I sat at my computer watching the vote on the floor of the House of Representatives this afternoon, sick to my stomach. The bailout bill, which failed to pass the House on Monday, was passed in the Senate Wednesday night, and then by the House today.
What was it that made the difference between Monday and Friday? Surely there are a variety of explanations, but I'm sure none are more useful than the fact that the Senate happened to tack on about $150 billion more in tax breaks for special interests. That's right. "We have no money, the economy is broken, we don't like this bill one bit, but as long as we're signing a bill we dislike, we might as well reward ourselves $150 billion for it."
The American People were opposed to the bill on Monday, and I am sure they are not much less opposed to it today. Yet the representatives of the people went ahead and passed the bill anyway. That's how democracy works today.
How did we get to this point? How have we let secret combinations get above us, even among the highest seats of our country's government? It's an easy answer, except no one wants to admit - we are all seduced. We have been deceived for too long.
I just finished reading a short book by Rick Shengkman called, "Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter." It is nothing spectacular, but it does point out a few very true observations. For one, the founding fathers and other great leaders of our country feared that our democracy, our republic, could not stand, if the people were too much concerned with consumerism.
Here, I would say almost all of us, are guilty. And we have been seduced to a degree that we scarcely comprehend. The computers, the cars, the homes, the video games, the satellite dishes, the cell phones, the clothes, fast food, Starbucks, and on and on.
We have been seduced to believe that possessing more and more of these things will make us more and more happy. We have been seduced into believing we should have every convenience we should ever desire. We want to drive our car, anywhere, anytime, and we want gas prices low. We want to buy a home that is bigger than we can afford, and when we can't make the payments, we want government to come to the rescue.
We have been seduced to believe that our appearance, especially what we wear, gives us our status, our position in the world. We have been seduced to believe we don't have time to worry about politics, or other matters of utmost importance, but we do have time to watch every episode of "American Idol," or "The Office," or seven football games a week, or fantasy football. We have been deceived to believe we must be entertained as much as humanly possible.
But the most damning fact of all, is we have been seduced to believe we have NOT been seduced. We look over at Joe Blow down the street, and say, "Hey, I'm living a lot more modest life than him, I'm doing pretty good. I KNOW material things won't make me a happier person."
Then we get in our car, and work and work, to pay for those things, many of which we have been seduced into buying on credit, because we do not even have the means to buy them outright.
We have been told that the only way to have normal children is to put them in public schools. We have been told that if the government doesn't take care of us, we will not be able to survive.
We have been deceived to believe that we have two distinct, fundamentally different political parties, who are both concerned for Mr. and Mrs. so-and-so on main street. Yet, the parties are hardly different, and when the elections are over, the policies will continue to support rich, corrupt, Wall Street plunderers. With the presidential election, it is not the lesser of two evils. It is a lose-lose for all of us.
We look around the world, and we assume that no one is as free, or as fortunate as us. So, we think "yeah, our leaders are corrupt and sleazy, but it could be worse." What a contemptable statement. We have responsibility to change the situation, to fight the evil that has gotten above us. But we excuse our inaction, so we won't feel guilty for not doing our part.
The Prophet Moroni spoke of our time: Ether 8: 24-25
24 "Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.
25 For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.
We have been grossly irresponsible, because we, for the most part, have been lulled to sleep, again and again. We have had people among us who have tried to warn us of these evils in our time. If we haven't stoned them literally, we have stoned them with our indifference, and with our self-satisfaction. We have often cast them out, insomuch as we have ignored what they have tried to tell us.
The bailout bill is only one of the many examples that have come over the years. It is emblematic of the greed, the deception, and the evil, that goes on in our own goverment. While we fight wars abroad, spending billions of dollars, our leaders lead us to believe we are motivated by God-given democracy.
Meanwhile, every day they usurp more and more power; they take away more and more freedoms, and they demolish our democracy at home. It is time to heed Moroni's counsel, and wake up. We have been asleep - and deceived - for far too long.