Our politics are derived from our culture. A culture, after all, is a place where minds live. And what shapes those mnds will shape our decisions.
That’s why I think it crucial that we foster a culture in which wise, sensible values will predominate. And although I often report on positive trends, it doesn’t take too much investigation to see that our culture is currently riddled with the premise that people aren’t in charge of their own destiny and that we need the benevolent guiding hand of government to make things right.
I think that this notion breeds nothing but evil. On the other hand is a powerful tide of narcissism arising from the premise, inherent in philosophical relativism, that there are no universal moral standards to which each individual should adhere.
Together these two notions make for a mentality that is both selfish and defeatist. This is what our culture and society all too often foster, according to the following item, which was sent to me by Steve Stanek, who works with me as managing editor of Budget and Tax News, published by The Heartland Institute. This brief essay is used with the author’s permission.
Monuments to Narcissism
By Steve StanekI feel very defeated these days. We have a Supreme Court that apparently views the Constitution as an obstacle or irrelevance; state and local governments that keep looking for ways to spend gobs more money and push people into government programs, thus reducing choice and freedom; and a federal government that makes my blood boil just thinking about it — and that was before the Democrats regained power!What is the role of government? Should it be doing these things? What about the lives of citizens? Is it good for citizens to be forced into government dependency? To be told what we may or may not eat? Does anyone in power ask such questions?My state senator — a Republican whom I have known 27 years — recently introduced a bill to ban goose liver pate from Illinois. She’s on board with a statewide smoking ban, too.Meanwhile the federal government pays farmers to grow tobacco.Is it good for citizens to depend on government for education, health care, retirement? Why not also for shoes and socks, cars and trucks, pants and shirts, plumbing repairs, car repairs, a new furnace for the house, a new roof for the house, a new house, vacation getaways, nice restaurant dinners? Where will it end? Will it end?I remember a time when heroes were good and humble; when heroes did great deeds or selflessly risked life and limb; and when they did these things without expectation of reward or adulation. Real heroes were rare, and on rare occasions a road or bridge or building would be named after a hero, usually a man or woman whose life was ended and evaluated and shown to have been good and worthy.The selfless hero who shunned adulation — Shane, The Lone Ranger, Marshall Dillon, The Magnificent Seven — was a staple of movie and fiction lore when I was growing up.Now look at what we have. Here in Illinois we have Stroger Hospital in Cook County; Elfstrom Stadium in Kane County; the Thompson Center in Chicago. The McHenry Lock and Dam near my house — a great name because it describes the facility and where it is located — was renamed the William B. Stratton Lock and Dam a few years ago because Stratton — in the 1960s! — was Illinois governor when the state provided funds to fix up the place. We have Don Young’s Way and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska, Mike and Janet Huckabee Lake in Arkansas, the Trent Lott Center in Mississippi, the Robert C. Byrd BioTechnology Science Center (and dozens of other things named after Byrd) in West Virginia.These are all edifices named after politicians who did nothing more than get the funding for them. Elected officials apparently see themselves as heroes. And politicians everywhere are doing this. The newest major road in my county is Rakow Road, named for the county road commissioner who was in office when the project was begun.I wonder if we will ever again see an O’Hare Airport, named in honor of a young and brave Navy flyer who died in action in World War II?The contemptible sons of bitches now running this country build physical monuments to themselves that people can see, and with programs like universal health care and universal preschool and universal this and universal that, they build monuments to themselves that people can feel.The politicians say it’s for us, but it’s really for them, and millions of citizens fail to see this. I fear we have slipped into a national case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The politicians are the narcissists; we are the victims who feed their narcissistic needs.