Thursday, February 18, 2010
First Meeting of the Young Patriots of Gilmer County
I'm here because I think there is a huge question facing all of us right now, and especially young people: who do we want to depend on? Do we want to look to a large federal government for sustenance and ideology, or do we want to bring decisions back to the state and local level, which is where individuals can collaborate with their neighbors? It is important to remember that along with federal programs designed to "fix" financial problems and "help out" those struggling in this economy come federal regulations and ideology that are tied to the funding,
Why are we so willing to be dependent? I am 24. My generation, and especially those just younger than me, have never known life without video games, internet, cell phones, and other forms of instant gratification. Rapid advances in technology affect our daily life from commerce to entertainment, and the pace of life has just changed. I see my peers ...and myself... more absorbed in text messages containing small talk than in any other single activity. We can't help but talk about our phones and gadgets, fashion, cars, tanning beds, friends' love lives, and other fleeting distractions.
Rather than contemplating the inherent immorality of the redistribution of wealth via our tax system , many just feel grateful for and expectant of their instant tax refunds and tax credits for their new babies. How nice is that the IRS let them have their money back! And what a healthy result...I even recently had a coworker ask if I wanted to have a baby for the tax credit.
Many young people expect the world to be handed to them, like their parents have handed them everything. I'm not completely blaming parents' choices on this matter...parents have historically wanted to do the most they could for their children, and it is only recently that luxury debt spending has allowed them to do so at such a grotesque level. I'm the only one of my friends who paid my own car insurance through high school. Most of my peers had their Spring Breaks, trips to the tanning salon, manicures, cars, prom, everything, paid for.
And after working in a suburban day care center for three years, I came to understand even more the liberal, anything goes parenting that is raising a generation of takers. That horrid term is from recent article by John Stossel (1) that asks if we want "a culture of takers or makers?" He fears that we want a Mommy State to take of us, and draws a picture of our society in light of Hayek's 1944 bestselling book The Road to Serfdom, which says that governments can't plan economies without planning people's lives. He says "If government relieves us of the responsibility of living by bailing us out, character will atrophy. The welfare state, however good its intentions of creating material equality, can't help but make us dependent."
If this generation understood what their willingness to accept dependency meant, I think they would be entirely against it. And hopefully, we as Young Patriots can show this to our peers. Because with financial dependency comes ideological dependency. We are a generation of free thinkers who cherish individuality and our ability to express ourselves through any means that defines the type of culture we subscribe to. We want to choose our clothing, music, art, diet, job choice, or lack thereof, and level of education. I don't think we realize how bound we will eventually be to a centrally-determined level of acceptibility for these forms of expression, if we accept financial dependency.
I have been privileged with a unique perspective on my generation, because I always ride the cultural fence. I am a musician, artist, and environmentalist with conservative and libertarian ideas. So my friends in the world of music, and especially my progressive friends during my three years at Stanford University, have been at times literally outraged with my political views. "How can I be so cold-hearted?" is the general question...or "How could you not support the poor disadvantaged...fill in race or class here...But I'm not cold hearted, and neither are fiscal conservatives at large...in fact I'm sure that we all agree the world could be a much better place if more of us independently and voluntarily went out to help our communities.
My response to my caring young peers is "why should compassion be legislated?" and even better "has legislating compassion ever worked?" If there is one form of outreach that I could envision for the Young Patriots of Gilmer County, it is to show young people that we can have a better world for everyone without the help of an alienated, controlling federal government.
We have been taught in school to be respectful of our self-esteem and others' feelings, and never to offend either. In elementary school, our guidance counselor had a puppet, Harmony the Beaver, who talked to us about self-esteem and its importance above all else. At the level of higher education, this mindset breeds censorship regardless of politics. Administrations want students to live in a pain-free world, where anything embarrassing,offensive, teasing, or mocking is silenced. The February issue of Reason magazine has a great article by Greg Lukianoff (2) about college censorship. He says free speech codes "systematically miseducate kids to believe that free speech goes only as far as the most sensitive person in the room can handle." He lists multiple examples of existent speech codes in colleges and university and residential programs meant to foster "sensitivity," despite the fact that since 2003, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has presented 13 legal challenges against college speech codes and all 13 were deemed unconstitutional.
And this illusion of our pain-free, non-offensive world is a brilliant pre-cursor to the government control that we see growing in our lives. The word "narrative" is one which I expected to fill our texts and assignments in literature and history classes at Stanford, where cultural acceptance or worship is forced. But the current administration, with the help of the instant internet, has brought narratives to the forefront of the political world, as if we are all in one big reality TV show. Obama encourages citizens to go on the White House website and tell their personal health care stories to influence Congress. Matt Welch of Reason magazine calls this "governing by anecdote rather than philosophy." In a March article (3), he says "Individual stories create emotional connections that move people in a place where traditional political chatter does not...and the anecdotal approach also allows politicians to pretend that their aims, in contrast to those of their opponents, are based on pure sweet empathy rather than cold, unfeeling ideology."
Anyway, that's enough about the psychology of today's youth, and how we have been won over by the Mommy State. I think we all agree that it's time to keep our emotions in our hearts and personal lives where they belong, and to restore logic and morality to our laws. As Young Patriots of Gilmer County, I am confident that we will be a dynamic part of the change that needs to happen this year on a local level. On a practical level, we will help local candidates who share our patriotic views. And on a broader level, my hope is that we can help teach other young people to be creative, free-thinking makers, instead of settling for being the dependent takers they're expected to be.
(1) Stossel, John. JFS Productions, Inc. Reason via creators.com, February 2010: http://reason.com/archives/2010/02/11/hurtling-down-the-road-to-serf
(2)Lukianoff, Greg. "P.C. Never Died." Reason, January 2010: http://reason.com/archives/2010/01/11/pc-never-died
(3)Welch, Matt. "Inside Obama's Hologram." Reason, March 2010: http://reason.com/archives/2010/02/10/inside-obamas-hologram