Get out of the way and let me struggle.
I was in a waiting room last week and there sat a Texas Monthly magazine with a picture of a horrible looking lizard creature on the cover and a headline that read, “The Struggle to Survive.”
Upon seeing this lizard and being told that he’s struggling to survive, I thought to myself, “To hell with him. I’m struggling to survive.”
Every single living thing struggles to survive. The key difference is that humans have figured out how to struggle less while life is pretty much the same hard-scrabble deal it has always been for that ugly lizard.
At one time, getting enough food to eat on a daily basis was nearly as challenging for people as it is for Texas Horny Toads. But today, the lack of food isn’t our number one nutrition problem. Having too much to eat is our problem.
At one time, adequate shelter and the ability to fend off predators was nearly as big a problem for humans as it is for squirrels and gophers and prairie dogs. Today, it’s a crisis of huge proportions if the air conditioner goes out.
If you scale the entire 50,000 years of known human history to a period of just a half-century, we didn’t even have air conditioning until sometime late last night.
For the first forty years on our scale, we know very little except for the fact that near the end of that 40 years, humans had figured out how to make clothing out of animal skins.
For about the next nine years and seven months, starvation, disease, pestilence and the tyranny of the strong over the weak ruled the daily lives of most humans.
It is only in the last couple of months or so of our 50,000 years-scaled-to-a-half-century that we have made starvation the exception, created shelters that largely render the outside climate irrelevant, turned most infectious diseases into easily treated nuisances and lopped off the heads of most of the kings and czars and potentates that at one time lopped off our heads.
Today we think we struggle. But it’s a struggle of an entirely different nature. We now define survival as having a nice home and a late model car, getting our children into good schools and figuring out how to lose weight.
Our poor horned lizard, on the other hand, is still getting swooped down upon by large birds and taken off somewhere to be killed and eaten. And up until just a few weeks ago on our 50,000-to-one time scale, we weren’t doing much better.
So on our compressed scale, what changed for us in June of this year?
I believe that the pivotal change was the taking root of capitalism on the North American continent. I believe that it is freehold tenure of land, and the right to own the means of production, and the right to keep the fruits of one’s own labor, that set in motion the vast improvement of circumstances that had eluded humans for the first 49,750 years of their known history.
When set free, humans began doing an amazing job of solving their own problems. American farmers solved the food problem. Henry Ford solved the transportation problem. Curiosity-driven and profit-driven scientists in Europe and America brought antibiotics to market in the 1940s and solved much of the infectious disease problem.
America set an amazing example for the world and as a result, humans everywhere began to find their daily struggle more bearable.
American government, for its part, defended the peace, supported the currency, acted as impartial referee in the arena of the free market and otherwise pretty much got out of the way.
I say all of this as a caution following President Obama’s speech on health care Wednesday evening. The ability to transplant a kidney successfully did not happen because of action taken following a well-crafted presidential address to a joint session of Congress.
The specific math of the health care proposals ricocheting around Washington is less troubling than the underlying equation. What bothers me most is the belief that only a massive intrusion of an overweening government can solve problems, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary within the pages of our own history.
Our health care affordability issues are, in my opinion, largely the product of the distortions introduced by an already too heavy government intrusion.
To solve the health care “crisis,” shrink the government’s role.
Don’t expand it.
“The Rebirth of the Divine Right of Kings”
Few people realize what a miracle of timing the birth of the United States was – as though God pulled together the right combination of historical pressures, the availability of resource rich land and the brief and brilliant flowering of a 1iberating philosophy.
For one brief shining moment in the 1700’s and early 1800’s, the leaders of an obscure English colony on the shores of North America, believed completely in the astounding idea put forth by English philosopher John Locke that all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Locke’s ideas were called anti-Christian by writers of the day who sought to defend the idea of the superiority of “noble birth” and by later writers who sought to discredit his ideas and establish divine rights for themselves. Almost immediately, the nobility and the gentlemanly class began to look for a weapon with which to undermine Locke’s astounding idea that the ordinary plowboy had as much potential to be the leader of a nation as did the son of a baron or duke.
They found such a weapon in Darwin and the pseudo-science of eugenics. If intelligence and other factors such as “natural leadership” and ability to handle money could be inherited, then, joy of joys, men were not created equal after all. It meant, they argued, that there ought to be a privileged class after all based on the superiority of genetics.
But it was already too late. The United States were already firmly established, based squarely on the principle that everyone ought to have an equal shot at success. Worse yet, they were promiscuously teaching this blasphemy in their public schools to generations of young plowboys and farmer’s daughters.
In the late 1800’s the wealthy and professional classes seized upon the twisted science of eugenics to justify the holding of power by elite families and scions of rich politicians and, ironically, some of the very people who had acquired their wealth thanks to the democracy of American capitalism. Ivy league schools began pumping out a new American “nobility” who began, in those unsophisticated times, to openly look for ways to sterilize the “feeble-minded” and marginalize the working classes.
They divided into two groups. The liberal elites on the left felt sorry for the poor in a paternalistic way and under the leadership of Karl Marx, studied ways to manipulate the proletariat shamelessly toward their own ends. They embraced the new eugenics as evidence of their own moral and intellectual superiority and justification of their moral right to leadership.
On the radical right, the elite disdained the lower classes and embraced eugenics as a guide to improving the human race through a kind of hybrid corporate socialism that marginalized the lower classes and, of course, justified their own natural superiority and place as leaders.
It explains why the Nazis and Communists were such deadly enemies. Both felt that they were the natural leaders of the world and there is not room for two “natural” leaders. Thankfully, the people of the United States still embraced the antique philosophy of our founding fathers and turned loose the massive power of a nation of free men and women and shut both enemies down – temporarily.
Sadly, it may have been a last gasp. It looks like the paternalistic left and the iron-fisted right have risen up again. The Ivy League is busily pumping out both elitist Democrats and country club Republicans, all trying desperately to justify their “natural” right to the mantle of leadership. The Tea Parties and 912 rallies frighten them to their bones. These guys are students of history. They know what happens when the “nobility” over-reaches. France and Russia stand as stark witnesses of the consequences of waking up the proletariat.
The reason the ordinary Americans who jammed the streets of Washington yesterday are angry is that they feel like something is being stolen from them.
And it is!
The last election offered no real choice for those of us who believe in the principle that all men are created equal. We were given a choice between two groups of elitists, both of whom proposed an increase in the size and intrusiveness of government; both seeking to increase their power base; neither respecting the voters as anything but a tool in their hands to insure their continued power.
After all, these are the hereditary great men of America. They have inherited the mantle of leadership due to their superior genes, their superior education and their moral obligation to rule over those lesser than themselves. They see themselves as uniquely qualified to play the “great game” of politics.
That’s why the appeal to the constitution has little weight with them. The constitution is based on what they consider an outmoded idea. “All men are created equal.” What patent balderdash!
With the establishment of the United States upon that principle, God bought us little time and created a refuge in which we could, for the first time in the history of the world, work out on a grand scale the grand principles of Christianity.
That all men are of equal value.
That you should treat everyone as you yourself would want to be treated.
That you have a right to life, to freedom and to opportunity.
That only God has a right to lead us. That a nation’s leaders serve the people of the nation, not themselves.
The same folks who once argued in favor of the divine right of kings are today’s socialists and facists. They are two sides of the same coin.
It’s little wonder Americans are saying, “Enough!”
Just one man’s opinion!