News and Tribune

July 1, 2013

CUMMINS: How to stop the degeneration of America

By TERRY CUMMINS
Local columnist

Washington seems to think progress is based on keeping secrets. How does the public know what’s going up there, when it doesn’t know? Government also thinks they should address critical issues by squabbling over them. One critical issue now is the extradition of NSA’s Edward Snowden, who leaked the secret that Washington listens to your phone calls and reads your emails to determine if you have connection with jihadists. President Obama is like a frog leaping from one crisis to another. Some are: privacy loss, climate change, terrorism, debt ceilings, unemployment, immigration, abortion, same-sex marriage, religious wars, voting rights, Obamacare, starvation, evolution-creation, government regulation of almost everything, overcrowded prisons, racism, and your welfare and mine. Another critical issue is whether government should finance contraceptives.

It seems that when our country appears to be headed out of its deep doldrums, something or somebody throws a monkey wrench into it, or cuts a monkey shine. Wrenches tighten or loosen things. I’m not sure what a monkey shine is, but know this — monkeys run this country. If you’re confused, perplexed and hungry, drugs won’t help; food stamps that buy fruits and vegetables will. To attack obesity, some of the monkeys in Washington want to cut food stamps plus cut taxes, spending and big government. They could help government by resigning.

Unless Washington and the White House adopt sound policies, pass laws and find the people who steal our secrets, our country might degenerate into a banana republic. Obviously, we need help. Congressional investigative committees only bury us deeper. We need smart people to help set us straight. They say if you give a typewriter to a monkey, it will eventually type Shakespeare’s works. That’s about how long it might take to save us from collapse.

Where do we find smart people to guide us other than at Harvard? “The Great Degeneration,” written by Harvard professor Niall Ferguson, talks about the approaching doomsday. It’s closer than you might think unless we unite to form a world far from perfect, but one where chaos isn’t the norm. I prefer happy books, not e-books, but the paper kind, which, I know destroys trees, pure air, etc. Admittedly, I’m part of the degeneration. 

Which are you, an upper or a downer? Despite my age, characterized by a pronounced and steady degeneration, I remain an upper. Hope is good for you. Without it, people perish. I hope the monkeys in Washington escape from the zoo and evolve. Evolution takes eons for the fittest to survive. The fittest are the strongest and smartest. Strength today is measured by stockpiles of nuclear weapons, drones and Prism, the mega-databank that stores your cell calls and emails. No one knows where intelligence and common sense is stored. If you are upright, remain an upper. I like to think that it will take more than a relaxant or a government program to take me down.  

Ferguson says that civilization has entered into a period of decline due to the strangling of private initiative by the ever-encroaching state. “We are living through a profound crisis of the institutions that were keys to our success — not only economic, but political and cultural —as a civilization,” he writes. Ferguson worries about the erosion of the rule of law. He says that politicians increasingly flout the Constitution by creating a proliferation of unwise and unenforceable laws and regulations. Lawyers on congressional staffs write massive pieces of legislation for other lawyers to interpret and implement, thus “lawyers rule.”

 Personally, I have nothing against lawyers when I need one. If a lawyer can’t help me, the lifetime Supreme Court judges will. Justice is based on what judges and the Supreme Court says it is. And that is based on ideology, personality and idiosyncrasies. Our constitution is either flexible or rigid. It was flexible when big corporations gained the right of free speech, expressed by gobs of money that definitely talks. Never mind.

 Borrowing to prosperity bugs the Harvard man and me. I don’t understand complicated economics, but I do know that a federal credit card with $200 trillion on it, as Ferguson pointed out, is probably more than our grandchildren can pay off. What are they thinking? Who can think straight when you despise “my good friend and colleague?” He’s your bitter enemy, stupid, and that’s the problem.

 We work hard to generate something better for our family and society, a legacy to pass on to future generations. What else is there for us to do?

 

— Contact Terry Cummins at TLCTLC@AOL.com