As much as I love Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” the movie is better in several ways, one of which is the haunting introduction, in which Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel intones, overdubbing herself so she’s heard in both English and Elvish, “The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.”
This captures a good deal of the melancholy gripping those who cherish America as a land of freedom and opportunity since the recent re-election of Barack Obama and so many of his unashamed state-socialist companions.
The young cherish a victory which they were told marks a triumph of freedom – the freedom to receive free “health care” including free birth control pills. Last week we received and published in this newspaper an actual letter from an already frustrated young Obamamite, asking why we can’t now just cut through all the red tape, abolishing all the various government alphabet agencies which supervise the delivery of health care to veterans, the elderly, the poor and the semi-poor, simply declaring that anyone who feels a need for health care should receive it instantly and for free, end of story.
The comparison the writer made was that if we spot a sick or injured animal along the road we haul it to the vet and it’s treated for free, so shouldn’t we at least do the same for our fellow humans?
The average veterinarian might be surprised to learn his or her services in the treatment of injured stray beasts are available free of charge, without limitation. Mind you, many vets will indeed perform pro bono services on occasion, just as our “human” hospitals already provide emergency care without charge to the indigent.
Grown-ups realize the costs of such “free” treatment for the wino or the orphaned kitten are spread over the paying client list. Few of us object that our own bills may be 8 percent higher as a result. What stuns us old-timers in reading such blithe prescriptions for “free everything” is the complete ignorance that one’s refusal to pay for something doesn’t mean that the government can order said good or service to be produced without cost.
This is apparently what the under-40 generations of recent Youth Propaganda Camp escapees now believe – that if we just raise the taxes a bit on the Greedy Rich, those architects and doctors and business owners whose money is delivered to them in canvas bank bags as they lounge around the pool, then government will be able to afford to give everyone all the health care they need, all the food they need, all the clothing and shelter they need, in perpetuity.
It’s the economics of the magic lamp, the genie and the treasure cave.
Somehow it has not come to their attention that there are only two known institutions that give people all the food they need, all the shelter they need, all the medical care they need. (Note I’ve oh-so-subtly replaced the word “want” – a thing you get to define for yourself – with “need,” a word to be defined by the provider.)
Those two institutions are prison and the Army, both of which present certain disadvantages as career choices for those whose main concerns are cellphones, nightclub going and opportunities to use free birth control.
Brushed aside are the repeated warnings that once you strap on the government feed bag, you may also find yourself wearing a government bit and saddle.
The error lies not in lamenting this development, but in lamenting it as something new. Barack Obama, minimally qualified and more likely to do our freedoms and our economy great harm than any good, was narrowly re-elected in a manner similar to the way the electorate chooses their favorite contestant on “Dancing With the Stars,” returned based on little more than the perception he’s better able to commune with TV hosts and buxom chanteuses than some number-crunching Republican who cares about nothing but profits and deficits and ledger sheets and foreign policy and other impenetrable stuff. Bo-ring!
But doesn’t that also describe the election of the reckless and underqualified playboy Jack Kennedy in 1960, and serial sex assailant Bill Clinton, since impeached and disbarred but still a great hero even to the feminists of the left? And don’t even get me started on the most incompetent dilettante of them all, the father of our current entitlement-driven national bankruptcy, Frankin Delano Roosevelt.
The hollowing out of our culture by this current, corrosive assault on the “greedy rich” is hard to fully appreciate. The ObamaCare tax penalties and the way energy costs will be driven through the roof by the current administration’s “No more coal or oil” policies will be bad enough. But who can measure the way a proposed 45 or 55 percent death tax will discourage middle-aged couples from continuing to grow their businesses (and create new jobs) after they’ve set aside their first million? Why bother?
Consider the increasing brazenness of the shoplifting that may become the final nail in the coffin of many of our retailers, already weakened by online competition. Don’t like the price on that garment? The greedy merchant is a damned thief, to ask such prices! Pay him back in kind by pulling on his sweater and boldly walking out the door with the tags still hanging from the sleeve. What’s the cashier going to do? Shoot you? Tackle you? In that case, the courts and the prosecutors will side with you, the victim, against your greedy capitalist oppressor! Ha ha!
There is no large-scale solution. Democracies – a form of government from which the Founders took great pains to protect us – always degenerate into mobs seeking to loot what they themselves have been unable or unwilling to save, invest and produce from the “greedy, privileged rich” (even if those “privileged rich” are the grandchildren of poor Asian immigrants who were locked up in internment camps 60 years ago) who have foolishly worked, studied, saved and struggled to reach the point where they can spend a few brief years of their old age in the “top 10 percent.”
Hopelessness comes from taking too short a view. Yes, we still labor under the shadow of Mordor. But wisdom and freedom must prevail in the end, because freedom and capitalism are the only systems that get the people fed.
Save a child from the Youth Internment Camps. Locate among neighbors who still value honesty, economy, and hard work. Buy heirloom seeds from rareseeds.com; learn to garden.
In millennia past, the treasures of dying civilizations, including priceless manuscripts, were often saved by being squirelled away so far on the fringes of empire, in places like Irish monasteries, that the looters never quite got to them. The seeds were saved and re-planted.
And so it shall be again.
Vin Suprynowicz is the author of “Send in the Waco Killers,” and the novel “The Black Arrow.”