Margaret Wilson Reckling: Guest Opinion | AspenTimes.com
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Margaret Wilson Reckling: Guest Opinion

Special to The Aspen TimesAspen, CO, Colorado

Is the American dream destined to become a faded memory? Will the promise of opportunity for all, in the land of the free, become word references in the annals of American history? Could future historians discuss this dream as a patriotic fantasy that fizzled out subsequent to the close of our first bicentennial? Each time our “leaders” approve another unaffordable program, the dream darkens. Are “we, the people” willing to allow our irresponsible government to destroy the American dream?How wise and prophetic were the words of Thomas Jefferson when he said, “To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. … I am for a government rigorously frugal and simple.” Far from being rigorously frugal, Congress has been on an irresponsible binge of spending, taxing and borrowing. Much like an addict, it can’t get enough funding to satisfy its habits; its abuse has become unsustainable. The American dream wasn’t built on higher taxes, corporate bailouts, fake economic stimuli and zero accountability. It’s not the government’s role to choose winners or losers in business, nor is it the government’s place to force citizens to enroll in its subpar services. America did not become the greatest nation on earth through entitlements. Perhaps this recklessness with the national wallet is because they are spending someone else’s money – ours.For too long, the U.S. government has been living well beyond the means of the American people and continues to operate far beyond its proper constitutional bounds. It is critical that we reduce its size and allowance. An increase in the role of states in choosing their own practices would make decision-making more tenable by the people, which would increase efficiency and effectiveness. “The good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves,” Thomas Jefferson advised. We have been led astray. We’ve been coaxed and plied by handouts and empty political promises, pampered by entitlements that can’t be paid for. Many Americans have shed the practice of self-reliance and succumbed to the fantasy that the government will (and should) see to their needs. The dream of a rescuer who will save us can be quite seductive, especially in tough times, but the bad news is that no one is coming. In the immutable words of Buddha, “No one saves us but ourselves. … We ourselves must walk the path.” It interrupts our ability to grow when we cling to the security blanket of letting others think and act for us. As my friend Steven posted one morning on his social-media page, “We know what to do, but do we do it?” Isn’t it our responsibility as individual citizens to demand that our government cut its excessive size, profligacy and borrowing in order to secure a future for our country?To live responsibly is an act of intelligence and integrity, not of self-sacrifice. “The price of greatness is responsibility,” Winston Churchill once proclaimed. With another year in motion, let’s not make vows of more resolution but instead insist on revelations. Let’s open our eyes to the rewards of individualism, choose to become more self-responsible and require it of our elected employees. (Yes, they are supposed to be working for us!)America is in decline. More so than ever, she is less self-governing and less free, heavily regulated and drowning in bureaucracy. When the Standard & Poor’s lowered her economic status, it made our stagnant growth and oppressive debt a tragic, glaring reality. At this precipitous point in time, we must institute new limitations on spending and put a plan in place to balance the budget and reduce our debt.As John Fitzgerald Kennedy said, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” The American dream is alive in all of us. We must maintain and expand our own abilities so that our government plays an appropriate, less intrusive role. We fail our children if we allow the blessings of liberty and the hard-fought freedom of our national heritage to be buried in bureaucratic mire and fiscal irresponsibility. A smaller, more efficient government that maintains proper levels of spending will guarantee that the American dream stays alive for generations to come.Margaret Wilson Reckling lives in Aspen and welcomes your comments at margreck880@gmail.com.


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