Germany is an enigma for Americans. Several articles published in the mainstream media in recent months have contained references to German inability “to address the problems of Socialism” and deal with the “economic threats of labor unions and environmental activism”. When an average American looks at Germany (an indeed most of the member nations of the E.U.) they see a political atmosphere that would scare the heck out of Glenn Beck’s cardiologist.
Professional level individuals in Germany take home about 50% of their pay after taxes. That is half of their check. Some of that comes from the German version of the VAT (value-added tax); this tax is essentially a sales tax added at every level of production. Corporations are not able to get away from the heavy taxes either.
There is a great deal about traditional conservatism that fits comfortably into my worldview. I was raised in a traditional household by married parents (still going strong after 38 years mind you). I was educated in the Catholic tradition, attended church regularly, served as an altar boy, and was read to from the Bible by my father. The last 15 years of my life have been spent as both manager and student of the world of business, and I am certainly a capitalist. My greatest heroes growing up were soldiers and airmen (there are few children who would list their idols at age ten to be Generals George Patton, Claire Chenault, and Vinegar Joe Stillwell).
That my parents are liberal Democrats who did not force religion on their children or believe in mixing their strong patriotism with xenophobia, remains a powerful force pulling me firmly to the center-left of our often silly political structure. I do believe that a liberal interpretation of the commerce clause of our Constitution is the one reading most responsible for the economic power of our nation. The uniformity of our laws, levels of education, capacity for law enforcement (civil and criminal), and infrastructure have provided the platform for local businesses to grow into world-beaters over the last century-plus. This uniformity ONLY exists with a strong federal system, which by the way, we all have a voting stake in.
Ronald Reagan’s administration had its struggles with international terrorism. Early miscalculations in Lebanon combined with the despicable work of the governments in Syria and Lybia captured nearly as many headlines as the Cold War. In the end though, Mr. Reagan and his team had a coherent strategy for dealing with the issue; for the countries that sponsored activity, proportional response and international castigation; for the terrorists themselves, death by special operations or treatment as a common criminal.
Reagan’s FBI director put it best when he stated that treating terrorism exclusively as an act of war elevates the terrorists to the level of nations. The administration wanted to debase the individuals by treating them as the worthless criminals that they truly were. They accomplished this by not allowing them to claim a cause. The old saying that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” crumbles in the face of justice fairly (and ruthlessly) dispensed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his ilk are murderers, nothing more. This fact does not diminish the sacrifice and heroism of the citizens of this nation on September 11, 2001. A finding, in our court of law, that these pieces of garbage are nothing more than murderers worthy of execution reinforces the strength of our nation.
The images from the protests held Thursday on the steps of the Capitol were disturbing; the (by now) typical Obama-as-Death effigies and confused references to both Fascism and Communism shared the stage with a new twist. One of the protesters decided that graphically comparing the health care bill to a Nazi death camp was a good idea.
“National Socialist Health Care” was the label, superimposed over the emaciated bodies stacked at Dachau. Horrifying.
To protest legislation on the steps of the Capitol is a responsibility as well as a right; it is one of the prices we must pay for freedom. The rational middle contends that those protests should be passionate and pointed, but that they should also stay within some set of boundaries. There was a time when we were able to recognize when those boundaries were violated. Has that time passed?