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Centennial Review May 2013

Centennial Review May 2013

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Centennial Review May 2013
Centennial Review May 2013

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Published by: Colorado Christian University on Apr 26, 2013
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By Richard D. Lamm
I have a secret plan to destroy America.If you believe, as many do, that Americais too smug, too white-bread, too self-
satised, too rich, let’s destroy America.
It is not that hard to do.History shows that nations are morefragile than their citizens think. Nonation in history has survived theravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all greatcivilizations rise and they all fall, and that “an autopsy of history  would show that all great nations commit suicide.
So here’s my three-part plan. As you will see, it merely extends
trends already operating in America.
First, I would get America addicted to debt. Debt is economic
cocaine, and the addiction is deep in the nation’s life. Thebeauty of my plan is that we don’t have to initiate any additional
nation-destroying dysfunctions; they are all in place. We needonly to stand back and watch them complete their work.Look, if you will, at how America is undercutting its own economy and prosperity by debt. It is easy to get a nation addicted to debt. America has only balanced its federal budget eight times since 1935. She haslost the internal strength to restore economic discipline. Few 
societies can resist the temptation to pre-spend their children’s
money.Debt is an intergenerational transfer from our children tothe current generation, and they are too young to complain. There are no lobbyists for the future. But once programs andentitlements are put in place, there always develops a massive
number of interests lobbying to preserve and expand them,
particularly for the elderly.
My generation has been very good at cutting taxes whileignoring Milton Friedman’s warning: “If you cut taxes withoutcutting spending, you are not cutting taxes, you are merely 
passing them on to your children.” Additionally, my generation
Editor, John AndrewsPrincipled Ideas from the Centennial Institute
Volume 5, Number 5 • May 2013
Publisher, William L. Armstrong
Richard D. Lamm
was Governor of Colorado, 1975-87, and a candidate forPresident in 1996. A University of California law graduate and prolic writer,he currently directs the Institute for Public Policy Studies at the University ofDenver. This essay is adapted from his lecture at Colorado Christian Universityon Feb. 22, 2013.
Centennial Institute
sponsors research, events, and publications to enhancepublic understanding of the most important issues facing our state and nation.
By proclaiming Truth, we aim to foster faith, family, and freedom, teach citizen-ship, and renew the spirit of 1776.
Debt iseconomiccocaine.
P   o   p  u  l   a  t   i   o  n   &  G  l   o  b  a  l    W   a  r  m  i   n   g  C  C  U    B  e  c  k  m  a  n   C  e  n  t   e  r   ,  M   a   y   1  3  B  o  o  k   a  t    C  e  n  t   e  n  n  i   a  l   c  c  u  o  r   g  
D  E   B  A  T   E   R  E   S  C  H   E   D  U   L  E   D  :  
invented the credit card, and the average American now has
over six credit cards and daily adds to the consumer debt. We have successfully built a debt bomb ready to explode.
Remember, debt at some indeterminable point of ceaselessborrowing creates economic chaos—and economic collapse
preceded Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, and Lenin’s
Squandering Our Inheritance
Look at the results of just this one nation-destroying factor:
debt. I graduated from high school in 1953 and I inherited the
 world’s largest creditor nation. The rest of the world owed usmoney. I am leaving to my children the world’s largest debtor
I inherited an exporting nation, but I am leaving the next
generation an importing nation. I inherited a saving nation,and I am leaving my children a spending nation. I inherited anation that produced more than it consumes, and I am leaving a nation that consumes more than it produces.
I inherited a nation of delayed gratication and I leave a nationconsumed by instant gratication. I inherited a new interstate
highway system and a modern infrastructure, and I am leaving 
the next generation an infrastructure that the National Society 
of Civil Engineers estimates would cost $3 trillion to bring upto date.My mother and father fought a war and a depressionbut left me with a very small federal debt. Today the
ofcial federal debt is over $16 trillion, but that isalmost a deliberately false gure. It does not consider
the unfunded liabilities that America has incurred.If we ask what are the “gross national promises,” whichincludes obligations like future Social Security and Medicarepayments we are obligated to pay, the amount is closer to $50
to $60 trillion—a staggering amount that is likely beyond our
ability to repay.
 The second part of my plan would be to erode the stern virtuesand the values of hard work that made America a great nation
in the rst place. This is how great nations commit suicide;they become inefcient, bureaucratic, risk-averse, materialistic,
and hedonistic.
Inefciencies? Just look at the American legal system. It
has become virtually impossible to do anything in America without worrying about the lawyers. The legal system hangsover America like a sword of Damocles, adding to the cost of all goods and services.Look at the education system. My generation has tripled the
per-capita, ination-adjusted costs of the public education
system since 1970. Yet our SAT scores have remained static,and our international comparisons have dropped.
 The health care system? It costs about twice that of other
OECD countries, yet its performance is rated mediocre onall international comparisons. The number of people under75 who die from curable illness is almost twice as high in the
United States as the best scores from France, Japan, and Spain.
 Among the 19 wealthiest countries, theUnited States ranks nineteenth in curing people who could be cured with decentcare. The American health care system
is lled with dedicated professionals and
spectacular technology, but as a system it
is inefcient, costly, and disorganized.
 The most promising institution (from my standpoint)undercutting the strength of America, however, is its politicalsystem. Neither political party has an agenda to keep Americagreat. Both are corrupted by special interests and money. Toruin a nation, it helps to paralyze its political system—and thathas been accomplished.
 Third, we must make America a bilingual-bicultural country.History shows, in my opinion, that no nation can survive the
tension, conict, and antagonism of two competing languages
and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; itis a curse for a society to be bilingual. One scholar, Seymour
Martin Lipset, put it this way:
Centennial Review, May 2013 ▪ 2
Scan this code with your smartphone to read this and previous issues online.
is published monthly by the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University. The authors’ views are not necessarilythose of CCU. Designer, Danielle Hull. Illustrator, Benjamin Hummel. Subscriptions free upon request. Write to: Centennial Institute, 8787 W.Alameda Ave., Lakewood, CO 80226. Call 800.44.FAITH. Or visit us online at www.CentennialCCU.org.
Please join the Centennial Institute today.
As a Centennial donor, you can help us restore America’s moral core and preparetomorrow’s leaders. Your gift is tax-deductible. Please use the envelope provided. Thank you for your support.- John Andrews, Director
My generation of politicians has relentlessly and quietly 
encumbered the nation’s future earnings. Compare the federaldebt to our gross domestic product:
In times of great prosperity we have quietly and needlessly 
increased the debt as a percentage of the GDP. Economic
cocaine indeed. In 2012 the United States borrowed 41 cents
of every federal dollar it spent. Clearly that must count as scal
child abuse. But it does help advance our plan. Additionally, every year we dramatically understate the annual
decit by offsetting the real decit with money borrowed from
some 150 federal trust funds, such as the Social Security TrustFund. My generation has not been honest with the public. Wehave kept our books as Enron kept its books.
 Year Federal Debt GDP Debt: GDP Ratio
1981 $1 trillion $3 trillion 33.3%1986 $2 trillion $4 trillion 50%1992 $4 trillion $6 trillion 66.6%1997 $5.4 trillion $7 trillion 77.1%2003 $6.5 trillion $11 trillion 59.1%2008 $10.0 trillion $13.2 trillion 75.8%2011 $15.0 trillion $15.2 trillion 98.7%
Centennial Review, May 2013 ▪ 3
Ironically demonic, like C.S. Lewis’s
Uncle Screwtape unmasking the enemy 
of our souls, Dick Lamm’s “secret plan”
 warns of the forces that would destro America by negating her uniqueness. The root cause of the crushing debt,institutional failure, and disunity thathe diagnoses is moral failure. America has drifted fromthe moral foundations of freedom revealed in ourfounding documents while pursuing secular values morecharacteristic of Europe.
Europe’s decay comes from the moral failures of sloth,
corruption, and misplaced faith in the state. America ismarching down the same road where government growsbigger, the individual grows smaller, and the voice of atranscendent moral authority grows dimmer. This is thecivilizational suicide of which Toynbee spoke.
 American exceptionalism rests upon our moral opposition
to evi; our moral commitment to economic, political.and religious freedom; and our moral affirmation that
“In God we trust.” There are consequences when we
abandon the transcendent moral authority which ournational motto acknowledges.Moral relativism is the disease of our age. It eatseverything in its path until the civilization dies. But inasserting that everyone is entitled to his own desires andthere is no absolute truth, it denies what the Founding Fathers knew to be true. They understood that because of the fallen humancondition, concentrated power would yield a bitterharvest. So in order to secure our individual rights as
granted by God, they divided and restrained the powers
of the state. And they recognized that only a virtuouspeople, grounded in morality and religion, can ever hopeto remain free.
If the “secret plan” seems to be working, it’s because
 we have neglected the three pillars of American
exceptionalism: free-market capitalism, the constitutional
protections assuring the consent of the governed, and
the Judeo-Christian worldview that instills mutual respect
for each other and honors the sovereign Creator. Things will not turn around until we restore the proper order of morality and freedom in our nation.
Brad Hughes of Denver is a Centennial Institute Fellow in Worldviews and Economics. He retired as director of strategy for a Fortune 500telecommunications company.
Voices of CCU
Colorado Christian University 
 The histories of bilingual and bicultural societies that donot assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy.Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, and Lebanon—all face
crises of national existence in which minorities press forautonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have
divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France
faces difculties with its Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans.
Some people will think that Switzerland is an example of abilingual country that works. Don’t disabuse them of this idea.Let them think that! Don’t for a minute point out to them that
Switzerland divided their country into three distinct mono-
linguistic areas, German, French, and Roma. Let them ignoreImmanuel Kant’s warning that “language is the great divider”
of human history.
Next, I would then invent “multiculturalism” and encourage
immigrants to maintain their own culture. I would make itan article of belief that all cultures
are equal: that there are no cultural
differences that are important. I woulddeclare it an article of faith that theblack and Hispanic dropout rate is only due to prejudice and discrimination by 
the majority. Every other explanation is out-of-bounds.
 We can make the United States a “Hispanic Quebec” withoutmuch effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz of 
The Atlantic 
has pointed out (“TheDiversity Myth,” May 1995), the apparent success of our
country’s multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have
been achieved not by tolerance but by hegemony. Today, without the dominance that once dictatedethnocentrically what it meant to be an American, Schwarz warned, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold
us together. And according to my plan, they won’t be enough.
Start a Grievance Industry
I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own languageand culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with asalad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural sub-groups living in America reinforcing theirdifferences, rather than thinking of themselves as Americansand emphasizing their similarities.Having done all this, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated—I would add a secondunderclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonisticto the majority population. I would allow our immigrationpatterns to take 50% of our immigrant stream from Spanish-speaking countries. I would have this new underclass have a50% dropout rate from school.I would radicalize them with dreams of Aztlan” andreconquering the American Southwest. I would then get thebig foundations and big business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish
Tolerancealone can’tunite us.

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