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The American Way, by Alan Korwin, May 21, 2009
I was fortunate to be invited to a meeting of thirteen deep-thinking well-educated men recently, and for two-and-a-half hours over lunch we examined some of the critical issues of our time, from our perspective.
The question came up, "What Is America?" and I ask you today, "What is America?"
It seems to me this is a question without an answer, because America is as many things as there are people to define it. It is a complex and huge topic that could fill encyclopedias and not scratch the surface.
But it dawned on me that a few fundamental principles of America stand out. These are the principles that have made America great. These are the reasons America is a shining beacon of real hope for the entire world, such as the world has never known. These are guidelines that people have adopted in their hearts, instilled in their families. These are understandings that drive people from their homes across the entire planet and to our borders. These fundamental principles are The American Way, and this can be described.
I've been a champion of The American Way for as long as I can remember, and way before I even knew that this was what I was championing.
The American Way is hard work. It is keeping the benefits of your hard work. It is ownership of private property, and the sanctity of a contract between people.
It is the idea that you and you alone own the fruits of your labors. It is the idea -- of paramount importance -- of self ownership. You and you alone own and are responsible for you. It's a tautology. The king doesn't own you. The state doesn't own you. You own you.
This is not a right you demand, or get from the state, or earn. It is a fundamental right of the fact that you exist. It is a right that comes from your Creator, by nature. It is the natural order of things. And it is honored here like nowhere else -- that's why we've achieved so much.
The American Way is the idea that all you Americans can make something of yourselves, because you are free to do so. This is the great magnet that draws people here. In 2006, net immigration into 78 nations from Albania to Zimbabwe was below zero -- people were fleeing. In America in that year, more than two million people, risking life, limb, family and arrest, walked across blinding miles of blazing snake-infested desert to get here. That says something. Half got caught and sent back. Half snuck in. Those are problems for another time, but that raw drive speaks volumes about what we have accomplished that their native lands have not.
In one of the documents that helped start our country, Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, published in the year of our founding, 1776, he described principles that drive The American Way (although it was too early for him to call it that). Wealth of Nations, in the country's infancy, identified what has led to unprecedented opulence, prosperity abundance, opportunity and freedom that is The American Way.
Smith recognized that private property, free trade, self interest, limited government and division of labor were the basics of capitalism and cornerstones of personal freedom and economic security.
So these are the factors that make you and me special, and make the land we live in special, and attract many non-Americans to this special place, seeking to be Americans. But along with the teeming masses yearning to be free are undesirable miscreants seeking to leach off our success, eat out our substance and do us harm, who must be resisted. Col. Jeff Cooper put it plainly: Some people prey on other people. I don't like it. That's just the way it is.
So I ask you: Do you intend to preserve, protect and defend these special attributes that make us what we are? You bet we do! Will you resist the constant forces that seek to diminish, denigrate, defeat and delete these special attributes? You bet we will!
The American Way can be summed up, not perfectly, and not for all cases, but it can be summed up for our purposes: The American Way is the idea that the people are the rulers and the rulers are the servants. Have we strayed from this? Yes. Does that make it less true or less valuable or less right? Not at all.
The American Way is the rule of law, individual responsibility and government of limited delegated powers only. It is free markets, free enterprise, low taxes, entrepreneurship and capitalism. The American Way is moral and just and yes, has a strong religious underpinning, whatever your religion may be -- so long as your religion does not include forcible coercion of others. It is "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you," but definitely not, "You better submit to our way," no matter how strongly convinced that your way is right.
Convince people to follow and you follow the precepts that drive much of what we are. Force people, and you are by definition the enemy of The American Way. Neither political party has a really good score card on this.
The American Way is what has generated the most opulent, abundant, prosperous, generous, productive, creative, inventive and loving society the world has ever known, light years ahead of whatever is in second place. Our politicians have lost support because they've abandoned our goals.
The idea that such a land could even exist was beyond the comprehension of earlier societies -- the ideas that made it possible had not been invented yet. The uniquely American ideals of freedom were born here. They were birthed by a lucky confluence that skeptics might say were coincidental. True believers might say it was destiny, or divine providence. And who knows who's right. The important thing is that it happened.
Our natural geography, limits of technology, self-selected pioneers and thinkers in a brave new land, the abuses and usurpations of a tyrant, the homogeneous nature of voluntary leaders, simultaneous existence of so many geniuses in one place and one time, an abundance of natural resources, existence of such vast expanses of untapped wilderness -- all contributed to the damn lucky creation of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights that set us on our way.
When people are turned free to do what they will, they do what we have seen here. Acting in your own self interest, you persevere, plant and harvest great seeds of innovation and wealth. And great wealth results from the work of your loins. True Americans, recognizing the great blessings that have been bestowed upon us, share those fruits, like no society before us has ever done. Americans donate and share more food, more wealth, more health care, more humanitarian aid, more power of righteous self defense, than the world has ever seen -- without exception.
And what of guns? Guns, guns, guns, they are so American. All nations have guns, but only in a scant few do the people have guns. And only in America is there a wildly western tradition of a gun for everyman. Only in America is there broad understanding that guns save lives. Guns stop crime. Guns keep you safe. Guns deter evil. Guns are good.
Colt, Remington, Winchester, Browning, Smith and Wesson -- is it just coincidence that Americans have guns, and use guns, and have invented some of the finest firearms ever known -- and the fact that America has been the freest nation on earth? It is not coincidence. Guns are why America is still free.
We know and easily accept that you can't let slaves have guns and expect them to remain slaves. Does that mean that if the forces of darkness were to succeed in their endless effort to disrupt our long-standing balance and disarm peaceful, innocent Americans, that America would be devolve into slavery? Is it safe to confiscate guns from the innocent? I'm not eager to find out!
Why is it safe to give all those dangerous guns to other people, just because they have government jobs and are paid with your tax money? Why can they be trusted any more than any of you who actually earn the money that pays them? What magical writing says guns are OK but only if rulers have them all? Where does it say that a man in government is more trustworthy than a man in his own home?
We know that just the opposite is true. It is our resistance to the bad idea that only leadership should have power that put power into the hands of the people and created The American Way. It is the understanding that the power to govern is only legitimate if it comes from the consent of the governed. When the power to govern is disconnected from consent, you have classic tyranny, no checks on leadership, only those latitudes leadership arbitrarily decides to offer. That, my friends, is the Anti-American Way.
Guns are indeed why America is still free. Guns in the hands of the masses help assure that leadership cannot just run wild. It stops them short. Guns are power to the people.
Slaves must be disarmed. Americans must never be disarmed. A disarmed docile subservient America would cease to be the magic magnet it is.
Now, there's corrosion in the aging machinery of The American Way. Jefferson's warning that the natural tendency is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground is true, and 200 years of yielding and gaining have taken us to a strange place.
Our great strides forward are at grave risk today. The idea of true human freedom, freedom from the state, freedom from arbitrary rule, appeal to a power higher than any government or man can exert -- these are what give us what we have. Today, far too many people, influenced by dastardly powers, reject the very things that give them the power to speak out against us.
We are now infested with czars -- a drug czar, an education czar, an environment czar, and now even a border czar. Czars are horrors yet we're embracing them, welcoming them into our midst. Czars are toxic waste, destroyers of freedom, autocratic tyrants who have no place in our system. Yet they are praised and promoted with glee by our failed "news" media. Tolerance of czars is a repugnant result of the insidious success of political correctness. Czars should be removed and replaced with representatives.
But our representatives need to be replaced with representatives, because they've long since left the scene.
We have reached a point where our laws are written by secretive government operators and clandestine conspirators, creeps working in deep basements without the light of public scrutiny, who draft endless edicts that cannot be read by a person of decent education. The edicts are thrust upon our elected hollow men, who are coerced and intimidated into signing before they have read what they are handed, and saddle us with unacceptable, anti-American crap whose contents they don't know.
Think about that. The laws are now written by people you don't know, can't name, can't see, signed by people without reading or understanding, and then held against you at the point of a government gun and prison. That, my fellow Americans, is corrupt. It is tyrannical. It is intolerable.
Our elected participants should fall to their knees in shame and tears for what they are complicit in forcing upon this great nation and its people. But they show no shame. They justify, and excuse and continue. How much further must that travesty go on before a few heads are on pikes on the K Street bridge? A bridge, by the way, actually named after Francis Scott Key, the author of the Star Spangled Banner.
Tyranny has its appeal. Especially in the young, a desire to follow rather than lead burns hot. It's easy to be sheep, to obey, to stand in line, take what's handed you, care not for the higher values. They are far from the roots that got this tree growing. And their schooling, run by the very government that schooling is supposed to tame and keep in check, encourages the collectivist antithesis of The American Way.
Freedom is hard work, but worth it. Socialism, the Anti-American Way and our arch enemy, seems easy, because it runs on other people's money and sweat. Too many Americans today have had their values turned upside down and actually crave socialism, or can't even tell the difference between craven collectivism and freedom's liberation.
We have our share of difficulties, and our ability to surmount them looks increasingly grim. And when you're the big dog, as freedom has made America, people and groups and nations and even ideologies nip at your feet.
The have nots, the do nots, the know nots, freeloaders and the useful idiots wound up into a frenzy by people of ill will and a disgraceful media, seek to take you down. Seek to hurt you. Seek to diminish your accomplishments, cast aspersions on your greatness, work to undermine your success, mean-mouth your achievements, deny, rewrite and twist history to say it isn't so. They would rather pick at the nits than recognize how far America has drawn humanity out of the primordial goo.
Americans know our greatness. America haters hate our greatness. Too many of our own countrymen are misled, misguided, propagandized and brainwashed into hating -- blind fuming hatred -- of the very hand that feeds them.
America haters are the most pernicious, deceitful and hate-filled enemies of all that is good and prosperous and productive and beneficial to humanity. Too many exist within our midst, in our Congress and schools and newsrooms and within the bureaus of the czars. And they are clever, and devilish in their cunning, and left unchecked they will indeed ruin the greatest society the planet has ever seen, and then dance in the bloody gore of the havoc they reek.
If you believe in The American Way, if you have benefited from The American Way, if you want your children and their children and generations to come both here and abroad to bask in the glory of The American Way, then you need to rise up -- in all your righteous glory and indignation -- and denounce the siren song of those who would rend and ridicule what we have achieved.
You need to always say the obvious, and flatly refuse to participate in the debilitating socialist disease of political correctness! Don't joke about it, which reinforces it, denounce it! You need to substitute e pluribus unum -- "From Many, One" for the leftwing sickness of multicultural divisiveness. You need to know that belief in limited government, low taxation, delegated powers, free markets, free enterprise, gun ownership, religion and personal responsibility makes you a moderate not an extremist. Those who tell you to reject these core American values, they are the extremists. The extremists are calling the moderates extreme, and the media helps sing that song. Clinging to The American Way makes you a centrist, a moderate centrist. Only a vile and corrupt media could see it otherwise and then promote an upside-down cake of the truth.
You must loudly and publicly reject laws that violate the separation of Congress and the States, laws that violate the 10th Amendment by delegating forbidden powers, laws that grow government illegally, laws that use color and sex and language to force compliance, quotas, and deceptive non-equality. Equal treatment under the law, not enforced treats and benefits through income redistribution. Special treatment to favored groups is the behavior of tyrants. We are and must remain a nation built on merit and compassion, not central dictates and giving away your money to other people.
You can do all these things, and keep America at her heights of glory. You can for generations to come preserve all the things that made America great and this shining beacon of liberty it has been for more than two centuries. You need to ask yourself, of every proposal that comes down the pike from central government, state government, local government, media pundits and all others who profess to know what's right for you, "Does it maximize freedom?"
Does it maximize freedom, that's the question. That's the benchmark.
If it maximizes freedom, it's good. That's what our Founders knew. That's what got us to this great pinnacle of success from which we are now slipping. If it would do good but does not maximize freedom, it must be rejected. If government could take action -- but has no authority to do so, it must be rejected. There is always another way. The American Way.
Thank you, and may God bless America.
Thank you, Alan. Considering current events, it's no coincidence Alan takes note of America's "czars"...see "Soft shoe" post below.
May God bless America indeed and, through her, may God bless the whole world.