Wednesday, March 12, 2014

THYME Magazine: A Case for Vision IX

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue XII

A Case for Vision IX
© 2014 The Kirchman Studio.

So why do nations fail? While a case can be made for institutional integrity, it is also clear that simply transplanting working institutions (such as the U. S. Constitution) into other societies does not necessarily guarantee success. Post-Colonial Africa testifies starkly to this, as do the wreckages of a succession of Socialist Utopia/Dystopias. If better institutions can be constructed, what are they to be made of? Acemoglu and Robinson argue for good institutions, but cannot tell us what the foundations should be. Even those who would argue that the "American" solution is the right one need to confont the reality of America today. America is in Decline. As her leaders saddle her with $17 Trillion in debt, she becomes increasingly weaker as an agent for providing for the basic security of the society. Her leaders are content to entrust our energy production to unfriendly regimes in the Middle-East, our financial and manufacturing security to unfriendly regimes in Asia and our physical security to a despot-heavy United Nations. How did we get to this point? In this conclusion to the series: A Case for Vision, we will look at some possible reasons.

As America grew increasingly secure in its prosperity, it turned its energies increasingly towards a 'consumer mentality.' Note that this is in stark contrast to the earlier mindset that America was to be a blessing to the rest of the world. The drive to send missionaries, provide clean water and cure disease took a back seat to building bigger houses and bigger televisions. Now we could outsource our manufacturing, enjoying more and cheaper goods. No longer would we have to live next to 'dirty' old factories. They could be converted into trendy botiques, lofts and coffee shops. Sadly, those jobs they created went away too! No worry!, everyone can go to college now. The problem is that the Professional sector grows only insofar as it is the supportive branch of the creation of real productivity. No problem. After college you can work/hang out in the trendy coffee shop. Gratification became a larger motivating force than the securing of Faith and Freedom. The Mall and the Multiplex Theater replaced the church and the armory at the center of the commons. Manufacturing centers could be re-purposed as shopping areas too. Religion diminished as a force for living everyday life, becoming an inspirational hour for refreshment rather than a challenge to be lived throughout the week. Hillary Clinton carefully crafted her own description of Religious Freedom to narrowly define it as the 'private practice of Faith.' Her description actually perscribes its exclusion from the public square! [1.]

Next came a sense of 'entitlement.' How else do you explain unmarried Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke DEMANDING that her school, a Faith institution run by the Jesuits, provide HER with recreational contraceptives? [2.] That she was invited to speak at the Democrat Convention and now is exploring a run for Congress speaks volumes to this new sense of 'entitlement!' There is something fundamentally wrong here... far more than the economic reality that she, as a law student, can anticipate far more income than I will ever see. She does not NEED Georgetown University to provide her with recreational contraceptives. The real travesty is that while the church is being told that it has no place in the commons, those in the commons are all to eager to place such limitations and demands on the house of Faith! A major retailer, a major furniture manufacturer and a chicken sandwich restaurant who seek to live their faith in the marketplace are all under attack. This is not an accident. The inclination of mankind towards morality has been repackaged in electric cars, cloth grocery bags and tilting at the windmill of 'Global Warming.' Stewardship of the earth, a noble thing in and of itself, can attain the status of civil Religion. Traditional Religion can get out of the way of our pursuit of Hedonism. Why should we cry out to G-d if we can make government our provider?

Finally, there is a wrongly placed national pride. This is the arrogant assertion that we somehow no longer need to rely on Divine Providence, humbly petitioning Heaven for our daily bread. We can do it all ourselves if we somehow correctly organize the commons. Thus we eschew the functions of Faith and Defense rightly performed in the commons as the commons takes upon itself to do the work of G-d! But what is the result? May I suggest it is nothing but a high-tech serfdom. Because 'we' can change the climate, we will do so by strangling the very engines of industry and ingenuity that have actually improved man's stewardship of the world (actually we've simply placed our manufacturing offshore. Our 'clean' Priuses receiving toxic batteries from a Chinese factory that would not meet the standards of our own EPA). [3.] We come to the conclusion that 'we' must alone end Acquired Immune Deficiency and balance the temperature of the planet. We will pay carbon taxes to despot regimes while stifling the energy production that will free us to advance to the next generation of propulsion! We forget the wisdom of Samuel Morse, who telegraphed: "What hath G-d Wrought?" upon the successful operation of the telegraph. We forget humility.

And yet, if you are reading this, you might realize that we might indeed pursue a better course. We might look to Bless future generations rather than feather our own nests. We might pursue our science with humble faith as opposed to arrogance, looking to a G-d who I believe is all too eager to reveal new secrets to trustworthy men and women. We might, as we realize the roots of our prosperity, seek to share those roots with our fellow man. We will not kick against Constitutions that limit institutions, seeing that the limitless resource of Divine Revelation can indeed fuel our aspirations. What drew me to Asmus and Gruden's work was their optimism in presenting a universally implementable strategy for improving the human condition. What compelled me to write this series was the burning sense that I was holding in my hands a map, if you will, showing the location of treasure far greater than the Count of Monte Cristo's map to the lost treasure of Sparta. Like the old priest, I want to press it into the hands of someone who will use it for good.

Crocus 1
Spring Crocus.

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