I have long since given up on looking to Hollywood for moral lessons that I feel are relevant to my life or even reflect what I consider America to be. I do not need to be endlessly reminded of the racial prejudice laced throughout pre-civil rights America. I do not need to see another TV show that demonizes big corporations, the greedy rich or those of faith. And I certainly do not need to sit through another movie that portrays America as a malevolent force responsible for the evils spread throughout the world.
In the reality outside of Hollywood, the country has made great progress in race relations, big corporations provide life saving and improving products, those of faith illustrate moral standards that many on the left simply cannot understand or will not face and America continues to sacrifice its own children to liberate others.
So imagine my surprise when a short scene from the Sci-Fi Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica” continues echo in my mind for several weeks and has direct relevance to the times we live in today. In the scene, Lee Adama, the son of the fleet Admiral and the moral compass of the show is advising the ailing president on how to rebuild the government after a recent coup left the people without elected representation. The president approves of his plan, but suggests that Lee should organize the new regime himself. Taken aback, he says, “I would be honored if you think I’m the right one.”
“You are the right one, Lee. You have always been the right one. My only concern about you is that you’re so hell-bent on doing the right thing, that you sometimes don’t do the smart thing.”
For those who tend to view the world in black and white, this dialog is a stark reminder that when survival is paramount, shades of gray may be the “smart” choice.
In a perfect world, the right thing would be the smart thing. But ours is not a perfect world and I am sure that it is this rationale that allows those with questionable moral frameworks to justify their daily assault on their fellow human beings. To name just a few: Tort lawyers who bring frivolous law suits against big corporations knowing that the consumers eventually foot the bill. Teacher’s unions that insist on maintaining an iron grip on modern public education despite the obvious decline in standards and quality for our children. Wall Street moguls who buy and sell products that they know to be worthless but will be the next sucker’s problem. And politicians who routinely spin, distort or outright lie to solidify their own power base despite the havoc wreaked on the country whenever government steps in with a heavy hand and dollar signs in its eyes.
I cannot begin to guess what goes through the minds of such people or how they find solace in their own conscience. This is not for me to judge. The simple fact is that as long as people have freedom, some will be free to take advantage of others. However, the alternative of living in a socialist dictatorship where there is no crime yet no freedom is not a solution either. Even if a government has good intentions, its efforts to punish those few who may deserve it inevitably trickles down to the larger population who have done nothing but live their own lives.
So this simple scene in an excellent science fiction show reflects a choice that all Americans must now face. Thanks to the Democrats in Congress, our new president and the Stimulus Bill, we all must now choose between the right thing or the smart thing. Whether you agree or disagree with the president’s stated or presumed principles of social justice, wealth redistribution or America’s reputation in the world, the facts are the same. An enormous amount of wealth will be stripped from those who have earned it and transferred to those who have not. Some industries will be attacked while will others kneel to receive the blessings of an enlightened government. And most perniciously, the enormous spending spree we are engaged in and the inevitable inflation that follows will literally steal the fortunes of our children before they are even conceived.
The sad fact is that unless a major electoral shift occurs in 2010, this will happen. So the “smart” thing is to default on your mortgage so others will pay it down. The “smart” thing is to invest in and work for green industries, construction or broadband suppliers. The “smart” thing is to not work too hard because if you succeed you will be targeted. But each and every dollar transferred is taken from the pockets of others who had it forcefully stripped away or from our very own children who have yet to be born. If you forgive the analogy, government sanctioned blood-money.
In many ways this administration has given the country a unique gift, a clarifying moment that illuminates the false facade that “big government” erects to insulate the consciences of those who accept aid from those who provide it. Creeping entitlements and new, relatively small programs have up until now provided the brick and mortar of the facade. But President Obama and Speaker Pelosi are now building the wall so fast and so high that it is no longer just a backdrop in our lives. It is front and center for all to see. And at its base, an ATM machine with a sign that reads “Free for those that qualify”.
As a nation, we can no longer afford to pretend that the wall is not there. We can no longer pretend that we do not know from whom the money comes. And for better or for worse, we must all decide between the right thing or the smart thing.