Is It Laissez Or lazy?
What should Santa Claus have brought us for Christmas this year?
How about a healthy dose of Laissez-faire?
And just what is Laisssez-faire, you may ask?
One could say that it was one of the founding principles of our nation. Many residents of the colonies, as this country was commonly referred to back then, grew tired of bowing to the crown, and letting the King of England tell them how to live their lives.
Some of the stalwarts of the idea had read the works of 18th Century Scottish philosopher and economist, Adam Smith, and the 19th Century Scotsman John Stuart Mill, of a similar intellectual persuasion, and had decided that there's something better in life, something more important than sitting around on your backside letting someone else tell you how to live your life.
The term most commonly used to express their thinking is a French term: Laissez faire, which could be broadly interpreted to mean: Leave me alone and let me and fend for myself.
The Patriots, as our trouble making early founders were often called, thought man was best served if left alone to chart his own future—he didn't need “Big Brother” poking his nose into every aspect of his life. This was a guiding principle of our Founding Fathers. America and Americans were more than “subjects” as the British were content to be; they were better than that. Many Colonists wanted to be left alone to think and do for themselves; not bow their heads and grovel when the “Crown” saw fit to recognize their existence.
But, a couple of centuries have passed since than, and it looks as if many Americans would be content with again being “subjects.” They want “the Crown” to look after them, to tell them what to do and when to do it.
Many Americans; but not all Americans. There are still a few of them who steadfastly hold to the principals which guided our quest to become “the greatest nation on earth.” That was then; what about now?
What has happened to the spirit that built this nation?
For those of us old folk who are today stumbling about in a state of confusion, we view the present national attitude toward immigration—more particularly illegal immigration—with an uncomfortable dichotomous feeling.
Most of us recall our youth, when one—or both—of our grandparents had immigrated here from a foreign land. The process for them was an arduous one, and their path to naturalization was a long and studious one. Some of us even married aliens, and shared with them the process of studying and working toward attaining their naturalization. It was a long and arduous journey. But in the end they proudly attained the coveted status of “American.”
And, in that regard, their naturalization was one of totality. As one federal judge, some years ago, told a class of new citizens at their swearing in: “You are now Americans. You renounce any allegiance to the country from which you emigrated. There is no such thing as a hyphenated American.” But, what about a double hyphenation: “illegal-Mexican-American?”
Now we see our president boldly informing us that he plans to, with a stroke of his magic pen, make thousands of illegal immigrants bone fide American citizens, with little or no effort on their part to earn that status; or the benefits to be derived therefrom.
How, we ask ourselves rhetorically, did this happen? How can people who broke all the rules by which our forefathers abided be welcomed to our country—and be provided all the benefits which regular citizens earn—by the simple stroke of the pen by a president whose presence in that office many Americans recently repudiated.
As the late comedian Jimmy Durante might have put it: “Now ain't that a sad state of affairs?”
The results of the latest election gives credence to this observation. Q.E.D.
Every so often a word or term comes to mind the meaning of which may seem somewhat obscure.
Take for example the noun: reverend, as used in the honorific “The Reverend”
The 500-year-old noun was attached to the names of members of the clergy as a sign of respect for the sacrifice and study they underwent in order to obtain the wisdom necessary to become closer to the Almighty and therefrom of extra service to their fellow man. It was an indication that the person bearing the title was, in effect, closer to God, and could serve his or her fellow man; that he should be “revered.”
So how can we square its use today when attached to the name of less than honest individuals who may be using it as a disguise to conceal their real motives: self aggrandizement, pseudo-knowledge, and as a cover for nefarious efforts which result mainly in self enrichment, in a variety of ways.
We see a lot of that today. Or, maybe “Rev.,” now stands for revolting.
After viewing the results of last month's elections a quote from Thomas Jefferson comes to mind: “I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
While these comments are most assuredly as appropriate now as they were more than two centuries ago; we should take caution from the words of the Greek philosopher Plate, who observed: The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.” This caveat should take a prominent place in the minds of the electorate when the next general election takes place. Caveat emptor.
Leaping ahead a few centuries for words of wisdom, take President Gerald Ford's admonition that “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.” The last six years or so have certainly born out the truth of that bit of wisdom.
And if there was ever a summarization of the present situation in Washington it was surely uttered some time in the recent past by Carl Sagan, who posited that: “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
Are we, we must ask ourselves, not on the precipice of that warning today?
Americans have complacently sat back and let government have its way. Now is the correct season to compare what has been happening to American by comparing it with the prospect of a major league football team kicking off at the start of the game, then complacently wandering over to the bench to see what will happen.
And to wrap it all up we return to observations made by two more of the founding fathers. “The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest,” said Thomas Jefferson. Add to this the warning of his fellow Founding Father, John Adams, “A constitution of government once changed from freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
And there we have it. America has enjoyed what many hope will be a fruitful election, but we still have ahead of us two more years with the same captain at the helm.
This will more than likely be a contentious two years, since our current President has given no evidence that he will steer this country in the right direction.
America is teetering on the brink of a Depression that will far exceed that in which most of us old folk began our lives. All of which brings to mind another oft-mentioned memorable quote from 19th Century Spanish poet, essayist, and novelist George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
We old timers remember well the past, we'll never forget it. We wouldn't care to repeat it; but a solution, to our peril, may be beyond our grasp.