In the fiscal problems that our country currently suffer, as created by our Congress, it is valuable to go back in time and experience the errors as they are about to be made. One such moment is LBJ’s address to the Congress in 1965, and we can experience it via a primary source instead of being limited by the filter of historical revisionism.
The text of the speech included in the video reads:
The Great Society asks not how much, but how good; not only how to create wealth but how to use it; not only how fast we are going, but where we are headed.
It proposes as the first test for a nation: the quality of its people.
This kind of society will not flower spontaneously from swelling riches and surging power.
It will not be the gift of government or the creation of presidents. It will require of every American, for many generations, both faith in the destination and the fortitude to make the journey.
And like freedom itself, it will always be challenge and not fulfillment.
And tonight we accept that challenge.
I propose that we begin a program in education to ensure every American child the fullest development of his mind and skills.
I propose that we begin a massive attack on crippling and killing diseases.
I propose that we launch a national effort to make the American city a better and a more stimulating place to live.
I propose that we increase the beauty of America and end the poisoning of our rivers and the air that we breathe.
I propose that we carry out a new program to develop regions of our country that are now suffering from distress and depression.
I propose that we make new efforts to control and prevent crime and delinquency.
I propose that we eliminate every remaining obstacle to the right and the opportunity to vote.
I propose that we honor and support the achievements of thought and the creations of art.
I propose that we make an all-out campaign against waste and inefficiency.
Our basic task is threefold:
First, to keep our economy growing;
–to open for all Americans the opportunity that is now enjoyed by most Americans;
–and to improve the quality of life for all.
In the next 6 weeks I will submit special messages with detailed proposals for national action in each of these areas.
In retrospect, through our knowledge of history and the current condition, we can see how specific statements by LBJ have translated into law and government spending.
First, let us all acknowledge (contrary to neoconfederate libertarians like Ron Paul) that LBJ is right that the federal government has a responsibility to protect individual Americans from racial discrimination by state governments in that individual exercising their voting rights.
Second, LBJ reports that the economic condition are awesome before the other expansions of federal spending that he recommends, but that awesomeness leds LBJ to call on the government to act substantially differently. In Obama’s retarded economy, where neither Democrats nor Republicans will eliminate out of control spending from the Great Society and New Deal programs, how is that working out for you?
Third, LBJ sounds like a neo-conservative in calling for government action to develop and condition the character development of American citizens; see C. Bradley Thompson’s book Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea. However, in the context of the passage of time, it would be more accurate to acknowledge that neoconservatives, like Newt Gingrich, think and speak like LBJ.
Finally, and most importantly, LBJ advances into law the ethics of altruism, literally otherism, the ethical position that the well being of others is the ultimate issue of morality and the standard for action. This is the opposite of Selfish Citizenship’s policy. For you, the question is are you the slave of the wants and needs of those who choose not to, or are unable to, provide from themselves and their family? Like the Democrats who opposed the 13th Amendment to our constitution, LBJ says that you are a slave, and so does President Obama. What do you say, are you a slave under the oversight of the government?
In addressing the current fiscal crisis (unpassed appropriations, expanding debt, and thoughtless sequestration), we should reexamine the premises of our spending as disclosed in LBJ’s Great Society speech to Congress; is it the proper role of government to take money from successful individuals, and our children through debt, to give that money to the needs and wants of those favored by the government?
Contrary to the current condition, we can chose to oppose this new spoils system, which corrupts our government.