What does Bill Moyers think of the country he lives in? He summed it up rather succinctly on PBS the other night following a touching interview with Maxine Hong Kingston, a writer who has helped combat veterans shed inner torment through writing themselves, and a promo of an upcoming show on D-Day soldiers.
"Every Memorial Day I think about what these men did and what we owe them," Moyers said. "They didn’t go through hell for a political system that functions on bribery, or for off-shore tax havens that pass the cost of national defense from the conglomerates that profit from war to the ordinary people whose children fight it, or for an economic system that treats working men and women as disposable cogs to be tossed aside at a predator’s whim, or for an America where the ‘strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.’"
"Yes," he continued, "our soldiers fought and sacrificed for freedom; but as wiser men than I have said through the ages, when liberty is separated from justice, neither liberty nor justice is safe, and those who sacrificed for both are mocked."
I know of no other way to take these words than as a general assessment of America at this hour, and of no way to interpret them other than that this journalist who once worked for the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson thinks our land a hellhole.
Could someone, maybe, tap Moyers on the shoulder and point out to him, for starters, that ourdemocratic republic functions on far more than campaign contributions, which is what I assume he means by "bribery." Our politicians remain hugely responsive to public sentiment. Campaign contributions are openly reported, come from everyday Americans as well as larger interests, and can get you defeated if your opponent makes it seem you bend principles for money’s sake.
The industries that produce armaments without which America could not begin to defend itself in a very dangerous world do indeed make profits — gasp! We could do away with those profits, or maybe just lessen them with tougher, greedier federal tax laws, but defense would pay and the economy would pay and the public would pay.
And our free-market economic system — has it achieved anything that benefits Americans?
Only this: It has given us an unemployment rate far lower than in welfare-state Europe; it has provided an astonishing, even dazzling array of occupational possibilities; it leaves doors open for liberating, creative entrepreneurial endeavor, and it affords a widespread material plenty unknown in history or most of the rest of the world today. Underlying it is a safety net that includes unemployment insurance and state and federal welfare programs. Add those to Social Security and you find some 52 percent of Americans get a significant portion of their income from government. The weak are not forgotten.
The Moyers phraseology about liberty being meaningless without justice is typical of misery-breeding socialists perfectly willing to toss out liberty on behalf of a governmentally coerced utopia that never was and never will be. Let’s never give up trying to improve things, but let’s don’t kill off precious freedoms under the pretense ours is an unjust society in some deep systemic way. It is not.
As Moyers said, we do owe our veterans a lot, and one thing we owe them is acknowledgement that their sacrifices have given us something very special. One thing we should spare them is a hoity toity rant about American evils by a leftist ideologue.
Examiner columnist Jay Ambrose is a former editor of two daily newspapers. He may be reached at SpeaktoJay@aol.com
Decades ago, I was a reporter in Albany, N.Y., working for a newspaper at the foot of a hill that could be ascended only with huffing, puffing, knee endangerment and sweat unless you employed a trick.