Dateline: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
We hear a lot these days about “American Values”. Everyone from politicians of every stripe to talk show hosts extol these mythical virtues with little explanation.
Over time, “American Values” have become this fungible thing that seem to change with the wind whenever its convenient for the person talking about them.
For Barack Obama, such values mean you and I shipping wheelbarrows full of money to his office for “starving children” to come and pick out a few glistening pennies to get by.
For Glenn Beck, the same “American Values” mean people working hard and accomplishing great things in a pro-freedom economy based on self-reliance and individual achievement.
The conservative movement in The Land of the Free has been especially eager to tap into the “values” game over the years. Yes, that’s their thing. But it’s also become their thing to try and redefine terms based on what they WISH the state of the American freedom landscape was… not what it really is.
To be honest, if I hear any more about these “American Values”, I’m going to be sick.
Because simply SAYING that the country you want to “restore” to its former glory is one thing or another does not make it so. Such is the folly of modern day American nationalism. (And you know how much we love nationalism around here.)
Conservatives want to take the country back to a day when tax rates were lower… and when a majority of the country didn’t want them punitively raised on a select minority.
They want to take the country back to the days when people practiced the art of self-reliance, did what it took to be successful, and taught their kids the same. Today, Americans have Kim Kardashian preaching the art of fame-and-fortune-by-sex-video. Quite a departure.
I could go on and on. But the fact remains: where you WANT your country to be does not define what it is. The United States is a massively bankrupt country with a shrinking workforce, mediocre demographics, and a penchant for blaming others. The eye of the tiger that I see in countries like China and Vietnam and Singapore isn’t in the United States any more.
It’s moved on.
And, so, I believe, should the “American Values” crowd. Like the man who stepped over dollar bills to pick up pennies, these great restorers of what they BELIEVE their country once was are ignoring the fact that their values already exist… somewhere else.
In their hypernationalism, they ignore the fact that countries like Chile are building a pro-entrepreneur culture the old-fashioned way. That countries like Georgia are slashing the number of taxes they assess by huge numbers because it’s good policy, not because of politics.
The “American values” crowd doesn’t care how successful any other country becomes by doing things right. They merely want The Land of the Free to be restored to its former glory.
There is, however, only one problem. Drug addicts don’t restore themselves until their hit rock bottom. Why stop the party when there’s a liquor store to knock-off down the road, fresh with new money for more drugs?
The United States is a drug addict still on the high of big government, big spending, and big money printing. They realize that they’ve painted themselves into a corner and that fixing these issues will be difficult. It will involve a crash. So rather than face the music, they seek out new victims to steal from.
THOSE are the new “American Values”.
The fact that the United States allegedly spent centuries living by a different economic code means nothing. Values are, by their very nature, fungible. They shift with the times like fashion or eating preferences. Self-reliance is no longer an “American value” any more than drinking a Schlitz and a Salisbury steak is.
How hard do you think it would be to get all of today’s picky eaters to go back to eating the way Americans did in the 1950s? Or dressing like Lady Bird Johnson?
The fact is, those who believe in fiscal restraint and sound money lost. A wave of “gimme” voters has overtaken the electorate and formed a real majority. You don’t just turn the clock on that without suffering some major crash – the kind that makes 2008 look like a picnic.
Maybe when Americans are living in grass huts and driving Fred Flintstone cars thanks to hyperinflation, they’ll be a renewed cry to put aside the nonsense and start working for sound economic principles. Until then, to co-opt the term “American values” just because you WISH those were the country’s values is ridiciulous.