well was that they did not take pride in being “German hyphen American” or “Irish hyphen American.” They weren’t hyphen anything but were proud and gloriously happy to say they were AMERICANS! They are probably rolling over in their graves at the idea that someone would say to them, after they worked all their life, “Well, I’m not against you having some, but I think you ought to give it to others who haven’t worked as hard as you. I just want you to spread the wealth around a little bit.”
None of my antecedents ever became millionaires or even hundred-thousandaires as far I ever heard, but they had pride and an independent spirit and they are typical of what makes this country the greatest country in the world. The spirit that was in these men is the same spirit that was in the Pilgrims, Saints and Strangers alike. These are the kind of people that came here and come here still. People escaping Socialism and Communism and dictators of every kind; fleeing their homelands when and where they can; striving to become Americans. I am convinced that there is a gene that is inherited among these people that drives them and that after a while, if our country can survive long enough, Americans will be a race of their own, with features and skin colors that will be recognizable anywhere, constantly infused with the blood of newcomers fleeing to our sanctuary, more identifiable than the Romans of old.
But can we survive? Do we foster this independent spirit? No, the Socialists who want to gain power soon would have this spirit quenched. Let us imagine a likely enough situation, one that has happened in real life, but which I will personalize for the sake of making a point. We will say that my great-grandfather came over on the boat with an idea for an invention. He starts a business that employs a few people making this thing and selling it. He passes it to his son, who works 80 hour weeks to improve the invention and to sell it. The business grows. We skip to the future and I am handed the keys to a thriving multi-million dollar empire. My family and I have worked very hard, great-granddad risked his very life to come here, I employ thousands of people, and I am a producer in society.
Now, will Socialism tell me, now that we have been producers and employers and contributors to society for four generations, “Thank you for how much you have helped our society and your many contributions?” No, what the new plan will be is to add more to the taxes I already pay and give handouts to people who pay nothing into the system at all. Am I remunerated by Socialism for already paying 70% of the country’s bills? No, Socialists (You can call it collectivism or whatever other name, it’s still the same) will say how evil and greedy I am and slander and vilify my grandfather and ask for more from me, rather than making the those who contribute nothing actually involve themselves.
The Socialists will tell me, “You have a low-level employee, Lackadaisical Larry, who does not have as much as you. He needs a house and a car and a doctor and food and you must provide him with that.”
“But I already give to charity and I do pay him, even though he is unproductive, slothful, rude and arrogant. You have already made laws that I have to pay him a minimum wage which is far more than he is worth already, and he just squanders it away.”
“Well, be that as it may, you owe Larry something.”
“I pay Larry what I owe him, plus I pay extra in taxes and insurance because of him and I donate money to organizations that could actually help Larry if he wanted it.”
“Look,” says the government, “You make so much money, we will have to take a bigger portion from you in taxes so we can give Larry some of these things.”
“Why not make it easier for me to lower Larry’s pay in an attempt to make him productive?”
“Hahahahahaha! That’s a good one.”
“Well, if it’s going to cost me more and more to run my business and pay lazy employees, maybe I should move to another country.”
If you are saying that these people either deserve or are otherwise entitled to a handout, then I say let them seek out charitable organizations to help them. In times past we have received help from the Salvation Army and others, but we didn’t live off it. It helped us over a rough spot. The government should not be a charity. It is the least productive and least efficient way to get help to people. The Salvation Army gives 100% of what it takes in in Red Kettle donations back to the local community and does not demean people asking for help. Have you ever applied for government assistance? You should, just to see what it’s like, not even to accept the help, but just to see what you must give up to get help. It is one of the most demeaning, belittling, convoluted processes out there. Picture a charity run like the DMV.
Socialism is evil because it steals from the highly productive members of society and gives it to the least productive. I make no distinction between Socialism and Communism because while in Socialism you can say you own something (although ownership is a rather tenuous concept, study up on eminent domain cases in this country) the government still tells you what you can and cannot do with what you “own.” In Communism, the government no longer pretends that you own anything or have any rights but rather says flat-out that it’s theirs.
Our way of life is threatened if we don’t work to preserve it. We must fight Socialism aka Communism at every turn. Instead of growing the government and making people more and more reliant on the government, we should stir up their independent, self-reliant nature and shrink the government. The sad thing is that most people have this nature, if you can only get it to stir from its complacency. Everyone, regardless of how they came to be here, must understand that the more you rely on others, especially the government, the more those others own you. Living with what you have and living within your means is a challenge we must all face.