The Decline of American Exceptionalism
On September 18th, my 57th birthday, I drove to my mother’s grave as I have done every year since she passed away from a massive stroke on Thanksgiving Day, 1990, at the young age of 59. Some may think this sentimental, and others quirky, but for me it is an opportunity to revisit memory lane and to embrace my past and my family heritage. Though a melancholy trip, it is in some ways reinvigorating, reminding me of the roots from which I came and the values, work ethic, character, self-esteem, self reliance and drive she and my dad instilled in me and my sister. Chief among these was the insistence that we always accept personal responsibility for our actions and should not depend on the government or other outside parties to shape our future but instead rely on our own self-determination, abilities, ingenuity and perseverance.
As I drove away from the cemetery I decided to drive past the old house just south of downtown Indianapolis where my grandparents spent many years babysitting me while both my parents worked to build a good life for me and my sister. My grandfather, a union truck driver, was a kindly man who eventually succumbed to the wrath of nicotine, as did my mother. He was not a wealthy man and did not live in the best neighborhood, but he was a hard worker and a good man who took pride in his home. It was always in excellent condition and the yard was immaculate. I fretted for the future of my children and grandchildren as I drove by that house, which is now in a sad state of disrepair with junk strewn throughout the yard, in a neighborhood that has been decimated by the ravages of time and the consequences of our government’s policies and intervention.
Driving through this neighborhood, which I am sure is inhabited by many good people on some sort of government entitlement, I was saddened. Many were sitting on steps or in lawn chairs doing nothing while their homes and yards were deteriorating around them from lack of effort and pride. Should I blame them? There will always be a certain segment that is lazy and has low standards, but I place a large portion of the blame on government. Government policies and politics are ruining this great country and sending it on a downward spiral. At one time it was providing the highest standard of living from top to bottom, above any nation in history, but now it is steadily sliding towards abject socialism. The truly sad part is that we have too many willing participants. These are people who enjoy being cared for and having no personal responsibility. The government is changing the “national character,” as succinctly stated by Peggy Noonan (See Revolt of the Accountants), and slowly destroying the greatest hope the world has ever experienced.
Government entitlements, regulations, elitists, extremists and today’s big labor policies are attempting to destroy the free markets and, along with it, America’s competitiveness and ingenuity. People increasingly have little incentive to invent, to work hard, or to improve their lot in life and the lives of others because the government continues to build an entitlement-dependent society. Slowly and methodically, the failure of each and every person to take responsibility and accountability for their own destiny will spell death for this great nation. Self-esteem will continue to slip away as government becomes the “parent” from cradle to grave.
Unions, special interest groups and even some clergy continue to press for entitlements, income and class equality, sameness, irresponsibility and slothfulness, all in the name of social justice. Quite often during the SEIU’s corporate campaign against EMS, clergy supporting the SEIU would rant about the need for a living wage, reduced work load, time off, elimination of the need for a second job, and work restrictions so that everyone could be equal and enjoy the same fruits, whether they earned it or not. Unfortunately, our politicians have bought in to this system, as it has become a means of perpetuating their power and self-voted lucrative jobs. They are elitists who understand that the more people depend on government, the more they lose their character and soul. As a result of this dependency, politicians continue to vote for handouts, thus the decline of American exceptionalism.
Politicians over the past couple of decades have traveled this path and, most recently, they have even begun to berate America’s achievements and greatness as gluttonous and self-serving. Our current President believes we consume too much of the world’s resources and are arrogant and unexceptional. (See David Limbaugh: Obama Most Destructive President).
I am sure that people living in straw huts with dirt floors in Africa or Cardboard boxes in Mexico would love to have a Capitalistic/Free Market System like ours to pull them out of true poverty. All the groups mentioned above including the Administration believe America’s use of the worlds resources keep these people in poverty, because we consume too much of the pie. The truth is we need to help them make and expand their own pies and be self dependent. The truth is, the world craves America’s return to greatness and the continuation of American exceptionalism because, despite all of its warts, America is the world’s best hope for all mankind.
Then again, maybe there is still hope. The other day, when I stopped at the coffee shop, I was encouraged by the attitude of a young cashier. She had a note pinned to her shirt that proclaimed her a birthday girl. I wished her happy birthday and asked if she had special plans for that evening. With a smile she said, “No, I’m going to my second job.” I responded, “Good for you,” and she smiled again!
We cannot regulate ourselves to prosperity. Government programs claiming to “divide the pie” only stifle progress and prosperity. Yes there are bad people, but they are present in all walks of life; the government is not exempt. Protectionism by the government only makes people more vulnerable and less productive. This is exactly what the politicians and government want, as vividly exposed in the attached video (See Those Voices Don’t Speak for the Rest of Us)! President Obama believes we are ignorant children who must be told what to do by his elitist group (See My Questions for the President).
It’s time to take our country back, return American ingenuity and achievement to its proper place, create self dependent and responsible people, reduce the size of government, replace the elitists, reverse our growing dependency on their socialistic design, and restore the American Dream along with a “can-do” mentality for the benefit of all the world. (See Tyranny of the Unelected).
Government is not the solution; it is the problem. November 2nd, 2010 would be a good time to proclaim we are not going to stand for this anymore (See Never Gonna Stand For This).
About the author: David A. Bego is the President and CEO of EMS, an industry leader in the field of environmental workplace maintenance, employing nearly 5000 workers in thirty-three states. Bego is the author of “The Devil at My Doorstep,” based on his experiences fighting back against one of the most powerful unions in existence today.