September 14th, 2010


The Layman's Guide To Doom: Culture.


     You make your choices, then either reap the benefits or suffer the consequences. (Sometimes both.)

     This is the essential nature of freedom.

     America, which likes to call itself a "free country", has its roots in people who chafed at having their lives dominated by popes, princes, bishops, and restrictive guilds to the point that they made the choice to sail across the Ocean Sea and try to make a way for themselves in the untamed wilderness of the New World. Some flourished. Many starved, died of fever, or met other unpleasant fates... This was the American theme for generations to come. Taking on the challenges of revolution, wilderness, and business ventures. Sometimes winning. Sometimes losing. Often picking oneself up after failure to try again...

     Of course, there was often some sort of a safety net. Family, friends, community, churches willing to lend a hand when things went bad. Or even to help one along when things are going okay. Humans are social animals, after all.

     The era of increasing resources, first with the Industrial Revolution, then with petroleum-powered Cornucopia, allowed the social safety net to be enhanced. After all, a nation where the Average Joe zips around a V-8 automobile and owns a color television can't be comfortable with some of its people being illiterate, starving, and in rags.

     Despite the fact that the Federal Government, and most State/Local governments, have little or no authority to spend public money on charity, being "generous" at no cost to oneself is too tempting a proposition for politicians, so "it's for a good cause" trumped "does the Constitution allow it?" on an ever-increasing basis as petroleum wealth flooded the country.

     Charity became Welfare. Welfare became Entitlements... Politicians went into flat-out bribing the voters with "free" stuff. Eventually, almost everyone came to rely on Government to educate their children, support them in old age, make sure everyone is fed and housed, and now to provide universal healthcare.

     This enhanced safety net has resulted in a culture of faux-freedom without consequences.

     People began to bear less and less responsibility for their choices. So they had no motivation to make wise choices. Economic, and even social consequences for bad decisions began to fade.

     A woman chooses to have babies she can't support, without benefit of a committed father (what was known as a husband, back in the old days), and not only is it somehow everyone else's obligation to fund their feeding, schooling, and housing, but anyone who complains about it is called a heartless monster, and the irresponsible woman is put on a pillar as some kind of heroine.

Six kids already. Unemployed. Unmarried. On public assistance.
Somehow qualified for medical procedure to be artificially impregnated with eight more kids.
I think we have our Cultural Doom Poster-Girl.

     Choose the wrong spouse and/or put the upkeep of one's marriage at the bottom of the priority list, and it's no big deal. Instead of the stigma of failure, today it's common to celebrate divorces. (And folks have the gall to complain that gay marriage might undermine the institution of matrimony!)

     People agree to pay an insane amount for a glorified pile of vinyl and particle board on a 1/5 acre in a cookie-cutter development that they didn't really need and certainly couldn't afford, then blame the bank that financed the deal when the housing bubble popped. (Because other yuppies finally wised-up!)

     Americans choose to live on a diet of high-fructose corn syrup, salt, hydrogenated oils, and soy. They drink and smoke to excess, and choose to sit around watching TV or drive everywhere in cars rather than getting some exercise. Then they expect the Government to guarantee them medical care.

     We can't all live in the safety net all the time. A culture based on entitlements and devoid of personal responsibility is doomed to crumble... And this one is doing so at an alarming rate.

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