In 1887, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:

“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 that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over 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, these 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.”

The obituary follows: born 1776, died 2012.

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minn., points out some interesting facts concerning the 2008 presidential election:

» Number of states won — Barack Obama: 19; John McCain: 29

» Square miles of land won — Obama: 580,000; McCain: 2,427,000

» Population of counties won — Obama: 127 million; McCain: 143 million

» Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won — Obama: 13.2; McCain: 2.1

Olson adds: “In aggregate, the map of the territory McCain won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the country. Obama territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in low-income tenements and living off various forms of government welfare.”

Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the “complacency and apathy” phase of professor Tyler’s definition of democracy, with 40 percent of the nation’s population already having reached the “governmental dependency” phase.

If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to 20 million criminal invaders called illegals — and they vote — then we can say goodbye to the USA in fewer than five years.

An article in the Washington Times, “New DHS rules cancel deportations” by Stephen Dinan, notes: “The Homeland Security Department said Thursday it will halt deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis against illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria. … It was unclear how many people might be affected by the new rules, though in fiscal year 2010 the government deported nearly 200,000 illegal immigrants who it said did not have criminal records.”

— Harris Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.