Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Entitlement Problem

Some amongst us, in this time of economic crisis, refuse to play fair. They stand firm in their refusal to do what is best for the rest of us. They whine about the inequity and unfairness of being asked to make sacrifices, and ask why they should be asked to part with even more of their money. They flex their muscles, wielding the only power they have, trying to stave off the rising tide of ill sentiment toward them from some corners of the nation. The conspire to bring government to a halt, rather than be placed in the position of having to give more than their fair share.

I speak, of course, of the ultra-wealthy conservatives in America.

America houses a great number of the ultra-wealthy, but many of them have shown a definite trend toward helping their fellow human beings. T. Boone Pickens is making it his business to find alternative sources of energy to break our dependence on foreign oil. Warren Buffett is a well-known financial mogul who puts large sums into philanthropic endeavors and is more than willing to be taxed more heavily if it will help the nation. Bill Gates, long reviled as the founder and head of software giant Microsoft, has, along with his wife, turned his vast wealth to the problems facing Africa, hoping to turn a tide of centuries of decline by controlling malaria, bringing clean water and electricity to the far-flung corners of the continent, and sowing the seeds of education for everyone in every African nation.

For all the philanthropic titans, however, there are the shadowy bearers of wealth, who, rather than turning their power to help others, turn it to acquiring more power. They are wealthy than some nations on the globe, and yet the number is never large enough to satisfy their all-consuming greed. They would seek more, but are constantly rebuffed in their efforts by laws and the needs of others, so they do what they must to break down the barriers to further wealth: they buy their way into government. Money talks, and in Washington, D.C., and state capitols, the language is spoken by a great many, who are drawn to the siren call of wealth. There are a great many takers, most of them “fiscal conservatives,” willing to strip away the freedom and liberty of the vast majority of Americans, to serve the scions of the almighty dollar.

It is no wonder they find such easy and pliable adherents in the realm of conservatism; the very name, “conservative,” suggests a retention of the status quo, the maintenance of the forms of the past, where wealth is concentrate din the hands of the few, and the rest of humanity is left to beggar along as best it can, putting its efforts to continue the flow of wealth up the pyramid to those at the top. Conservatives see the march of time and the progress of humankind as anathema, taking away their cherished “way of life” and threatening to empower and embolden everyone else. Unable to share power, acknowledge the rights of others to hold different views and different values, clinging to dogmas outstripped by centuries of progress end enlightenment, they scramble to retain control, afraid of being legislated into obsolescence. They fight to hold the line, rising up on occasion to drive back humanity, to try and “take back” the progress has been made, as if one could stop the Earth in the course of its orbit.

The look down upon the rest us from their lofty perch atop their piles of money, and like the raptors, seek out the easy prey, those who are most malleable to their cause. They swoop down upon them, befriend them, convince them that their plight is the fault of others, and whip them to a fervor, sending them off to fight their battles for them. They stick to the shadows, or try to, hoping to go unnoticed as their minions holler and scream about the wealth of entitlements that others demand, claiming that they are the ruination of the nation. Indeed, it is entitlement that is to be our ruination, but not the entitlement of each and every American to their life, their liberty, and their justice; it is the entitlement derived from ultra-wealthy privilege, a self-imposed entitlement that says that he who holds the money runs the show, which is contrary to everything the Founding Fathers placed in the Constitution.

In the Constitution, the branches of government were enjoined to provide for the “general” welfare, the “common” defense, to maintain “domestic” tranquility. The document was written with every American citizen in mind (save the slaves), not just the wealthy, and was done so by a group of men who were themselves wealthy in many cases, by dint of their own efforts. They wanted every American to have the same opportunity to succeed, but knew not everyone would, and therefore it was up to government to play the vital role of arbiter, guardian, champion, and, occasionally, supporter. The Federal government was charged with ensuring that we all had the same stake in this union, and placed the power to regulate the government in the hands of every one of us. If the government does not always do what we think is best, we would hope that what they are doing is in the best interests of us all.

This is not always the case.

The government of the United States is more riddled with graft and corruption than at any time in our history, owing to the influence of powerful and aspirational forces, looking to manipulate legislation to provide them with a greater range of freedom to pilfer the pockets of the masses, while having to share none of the burden themselves. They have supplanted the normal course of American government, with the help of a great number of our countrymen, blinded to their manipulation and bred to avoid questioning the “powers that be.” Faux revolutions are manufactured to upset the balance of power in Washington, D.C., to allow their shadowy leaders to push forth their agenda. When true Americans of good heart and conscience arise to howl at blatant hypocrisy and deal-making, they are roundly condemned for using their freedom to voice their intolerance, even as the engineered revolution does precisely the same things. They no longer fear the light, willing to forward their hypocrisy and their blatant disregard for the freedom and liberty of others, confident that their power insulates them from any real harm.

That is their Achilles' Heel – their overconfidence in their wealth and power. It has been true throughout human time; when power and wealth concentrate in the hands of a few, those few often find themselves on the wrong end of the mob. Many of the great revolutions of history are traced back to people who, having been ground down under the heel of the powerful for too long, rise up, to take back what is theirs and to balance the scales of justice. Often this can lead to bloody civil strife, as the desire to punish the wealthy becomes open class warfare, settled with the scythe, the sword, or the gun. The pursuit of power inevitably leads to the downfall of the pursuer, for they cannot control everyone at all times, and their paranoiac attacks on those who will not swallow their toxic lies lead in most every case to the truth being brought out into the light.

They who have made their political bed must now lie down in it, to toss and turn in fitful sleep, every creak and groan of the machinery that controls their machinations sounding like the advancing march of thousands of feet, until they are brought awake by the rocks crashing against the windows and the howls of the swirling mob, demanding their head. They will be brought before the angry faces, ragged and scowling in the torchlight, and for the first time, they will meet those they tried to manipulate unsuccessfully. Even now, the crowds gather, here and all over the world, citizens tired of lies, tired of back room compromises, tired of working too hard for too little while the rich laze in luxury, playing their political party games and squandering the inheritance of the coming generations on padding their power.

As it once was, so it is again, that the people of the Colonies, now States, must rise up in rebellion, though this time, peaceful rebellion. They must challenge those who have ascended to power through subterfuge and hyperbole and hypocrisy, challenge them at every turn and let them know that they will not have an easy road to traverse if they intend to continue to try and strip American citizens of their rights to pursue their own counter-productive and convoluted plans. Though elected by some, State and Federal legislators are the servants of all the citizens under the aegis of their position, not just the blocks that vote for them nor the figures behind the scenes who prop them up. They are not placed in their positions to pursue their agendas, but to provide for the safety, security, liberty, and freedom of everyone. To do less is to shirk the responsibility that was handed to them.

So be warned: no election is ever truly over after the winner is declared. If the intent is to govern, those charged with that duty must meet the needs of the people. If the intent is to continue the turning of political wheels, then it is time to disrupt the system and cast aside those who attempt to manipulate government to their own ends. Government is of, by, and for the citizens of the United States – and the world – and we will not be denied our just due in the course of liberty.

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