Monday, February 16, 2009

Paradox of Patriotism

From The Captain:

Watching the new administration, and the new ruling party (I have always loved the inherent checks and balances of one party in the White House, and the other controlling the Congress) and the way they are handling the "stimulus" bill... where to begin?

For the first time in my life, I'm seeing an instantaneous massive spending orgy that's supposed to help lead the country away from a supposed financial precipice. I wasn't around for the New Deal, the proposed solution to the economic Depression. I didn't get to see how the first FDR administration put together the WPA, CCC, TVA, and the rest of the efforts that were supposed to revitalize the economy. What brought about the end of the Depression is still being debated.

The first vestiges of the modern Nanny State were born under FDR's leadership. The axiom that no government program or agency can ever truly be ended or closed is based on the entitlement programs that resulted from the New Deal. The only reasons that any of the New Deal constructs went away is because they were succeeded by even bigger efforts, or that World War II made it impossible to continue them. Had the Depression run its (incredible) course by the end of the thirties? Did the production of machinery and weaponry to partially arm the rest of the world's forces lift the US economy on its feet again? Did the WPA and the other job programs play a large part, or do little more than give many American workers a paycheck instead of an unemployment check? And is there all that much of a difference between the two in the long run?

And what does it have to do with my patriotic paradox? Well, I think that the "stimulus" will fail to achieve the goals tossed about in the many sound bites which urged its passage. The hope of last autumn was replaced by the partisan attacks and fearmongering you have all heard, unless you've been vacationing in a terribly remote location for the last month. And if the "stimulus" fails to do much of anything, except send the federal debt soaring...Then What? Since the middle class and small businesses have been given damned little in the way of tax relief, the two turbines which power the American economy remain at idle. I don't see any of the pork or inefficient "infrastructure" initiatives jump-starting a thing. And if they don't, we have wasted more time and a hell of a lot of tax dollars (almost all to be paid by us, in our future). The crisis WILL have become a catastrophe, due to the reckless, spendthrift nature of this Congress and the Enabler In Chief.

And my country will suffer if such catastrophe falls upon it. That which I have protected, and continue to serve...will be without protection, and unable to lead. But suddenly, opposition to the party in power is UNpatriotic; suddenly, speaking out is not a tribute to independence and American traditions. Rushing to do something, anything, is absolutely better that debating the right thing.

I don't feel like standing quite as tall nowadays. My salute isn't just as crisp and steady as it was only a few weeks ago. And while my faith in God is just as strong, my faith and hope in humans, in my fellow Americans, is not.

Tomorrow's a day of work for me; perhaps I can find a spark to inspire me. The strong, steady leadership of Presidents like Washington and Lincoln seems much further in America's past than it felt before. Leaders who could do more than give good speeches seem so much more important to me right now.
I know how he feels...