My 11-year-old daughter asked me yesterday to explain how Wisconsin's 14 Democratic state senators can leave the state while they are supposed to be working.
I struggled for a minute and then said that I believed they should either return to work or be relieved of their jobs.
Raising children is a 24-hour effort. My husband and I have been working on passing down to our children traits we see as valuable: faith, personal responsibility, perseverance, a love of learning and social grace, to name a few. When public examples arise of conflicts in these values, they provide a learning opportunity.
I explained that the senators should not leave their jobs undone, but should return to the state where they were elected to serve.
At the same time that Wisconsin's Democratic senators are holed up in Illinois, the federal government is trying to determine if there is a way to live within our means. The Republican Party is pushing a balanced-budget agenda, and the Democratic Party is pushing an invest-now-so-we-can-save-later agenda.
Here, too, we can see the conflict between our values and public action.
We've been trying to teach our children to do their chores for their allowance and to work extra jobs to earn money so they can save for items they want. Our goal is for them to be thoughtful in their purchases. There have been many weeks when we have stood in an aisle at Target or Toys "R" Us waiting for them to calculate how much their desired items would be with tax. Often, they realize that they will have to choose something else or wait another week.
While these examples might seem simplistic, they illustrate where we are as a nation.
Will we decide to be truthful and honest with our fellow countrymen and ourselves, or will we continue to live by deception? One path leads to freedom, and the other to bondage.
We are engaged in a great national struggle between bondage and liberty. Bondage is based on falsehoods and lies. Liberty is the result of truth that leads to freedom.
Bondage hides under the guise of security. Government programs that promise to save people through government assistance and do so in exchange for their liberty.
People who were once self-reliant and personally responsible become conditioned to accept that they have been victimized, that they have no power, that there is no real hope for a better future, but only the false hope that the payments that government provides will continue. They lose faith in the future and in their ability to navigate it, in exchange for temporary security.
The cost of these expanded services results in the rapidly increasing public debt of our country. This is a moral threat to our survival.
This burden of debt places requirements on future generations of Americans. They will have to be concerned with paying off their mothers' and fathers' debts before they can begin to live their own lives.
Let's be clear about what this is — this is bondage for future generations.
While the idea of taxing one group to help another might work on a small scale, a nation afflicted with this disease on a pervasive level cannot be sustained. You cannot tax people and create value. You simply spread what you have into thinner and thinner layers.
Value is created instead when something is made by one person and then passed on to another who values it more highly than does the maker. The seller receives more than the cost, and the buyer receives a product that, in his or her estimation, is worth at least as much, if not more than the price for which it is sold.
As for service to our communities and our nation, we must demand that those who are elected to serve us fulfill their duties.
We have to understand that, while we may have been "created equal," as stated in the Declaration of Independence, we were not guaranteed that we would all end up equally. Instead, we were given the right by God to pursue happiness.
If we push for equality over liberty, we will end up in bondage to the government. As Alexis de Tocqueville said: "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: While democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."
Let us love freedom more than security and risk the challenges of liberty rather than give in to the assurances of bondage.
More Posts by Jackie Gingrich Cushman
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