Thursday, February 19, 2004

Over the weekend I found myself embroiled in a mini-debate with my uncle, a retired Brigadier General whose views are obviously a bit different than mine. It all started when my mom forwarded, as she often does, three of his right-winged emails right in a row. One was a pilot's rant about how much of an asshole Kerry was, a rant that revealed more about the psyche of the pilot than any dirt on Kerry. The second was a post I forget, but I can assure you it was sufficiently right wing-tipped. And here is the third:

Subject: Democracy

At about the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution, in the year 1787, Alexander Tyler (a Scottish history professor at The University of Edinborough) had this to say about "The Fall of The Athenian Republic" some 2,000 years prior. "A Democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship." "The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From Bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.”

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some interesting facts concerning the most recent Presidential election: Population of counties won by:

Gore=127 million
Bush=143 million
Square miles of land won by:
States won by:
Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by:

Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory Bush won was mostly the land owned by the tax-paying citizens of this great country. Gore's territory encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off government welfare..."Olson believes the U.S. is now somewhere between the "apathy" and "complacency" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy; with some 40 percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

I've gotten such forwards for years, and finally I responded, but only to my mom. I'll spare the details, but my response began like this:

"Well now you've gone and unleashed the politcal beast in me." I went on to say how I couldn't understand why anyone in our family was a Republican because we can't afford to be. The GOP only seems to be helping people who make over $200K a year, etc.

She decided to forward it to my uncle. We then got into a friendly but pointless debate about the role of government. Here's one excerpt:

As we keep giving to the "needy" (Dem terminology which means votes), that part of the pie which is around 70%, if I recall from a few years ago, keeps growing and we won't afford to do anything except pay for people to continue to abuse themselves.

I responded by saying there are some people out there who truly do need help and that flippin' burgers doesn't cut it for most people to be able to live in this day and age.

Here was part of his final word:
As I told your mom, never trust a politician. And two, the right to keep and bear arms is the only way our first amendment can be protected, primarily from the politicians. The reason I live up here is that we can keep out most of the trash, few have MTV or cable for that matter, and we are far enough from Madison, the peoples' republic, (or MA, CA and others) to not to hear about their tripe much. In the real world, someone has to make money in order to form a firm to hire real people. I have a small business, make far less than $100K, and am taxed to death. The government is too big and should not be the primary provider of so many.

And when I happened upon an article in Mother Jones about Grover Norquist today, I realized what I was dealing with. And that is a group of people drawn to a nihilistic worldview, who wish to withdraw from the real world and to allow the rest of us to slide down the slippery slope into that Hobbesian state of nature that more people in this country would do well to realize just where the NRA's rhetorical statement "An armed society is a polite society" truly leads: A state where the life of man is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

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