Saturday, March 12, 2016

The United States Has Always Been Rotten

Here is writing more powerful than any protester disrupting a speech. 

Robert Higgs writes:

TSome people say that the USA is going to the dogs (no offense intended, perros), and it’s child’s play to demonstrate many ways in which this claim is true—growing police brutality, burgeoning government debt, ever more numerous and onerous regulations, destructive monetary and credit-allocation policies, boiling ethnic and religious animosity, endless foreign wars, to mention but a few issues among many. But there’s a problem: the country has always been going to the dogs. Yes, in certain regards life in the USA used to be freer; but in other regards it used to be less free. Yes, the government’s policies are horrendous and destructive; but in many ways the government’s policies were always horrendous and destructive....

he country has always been rotten, full of coercive busybodies eager to use state power to punish their neighbors whose conduct, creed, or ethnicity did not please them. The country has always been teeming with hotheads eager to go to war with practically anyone who seemed to them suitable for killing. The country has always been ruled by crooked politicians and scheming, would-be crony capitalists. Rotten, rotten, rotten to the core from the get-go.

Yet it was always rescued, redeemed, and pulled back from the abyss by the legions of basically decent people who left their neighbors alone, who worked hard and well to supply consumers with valued goods, who discovered better, more productive ways of producing and altogether new goods and means of production to delight people and make their lives better. Beyond the doors of the busybodies and the vicious racists lived the people who designed and built the sanitation systems that allowed great cities to escape the periodic epidemics that had always swept away large segments of their populations from time to time and to suppress the acute infectious diseases that plagued many people chronically and killed many infants and children. Beyond the precincts of racists and crony-capitalist swindlers lived the humane writers such as Melville, Twain, Bierce, Jeffers, Heller, and others who had not been taken in by the popular madness. Most of all, the many, many ordinary people who simply worked, worshiped, innovated, built, and kept out of other people’s business allowed the country to prosper and progress.  There’s a lot of ruin in a nation, Adam Smith observed, and the history of the USA has been living proof of this observation.

So, yes, the country is going to the dogs. But it has always been going to the dogs. Yet it has survived and, in many ways, prospered and overcome some of its worst inclinations. Let us pray that the people at large will once again find the sense and the fortitude to do what must be done to drag the country back from the self-destruction to which large segments of the population and their favored political leaders are always pushing it.


  1. I presume he's speaking of Robinson Jeffers, a great poet who's home Tor House was down the street from me in Carmel. I was fortunate to have been welcomed by his son and climbed the tower (a rare privilege). To sit in a meadow at Big Sur and read his Big Sur poems is a life changer. I haven't thought about him for years, but the fact that the great Bob Higgs brings him up in that context is fitting. Gotta dig out "Not Man Apart".

  2. We have to fight back with our own liberal political leaders, like Ron Paul. There should be Ron Pauls running in every district.

    1. The candidates are a reflection of the voters. The candidates won't change until the voters do. Perhaps an analogy will help. Lets imagine that Ron was elected chief of a tribe of cannibals. On his first day as chief he stands before the tribe and says, "We need to stop eating people!" What do you think his fate would be?