A large part of the blame for that travesty rests on the shoulders of the Christian church. Most churches in this country have become complacent and are all too content to preach to the aging choir rather than adopt modern methods of communication. Where are the Twitter and Facebook pages? Where are the best clips from sermons on YouTube? They exist, but they're few and far between. Many churches have also become so cowed that they're not willing to stick up for the Biblical principles out of fear that someone might be offended. The truth is that if your pastor isn't fairly regularly saying things that would probably offend the ACLU, Lady Gaga, Bill Maher, and Barney Frank, then you should probably find another church. It's not about being political; it's about standing up for what you believe in. When even most pastors seem to lack the courage to speak out, it's no surprise that the number of Americans who consider religion to be "not very important" has quadrupled in the last 50 years.
Back in 1779 Samuel Adams wrote,
"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader."
What you're seeing today in America are Samuel Adams' prophetic words coming to life.
2) No Genuine Threat Like The Soviet Union: While Ronald Reagan's defeat of the Soviet Union freed hundreds of millions of people and neutralized a terrible threat to America and the world, it did have one rather significant negative effect: It made Americans very complacent. For example, during the Cold War, it seems almost unimaginable that America would have discontinued its manned space program or would have gotten so deep in hock to the Red Chinese that they could easily use it as an economic weapon against us.
Now we're in the simultaneously wonderful and terrible position of having no real rival. The EU is going down the tubes faster than we are, China's social unrest, corruption, centralized government, and hundreds of millions of citizens living in village huts are likely to keep it from being a true Super Power in our lifetimes, and Al-Qaeda hasn't mounted a major attack in the United States since 2001. Again, this is all good news, but it's also good news to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth and to be handed everything you want on a silver platter. The problem comes when times inevitably get tough, people and nations that haven't been challenged aren't ready to handle it.
3) A Government That Is Far Too Large: The Founding Fathers were small government fanatics who didn't have an income tax and were deeply suspicious of government power. That proves their wisdom because as government grows larger and more powerful, the people grow smaller, weaker, and more dependent. Additionally, in order to take on its vast powers, the government has chosen to ignore the Constitution. Making an honest attempt to adhere to the 10th Amendment which states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people," would probably invalidate half of the activities of the federal government. If you wonder why the government does so many things poorly, it's because the Founding Fathers never intended or designed it to do much of what it does today.
Furthermore, as Milton Friedman has said, "There is nothing as permanent as a temporary government program." This means it’s very easy to make government bigger, but much more difficult to make it smaller. That means taxes tend to go up, regulations pile on top of each other, agencies tend to expand, and the government's ability to interfere with the market and your life tends to consistently increase. This is why you’re more likely to see the next Empire State Building or Hoover Dam in countries like China or Dubai than here. It’s because they can get the project half done in the same amount of time it takes a corporation here to prove in court that no rare Dung Beetles will be harmed by their billion dollar venture.
4) Culture Of Dependency: Our ancestors crossed the ocean to gain economic independence and the right to worship as they pleased. Then, they took on the Super Power of their day, the British, to achieve independence. Afterwards, they fought their way across the continent, taking on the Brits, the Spanish, Canadians, Mexicans, and Indians for the right to explore, colonize, and civilize the continent. How do you think the Occupy Crowd measures up to the settlers who blazed the Oregon Trail? If our welfare and food stamp queens had ended up in California panning for gold, how do you think they would have fared?
Of course, those settlers and prospectors had no other choice but to work hard because they didn't have the option of turning an exorbitant social safety net into a hammock. The more the government does, the less reason there is for a man to take care of himself. When the government takes on the role of the father with welfare and food stamps, pays workers for being unemployed, pays for retirements, pays for people's medical care, and pays for charity, a significant percentage of people see no need to continue to do these things for themselves. The more Americans turn into dependent sheep that need big daddy government to take care of them, the worse off the country is, but the better off it makes the politicians. That's too bad because when a politician has a choice between doing what's right for America and making it more likely that he's going to keep his cushy job, very seldom will love of country win out.
5) The Deterioration Of Marriage: In 1950, 78% of households were occupied by married couples. Today, that number has slipped all the way down to 48%. As you can imagine, attitudes have changed quite a bit over the years as well. For example, "more than 80 percent of married women with young children were not working outside the home in 1963" and they were quite content with the situation. According to Charles Murray,
"(In 1962), Gallup interviewed 1,813 women ages 21-60. ‘In general, who do you think is happier,’ the Gallup interviewer asked, ‘the girl who is married and has a family to raise, or the unmarried career girl?’ Ninety-six percent of the wives said the married girl with a family was happier. Ninety-three percent said they did not, in retrospect, wish they had pursued a career instead of getting married."
All of this would be irrelevant if single mothers, grandmothers, or Heather's two mommies could do a comparable job to a nuclear family when it comes to raising children. Unfortunately, the statistics say that they can't. In fact, a large percentage of the problems we have with crime, drugs, and poverty can be traced directly back to children being raised outside of the traditional family structure.
“By 1996, 70 percent of inmates in state juvenile detention centers serving long-term sentences were raised by single mothers. Seventy-two percent of juvenile murderers and 60 percent of rapists come from single-mother homes. Seventy percent of teenage births, dropouts, suicides, runaways, juvenile delinquents, and child murderers involve children raised by single mothers. Girls raised without fathers are more sexually promiscuous and more likely to end up divorced. A 1990 study by the Progressive Policy Institute showed that after controlling for single motherhood, the difference between black and white crime rates disappeared.
...Various studies have come up with slightly different numbers, but all the figures are grim. According to the Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, children from single-parent families account for 63 percent of all youth suicides, 70 percent of all teenage pregnancies, 71 percent of all adolescent chemical/substance abuse, 80 percent of all prison inmates, and 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children.
A study cited in the Village Voice produced similar numbers. It found that children brought up in single-mother homes ‘are five times more likely to commit suicide, nine times more likely to drop out of high school, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 14 times more likely to commit rape (for the boys), 20 times more likely to end up in prison, and 32 times more likely to run away from home.’”
This country is not doomed to continue to slide down the back side of the mountain, but unless we start to seriously address our weaknesses, future generations will grow up in a place where their grandparents will have to tell them what it was like when America was a great nation to call home.