Thursday, June 28, 2012

Social Capital

Sunday we went to one of the youngest cousin's fiftieth wedding anniversary. (This is a clue as to the average age of the fifteen remaining first cousins.) At the gathering were a bunch of the older group with their spouses who had celebrated their fiftieth anniversaries during the past decade or so… In attendance were the adult children in the extended family,  grand children and a handful of great grandchildren.  Everyone one cleaned up real well, visited, ate of lot of cake and drank un-sweet tea…. The talk, whenever this group gets together, often has to do with growing up in Mississippi during the depression years and family activities when we were children.

Back then, most of Mississippi was made up of farm families such as ours. Many subscribers to this blog have similar family histories. Our family wasn't unique. What is unique was there wasn't a sense of being poor…. More or less every family had the same, which was little or nothing. You would be hard pressed to call what was going on in Mississippi at that time an economy...If crops were good you had a little more. If crops failed you had less…. Clothes were mostly hand-me-downs. There were no government backstops. However, there was something that held it all together.

 There were social values. There was a set of beliefs that was common to all. These values and beliefs were the social capitol. We had very poor people, some with a little more and a few who had a lot compared to the very poor. All were bound together by some inner strength. This strength was the social net. This 'net' contributed, helped out, shared and this compassionate legacy was America and Americans. Wherever we have gotten to, this legacy is what got us here. The ones in the family who have had fiftieth anniversaries are old enough to recall that Mississippi and that America. One book per class in a one room school,  the orange at Christmas, and sometimes a silver dollar on a birthday, along with prayers for rain in the summers.

That period of our history and all the poorness that went with it is gone and good riddance. What are not gone are the poor people. 

Government, businesses, and people have worked hard over the last half of the last century replacing the old social capitol with financial capitol. This was a trade off few realized was happening and was spread over a couple of generations so there weren't any big jolts…. By the early sixties there were enough divorces that some began to notice and worry that the core of the nation, the family, was spinning apart. By the late sixties as President Johnson created a national mission, the war on poverty, could we begin to see the transition to the new social capitol and the impact on the old social capital. Once done the flood gates opened for government to step into the role of the good neighbor and it has never looked back. Within one generation the grandchildren accepted and expected government to take care of all social problems and many demanded that even become more proactive.

Looking back, governments, throughout history, have been the ones who decide and create economies and defines how they will work and what the rules within the economy will be. There is an illusion that has been fostered over the last century that capital markets and economies have been created by individuals exchanging goods and services, i.e. the free market….The money that was used in the market place was created and denominated by government. Government encouraged business to produce certain things the society and government needed, inhibited foreign competition, and the unemployed were paid to do work at different levels of government such as build roads, plant trees, etc.  

When government does its job well we often don't know/don't see it has a hand in what is going on. When it becomes lax and leaders become self absorbed the system starts to unwind and becomes unstable. It is only then that we see government’s hand in the pot, such as in this moment in time with this president and this congress behaving like despots.

We find ourselves at this tipping point again in America. This is not our first tipping point and will not be our last. This representative democracy called the United States of America is in its midlife crisis. About two hundred years is as long as similar experiments have lasted and each historical failure can be traced to the door step of the people in those nations through their lack of involvement, lack of interest, lack of knowledge, and lack of responsibility. That has been the cause of the government breakdown with all who have tried and this was always followed by an economic breakdown. As President Truman said , "The buck stop here" meaning his desk…. The reality is, the buck starts and stops on our dinner tables."

We forgot to guard our elected guardians. The Tea Party is now in the process of reminding the guardians who they work for and how they are expected to serve and serve only at our behest. Not an easy job but we are up to it. We dropped our forefathers' baton but it has been picked up and the race is a long way from being over. In 2010 we wrote lots of congressional pink slips….Hopefully we will write even more pink slips this November. (The Dems will remember 2010 as one of their good years.) With the defeat of our current president the whole mishmash of self-interest fringe groups under the banner of American liberal Democrats will spin apart along with the elected who pander to them.

If we can't get them all out in 2012, well 2014 is just around the corner. The political class will have to deal with us every two years and ever two years we will replace a few more of these good old boys. They are politicians who come and go but we are the citizens. We are America. This is a last man stand sort of thing. 

Clearly America is not Greece, Italy, France, or Span. We are not going to let our politicians sink this representative democracy even though our behavior over the past two plus decades has led them to think so. We are the sleeping Tiger Japan feared and any politician who forgets American history, written by its citizens not politicians, does so at their peril.

Our political class has forgotten… Each incumbent is holding on to his/her power by a thread of empty promises and self delusions. Suddenly many elected Democrats are announcing that they will not attend the Democratic Nation Convention. This speaks volumes. As Regan so apply put it, "They can run but they can't hide."

This war or what feels like a war on our freedoms, beliefs, and values started long before Obama became president. However, many in congress today, who make up the good-old-boys and girls in the always to be reelected crowd, have been in Washington chipping away at one right after another, one value after another, and our freedoms for low these many election cycles while hiding behind government departments autocrats who spew out regulations, controls, and restrictions at their behest. Protecting themselves behind a thin cloak of denial. 

One would think the political class, who control both the Democratic and Republican parties, would sense that something unique is happening. They don't…
This election is part of a struggle for the preservation of America and a way of life of the citizens that this political class does not know, understand, or have any contact with. It is as if they live in some parallel universe.

This country created more wealth, safety, and still offers hope for a better life for our children and grandchildren today as it did before this political class emerged and the current group of elected representatives got elected the first time.

Note to all these candidates:

What we the people want is simple: We want the minimum necessary government. A government which defends individual freedom, our country, supports those in real need, takes as little of our money as possible to run, and doesn't impose itself in our lives.

Our current President, congressional leaders, the media, and all other who make up this elite political class are at odds with the Tea party in general and these simple American birthrights. 

The Tea Party is not simply a sub-group of unhappy dumb voters complaining about this or that tax or law... The Tea Party folks are the salt. It is they and their fathers who have fought many bloody wars when less was at stake.

As I was getting ready to post this article I started listening to the Supreme Court's decision on Obama Care…. The word "infamy" came to mind. I have never used or heard the word used since I was very young. President Roosevelt described Japans attack on Pearl Harbor as the Day of Infamy. Earlier in this article I talked about a tipping point. This decision in my mind is a tipping point.  Now we have a congress, a president, and the Supreme Court saying that no matter what the majority of voters wants it is for the political class to decide what is best for them.

No matter how many new Tea Party folks there will be come November can they offset the seventeen million new folks who now will be on our, free to them, medical system with their health coverage being paid for by the people who work and the businesses they work for? Maybe more importantly, given our current health system, will it not collapse under the weight of all the new citizens’ patients?

The answer may lie in the adage, "When the going get tough the tough get going."

I saw a wonderful tee shirt the other day that said, "I am the Tea Party".  I though, yes he is the Tea Party and I am the Tea Party….What a simple and powerful statement. Each of us is the Tea Party

134 days, 10 hours and 32 minutes till the November voting begins.


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