In all three branches of government individuals now seek their own good rather than the good of others or of the nation. Long ago John Adams warned that the transformation of government brought about by this type of government of selfish behavior would be deleterious:
The interest of the people is one thing…it is public interest; and where the public interest governs, it is a government of laws, and not of men. The interest of an individual, or of a party, is another thing…it is a private interest; and where private interest governs, it is a government of men, and not of laws [Adams, Works, vol. 4, pg.404]. Not surprisingly, the current lawless attitudes of our public officials mirror a measurable decline in their integrity. In 1970 there were only 32 officials convicted of public corruption. However, statistics from the most recent year…the government stopped compiling these numbers in 2011…showed that the number had soared to 785 convicted officials [Table 338 at http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0337.pdf] …an increase of over 2,400 percent. The reason for this integrity deficit was given nearly two centuries ago by Justice Joseph Story, US Supreme Court, when he explained:
To secure integrity, there must be a lofty sense of duty and a deep responsibility to future times as well as to God. [Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, Boston, 1873, Vol. 1, Pg.528].
Integrity is the product of being God-conscious and of having a sense of accountability to God and to posterity. Resent studies affirm that both the personal conviction of answerability to God as well as a deep sense of selflessness and service is no longer part of the DNA of Americans. As lawlessness has increased and integrity has waned, the strength of the nation has visibly deteriorated [The Heritage Foundation, “Country Rankings”]. The United States has also fallen in its rankings as a corruption-free government [Cohn and Ferris, “Government Corruption Rampant Worldwide”, http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2013/results]. Our growing national mediocrity is further affirmed by the measurement of those who have been through our education system. In an assessment of twenty-three nations America ranks near the bottom in adult problem-solving in technology, near the bottom in adult math skills, and in the bottom half of nations in adult literacy. [National Center for Education Statistics, “PIAAC 2012 Results”]. The United States spends more money per person on education than any other nation in the world [Associated Press,”US Education Spending Tops Global List, Study Shows”, CBSNews.com, June 25, 2013], but under the current system of government-controlled education, that money is largely wasted.
Americans clearly do not like what is currently happening or where the country is headed. They now believe that the government violates and endangers their rights rather than protects them:
> In the past five years the percentage of those who hold a favorable view of the federal government has plunged to only 28 percent [Pew Research Center,”Views of Government: Key Data Points”, October 22, 2013]. Used car salesmen now fair better.
> Over the past decade the public approval of Congress has likewise plummeted: now only 5% view it favorably [5News Web Staff,”Congressional Approval drops to 5%”, 5NewsOnline.com, May 21, 2014].
> Three-fourths of Americans now believe that courts make decisions based on their individual views rather than the law or the Constitution [Public Religion Research poll conducted May 15-19, 2013, as quoted by PolingReport.com, August 3, 2014, plus several more], and therefore, in the past fifteen years public approval of the Supreme Court has fallen dramatically [Pew Research Center for the People and the Press,”Supreme Court’s Favorable Rating Still at Historic Low”, March 25, 2013].
Current governmental behavior is viewed unfavorably but is generally tolerated for two reasons:
- Widespread citizen disinterest in public affairs
- America’s changing beliefs and values
Two-thirds of Americans currently reject any notion of absolute truth or fixed moral standards [Barna Group, “OmniPoll 1-13”, national survey among 1,005 adults, January 2013]. Their only binding criteria for what constitutes right and wrong has become their own personal views. Ironically, while citizens themselves now regularly “do what is right in their own eyes”, they don’t like it when government officials do the same.
How has this been allowed to happen? What happened to the foundations that made this nation great? Who or what has failed us? Next week we will take a look at some of the ‘crumbling’ foundations and how they have failed us as a society.
P.S. – ‘Don’t let your worries get the best of you. Remember, Moses started out as a basket case’.