Are America's Best Days Really Ahead?
America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century tells the story of our nation's government as crushingly expensive, one that is failing at its basic functions and unable to keep its promises. Such an unworkable and out-of-control government cannot continue as the status quo.
America 3.0's co-author Michael J. Lotus was featured at the final noontime Heartland Author Series event of the year was held on Thursday, December 12, at the Heartland Institute Headquarters in Chicago. Lotus, a practicing Chicago lawyer, has a BA in economic from the University of Chicago and a JD from Indiana University, Bloomington. Mr. Lotus writes as "Lexington Green" for the Chicago Boyz blog, on history, politics, and books.
Initially I had reservations about the book's optimistic message for our nation, but little by little I began to understand the reasoning behind Mr. Lotus' strong positive conviction that had been absent heretofore in me. For minus a crystal ball, conjectures made based on past happenings of the American people and how they reacted in times of crisis, can serve as sound criteria from which to predict future happenings.
America 1.0 was described by Mr. Lotus as the society of our Founding Fathers, one of small scale, local government and based on agriculture. Around 1900 America moved from 1.0 to 2.0, ushered in by the Machine Age.
The transition to an America 2.0 represented a massive change for the American people. It was accomplished, but not without pain, despite many who thought such a dramatic upheaval would destroy this nation. Perceived by the American people at the time, as today, was that our nation's Constitution had lost its intent and that America's best days were behind her.
The unfolding of America 2.0: From its onset America 2.0 required some centralization, as in the operation of the nation's railroad system. People crowded into cities. With the development of transportation suburbs were built, offering the American people a better quality of life. Factories sprung up and required lots of people doing things in a systematic way in order to achieve huge returns.
Change led to the development of a progressive political movement which took several generations to affect change. The great U-turn happened with the election of FDR and his "Great Society." Social Security came into being which led the American people to believe that government would take care of their retirement years.
With the end of WW II, given this nation's amazing feat in defeating the great evil of the Western world, many Americans came to believe that big government was capable of doing things well. A dose of big government likewise happened when President Dwight Eisenhower took on the big project of creating the national highway system. President Johnson advanced the progressive political agenda, now a fixture in the Democratic Party, by establishing Medicare and Medicaid. Republicans were not given a free pass from their support of big government. It was President George W. Bush who introduced prescription drug benefits under the mantel of "compassionate conservatism."
Lastly, the development of amazing technology greatly influenced America 2.0. Instant communication is now possible though computers and the Internet.
America 2.0 in its current state: This nation exists in a crisis mode. Most people have no idea of the existing conditions which are tearing down the foundation on which this nation was conceived and by which it had prospered under a free market system. The progressive movement has emerged as a powerful force by advancing policies that will destroy rather than revive this nation. There is an attempt through Obamacare to run 1/6 of the nation from Washington, D.C.; regulations have become burdensome and costly; unfunded federal financial obligations have soared to $130 trillion; and state, county and municipal governments find themselves on the edge of a financial cliff.
Mainstream Republicans are not helping to reverse this nation's economic and social crisis. Too many Republicans have become "me-too" Republicans after being convinced that progressive policies (i.e: amnesty for illegals, big government policies, and failure to deal with this nation's unsustainable debt) will enable them to win the Senate in November, 2014, and the White House in 2016.
Can we even depend on Republicans to meet crisis head on, with the exception of conservative Republicans whose principles are firmly rooted in smaller government and against out-of-control spending? A pox exists on both political parties!
The transitional period: As already expressed by Mr. Lotus, the big government of today will eventually have to fail, for unable to keep its obligations default is inevitable.
The American people will experience pain through spending cuts, but hopefully the cuts demanded must be as painless as possible. Mr. Lotus called what must happen to government, "The Big Haircut." Lotus also eluded to the possibility that one Constitutional amendment may be needed.
Although bad things will continue to happen during the transitional period, Mr. Lotus fervently believes that only when the situation becomes bad or oppressive enough will enough people rise up to demand change. This happened before in history when during times of crisis mass political movements were formed to demand change. During the period of the American Revolution, only three percent of the colonists were actively involved in throwing off the shackle of England so this nation could become independent and free.
Mr. Lotus cited the Tea Party as the beginning of a mass political movement of individuals willing to stand up and say, "Enough is enough," with actions appropriate to their words.
It will take vigilant citizens to reclaim our government. It might take a million such "mutineers." The question remains how long it will take enough people to stand up to demand a change of course for this nation.
Hopeful signs for a positive transition: The change from 2.0 to 3.0 must allow the creative powers of the American people to be realized and developed, despite a government machine that doesn't want this to happen. It doesn't help that we live in a "creepy state" where government has the capacity to spy on us.
Why reason for hope?
- This nation has already been through a major shift from an agriculture-based society to one based on machines.
- Its foundation is based on documents relating to our English heritage: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Northwest Territory which stated that west of the Ohio River there could be no slavery.
- This nation still leads in equality.
- The spirit of freedom still exists within the American people to resist and reject submission.
- The nuclear family, used to describe a family group consisting of a pair of adults and their children, is still the norm. The American people when given a chance want to live in single family
- Already self-employment is the growing sector. This trend will continue.
- The factory floor will no longer require thousands of people showing up for work every day, but will exist everywhere.
- The Internet will allow individual to work at gigs rather than at set jobs.
- 3-D printers will be able to grow new body parts.
In closing: Detroit represents the ultimate result of the 2.0 model failure. Chicago is likewise failing and is long overdue for a "revolt" by its inhabitants.
George Washington was willing to roll the dice and even risked his life in a time of crisis. The Founding Father were willing to roll the dice and make change happen. The signers of the Declaration of Independence risked their lives knowing they could be hung as traitors.
Unlike those who faced death in Colonial America, as America 3.0 struggles to be born, activists and concerned citizens must take the lead or others will do so in their absence. The conditions are in place for change. Might Obamacare will be the straw that broke the camel's back? We must be ready to seize the day. America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century -- Why America's Greatest Days are yet to Come.
[Originally published in the Illinois Review]