March 8, 2011

My son Brad has a nine-year old son who, to his granddad's delight (that would be me), has yet to see anything other than A's on his report cards. This fourth grader is on a sixth grade math level, fifth grade spelling level and a seventh grade reading level. He is also perceptive and has the memory of an elephant!

So, given these factors and his concern over what is and what is not being taught in public schools these days, Brad put his son up to the challenge of reading Glenn Beck's (and Thomas Payne's) Common Sense. If Chandler (my grandson) reads the book over the weekend, he gets twenty dollars. If he reads it, asks questions from it and answers questions his father gives him about it, then he gets fifty dollars!

Fifty dollars! Not bad at all, I never was given that amount of money cumulative over twelve years of schooling! But Chandler will be undergoing some historical and sociological education well beyond his years. I do believe he can and will keep up. Here's why ... He watches Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity on a regular basis. He digests world events from the news on TV and he reads regularly about current events.

So it's no wonder when, Monday evening he asked me why didn't "the people elected to Wisconsin's senate do what the people paid them to do and go to work?" He said, they left the state and "they are getting paid to do nothing. Now the governor and the other Senators want to arrest them and if they don't come home, they won't get paid. Wouldn't it be better to fire them?"

That's it, Chandler! Why not recall the whole lot? They should return to work or be impeached or maybe the Wisconsin legislature can declare their seats open and call for elections.

In the last five years or so my wife and I have become proponents of home schooling. If money is short and tuition at private schools is unavailable, home schooling is surely better than public schools these days.

Raising children is a 24-hour effort. I think Brad has come to that conclusion and is now working on passing down to his son traits he see as valuable: faith, personal responsibility, perseverance, a love of learning and social grace, to name a few. When public examples arise of conflicts in these values, they provide a learning opportunity.

In my conversation with Chandler I explained that the senators should not leave their jobs undone, but should return to the state where they were elected to serve.

At the same time that Wisconsin's Democratic senators are holed up in Illinois, the federal government is trying to determine if there is a way to live within our means. The Republican Party is pushing a balanced-budget agenda, and the Democratic Party is pushing an invest-now-so-we-can-save-later agenda.

Here, too, we can see the conflict between our values and public action.

Chandler is being taught to do his chores for an allowance and to work extra jobs to earn money so they can save for items he want. The goal is for him to be thoughtful in his purchases. There have been occasions when his mother and dad watched as Chandler shops at Target or Toys "R" Us or Game Stop, waiting for him to calculate how much his desired items would be with tax. Often, they realize that they will have to choose something else or wait another week.

While these examples might seem simplistic, they illustrate where we are as a nation.

Will we decide to be truthful and honest with our fellow countrymen and ourselves, or will we continue to live by deception? One path leads to freedom, and the other to bondage.

We are engaged in a great national struggle between bondage and liberty. Bondage is based on falsehoods and lies. Liberty is the result of truth that leads to freedom.

Bondage hides under the guise of security. Government programs that promise to save people through government assistance and do so in exchange for their liberty.

People who were once self-reliant and personally responsible become conditioned to accept that they have been victimized, that they have no power, that there is no real hope for a better future, but only the false hope that the payments that government provides will continue. They lose faith in the future and in their ability to navigate it, in exchange for temporary security.

The cost of these expanded services results in the rapidly increasing public debt of our country. This is a moral threat to our survival.

This burden of debt places requirements on future generations of Americans. They will have to be concerned with paying off their mothers' and fathers' debts before they can begin to live their own lives.

Let's be clear about what this is — this is bondage for future generations.

While the idea of taxing one group to help another might work on a small scale, a nation afflicted with this disease on a pervasive level cannot be sustained. You cannot tax people and create value. You simply spread what you have into thinner and thinner layers.

Value is created instead when something is made by one person and then passed on to another who values it more highly than does the maker. The seller receives more than the cost, and the buyer receives a product that, in his or her estimation, is worth at least as much, if not more than the price for which it is sold.

As for service to our communities and our nation, we must demand that those who are elected to serve us fulfill their duties.

We have to understand that, while we may have been "created equal," as stated in the Declaration of Independence, we were not guaranteed that we would all end up equally. Instead, we were given the right by God to pursue happiness.

If we push for equality over liberty, we will end up in bondage to the government. As Alexis de Tocqueville said: "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: While democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."

Chandler is learning this and he can tell you that spending money you don't have is irresponsible and taking money from others who worked hard to get it is theft -- not equality. He also knows that spending now and passing the tab on to his and the next generation puts him and them in financial shackles.

Let us love freedom more than security and risk the challenges of liberty rather than give in to the assurances of bondage.

We believe that the Constitution of the United States speaks for itself. There is no need to rewrite, change or reinterpret it to suit the fancies of special interest groups or protected classes.