There are many ways to murder; depravity encounters no limits to its diabolical designs. A dramatic staple: a trusted friend or relative administers gradually increasing quantities of an undetectable poison as a formerly vigorous victim inexplicably wastes, withers and finally succumbs. An unsuspecting or corrupt coroner closes the case, official cause of death a long illness. The murderer gets the estate, until the decedent’s devoted fill-in-the-blank starts asking questions and nosing around, suspicion mounts, and the heinous homicide is exposed.
Such will be the plot line when the story is written of America’s murder. In its prime, the victim met every challenge. After a devastating and ruinous war against itself, America built the world’s most prosperous economy, providing opportunities and better lives for millions. Full of ambition and energy, America became a hotbed of innovation and an industrial powerhouse, the nation that gave birth to the terms “consumer,” “middle class,” and their essential antecedent, “the work ethic.”
“Ah,” said the first phalanx of America’s Grima Wormtongues, “all that exuberance and activity can’t be good for you. Sit a spell and we’ll bring you soup and hot tea. And here’s a blanket against the chill.” An America that wasn’t sick in the least, nor chilled, mistook deadly solicitousness for genuine concern. With a boisterous indifference to the finer points of etiquette, it slurped the poisoned soup and tea.
The likes of Theodore Roosevelt claimed that peace and prosperity were enervating; imperial domination was the key to ruddy good health. J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and a host of other worthies argued that America couldn’t survive without a central bank, elastic money, and an income tax, although without them it had thrived for decades. Woodrow Wilson said that jumping into a European war was just what America needed, and threw those who disputed his diagnosis (or resisted his draft) into jail. Liberty was always the disease; government was always the cure.
Murder by poison requires gradually increasing doses, which is what America got during the Great Depression and World War II. It was no longer assumed that the world’s healthiest and most robust economy could recover from a head cold on its own. Hoover and Roosevelt administered higher taxes, deficit spending, unprecedented expansion of the regulatory state, and crony capitalism, all blessed by the quackery of Keynesian economics. War—the health of the state and the death of its citizens—required still higher taxes, more debt, and the government’s virtual control of the economy. A head cold was turned into a wasting illness, one which of course elicited still more solicitude from the government’s care givers, who were in peak condition.
In his most optimistic fantasies, Theodore Roosevelt couldn’t have foreseen the US government’s preeminence and empire after the deadliest war in history. But a return to that enervating peace and prosperity would not be allowed. The communists and then the terrorists supposedly threatened global domination and the American way of life. The military-industrial-intelligence complex would ensure the nation’s ruddy good health with continuous intervention around the globe and an ever-expanding surveillance state at home. Unfortunately, only the MIIC would enjoy that ruddy good health. In fact, judging from his corpulence, the old boy has enjoyed himself way more than he should have.
The vitality and spirit, the risk-taking, ingenuity, individuality, integrity, and innovation, the get up and go that powered American greatness have been replaced with a warm blanket, stay-in-bed lassitude, a desire for comfort, safety, and security without effort, something for nothing. No need to get up, you poor dear, there shouldn’t be any connection between what one produces and what one receives. You couldn’t possibly survive this harsh world on your own. The dwindling few who do are duty-bound to support the rest of us. So goes the maudlin, mawkish, and utterly self-serving bleating of the unproductive acolytes of coerced altruism who stock the wet nurse, sob sister, and nanny state departments of government, media, and academia.
Freedom is a danger in your troubled condition, our solicitous minders counsel. Less of it, always less of it, will cure what ails you. More taxes more regulation, more intrusion; let us mind the economy and those far away wars in countries you can’t find on a map; give up your notions of honor and decency, control of your life, your children’s minds, and anything else—like those nasty guns—that you still have and cherish; give it all up. You don’t need any of that, you need to rest and stare at electronic screens. Aren’t those kittens cute? Take your pills and eat your meals, snacks, and desserts. It’s a scary, scary world out there, but we’ll take care of you…and ourselves. Stay in your safe space.
Obesity is the apt symbol of our age: physical—an epidemic; mental—social media staring and sharing for hours on end; fiscal—the bloated debt; political—Washington, D.C. Those who murder by poison have done quite well for themselves, but the victim is in extremis, drowning in his own drool, crushed by his own fat. President Obama may represent the final and fatal dose, or he may be the deus ex machina that prompts the patient’s last-second realization that something is dreadfully amiss, rousting him to take action against his would be killers. Newly animated by righteous anger, the victim springs from his putative death bed, flushes the poisons down the toilet, and tells his tormentors to go to hell.
This may seem melodramatic, but it’s precisely what needs to be done. Government feeds America its poisons, and a little less or variation in the dosages does nothing, except perhaps prolong the death watch. This is the nation whose citizens fought a revolution for its freedom; initiated a dramatic experiment in representative and limited government, the protection of individual rights, and equality before the law; eliminated its shameful slavery; powered the Industrial Revolution’s explosion of innovation and progress and the Information Revolution’s transformation of computing and communications. The idea that this nation requires the malignant mercies of an all-knowing, all-caring, all-powerful government would have been loathsome and repugnant to those Americans.
The hour is late, but perhaps not too late. There are obvious stirrings. America may not realize that it’s been poisoned, or the identities of its poisoners, or the poisons used, but it’s not quite ready for last rites. Now is the time for those who us have helplessly and hopelessly watched it wither to expose the homicidal criminality of the maggots who would feast upon its corpse. They must go to hell, and take their poisons with them. The rest of us have detritus to clean up, problems to solve, a country to rebuild, and further pinnacles of progress to surmount; none of which is beyond our powers.
AMERICA IN ITS YOUTHFUL PRIME
ROBERT GORE’S EPIC NOVEL