Will Government’s Golden Shackles Ever be Broken?

Bookmark and Share   Most American presidents are remembered for winning and leading. They win their election, and lead the nation. But President William Henry Harrison is probably best known for winning and expiring. Upon taking office on March 4th, of 1841, Harrison delivered an 8,441 word inaugural address that was written by famed American statesman Daniel Webster. The one hour and forty five minute speech took place outside and during a blizzard. Upon completing the longest inaugural address in American history, Harrison caught pneumonia and one month later, on April 4th, 1841, he died, leaving behind the inaugural address that killed him, as the only legacy of his 30 day presidency.

Seeing as how Harrison essentially gave his life for his speech, one would tend to suspect that his speech was a uniquely important one, chock full of memorable lines. But such is not the case.  Ironically, most assessments of the speech conclude that there was nothing very memorable about it. Harrison’s lethal words did however address the times and at the time, America had been enduring its longest depression. So, while much of the address paid homage to constitutional government, he did also offer some insights that, given the extent to which today’s federal government tries to manipulate the economy, are quite pertinent to the times we are in now.

One line unparticular is worth mentioning;

“We have learned, too, from our own as well as the experience of other countries, that golden shackles, by whomsoever or by whatever pretense imposed, are as fatal to liberty as the iron bonds of despotism”.

170 years after those words were spoken, as the United States finds itself with prolonged rising unemployment, record levels of increasing debt, and a debate on increasing our debt ceiling, all weakens confidence in the already weak economy, it would seem that the federal government has yet to grasp Harrison’s words. In addition to not truly accepting the fact that our national debt is a shackle on our future, the federal government is in denial over the fact that the golden shackles of an increasingly larger welfare state are driving us right in to the “iron bonds of despotism”,……an economic despotism. An economic despotism driven by debt and the federal government’s continued need to seize more and more assets of individual Americans in order to feed its overspending habits.

The vicious cycle created by federal intervention and its programs of social and economic engineering are most assuredly “fatal to liberty”. The current economic crisis should be self evident of that conclusion. After record leves of unsustainable governemtn deficit spending, President Obama’s historic stimulus spending plans have done nothing more than dig us deeper into debt and in right to the arms Reuters recently reported “Democrat-friendly Goldman Sachs dropped an economic bomb on President Obama’s chances for reelection” The report was based on Goldman Sach’s finding that recent economic indicators have led many economic experts to predict lower than expected GDP growth and an unemployment rate that as we head into 2013 will be as high as 8.75% .

While 8.75% is lower than the current 9.2%, it is not as sufficient enough of a drop as is required to turn the economy around during the next 17 months.  Furthermore, Sachs warns;

”  growth has slowed to a pace that is typically only seen in recessions.”

Taking those factors into consideration along with Social Security and Medicare programs that if not reformed, are projected to run deficits totaling tens of trillions of dollars, and what we have is a vicious cycle of taxing and spending on deficits that would drive the combined marginal tax rate on labor income to more than 70% by 2035 and 80% by 2050.

Such higher tax rates will do nothing more than lead to a lower overall per capita income that will eviscerate our quality of life and perpetuate the vicious tax and spend cycle. That means that we must put a halt to the current confiscation of earnings and profits while cutting and controlling spending and reforming entitlements. In other words, the proliferation of liberal policies such as Obamacare, federal stimulus packages, increased taxes, and the unwillingness to reform entitlements, must come to an end.

In the case of William Henry Harrison, after spending his only month in office trying to recover from pneumonia and then succumbing to it, there is no evidence proving that his leadership lived up to his words. The best thing that can be said about William Henry Harrison is that unlike many other political leaders, he kept his campaign promise. On the stump he promised not to run for reelection.  He didn’t.  But in the case of the next President, if they fail to promise to control spending and reform taxes and entitlements and then keep those promises, it is liberty which will succumb to the golden shackles of fovernment.

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