Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Land of the Freeloader, Home of the Knave

A nation of supplicants. We've become a nation of supplicants.

I'm sure every newspaper in the country carries a story like this one today -- "The Stimulus Bill: What's in it for Us?" -- as Americans line up, hands outstretched and palms up, waiting to see what Washington-sent goodies -- what manna from Heaven -- fall into their hands.

Depression averted, perhaps. But I find the fact that we've become a nation of supplicants bone deep depressing. It reminds me of those old black and white photos from the 1930s, of men in hats stoically waiting in line for something -- a job perhaps? -- only it's in Technicolor now and we're all wearing designer clothes.

There is more dignity in what I see in those old photos. Americans today have the look of hustlers, looking for a way to angle in on the action.

We've been walking Hayek's "road to serfdom" for decades, despite a few detours which gave one hope that the ultimate destination might be avoided. But we've arrived, courtesy of Barack Obama's presidency and a "stimulus bill" that has every community in the country lining up, hat in hand, waiting for Uncle Sam to drop a little something into it (which he picks from our pockets with the other hand).

Land of the free? Home of the brave? Once perhaps. Today we're the land of the freeloader and the home of the knave.

I'm reminded of a letter I received at The Gazette a few years ago. "America's over," the writer concluded. "They just haven't sent out the memo yet."

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