I promised myself (without success) that during Lent I would write fewer political screeds, and stick to topics less controversial but no less interesting for all that, such as science fiction. I am sure my father confessor, the Jesuit Father de Casuistry, will forgive me if I break my Lenten vow one more time, merely to comment on the passing away of the American Republic.
The experiment in government by the people was fascinating and brave while it lasted, I admit, and will inspire commonwealths of the future for as long as the grandeur and tragedy of the fall of the Roman Republic, or the fall of the corrupt democracy at Athens, inspired all Christendom for centuries. In the same way that barbaric kings among the Franks and Germans and Russians called themselves Emperor and Kaiser and Czar in imitation of the glory of Caesar, so, too, for many years to come, leaders in North America will call themselves President, Congressmen, Justices of the Supreme Court, and so on. They will continue to revere the US Constitution and do their works in its name, in much the same way the Imperators of Constantinople, who were military dictators of a totalitarian Christian Theocracy, still held up the standards before the troopers bearing the letters SPQR, and did their works in the name of the Senate and People of Rome.
The Internal Revenue Service is now in charge, and will be collecting the fines from anyone who does not buy health care insurance. The student loan programs of all lenders has been nationalized. The faceless and inert bureaucrats of 127 new bureaus, offices and divisions of the government will be the ones denying you health care, asking you to produce records, and sending you letters explaining that you claim is being reviewed. Everyone pays into the system, and a few people get the health care they need. If you are among those few, you may see nothing wrong with the system. The newspapers will never report anything wrong with it.
You children will never know a republic in which economic freedom and prosperity existed. Since this loss is a loss of opportunity rather than a loss of a concrete good or service, the general misery and squalor can be blamed on the free market, such as on the abuses of the health insurance industry.
The spirit and moral character will depart from the American people as it has departed from the English and the French. Once people are reduced to being dependents of an all-embracing government, they lack pride in their customs, institutions, and themselves, and instead of pride, they become whining and demanding and condescending: spoiled brats. The more literate among them become smug spoiled brats, and the less literate become violent thugs and yobs. The charity, forbearance, courtesy and common spirit necessary to maintain peace between the various classes, factions, and special interests of society diminishes, as the struggle over government-supplied goods and services, whose distribution from an ever-diminishing pool is based on political considerations, replaces the free and peaceful competition for privately-supplied goods and services, whose creation from an ever-growing fountainhead is rewarded by the self-interest and gratitude of the beneficiaries thereof.
His first commenter opines:
I hear you, sir. Even though I am not an American, I am dismayed almost beyond words.
There is only one bright patch in this leaden sky: the knowledge that dollars are dollars and man-hours are man-hours, and there are not enough of either of them in your country to begin to keep the promises by which your masters have procured your enslavement. Half the American people, as we see, are willing to sell their birthright for a mess of pottage; but the pottage will not be forthcoming. The current level of government spending is absolutely unsustainable; already, in little more than a year, Mr. Obama has caused the Federal Reserve to double the amount of fiat money in circulation. Not even the Chinese are willing to buy any more of your government’s worthless debt. And yet he proposes to purchase the souls and freedom of his subjects by spending even more — by writing blank cheques for trillions that he has not got and has no idea how to obtain. He wants to turn the American people into pigs feeding at his trough. What price power when the trough turns out to be empty?