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Are We “Better Off”? Depends on Perspective

 

About the author: David is executive director and founder of CEOs for Liberty, a private membership-only group for CEOs, business owners, and executives with a mission to enhance and protect American business exceptionalism. David founded CFL in 2011 given his concer ... [read 's FULL BIO]

We’ve heard some bold statements made this week at the DNC. Many were so far left they seemed dreamlike… as though we were in a parallel universe where all logic, reason, and facts didn’t apply. Yet, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to analyze statements like, “Government is the only thing that we all belong to”(1), which falls into the same category as other recent leftist rhetoric from the POTUS like, “You didn’t build that”. Thinking people know this is simply failed “progressive” banter.

However, we also heard a lot of talk about Americans being “better off” (2) over the last four years. This is worthy of some examination.Of course this begs the question, are we “better off” compared to what, by whom, using what guidelines and principles?

Robbers, for example, having completed successful robberies, are better off … at least until they are caught. Some politicians, bureaucrats, and crony capitalists are “better off” after their pet laws and crony deals are passed as they receive accolades and “apparent” power … at least until they are removed from office or jailed. And, some non-producers are better off as they receive more and more funds re-distributed by the State from producers. They are “better off,” at least, until they are completely enslaved to a welfare system and lose self-esteem, self-respect, and any hope of escape. (Excluding those who truly need assistance due to health, mental disorders, and so forth.) They are “better off” until the system collapses and there are no producers to pay the bills.

Being “better off” is really about perspective, isn’t it? The real question is, then, “Are we better off via conscientious, ethical production, or via criminal theft, or government tyranny?”

Let’s look at being better off, then, from the perspective of what’s most important via conscientious, ethical production. To be better off in any category of human existence, one first must have freedom or liberty to enjoy any prosperity attainable. I would like to believe a majority of Americans still know, deep down, they are better off when they have the most LIBERTY to pursue their own dream and vision of happiness. This is the American DNA. Most know this to be a foundational principle of our American heritage.

I would like to believe most Americans know this principle has produced the greatest prosperity for the most, in human history. America’s poorest have the highest standard of living compared to the poor of any other nation. Liberty has also enabled America to be the greatest charitable nation in the world by a factor of ten. And, more have escaped the bonds of poverty in America to achieve success than in any other nation in the history of the world. Liberty works and most know this even if they have been confused by the deceptive double-speak advertising of the “progressive” movement. I hope most get it … deep down.

Americans who do understand this greatest value proposition know, without hesitation, that trading liberty for the impossible promised goals of “security”, “happiness”, or “equality”, is a fool’s game. They know they are better off when their property — their being and physical property — is not under siege by the State. They know they are better off — if they did nothing else in their lifetimes — when they are able to hand liberty on to their children, into perpetuity. Americans who know what they have been given in liberty, cherish it. They know this is the only time in human history that a nation was created “for and by the people”. Americans who understand liberty, know they are blessed if they have nothing else.

However, generations spoiled by material prosperity in America have lost understanding of the relative value of liberty. Like others’ before, this understanding may be lost until, sadly, they are once again under the boot of tyranny. Given we have had the blessing of liberty for many decades, many American’s focus has been material wealth and gain. Although there is nothing wrong with reward for productivity — in fact it is necessary to sustain liberty — it is not the highest-level value. For without liberty it is nearly impossible to prosper.

Having looked at this question from the perspective of what’s most important, individual liberty, when I ask myself, “Am I better off?” than four years ago, I must answer that I am not. And, neither is my my family, many industries, or America as a nation. Our liberties have been eroded more and more, and most greatly over the last four years. Our liberty to self-determine, to contract with whomever we please, to move about freely, to defend our person and property, to criticize the government, to do with our property as we choose, to have privacy of thought and belief, as well as our rights to privacy and due-process, have all been diminished. And as Patrick Henry summed it best after the Colonies had lived under the tyranny of the Crown for 165 years, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Without liberty, all other gain is meaningless to a free people. For this most important value, I am not, and nor do I believe we as Americans are, better off.

Now that we have the most important “better off” discussion out of the way … are we better off in an economic, business, social, security, or political sense? The answer here is much more obvious if one is not in the government or criminal theft business … no. We are not better off. The statistics are easy to find, and a bore to repeat … again and again. Objective minds understand the deteriorating conditions in which we find ourselves.

Are YOU better off? This is an individual question which only you can answer based upon your understanding of what you value. If you value liberty I believe your answer will also be no. If you desire others’ property without working to pay for it via honest exchange, your answer may be yes. If you’ve had individual success that is not typical in today’s marketplace, you may be better off … and congratulations! However, as far as pure economic performance indicators? We’re not better off. As far as social standards? We’re not better off. As far as sustaining our liberties? We’re not better off. Politically? We’re in hell.

Save Liberty. Abolish Tyranny.

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  • budbromley

    Is the country better off than it was 4 years ago? That is the relevant question. As JFK said, ”
    “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, —ask what you can do for your country.”

    • Exactly, Bud. (I made this comment here last nite but for some reason it ended up as a “guest” comment). Our country (and Her citizens) is not better off… if we understand, collectively as a people, our country’s true purpose and value.
      When we place our country’s highest value… liberty… first, as did our founders, we know each time new laws and regulations are created to further restrict freedom of speech, movement, contract, or action, or each time the government expands, in general — regardless the intended benefit or the advertised importance of the law or expansion — we become worse off.
      Those who value other’s property (animate or inanimate) and seek to steal it through individual or State sanctioned theft, however, have clearly become better off, in their own view, as they have taken more and more from producers — and are benefiting from the institutionalization of this policy (politicians, academics, NGO organizers, bureaucrats, and businesses [subsidized “green” businesses, for example] catering to this worldview).
      Sadly, however, their booty means an unsustainable loss of liberty for all Americans, as they are creating a house of cards (see the plight of any other socialist, collectivist, fascist country in history).
      What Americans who value liberty must understand, therefore, is that many other American’s values have shifted away from the “Golden Rule”, our Judeo/Christian principles, and from other principles inherent in our founding. Until we resolve this systemic problem, our country and American citizens who value liberty will continue to find themselves worse and worse off, over time.
      The real question? Is liberty better off? As goes liberty, so goes our country and its people. Good thoughts, Bud. Thank you.

  • Guest

    Exactly, Bud. Our country (and Her citizens) is not better off… if we understand, collectively as a people, our country’s true purpose and value.

    When we place our country’s highest value… liberty… first, as did our founders, we know each time new laws and regulations are created to further restrict freedom of speech, movement, contract, or action, or each time the government expands, in general — regardless the intended benefit or the advertised importance of the law or expansion — we become worse off.

    Those who value other’s property (animate or inanimate) and seek to steal it through individual or State sanctioned theft, however, have clearly become better off, in their own view, as they have taken more and more from producers — and are benefiting from the institutionalization of this policy (politicians, academics, NGO organizers, bureaucrats, and businesses [subsidized “green” businesses, for example] catering to this worldview).

    Sadly, however, their booty means an unsustainable loss of liberty for all Americans, as they are creating a house of cards (see the plight of any other socialist, collectivist, fascist country in history).

    What Americans who value liberty must understand, therefore, is that many other American’s values have shifted away from the “Golden Rule”, our Judeo/Christian principles, and from other principles inherent in our founding. Until we resolve this systemic problem, our country and American citizens who value liberty will continue to find themselves worse and worse off, over time.

    The real question? Is liberty better off? As goes liberty, so goes our country and its people. Good thoughts… thank you.

  • pheonix

    Here is the greatest challange to our survival. How do you overcome 48 to 50% percent of the votong population that has been born and educated to support Socialist Ideals in their daily life? Add to that millions who have entered our country illegally who also have been raised Socialist or Communist and will soon be allowed to vote and also have bought into the “whites” are keeping them down propaganda? I say there is no going back. Prepare, for the worst is yet to come.

    • Phoenix, an excellent question. The “progressive” movement has been at work for over a century to slowly, imperceptibly move us to this moment in history. There are two ways in which any nation can overcome an ideological fissure this deep and wide.

      First, is to reverse what caused it, one step at a time: we each need to take individual responsibility for ourselves, our votes, our children, our knowledge, and handing liberty on into perpetuity, etc. In this responsibility, we need to focus on asking this question with regards to our votes, our actions, our expectations: “Will this legislation, candidate, or action I am about to vote for or take, move us towards more liberty, or towards more tyranny?” Then, we need to act accordingly. One moment at a time. Although this seems to slow, too late, it is the reality of truly reversing decline.

      Second, the arrogance of a people, leads to subjectivity and to bad decisions from a position of weakness. Bad decisions from a position of weakness over time, lead to limited options and, ultimately, disaster. If the pivot… or number of people… that are arrogant and making bad decisions from a position of weakness, are greater in number than those who are humble and making good decisions from a position of strength, then a nation is headed for disaster.

      We may have, in other words, sewn the seeds of irreversible disaster. Only time will tell. Once disaster occurs, a people is often brought to humility, and thus can prosper again. Hopefully, we will not need to go to massive disaster and tyranny to reverse our decline. However, that may be the case.

      We reverse the trend one-step-at-a-time, or we as a people experience disaster.

      I believe we are at a critical juncture in American, and human, history.

      I am not sure what you mean by “brought into the ‘whites'”, but there is always hope if we individually take responsibility, as noted above, and make our own decisions from a position of strength. Take it one day at a time, and do the right thing in your sphere of influence, is my recommendation. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • I may be better off if you look solely at salary. But that’s because after I was laid off in latw 2008, and working a contractor for the next 2 years, I was L-U-C-K-Y to be in the right place at the right time. I actually made my own luck, but I always feel there’s a bit of luck, good or bad, always included in our experiences.
    When it comes to being better off generally. I think I am worse off. I fear for the coming financial crisis and am taking as many precautions as I can to prepare. Thing is, I’m not sure I’m doing enough.

    • Congratulations on doing better, Robert. The key is, that you are doing better it sounds like, via ethical production. This is what America is about. As far as “doing enough”… the key is none of us can be completely prepared for all contingencies, yet, when we apply the right, most important principles, we can be happy and fulfilled. Throughout history the power elite have manipulated and controlled outcomes. Yet, always, it is not about man’s influence, rather the God’s ultimate design. This is what I believe. As such, putting our best to the wheel, doing our best to apply best practices in what we do (good stewardship of our talents), and focusing upon good decisions from a position of strength (right mental attitude, humility with confidence, etc.) will be the best we are able to do humanly. Then, “letting the chips fall where they may”, is simply a part of our human journey. Keep up the great work and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • Michael Snider

    No I am way worse off. Working for about a 1/3 of what I was making 30 years ago. Every job in my field has at least 60 people applying for it when they come up, most much younger than myself. And as far as personal liberties go, No!!!! Hopefully Romney business will get better and I will will be able to find a decent position but our personal liberties won’t get any better, if anything they will get worse. When it comes down to it Romney and Obama have the same bosses and same policies. We had a chance with Ron Paul to fix things (if he would have lived long enough to even take office, the REAL people who control the Fed most likely had him killed). The only way to save the country is a revolution and not near enough people willing to fight to save what’s left of our country and restore our Constitution.

    • I am sorry to hear about your plight, Michael. It is a common one today. My comments to Phoenix, may also be relevant. The key, I believe, is taking both a day-to-day, moment-to-moment view where we take responsibility for ourselves, as noted. And, also, taking a medium-to-long-term strategic view.

      My view is we need to remove the greatest threat to liberty, today, as a first step to turn-around USA, Inc. We have a very “progressive”, neo-Marxist POTUS, now. Another term of SCOTUS and federal judge appointments, executive orders, and general obstruction to recovery, while also accelerating deficit and resulting debt, may well be the final nail in the coffin. We cannot handle much more. In fact, our errors to date, may already be beyond repair.

      However, I believe we have an option in Romney to recover the business of America. With our current POTUS, we do not. We have the opportunity to live to fight another battle. This battle is to hold Romney and others’ feet to the fire of liberty.

      One blessing in the speed with which the “progressives” aggressively pursued their socialist agenda, via ObamaCare, etc., is that you and I were roused to action. Had they continued in their previously slower, more Fabian Socialist mode, we may still not be awake today.

      Statists on the left and right must hear our consistent voice. We can do this. Keep the faith.

  • Al Quaeda will long rue the day that President Obama took office. President Obama has aggressively prosecuted the war on terror taking the fight directly to those criminals who brought down the twin towers on 9/11. Thanks to President Obama we are SAFER today than we were four years ago. Thank you President Obama and all of our great service men and women for their great service to our country.

  • Check this out…. if this is true, NON of us will be better off in 4 years 🙁 http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/46516