I highly recommend the book; I have a master's degree in history and I taught U.S. history from the discovery of the Americas to 1865 and from 1865 to present day (which was 1989-1991 when I was teaching) for four years, but I still learned a lot from Levin's book--both about the philosophies that drove the Founders and the philosophies of those who have worked to blur the boundaries of government and empower this growing central authority.
Last week I wrote a post entitled Stand up to Bullies--Defund Obamacare--encouraging the Senate GOP to grow some backbone and defund this monstrous new piece of legalisation which is killing jobs, reducing us to a nation of part-time workers and destroying healthcare. Then on Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz gave his twenty-one hour floor speech about the evils of Obamacare, to the profound admiration of Tea Party members and most limited government conservatives and the contempt of everyone else. I was proud of Cruz--I spent my afternoon sending tweets to encourage his efforts. Even though the majority of the Senate GOP has openly distanced themselves from his floor speech and his demands to defund Obamacare, he brought awareness to the problems of Obamacare in a way that no one else was willing to do.
As I finished Ameritopia last night, I appreciated what Cruz had done this week even more. Ted Cruz and I were born the same year (1970) in a post Lyndon Johnson Great Society world. To our generation, entitlements--Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are a way of life. We have never lived without these big government programs and we cannot envision a world without them. I have always openly supported the "safety net" as a necessary function of a compassionate society. But Mark Levin's book challenges the thinking of my generation that says that big government programs are necessary even if they need tweaking. He bluntly reminds us that when Social Security was initially passed in 1935 there was no big public support for Social Security for all people; the Congress could have passed a smaller measure to provide for the needy and indigent during the Depression, but Roosevelt shot down those measures in favor of an all-encompassing bill that would provide an unsustainable model for government funded retirement. Now, seventy-eight years later, even though all of us who watch the news at all know that the current Social Security program is unsustainable and facing bankruptcy, the idea of getting rid of it is unthinkable. Even those of us who basically know that we will never be able to collect Social Security ourselves find the idea of scrapping this program difficult to comprehend. After all "it's always been there."
A similar case can be made for Medicare and Medicaid. These precursors to the national health care system we are getting today were introduced within the decade before Cruz and I were born. "Free" health care for seniors is a real misnomer--seniors pay for expensive supplemental plans to offset the shortages of a program that is also unsustainable. When my mother turned sixty-five, she had to start paying for her "free government health care" out of her own pocket because she had elected not to draw Social Security until she was sixty-six. Normally, Medicare premiums are deducted from the senior citizen's Social Security check, but when the Social Security payments are delayed or deferred, the senior still has to pay the premiums. Our business was slow and she ended up having to pay premiums for her "free" health care on her credit card so that she could make ends meet until she started receiving Social Security to offset the premiums. Only in America.
As Levin points out in his book, the price of these "entitlement" programs is government dependency and centralized control. We trade our individual rights and liberties in exchange for the promise of something "free" all the while deliberately ignoring the fact that nothing is free and that the price we pay for these entitlement programs is huge, both in terms of our finances and in terms of our liberties. The first generation to suffer the losses of liberty feels the effects most profoundly, but subsequent generations accept the control and the expenses of the huge programs with no concept of the freedom and independence that has been traded away.
Now we are faced with another massive, unworkable government program. We know already that Obamacare is even now forcing businesses to drop their health care coverage, that it is causing employers to cut hours down below 30 hours a week for part-time employees and that it is causing insurance companies to cancel policies. I know that Obama and his cronies keep preaching that premiums will drop, but we haven't seen any evidence of that so far. This week the new premiums for single individuals were released for Texas--the average for a single person is a little over $300.00 a month. Also this week, the employees of one of the large school districts here were informed that their out of pocket premiums for their district employees were going to more than double--to over $200.00 per month for individuals. We have plenty of evidence that Obamacare does not keep any of the promises that the president made when he sold it to the nation.
But Ted Cruz understands something else that only a person from our generation can truly appreciate. He knows that, good or bad, entitlements become ingrained into the fabric of society with each new generation. The generation that is born in 2014 and after will grow up in a world in which health care--however mediocre--is a universal right and the idea of repeal will be as foreign to them as the idea of repealing Social Security is to us. We are just one generation away from losing this battle forever.
To those who claimed, as Harry Reid did this week, that Ted Cruz's speech was a "waste of time", nothing could be further from the truth. Cruz is doing much more than grandstanding--he is reminding us that we have a responsibility to protect liberty and that massive government and massive social entitlements pose a threat to liberty easily as great as the threat we face from foreign governments or terrorism. If we want to live under the U.S. Constitution, as many of us say we do, we must wholeheartedly reject what Mark Levin terms "Ameritopia"--big government programs and entitlements that allow the federal government to micro manage our lives at the expense of our freedoms. To all of those in the GOP who claim, as John McCain did this week, that Obamacare is the law of the land we need to accept it, we respond "No, We Don't." We don't need to accept big government, massive spending, massive debt and massive intrusions into our independence. We need to stand up as a people and reject "Ameritopia" and the big government "sugar" that goes with it.
Mark Levin ends his book with a quote from Ronald Reagan's 1981 inaugural address. In light of what happened this week with Cruz's speech, I found this appropriate and inspiring, and so I will finish my post today with these words from possibly the greatest champion of conservatism who has ever been elected to the presidency:
If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price. It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We're not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing."