Saturday, November 15, 2008

Guest Post from William Douglas Little

With permission I post this from WDL Kind Regards JW

A Rare Political Posting -

Several years ago, I received an e-mail that quoted a Scottish Professor from 1787. In this e-mail, he spoke of the, (in his opinion), wrong choice made by our founding fathers in choosing democracy as our form of government. Since that time I have quoted Mr. Tyler's words many times, but had long since deleted the e-mail. Yesterday, a good friend of mine forwarded the e-mail to me and unknowingly gave me the opportunity to share my solution to the decline of democracy here in the U.S.

You may agree with my thoughts, or perhaps you don't. Either way is just fine by me as we each are entitled to our own opinions. Either way, I hope that your reading this helps to encourage thought toward our political system, which most of us agree needs some form of change.

First, the e-mail as I received it. I do not know the origin of this e-mail, by the way, but I believe that I first read it around 2001 or 2002. The second part - regarding Professor Olson's findings - will seem a decidedly Republican slant. I've not verified the information on that part, but you're welcome to do so if you wish. My main interest was Tyler's statement, however I did find the second section to be interesting.

How Long Do We Have?

About the time our original thirteen states adopted their new constitution in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh , had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier:

'A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.'

'A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.'

'From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.'

'The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years'

'During those 200 years, those nations always progressed 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;

8. from dependence back into bondage'

Professor Joseph Olson of Hemline University School of Law, St. Paul , Minnesota , points out some interesting facts concerning the 2000 Presidential election:

Number of States won by: Democrats: 19 Republicans: 29

Square miles of land won by: Democrats: 580,000 Republicans: 2,427,000

Population of counties won by: Democrats: 127 million Republicans: 143 million

Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Democrats: 13.2 Republicans: 2.1

Professor Olson adds: 'In aggregate, the map of the territory Republican won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of this great country. Democrat territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off various forms of government welfare...' Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the 'complacency and apathy' phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the 'governmental dependency' phase.

So ... many people will read this and perhaps think that it represents a non-issue. Perhaps some will say that democracy and a capitalistic society are no longer the best way for America. Perhaps you'll believe that "moving on" to a hybrid democratic/socialistic or even a full-blown socialistic society would be better for America. If that's your thought, then that's your right. So be it. You can probably stop reading here and we'll retain our friendships. Personally though, I couldn't disagree more.

Those who are concerned about reforming our democracy and rebuilding our government may read this and consider the bridge to be impassable. If we are to believe that Mr. Olsen is correct in his estimation that 40% of Americans have now reached the point of "governmental dependence" and historically democracies are proved destined to fail after 200-years, then what can be done? How do we reverse the trend?

Well, it just so happens that I do have a plan. Over the years we've heard many politicians on the stump screaming for "Welfare Reform", but to date, nobody has done anything of substance to tackle this elephant. Sure, bills may have been presented and votes may have been cast, (within our government - not often by you and I), but ultimately the programs of public assistance have only grown and multiplied to the point that we now have fourth and even fifth generation welfare recipients. Is this what was intended with the introduction of the first "welfare program"? (From what I can find, the first full-blown Federal program was introduced as a temporary measure to provide assistance to families out of work following the Great Depression). The answer is no.

The long-term recipients - those "working the system", if you will - have simply learned that it is easier to get by through government dependence than by actually working. They don't think in terms of contributing to society, but are following - in many cases - a learned behavior taught them by their parents or peers. Why not? It's there ... might as well take it. Of course, this drain on our tax dollars is a snowball effect, lending only to larger government to support more programs and a constant increase in the number of recipients. Currently, more than 40% of Americans do not pay taxes and that number is growing. That means that nearly half of the country is attempting to support, (in one way or another - if they don't receive assistance, they certainly use the roads and other things paid for by tax dollars), not only their share but also the share of the other half. What happens when it's 30% paying taxes? 20%? 10 and so on?

A baby-step reform of the public assistance program is not going to help. Though the problem of forcing through a drastic change remains a challenge, here is a plan that I feel may work, if implemented.

Welfare Reform -

CLASS ONE: Temporary Displaced Worker Assistance - A worker who loses his/her job still needs to feed their family until finding new employment. We can agree that this is a basic need, (though not a "right"). Therefore, a displaced worker program could be provided in which the worker can receive assistance in the form of hourly wages for each day that they "work" to contribute to society. Non-skilled laborers would be employed through government agencies working on infrastructure, maintaining or building national parks/forests, or in conjunction with private non-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity or public shelters. The requirement would be to appear on time and provide four-hours of work and then have the other four-hours to search for a new job. Likewise, skilled- workers would be temporarily "employed" caring for and providing assistance to severely disabled citizens, (as mentioned in Class Three), working within schools, (if so qualified), or with a myriad of other organizations or agencies in need of temporary assistance. In addition, private sector companies needing temporary help, (either skilled or non-skilled), could hire the services of assistance program citizens through existing private sector agencies, who would be paid the base minimum wage rate by the hiring company and collect a standard 15% commission from the government. (This further saves tax dollars invested by allowing private sector payment for the bulk of the wages). This is a temporary assistance program, but rather than mandate a distinct cut off time, (whereby a worker who truly could not find employment in a downturned market would be cast out), workers will be "encouraged" to find other employment due to the nature of the program. The worker would be paid the base minimum wage for 8-hours on each day that they showed up at the assigned time and worked a full four-hours, followed by a logged four-hours of job searching. (This would need to be tracked and verified, but with the huge savings in public assistance payout, a small percentage could be used to fund any additional training and staffing for the current "welfare offices"). In addition, the work performed will be low level and the want to move up to better employment would be strong. The benefit? All recipients would be working to earn their assistance money and performing jobs that would either benefit the greater good of the populous, or providing low-cost employment within the private sector and drastically minimizing the size of the government contribution to the program as it now exists. Plus - and perhaps of most importance - it promotes a habit of work rather than collecting freebie giveaways. If you're going to have to tow the line anyway, you might as well find a job that you like.

CLASS TWO: Partially Disabled - we can all agree that none of us want to be disabled in any way. In a society based on equality and fellowship, we want to help those who are. Likewise, most all of the disabled individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing are good people who don't want hand-outs or empathy for their disability. They strive to overcome whatever disadvantages they might have and many are quite successful. However, there are those who are unable to find employment and require help from others to get by. For those who are partially disabled, the Class Two program would provide for them a form of worker assistance in which they can contribute to government needs, (providing data entry from their home, for example), or private sector companies in need of part-time or temporary services that fall within their capability range. Again, the private sector could be supplied through agencies for commission, greatly reducing the burden on tax dollar contribution. Depending upon the situation, this class may be considered temporary or permanent assistance.

CLASS THREE: Severely Disabled - There are those among us who simply cannot be expected to contribute and many of those also require special care. These individuals would fall into the third class of assistance, through which they would be provided with income and/or care assistance that would be either temporary or permanent depending upon their individual situation. Obviously there are situations in which insurance is providing for all or some of the needed care. This program would work in conjunction with insurance in cases where additional assistance is required but not covered. In no way would this reduce the burden on insurance companies with an obligation to provide to these citizens. In the event that government care or physical assistance is required, (either skilled care or non-skilled labor in maintenance or upkeep of the citizen's home), Class One workers could be used to supply the needed aid, thereby further reducing the tax dollar burden for assistance.

Obviously this is only the "basics" of the plan and there are a number of issues not covered here. However, it's a start to a solution. The problem, as I mentioned before, would lie within getting such a drastic reform put in place. I do believe, though, if this problem and solution were widely enough publicized together, the critics would either have to present very good reasons as to why assistance should be given without being earned, or they will only be seen as contributing to a "freebie" society and the further decline of the greatest Nation on Earth.

No offense, that's just the way I see it.

All the best,



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