Obama’s War on Self-Reliance

Whether you’re a college student, a senior, a farmer, a green energy entrepreneur, a cancer patient, an unemployed worker, a homeowner, or a school teacher, President Obama’s underlying message seems to be:

You can’t make it on your own.

Let’s recall his bizarre Fourth of July address in 2009, where he summed up his commitment to government dependence quite well:

“As long as some Americans still must struggle, none of us can be fully content.”

So, let me get this straight. Our president is worried that there’s still some struggling going on out here in America? Wow. He seemingly doesn’t understand that life is all about struggle. Isn’t it? It’s a struggle to get out of bed some days, a struggle to focus on work when we’d rather be playing, and a struggle to not completely strangle our children when they ransack our living rooms. Does that mean our fellow citizens can’t be fully content – because some of us struggle at one time or another and will continue to struggle until we draw our last breaths?

We can’t eradicate all suffering, or all struggle, and certainly not through government action. To attempt such an irrational goal leads to national bankruptcy. Which likely explains Obama’s tripling of the federal deficit in his first two years in office. Apparently, our federal government cannot be “fully” content until it’s as bankrupt as the individuals it is purporting to save from “struggle.”

For the record, I completely take issue with Obama’s notion that it’s somehow wrong that some Americans still must struggle. This belief is false and condescending on its face. Everyone struggles: rich, poor, old, young, educated, and uneducated alike. Some Americans certainly face more daunting challenges than others, but it has less to do with being a member of a mythically “exploited” and static class, and more to do with life’s random brutality and our individual choices. Each of us has encountered individuals in every socio-economic group braving poor health, job loss, or personal tragedy. Many of us have experienced these challenges in our own lives, circumstances that rightly drive us to our knees in prayerful pleading to our Creator.

But can any of this “struggle” (also known as life) be circumvented by an activist government? Can government ensure you will never be uncomfortable or scared or beset by economic hardship? Can government save you from yourself?

It seems President Obama and the Democrats are forgetting the concept of moral hazard, that without struggle, we never learn to make good choices. Without struggle we can’t learn from our mistakes. Without struggle we can never feel the deep satisfaction of overcoming adversity and even surviving tragedy.

Without struggle, we can’t develop character.

Obama’s vision of government is that of a co-dependent spouse. From extending unemployment benefits to 99-weeks to passing socialized medicine that will reimburse health insurance costs for individuals making up to $100,000, he doesn’t think we’re smart enough or capable enough to succeed in our own right, without hitting up our fellow citizens for a bailout. And constant bailouts breed further irresponsibility. When we never have to face up to the consequences of our choices, or learn to take care of ourselves, we are not free, and we cannot stand on our own.

Recently, President Obama complained that without tax increases on job creators, we can’t continue to support 50 million of our fellow citizens in the lifestyles to which they’ve become accustomed.

The number of individuals receiving assistance from the government is at an all-time high. Consider the uptick in the number of people on food stamps.

Last year, in its annual “Index of Dependence on Government,” the Heritage Foundation concluded that our nation is at a tipping point that threatens our republican form of government, and that “reckless growth in dependence programs has produced domestic debt crises.”

The Washington Times reported:

Health care and welfare dependency grew 22 percent. Rural and agricultural services grew 20 percent. Housing was up 15 percent. Only at the height of the Great Society did government dependence grow more rapidly – and that’s when the index was less than one-seventh of its inflation-adjusted size today. Statistics show much of the aid actually is counterproductive. Greater federal aid for higher education encourages colleges to raise tuition and fees, causing a vicious cycle of spending and tuition hikes. Farm subsidies go to big farm conglomerates – 20 percent of farmers received 80 percent of the aid – which puts smaller family farms at a disadvantage. And so on.

Heritage found that the costs weren’t just financial … Dependency erodes character by undercutting natural, self-regulating relationships.

“This shift from local, community-based mutual-aid assistance to anonymous government payments has clearly altered the relationship between the person in need and the service provider,” they write. “Today, housing and other needs are addressed by government bureaucrats who have little or no ties to the community in which the needy person lives.” Those disappearing communal relationships are “essential to the existence of civil society itself.” The federal bureaucratic model, meanwhile, “erodes the spirit of self-reliance and self-improvement.”

At a speech in Hollister, Mo. during her Going Rogue book tour in 2009, Governor Sarah Palin spoke of the virtue of self-reliance that has built this nation. Recalling her own bootstrap career and self-financed college education, she told an audience of 6,000 people:

“Pioneers carved a nation out of a wilderness. We are a nation built by rugged individuals. We can prosper by our own merit, and voluntarily help our neighbors. In the great history of our country, we’ve never believed that government was supposed to take care of us.”

Palin believes hard work, thrift, personal responsibility, neighborliness – and pioneer optimism – will lead us out of our national crisis – not government handouts financed by an ever-growing public debt.

She told an audience in Madison, Wisc. recently: “No, see, in our book, you prioritize appropriately and those who need the help will get the help. The only way we do that is to be wise and prudent and to budget according to the right priorities.”

Palin often speaks about making decisions under “less than ideal circumstances.” In reality, Palin knows life is never ideal. It’s always a struggle. That’s what makes it worthwhile.

It’s only a shame our government doesn’t understand that.

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I'm a mother of three, and devoted Palin blogger.

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