100 Years later, we still grapple with the aftermath of the Titanic
The largest man made moving object on earth. The peak of technology, luxury and opulence. The Titanic said a lot about the future, a future being defined by great advances of the industrial era. The shocking disaster had a significant and lasting impact on society. Not unlike the way the Challenger disaster shook confidence in NASA and began the end our faith in the hope for future manned exploration. And in the same way progressives took advantage of the housing bubble and financial crises to call for more government, 100 years ago socialists called for changes that would give more power to a central government to “better manage our future”.
It is no coincidence, in my opinion that people would elect Woodrow Wilson in the fall of 1912. His vision for a strong central government to protect people from the down side of capitalists rang true. Stories abounded, people who worked, were injured, even died, and families left with nothing. But this was a different time, and the price of living was risk, much riskier then anything we see today. It is impossible to imagine, struggling every day with no safety net, unless you were personally wealthy. But what made this time different was the value of labor. Craftsman had their guilds, their apprenticeships, there natural course that provided a measure of safety and predictability. A blacksmith may labor for a decade or more for a master, secure in his job, with knowledge that at some point he would be a master blacksmith himself, with his own forge. But the rail road worker, the coal miner, the machinist, the child or woman working in the garment industry did not have any such protection, and the simple idea that things would improve until all hardship was itself gone sank to the bottom of the ocean 100 years ago today. The who is who of industrialists including those that built the ship who sailed aboard the Titanic was a shocking wake up call that even those with the best information sadly could not be trusted to be right about technology they and everyone else trusted with their lives.
Woodrow Wilson won the election that fall, and just before his inauguration the states ratified the first of three “socialist” dream amendments. The 16th amendment granting the federal government the right to tax citizens of the states. Followed shortly by the 17th amendment ending governor appointment of Senators, and the 18th Amendment ushering in the first of the nanny state solutions.
Of course, the 18th amendment undermined government authority, corrupted politicians, lead to increased crime, and went against human nature. But the same can now be said for the 16th amendment, it just took longer to get past the fog of propaganda.
For the last one hundred years we have suffered with progressive’s “progress” towards a national government of vast centralized power concentrated in the hands of a very few ruling elite individuals and families. A mixture of modern hereditary ruling families an oligarchy of our two party system, and the influence of large NGO’s, purpose driven organizations, industrial interests, business groups, and financial interests. It is apparent that the more power Washington has, the fewer people who actually control the government. The idea of self government was based on states power, with individuals enjoying self government through state and local elections. The federal government was subservient to the states, in all but foreign policy.
The last few elections have demonstrated that Americans are aware that something is wrong. The idea that “the three branches of government” protected the voters from loosing their liberty is a lie of the progressives. The true protection came from the independence of the states. Without a dependable independent source of revenue like the income tax, the federal government was constrained not by three branches but by the need to get a consensus from the states. The appointment of senators by the governors insured this was the case. But the progressives eliminated that protection too.
America is ready for change, but the progressives behind President Obama are late to the game. No longer can even the media control the message and hide the truth completely. Like that bad news that the Titanic was not being towed to New York with the survivors aboard, the truth about a future under progressives gets out. The voters may not fully understand exactly what change they want, but they know the country is headed in the wrong direction and that the problem is Washington. It is too early yet this year to know if there will be a catastrophe of the magnitude of the titanic sinking, taking down with it the credibility of those leaders of the progressive movement that captured the confidence of the American voters also a century ago. But already there is a sinking in the making, with prerequisite ambiguity, the competing messages, and the denials by the fabricators, and sponsors. There will be no death toll, fortunately, because the catastrophe in the making is the declaration that ObamaCare is unconstitutional. But for the authors that conceived and put together this monstrosity, their reputations as “guardians of the truth, protectors of the future, holders of the only true knowledge” it is certain that the overturning of the law will call into question the reliability of the promises for the future that progressivism represents. Like the people who realized that the industrialists were not infallible, just because there were rich and powerful, the same is true of the progressives. They are not infallible, just because they are rich and powerful.
The question that now must be asked is, if we as voters do not trust the Republicans to act any differently then the Democrats, what is to replace them? Certainly the progressives have an answer, one that Franklin Roosevelt would understand. Get rid of that pesky restriction on how many terms any one person can hold. But are the Republicans really different or are they just a “team to run against” fundamentally committed to big government. Have national elections been reduced to a scripted performance? Is the competition between the parties nothing more than a “exhibition” like those between Harlem Globe Trotters and Generals basketball teams? Are the Republicans now dancing the part of the Generals to Sweet Georgia Brown?
America wants change. Progressives promise change, and however painful Progressives promise it will be “fair”. But it is pretty obvious that is a lie. The benefits granted by the government of that future will not be spread evenly but exchanged for money just as it is today. But what change does the Republican party offer? Less of the above? Who believes that Republicans will not take money, or that they will dismantle the system Obama has created? A system set up so that the next time the Democrats get control they can complete the fundamental restructuring of America President Elect Obama promised five days before the inauguration?
The Republicans need a big change, one that can compete with the President for life goal of progressives. Less of the same isn’t enough. Reducing the damage the progressives did to our liberty this time won’t sell either. We need real fundamental change that will appeal across ideological lines and restore liberty. It is time for the Republicans to call a truce in the national tug of war between Conservatives and Liberals over who controls Washington. It isn’t about which side will best manage the behemoth Washington bureaucracy, it is about restoring liberty and self determination. It is about self government. It is about tax reform and government reform. The answer to progressives ultimate goal of a president for life, is to repeal the 16th and 17th amendments. Replace it with a state apportionment program and let the states deal with the funding. Let the states take care of domestic policy free of federal interference and mandates.
Real tax reform will come not from Washington D.C., but from places like Seattle, Harrisburg, Bismarck, Helena, Springfield and forty five other state capitals. It will vary from place to place, reflecting the interests of a majority of the citizens of that place. And overall government spending may grow or shrink from a local perspective depending on the services each state’s citizens are willing to fund, but each state will still have to balance their budget. Washington D.C. just seems to spend money without any real concern about even creating a budget. Let alone a balanced budget.
I don’t expect the Republican candidate Mr. “Not (quite) Obama” to start to care about real change. But then, if we get enough people in the house and senate we don’t need him anyway. The President has no role in the amendment process, regardless of who wins. And if the leadership isn’t t sure how to convince fifty state legislators that ratifying a repeal of the 16th and 17th amendment would benefit them immensely, I can put together a team that represents every political persuasion that could sell it.
Then 100 years from now we can celebrate the sinking of the Progressive political machine that is sailing head long at full steam into disaster, and the saving of the American people from the sinking financial mess that Washington has created, rescued by the fifty lifeboats that are the safe harbors of American democracy.
The states are America’s lifeboats, and we need to emphasize the importance of those states, not keep building a bigger centralized “unsinkable” federal government. That lesson is one we can learn from the decisions that were made leading up to the tragedy of the Titanic, 100 years ago today.