Our establishment as a free people has grown. Our prosperity has allowed us to live with comforts and conveniences that the richest kings didn't enjoy years ago.
Our problem is in reaching a point of satisfaction. We always try to get just a bit more. We envy our superstars, who because of the unprecedented humongous audiences through television, or the movies, can earn unheard of riches for a performance on set, stage, or athletic field. It sometimes destroys their lives, as it puts them in situations they are not ready to deal with. Yet many people see them as the ultimate accomplishment, even idolizing them.
When politicians complain about the salaries of some chief executive officers, they never mention the huge salaries of these other luminaries. We understand what celebrities do, but we don't have a clue as to what the CEOs do to earn their salary. I'm sure the CEO is under more stress, and depends more on cultivated, esoteric, intellect than the movie star.
While I'm sure all of the above are overpaid, I'm also sure that the selectivity of the politician in singling out the CEO has more to do with his own political motivations of what he wants to control, than it does to his objections to one man's riches while ignoring another's, or even his own.
The ogre under the bridge caters to our being accustomed to a life of comparative leisure. While losing our respect for honest hard work, we are beginning to envy those overpaid people for the easy life, whether earned or stumbled upon.
The solution is not to do away with merit. We will never develop a society where everyone wins the lottery. We will never see a society, where everyone lives in luxury. A strong central government has for centuries been the curse of mankind. Our mistake has been to allow people to become lifetime rulers of the country. As long as their motivation is to remain our governors, they lose their touch of being one of us. To keep America the land of the free we must have term limits. We cannot have lifetime rulers and a government by the people. A person cannot spend his life in Washington and remain one of us in his heart. Only power hungry tyrants will object. We must also have an amendment that says that Congress is subject to the laws they pass, without exemption. Aren't they one of us?
We should all realize that strong central government has been the curse of progress for centuries. We were able to set up our system to be of, for, and by the people, because in those days we were far enough away from strong central governments to make control of us difficult. Today with the advancement of transportation and communication, the politician's temptation for control grows.
America became a world leader, not because the government controlled and provided for the populace, but because it gave them the freedom needed to grow naturally and inevitably as humankind will do when left to be what they are. We were founded on the principle that humanity is capable of ruling itself without the dictates and control of self-interested rulers.
The idea that a strong controlling government can put everybody on easy street is a fool's dream. While we all have an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we don't all have the equal ability for that pursuit. Some of us are born handicapped, physically and/or mentally, and some of us under conditions that cripple our ability to become anything more than lazy slobs, with no ambition. Surely we can see to the maintenance of unfortunates and malcontents, without subjecting the whole of our great society to the level of the incompetents among us.
Our enemies are those who would subject us to their will at the expense of our ability to express our faith in the Almighty, or pursue our own lives and fortunes as our abilities allow us. Our freedom is the gem that promises the inevitable development and fulfillment of a great society, to the benefit of all humanity, everywhere. Let us not bind ourselves and our progeny by our fears of the helplessness of humanity. We are what we wish to be. Civilization is at a fork in the road. Let us take the path that gives dignity to humanity, not subjugation to would-be elites. May God Bless America.
Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org