I hope that anyone that has been reading my recent columns knows that I feel that our government has gotten out of control, and that we are partly to blame.
As I write this column, September 11, 2009 has come and gone. I see a country around me that has a short-term memory. On September 11, 2001 the United States was unified in a common cause, but it lasted only a short time. Even Bin Laden said he knew that America didn’t have the stomach to stick it out and fight for what is right. Do we?
Our society makes a hero out of an elected official that was responsible for the death of an innocent woman and rewrites history to protect him. We hold up as icons “entertainers” whose conduct is questionable, at best. We reinforce the bad conduct of spoiled “athletes” by supporting teams that pay them exorbitant salaries, while teachers, police and firemen are grossly underpaid. Our society is upside down.
I arrived at the same conclusion earlier this year, during the Memorial Day weekend. I watched a documentary about U.S. military cemeteries scattered around the world. The show visited about six major cemeteries in foreign countries, and interviewed people visiting for the day to find out why they were there. The majority of the visitors (mainly citizens of the particular countries) said they had come there as a way to thank America and the soldiers that had died to bring freedom to their own homelands. One family said they wanted to show their children the headstones so they could appreciate all who died before they were even born.
Most Americans don’t remember our heroes in the same way. Unfortunately, we have been spoiled. Many Americans have forgotten that “freedom isn’t free.” We have to fight for what is right, and for the freedom that is our way of life. While a few among us appreciate these sacrifices, most of us seem to care little or not at all. Many people in the generations that preceded us, and an admirable few still today, have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. What is ironic is that the headstones our elected officials can see just about every day in Arlington National Cemetery represent those heroes and their sacrifices. Our system of government allows those officials to do what they’re doing because of those very heroes and their sacrifices.
The people in office now want to build a larger federal government, increase taxes, expand regulatory control over businesses and individuals, and exercise more authority over our lives and activities. They want more control over how we live and create wealth. Former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev reportedly predicted that the United States would fall one day, not in war but from internal weakness. He meant that a time would come when there would be so many people dependent on the government, with so many people demanding something from it, that we could not afford to keep our way of life.
Today we have more than 40% of Americans receiving some sort of federal assistance. We have people who are not citizens, but who receive all the benefits of citizenship. There are now more government employees as a percentage of the workforce than there are those involved in manufacturing. The federal government is out of control, and growing larger day by day. Will we be the generation that allows this to continue?
We should honor those who sacrificed to protect our way of life and a system of government that works for all. We have the power to change things, and we can, by taking back control of our government. In 2010, the mid-term elections give us the power to replace many of those now supporting the power-grab underway in Washington. I still see people in our industry that don’t seem to care about what is happening and don’t see the need to get involved. They say, “Politics don’t matter because they’re going to do what they want no matter what we do.” This will be true only if we allow it. It will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We must pay attention to what our elected representatives do, and not what they say. The industry remains splintered; it isn’t speaking with a united voice. We have successfully stopped or slowed some dangerous legislation. Just think what we could do if we pulled together more? The possibilities are endless. We need to promote and elect officials that will support U.S. manufacturing, not big government. The two cannot coexist!
Contact James R. Grosmann at the National Tooling & Machining Assn., [email protected].