Monday, May 14, 2012

Diminished by Envy


Success demands work of its recipients, while envy asks nothing for your patronage. It is easy to see why envy is so much more prevalent. Being jealous of the accomplished is much easier than it is to put in the time and effort necessary to become accomplished. Over the past year we have seen an increase in the cries of inequality and a demand for the wealthy to do their fair share. Regardless of how this is spun by politicians, support for these claims and grievances are fueled by one thing - envy. There is a growing segment of American society that believes their shot at success has somehow been stolen from them by those who have already attained it. Many have foolishly bought into the asinine notion that success is finite and once the pie is divvied up, those who were not at the table have no hope. The masses are condemned to a life of mediocrity and devoid of opportunity without their sole chance at salvation - the benevolent, equalizing hand of government intervention.

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” - George Washington

During times of crisis it is mankind's tendency to do exactly the opposite of what is truly in its best interest. Instead of looking for logical and pragmatic solutions, we panic. This leads to fear which brings out the worst in us by making us ever more susceptible to manipulation. In a desperate search to satisfy our desire for someone to make it all better, we will follow anyone that steps up to podium. Though the same ineffectual strategies are used time and again, we continually fall for them. We are given rhetoric about our impending doom, handed a villain to blame, and then given the silver bullet of a government solution - regulation and expansion. In the end, government is the snake oil that will cure all the evils of the world.

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” - Thomas Jefferson

The financial meltdown of 2008, a situation that government intervention greatly contributed to, led to a series of detrimental decisions. It justified the election of a totally unqualified president and one party rule, condoned massive financial bailouts of corporations and banks supposedly too big to fail, and fostered the introduction of cumbersome and poorly conceived government financial regulation. The need to punish someone for our bad behavior, resulted in the election of an administration that routinely dismisses our foundation of law as simply an obstacle to be ignored or circumvented in order to properly address the crisis at hand. Combine this with the one party rule that existed for two years, the outcome of our desire to publicly flog the Republican Party, and we sanctioned a massive increase in our national debt and socialization of our medical system. How does the institutional pinnacle of fraud, waste, and abuse, have the audacity to say they are qualified to create a solution? They do it because we expect it, because we allow it. Our actions betray our changing values. We no longer trust ourselves to dictate the direction our lives and our nation take. To do so means to be responsible when failure occurs. We no longer recognize the gift of determining our own destinies, we are content to trade our liberties for a false sense of security and government distributed charity. We no longer believe the only constraints we face are the limits of our aspirations and our fortitude to achieve them. Now the success achieved by others has become an insurmountable challenge to the dreams of the masses. Our choices are no longer the determining factor in the direction our lives take, we are but pawns of the wealthy and powerful with government our Robin Hood.

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” - Abraham Lincoln

The effects of the 2008 financial bubble burst linger, but we now face an even greater danger – ourselves. A powerful sense of entitlement has replaced the once prevalent gratitude for opportunity, while excuses have supplanted perseverance. A growing number willingly accept government dictated subsistence over their God given right to achieve their own greatness. The reason is simple, we have become more content with taking a government handout and tolerating the condescending limitations that are its inherent price, than we are to embark on the trying journey that success demands. While the trek is easier for some than it is for others, true success is only attainable through a combination of skill, talent, and fortitude. Those that have risen to legendary heights had to endure many pitfalls along the way, but had the perseverance to continue the fight. This is something to be celebrated, not held up as a great scourge upon our society. The longer the road and the effort required to conquer it, the deeper the appreciation once the final destination is reached. The cause of our fall is that too many now simply do not believe success is worth the effort, but are all too willing to scream to the masses about how they still deserve it. Success is their right, and it is being denied them due to achievements of others. As we fade from a nation founded on the principle of self-determination and naively morph into one that increasingly embraces government determination, the greatness of the United States diminishes and our foundation crumbles. Soon we will simply be one of many, instead of the one the many aspire to be.

“One of the consequences of such notions as "entitlements" is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence.” - Thomas Sowell

Again, every great civilization falls. We attained our national prowess by providing our citizens the opportunity to attain their personal greatness. Here everyone had a chance at success, not a guarantee of it. Here we were measured by our ability to achieve, not by the circumstances of our birth. Unfortunately, opportunity is no longer enough, we demand the spoils of victory without having to bear the struggle to earn it. The sole justification is that we are entitled to it, we are owed it. An arrogant selfishness created by a society that has forgotten the price and struggle endured by those that came before us to provide us with and preserve the amazing gift that America is. We are not yet at the point of no return, but it is rapidly approaching. “The price of greatness is responsibility.” - Winston Churchill

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