Recently I read a book by a relatively unknown writer, Budd Hallberg.  In his book, Return to First Principles, Mr. Hallberg asserts that we are on the brink of social, economic, and political collapse; the nation’s economy is in shambles and much of the country’s government is corrupt.  Five years ago, I would have considered this to be an outrageous statement—tantamount to the ranting and ravings of some wacko standing on a street corner.  Now, I’m not so sure. Why do I say that?

Consider this: as we speak, President Obama is pleading for across-the-aisle cooperation between Democrats and Republicans to salvage the health care bill; congressional approval ratings are at a historic low; and Sarah Palin was the keynote speaker at the first ever National Tea Party convention.

Meanwhile, our country is staggering under the load of fighting two wars simultaneously, suffering from the worst recession since the great depression, enduring an employment rate at or above ten percent, and is facing a national debt unprecedented in magnitude.

As for the American people, they are trapped in the center of this perfect storm of socio-economic events and are desperately seeking answers; something to hold on to and to give them hope that things will get better.  Quite frankly, I doubt if they care if those answers come from the left, right, center, or all of the above.

So, if Mr. Hallberg believes that our country is going to Hell in a hand basket, what does he propose to do about it?  He says we need to return to the First Principles upon which our country was founded.

What are these principles?

There are eleven of them in all, and it is useful to take a look at them.  For the sake of brevity, I have paraphrased them.  The list is as follows:

1. The Constitution is the basis of our government and must be maintained.

2. The union must be preserved.

3. Individual liberty must be safeguarded.

4. Every citizen’s private property must be protected.

5. We must be aware of the dangers associated with political parties.

6. We must guard against the problems of factions in society.

7. We must be vigilant in regards to those who lust for power and aspire to high government office.

8. We must minimize the influence and corruption of foreign nations.

9. We must avoid the accumulation of national debt.

10. We must hold to the notion that honesty is the best policy.

11. The will of the majority should prevail.

Our constitution, along with the principles enumerated above, has served us well for over two hundred years.  Why isn’t it working now?  Mr. Hallberg is convinced that our nation is on a Marxist-Socialist path to tyranny.  I don’t particularly agree with that.

Based on the principle of Occam’s razor, which among other things, asserts that the simplest or most obvious explanation of several competing ones is the one that should be preferred until it is proven wrong; my money is on the greed and avarice that has been an integral part of our society for many years.

The blame starts at the top, with the fiscally irresponsible politicians in Washington and high flying, risk taking players on Wall Street; and works its way down to the man next door who continuously borrowed more money than he could ever repay in order to make a killing in real estate.  In fact, an ideal campaign slogan for either party during the midterm elections would be, “It’s the greed stupid!”I knew a man once whose last name sounded like “Luke,” although I don’t remember how he spelled it.  Anyway, whenever he was among friends, he delighted in explaining what he called “Luke’s Law of Location, which states, “You are where you went.”  This simple, yet profound statement speaks volumes about where America is today.  We have been traveling along the wrong path for a long time and finally, we are where we went.  Now, it’s time to strike out in a new direction and go somewhere else.  It won’t be easy to turn Washington and Wall Street around, but we have to try for the sake of our children and grandchildren.  Meanwhile, returning to the First Principles wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

Ron Standerfer is a novelist, freelance writer, book reviewer, and journalist whose articles have appeared in numerous news publications including online editions of the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and the Honolulu Star Advertiser.  For more information about this writer please visit www.ronstanderfer.com .

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