For about 7 years now, one of the email threads floating about is one attributed to Scottish history professor Alexander Tyler from about the time of our Constitutional Convention.
Being ever curious we crawled around the web to see if this 18th century quote could be verified. We found it on Blogs (here and here) and we found it on at least a couple of websites (here and here). Some sites happily attribute the quote to the 18th century scholar others dismiss it as being unlikely. Our visit to snopes.com revealed that the attribution is "very likely fictitious."
“A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.”
“From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”
“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years.”
“During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:
1. from bondage to spiritual faith;
2. from spiritual faith to great courage;
3. from courage to liberty;
4. from liberty to abundance;
5. from abundance to complacency;
6. from complacency to apathy;
7. from apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage"
Our reaction... so what? The analysis attributed to Tyler seems to make sense even if it was invented by some other blogger and simply attributed to him in an effort to make it more credible.
We see the erosion of liberty every day here in Albuquerque. From H.E.A.R.T. ordinances to cell phone bans, from red light Scam-eras to "affordable housing" programs, the citizens of our fair city are becoming more dependent on government to solve their problems no matter how small; and dependence is a form of empowerment for those on which you depend.
A few months back during the cell phone debate, we remember Councilor Winter bringing up loss of freedom as a reason not to impose the ban. Councilor Benton scoffed at the idea that somehow driving and talking on a cell phone was an issue of freedom. On the contrary, every issue that comes before the council is an issue of freedom. When legislation steps beyond the bounds of the basic functions of government, or creates dependence in the citizenry, they have made us all just a little bit less free.
Take a close look at the steps into bondage that Tyler (we're going to go ahead and give him the credit since there's no proof to the contrary) describes. Apply it to what you see coming out of city hall... where would you place Albuquerque? We'd argue that over the last 15 years Albuquerque has rapidly gone from number 4 to number 6 or 7.
Memorial Day is over along with its accompanying backyard BBQs, but perhaps there's still a little time for reflection. We need to remember that these fallen hero's died for freedom, not for dependence and bondage. We need to make sure that we don't fall into dependence and bondage by supporting policies that promote personal responsibility and smaller, less intrusive government. Otherwise Memorial Day will become a day to mourn the loss of the very freedoms that our country's hero's died for.