College Student Responds to “Defining “American”" – Unwittingly Provides Proof of Generational Training
A few days after the post ‘Defining “American”‘ I received a comment from Kristen informing me of her decision to respond to the article as a project for her college English Argument class, and asking if I would be interested in reading her paper when finished. Since she was very polite, I responded in the affirmative, with the caveat that if she did indeed send the paper to me, I might publish some, all or none of the rebuttal. After much hand wringing on the issue, I have decided to publish her entire argument. I think anyone who has children in public school or college needs to know what they are being taught. And I think Kristen proves my point that far too many people have forgotten what it truly means to be American, even if she didn’t intend to.
If you haven’t already read it, you may wish to read my original piece, here. I’ll offer some thoughts after Kristen has her say.
Response to Defining American
Medicare is currently doing its job now without being excessive, according to the chart you provide. Social Security was one of the many programs passed as part of the New Deal in 1935. (Kelly) It was successful in getting America back to economic prosperity whether you consider it socialist or not and that is why it is still around today. So why, all of the sudden, in the near future would it be predicted that we would be sending so much more on Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. Medicare has been around since 1965 and government health insurance has been around much longer than that. In the early 1900s states began to collect taxes to be used as insurance premiums from workers and employers. The reason this did not work was because individual states did not want to implement extra taxes that may put the business in their states at a disadvantage during the Great Depression. (Corning)
“One of the duties of the State is that of caring for those of its citizens who find themselves the victims of such adverse circumstances as makes them unable to obtain even the necessities for mere existence without the aid of others. That responsibility is recognized by every civilized nation. . . . To these unfortunate citizens aid must be extended by Government–not as a matter of charity but as a matter of social duty. (Corning) In my opinion that is part of what it means to be American, to not only keep up with the other civilized first world nations but to surpass them with our new ideas and high standards. Being American is about being able to have different opinions.
Saying that more people are against America as it was founded than slavery is a contradiction. America was founded on great principals but those principals often did not translate into reality. In theory it sounds good; America was founded on the principal of escaping oppression on the basis of religious persecution. But ironically early America, as it was founded, was a very oppressive place. It was oppressive to women, poor people, and anyone who was not white. The American voting system was designed to prevent majority tyranny but how can that work if the oppressed minority cannot vote to begin with? This method of preventing majority tyranny did not work then and it continues to fail today. (Garlikov) Even when the minority on any number of issues can vote they continue to be outnumbered and oppressed by the majority. This is why progress is slow but of course progress will come, as it always has, with America leading the way. I am a strong believer in Democracy because I believe that most people want to do things that are good and right. While we may agree on what those things may be we still have the same goal and we both want what is best for America. I know that progress takes a long time, like civil rights and women’s rights. I feel bad that those things could not have happened sooner but it came when the people were ready for it and I understand that only when a value is generally held by a society that it can work as a part of law. To me that is what it means to be American: paving the road to progress.
You say that Obama is redistributing the wealth but you are failing to mention that our previous president, George W. Bush, was guilty of exactly what you are accusing Obama of. We all know that the higher your income is the higher your taxes are, but Bush made special exceptions. A Congressional study said that families earning more than $1 million a year saw their federal tax rates drop more sharply than any group in the country as a result of President Bush’s tax cuts and that tax rates for middle-income earners edged up. (Andrews) Bush may have lowered taxes for everyone but the people who got the biggest tax breaks were in the top one percent income earners in the United States. He added tax cuts on investment income and on estates specifically to benefit the richest households. Just one decade of those tax cuts would cost a trillion dollars. (Andrews) And the people to pick up the tab for the money lost during the Bush administration will be my generation and maybe yours since I do not know how old you are. The bottom forty percent of income earners get money back from the government and pay what is considered negative taxes so they were not affected by the Bush tax cuts. (Andrews) Obama extended the Bush tax cuts to individuals making less than $200,000 per year and families making less than $250,000 per year. In 2010 Obama gave businesses a $5,000 tax credit for each new employee they added. (Khan, Jaffe)
In your blog you say The true definition of being an American has been diluted by diversity and diffused by political correctness. I believe that this statement reflects the opposite of the definition of American. America has always been a nation of immigrants. America is perhaps the most diverse nation in the world. Having a diverse mix of ethnicities, cultures, and opinions and being able to live with and accept it makes America great. I agree that political correctness is not always a good thing in certain specific situation when it does not reflect truth. We should be able to talk about and address all types of stereotypes, perhaps then we can overcome our differences.Â In the words of Barack Obama “The anger is real, it is powerful, and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.” (Obama Tackles Race Divide in Major Speech)
I agree with you that many people unrightfully have an entitlement mindset. These people tend to think â€œwhat can my country do for me and are ungrateful what for what we provide to them with our tax dollars. But we cannot let these people affect the way we think of everyone who receives welfare nor should they be able to ruin the system for everyone. You say that … the America we thought we knew is teetering on the precipice of a debt cliff caused by overspending on unearned entitlements. But it is estimated that only about four percent of the United States budget is being spent on welfare. (How Much Does the Nation Spend on Welfare? – Public Aid, State Expenditures For Social Welfare, Private Welfare Expenditures, Welfare-reform Legislation) Entitlement programs like Medicare and Social security are paid into by the public when they pay taxes, that is why they are entitled to them. Of course we all get the same benefits without paying the same amount of taxes. You may call that Socialism and in a way perhaps it is but I still do not believe it would be morally right to let the poorest people do without these programs, as they are the ones who need them most.
You talk a lot about what you call generational training which you describe as an inherent flaw with each younger generation that causes selfishness. I completely disagree. Selfish, greedy people have always existed and always will. My young generation of new voters has plenty of pride and work ethic. In fact it is the older generation that takes the most from government if you include the entitlement programs Social Security and Medicare, which take up over thirty percent of the United States federal budget. (Nullification: Are State Level Officials Really Opposed to Federal Encroachment?) But I understand that they need those things and have the right to them. I sympathize with them knowing that I will probably be old one day too and I hope that when that day comes the programs I am entitled to are there to help me after I have paid into them my entire life.
As much as our opinions on these issues may differ I believe that, like I said before, we share a common interest: to make America better. I can see that you have strong opinions, as do I, and that is a good thing. Our passion and enthusiasm about politics and America is something we have in common. And because this is America we both can freely express our opinions, which I think is wonderful.
Here is my reply, slightly abbreviated, as I feel my actual rebuttal lies in most of the posts already on my blog and those of many other conservatives.
I’m glad you chose my piece as the opposing view for your article and I hope you continue your search for what it means to be an American. It is one of the most important questions you will ever ask of yourself or your fellow Americans.
You mentioned in your accompanying email message that you didn’t want to start a debate but I cannot let these arguments go unchallenged. It is clear to me that you are concerned for the well being of your fellow Americans and that is admirable. It is also painfully clear that you’ve bought into the whole “victim mentality” that permeates much of our country and serves only to reinforce the entitlement culture. While you say we agree on the fact that some entitlements are unearned, you don’t propose any steps to alleviate the problem. In fact, you mention it once and proceed to gloss over it.
I could go through Kristen’s piece line by line, but I’ll just do the first. It exemplifies the rest.
Medicare is currently doing its job now without being excessive, according to the chart you provide.
Did you ignore the chart after 2011? Didn’t you see the projected outlay of money to social programs which, if left unchecked, will bankrupt the nation? Not being excessive? Really? We are currently living on borrowed money to enable these programs. The interest on that debt is a huge contributor to the projected debt levels in the chart, not to mention when Obamacare really gets going.
You mentioned also that, according to some guy who wrote something (FDR – Corning), it is the social duty of government to take money from those who have earned it and give that money to those who have not (The bottom line of your quote.). The qualifications for that “benefit” are also to be laid out by the government doing the taking. You don’t have a problem with that? You don’t see the potential for abuse of power being actualized at this moment by the politicians buying votes with peoples’ taxed (stolen) dollars? This is why the Founders were against social programs born of the Federal Government, because the Fed. is too far removed from the people it is supposed to serve. These programs belong at the local, regional, or state level, if they come from government at all. (See Romneycare for an example of more government healthcare failure.)
It is clear to me from your arguments that restraining the powers of the Federal Government to its original “few and defined” number, has ceased to be taught in our schools. In fact, it ceased to be taught years before the New Deal. If it had been, people would have never been duped into such a ponsi scheme as Social Security or many other New Deal type programs. The New Deal was the gateway drug to government’s addiction to taking it’s citizen’s property, leading the way to ever more taxes and increases on those taxes for some other new entitlement, and now that they have set the IRS as a redistributive tool, they disguise any thievery at all in some cloak of charitable outlay while accusing the taxed of being cold-hearted, uncaring and greedy. Witness political projection at it’s finest.
Not far from where I live is a city called Port Arthur, Texas, which has a rich history in the oil exploration and refinery industry. The city has been run for decades by predominantly liberal policy. As of the latest tally the local unemployment rate stands at 16% to 17%, which is quite probably the worst in Texas. The jobs are available. High paying ones. There are many workers coming in from all over the country to fill positions the local people won’t take. Why? Entitlement Mentality. They have been trained for years by their government and culture to not take a job if it will interfere with their welfare or unemployment check, plain and simple. The unemployment rate in the state of Texas is 8%. Even if we assume that 8% of the population of Port Arthur is indigent, how do you explain the other 8%? I’ve lived here for 25 years and I can tell you that they do not want a real job, even when one is readily available. If you look at most any city or county across the nation (Detroit for example?) that has long standing leftist policies I believe you will find the vast majority to be the same. People won’t work if they are paid not to. It’s that simple. Look for yourself. Question what your professors tell you is “progress” and you will find that their version of progress only takes away a person’s will to provide for themselves. Is it any wonder that the Heritage Fundation’s 2010 Index of Dependence on Government finds
…the United States is close to the point at which half of the population will not pay taxes for government benefits they receive.
Half the population. How does that happen?
When I said “Generational Training,” I was not referring to young people being defective, as you inferred from my piece. I was referring to actual instruction, which you have obviously been receiving at the hands of the very people who wish to see you enslaved. The fact that you can veil all of your arguments into a guilt ridden projection of our countries past faults to justify more spending of money not your own is what I was referring to when I said “Generational Training.” Those types of thought patterns don’t happen automatically unless you have been so instructed.
As far as GWB goes, you won’t find me defending his over spending or any other republican for that matter. I’m no big fan of government spending no matter which side of the aisle it comes from or who argues for it. I find it funny that some people can criticize Bush for spending too much but praise Obama for spending ten times more. I don’t like either group spending our money and neither should you.
In closing, Kristen, you did a very good job of laying out the leftist talking points and guilt trips. The 16th through19th centuries were harsh times in the entire world. I’d doubt very seriously that women or blacks or any minorities were treated with the respect they receive today. But you fail to mention the fact that it was in America where those rights first began to emerge. It was Americans who abolished slavery. It was in America that women got the right to vote. It was in America where blacks got the right to vote as well. Why must we be forced to pay the price for something you and I had no part in? I don’t recall ever having owned a slave or preventing anyone a vote. Those arguments are old and tired. Can’t we just get past them to truly address the real problems of the country?
The idea of individual liberty is at the core of America and it is individual liberty that is under attack. It must always be fought for because there will always be someone wishing to take it from you, even under the guise of Social Justice or some other re-branding. Call it what you will, it is still slavery trying to raise its ugly head, and it is still wrong.
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