I saw a post from ProLiteracy the other day that indicates the extent to which we’ve surrendered our fiscal self-determination. Entitled, “The Fork in the Road to Funding For Adult Basic Education“, it said this, in part:

The president’s proposed budget for FY18 contained a number of significant cuts to programs of vital importance to adult basic education and ProLiteracy members and students … Equally important to many programs is the support for continuation and solid funding of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which sponsors … many community-based literacy programs … These budget changes could have significant impact on our students’ ability to enroll in adult literacy programs.

I was going to let it go. Then I saw this in yesterday’s Hartford Business Journal: “Charitable givers expect uptick in nonprofit demands“. That verbal white flag said this, in part:

The state’s got to get its act together in a big way and make the necessary adjustments so that the funding can be restored to a significant extent … it’s a state-government problem more than anything else.

Since I’ve written on this topic already, I won’t go into a political diatribe. But I will ask you to imagine something:

James McHenry’s diary records this exchange between a Mrs. Powell and Benjamin Franklin outside the Constitutional Convention in 1787: “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Imagine you’d been in Philadelphia that day. As Mrs. Powell went her way, imagine you’d sauntered up to Benjamin Franklin, put your arm around his shoulder, and walked up Chestnut Street with him, having this exchange:

You: You’re doing a heck of a job, Ben. But you’re wasting your time.
Ben: What?
You: Yeah. Sorry to be the one to break it to you. But in less then 100 years, your we the people will be replaced by career politicians.
Ben: Surely you jest.
You: No joke, Ben. As a result, your we the people will think their funding should come from the government. And don’t call me Shirley.
Ben: How can that be? The Constitution strictly limits the size and scope of the government.
You: Dependence is a very seductive thing, Dude. The promise of ostensible safety was all it took.
Ben: They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. And don’t call me Dude.

I have a feeling no one else will tell you this. So, I’ll bite the bullet: We’re not getting our money back from the government, kids. It’s already gone.

If it weren’t, Hartford wouldn’t have hired bankruptcy lawyers. The State Capitol wouldn’t be out of capital. And we wouldn’t be engaged in the charade of running the State without a budget.

The results of the grand experiment in self-government we started in 1776 and constituted in 1787 aren’t yet perfect. But we remain the proving ground for independence 241 years after declaring our own.

If we can just remember that, we’ll also remember we are — and always were — supposed to take care of ourselves and each other.

Let’s start now … again.


Painting by Junius Brutus Stearns [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.