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The Cycle of Democracy

Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2009, at 12:31 AM

Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, wrote a treatise in 1787, titled THE CYCLE OF DEMOCRACY. In it he made the following observation:

"A Democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship."

Tyler went on to point out that the average age of the world's great civilizations has been approximately 200 years and that they seemed to progress through the following sequence:

1) From bondage to spiritual faith

2) From spiritual faith to great courage

3) From courage to liberty

4) From liberty to abundance

5) From abundance to selfishness

6) From selfishness to complacency

7) From complacency to apathy

8) From apathy to dependency

9) From dependency back to bondage

The United States of America was born in 1776 and soon became one of the greatest countries in the history of civilization.

Today, more than 200 years later, the USA is rapidly sliding down the slippery slope of dependency. Government handouts (financial bailouts, welfare, Social Security, Medicare, federal grants, pork projects, etc.) have made us increasingly dependent on the federal government, requiring an excessive amount of taxation to do so.

While local governments are forced to adhere to a fixed budget, the federal government continues to spend more money than it takes in. The national debt 10 years ago was $2 trillion dollars. Our present national debt exceeds $12 trillion and is projected to become increasingly worse over the next several years with no end in sight.

The incoming administration proposes to throw more money at the current financial mess we're in. This will require more borrowing against the future, adding more national debt which will be passed on to future generations.

Even more disturbing, increased involvement by the centralized federal government in our free market system ultimately means more government control in all aspects of out lives, which in turn means less individual freedom.

Professor Tyler was correct. A democracy cannot sustain itself because the voting public does not vote for the best interest of the country, it votes for the best interest of the individual. More for me, less for others.

Human nature includes greed. We have evolved into a credit and consumption society, purchasing things before we can afford them, driven by a programmed lust for endless growth rather than an ethic of common sense.

Voters elect politicians who will bring home the bacon rather than adhere to sound fiscal policy. This inherent greed of the voting public will eventually lead to the downfall of our democracy. Instead of using tax dollars wisely to maintain infrastructure and protect our individual freedom, it's being used to maintain dependency on the national government and protect the incumbency of politicians.

Our dependency on a large central government will lead us into bondage once again. Our only options will be to grind away at peek production and seek mindless growth, and shovel most of the rewards down the rat hole of a government whose solution to problems is peek production and mindless growth.

We will enslave ourselves by our own greed.

The downfall of our country is inevitable unless a massive amount of people wise up and do something about it, such as insisting our government live within a reasonable budget and keep their meddling to a minimum.

Unfortunately, finding the proper balance is impossible when voters select candidates who promise to give them things by confiscating the earnings of someone else. Serving yourself by collectively plundering others and financing our collective greed by borrowing against the earnings of future generations is morally wrong.

A reliance on government leads to the growth of government, which leads to the dominance of government, which leads to bondage to government.

It's a cycle of inevitability, unless collective wisdom overcomes collective greed.

If our democracy collapses, we have no one to blame but our collective selves.

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Quote for the Day -- "A little government involvement is just as dangerous as a lot, because the first leads inevitably to the second." Harry Browne (Libertarian)

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Boldly Going Nowhere
Bret Burquest
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Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist for The News (2001-2007) and author of four novels. He has lived in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Memphis and the middle of the Arizona desert. After a life of blood, sweat and tears in big cities, he has finally found peace in northern Arkansas where he grows tomatoes, watches sunsets and occasionally shares the Secrets of the Universe (and beyond) with the rest of the world.
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