Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What Would 19th Century America Have Been Like If It Had Been Governed By A 21st Century Nanny State?

Ever wonder how America would have evolved if the pioneers who carved out a nation from raw wilderness during the 19th century had been subjected to the nanny state of the 21st century?

Genevieve LaGreca, the author of "Noble Vision", a novel about liberty, also wondered about it. She penned her thoughts on this subject in a column entitled "America Has Lost Its Way", a powerful indictment of the 21st century security and safety-obsessed nanny state that squats upon us like Maggie the Elephant. This column has been reproduced in the Anchorage Voice of the Times today (November 6th, 2007). Here are some of her observations:

- As you prepare your covered wagon for journeying West, inspectors report that your wheels fail to meet safety standards, the canvas on your wagon is not fire retardant, and the yoke on your oxen could be harmful — not to you, but to the beasts. Although you've traveled safely in the wagon before, you're slapped with fines and forced to correct the problems. You leave for your journey with a lighter wallet — and a heavier spirit.

- When you reach your new town, you find that land isn't cheap anymore. The government took huge tracts off the market to preserve the wilderness. One of the townspeople sells you a plot — at 10 times what he paid for it. You learn that he was one of the councilmen who passed the law preserving the wilderness. He smiles to welcome you to town, but you have difficulty smiling back.

- You plant a crop, only to learn it is forbidden. The government decided there was enough of it and any more would lower the price. You find that your neighbors on the town council who (cont'd from front page) passed this law are the folks who grow that crop. You also discover that some farmers produce no crops — and get paid for their empty fields with your tax dollars.

- You suppress your frustrations and search for a way to succeed. You enjoy making furniture, so you decide to open a shop. But wait. You must file permits with a dozen agencies. This means hiring lawyers and accountants, which you cannot afford, so you must give up your dream of starting your business.

- You get another jolt: the tax bill. You discover that your nanny demands a big piece of you to fund the agencies running your life.

You're just starting out, but you feel drained. The promise of a new life has vanished.

- In time, you learn to play the game. You join the town council to build government instead of furniture. You work in a blacksmith's shop where you do a lousy job, but you get a law passed that forces your boss to pay you more than you're worth.

- Your wife cuts the townswomen's hair. She worries about losing customers to a new haircutter. But you get the council to enact a law requiring any new haircutters to complete 500 hours of instruction and pay a hefty fee for a license. This protects the public from unsafe haircuts.

Despite your maneuverings, you feel no joy. Your life is no longer in your control, but depends on the arbitrary whims of the council. You've lost the confidence and drive you had when you started out. You've become fearful and conniving. The town has destroyed you.

Not enough? Here are a few of my own:

- You're a cowboy in a bar. You exchange words with another cowboy; it soon escalates to fisticuffs. He's black, you're white. Fight quickly breaks up, no permanent damage, both of you go your separate ways. Three years later you're arrested and charged with federal civil rights violations for beating up a black man; you're convicted and sentenced to 87 months in prison.

- You want to buy a ticket to take a stagecoach to another town. But the ticketmaster won't sell you a ticket...because your name shows up on a Federal "no-ride" list.

- You run a respectable bar. One of your patrons climbs on his horse after a night of drinking, rides away and runs over a little kid. He's charged with DUI; to pay his legal costs, he sues you and takes your bar because you let him get drunk.

- You have two daughters in the local one-room school. The younger daughter draws a picture of a gun one day, and after the local SWAT team swarms the school and locks the place down for six hours, your daughter is immediately suspended for "communicating a threat". Days later, when your older daughter finds out she's pregnant, she goes to the school nurse, who drives her to the local Planned Parenthood clinic where she gets an abortion without even telling you.

- You're riding a horse, with your 8-year old son on the saddle behind you. You're smoking a cigarette. The local sheriff rides up besides you, flags you down, and gives you a ticket...because you were smoking a cigarette with a minor riding on the horse with you.

What happened in these hypothetical situations is happening nationwide right now. Why? Because we're no longer satisfied to live by our own efforts; we demand government "entitlements" and "guarantees". Once we respected the rights of others; now we pass laws to tax and control everyone. Once we reined in government to unleash individual freedom; now we rein in the individual to unleash state power. Once we were pioneers sprinting toward the American Dream; now we're distressed travelers caught in a maze called the Nanny State. Democracy's fatal flaw - we have the power to vote to spend OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY.

And what kind of America would we have today if the nanny state had ruled during the 19th century? It would be a different America - an America that never became a superpower, never entered the international stage, never split the atom, never sent men to the moon. And we probably wouldn't have bought Alaska from Russia, or constructed the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. Most likely America would be a collection of squabbling "duchies" rather than a united nation. The nanny state is the antithesis of progress.

And, as Genevieve LaGreca concludes, the Nanny State is also the antithesis of America. It violates a person's right to act freely and instead compels him to follow the state's dictates. It corrupts the citizens by giving some groups unearned benefits at the expense of others. It corrupts officials by giving them unchecked power to dispense favors, to make or break lives, to control entire industries, to confiscate property, to redistribute wealth. It anesthetizes the people to its unbridled power by telling them they will be taken care of, as if trading freedom for dependency were desirable. It uses the chilling weapon of the police state — force — to impose its edicts.

Today's nanny concocts a bitter brew of hundreds of alphabet-soup agencies to regulate our lives. How many modern pioneers are choking at this campfire? To grab the reins of our lives, to ride free and unafraid like Daniel Boone, we must get the nanny off our backs.

And we can best do that by sending Ron Paul to the White House on January 20th, 2009.

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