I teach social studies to students in the class of 2051 a Prescott High School. After my last class one afternoon a few of the students stayed behind. It was a small group, five of my best students; kids with a little fire in their eyes who read beyond the assigned class work, which I encouraged all of the students to do since the assigned class work was so full of lies and misrepresentations that I could barely stomach assigning it.
“What really happened?” Brian asked. Brian was an eager kid that always spoke up in class. A generation removed from American greatness, brainwashed by official lies, Brian knew that something had gone terribly wrong and the life he was living was not all that it could be. The old “American Dream” my father had given me as a birthright had long since been replaced. Dreaming, I guess, can never be stifled if Brian was any indication.
“What happened to what?” I inquired. I knew what he wanted. He wanted more of what I not-so-subtly hinted at when I told my students the party line, then told them where to look for alternative theories. Who’d have guessed that the old bloggers’ posts would end up being a source of historical information?
“What happened to this country?” Brian asked. “I know it was far different than this. I know that at one time ‘freedom’ actually meant being able to do what you wanted and be whatever you could make of yourself. Not like it is now where ‘freedom’ means… I don’t know what it means. It’s just a word. They say we’re free, then tell us what to do, like saying the word makes it true.”
I looked at a group of students who really wanted to know. They were more than students, they were the beginning of a revolution. If they all understood that freedom was about making choices and taking responsibility, there was hope. If they understood that the country had traded the prosperity that came from the freedom to create and to risk, to try and to fail, but also to succeed…
I was going to lose my job anyway. Amazingly. I must have really been offensive to lose a union job working for the government. It would go one of two ways. Either they’d make me disappear somehow, discrediting me and ruining my life (they wouldn’t kill me… they still wanted to be thought of as the good guys), or they’d promote me out of the classroom into the vast bureaucracy where, like everyone else, I’d make more money and make no difference.
I decided to answer. “You are all aware that this country was once the most powerful nation on Earth, right? We led technologically, economically, and militarily. World progress was driven by American progress. But progress stopped. Interestingly, the people who stopped it called themselves ‘Progressives.’
“You see, the Progressives believed that they knew better than the people how things should run. They had no evidence for this, since they’d rarely run anything and the people, left to their own devices exercising what was called free market capitalism, had been the engine that drove all the progress that led to us having a country that was incredibly prosperous. The Progressives had theories, though, and an irrefutable argument that all evidence that contradicted their theories was either irrelevant because it was put forth by people who were evil, or that they are so much smarter and better than those who did it wrong that the evidence against their theories didn’t apply.
“The bottom line of their theory is what you see evidenced today: putting the wise government bureaucrats in charge of everything would make everything better. If they could regulate industry well enough…”
“Industry!” a boy named Jamaal interrupted. “Are you talking about private businesses? The things that are now called agencies? Like the technology agency that makes the computers?”
“Yes, Jamaal,” I answered. “We used to have private industries that actually innovated. Believe it or not, one person with a vision for something better could create it and advance everything. Then competitors would push the innovation, or someone would capitalize on the new innovations to make yet another breakthrough. We got to the level of technology we have today 40 years ago, and we’d achieved that level from nothing–no computer technology at all–in about twenty years. From nothing, no home computers, no such thing as the Internet, no WiFi, no nothing to, well, what we have now, in 20 or so years. In the last 40 the changes are miniscule. No progress with the Progressives in charge. Interesting, huh?”
Brian spoke. “Tell us exactly where it went wrong. What was the point of collapse?”
“Oh,” I said. “You want the exact point. Well… it collapsed sort of like a long line of dominoes falling, not all at once like an explosion. Interestingly, we were in the middle of a terrible recession. A new President had been elected, a Progressive, and the Congress was held by Progressives. We already had a spending problem, but these people went on a spending spree that was incredible. They also went on a ‘create new government programs’ and regulation regime that stifled business. Unlike previous recessions, this one lingered since businesses had no idea what what coming next in terms of costs imposed on them by a health care law, regulations, taxes, and energy costs. Then the tipping point came.
“The Progressives had been pounding away and pounding away at an issue that at one point was called global warming, and then, as it became increasingly obvious that their computer models were wrong, their data had been rigged, and the real world was experiencing no significant warming, they began calling it climate change. All of the really smart people could explain that increased cold was a result of warming. And man was the cause.
“The recession itself wasn’t the push of the first domino. All the spending wasn’t even the push of the domino, but it put the finger on the domino prepared to push.
“The dominos started falling when, with the political force they had, the Progressives killed the energy industry, making energy so expensive that everything started to collapse. They would not allow drilling for oil or natural gas. They opposed coal, and even what was called ‘clean coal,’ which was burning coal in a way that caused far less pollution. They spent a fortune in public money on alternative technologies like windmills and solar panels…”
“You mean like the solar panel farm down by Phoenix?” Beth asked. “The one that is unused because the water needed to clean the panels was using up too much of Phoenix’s water supply? How did they ever think they could put things that need to be clean to work in a dusty desert and that, in the desert, there’d be enough water to keep them clean?”
“Progressives,” I answered simply. “They’re notorious for loving the theory and not thinking about the consequences. But, they plow forward as though they have all the answers and their great plans can’t fail. Back when people actually had private wealth, they thought nothing of taxing it away to support those can’t fail plans.
“Anyway, you kids need to get home. We can continue this another time… or at least as long as I’m here,” I told them. “To complete the story, when energy prices shot up, everything started to collapse. The final death spasm of the economy. Then the Progressives who had caused the problem in the first place took over with the big government coming in to fix everything. This now-poor nation you see around you… This stagnant economy and lack of progress its brought with it… This controlling government from which you need permission to turn your lights on, and that tells you what you will do on the one hand but tells you you are free on the other… This is the result of Progressives’ first opportunity to control this country and the use of that power to fix a non-problem by killing the energy sector of the economy. That killed everything else very quickly–the dominoes fell fast… It killed everything except the power of government in your lives, which as you know, expanded greatly.”