President Obama and his fellow travelers on the left like to lay a guilt trip on Americans by talking about poverty in our country. By now you know the routine: “We need to pay more in taxes to take care of those Americans who are living in poverty.” There is poverty in America. I do not dispute this reality. In fact, what we call “poverty” has increased markedly during Barack Obama’s presidency, due primarily to his leftwing economic policies.
But having visited countries whose citizens suffer from gut-wrenching poverty in which children with distended bellies die daily from diseases associated with malnutrition, I am always skeptical of what passes for poverty in America. Only in America would an overweight person with government subsidized housing, a widescreen television, a cell phone, free contraceptives, Medicaid, ninety-nine weeks of unemployment compensation, and food stamps be considered impoverished. In fact, in countries such as the Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Zimbabwe, and Eritrea to name just a few, poor Americans would be considered wealthy.
The real poverty in America is moral not economic, and moral poverty just exacerbates economic poverty and every other type of social problem. For example, liberals wring their hands in dismay every time some disturbed person takes a gun and shoots up a school, theater, or shopping center. In kneejerk fashion, they blame these incidents on guns while ignoring the obvious. If the shooters had any kind of moral foundation, they would never perpetrate these dastardly acts in the first place—no matter how many guns they might have. Hundreds of thousands of gun-owning Americans manage to go through life without ever committing a crime of any kind, much less a gun-related crime because they have internalized the right moral framework. Yet liberals are on a virtual quest to destroy America’s moral underpinnings.
America is living out the warning issued by Scottish professor Alexander Tyler all the way back in 1887, who said that great nations progress through the following sequence: 1) from bondage to spiritual faith, 2) from spiritual faith to great courage, 3) from courage to liberty, 4) from liberty to abundance, 5) from abundance to complacency, 6) from complacency to apathy, 7) from apathy to dependence, and 8) from dependence back into bondage.
Anyone old enough to benefit from the perspective of time can see how America is following Tyler’s sequence almost verbatim. Even a cursory examination of America’s history will reveal how our hard-earned abundance spawned complacency. For example, as our material wealth has grown, the rate of voter participation in elections at all levels has declined. In other words, we have become complacent. Complacence led to a feeling of apathy in which many Americans adopted an attitude that says: “Who cares? I will let the government take care of me.” Frankly, this attitude shows that what we call poverty in America represents for many so-called poor people an acceptable way of life. If this were not the case, they would be more motivated to break the cycle and escape their “poverty.”
Apathy, exemplified by a let-the-government-take-care-of-me attitude, led to dependence, and that is the stage in Tyler’s sequence where many Americans now find themselves. We have not yet reached the tipping point where there are more Americans dependent on government than on their own initiative, drive, and ambition, but we are fast approaching that point. If Barack Obama has his way, America will pass the tipping point in time to assure his re-election so that he will have four more years to increase even further the number of government-dependent Americans in the population. When this happens, America will go the way that Alexander Tyler predicted: the way of bondage.