In his speech commemorating the occasion of receiving the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in May of 1983,Alexander Solzhenitsyn asserted that “ atheist teachers in America were bringing up a younger generation in a spirit of hatred of their own society… a society in which communist ideologies were glorified and promoted, while Judeo -Christian values and capitalism were ridiculed and increasingly eradicated from the public and social consciousness of our nation.” Solzhenitsyn didn’t think it was okay. Almost forty years later, it seems as if not much has changed, and while my progressive friends think its okay, I don’t think its okay.
You might think its okay for the rich to pay their fair share, the popular new phrase that is not so new and is the modern-day version of Marx’ “to each according to his needs, from each according to his ability.” You might think its okay, because progressive politicians have told you that the system is rigged against you. You prefer to think its rigged, because it absolves you of all personal responsibility in the way you have conducted your life, but I don’t think that its rigged.
You might think its okay to hate the rich and think that you are entitled to the wealth that they have produced because you’ve been told that they didn’t build their wealth or their business on their own. Not every wealthy entrepreneur is a robber baron, and many of them spent their own money to explore the indissoluble link between risk and reward and did not avoid paying taxes. In 1924, Henry Ford paid $2,609,000 in income tax, but unlike the average tax paying citizen, started the Ford Motor Company in 1903, thus transforming our society in the process. Instead of being appreciative of the many good things that the wealthy in America have done by acknowledging philanthropic organizations like the Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie and Gates Foundations, many in America have decided to embrace and deify politicians who produce nothing, employ no one, and use their political office and clout to enrich themselves, both while they are in office, and long afterward. You might think that a progressive tax system is fair. I don’t. You might think the noblesse oblige no longer suffices. I am humbled at the generosity of the captains of industry throughout America’s history, and I derive courage from the knowledge that wealth and the realization of social and cultural goals are not mutually exclusive.
You might think that its funny when late night comedians speak disparagingly of the wealthy as if they are not wealthy themselves, and do not take refuge in all of the legal ways that one can use to reduce his or her tax burden, but I am not amused. This raises the question as to who actually has first claim to the wages that an individual earns, the individual or the government. It is my view that it is the individual. The money that I earn is my money, and a loophole is only a loophole if we believe that the government’s claim to wages precedes the person who actually earned it. The government and the politicians that comprise it might think that your money is their money. They might think that this is fair, but I don’t.
If America is anything, it is the land of liberty, liberty defined as the ability to shape one’s own life, with every individual regarded as an end in himself. As a nation, we have come a long way in removing obstacles that at one time interfered with an individual’s right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Milton Friedman believed that” neither birth, nationality, color, sexual preference, nor any other irrelevant characteristic should determine the opportunities that are open to a person, only his or her abilities”, and “the system under which people can make their own choices, and bear most of the consequences of their decisions, has been the system that has prevailed for most of our history.” On the other hand, living one’s life with unrestricted liberty can come at a cost. Many of you have taken full advantage of the liberty that living in America affords you. Many of you have lived your life pursuing your own objectives, whether music, or the arts, or simply doing nothing at all. Subsequently, a lot of people in this country are getting older, and have no savings, pension, health insurance, and think that its okay for our government to provide them with all the things that they neglected to think about while they lived their lives with complete autonomy. This could only be achieved by onerous taxation of the rich. You might think that its okay. I don’t think its okay.
You might think its okay to mock the physical characteristics of politicians that you despite, via fat shaming. You also might think that its okay to deem them crazy or mentally unsound, thus stigmatizing those struggling with mental illness and weight problems, letting them know that they too are unfit for society. You might think that its okay. I don’t.
You might think that its okay that a group of mental health professionals tried to circumvent the Goldwater Rule and declare President Trump unfit to perform his duties as President without ever seeing him in a professional capacity. You might think its okay. I don’t
You might think its okay that politicians have been successful in their effort to extend abortions past the 24th week, cloaking the misdeed under the shroud of self-professed righteousness and the expansion of a woman’s right to choose. In contrast, these same politicians are working hard to put an end to the death penalty and extend the lives of unrepentant murderers. You might think this is okay, but I don’t think its okay.
You might think that its okay to issue allegations of sexual misconduct almost forty years after the event is claimed to have taken place. If the claim ends up being unsubstantiated, the person that makes it is to be believed regardless. You might think this is okay. I don’t think this is okay.
You might think its okay to say that America was never great, but I would suggest that whether we speak of civil rights, LGBT rights, or even animal rights, the members of these groups are far better off today than they were in the past. Despite all the progress, we are now experiencing the advent of a new era in which individuals claim to want to be treated equally yet point out what makes them different in every argument they make, resulting in an irreconcilable situation. You might think this is okay. I don’t.
You might think its okay to regard Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden as heroes for leaking classified information but vilify Russia for their alleged role in making us aware of the machinations of the DNC and Hillary Clinton, calling it election tampering. I don’t think its okay.
Journalists have one job to do, and they do it wrong every single day. Moreover, they remain loathe to atone for their misdiagnosis of everything from Russiagate, the Covington Catholic controversy, to actual voter sentiments in America. I would not say that they are the “enemy of the people”, but I do believe that they have done more to create the deep division that is so prevalent in our society than President Trump ever could. You might think that’s its okay not to hold the press accountable for the chaos they have helped to create in America, but I don’t.
In sharp contrast to the rest of the world, America has always been the land of the individual; individual rights, individual initiative, individual opportunity, but above all, the land of the free. Milton Friedman asserted that the free man should ask “neither what his country can do for him nor what he can do for his country but rather what can I and my compatriots do through government to help to discharge our individual responsibilities, to achieve our several goals and purposes, and above all, to protect our freedom.” My progressive friends probably don’t think that’s okay or accurate, but I do.
Some people want to change our country into something it has never been; a nation of growing bureaucracy and governmental control over economic activity. Many Americans have not lost their capacity to dream big, but they seem have lost the desire to make those dreams come to fruition. You might think that’s okay. but I don’t.