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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 5:08 am | Fair 46º


Harris Sherline: Heartbroken by March Toward Socialism

Our nation's new leadership is taking apart the ideals that made America strong.

It’s heartbreaking to watch helplessly as an out-of-control political leadership systematically dismantles the political and economic structure of the most successful nation in history. In the span of my lifetime, I have witnessed the transition of America from a “can do” to a “gimme” society.

Harris Sherline
Harris Sherline
The blame can be pretty well laid at the feet of a political class that is not just uninformed but is largely so ignorant that it has no clue about the consequences of its actions, or doesn’t care. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of culpability to go around, including both the Democratic and Republican parties, and lest we forget, the voters who elect them.

Now signed into law, the stimulus bill continues to be analyzed, and the list of changes to our nation’s economic system that President Obama is ushering in keeps growing at one of the most troubled times in our history. Following are just some examples of the many provisions that have absolutely nothing to do with stimulating the economy:

» More than $3 billion for “neighborhood stabilization” and Community Development Block Grant funding

» $1.3 billion to bailout Amtrak, which has never made a profit

» $1 billion for educational programs, including courses on sexually transmitted diseases

» $20 million for restoration of wetlands (in the congressional district of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.)

» $45 million for four-wheeled ATV trails

» $200 million for a low-pollution, coal-fired power plant (in Obama’s home state of Illinois)

» $200 million for computers in community colleges

» $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts

» More than $650 million to help consumers buy digital TV converter boxes

» $8 billion for a high-speed-rail between Los Angeles and Las Vegas

Both Obama and Pelosi have been quoted as saying, “We won,” meaning they –– that is, the Democrats –– have the right to do anything they want and that those who disagree with them should not try to make any changes to the legislation or object. But, they fail to comment on the fact that not one member of Congress read the stimulus bill before voting on it. Not one.

It’s extremely troubling, even frightening, to realize this is the way the people we trust to represent us operate, especially considering that about half the members of the Senate and around a third of those in the House of Representatives are lawyers. How often do attorneys advise us not to sign anything, ever, without reading it first? Yet, those same attorneys who would advise clients to always read documents before signing them were perfectly willing to approve a 1,073-page bill without having read it or even knowing what was in it.

Furthermore, in direct contradiction of all the talk about bipartisanship, House Democrats shut their Republican counterparts out of the process of writing the stimulus bill, going so far as to hold closed-door meetings without them when the final version was written.

After all the hype about urgency, instead of immediately signing the bill, Obama took the weekend off in Chicago and scheduled a media event for the following Tuesday to sign it in Denver. So, although the emergency was touted as being so dire that the bill had to be passed immediately, as soon as it was approved by Congress, the urgency suddenly seemed to fade.

Obama also promised, among other things, that his government will be open and transparent, that there would be no more secrecy, that the public would have five days to look at the “stimulus” bill before it was voted on, that the public would know what’s in it, and that it would not include any pork –– all of which has proven to be untrue.

My take is that Obama may be the most arrogant president in our history, which I suspect will catch up with him at some point. Leading the nation is not a footrace but a long-distance run that requires staying power and patience, and it can’t be based on hype and showmanship indefinitely.

I’m heartbroken and saddened by the seemingly unbridled march toward socialism that now appears to taking place in America, and I worry for my children and grandchildren, who may never know the freedom and opportunity that my generation has always been able to take for granted.

Harris R. Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital who has lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. He stays active writing opinion columns and his own blog, Opinionfest.com.

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