In the 2004 Presidential election, Senator John Edward (D-NC) ran for Vice-President. Eventually he started saying that America was two Americas. He was talking too much. He was right, but not as he meant it. Because today, if not then, we have two Americas. They are not merely “rich and poor.” (In fact, “rich and poor” do not even completely overlap the real two Americas.) They are private and public, productive and anti-productive—robbed and robbers.
Two Americas in action
You’ve heard the putative President, Barack H. Obama, say it:
The private sector’s doing fine.
By saying that, he defined the two Americas: private and public. And he explicitly said that public America needed more money. More recently he said:
If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that! Somebody else made that happen!
He wasn’t trying to say (yet) that the government builds everything worth building. He meant that private America cannot get along without public America. In short, he made yet another excuse to demand more, more, and more money for public America.
Most robbers don’t try to justify, or even excuse, their actions. They simply pull a gun and say,
You’re money or your life.
Jack Benny famously shot back,
I’m thinking it over!
But private America has meekly handed over the money for decades. Only now the excuses are wearing worse than thin.
Libertarians like Wayne Allyn Root understood this years ago. Though even he doesn’t understand completely. He knows that the two Americas have an unequal relationship. He knows that public America depends on private America, as a parasite depends on its host. But he says only that the public America advocates are ignorant. They vote for the status quo because they don’t know any better. They can’t see that the system cannot stand. This particular parasite will destroy its host, and itself, too.
Daniel Henninger (The Wall Street Journal) understands part of it, too. He traces the two Americas to the labor union movement. Fifty years or so ago, most unions were in private America. But gradually, the private unions declined, while the public unions (especially AFGE, AFSCME, and SEIU) grew. But Henninger sees only private and public employees as the divide of the two Americas. In fact, public America is more than government employees. It also includes government clients. Anyone who gets any kind of government check (pay check, welfare check, unemployment check, or food “check” or stamp) is part of public America, not private America
Two Americas in conflict
The two Americas cannot get along anymore. Barack H. Obama drew the battle line when he said,
You didn’t build that.
But George W. Bush, to his shame, did much to set up the two Americas. Thanks to his tax policy, nearly half of all Americans pay no federal income tax. Some might pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. (But not all!) But because they file no returns for those taxes, they don’t notice them. Nor do they understand that they are not paying an insurance premium, but are paying the current benefits of other clients. Social Security has always worked that way. (In fact, Franklin Delano Roosevelt designed Social Security to force people to pay into a system that they would die before collecting from. American medicine defeated his purpose.)
This fall, voters must choose, not between the two Americas, but whether America will live or die. For if they vote for public America instead of private America, both will die. The parasite will kill its host.ARVE Error: need id and provider
ARVE Error: need id and provider
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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