This Thanksgiving, Look to Future as Well as the Past; Preserving Our Heritage for Generations Yet to Come
Dean, Warren L., Jr., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Byline: Warren L. Dean Jr., SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
For the past two-thirds of its history, the United States has chosen this day to celebrate and give thanks for the blessings and liberties of its land. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the troops and a war-weary nation exactly one week after the president immortalized their sacrifices at Gettysburg.
Throughout the next century, which came to be known as the American century, Americans celebrated Thanksgiving with the unshakable belief that they were passing on to their children a future full of promise and liberty. There were hardships and sacrifices aplenty in the Great Depression and two great wars, and there was strife as our country learned to honor in practice the principles that Lincoln and so many of his countrymen gave their lives to uphold. These trials tested - but did not break - the optimism and gratitude commemorated by this holiday. As Ronald Reagan later reminded us, America's best days were yet to come.
Perhaps because Americans were willing to endure hardships and challenges, they were able to honor the legacies of their forefathers to pass on to their children a nation better than the one they inherited. Ours was a young country, unique in history, united in spirit and principle, but diverse in every trait that defined nations before it. Time and time again, America made sacrifices, even for other nations far beyond its shores.
The United States continues to face serious challenges from foreign countries. It seems that it will always be that way. At the turn of this century, however, few could have foreseen that we would soon face one of the most serious internal challenges to our liberties since we secured them under Lincoln, and that the wound would be self-inflicted. In 12 short years, the federal government of, by and for the people has mortgaged the liberties of future generations of Americans to preserve its powers and prerogatives over the people.
The government largely maintains itself today, not with the resources that its citizens are willing to commit to it, but by borrowing money against future generations and printing more money to sustain that practice in the short term. No rational person believes government as it exists now is sustainable in the long term. Government expenditures now amount to a quarter of the economy, up significantly from historical levels. It now borrows nearly 40 cents for every dollar it spends. In the next 10 years, the federal debt is likely to approach, if not exceed, $25 trillion. The government will be effectively bankrupt. Yet there is no end in sight to its profligacy, and the gross debt of the government already exceeds the size of the entire economy. The numbers are so large and growing so fast that they defy comprehension. Just imagine that the federal government already owes more than $1,000 for every year the universe has been in existence.
The liberties secured for all Americans by Lincoln are enshrined in the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution. The 13th Amendment protects Americans from involuntary servitude, including for the repayment of debt, or peonage. The 14th Amendment prohibits future generations from repudiating the debt of the federal government. Yet our future generations are trapped, saddled with the burden of a crushing debt they did not create. …