As a kid growing up in the Bronx, that term was an affirmation for every immigrant that settled within that tiny enclave, called “Little Italy”.
And like most of my generation of Italian American’s I learned to bridge quickly those two competing worlds, American by birth…Italian by heritage. And yet within those two very different and unique worlds, there was a common thread that bound us collectively together…the desire to be American and to access the “American Dream”.
And like most immigrants that found their way to the “new world” my dad’s story is a common one…and a testament to the human spirit of survival in an alien land.
He, along with his mother and two younger siblings came to America with one purpose and one purpose only…to access the “American Dream”. However the streets as advertised weren’t paved with gold and they soon realized that while America was indeed the land of “milk and honey”, their lives would be one of trial and tribulation and a “melting pot” of despair…and yet within all that despair they survived and eventually began to flourish and achieve their own personal “American Dream”.
Because he knew that hard work and perseverance would ultimately reward him, and eventually it did. And although he was proud of his heritage he learned to assimilate into the culture and proudly became an “American”.
I recount this tale only as a backdrop to what America was as apposed to what America is slowly becoming, and I believe if my dad were alive today he would sadly shake his head, and perhaps in broken English would lament the irony of it all…as to why he left his native land, in the first place.
Fast forward to today’s headlines and we can quickly see where America is heading, in almost every aspect of society America is in decline. The demonstrations now taking place across the country and around the world are merely another indication of that decline. And if that’s indeed the case, then why…why is this incredible experiment called America failing? And what has changed?
My own sense is that it isn’t one thing that has brought us to this moment in time but rather an accumulation of events and a profound change within the morale of our society that has in effect changed the very fabric of what our Founders had envisioned.
Those ideals and principles were the bedrock upon which our nation was founded; they were forged in the blood socked foot prints of nameless patriots on a winter’s night in 1776 and on a battlefield in a town called Gettysburg.
And perhaps that’s where the trouble lies, in that my dad, an immigrant, who couldn’t speak the language, knew more about American history and the ideals and principles of this nation, then most of the kids born in America, today.
All one needs to do is to simply take a look at what is going on around the country to gauge where America is today. Certainly the right to protest and demonstrate is as American as apple pie, and every citizen has a right to have their voices heard.
However, what we’re witnessing today down on Wall Street and around the nation aren’t grievances against government policies or its intrusion on our way of life…no, what we’re witnessing instead is a sinister and concerted effort by this administration and its minions to deflect criticism of its own failed economic policies by cleverly supporting and taking advantage of, and perhaps in consort with these young protesters in Zuccotti Park and their attempt to redirect and shift the focus towards those that have succeeded and have achieved the “American Dream”.
And while it may appear that these protesters occupying Wall Street bare a resemblance to those of the 60’s and the Viet Nam era, shouting the same slogans and using civil disobedience as a political tool, nothing could be further from the truth, in that this time the enemy is capitalism itself, and the very essence of a free and open society.
Ironically, our Founding Fathers in their infinite wisdom understood the perils of a free and open society and thus created a unique form of governance, divided into three equal branches in which no one branch has absolute power, over the other, and they foresaw a time when this experiment called America would be under attack.
Thomas Jefferson in fact wrote countless papers on the subject;
“Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path of destruction”. Thomas Jefferson
What was Jefferson revering too? “Material abundance without character is the path of destruction”...my sense is that Jefferson was concerned that in time the people would become less self-reliant and so dependent on government, that they would eventually expect government to take care of their every need.
Jefferson and the other Founders, I suspect knew that human nature being want it is, that eventually lawmakers and power brokers would some day attempt to gradually encroach on our basic freedoms, and of course history shows they have.
Today thanks in part to a cultural and moral divide that began in the 60’s between secular progressives and traditionalists, almost every segment of our society is under sedge, and the end results is anyone’s guess. However I submit, what we’re witnessing today, if not challenged, will have far more lasting consequences to our culture then any conflict to our nation.
Nothing illustrates this better then the 2008 election, upon taking office President Obama was faced with an immediate crisis…the potential financial collapse of our economy, however Obama also saw within the crisis an opportunity to infuse his preconceived radical ideology to “"Fundamentally Transforming the United States of America", and the insightful comments by his Chief- of-Staff, Rahm Emanuel, in that “You Never Want a Serious Crises to go to Waste”.
Within these two separate yet distinct comments lies the foundation of the Obama Doctrine. However, rather then being a caretaker to a fragile economy, and simply shoring up the financial institutions, Obama and company have done just the opposite.
They have used the financial crises as a guise in an attempt to transform America, as he envisions it, into a hybrid form of European Socialism, through the redistribution of wealth, massive government entitlements, and government intervention and control of private industries, however in order to achieve his agenda Obama and company have gone on a massive spending spree, borrowing trillions of dollars and putting America further into debt, to the tune of almost 15-trillion dollars and growing.
Yet if one listens carefully to those demonstrating down on Wall Street, it isn’t government that should be held accountable for the economic mess we find ourselves in, but rather Wall Street and the banking industry, and while the 99% slogan is indeed catchy, it’s also disingenuous and misleading by suggesting that the 1% targeted don’t pay their fair share”? If paying almost 40% in all federal taxes, isn’t paying their “fair share”, what is? Should it be 50%, of their incomes, perhaps 60%, or maybe 70%?
Obviously at face value, it seems that these protesters are either miss-informed or perhaps more in line with promoting Obama’s ideology rather then addressing the actual cause and effect of the economy and job creation.
The irony of course is that while Obama and company pay lip service to these protesters and runs around the country demanding that congress pass his “jobs bill”, he conveniently ignores the fact that there are currently 16-pieces of legislation, referencing job growth which are being blocked and are currently sitting idle in the democratically controlled senate.
And then there’s the 1,700 mile pipeline from Canada, which would in effect create 20 to 60,000 “shovel-ready” construction jobs immediately, however Obama has put the project on hold until after the 2012 election, claiming that the administration needs more time to study the effects on the environment, and while that may be true, there are those that suggest that the delay is politically motivated. And when one considers that there are currently thousands of miles of underground pipelines all across the country that suggestion seems a lot more plausible. The delay has apparently motivated Canada to seek other markets to sell its oil and gas, and not to wait for us.
And while these protesters also enjoy support from the media, and the unions, it’s those same unions however, that are currently bankrupting many states and refusing to compromise on wages and benefits, at a time when those states are at risk of default.
However the most egregious situation regarding the unions, is currently taking place in South Carolina “a- right-to-work” state, and the attempt by the National Labor Relations Board to stop Boeing (a private company), from building its new 787 Dreamliner plant, that in effect would employ thousands workers.
At issue are the very principles of a free and open society and whether a private company has the right to build their facility anywhere in the country without interference and fear of intimidation from the government or the unions. Ironically we once again witness why major industries seek to go aboard and build their factories and plants
The point is simply this, have we become a nation of petty, envious, and self-absorbed individuals unable to distinguish between our god given right to succeed and also fail on our own merits? A nation now engaged in “class warfare” that we no longer strive for individual success, and so dependent on government that we no longer subscribe to hard work, and perseverance?
In short, government and only government can create law, government and only government can mandate, rewrite, regulate, deregulate and oversee those laws...not Wall Street, not the banks, and certainly not the evil 1%
However, there’s no disagreement that Wall Street and the banks have taken advantage of the “system”. However, it’s the same “system” that deregulated safeguards within the home loan mortgage industry that allowed those that could not previously qualify for a mortgage to take advantage of deregulation, and purchase homes they simply couldn’t afford, thus creating the financial meltdown that ultimately led to the crises, and a near collapse of our economy.
Incredibly Fannie Mae the leading government backed Mortgage Company that was the catalyst for the housing meltdown, is once again in the red and looking for an additional 8-billion dollars in tax payer funds, to stay afloat.
The simple fact is if we do not rein in wasteful spending, and begin to seriously restructure entitlements, cut corporate tax rates, and eliminate punitive regulations that stifle growth, we’ll continue to “transform America” as Obama envisions and we’ll follow Europe’s lead…all the way to becoming insolvent, the only question is who’ll bail us out?