Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bill O’Reilly’s Observation: The Popularity of Free Stuff

This week on the O’Reilly Factor, anchor Bill O’Reilly noted a peculiar poll trend that shows President Barak Obama’s job approval rating is on the increase. Some polls have him close to 50 percent. This is peculiar and surprising considering our economic and religious liberty challenges. Although the so-called contraceptive (and abortifacients) mandate is predicted to hurt President Obama’s chances for re-election, he has not yet taken a hit on his job approval rating.

From these observations Bill O’Reilly concluded that it appears that the perks of a welfare and nanny State is beginning to sell with the American people. More and more, Americans like to get free stuff from the government. In fact, on other Fox News programs, statistics have been presented to illustrate that the takers in society are becoming just as numerous as the givers. Call it what you will, but this is but the result of the increasing popularity of “socialism” in the land of the free. As for where this might lead, we do not have to guess. All we have to do is look at Greece and the predicament Europe is currently in. Daniel Hannen, British journalist and member of parliament, said as much at C-PAC on February 13th, 2012. He issued the following warning to Americans:

“If you repeat our mistakes, if you shift power from the 50 states to Washington, from the elected representative to the federal czar, from the citizen to the state, we know exactly what lies in store for you. I've been a member of the European parliament for 12 years. I am living in your future, or at least the future towards which your present leaders seem intent on taking you. And believe me, my friends, you are not going to enjoy it.”

But long before Daniel Hannen gave his eloquent speech at C-PAC, long before conservatives began to oppose Socialism, Communism and Secular-liberalism, the Fathers of the Catholic Church in modern times have sounded alarm well over hundred years ago. For instance, in 1891 we have Pope Leo XIII issuing this warning approximately 120 years before redistribution policies of socialism were accelerated in the United States through the President Obama:

“Hence, it is clear that the main tenet of socialism, community of goods, must be utterly rejected, since it only injures those whom it would seem meant to benefit, is directly contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonweal…The door would be thrown open to envy, to mutual invective, and to discord; the sources of wealth themselves would run dry, for no one would have any interest in exerting his talents or his industry; and that ideal equality about which they entertain pleasant dreams would be in reality the leveling down of all to a like condition of misery and degradation.” (On Capital and Labor, art. 15)

This takes us back to Bill O’Reilly’s observation about more American’s wanting free stuff from the government. Don’t they know where this will lead? And can we really expect them to know?

The answer to the latter question is- not really. First, Catholics have not helped matters by not taking full advantage of those public venues to teach and illustrate the connection between faith and freedom. Even from the pulpit, diocesan pastoral letters and the classroom, there is not much said in this regard! In fact, I would argue that several influential members of the Catholic clergy have promoted big government programs in name of Christian charity. Indeed, the Catholic Church in America used to say (long ago), “If there is a person in need, in the name of Christ, I will help that person.” Today when she finds a person is in need she says, “Wait here, I’ll get the government.”

Secondly, and this where the dereliction of conservatives and Americans who hold to traditional values comes in, one thing has got to change and that is the monopoly of State-run education. Without this change Americans will continue to favor Big Government or the Entitlement State and they will continue to be won over by the illusion that they are getting free stuff without consequence. Being that education is second to the family in terms of shaping how we perceive the world, our public schools are simply making society- and even government –into its own image. Just about everything the way public schools operate and teach favors a secular all-powerful State. Until this changes, until the monopoly of the State on what our children learn is broken and cast away, any political advance at the ballot box which favors America’s heritage of freedom and individual self-sufficiency will be temporary.

You see, the State, as the primary educator our children, has preempted the authority of parents; not only of parents, but of God Himself. As it stands today, God is deemed a rival to the State. When the State wants full control of education, it does not want God to interfere. Before prayer, bible reading and the mention of God was prohibited in public schools beginning in the 1960’s, Etienne Gilson said this,

"To the full extent that it educates, the State educates in view of itself…The only conceivable end of a State-owned education is the State itself. States themselves may not know it. They may sincerely believe that nothing is more foreign to their honest intentions; yet, to put it bluntly, the only reason why a State may not want children to be educated in view of God is that it wants them to be educated in view of itself. Totalitarian education does nothing more than go the whole way along the same line. The result is what we know: political, economic, intellectual and spiritual slavery." (1951)

The last sentence of Gilson’s bears repeating: “The result is what we know: political, economic, intellectual and spiritual slavery.” What people used to know about the hazards of State-run education, we have forgotten. We will continue to be ignorant of why there is political, economic, intellectual and spiritual slavery as long as the agent who is causing that slavery is educating our children!! Indeed, that carrot on the stick- that is, the growing popularity of free stuff held out by the all-powerful State -will continue to allure citizens to surrender their liberty for security. After all, for years the desire to be hand fed by the State has been instilled into the souls of the American people by our State-run education system. This is our Berlin Wall! And to be sure, it must come down if America is to remain free, prosperous and loyal to God!