The legendary United States Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. is reputed to have said, “I like paying taxes; with them I buy civilization.”  That was not the first time the foppish jurist was mistaken, and it certainly would not be the last.  Even if we assume that his words were true when they were spoken, this fact is not relevant to the question of their truth-value today.   

Taxes during my lifetime have hardly bought us civilization. Who in his right mind would argue otherwise? They have instead bought us the Vietnam War, two invasions of Iraq, and an ongoing war in Afghanistan. They have helped to finance the “one-party classroom” in public universities, where “political correctness” is the order of the day and where intellectual ghettos and the careers of charlatans are on display in academic offerings such as “peace,” “community,” “women’s,” and “queer” studies.   And oh, yes! Don’t forget that the federal government spends $25 billion a year maintaining buildings that are either unused or vacant; has spent $2.6 million training Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly, $750,000 on a new soccer field for inmates at Guantanamo Bay, and $400,000 to determine why gay men in Argentina engage in risky sexual behavior when drunk.  The examples of wasted resources are endless.

Still, unbelievably, Mr. Obama’s administration is unwilling to agree to substantial cuts in federal spending.  Profligacy continues unabated and on a level that is unsustainable. I don’t know about you, but I no longer believe that this president has the best interests of the nation  at heart.  His unrestrained spending is, I suspect, nothing more than an intentional attempt to run the American economy off its tracks so that he can implement his own political vision. 

To understand the nature of his vision, ask yourself:  to whom will millions of American citizens, who will be homeless and hungry, look for aid when the dollar collapses and the economy is devastated? The answer is to a sovereign in whom there is virtually absolute power.  The sovereign, or “Leviathan” as Hobbes called it, will be all that stands between most people and death, since political and civil chaos will be rampant and will issue in a war of all against all. 

This Orwellian prospect has caused me to reflect upon what the most appropriate motto for our new, emergent nation should be.  Forget about the Latin words, E Pluribus Unum ("Out of Many, One"), in which motto the nation was cradled. Restoring that relic of nostalgia won’t do, because multiculturalism has destroyed whatever national and cultural solidarity we once had. Also, delete the phrase in “In God We Trust.” The idea of a supreme being is, heaven help us, “religious,” and that means it is imposing and divisive and serves only to lessen citizens’ devotion to the state. 

The new state to which Mr. Obama is helping to give birth needs another motto.  I suggest that it be  “We Squander All.” These words suit a nation that has thrown away its resources with both hands and continues to do so.

Consider a few of the natural resources we have wasted or destroyed.  Buffalo in the millions once roamed wild on the vast prairies of this country and were relied upon by indigenous peoples for food and clothing.  They were slaughtered wantonly to the point of extinction. What pleasure it must have been to hunt and to kill them, leaving their carcasses to rot in the untamed wilderness. Rich timberlands with which the country was endowed have all but vanished. They have been, and are still being, decimated in order that a handful of greedy developers can become filthy rich. Hey, good for them, you say; their ingenuity is the American way!  Clear spring water has been fouled by huge corporate interests, and the world's majestic oceans and waterways have been rendered toxic sewers.  Why?  Because the same monetary interests need a place to dump their wastes.

Americans have also squandered a treasure trove of tradition, or sat passively by while elites have waged war against it. Thanksgiving has become “Turkey Day.” The Christmas tree has become the “holiday tree.”  The greeting “Merry Christmas” has been replaced by “Happy Holidays” in department stores and shopping malls throughout the country.  The singing of Christmas carols is disallowed in public schools and viewed as favoring one faith over others.  Any public prayer or invocation of God, no matter how nonsectarian, is questionable, if not verboten.  President Obama has even emphatically announced that America is not a Christian nation. Can you believe it? Still open, of course, is the question whether American culture is  de facto Christian, but please say nothing about that to Mr. Obama or to the cadre of secularists who have surrounded him.  (Keep in mind that our president has also proclaimed to the world Islam’s rich contributions to our nation's heritage.)

This country by the year 2050 is projected to have over 400 million people.  A large percentage of them will have come from the Third World. America’s public square will replicate a Tower of Babel, teeming with impoverished masses of people, speaking their own native tongues and conducting their lives according to the habits, traditions, and mores of their respective homelands. Democracy cannot exist with these divisions and differences.  To put it mildly, we have set ablaze the Anglo-Christian heritage of the country.  Mark these words:  eventually the democratic principles which flourished from that heritage will be incinerated in the same waste bend as well.

Don’t forget to look closely at the church, which once stood on all fours at the heart of American life.  When one observes television evangelists, he or she hears that God wants us all to be wealthy and to make it to the top of the food chain. Isn't that exciting?  It’s as if Bruce Fairchild Barton’s description of Jesus as “the founder of modern business” has now made it into the mainstream of current “prosperity theology.” Barton’s book, The Man Nobody Knows, published in 1925, was once regarded as a bad joke among responsible clergy, but the breakdown of the Protestant church, its morality, and its preaching appears to have changed that.

“We Squander All” – yes, in the government, the classroom, the culture, and the church -- and we raze to the ground every standard of decency and moderation in American life.  I never thought that I would agree with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright on anything, but when he preached "God damn America,"  perhaps he was, however obliquely, pointing to a truth.  We might want to adopt a new national motto along the lines of what I've suggested.  If "We Squander All" proves too much of a challenge because of its brutal honesty, maybe the Black, Hispanic, and Asian caucuses in Congress can agree upon another motto, or maybe Mr. Obama, "the Chosen One," can accomplish this feat by the stroke of his pen.  Who knows?

 December 3, 2012