America’s Best Days - Gone or Yet to Come?
In 1770, as he was watching the birth of this nation, American professor Alexander Tyler wrote; "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy.”
Professor Tyler continued, “The world's great civilizations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back again into bondage."
The results of the recent Rasmussen public opinion poll made me consider Professor Tyler's writings. I contemplated these three questions: Are the country's best days yet to come or are they already gone? As a civilization, have we gone from liberty to selfishness and dependence? Why do a majority of Americans feel that the country’s best days have passed? I thought of America in a long-term historical context. It leads me to tell you the story of a country whose best days have already come and are now long gone:
There once was a great country. A country widely respected throughout all of civilization. A country which had no equal during its time. It had the military might of the ages and an arrogance to exploit its advantage. The army of this country would bring trembling to its worldwide foes. In addition, there was no more advanced and technologically superior navy in the world. In fact, shock and awe is the description that a foe would often use as a military defeat became vividly clear.
This country was certainly identified with architectural innovation. The infrastructure throughout its land was comprised of the finest roads, walls, bridges, and cities that would eventually extend in every possible direction. Its technology was also the finest of the time, as it was at the forefront of many new discoveries and inventions.
Consider that its justice system of documented written law stood as a beacon for fairness and human rights. Its citizens were able to live in basic freedom and security. The truth is that this was a civilization of which the world had never seen. At the height of its dominance, it led the world forward in culture, economy, standard of living, military power, technology, and the rule of written law.
However, eventually this great country would experience problems that started from within its own national borders. In fact, over a number of decades, it became very apparent that the morality of its civilization was in a progressive decline. As morality declined, crime and litigation increased. In truth, national prosperity would eventually lead to the seeds of its decay.
Also, the result of prosperity would be citizens who became greedy and self-absorbed. They became obsessed with acquiring an excess of possessions at the expense of the basic needs of others. Eventually government would shoulder the blame as the disparity increased between the nation’s rich and the nation’s poor.
In addition, the country's military arrogance led to unbridled nation building. Several costly wars would deplete the national treasury while rising inflation would lead to an overall economy in disrepair. Most troubling was that the great political leaders of the country's past were suddenly not in evidence during its decline. Sadly, only the corrupt politicians were everywhere, lobbying for their own power, agenda, and monetary gain.
The country became increasingly polarized as political issues and disagreements became national divisions. Taxes increased to subsidize an irresponsible increase in government spending and the country's once impressive infrastructure of roads and bridges began to decay due to ongoing neglect.
Decade after decade, these same problems would continue as individual patriotism faltered and loyalty to the country began to wane. So, eventually, what was once impossible to imagine, became a reality for the greatest civilization of its time. Indeed, in 476 A.D., the Roman Empire fell after the barbarians ransacked the city of Rome.
James William Smith has worked in senior management positions for some of the largest financial services firms in the United States for the last twenty five years. He has also provided business consulting support for insurance organizations and start up businesses. Mr. Smith has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Boston College. He enjoys writing articles on political, national, and world events. Visit his website at http://www.eworldvu.com