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The Death of Common Sense in America

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

"The charge is often made against the intelligentsia and other members of the anointed that their theories and the policies based on them lack common sense. But the very commonness of common sense makes it unlikely to have any appeal to the anointed. How can they be wiser and nobler than everyone else while agreeing with everyone else?" -- Thomas Sowell

There are a number of great challenges that this country faces, but perhaps none is so large as the death of basic, common sense. By that, I mean that large portions of our country, including many of our representatives in Congress, have lost sight of conclusions so skull splittingly obvious that fifty years ago, Americans of both political parties would have agreed upon them almost unanimously.

Just to name a few examples, when you borrow money, it does eventually have to be paid back. You shouldn't buy a house you can't afford. Nobody owes you a living. It's not justice when the rulings of judges depend on ideology and personal preferences, not the Constitution. If we set up a tax system that puts all the taxes on the people at the top, they'll eventually, one way or the other, find a way to stop paying the check -- whether it be through loopholes, deliberately earning less money, or just leaving the country. Families are the building block of our society and the government should be extremely careful when it passes legislation that could negatively impact the family structure. People come before animals. You reap what you sow. It's good for America to have a patriotic populace. Many other countries aren't "nice" and don't "wish us well." There is no such thing as a "free" lunch. People who do a bad job shouldn't be rewarded for it. When you deliberately lie, your credibility should suffer for it. You don't have a "right" to other people's property. You are the person primarily responsible for taking care of yourself.

Truisms of this sort shouldn't have much to do with politics or ideological leanings. They're the sort of thing most people should learn from their parents, in church, or in elementary school. They're that basic, that simple. Yet, you can point to people at every level of American society, including most significantly, large portions of Congress, that act as if these rules don't apply.

We run a large deficit every year. Congress has knowingly pushed banks to give loans for homes to people who couldn't afford them. We have large numbers of people who expect the government to take care of them if they choose not to work. Liberals openly say they believe in a "living constitution," which is little better than believing in no Constitution at all. Large portions of the American public pay no income tax while politicians claim the people who are paying 86% of the income tax we collect aren't "paying their fair share." The left is pushing gay marriage and legalized polygamy won't be far behind. The interests of animals, from caribou to endangered species, are often given preference over those of human beings. People who make terrible decisions, like buying houses they can't afford, coming to this country illegally, or running banks into the ground, have countless defenders in government who don't believe they should suffer for their mistakes. The Democratic candidate for President made a big deal publicly of not wearing a flag pin anymore and only relented when there were cacophonous public complaints. There's a foolish belief many people have that any problem we have with another nation can be fixed simply by discussing it with them. Many Americans want rebate checks paid for by our government with loaned money, "free" health care, and "free" government services, all paid for by other people. Men like Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd, and William Jefferson have been reelected by their constituents despite committing offenses so egregious and widely known that I don't even have to mention them here. Politicians, including both of our presidential candidates regularly lie to the public. We have politicians and activists speaking of things like "housing" and "medical care" as rights, despite the fact that other people have to pay for those "rights." We regularly hear people bemoaning the fact that "the government doesn't care about them," blaming other people, blaming society, and blaming various "isms" for their state of their lives.

For a season, we have been able to get away with the sort of foolishness that only a prosperous people living off the national wealth delivered by the blood and sweat of others can be deluded enough to believe in. However, the lifestyle Americans are living today is absolutely unsustainable economically, culturally, and socially over the long-haul. That doesn't necessarily mean we're doomed, but what it does mean is that we can be sure that there is rather sharp correction coming to this country because history doesn't suffer fools gladly.

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