A Failure to Communicate

Jackie Gingrich Cushman
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Posted: Dec 02, 2010 12:01 AM
A Failure to Communicate

"What we've got here is a failure to communicate," said the warden of the rural Florida prison as he stood looming over "Luke," slapping nunchucks in his hands. Luke, the prisoner, was lying on the ground, having been knocked into a ditch by the warden.

The warden was trying to communicate that he was in charge. The movie was "Cool Hand Luke."

Near the end of the movie, the warden and his men caught up with Luke at a church after his third escape attempt. Realizing he would not succeed, Luke went to the window and yelled out to those surrounding him, "What we've got here is a failure to communicate."

He was shot through the neck.

The prison, set in the 1950s, represented an unfair system of justice, and Luke wanted freedom. He would die before he would give up his dream. We have our own current "failure to communicate." The people been very clear about their expectations, and the administration has not been listening.

At its core, this current failure to communicate represents more than political partisanship. It is about the fundamental understanding of how our country was founded and should work.

This Monday, during his remarks regarding the federal workforce pay freezes, President Barack Obama said, "And I'm going to be interested in hearing ideas from my Republican colleagues, as well as Democrats, about how we continue to grow the economy and how we put people back to work."

He actually believes that the government puts people back to work. Government can transfer wealth from one group to another -- but people and businesses put people back to work. More often than not, the government gets in the way of putting people back to work.

For example, my part-time assistant on Tuesday called a government agency to apply for a government number. She was put on hold for an hour. When she finally reached someone and asked a question, she was transferred to another department, which again put her on hold. She finally had to hang up to go attend to her preschool children.

I'm not sure how more government is going to create more jobs, but I know how government can make it too hard and too costly for people to run businesses.

Obama continued Monday, "Today I'm proposing a two-year pay freeze for all civilian federal workers." He's about two years too late. Most of my friends have had their pay frozen, cut or eliminated during the past two years. Glad Obama thinks it's time for the government to join the rest of us.

He wraps up with, "Because if there's anything the American people said this month, it's that they want their leaders to have one single focus: Making sure their work is rewarded so that the American Dream remains within their reach. It would be unwise to assume they prefer one way of thinking over another."

His comment reveals his belief that the government is in control -- control of making sure that the American people are rewarded for their work. This is very different from the underlying beliefs of our Founding Fathers and great national leaders.

In my recent book, "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches That Every American Should Own," many of those speeches share the same theme, the understanding that the Declaration of Independence was clear and right when it stated: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

God gave rights to individuals, people loan them to the government. The government is subservient to the people.

If Obama administration officials understood the fundamentals of our country's structure, they would understand that taxes are not the government's revenue -- but the people's expense.

President Calvin Coolidge understood this when he said, " I want taxes to be less, so that the people may have more."

Today we have government officials who believe that people need more entitlements so they tax other people more. This is not creating wealth -- this is simply wealth redistribution.

We have to understand that our government is given rights from the people.

The government is not in charge, but simply loaned rights from those they govern.

What we have is a failure to communicate.