Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 22, 2011

Watching the decline of the late, great United States of America

By JAMES H. "SMOKEY" SHJTT
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— The idea that America is in a steep decline is widespread among people old enough to know what our country was like before the 1970s. The country had been in decline for a while, but back then it was a slow process. Then liberalism burst forth, the flower children and their fairy tale ideal of peace and love came along. There is nothing wrong with peace and love and other liberal ideals, but their implementation is nearly always unrealistic and mostly makes things worse.

The foolish thinking that blossomed in the mid ’60s and ’70s, and continues today, produced ideas and policies that have accelerated the decline. All of this is completely unrecognized by the vast majority of younger souls who don’t know, either through experience or through education, what the United States was all about, and what made it special among the nations of the world.

People came to the English colonies for different reasons, and there were many things the colonists did not agree on. But as time passed, the growing sense of nationhood was strong enough to surmount those disagreements.

The colonists came to see themselves as Americans, not as British subjects who lived in America, and the sense of unity, self-reliance and national independence had grown so strong that the colonists rose to armed rebellion against the English Crown, citing a long list of grievances and abuses in the Declaration of Independence.

Here is how history professor Dr. John Ferling described the revolution: “... the American Revolution was the birthday of a new world. The new epoch that they wished to create was one that would sweep monarchs and titled nobility from power, loosen the bonds of society, and open the way to greater opportunities, so that a man could rise as high as his merits could take him.

“That age left us with two documents that remain crucial today,” Dr. Ferling wrote, “the Constitution, our fundamental charter, and the Declaration of Independence, with its ringing message of liberty — with many notable participants who continue to inspire, from the obvious Founding Fathers to obscure farmers, workers, and soldiers who struggled and sacrificed to win Independence and achieve the new world.”

The American Revolution and the formation of a government whose scope and power were strictly limited by the United States Constitution set the country on a course that over the next 150 years led to its being the freest, most successful nation in history, a magnificent accomplishment.

It’s too bad we haven’t had the good sense to honor the wisdom and sacrifices of our founders by maintaining that system.

Having traveled a long way down the road of decline we now stare straight into the face of the possible collapse of the American idea; our once great republic is on the precipice of disintegrating into another failed effort at big-government socialism.

We’ve lost our good sense and our soul. We have failed to teach the young of recent generations why America is special, its values and ideals, how it works, and why it was set up the way that it was. Instead we have taught them that families and commitment are not important; that there is no downside to having children out of wedlock to grow up without a father; that it is permissible for people to sit on their backsides and expect to be taken care of. We are able to fund only 60 percent of everything the government does by taxing the earnings of the people, but only half of them contribute. And we borrow the rest, mounting up a colossal, murderous debt in the process.

Instead of preparing our children to exist in an unforgiving and often unfriendly world, we have taught them that how they feel about themselves is more important than learning to cope with adversity, that hurting someone’s feelings or making them uncomfortable is worse than nearly anything else, and that politically incorrect thoughts must be punished.

We no longer recognize that some things are wrong, absolutely. We attempt to excuse the worst behavior, like pedophilia, by trying to blame it not on the evil predator but on some overwhelming force, and excuse violent crime not as the fault of the criminal, but of the society in which he grew up.

We have abandoned the ideas of limited government, honor and integrity in government, fiscal responsibility and personal freedom. The government tells us what light bulbs we can buy, what kind of energy we should use, where we can open businesses, and what kind of food we should eat. It takes Joe’s home and land and sells them to Mary for Mary’s personal benefit. It is enormous, expensive, wasteful, inefficient, abusive and corrupt.

Worst of all, we have lost our heart. We no longer believe that America is at its best when its people are allowed to be free and produce on their own merit and initiative, not because of the government, and often in spite of it.

We have traded our freedom for the false comfort and the bondage of Big Brother. Perhaps because of our stupidity and our faithlessness we deserve the horrible future we are racing toward.

James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist.