Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"Ask What Your Country Can Do For You!"

On a cold January day in 1961 a bright young President stepped up to the podium and spoke of a new generation of Americans who he called upon to "Ask What You Can Do For Your Country, Not What Your Country Can Do For You".  President John F. Kennedy challenged this new generation to join the Peace Corp; teach sanitation practices in Africa, volunteer as a health aid in South America, or begin your teaching career in a backwoods Mississippi school.

Inspired by these words, America set off on a new path and volunteerism and the pride of American citizenship was at an all time high.  America was taking pride in giving back to a country that had given them so much.  Just three years later our youthful President was gunned down in the streets of Dallas and a crafty old time politician assumed the presidency.    The contrast between Kennedy's warm and inspiring personality and Lyndon Johnson's crass and brutish personality was stark.

Johnson, a man of huge ego, desperately wanted to be loved and to be remembered in history, set about implementing legislation called "The Great Society" that would result in trillions of dollars added to the national deficit over the subsequent years.  Medicare, free government housing, food stamps, social welfare and a host of other social programs  required deficit spending and huge city, state and federal bureacracies just to administer these programs.  And, as with any government program, bureaucrats have little interest in controlling costs since it was "only taxpayer monies, not theirs".  This is always the problem with bureaucratic management, no matter how well-meaning a program seems to be.

Far more serious than the immediate program costs has been the creation of a "victim society",  a "give-me" society.  Since these government programs began we have encouraged three generations of Americans to expect something for nothing. 

Is it any wonder then that we have government employees at all levels making three times what the worker makes in the private sector?  Is it any wonder that, with half of all Americans paying no income taxes, that those who "take" have no interest in how the bill is paid? 

Is it any wonder that the majority of our unionized teachers, protected by tenure, have no interest or incentive to educate our children?  Are we really surprised that 40 percent of our high school kids will never finish high school, and even those that do are functionally illiterate, having been passed on from grade to grade despite failing minimum standards?

Alas, here we are, in a new century, our country on the brink of bankruptcy with I.O.U.s for Social Security and Medicare totalling $73 Trillion dollars?  Or a current national deficit of $15 trillion dollars?  And yet, we see teachers taking to the streets to fight for even bigger salaries and benefits despite doing such a lousy job in educating our children. 

Our social programs are being financed by money borrowed from China because we no longer have the money to pay for them. Our dwindling middle class that always paid the bills is almost gone, their jobs lost to other countries.   The incentive to work and be productive in America is at an all time low.  Too many have had a free ride for too long and it may very well be too late to turn this country around.

Today, John Kennedy would be laughed off the podium by some to even suggest that our citizens "Ask For What You Can Do For Your Country".  Sad.


Anonymous said...

Lyndon Johnson's Great Society hasn't been helped by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. The doors to our once great country were de-hinged for those who wanted to come here and not contribute or participate, but loot the country for as much as possible, exhaust every government handout to
"immigrants" and then routinely send money back to the cesspools they came from with the full intention of returning back home in 20 years or so, pockets and bank accounts full of cash, ready to live like royalty. You don't see them enlisting in the US Armed Services, and they're quick to complain if they feel their "rights' and "entitlements" have been denied.
They don't assimilate into American society for their own reasons, and look for any and all opportunities to avoid paying US Tax.

These new "citizens" were in sharp contrast to those who arrived well over a century ago and longer at Ellis Island longing to forsake their former birth countries and make America their new home. They took lowly jobs, lived in tenements, did not enjoy any luxury more than a baseball game, fought in their adopted countries wars and gave their lives willingly, compare them to the new immigrants. It's just not the same anymore.

Anonymous said...

Get the quote right at least...Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

A Modest Scribler said...

I guess you missed the point in the title; it was meant to infer the opposite of what is happening today. Thanks for you comment.

Anonymous said...

While "the great society" is this countrys biggest mistake, it's roots lie in Wilson and FDR and the American Progressives.

America is exceptional becuase we were founding on the ideal of self-reliance, not freedom. Here you would be made or broken by your own efforts, with full protection of the law. All men are equal with respect to the law.

We have deviated from this, and gone to the failed 'old-world' model of 'all men are equal - just some are more equal than others.

Liberalism, progressivism, statism is the disease that rots a society from within, and this is the disease that is currenlty killing us.

A Modest Scribler said...

Thanks for your comments; I really appreciate folks taking the time to comment on my blog. Come back often!

Anonymous said...

I am waiting for a presidential contender to stand up on his/her hind legs and say something like this:

"My fellow Americans. I am a proud citizen of this great country and I want to help bring us back onto the course set by our founders over two hundred years ago.

Past governments, both Democrat and Republican have been stupid and reckless. They have driven this country way too far into debt. They have imposed boondoggle projects, regulations and programs to please their buddies, lobbyists and backers with little regard to their affordability or prudence.

We now owe $nn Trillion as a nation, $nnn thousand for every man, woman and child. This is scandalous and cannot be allowed to continue.

We need to repair the damage starting NOW. I propose the following austerity measures, starting at the TOP (Insert LONG list). There will be NO MORE expanded or new entitlements, Those that exist will be cut wherever possible, there will be no more aid to countries that no longer need it. We will bring back our troops from Europe, close bases that are no longer needed. NO projects will be started unless they can be PROVEN to be completely self-funding and/or ABSOLUTELY necessary.

We will start aggressively exploiting our natural resources immediately both on land and offshore. We will do so carefully and prudently with REASONABLE consideration for the environment. But we WILL reduce our dependence on foreign energy, we will use the money from this to pay down our debt and to fund research into better sources of clean energy which shall be self-sustaining, without the need for taxpayer-subsidies like corn ethanol.

We have the best technology in the world, the best workers, we CAN DO it. If there are problems, if there are accidents, we will deal with them, make good and move forward again.

We will get out of the way of small business, of private enterprise, out of the way of individual freedom. We will trust you, the American people to do what you do best, work hard, build dreams and prosper.

We were founded as the "CAN DO" nation. We grew to a position of strength and prosperity the like of which the world has never seen through our "CAN DO" attitude. We did not compromise with our enemies, we did not avoid our challenges, we did not give up when there were setbacks, we faced them all head-on and won!

We WILL recover that "CAN DO" attitude and we WILL put it to work. When America prospers, so does the rest of the world."

There is a lot more that will need to be said along these lines but this is the type of thing we NEED - Honest talk, respect and a commitment to making real changes back to the solid, sound, conservative principles embodied in our constitution.

Of course all the political "experts" and "Analysts" will be horrified. They will cry that it is too extreme - Yes it is too extreme for the liberal "intelligentsia" in the big cities (well they think they're intelligent but too many years of in-breeding and too many cocktail parties have long-since robbed most of them of any real intelligence) but a plain-talking, "upfront" statement of intent something like this, speaking honestly, openly and treating the American people as adults and partners in the venture WILL resonate with the vast majority of REAL American people.

The exploration for and exploitation of those resources will directly and indirectly create thousands if not millions of jobs, will pump billions into the economy, reduce the debt and even generate more income for the government.

Can you just imagine the REAL prosperity that this will bring?

A Modest Scribler said...

Thanks to you for taking the time to leave your opinion. I could not have said it better myself. I would only add one additional note; many of you have failed in your duties as a citizen; too many see crime and wrong doing and over look it. To many of you are failing to take responsibility for both raising and providing your children, relying instead on the generosity of government...and far too many of you have adopted a victim mentality. Everyone needs to stand up, become productive, and cease blaming others for your own failures..

Again, thanks so much for taking the time to write...and for caring about this country.

Anonymous said...

I am a small business owner frustrated by what I see daily. I am sick and tired of progressively working harder for less just to see it given to deadbeats. Our society is eroding by the second at our own hand. We must stand up and do something now, but what do we do? I want to somehow make a difference. I want to take back control of "OUR" country. We are the "GREATEST" nation dammit!! I've had enough! How can I make a difference? I have never had any urge to become a politician, but we have to do something I'm tired of this crap. How can we change the course of this ship?

A Modest Scribler said...

You can help by reading the newspaper and real online news concerning our country's serious issues, not what movie and tv and music stars on doing. Next, find out the name and address of your congressman and senator and write them. Finally, and most important, get out there and vote...less than half of eligible voters actually go out and vote. Good luck and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.