"It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expence, either by sumptuary laws, or by prohibiting the importation of foreign luxuries. They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expence, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will." ~ Adam Smith
Reagan Was Just a Man
Now that the storms have calmed down ' the pandering of the media and the fawning of a great president by his people ' we can safely and without enmity criticize the man who led our country for nearly a decade. Or am I delusional for thinking it's really safe to criticize our leaders when we have worshiped and revered them to no end?
If we want to gauge the direction and ideals of our country, we should always consider how people view their leaders. Because in the manner that we treat the servants of the State, we take an honest appraisal whether any desire to be self-governed remains. We take measure of the liberty Providence gave us the moment we came kicking and screaming into this cursed world. We decide whether we love that freedom or despise it.
The endless television coverage and commentary of Ronald Reagan's death peeled away the national consciousness and revealed a population of Americans gripped by emotionalism and the fancy overtures of the State. History repeated itself as the population sought to anoint another man as the supreme embodiment of their hopes and fears--a high priest, if you will--a divine oracle espousing what we want and doing what we care not and refuse to do: live our lives with personal responsibility.
Reagan was just a man. But he was more than that--he was a great politician.
He talked the big talk of liberty, of smaller government, of restoring values of freedom. He was no hero firefighter caught in the flames of a daring rescue. He was a politician backed by powerful, special interests just the same as Republicans and Democrats before him. He came screaming onto the national scene of the 1980 debates decrying the sorry state of the U.S. Empire. One must see that our intelligence was gutted, our Russian competitors gaining on us, our military puppets around the world chomping at the bit, inflation rates out of control and gas prices pinching our budgets.
All of this would pass away in a dark dream of Carteresque blundering and international timidity. A political savior had arrived. But what did he save us from? And what did he give us? As Reagan said in the 1984 presidential campaign, it was 'morning in America again' ' and he was personally responsible. Mondale was crushed that November in a humiliating defeat at the ballot box.
Conservatives loved Reagan, and liberals liked him too. America saw Reagan as a grandfatherly figure charming American cameras and winning the population over with his smile and charisma. His talk was good, but his actions were cheap. He played the Hollywood part of a president with pizzazz and flair, capturing an admiration not seen since Kennedy and FDR. He sold Americans the cotton-candy philosophies of trickle down economics and missile defenses, but never quite got to liberty ' destroying the federal Department of Education, making the IRS irrelevant in our lives, handing us tax cuts ethically supported by deficit reductions or actually shrinking the socialist behemoth.
I cannot help but think that the winning smiles and inspiring speeches about liberty were part of a ploy on the part of politicians to win over our affections as they systematically stole more of our earnings and liberties. Growing up, I was fascinated by Reagan's presidential qualities, his moral justification for our arms race against the Soviet Union and even his astronomical deficit spending. But I have now put childish things behind me and have come to realize the bitter truths of adulthood, now fearing for the welfare and freedom of my own children.
Reagan is credited for ending the Cold War. This is about as true as saying that the propaganda posters of World War II, rather than the atomic bombs on unsuspecting civilians, are what won the bloody conquest of Japan . Reagan propagandized his fight against the 'Evil Empire' and borrowed billions of dollars on the taxpayers' credit line in order to achieve his goals of global checkmate. To think we simply just outspent the Russians into economic bankruptcy is to defy the example of other communist nations that do the same and yet survive, such as North Korea , Cuba and China . The USSR was diseased from the inside by the behemoth of its own 'federal government' and 'bi-partisan' in-fighting between the old Kremlin guard and Gorbachev reformers who wanted to control and loot the empire. Are we so different? Reagan was a politician . . . .
Conservative and 'Libertarian' columnists eulogized Reagan's heroism and brilliance ad nauseum, giving him the credit for single-handedly winning the Cold War, reviving the American economy and bringing back our 'pride.' Liberal columnists have added their nauseum trying to blame Reagan for the spread of AIDS and calling him an incompetent idiot. Both sides are, as usual, in error and live under grand illusions that only their version of government power is the right one.
The truth is that Reagan was a brilliant man. But he was also a politician. He trounced George Bush I in the New Hampshire primary debates before the nation and demonstrated his resolve to become our next president. But alas! Such resolve only resulted in emptying our wallets and robbing our children's freedom, as another round of government Wheel of Fortune was spun around with dizzying speeds, while a captivated audience could only cheer on.
Conservative columnist Jon Christian Ryter wrote in a NewsWithViews.com column that 'there is something inexplicably evil about people who try to steal the last moment on Earth shared between a family and the dearly departed.' Mr. Ryter is obviously upset that people criticized Regan's legacy before he was laid in the coffin in the cold ground. Well, this sounds a bit like censorship to me. There was a time that people could not criticize Joe Stalin even after he had died, so terrible and comprehensive was the State system he left behind.
I would have to answer such nationalistic pundits and say a free people must necessarily publish their political sentiments at all times, whether they ruffle one's feathers or not. We must not live under the delusion that some mere mortal became a political messiah instead of seeing he was the latest lobbyist for special interests in Washington . Am I 'anti-Jewish' because I love my country and oppose the blasphemous and anti-American government known as the 'State of Israel'? Unlike the aforementioned columnist, I can obviously spot Jim Crow tyranny carried out on dirt-poor Palestinians. We must not lie to ourselves and deny that brown-skinned peoples in foreign lands are also born with God-given rights to liberty and property. It was not just the Anglo-Saxon Yankees that inherited these gifts.
Reagan was not the messiah that the media and the Conservative 'Amen Corner' would like us to believe. He grew the federal government at a tremendous rate while increasing our federal deficit and handing us back our piddly 'tax cuts.' These cuts were nothing less than welfare handouts (sound familiar?)--Republican chicanery to make us believe politicians were 'born again overnight.' Having repented of their wicked practices, they did not stop spending our hard earned money, controlling the education of children, meddling in international affairs, disturbing our own markets and boycotts, and fighting an illegal war against the Soviet machine which we increasingly looked more and more like.
But how could a brilliant man make seemingly idiotic statements under oath that he did not 'recall' selling arms to Iran or funding the Contras in Nicaragua ? Did Kennedy fail to 'recall' that he armed Cuban rebels in the Bay of Pigs ? At least Kennedy admitted to his military blunder. Conservatives today still get riled up when you mention Clinton and his legal definition of 'sex' under oath. However, there is a big difference between consorting with an intern and funding a military force to overthrow the government of a sovereign nation. One action is libertine, the other destroys liberty.
A funny thing happened on the way to the Republic. Americans could not shake this hero-worship that first idolized George Washington and which many power-grabbers who rode on his coattails immediately exploited, including the dastardly Hamilton . The glorification of politicians and military celebrities only grew stronger as people put their faith and hope in mortal men instead of taking the responsibility of liberty upon themselves. Instead of laws restricting politicians from abusing the people, the American Republic followed the tune of her wicked European predecessors and violated the sacred places of the school, the home and the church.
Reagan was no different. After all, he was just a politician. He may have made many references to God, morality and the Bible. But so did Bill Clinton. The people wanted a leader who would give them a sense of confidence even when the federal government continues its assaults upon their rights. Did the federal control of states and towns grow any smaller under Reagan? Did they leave people alone whose conscience dictated that the income tax was an unlawful scam? Did the Marines die in Lebanon for the cause of freedom, protecting our borders from invading armies? Did the bombing in Libya restore what the Bill of Rights tried to protect?
'Mr. Reagan gave some wonderful and inspiring speeches, but he often didn't do a very good job of delivering on promises. Under his leadership, the federal income tax code became far more complex than it had ever been, and the tyrannies of the tax authority were not in any way reined in. Taxpayer frustrations have only increased since the Reagan Administration, and millions are looking for a way to 'get out of the system.'' ~ Peter Kershaw, Corporation Sole Problems
In my opinion the scandals, the military exploits, the arming of foreign dictators, or the out of control spending of Reaganomics were not the greatest failures of the Reagan administration. It was the Orwellian irony in 1984 of Reagan signing a diabolical law that forced the involuntary taxation and control of churches and private non-profit organizations in the United States of America . One of the most basic platforms for free speech and political dissension was squelched by the 'commander-in-chief.' The pulpits of colonists, slavery abolitionists, opponents of Lincoln 's war and Vietnam resisters were silenced. But in the re-election year of a freedom-loving President, we got a taste of the awesome power of the State, while being force-fed the sweet lies of libertyspeak.
'A State church is a church that is recognized by the State, serves the State, provides revenue for the State, and serves a public purpose that is not contrary to established public policy. This is exactly what was decreed for churches of America.' ~ Dr. Robert McCurry, Temple Times , 08/04/83
Please don't expect me to shed tears for the death of this man. He was a politician, but he was only a man. He will have to face his Maker, just as Clinton and Bush will, to answer for the travesty of their actions and the tyranny of their policies. Don't lecture me about freedom and the gratitude I owe him and the generals who served him. These are the same men who armed Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. I owe the colonists who spilled their blood on British soil so that I could write what freedom is all about in the liberated colonies. But the politicians of late have taken all that away. The Bible says that by their fruits you shall know them. Did you really know Reagan?
'The presidency of Ronald Wilson Reagan has been a disaster for libertarianism in the United States , and might yet prove to be catastrophic for the human race.' ~ Murray Rothbard, Free Life, Vol. 4, No. 1