Learning From The Past

21 01 2013

I found this article the other day on a blog written by Orrin Woodard. It is amazing to me how much we can learn from history when we look to the correct places. I found this article eye-opening and troubling as I learned the parallels to our times.

I will not comment on my thoughts as I do not want to sway your impressions of the article but I eagerly await to hear what you have to say about the thoughts from Dr. Mario Pei.

Enjoy, Steve Leurquin

 

 

Dr. Mario Pei, who came to this country from Italy in 1908, is Professor of Romance Philology at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of several distinguished books and numerous magazine articles. The Foundation was given special permission by the Saturday Evening Post to reprint the above article. Copyright 1952 by The Curtis Publishing Company

When I first came to America, many years ago, I learned a new meaning of the word “Liberty”—freedom from government.

I did not learn a new meaning for “democracy.” The European country from which I came, Italy, was at that time as “democratic” as America. It was a constitutional monarchy, with a parliament, free and frequent elections, lots of political parties and plenty of freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly.

But my native country was government-ridden. A vast bureaucracy held it in its countless tentacles. Regardless of the party or coalition of parties that might be in power at the moment, the government was everywhere. Wherever one looked, one saw signs of the ever present government: in the uniforms of numberless royal, rural, and municipal policemen, soldiers, officers, gold-braided functionaries of all sorts. You could not take a step without government intervention.

Many industries and businesses were government owned and government run railroads, telegraphs, salt, and tobacco among them. No agreement, however trivial, was legal unless written on government-stamped paper. If you stepped out of the city into the country and came back with a ham, a loaf of bread, or a bottle of wine, you had to stop at the internal-revenue barriers and pay duty to the government, and so did the farmers who brought in the city’s food supply every morning. No business could be started or run without the official sanction of a hundred bureaucrats.

Young people did not dream of going into business for themselves; they dreamed of a modest but safe government job, where they would have tenure, security, and a pitiful pension at the end of their plodding careers. There was grinding taxation to support the many government functions and the innumerable public servants. Everybody hated the government—not just the party in power, but the government itself. They had even coined a phrase, “It’s raining—thief of a government!” as though even the evils of nature were the government’s fault. Yet, I repeat, the country was democratically run, with all the trappings of a many-party system and all the freedoms of which we in America boast today.

America in those days made you open your lungs wide and inhale great gulps of freedom-laden air, for here was one additional freedom—freedom from government.

The government was conspicuous by its very absence. There were no men in uniform, save occasional cops and firemen, no visible bureaucrats, no stifling restrictions, no government monopolies. It was wonderful to get used to the American system: to learn that a contract was valid if written on the side of a house; that you could move not only from the city to the country but from state to state and never be asked what your business was or whether you had anything to declare; that you could open and conduct your own business, provided it was a legitimate one, without government interference; that you could go from one end of the year to the other and never have contact with the national government, save for the cheery postman who delivered your mail with a speed and efficiency unknown today; that there were no national taxes, save hidden excises and import duties that you did not even know you paid.

In that horse-and-buggy America, if you made an honest dollar, you could pocket it or spend it without having to figure what portion of it you “owed” the government or what possible deductions you could allege against that government’s claims. You did not have to keep books and records of every bit of income and expenditure or run the risk of being called a liar and a cheat by someone in authority.

Above all, the national ideal was not the obscure security of a government job, but the boundless opportunity that all Americans seemed to consider their birthright. Those same Americans loved their government then. It was there to help, protect, and defend them, not to restrict, befuddle, and harass them. At the same time, they did not look to the government for a livelihood or for special privileges and hand­outs. They were independent men in the full sense of the word.

Foreign-born citizens have been watching with alarm the gradual Europeanization of America over the past twenty years. They have seen the growth of the familiar European-style government octopus, along with the vanishing of the American spirit of freedom and opportunity and its replacement by a breathless search for “security” that is doomed to defeat in advance in a world where nothing, not even life itself, is secure.

Far more than the native born, they are in a position to make comparisons. They see that America is fast becoming a nineteenth century-model European country. They are asked to believe that this is progress. But they know from bitter experience that it just isn’t so.

Milk on the Doorstep

“It is remarkable,” comments George Schwartz, an English writer, in an article in The New York Times Magazine, “how many people can see no sense in the existing order of Western society, the easiest criticism of which is that it is not order but disorder. With the milk on the doorstep every morning, the free economy is denounced as unplanned, uncoordinated, and chaotic.”

It is a valid observation. There are countries—notably Russia—that have all the necessary material resources but still can’t get the morning milk to the doorstep. Their society’s system of production and distribution is fully ordered, carefully blueprinted by government experts. But they have the plan and no milk while we have the milk and no plan.

The fact is, of course, that our economy does not exist in disorder. In the milk business, to take the everyday example mentioned by Mr. Schwartz, there are literally thousands of individuals—farmers, truckers, processors, and salesmen, and the thousands more who are their suppliers—who make the major or minor decisions that get the milk to the doorstep, and earn a profit in the process. No group of government experts could equal the input of knowledge, industry, flexibility, and efficiency that is the combined total contribution of all of these individuals.

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21 responses

27 01 2013
Keith Wrage Jr

Great post! Thanks Steve for all the great information you are sharing in this blog and through LIFE!

25 01 2013
Kirk Richie

Wow, Steve, this is powerful! No government can match the power of a community of individuals aligned on common purpose, as Laurie Woodward says, “We don’t have it all together, but together we have it all!” Its amazing how our community is halting the regression of culture toward force, and start the progression toward excellence and freedom!!
Awesome Steve thanks for sharing!

27 01 2013
Keith Wrage Jr

Great comment, Kirk! Thanks for playing a big part in the progress towards excellence and freedom!

23 01 2013
Keith Crook

We will shift the tide back to true freedom one changed life at a time!

26 01 2013
AdamRossman

That’s right! It starts with the individual not at the top!!

27 01 2013
Keith Wrage Jr

Yes we will!! I love that you and Rebecca are leading the charge in your community!

23 01 2013
ryanblakely1

Thanks for sharing Steve! That was a great article! Its amazing looking at another prospective from someone who has had a “big government” and seeing a country that had it right but went in the wrong direction!

23 01 2013
Teesa Rossman

Wow. I pray that people will wake up and see what’s going on around them.

27 01 2013
Keith Wrage Jr

Amen sister! Some more waking up will help. I’m glad you and Adam are sounding the horn for freedom!

23 01 2013
AdamRossman

Wow!!! What a great wake-up call that Democracy and Freedom do not necessarily mean the same thing! Thank you so much for sharing this story and thank you for helping us in our fight for Freedom!

27 01 2013
Keith Wrage Jr

Amen brother Adam. And thanks to you and Teesa for leading teams of people to truth and freedom!

22 01 2013
Kevin Knuteson

Steve, it’s great that we at least still live in a country where we can share dialogue of this nature. There are a lot of countries in the world where we would be imprisoned, or worse, if we were caught sharing this type of information! Any ideas on how those countries got that way? It’s a slippery slope for sure! I appreciate all you do Steve. You are a GREAT American.

26 01 2013
AdamRossman

Can you imagine that many freedoms being taken away?!

27 01 2013
Keith Wrage Jr

Amen brother Kevin! Thanks for having the guts to share some truth with that crabby, know-it-all, co-worker of your dad’s.

22 01 2013
adamrossman

Wow….eye opening for sure. This is a great reminder that “democracy” & “freedom” don’t necessarily mean the same thing.

I do not want democracy for my children, I want freedom.

27 01 2013
Keith Wrage Jr

For sure, Adam! Pretty awesome the environment that your kids are in growing up in in your house! Let’s spread the freedom message everywhere rather than “exporting democracy”.

21 01 2013
Bryan A. Kemp

AMEN!!! What a POWERFUL article. Now, if there was only a way to reach these individuals, farmers, truckers, salesman, mechanics, engineers and business owners from all industries and bring them together in a “community” where their combined knowledge can be utilized to educate themselves and others in order to preserve and restore what is slipping away silently (our freedoms) as we plod along in our busy everyday routines. To “Stand United” and protect the following generations from this growing threat of “dependency and hand outs” so generously offered by the “government octopus” that is stretching out farther and farther every day. I’ve heard my dad say many times, “Everything comes at a Price”. which would bring the questions, “When and where will it show up?” and “How much will it cost us?”.
Thankfully, a group of people with real “Character” and “Integrity” have answered this desperate call. THANK YOU Orrin and Laurie Woodward and ALL the Founders and Leaders on this “TEAM” for having the COURAGE to stand for what is right….. “TRUTH”!!!! And Thank You Steve for sharing this article. For anyone else reading this and willing to stand and fight for your freedoms, God Bless and WELCOME to L.I.F.E.

21 01 2013
Mike & Emily Hebbe

Well put brotha! This story and example hits home since I am a farmers daughter and it seemed like someone was always dipping their selfish hands in my fathers already empty pockets. Im proud to know men and woman UNITED to make a change in this cycle of insanity.

22 01 2013
Kevin Knuteson

Wow, Bryan, great thoughts and recap on this article! You are and will continue to be a force to reckon with. I appreciate all you do for our kids future! 2013 is going to be a monumental year:)

23 01 2013
Steve Sager

You are right Kevin!

Great perspective Bryan!

27 01 2013
Keith Wrage Jr

Amen and Amen brother Bryan! You and your freedom-fighting wife are two big reasons why we have hope for the future!

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