Saturday, December 22, 2007

Oregon Trail: The Modern American Dream


Daniel Boone vs. Nanny State:
America has lost its way

By GEN LaGRECA
Daniel Boone was born 273 years ago and died in 1820 at the age of 85. If he somehow returned now, the American icon wouldn't recognize the land he pioneered.

This death-defying adventurer axed his way through the Appalachian Mountains to settle Kentucky and open the Western frontier. Stamped across his rock-hard life is the trademark of America: the pioneer spirit to cross new frontiers and control one's destiny.

Back then, people ran their own lives. Today, our vastly expanded Nanny State looks after us. Is this a good thing? Imagine you're a pioneer of yesteryear. How would you fare with today's nanny on your back?


LaGreca
As you prepare your covered wagon for journeying West, inspectors report that your wheels fail to meet safety standards, the canvas on your wagon is not fire retardant, and the yoke on your oxen could be harmful — not to you, but to the beasts. Although you've traveled safely in the wagon before, you're slapped with fines and forced to correct the problems. You leave for your journey with a lighter wallet — and a heavier spirit.

When you reach your new town, you find that land isn't cheap anymore. The government took huge tracts off the market to preserve the wilderness. One of the townspeople sells you a plot — at 10 times what he paid for it. You learn that he was one of the councilmen who passed the law preserving the wilderness. He smiles to welcome you to town, but you have difficulty smiling back.

You plant a crop, only to learn it is forbidden. The government decided there was enough of it and any more would lower the price. You find that your neighbors on the town council who. . .


(cont'd from front page) passed this law are the folks who grow that crop. You also discover that some farmers produce no crops — and get paid for their empty fields with your tax dollars.

You suppress your frustrations and search for a way to succeed. You enjoy making furniture, so you decide to open a shop. But wait. You must file permits with a dozen agencies. This means hiring lawyers and accountants, which you cannot afford, so you must give up your dream of starting your business.

You get another jolt: the tax bill. You discover that your nanny demands a big piece of you to fund the agencies running your life.

You're just starting out, but you feel drained. The promise of a new life has vanished.

In time, you learn to play the game. You join the town council to build government instead of furniture. You work in a blacksmith's shop where you do a lousy job, but you get a law passed that forces your boss to pay you more than you're worth.

Your wife cuts the townswomen's hair. She worries about losing customers to a new haircutter. But you get the council to enact a law requiring any new haircutters to complete 500 hours of instruction and pay a hefty fee for a license. This protects the public from unsafe haircuts.

Despite your maneuverings, you feel no joy. Your life is no longer in your control, but depends on the arbitrary whims of the council. You've lost the confidence and drive you had when you started out. You've become fearful and conniving. The town has destroyed you.

What happened in this hypothetical town is also happening in our country.
Once we lived by our own efforts; now we demand government "entitlements." Once we respected the rights of others; now we pass laws to tax and control everyone. Once we reined in government to unleash individual freedom; now we rein in the individual to unleash state power. Once we were pioneers sprinting toward the American Dream; now we're distressed travelers caught in a maze called the Nanny State.

The Nanny State is the antithesis of America. It violates a person's right to act freely and instead compels him to follow the state's dictates. It corrupts the citizens by giving some groups unearned benefits at the expense of others. It corrupts officials by giving them unchecked power to dispense favors, to make or break lives, to control entire industries, to confiscate property, to redistribute wealth. It anesthetizes the people to its unbridled power by telling them they will be taken care of, as if trading freedom for dependency were desirable. It uses the chilling weapon of the police state — force — to impose its edicts.

Today's nanny concocts a bitter brew of hundreds of alphabet-soup agencies to regulate our lives. How many modern pioneers are choking at this campfire?

To grab the reins of our lives, to ride free and unafraid like Daniel Boone, we must get the nanny off our backs.

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