THE ENDURING RELEVANCE OF LORD ACTON'S MAXIM
John Dalberg-Acton, widely known as Lord Acton, pictured on the right, once penned the political maxim, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Truer words have never been written concerning the practice of politics.
The man who now works in the Oval Office has embraced an enormous grant of power. With it, he has taken steps to cut back on this country's ballistic missile defense by 20 percent, when North Korea is enhancing its missile research and development program and Iran is attempting to develop the bomb. Mr. Obama has moved to slash new purchases of the F-22 fighter, the Navy's newest destroyers, and defense spending in general. If the world is becoming a more dangerous place than ever, one is unable to discern the fact from this administration's budget priorities. The lesson of the Cuban Missile Crisis is strength, not weakness.
Mr. Obama has not lifted a finger to enforce the country's immigration laws, and is about to orchestrate another massive push in support of amnesty for illegals. This importation of poverty will jeopardize the fabric of American culture and the continued delivery of social services.
The President also plans to nationalize American health care, and to do so along Canadian lines. It is deserving of note that many Canadians visit this country for medical care. Hmmm, wonder why.
American taxpayers are, furthermore, being handed a bill for hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout funds, which have been paid to mismanaged companies like General Motors and Chrysler. Like it or not, the federal government presently has a hand in auto personnel and product decisions. Dealerships are being closed right and left. Some observers are beginning to question whether some of these closings may not be attributable to political partisanship. This is a nasty question which, if not groundless, could by itself result in a revolution. The question would never have surfaced had government not drastically increased its involvement in the industry. And, oh yes, product development! Has Mr. Obama, you think, never heard of the Trabant? It is the thoroughly unremarkable automobile that was manufactured in East Germany during the Soviet era. A strong government hand in the auto industry there managed to produce only 3 million cars in 30 years, without any significant design changes. One had to lift the hood in order to fill the tank, which held only 6.5 gallons of gas. Constantly adding oil to the two-stroke engine was a bit of a headache too. If one placed his order for one of these clunkers upon entering grade school, a tourist guide informed me, it was possible to accept delivery of it by the date of one's high school graduation. Three cheers for a centralized government's formidable success manufacturing cars!
As if these foolhardy programs are not enough, there's Mr. Obama's "stimulus" bill. It constitutes in excess of one trillion dollars in new spending. Few if any members of Congress even had an opportunity to read it, much less to comment upon it publicly, before it was enacted into law. The Congressional Budget Office believes that the bill will, once implemented, cost over three trillion dollars. So much for fiscal restraint and for Congress being a deliberative body!
It is estimated that Mr. Obama's spending will add 9 trillion dollars to the national debt, which is currently over 10 trillion dollars. During the next ten years, the man will have been responsible for more debt than that accumulated from George Washington to George W. Bush. What faith in the nanny state!
The list of government outrages continues, including Mr. Obama's moving for a screeching halt to welfare reform as well as the end of disclosure requirements on labor union finances. Santayana may have been mistaken: even those who remember the mistakes of the past are inclined to repeat them. History seems to be lost on members of Congress.
Perhaps the single most disturbing aspect of the new President's first months in office is his pejorative statements about this country, which he has repeatedly made throughout the rest of the world. In a widely publicized speech recently at the University of Cairo, he suggested that this country had engaged in a policy of torture. The reference was, no doubt, to waterboarding. Assuming that waterboarding constitutes torture, one must ask whether it would be morally justified to resort to it in order to stop another World Trade Center-type disaster. How do a few incidents of waterboarding stack up against 3,000 civilian deaths? There is no comparison! To state otherwise is intellectually dishonest.
There seem to be few restraints upon this President's power. Lord Acton's maxim has never seemed so relevant to American politics as now. The tentacles of government are expanding at an alarming rate, our treasury hopelessly bankrupted, and our international posture signaling weakness to our enemies. Yet the American people continue to sleep. Will anything rouse them from their slumbers? Well, that depends, I guess, upon what happens next season on American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.
June 8, 2009