Ungratefulness: The root of modern evil

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 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.~Hebrews 13:5-6

One issue I am striving to overcome since returning from Afghanistan, is my persistent displeasure with fellow Americans who don’t seem to realize how good they have it, with how much tough work went in to making this country, with the willing sacrifices that were made, and mostly just how outrageously easy the day to day life of an American really is. The thoughts of the cellulite-ridden mall shoppers standing in line complaining about this or that is a national embarrassment.

The ungrateful person is not concerned about others, he does not complain about injustice so much as their own momentary discomfort, without a second thought about their relative situation. The ungrateful person manifests many of the deadly sins, mostly sloth and gluttony and envy. Since the ungrateful person’s appetites can never be sated, work is seen as evil, since it gets the person no closer to satisfying his personal needs ( an impossibility), this results in sloth. The ungrateful person, paradoxically, never stops trying to satisfy himself, thus gluttony often results, and not only in the overeating of food, but in the hoarding of useless trinkets, clothes, etc, firmly entrenching in him severe materialism. Finally, despite his laziness and his hoarding, he always wishes to have what his neighbor has, and in fact he wishes that his neighbor would lose some of what he has.

Ultimately the ungrateful society is primarily comprised of people without any real skills. They expect all of their needs, including their personal safety, to come from outside sources. As such, they make increasingly poor decisions for themselves. Our state and society has become the great enabler of the ungrateful person, encouraging a plague of horrible personal decisions among its citizens.

An ungrateful society loses its sense of perspective, its ability to tell good from bad, evil from holy. Soon, the democratic state which supports an ungrateful people finds itself the victim of its own populism. It throws money about, just as did the Roman emperors who gained the throne via assassination; they baited Rome’s soldiers and citizenry with exorbitant amounts of money, merely to mollify them. The result backfired utterly, as a people so eligible for purchase will be the first to sink the dagger in the back of the next ruler. Discipline disintegrated. These emperors would have done better for themselves had they offered the money, then had crucified anyone who took it.

An ungrateful society finds itself unable to protect itself at a personal or national level.  The weight of self-defense is placed on emergency services. The same skills that are necessary for the individual farmers of history, be they from ancient Greece, Rome or even the original settles of America translate well to that of soldier. Thus, these people were extraordinary fighters, hardy, resilient, cunning, grateful with little. In those societies, before they began to crumble and while they still maintained the visage of nobility and strength, even the aristocrats were able to live ascetically when needed. Make no mistake, George Washington was an aristocrat. Yet he drove himself as he did his troops at Valley Forge. Eventually ungrateful people are overwhelmed by hardier peoples.

Now, I understand that “ungrateful” can be relative, that circumstances can always become so uncomfortable that anyone would complain. Still, when we look at our wealth and the trivial nature of our complaints, can anyone truly say that most are justified? Where are the days when a beer, a cup of coffee, a good book, the beach, were enough? It’s not to say that we should not strive to be better, but our gluttony is destroying us. Clearly, as a people, we have asked far more from our nation than we have put in to it. History’s largest debt supports my thesis. When I hear people complain about the weather, even though it is not hurting any plans, even though they don’t have a job that requires them to be out in the weather, when I hear people complain about perfectly good food, about how walking is hard, breathing is hard, thinking is hard….well I complain about their incessant complaining. Life just isn’t that difficult for me.

Ungrateful people are outraged by nature itself. Someone, the government most likely, should do something to make it all ok. The government should stop hurricanes, make it warmer, make it colder, stop hunger, stop war. The government. If the power goes out, it’s outrage against the government. We’ve become so weak that everything is an outrage. Am I hallucinating, or was it against the rules as a child to even complain about the food on the table in the 1970s? What were the options? Go hungry or eat. Are we doing our children, the world a favor by scrambling for a food that tastes better? As parents are we so stupid as to not know what is actually good for our 3 year old?

I stand by my words, that America past was better than America present. That our people were better.  That ungratefulness is the root of our problems, our debt, our gluttony, our lack of important skill, our welfare system, the root of feminism, socialism, liberalism.

In parting I’ll leave you with a tract from Livy’s, The Early History of Rome. Ask yourself, does it portend our ending?

I invite the reader’s attention to the much more serious consideration of the kind of lives our ancestors lived, of who were the men, and what the means both in politics and war by which Rome’s power was first acquired and subsequently expanded; I would then have him trace the process of our moral decline, to watch, first, the sinking of the foundations of morality as the old teaching was allowed to lapse, the the rapidly increasing disintegration, then the final collapse of the whole edifice, and the dark dawning of our modern day when we can neither endure our vices nor face the remedies needed to cure them. …no country has ever been greater or purer than ours or richer in good citizens and noble deeds; none has been free for so many generations from the vices of avarice and luxury; nowhere have thrift and plain living been for so long held in such esteem. Indeed, poverty, with us, went hand in hand with contentment. Of late years wealth has made us greedy, and self-indulgence has brought us, though every sensual excess, to be, if I may so put it, in love with death both individual and collective.

Is the West Doomed?

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Last night I caught a clip of Fareed Zakaria’s show on CNN.  I’d been watching much more important things–pro football–but I can’t stand the ads on AFN (American Forces Network) so I channel surf when I have to.  I’ve had mixed thoughts about Zakaria, primarily because i felt he pandered a bit to the Left when things were going badly in Iraq.   All in all though, I think I like him and appreciate his opinions.

Zakaria was talking about the current state of world economics.  He listed three factors that have complicated the problems America and Europe Face.

1)  An aging population.  As people in Western nations age and retire, they need ever increasing money from the retirement system.  The amount of young people in the work force whom pay taxes which support those retirement systems are dwindling.  The crisis in Greece resulted from primarily two factors:  The death spiral birth rates which cannot replenish the workforce and a lack of any economic growth.

2) Advancing technology.  Zakaria contends that technology improves efficiency to such a degree that employers no longer need to employ as many people.  I’m not convinced this is the issue that Zakaria believes.  First,  the unemployment rate in the US effectively doubled in about three years.  This had nothing to do with advancing technology.  Secondly,  while it may take fewer people to make a single pair shoes than it used to, manufacturers  make more pairs of shoes.  Then those shoes make their way to every corner of the world, something that could not happen before technology multiplied the power of the individual person.  Technology, in my opinion, has not lessened the need for workers, because more production and distribution is now required and expected of the individual–and that’s because of technology.   Corporations look not only for efficiency, but more production.  As I used to joke when I was a police officer:  The advanced technology available to police did not make their jobs easier, it only upped the expectation for productivity from the department and increased the amount of evidence required to get a conviction.

3) Globalization.  Globalization allows employers to outsource labor.

While all of these things have some impact, I think that Zakaria skips over the cultural shift occurring throughout America.  The cultural war inside the US is tearing it apart; the “have-nots” now expect success be handed to them.  Moreover, multiculturalism is instigating conflict.  The West is now like a man who walks around grinding his teeth all the time, but he can’t figure out why he does it.   He feels an internal stress that he finds inexplicable.  That stress is the breaking down of trust, the great binder of all societies.  Samuel Huntington said that culture is made up of two things:  Religion and language.  These two things breed trust.

The economists can see the technical reasons for the financial problems in the US and Europe.  But as our culture rips apart, the experts will find it more and more difficult to implement the changes necessary to prevent self-destruction.  Europe will disintegrate before America, but the weakening of America will accelerate Europe’s insolvency.  The Demographic numbers in Europe are undeniable–and they cannot be changed in our lifetimes, or in  the next.  Germany’s birthrate per woman is 1.42, [CIA World Fact Book, 2010] which is a world away from the 2.1 births per woman required merely to sustain a population.  But 1.42 doesn’t tell the whole story, because that number is significantly bolstered by immigrant birthrates, particularly Muslim birthrates on the order of 7 per female.  The Germans brought in many Turkish people in the 1970s because the workforce was significantly undermanned.  Such is the case throughout Europe, where Thatcher’s prediction of government running out of other people’s money have come true:  more old people on the retirement system and fewer young people to work and provide taxes.  Greece’s birthrate’s are even lower and the country imploded.  Italy is next:  Witness that country’s anemic 1.32 birthrate.  Bye bye bistro.

Democracy is a tool for change and in Democracy, anything can change.  Voters whom bring third or second world cultural views to Europe will change Europe.  They already have.

We are living the classic Chinese curse.  We are living in interesting times.  We can now see for ourselves how Rome fell, and recognize that it fell on its own sword.  The problems in America are evident in everything from America’s economic woes to it’s inability to defeat a band of toothless dirt farmers in Afghanistan.

The election of Barack Obama has hastened America’s demise, but it is not the cause.  His election was a symptom of the changes brought upon the country.  As Pat Buchanan will outline in his upcoming book:  The Suicide of a Superpower, America and Europe are fracturing upon racial lines.  Blacks in America voted for Barack Obama at a 24:1 ratio, primarily because of his African American heritage.  The more we have talked about race in America, the more racially divided we have become.  While laws do protect minorities more than they did in the past, the level of distrust along racial divides is as great as ever.

As the culture shift occurs,  the new demography continues to vote itself a bigger chunk of the welfare pie.  And it’s only just begun.  The birthrate issues in Europe are virtually irreversible.  There is simply no arguing the math.  The only argument is that people can change the way they think and vote.  But if we think that entire cultures suddenly change the way they think without a catastrophe as the motivator,  we should look over our history books again.  The decline of the West is inevitable at this point.  The question is, What does that mean for the rest of the world?  It is not the death of democracy we are witnessing, only it’s little talked about dark side.

Welfare States: What the Hell they good for? Absolutely nothin’

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The recent speeches by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and NATO General Anders Fogh Rasmussen highlight Europe’s growing dependence on American military power.  Europe is withering.  Suckling on the teet of the American hegemon, Brussels has enjoyed the protection of the world’s greatest power and yet at times has been so critical of American interventionism that many Europeans resemble the two grumpy old men from The Muppet Show, Statler and Waldorf, hurling insults from afar and yet never failing to buy tickets and watch the show.

What a crappy show these Americans put on!

We must ask what Europe’s welfare state has bought them.  A reluctance to spend on defense could be understood if in fact Europe’s quality of life were significantly better than Americas, but it’s not.  Europeans should ask their respective governments how high taxes, hyper-regulation, and an impoverished military industrial complex manifestly makes Europe stronger, it’s people safer or happier. 

Instead, Europe reaps the worst of both worlds.  It is both weak militarily and its economy cannot touch America’s.  This is testimony to the power of welfare.  It has the ability to make all a nation’s organs function with less robustness. 
At least the dental care is free.