The biggest problem facing America today is America today.
How can anyone find fault with the government when the “government” is us? In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve – their own reflection. A nation rife with profligate spending cannot expect to avoid financial crises. A people grown slothful and indolent on “easy money” from the government is not likely to be disciplined, resourceful and painstaking. When excuses and pleas of victimization replace responsibility and can-do attitudes, the social fabric is rent into a billion shreds.
How can those who cheat on their spouses expect honesty in government? What can one whose life is one of folly expect as a return on his investment? What is the harvest of mindless pleasure? Men who leave children fatherless should not expect a paternalistic state to act as surrogate in their stead, or reward them for their contribution of DNA.
Young women who do not heed the admonitions of their elders and are only persuaded by the passion of the moment are not victims; they are fools and bound to receive a fool’s wages. Children who love the streets more than applying themselves to their lessons fail to achieve a decent education, and parents who fail to make them study cannot expect much of a future – only unemployment, hardship or, worse, a jail cell.
THIS IS NOT discrimination. It is cause and effect. How many times have you heard someone say that what one does in the privacy of their own quarters affects only one person? In reality, alcohol and drug abuse; domestic abuse; indiscriminate sexual behavior; tobacco abuse; intemperate eating – these things have an impact on all of us with ever-increasing cost. No man is an island.
Witness the carnage on the highways, the streets of major cities, even quiet villages – the plight of fatherless homes; epidemic diabetes and coronary disease; lung cancer and other tobacco-related tumors, alcohol-induced cirrhosis; wrecked lives and families; the human suffering brought on by drugs, alcohol and sexually transmitted diseases; and children without families to guide, educate, nurture and prepare them for life in a complex societal system.
Not to mention the spiraling expense of progressively unaffordable governmental mandates such as Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security disability and the unquenchable escalation of private health-insurance premiums. These are things that people do in private but expect others – government or risk pool insurance – to foot the bill for.
THERE ARE THINGS that all politicians know and most of the electorate refuses to acknowledge – namely, most of the problems facing a nation will not be cured by any election, change in government policy or any flood of federal funding.
These issues will be curbed only by the honesty, discipline, integrity, common effort and voluntary contribution of the people, without which there is no real government, only unrestrained and shortsighted self-interest. We should all look into the mirror and gasp! What will it take? A world war? A nuclear holocaust? Successful Islamofascist jihad?
So whether it is to be Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich,or any of the other flaming-tongue contenders for the seat of power, what difference will it really make if the people want only an administration that will feed them but not really lead them?
If, as the Duke of Wellington is quoted as saying, ‘“The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton,” then the battle for this country must be won in the homes and classrooms of Augusta and America. So next November at the polling place, reflect on the words of John Donne in 1624: “(N)ever send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
(The writer is an Augusta physician.)