The Cycle of Democracy
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, approximately 200 years later, the USA appears to be on the slippery slope of dependency. Government handouts (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 fixed budgets, the federal government continues to spend more money than it takes in. The annual deficit is $521 billion, creating a present national debt of $7.1 trillion.
Even under the climate of such gross fiscal mismanagement, Congress recently packed 10,656 projects in appropriation bills for fiscal 2004, from a $50 million indoor rain forest project in Iowa to $200,000 for recreational improvements in North Pole, Alaska, and thousands of other ridiculous items in between, totaling $22.9 billion.
Alaska led the nation in pork projects with $524 million. Hawaii was second with $494 million. Coincidentally, Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The number-two Democrat on that committee is Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii).
Professor Tyler may have been correct -- voters elect politicians who will bring home the bacon rather than adhere to sound fiscal policy. Theoretically, this 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 the nation, it's being used to maintain dependency on the national government and protect the incumbency of politicians.
Governing this country is a tricky proposition. Democrats want government to provide for them from cradle to grave. Republicans want government to stimulate business interests and create a powerful military presence. Green Peaceniks want government to protect the environment. Libertarians want government off their backs.
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 is wrong. And financing our collective greed by borrowing against the earnings of future generations will be our downfall. If our democracy collapses, we have no one to blame but ourselves. * * *