John Brock: Patrick Henry didn’t say, “Give me liberty or give me more benefits”
As we celebrate the Independence Day season, it’s sad to note there is a growing trend to change the famous mantra of Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me death” to the modern cry of “Give me liberty OR give me something Free from the government!”
This thought came to me when I opened my mail recently and came upon an offer for the government to provide me with a FREE cell phone plus 250 free minutes of use and up to an astounding 1,250 text messages each month. I was instructed to fill out the enclosed form and mail it in for my free cell phone if I qualified. The mailing stated that depending on the number of people in my household, I could qualify even if my annual income was as much as $53,501.00 or more.
The mailing came from a group called Safelink with a Chicago address but under a program called “South Carolina Lifeline Assistance Program.” To qualify, you must certify that you are already getting other free government benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Social Security, free school lunch assistance and who knows what else.
I mention this one example of a free government service just to make my oft-raised point that we have become a populace that wants something free from the government. Anything — as long as it costs us little or nothing even though it entails loss of our self-respect and Constitutional rights. Are we really willing to let our conversations and text messages be monitored by government? Some folks declare that it’s OK for government to look at all their personal conversations as long as they can talk, text and twitter. Even better if it’s done with a FREE telephone and monthly service. We learned recently that the federal government routinely keeps records of all of our telephone calls and Internet traffic.
Our forefathers fought hard and our founding fathers labored intensely in composing our Constitution to prevent big government and to prevent infringement on our individual liberties. Why then are we so lax about sacrificing these liberties without so much as a murmur of protest?
I think it is because the government has led us purposefully into a mindset described by John Maynard Keynes and is known as Keynesian Economics. This philosophy dictates that government can first use your tax revenues and then take the proceeds to buy the support of the citizens with free government stuff. We have seen this taking place for the past 50 years or longer. We know that we have sunk deeply into this something-for-nothing mentality when many folks are getting income tax refunds when they have paid not a dime in income taxes. This is “income distribution” in its proudest Keynesian sense.
Look at all of the freebies available to American residents regardless of whether they have contributed to the cost of such programs or not. No wonder millions cross our borders illegally just to get in on our government’s generosity with your tax dollars.
I don’t want charity
My grandmother who was born not too long after the War Between the States always said whenever someone offered to do something for her, “I don’t want charity.” And she meant it too. So did most Americans who believe as firmly as I do that we should help those who are truly impoverished get out of their cycle but those capable of providing for themselves should do so. But in the past decades we have done much to ensure that generation after generation of able-bodied slackers will decide, “Why get a job when I have it so easy feeding at the public trough.” We call it “entitlements.” Charity should be temporary in nature to help folks get over a rough spot and not elevated into a lifetime career.
Certainly that is true with at least a portion of the almost 50 million Americans currently drawing food stamps. We seem to have plenty of money for like programs but our wounded veterans have to get on television and the Internet to virtually beg for money to support assistance for them and their families. Something is terribly wrong with this equation.
There are those few in number who have lifelong physical or mental problems who will require long-term support and we should help share their burden but not the able millions and millions who are now enrolled in free government programs. Our wounded military veterans should be at the top of any list of those we help.
Patrick Henry had it right, “Give me Liberty or give me death” but sadly many think his stand is a little silly today. We would be content to let Big Brother continue to “take care of us” and if we have to give up some of our liberties in the process — then so be it.
It’s a sad day in America. Think about it during this time of celebration of our hard-fought independence as a nation.
John Brock is a retired newspaper editor/publisher and college professor who lives in Georgetown County. He can be reached by mail at this newspaper or via Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be found at www.SouthernObserver.com.
Opinions that appear on this page in Letters to the Editor or in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.
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