By David P Shirk
This is the reason I have chosen to go back to our nation’s beginnings. Whether we like them or not, it is where we came from. People often mistake a Libertarian for a ‘right-winger’ or a ‘neo-con’. Ironically enough –they are just good ol fashioned republicans. The principles that I hear echoing from so many Libertarian sites, are nothing more then reflections of the values that our founders sought to make, which is why I make such a comparison. Their ideas are only new to our current society where people ignore wise words and hard learned lessons because of the mistakes made during their gain. In other words – people accuse the lesson or solution of being the problem. Such people cannot be bothered enough to read in context or the whole lesson, so they go the easy route, and praise the original problem as the solution (this is what happens when you only get one side of things).
For now, I will use George Washington as an example. I hardly ever hear much about Washington these days, except on the History Channel that focuses more on his military exploits then his other accomplishments. Yet he was an outstanding fellow for his time, and his ideals and deeds have been lost on the majority of today’s society. It is these ideals and deeds that I find not only fascinating, but under-rated and unmentioned by a Nation that once respected him as no other in our Nations history. His successes and failures were what made him who he was, and that is why I say that liberty, freedom, and self-governance trump government any day of the week.
As stated, Washington was not held as the mental equivalent of Jefferson or Franklin. He was not politically inclined as Jefferson, nor as scientifically learned as Franklin. He was not the epitome of a ‘gentleman’ at the time, nor was he regarded as a great military mind.
Yet he was successful. When he spoke, people listened, and where he would set foot, people would follow. If he failed at a task the first time, he would learn from it, and try another way. He owned slaves, and even increased their numbers for a good while – yet he was the only founder who not only released them, but offered them protection and in many cases, aid when he freed them upon his death. In his time, this was not a common occurrence. He resigned from his presidency willingly when he could have been made king. As many said back then ‘What made him so great was not his power, but his willingness to let go of it’.
Though he was not a first rate intellectual, he always applied himself to be one. He forever sought to be more then what he was. He was more then aware of the fame and respect he was held with, yet never took it for granted, and would often seek advice when he ran into a situation he did not know how to deal with. He made only a few bad calls when it came to accepting advice, for he was aware of his surroundings, and learned enough to know when he was being led along. He was more ethical in his personal life then most, and held to a strict moral code that served him well to stay out of trouble.
Yet one thing that Washington believed more so then anything else, was that a man be judged by their actions or merit, rather then on the all equal basis we use today. He despised those who sought more then what they earned, and really didn’t care for those who would not listen to reason.
After the revolutionary war, and the signing of the constitution, Washington had much to do. The war was costly, and the US owed quite a lot to France, and to its veterans. Washington recognized such debts as being most important, as they would not have had their freedom otherwise. Needing a source of income to pay such debts, Hamilton enacted a tax on whiskey that affected the small seller more then the larger ones like Washington. Of course this did nothing for his popularity, but Washington saw it as the only way at the time to make good on the nations debt. He trusted that Hamilton was taxing a non-necessity to pay off the nations debt, to secure their future.
As much as people complained on the situation, there was a lot that they did not care to know about.
For instance, we had barely won the war by the skin of our teeth, and had not France intervened on our behalf, we would probably not have made it (the War of 1812 drove this point home, but that’s for another time). Franklin spent many years in France, and constantly played diplomat to help buy time for us to pay them back. So if you can imagine, there was great urgency placed on our infant nation to make good its debts, both to the countries that helped us, and to may veterans and land owners.
Regardless, whiskey was a high value item for trade, so many people got upset. They saw it a re-enactment of the tyrannical taxes placed on them by King George. The fact that their freedom came at a price never took hold, and a rebellion broke out.
Washington (who had not only fought heavily in the revolution but had helped calm the angry veterans afterwards), was more then a little upset at this. He cared much for his reputation and did not like the fact that it was being called into question when he was just doing the only thing he knew how to pay the price of the nations freedom. He knew the young nation was not strong enough to stand up to foreign attack so soon after the revolution, and dealt with it as best he knew – by taxing an item that was not necessary to human existence.
Today we might look back and see other means that could have been used to pay the debt, but we need to remember the 20-20 hindsight rule.
The point is, what people see, and what government see’s are often two different pictures. It is the people’s job to be aware of what is going on and past examples. If they do this, they would not elect idiots into office who would gleefully make a mess of things. It is the government’s job to not act stupidly to put the people in such a position where it would prevent them from seeing the truth, and then make them pay for the consequences of their ignorant and arrogant actions.
Our population has increased almost 100% since then. Our money supply has increased over 3 times that much. Our holdings in Gold have decreased from 650 million ounces of gold to 147 in the last 70 years alone. In the late 1790’s we occupied no foreign country – today we occupy over 30. We are told that the GDP has also shown some increases in the last 100 years, but look up how they get the number, and tell me if you buy it.
We are told without government that we wouldn’t have roads etc. Funny how there was no Department of Transportation before 1966, but we never had complaints before then. If roads were bumpy or un-kept, a state would merely set up a toll to have it fixed. Out of all the books and accounts I have read, I have yet to read any valid complaints over that system. So that argument holds no water.
Thanks to the very same politics that Washington feared, the Dept. of Transportation now falls under the Department of Homeland Security.
As for healthcare? Before 1935, social security never even existed. Do you honestly believe that it is merely a coincidence how we never needed such a thing before we developed aggressive foreign expansion, transfer of money regulation to a central bank, and involvement in the UN? Sorry, that holds no water either. Worried about an epidemic? During the cholera outbreaks in the early 1800’s people found a simple answer – stay clean! Once New York was cleaned up and living conditions improved – the virus went away relatively quickly. As for small pox – the simple answer was found there too, etc. Want to know why healthcare cost so damn much today – because people are looking for a cure for everything caused by simply being human instead of just getting over it.
As for protection? Tell me why we needed to be involved in WWI – give me one good reason. Everything after that was chain reaction in one form or another. Sorry – we don’t need a military budget in the trillions, and the funding of the Department of Homeland Security (which has obviously accomplished nothing) is an abomination, and an insult to American bravery.
You name it, I declare shenanigans. We all devote mindless hours toward trying to figure out programs that make no sense to begin with, and wonder why they keep popping up. The answer is simple and plain – they have no business being there to begin with. To anyone who claims otherwise, explain to me how we made all the declines above that I listed.
Even to people like John Adams, this would all be idiocy. Washington probably would go mad. They had none of these problems, so could they have been that wrong as modern day politics dictate? Could they have been so primitive and ignorant that they were wrong in the lessons they tried to teach us? No.
I often hear it said that the freedom that is often preached by Libertarians is useless, and that government does a much better job at fixing what the free market ruined. I see all kinds of ‘well during this era’, that was a result ‘of this one event’. Such arguments are ridiculous at best, and the reason I earlier called myself a fool – you cannot provide a correct answer to a political or historical issue in a mere few pages. People focus on either a particular event or time, and end up ignoring the underlining principles completely thus pointing out their ignorance for the inane mumbo-jumbo that it is.
It was not the warnings and advice of the founders that got us here, but the complete and utter disregard of it. Yes, George Washington, Father of our Nation would be very, very ashamed.