Friday, March 23, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Beck’s observations are striking because they were written before the New Deal, before Social Security, before Medicare, Medicaid, government health care, and before a 15 trillion dollar national debt.
The one hundred and fifty bureaus now existing almost cover the life of man from his cradle to the grave. Happily the final exit of the citizen from this mortal life gives the author his illustration for--as far as we know--there is as yet no morticians’ bureau in any Federal department. How this escaped the attention of the Bureaucracy is a mystery. It seems so obvious that if the Federal government must supervise the manner of birth, the conduct of life and the maintenance of health, it should also give its paternal care to the final exit of the over-governed citizen…
The bureau will begin its mortuary activities in this fashion: Some ambitious, but none too busy mortician, will feel that his ancient and honorable profession has been neglected. Perhaps he will have aided some Congressman or Senator in the final rites of a relative and gained his good will by his professional sympathy. He will suggest to the Congressman or Senator the inexcusable omission of the Federal Government to guide the citizen in his final exit to the grave. The Congressman--possibly a member of the all powerful Committee on Appropriations--will insert a modest item in the next Deficiency Bill for an appropriation of $25,000 to study the subject of sanitary internments. While the ordinary rule of the Government is to appoint to the head of each department and bureau some one, who knows little or nothing of its work, yet gratitude for the opportunity to create a new bureau will secure for the mortician the appointment. The bureau begins by the mortician--now called the United States Chief Mortician--appointing a first and second assistant Chief Morticians and a secretary for each of these exalted functionaries, and at least three stenographers and a messenger.
The problem now is to justify the creation of the Bureau. This requires considerable ingenuity. A scientist is selected to study the process of putrefacation and a half dozen historians are dispatched to foreign lands to make a study of Egyptian embalming, the Etruscan methods of burial and the Roman methods of cremation. The possibility of such mortuary inquiries gradually widens and soon a series of monographs are issued by the Public Printer, and find their grave in the office of the Superintendent of Documents. Then a scientist is employed to study the kinds of wood that may be used in the construction of coffins, and the best stone for use in cemeteries.
Fearful that the States are incompetent to control the methods of burial, the Bureau, now costing $200,000 a year, procures federal aid subsidies, whereby each State receives a grant of money, if it will match it in amount, and subjects its domestic laws to the Federal Mortuary Bureau.
Then the Chief Mortician--swollen with the pride of office--employs the radio for a twenty-minute nation-wide broadcast, in which after some orchestral music and a song…the Chief Mortician in the dulcet tones of the best “Bed Time Story Teller” implores the people of the United States to enlist in the great crusade, whose slogan is:
“More and better funerals,”
“If eventually, why not now?”
Beck goes on to mention various bureaus which disseminate useless information and cost the American taxpayers very much. He recommended that the tax burden be distributed more evenly, to make Americans “tax-conscious.” “Less than 400,000 citizens paid in 1928, 97% of the federal income tax. Why should the remaining 120,000,000 care?” he asks. Unless we stop increasing our expenditures, Beck warned, we will increasingly become socialistic.
Monday, March 19, 2012
Individual liberty was treasured more than life by the Founding Fathers. Benjamin Franklin warned that “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” The founders knew that liberty could not be secured without law; they also amply realized the dangers of government oppression. That is why they established the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is essential that we diligently preserve this inheritance of liberty for which the Founders pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.
The Constitution institutes trial by jury and habeas corpus, and forbids the passage of bills of attainder or ex-post-facto laws. Some of the founders, including Alexander Hamilton, objected to the addition of a bill of rights, claiming the addition unnecessary since no power was given by which restrictions could be imposed. Thomas Jefferson disagreed, “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular; and what no just government should refuse or rest on inference…I hope, therefore, a bill of rights will be formed, to guard the people against the federal government.” The Bill of Rights was added, protecting freedom of religion, speech, the press, peaceable assembly, and the right to keep and bear arms and to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Founders were certain that “the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground” (Jefferson), so they etched the provisions of liberty in stone and warned their children to “guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches this jewel” (Patrick Henry).
Accountability to no one but God in matters of conscience (freedom of religion), willingness to take risks and bear responsibility for the results, self-reliance (using the right to keep and bear arms for hunting and self-defense), readiness to back ones own convictions against a majority (utilizing freedom of speech and the press), and willingness to cooperate with ones neighbors in peaceable assemblage are the workings which exercise a person’s moral sense of responsibility. Should our minds wax dull through lack of exercising our freedoms, we could not be expected to choose our leaders responsibly.
Jefferson gave three provisions for the preservation of liberty. First, “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them…[The people] are the only sure reliance for the preservation of liberty.” Today, I must educate myself in the tradition of liberty by studying the works of Founding Fathers and books such as Democracy in America (Tocqueville) and The Law (Frederic Bastiat). I can share my love for liberty in essays, letters to editors, Facebook posts, emails, internet forums, and conversations in the living room, at youth rallies, or town hall meetings. Second, Jefferson said, “[The people] are our dependence for continued freedom. And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt…” I will set a good example by keeping my own budget balanced. As a new voter this election, I will support candidates who will substantially reduce the national debt, that “fore-horse of misery and oppression” (as Jefferson called it). Third, "Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are a gift from God?” Jefferson asked. This conviction that liberty is an unalienable right--a gift from God--prompted Patrick Henry to cry “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Only a moral people has the strength to sacrifice everything for liberty. I will trust in God. Finally, I will protest even the smallest infringement of liberty, for a small infringement is always the harbinger of a larger one. I will not support any legislation relieving individuals from personal responsibility; such legislation is anti-moral in effect and leads to an authoritarian government. Individuals tolerate difficulties if they have no one to blame but themselves. But if the government is responsible for providing healthcare and fails to provide efficiently; if the government is responsible for providing education and test scores drop; if the government is responsible for regulating business, instituting a minimum wage, and guaranteeing jobs and the people face chronic unemployment; if the government is responsible for stabilizing the economy and the economy is in the gutter, the people have no one to blame but the government. If the government fails, there will be discontent, protests, and perhaps revolution. The government will then be forced to marginalize individual liberties and will be rendered incapable of performing its basic duty, preserving justice.
"Posterity,” wrote John Adams, “you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it." Individual responsibility may sometimes be painful, but freedom is not available without it. In the words of Tocqueville: “What good does it do me, after all, if an ever-watchful authority keeps an eye out to ensure that my pleasures will be tranquil and races ahead of me to ward off all danger, sparing me the need even to think about such things, if that authority, even as it removes the smallest thorns from my path, is also absolute master of my liberty and my life; if it monopolizes vitality and existence to such a degree that when it languishes, everything must also sleep; and when it dies, everything must also perish.” We have no other choice, it’s liberty or death. Young people, Americans, let’s make good use of liberty. Let’s preserve liberty. Let’s make the Founding Fathers proud.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
After eating a tart apple pie and sugar-free sweet potato pie, you might like to try some coleslaw--the only problem is that I added the cabbage, raisins, carrots, and powdered sugar, mixed it together, and it still didn't look right. So I added a bit more powdered sugar and mixed it in--still not right! I ended up adding several cups of sugar before I finally realized what I was forgetting: mayonnaise! Now if we could only mix the sweet potato and apple pies with the coleslaw, we might really have something good!