Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD


April 8, 2014: Complacency, Acceptance Then Dependency--- A Master Plan?

By Rob Tenery, MD on April 8, 2014

Maybe, I’ve been watching too many spy movies and TV series where the plot is to cause a government downfall, but events over the last several years have made me question my previous position of it couldn’t happen to us. My belief has been that our nation’s leaders, no matter who holds this country’s highest office, have similar goals to that of our forefathers.

The long-standing structure of tripartite governance of checks and balances that prevents one branch of the government from taking over, is being put to the test with our current administration. To a certain extent, this occurs with most Presidents. But the efforts seem more concerted with President Obama, as if there is some of some sort of master plan that will take this country in a different direction--- as he promised just prior to taking office.

Four events appear to be the major factors that have contributed to the stark changes that seem to be leading this country today:

9/11 shattered this country’s naïve belief that, despite what was happening in other parts of the world, the United States was, in some way, immune to threats from those outside our borders. Now, privacy and independence are being pitted against personal safety. Although heightened airport security is the prime example, the growing reach of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Security Service (CSS) are potentially even more intrusive into the privacy rights of the individual citizen.

The roots of the 2008 recession (July, 2011, @ http://robtenerymd.com) go back to the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 that was enacted during the Carter administration. In attempting to provide affordable housing to a population that couldn’t afford it, the House of Cards finally came crashing down despite the efforts of every administration since President Carter. We have not yet fully recovered from this protracted economic downturn, and much of the free world was dragged down with us.

This country has failed to address the consequences of a virtually open border with Mexico. Not only do we face the economic problems of supporting many of these illegals who fill our schools, hospitals, jobs and jails, but also the growing political power they exert as their numbers continue to increase. Both political parties have failed to reach a conclusion for somewhat different reasons. The Republicans, even when they had the opportunity, failed to do much more than give lip-service to a meaningful resolution. The Democrats, hoping to gain a larger share of the legal Mexican voters, are in no hurry to tackle the hard questions surrounding amnesty and actually closing the border.

It is naïve, and in some cases unrealistic, to support sending all illegals currently residing in this country, back to their native country. A pathway to citizenship, or some form of legal status, is the only solution. The haphazard methods of enforcement not only feed this country’s appetite for illegal drugs, but have turned the Mexico/United States border into a war zone, where countless lives are threatened and lost every day. Meaningful border closure, whether it is virtual or real, must be accompanied by a firm date, after which there are almost no exceptions--- no amnesty, no getting back in line, just automatic extradition for all those who are apprehended.  Finally, put an end to automatic citizenship (December, 2010 @ http://robtenerymd.com) for those who are born in this country, unless, at least one parent is a legal citizen at the time of their birth.

The last event that has changed this country is the election of a President who fundamentally believes that the United States should move in a different direction. Even those who agree with the President’s principles can’t disagree that he told prospective voters of his plans for the United States even before he was elected to this country’s highest office. Many of those who voted for then Senator Obama just didn’t believe he would be so intent and effective in carrying out his pledges.

Not that the President alone has created these events while he has been in office, but he has either created or allowed a culture in Washington that has fostered these changes: Under the Obama administration, this country is rapidly moving toward an entitlement society. Why work when individuals can get almost as much out of the entitlement programs than from a job? The explosion of the food stamp program is the ‘poster-child’ example.

Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare, ACA) over 45+ million of or citizens were without some type of health care coverage.  Even after an almost total transformation of this nation’s health care delivery system, the uninsured are still only projected to be reduced to 30 million.  Several trillion dollars later, one has to ask, “Are the congregate of patients in this country better off?” My guess, the answer will be a resounding no!

The scary scenario is if the President’s experiment doesn’t work and all the private health care payers move on to other markets, the only recourse will be a single payer system.  “Vladimir Lenin, one of the founders of socialism and communism, said that socialized medicine is the keystone of the arch to the socialist state. In other words, you’ve got socialized medicine as the foundation because it gives you control of the people. Once you have control of them, you can do whatever you want,” a Ben Carson, M.D. quote on The Kelly File on October 9, 2013.

The apparent expansion of the scope of authority of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is alarming. Consolidation of this new cabinet department came after passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, during the George W. Bush Administration. The original premise was to ‘prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce the vulnerability of the U.S. to terrorism and minimize the damage from attacks that do occur.’

However, worrisome are: The 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition that the DHS has reportedly already stockpiled. The March 3, 2013 report of the 2,717 mine resistant, armor protected vehicles (MRAP) that have been retrofitted for the streets here in this country. The 704 million more rounds of ammunition (a significant number which are .40 caliber hollow-points) that the DHS has contracted to purchase over next four years. The 300 acre ‘fake city’ that the U.S. Army has constructed at a cost of $96 million in Virginia which was ostensibly built to prepare U.S. troops for occupation of cities abroad.

The President’s Affordable Care Act calls for the Ready Reserve Corps that is directed to ‘assist full-time Commissioned Corps to meet both routine public health and emergency response missions.’ Even before he was elected to the Presidency, then Senator Obama called for the creation of a ‘civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded as the U.S. military.’

With every horrific mass shooting by some deranged outcast, the administration and their supporters in the Congress push for stricter laws on gun ownership, background checks, automatic weapons and magazine capabilities. Using the tragedies brought on by a few malcontents, some of whom are probably acts of terrorism, there appears to be a push to disarm the American people. However, only the opposite is occurring as more Americans, fearing for their own safety, are violating state laws (example is Connecticut) and stockpiling weapons and ammunition in even larger numbers.

The most recent revelation is the projected defense budget cut, just released by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, that would decrease military operations to Pre-World War II levels, even in the face of Russia’s recent take over of Crimea. Granted the world has changed. Domestic terrorism now is more likely than a full-scale invasion from a foreign power. Advances in surveillance, weapon technology and mobility have changed the battlefields of today. ‘Feet-on-the-ground’ is being replaced by satellite surveillance and drones in the sky. President Reagan’s success that brought down the Berlin Wall, and Russia to the brink of financial ruin, carries a price that this country can’t afford. Even the most hawkish agree that the United States can no longer be the world’s policeman. Hopefully, we have also learned that becoming involved in ‘culture wars,’ such as in Iraq, is almost always futile in the long run.

A change in our military agenda was predictable. But how far the United States should back off its deterrent posture to a more protective position may only be answered if we are put to the test. Unfortunately, by then it could be too late.

This country must stand ready to defend its allies and its best interests abroad. At the same time, guard its citizens on their home soil. Whether the Obama administration has chosen the right balance between deterrence and protectionism will ultimately be judged by the historians.

Even those, who are behind President Obama’s vision for this country, must recognize several troubling trends. The privacy provisions our citizens have enjoyed are being sacrificed for more protectionism. There appears to be a purposeful ‘redistribution of the wealth.’ The explosion of the entitlement programs of ‘cradle-to-grave’ government support is threatening to turn the United States from the world’s economic leader into an extension of the European community. We, the people, are being stripped of the power to defend ourselves both at home and abroad, and we are losing our voice in Washington as the Executive Branch assumes more and more control. With the President and his administration essentially abandoning many of the principles that make up our Constitution, the culture, the opportunities and the freedoms that were the foundation of this country are quickly being diluted into a sea of complacency, acceptance and dependency.

History tells us that democracies follow a predictable arc of rise and fall. As they reach their zenith, those with less elect to public office those that promise them more. When the desires of those with less rise to the level that they become the voting majority, one of two, or both, scenarios ensue: Unaffordable debt is incurred to be funded by future generations, or the wealth of those with more is redistributed to those with less. When the standard of living falls, as it does in either situation, the arc is completed.

Then sometime off in the future, the capitalistic incentives will be born again in the hopes of those who are willing to raise themselves above those who are just content to go along.

Are the changes that are taking place in the United States a part of some master plan or just the normal evolution of a democracy? The upcoming two elections, this fall and in 2016, could stop this country’s slow slide into socialism. But only if enough voters are willing to look beyond their own pocketbook, skin color and professed political party.

Sadly, I doubt that will happen!




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