In the long process called American History we see the experiment called “democracy” in its glory, and also at its worst. The United States of America is, by far, still the greatest country that ever existed up to this point, even with all the crises we have gone through. One of the reasons it is may be the people who make up the country. As a melting pot of just about every nation with a government, we have been able to put together an excellent mix of opinions, lifestyles, customs and mores, as well as a great sense of how to solve problems. Most people around the world would still want to live here more than any place else on earth. It is our way of life that makes many of our enemies wish, out of pure envy, to destroy us.
The drawback is, however, that we sometimes cannot admit our errors. With the political system we had created for us comes great responsibility, and there have been times we have forgotten this. Perhaps we have wanted to; on purpose, it could be said. Compare our political system,then, with what it was written to be. Many times I have heard said, or have read, that our founding fathers created the process of election and serving in public office as a way of temporarily filling a need for good people to help make our country run.
It was not to create life-long career politicians who would eventually serve themselves, but individuals who would serve for the welfare of the citizenship of this country. We are reminded of an ancient Greek story about a citizen general working on his farm, being called out to war to lead his people to victory, only to, soon after, return to his farm to till his soil. Imagine an American elected official today doing something similar, after serving a term or two, heading back to their office job or some retail store. Today’s politician is a career politician, complete with the making of wealth and improving their lifestyle. Now how do they serve the people?
Americans started paying taxes soon after this country was founded. It is written that the first income and sales taxes came as a result of the Civil War and after. I have even heard a rumor (actually read it) that those early taxes were supposed to be temporary ones. In the last hundred years, however, they have become the answer for everything that ails us. We pass taxes whenever we feel the necessity hits the spot, from helping to fund building projects to aiding persons who need extra help. Somewhere along the line we watched our purpose change to ones we can’t control. Our elected leaders, slowly and progressively, have passed taxes for more selfish, personal reasons. They just don’t come out and tell us what they are for, but they have us thinking that our money is their money. If for some reason we put up a fuss, we are hit with psychological warfare, much like parents practice on their children, that amounts to a guilt trip.
If you do not pay your share, you will be starving hungry children, taking away places to live for the poor, and depriving the elderly of health care in the future. In reality, and we all sense it, that money you pay in taxes is not going to what it is for. At least not the largest portion of it. In fact, percentages show that administrative costs eat up a lot of what we pay. All we would have to do is look at the actual ledger sheets to see what is spent and on what and we would be shocked to no end. Instead, a large chunk of it is processed in to the individual bank accounts of elected officials and their fortunes. A job needing well-meaning, concerned individuals to serve the public best interest is suddenly turned into a self-satisfying, self-sustaining and permanent position, where anything is possible with a little bit of deception and cunning. And yet, I have heard many people say we should have more of it! How absurd it is to even consider.
Ponder this: if you make government bigger and you give it more money, what do you think you will get? If someone offers to fix your car, and after paying them you find out that your car still does not work, do you then pay them more? That is something like what we do with taxes: we pay the government large enough sums of money to take care of problems and such, and then when we fnd out that they are not working like they should, we sink more money into them. That elected official then asks you to give more and then laughs all the way to the proverbial bank. Many companies find over years that their employee pension and benefit plans are going bankrupt, and at the same time our government is increasing theirs. How wonderful it is to be a politician! Serving one term can create personal wealth, give you health benefits that very few hardworking Americans can afford, and perks (and pork) that can help keep people dependent on you.
What is the answer? The answer is simple: Americans have to start thinking rationally, and then take back their country. Back here in Pennsylvania a revolt of sorts took place this past year. A secret overnight passing of a payraise created a firestorm, one that the elected officials tried to shrug off. Their efforts did not work. Not all of the people involved were voted out of office, but enough were to send an important message. The fear is, however, that voters will over time forget that they took action and won. But there is a greater threat which has cropped up recently. Some of the political analysts are hearing that the rookies in the State legislature are being told, or even warned, that their efforts to change things, hopefully for the better, will not happen. The status quo, they suggest, will be kept. I can only hope that this is not so. Compare political service in the federal government with this situation, which is even more frightening if you want your government to work for you, not against you.
In my reading, I have found stories about the Imperialist Age in Europe, and how the noble families of those days and lands created feudalism and maintained it for hundreds of years. The general populace of their lands worked and served, and the nobles ate and lived happily with the fruits of labor from these people; all only because of a birthright. Is there any difference today in America between that kind of society and the one our elected officials are making for themselves? Many are even grooming their own children to carry on the traditions, and if there is something you need or don’t like, you simply take it from the people who elected you, or you write legislation to do the same.
A closing thought is this: we have it in our power to take government back and make it work better. It only makes sense that if something, even law, isn’t working to the improvement or betterment of our country and its people, then we should change or eliminate it. If we wish to have and keep our freedoms, we need to take a better interest in what is going on with our money. Being a former business instructor, I could go in to every government office today and show the people there ways to save ten to fifteen dollars a week. Imagine how much money the government would be able to save, and how much we could keep in our own pockets after doing that? The truth is, they don’t want us to save money.
What we don’t know won’t hurt us, they believe. I dare any politician to use their true talents and abilities to come up with much better ways to solve problems without raising taxes. They could do it, so let’s challenge them to do it! My true philosophy about government is this: we were supposed to elect our officials to serve us, but we have instead elected them so we can serve them. Think about it and you will come to a realization that we are truly expected to turn our backs and ignore what goes on in government. It is not too late to changeand take it back.