(’76 Editor) Listening to Ken Buck, the Weld County DA and 2010 GOP Senate nominee, make the case at CCU yesterday for a constitutional stopper on deficit spending, I kept thinking of the Tytler Thesis. Whether not the authorship of this famous warning is accurately cited, its ring of truth is convincing and—amidst our present circumstances—chilling.
What is the warning? About the time our original thirteen states adopted their new constitution in 1787, Alexander Tytler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, is supposed to have made these trenchant observations about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier:
A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:
- From bondage to spiritual faith;
- from spiritual faith to great courage;
- from courage to liberty;
- from liberty to abundance;
- from abundance to complacency;
- from complacency to apathy;
- from apathy to dependence;
- from dependence back into bondage.
Where do you think America is today, on that ladder from the top to the bottom and back?