H.W. Longfellow (1807-1882) wrote the following insightful poem, crying out truly the hope of all mankind which rested with the then fledgling nation. How sad that we are now nearing the complete negation of the founding principles. The essence of those principles can be grasped in Emerson's words that follow the poem.
Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what Master laid thy keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!
Fear not each sudden sound and shock,
'Tis of the wave and not the rock;
'Tis but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest's roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee.
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee, -are all with thee!
The basis of political economy is non-interference. The only safe rule is found in the self-adjusting meter of demand and supply. Do not legislate. Meddle, and you snap the sinews with your sumptuary laws. Give no bounties: make equal laws: secure life and property, and you need not give alms. Open the doors of opportunity to talent and virtue, and they will do themselves justice, and property will not be in bad hands. In a free and just commonwealth, property rushes from the idle and imbecile, to the industrious, brave, and persevering. The laws of nature play through trade, as a toy-battery exhibits the effects of electricity. The level of the sea is not more surely kept, than is the equilibrium of value in society, by the demand and supply: and artifice or legislation punishes itself, by reactions, gluts, and bankruptcies. Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 - April 27, 1882)
We have spent some one hundred years increasingly forgetting these truths and increasingly embracing the contrary lies that spring from Kant, Marx, Keynes, and others. As we shift uncomfortably near a drop in bond rating, we should, but probably won't, realize how far we have strayed, how much we have jettisoned our necessary ideological foundations. It is even unfortunately unlikely that the disaster to come from a bond rating drop would incite the proper corrective action. We would be told, again, how in some way, individual freedom and capitalism let us down. We would be fed more government controls, more collusion between some moneyed interests and the force of the government, to the detriment of all honest men and women. We, the honest worker, or honest business owner, or honest company, we will continue to have taken from us more and more, for less and less. We are not far, in the time scales of nations, from giving all for nothing.
This all sounds so dreary. Well, take a good honest look at our political and ideological landscape. Where do you see anyone truly defending the principles of individual liberty and laissez-faire capitalism? Where do you see anyone making real attempt to disengage the force of government from our schools, our (their?) markets and economy, our own pocketbooks? From left and right I hear proclamations that amount to different doses of the same poison.
I suppose I shouldn't wonder as states tend toward oligarchy, and the State has controlled education increasingly from the beginning - probably the largest of blunders that was made by the founders.