In a recent column Cal Thomas wonders what happened to self-reliance. Unfortunately the answer is far more dreadful than Mr. Thomas wants to hear. Self-reliance died for reasons not that easy to undo. Our forbears practiced self-reliance because they lived in a society far different from our own. We can’t practice self-reliance unless we want to go back to that society. More people don’t want to go back. In any event we couldn’t go back to that kind of society even if we wanted to.
Our economy is built on overspending, satisfying desires, pretense, envy, greed and a sense of entitlement because that is how we avoided a second great depression for sixty years. Our present economic difficulties come from the fact we can no longer operate our economy on the principles of convincing people to buy things they do not need with money they do not have using natural resources that cannot be replaced. The borrowed money cannot be repaid; the resources used cannot be replaced. Because of this a greater reliance on government for our economic welfare is inevitable.
Unfortunately the idea of self-reliant individuals fending for themselves without the help and support of the government makes life easier for the greediest persons among us. Imagine a flock of sheep surrounded by ravenous wolves. The wolves are greedy powerful corporations. The sheep are self-reliant individuals trying to make their way in the world by themselves. The wolves can attack individual sheep because the wolves have sharper claws, sharper teeth, and can run just as fast as the sheep. Unless a shepherd comes to protect them the sheep are helpless. The only thing their self-reliance will get them is killed.
In order to protect themselves the sheep need a shepherd. The only shepherd available is the government. Only big government can stand up to big business. Regulating business is necessary. Government sponsored health care is necessary because otherwise only the wealthy will be able to afford health care at all. If we aren’t going to be able to stimulate the private sector by encouraging people to overspend on wants to satisfy manufactured desires we are going to have to have a far larger proportion of our population employed by the government. In order to pay for this we will have to tax the rich. Yes thee will be less freedom. But there is going to be less freedom anyway. In a society of self-reliant individuals the vast majority will have the freedom poverty gives them. The powerful will take what they can and self-reliant individuals will be left with the little there is left. And that as they say is that.