Mitt Romney has taken it on the chin recently for his comments about 47% of voters who pay no income tax and are dependent on government for their needs. Opponents pounced on the remarks, making it sound as if Romney was attacking half of the American population. If you examine his statement, however, you will find that everything he said was irrefutable even though it is not politically correct to discuss it. Almost half of Americans do not pay income tax; an alarming number are dependent on government; those people tend not to careabout his promises of lower taxes and less government as major goals of his presidency. Truth sometimes hurts. It is a shame that truth frightens Romney’s opposition so badly that they try to demonize it when it appears. America has a long history of patriots who recognized that government programs are not the solution to our societal ills.
The great southern comedian, Jerry Clower, once said, “Government aid is like takin’ blood from your right arm…puttin’ it back into your left arm…and spillin’ half the blood in the process.” I think those immortal words should be engraved on a plaque at the U.S. Capital Building.
In 1887 Congress passed a bill allocating $10,000 to provide seeds to drought stricken Texas farmers. President Grover Cleveland vetoed the bill, saying, “I can find no warrant in the Constitution for such an expenditure.” He went on to say that government had no legal or moral basis to take money from everyone to give away for the benefit of only a few.
Based on our distorted view of government and morality today, I certainly understand those who would disagree…but here, as Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story. Pres. Cleveland was a great believer in the goodness and decency of the American people. He believed the government attempted to usurp that goodness every time it took money from the pockets of all Americans for the benefit of only a few. He knew the American people would always come to the aid of those who were really in need. In this case, Cleveland informed major U.S. newspapers of the Texas farmers’ plight, and asked them to encourage the public to help. Over the next few weeks, Americans responded with contributions exceeding $100,000 to relieve the Texans’ distress.
People take care of their fellow man far better than does government…that’s a pretty simple concept we seem to have forgotten.
Another great American, my dear dad, was seriously injured in WWII and spent two years in military hospitals before finally being sent home with a 100% disability check and advised that he should never attempt to work again. Dad was a soft spoken, Christian man, so he probably didn’t say it just like this, but basically, he told the military doctors to “shove it.” He went home, found a job, married my wonderful mother, and remained a productive member of society. Here’s a fact that is foreign to the thought processes of many Americans today…a fact that has certainly colored my view of Americans’ relationship with their government: Dad spent several years after his recovery trying to convince the government that he neither needed nor wanted that 100% disability check. He was working, he had a family, sometimes he worked three jobs at once to get the things we needed or wanted, and to no ill effect. He didn’t feel disabled. He, in fact, was not disabled in any meaningful sense. At his insistence, the government finally lowered him to a “10% disability status.” He stayed there for the rest of his life, and always viewed that small check more as an insult than a benefit.
Contrast that with an elderly friend of mine who looks at the USA through an entirely different set of eyes than did my father. Like Dad, he sustained combat injuries. Like Dad, he shows no outward physical effects…he worked until retirement, raised a family, and so on…all the while receiving a military disability check that was something less than 100%. He never tried to get the check reduced or eliminated…that’s not the American way in this day and age. But here’s the thing: when he developed hemorrhoids well into his 60s, he blamed it on his military service and got the government to increase his disability check. When, in his 70s, his hearing began to diminish, he did the same thing. Virtually every ailment and infirmity he has developed in his eighty-odd years has taken him to the government to blame it on his service. His philosophy, like that of many others, is, “Government takes from us…what’s wrong with trying to ‘grab’ a little of it back whenever we can?”
For the vast number of Americans in Grover Cleveland’s day, government was not our keeper. People were proud to be independent and unfettered by cumbersome regulations, and certainly didn’t turn to government aid for every stubbed toe. What happened to those people? Where did that sense of pride and independence go? Most important, is there any way we can get it back?
President John F. Kennedy advised the nation, “Ask not want your country can do for you…” We need to get a grip on that idea again. As for me, all I want from government is for it to protect me from enemies, foreign and domestic, build me a road so I can go to work, and then get out of my way! I promise you this: You and I can build a far better life, nation, and world than can a group of elitist legislators who believe with all their hearts that we are too stupid to know what is best for us. Vote, educate yourself, go out and help someone today…don’t let your government take that goodness from you.
Don’t blame candidate Romney for telling the truth. You want to fix the economy? The first step is to change your attitude. What should you want from government? Practically nothing. Just what the founding fathers wanted.