Saturday, February 13, 2010

America, Have We Lost Our Identity or Are We Ashamed By It?

My Fellow Americans,

I have been reading Thomas L. Friedman's National Bestseller The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization for a little while now.  I chose this book because I wanted to get a feel for how the markets worked on a global scale.  I've really grown to love learning about how everything is connected.  And while Friedman's book is dated -- it was published in 2000 -- you can still learn a lot from it (as long as you get past where he talks about the "green" movement).

One aspect of the book that stood out to me over the past week was in Chapter 13, titled "Demolition Man," where Friedman talks about culture.  On page 302, he writes: "Culture, at its best, can be one of the most powerful forms of voluntary restraint in human behavior.  It gives life structure and meaning.  It sanctions a whole set of habits, behavorial restraints, expectations, and traditions that pattern life and hold societies together at their core."

He goes on to talk further about what happens when a country or community loses its culture.  On page 303, Friedman writes: "What I fear is that Malaysia and Thailand, India and Israel, Qatar and Indonesia will eventually reach a point in their development where they too will want to revive [...] the sights, the smells, the colors, the street stalls, the architecture, and the landscapes of old.  Those were the nests in which their own distinctive cultures [...] were planted and nurtured.  But they could discover that they have been erased forever, not by some new, evolved form of their culture, which has happened throughout history, but rather by a sterile global culture smashed onto their society."

I share these two quotes with you because I fear America is losing its identity -- its culture.  I think we forget what makes America -- America.  The progressive movement that has taken over this country since the early 20th century has left us with a slanted view of America's history.

Thanks to the progressives, today, capitalism is seen as evil, your kids are being indoctrinated, and the history books are written with a -- let's just say -- false perspective.

Take for instance -- the Depression of 1920 and the subsequent "Roaring 20's."  The history books would have you believe that the market crash of 1929 sparked the greatest financial meltdown America has seen.  The history books would also have you believe that President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" programs helped the U.S. climb out of the Great Depression.  Both, however, are false.

Thomas E. Woods, Jr., a resident scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and author of the New York Times bestseller Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse, explained what really happened in the 1920's in his article "The Forgotten Depression of the 1920's."  Woods writes: "According to the endlessly repeated conventional wisdom, the Great Depression of the 1930s was the result of capitalism run riot, and only the wise interventions of progressive politicians restored prosperity."

He adds:
Many of those who concede that the New Deal programs alone did not succeed in lifting the country out of depression nevertheless go on to suggest that the massive government spending during World War II is what did it.  (Even some nominal free marketeers make the latter claim, which hands the entire theoretical argument to supporters of fiscal stimulus.)

The connection between this version of history and the events of today is obvious enough: once again, it is claimed, wildcat capitalism has created a terrific mess, and once again, only a combination of fiscal and monetary stimulus can save us.

In order to make sure that this version of events sticks, little, if any, public mention is ever made of the depression of 1920–1921. And no wonder — that historical experience deflates the ambitions of those who promise us political solutions to the real imbalances at the heart of economic busts.

The conventional wisdom holds that in the absence of government countercyclical policy, whether fiscal or monetary (or both), we cannot expect economic recovery — at least, not without an intolerably long delay. Yet the very opposite policies were followed during the depression of 1920–1921, and recovery was in fact not long in coming.

The economic situation in 1920 was grim. By that year unemployment had jumped from 4 percent to nearly 12 percent, and [Gross National Product] declined 17 percent. No wonder, then, that Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover — falsely characterized as a supporter of laissez-faire economics — urged President Harding to consider an array of interventions to turn the economy around. Hoover was ignored.

Instead of "fiscal stimulus," Harding cut the government's budget nearly in half between 1920 and 1922. The rest of Harding's approach was equally laissez-faire. Tax rates were slashed for all income groups. The national debt was reduced by one-third.
I imagine you didn't learn that in the history books.  I didn't even know there was a depression in 1920 until I heard Glenn Beck talk about it this past week.  (Thank God for that man -- am I right)? 

Then again, we're not supposed to know about the Depression of 1920.  We are not supposed to know that free market principles work nor have examples of such.  To me, that's cultural theft -- no scratch that -- IDENTITY THEFT!  The progressives are robbing us of our identity to fit their agenda.  The kids are being robbed during history class of the truth.  I'm not sure there is much else that could possibly be worse than that -- not knowing who you truly are or where you came from.

And on top of that -- those of us who have really researched and learned the truth -- are made to feel ashamed about it.  Our President apologizes to other nations on our behalf -- as if being an American is something to be embarrassed about. 

We are taught that the Founding Fathers were rich, white, elitist slave owners whose antiquated beliefs are outdated. 

We are told the divinely-inspired document -- the Constitution -- that helped define this nation is a set of "negative liberties."

We are told that the Civil War was fought over the enslavement of African Americans.  Yes, that's what we are told to believe.  However, the Civil War was NOT fought over slavery.  It was fought over states rights -- over the right for states to choose what's best for them and not have the federal government interfere.  I know, I always rooted for the north and was thrilled they won.  But, when you put it in the context of states rights -- given the current debate over nationalized health care -- I would have pulled for the Confederacy.  No, I'm not for slavery -- nice try liberal swine -- but I am for states rights.

America, we are losing our identity.  We are losing our identity as a people of resilience -- as a people who can live through hell and come back even stronger ready to fight all over again.  We have forgotten how to fail and to use that failure to succeed. 

Do I need to remind you once again of September 11, 2001 and then of September 12, 2001?  Of how we were viciously kicked in the teeth and still managed to get up -- to stay strong.

We have it in us still.  The Tea Party movement has helped awaken the American spirit once again.

It's funny how I've seen glimpses of our past in the present day.  And this is what gives me hope and should give you hope as well.  I was watching Varney & Co. on the Fox Business Network the other day and the host, Stuart Varney, along with some other commentators, were talking about Google.  Apparently, Google, with no help of our amazing government, has decided to provide high speed broadband to small U.S. cities.  It's a simple concept, but it speaks volumes in terms of our lost innovative drive.  Forget the government, we can do it ourselves. 

That's what capitalism does -- it provides solutions.  That's the kind of attitude upon which America was founded.

And if the Tea Party movement has taught us anything -- it's that Americans are finally waking up and realizing who we are and where we came from.

We are Americans.  May we never lose sight of who we are or be ashamed of what we've done.

(Photos: Google)

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