Uncle Sugar and the Rise of Obamunism
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He used to be known as Uncle Sam—a tall, grandfatherly, if a little stern, gentleman dressed in red, white and blue. He was patriotic, straight laced, and distinguished. He taught us to say the pledge of allegiance, he asked us to help—whether it was “I want you to buy bonds,” or “I want you to serve in the Army,” and he even exhorted us to “ask not what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
He was a man we looked up to and respected. He was there for the needy, but he did not encourage sloth. Being out of work to him was a temporary thing—to be sympathized with, not encouraged. He did not mind paying welfare to those who truly needed it—after all he was a beneficent gentleman. Yet he frowned upon able bodied folks who simply did not like to work. That, he thought, was shameful. He believed that a family was a man, woman and a couple of kids—the building block of society and the source of American values. He encouraged the work ethic and believed in equal opportunity—not result—for everyone regardless of who you were. He encouraged respect for our heritage and for American values. He flew the flag. And when the national anthem played, he knew how to raise his hand to his heart or remove his cap in respect. It was unthinkable to stand around like some cool hipster with his hands in his pocket or folded in front of his crotch. Burning the flag was unthinkable. He had asked too many to fight and die for that flag. He was an unabashed patriot—an unapologetic advocate for the country and the freedom for which it stood. He was respected around the world. Those who did not love him, at least feared him.
But in time Uncle Sam changed. In time he became hip, cool, modern. He wanted to be liked more than respected. His motto became not “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country,” but rather “what can your government do for you today?” He promised free stuff to the people without regard to cost or budget. He wanted too much to be liked. Rather than encouraging folks to work he allowed them to collect unemployment for years; he encouraged his people to live on the public dole. He even encouraged foreigners to apply for food stamps if they crossed our borders illegally. He wanted to be liked by them too. Too cool to salute the national anthem, he would sometimes drop his hands to his waist and stand there casually as if the song merited no special respect. He no longer cared about the traditional family. If man wanted to marry man or woman wanted to marry woman; if a woman wanted to kill her unborn or nearly born child inches from birth, it was fine with him. No longer Uncle Sam, he decided to change his name. Uncle Sugar had a cool ring to it. He wanted to be hip; he wanted to be relevant. He no longer encouraged his subjects to work hard, become independent, support their families and not have to depend on the government. Rather, he wanted to be loved. Most of all he wanted the folks to depend on him. He promised to take care of their every need. And if there were inequality in income or result, that was a bad thing—not to be encouraged. If there were inequality, then those who did work hard, created jobs and had some measure of success and wealth had to pay. Uncle Sugar would take care of those who wanted and take from those who produced. The plaque on his wall which used to read Ask not what your country can do for you, now read “From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.” His goal was “an equal result for all,” and to punish those who produced wealth and employed folks. Success, for the first time in the history of the nation, became a dirty word. Equality was the goal, and Uncle Sugar would decide how to achieve it.
Promises of free stuff flowed from his lips like honey from a jar and his subjects loved it. He would tax the rich to feed the poor; he would protect his subjects by chipping away at the Second Amendment—little by little banning certain weapons and ammunition until that day when only Uncle Sugar owned the guns. It was better that way. The press loved Uncle Sugar and had itself changed from an independent bulwark against government tyranny whose mission it was to speak truth to power, to a fawning group of cheerleaders who hung on Uncle Sugar’s every word, felt a collective tingle down the leg each time he spoke, and swooned each time they were in his presence. Uncle Sugar’s press corps trumpeted his every word and treated it as gospel. No longer was dissent possible—it was drowned out by the tinny yelp of lapdogs who followed Uncle Sugar like puppies. He was so sincere and his speeches so lofty. He would calm the seas, clean the air, bring prosperity to all, and peace to the world. His words were intoxicating and they drank it in—every word a gem, every speech memorialized in a headline.
In time Uncle Sugar gained more and more power over his subjects by ramming through a Congress legislation which no one read, signing endless Executive Orders, and imposing administrative regulations, thereby gaining control over national health care, and forcing private citizens and religious groups to violate their own principles. He ruled by decree, raised taxes on the wealthy at first, and then the not so wealthy, and soon began to rule entirely by Executive Order rather than executing the laws passed by Congress. His subjects were so enamored of Uncle Sugar that they did not seem to notice the almost imperceptible loss of their liberties or the fact that his promises came at a price. The free stuff he promised was not free at all. In time Uncle Sugar became more and more greedy. His appetite for power was insatiable. He appointed extrajudicial political commissars to regulate what his subjects could eat and drink, what they could drive, what medical treatment they could or could not have and nearly every other aspect of their lives. He regulated what industry could produce, imposed punitive regulations on businesses, and gained more and more control over the lives of his subjects. After all, Uncle Sugar knew best what his subjects needed.
Uncle Sugar promised a free ride for all who wanted it. He had a big wagon and anyone who wanted could ride for free—compliments of Uncle Sugar. At first there were still plenty of folks to pull the wagon and they generated enough wealth to pay for the ride. A free ride and free stuff—cradle to grave care for your every need. After all, what was government for? Obamunism, they called it: the belief that government would provide for your every need. And most people—at least at first—loved it; those who did not largely remained silent. There was nothing they could do. After all, Uncle Sugar was wildly popular among those who wanted a free ride. And there were more and more of them. It was more fun than working hard and paid better. There was little dissent. Uncle Sugar did not like dissent. Those who questioned him were mocked by him, marginalized, and called “kooks.” Dissent was uncool, and disrespectful. Uncle Sugar demanded respect, loyalty and above all, praise. Unlike Uncle Sam, Uncle Sugar was a narcissist.
But Uncle Sugar needed more money still. There was a price to pay for his munificence. But as long as your ox wasn’t getting gored and you were getting free stuff from him you did not mind. Or so the people believed. It was just fine to tax the rich and make those productive job providers pay. Someone had to pay. So Uncle Sugar decreed that those making $400,000 per year must pay more—it was only right; there were people who made less and did not work as hard. So it was only fair. And the 95% who did not make that much agreed. Shame on those who prospered while others did not live as well. Those pulling wagon of economic progress had a moral duty to pull harder and transport those who were riding in it for free. But, in time, taking from those who made $400,000 was not enough to pay for the free ice cream Uncle Sugar promised all who wanted it. In time he decreed that those making $150,000 or more per year needed to help. So Uncle Sugar required them to pay more too—after all there were a lot of folks riding in the wagon for free and Uncle Sugar needed to provide for them. This was fine with most of the folks—except of course those who were moderately successful and had to pay the price. And still the people agreed—for most of them did not earn that much—if they worked at all. But it came to pass that taxing even those who made moderate incomes did not produce enough to pay for the free stuff Uncle Sugar promised. In time he decreed that those making $50,000 per year must pay more—after all, compared to others, they were rich and this could not be tolerated by Uncle Sugar. And so it went until one day there were more people riding in Uncle Sugar’s wagon of economic happiness than pulling it. It seemed that, in time, those who generated wealth and jobs no longer were able or willing to pull the wagon. After all, they thought, why should they? What was the point? It was easier to rely on Uncle Sugar.
In time, the people became restive. It seems that they could no longer rely on Uncle Sugar to provide their every need. Although they viewed the free stuff as their right, Uncle Sugar had simply run out of free stuff to give. He could no longer afford unemployment payments, free lunches, Uncle Sugar Medical Coverage, free abortions, free phones, food stamps for all, including immigrants whom he invited to partake in them—all the goodies his followers had come to expect. Businesses, which had groaned under the weight of high taxes and regulation, had gone bankrupt leaving millions of wage earners jobless; farmers were leaving their farms by the thousands (unable to comply with the stringent EPA “no dust” regulations and cattle exhaust taxes) and there was not enough food to feed his subjects. Power plants closed by the score—unable to bear the billions of dollars required by Uncle Sugar to install new scrubbers, causing rolling power shortages across the country. The dollar had lost its value owing to successive downgrades of Uncle Sugar’s credit rating. There were frequent riots in the streets. The once strong and prosperous country grew more fractious by the day and was coming apart at the seams.
And in the end, there was indeed equality—but not of opportunity. Rather Uncle Sugar’s subjects were equally poor, equally dependent, and equally hopeless. For the problem with Obamunism was simple: in the end you run out of other people’s money. And Uncle Sugar has nothing more to give.
Copyright © 2013 William Kevin Stoos