Thursday, January 12, 2012
Rome...circa 2012 (from the January 17, 2012 Orlando Sentinel)
However, he was never willing to tell any stories about his time spent in Europe during World War II. It did not help matters much that when I was in elementary school I once asked him if he ever killed anyone during that war.
This visit proved to be very different. He told me and my family how he had served in General George Patton's Third Army and what it was like to race across all of Europe fighting against German resistance. He mentioned that he was paid $21 per month for the more than four years he spent in the Army and that he could not believe that he never got a scratch while so many of his friends never got to see their wives and children again.
Two weeks later - back in my college economics classes - I handed out an essay question to 137 students that asked them if they would be willing to support a law that BANNED THE RIGHT TO OWN PROPERTY and imposed heavy, progressive income taxes on people in order to bring about a reduction in poverty and "greater sense of community".
Some of my students recognized that the wording of much of this question came directly from The Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848. These students eloquently pointed out the severe and dangerous consequences of abolishing property rights and punishing productive human beings with the tax code.
Yet, 28% of my students - college students who are supposedly studying in order to earn more income and acquire property later on - wrote that they would support, enthusiastically in some cases, the elimination of the right to property for Americans and far greater taxation.
If almost three in ten college students support such severe measures in order to impose equality on all of us, one can only imagine what the rest of the population of citizens - many of whom are far less educated - might support.
This week I spent most of day two of my classes reading to my students the story of the Fall of the Roman Empire. Many were astounded to hear about the source of Rome's wealth - free trade, modest taxation and private property rights. Equally surprising to many was the progression towards a massive welfare state, rising taxes, onerous regulations and the wildly out of control creation of money to pay for Rome's expansion of plunder.
I sincerely hope that in the weeks to come they will come around to a greater understanding of the concepts of free markets, the dangers of the Welfare State and the historical proofs of the superiority of liberty over the tyranny that comes from the good intentions of elected officials.
Before I left the home of the World War II veteran he said to me and my family that "some things are about to happen to the United States that the American people are not going to believe."
I could see the concern and sadness in his eyes as he said this. I can only imagine what it must be like to be part of the last generation of Americans who had to lay their lives on the line for the liberties this nation enjoys only to see the gift they gave us fading away.