The Second US Civil War

-By Frank Hyland

The 150th anniversary of the first Battle of Bull Run, fought on 21 July 1861, just passed. The timing could not be more ironic because we in the United States find ourselves in the midst of the Second U.S. Civil War. While this present one doesn’t feature sounds of gunfire — at least not yet — the level of noise is extremely high and gaining in amplitude by the minute. (Cue the Wisconsin audio-video here. endsarcasm)

The original conflict, in the midst of the 19th Century, is said by many to have been rooted solely in the desire of Americans to continue to “own” other human beings and to oppress them. A closer examination reveals a variety of motives among supporters of leaving the union of states. Chief among them was a fundamental dispute over the preeminence of the power of the federal government. While there have not been long lines of uniformed troops in blue or gray forming recently, we continue to hear the rallying cry, “The South shall rise again.” That figure of speech has evolved to express the growing fears of Americans from all corners of our country, and includes growing numbers of African-Americans as well. The more recent outcry is along the lines of, “Taxed Enough Already!”

As stated, there are not gatherings of people wearing blue and others clad in gray. It is nevertheless very easy to distinguish between the two sides in the current fray. To put it bluntly, on one side are those whose income derives from arising every day and heading off to a job and being assessed anywhere from daily to annually as to the quality of their performance. On the other side is a group, growing in number daily, whose income derives from the public sector up to and including the Federal Government. The sole criterion for continuing to receive government checks is continuing to breathe, and sometimes that rule is waived. The list of different ways in which the public sector provides some or all of people’s income is a long one: Federal pensions; state and municipal pensions; Social Security; Medicare; Medicaid; Food Stamps; Unemployment Benefits; Disability payments; Death benefits; Aid to Families with Dependent Children; the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program; Welfare payments; Burial benefits; grant funds to universities; block grants to states; the Earned Income Tax Credit; agricultural price supports; and plenty more.

A key point to be made is that, notwithstanding the ability and the propensity of the Federal Government to print money, the public sector cannot and does not create money, jobs, or income. Ultimately, the government can, at best, take money from one person and give it to another. You, and you alone, can create wealth in this economy by creating goods or performing services. Try as hard and as much and as long as they might to conceal that fact, it is known far and wide. In a recession such as the one we find ourselves in now, with its consequent reduction in incomes on a widespread level, another key point gains increasing importance — The number of Americans, even those who go to work every day, who pay no income tax at all has increased greatly until it now includes approximately half of all earners. Even more, a growing number of those who pay no income tax at all receive a “refund” of their federal taxes. The result is that 50% of taxpayers now chip in over 97% of the income of the Federal Government. It is this group that is now being asked to pay even more because they are said to be “wealthy.”

This, then, tells you the makeup of the opposing forces in today’s US Civil War. On one side are those who now receive and who are very willing to continue to receive their largesse from the government. On the other side are those who are providing over 97 cents of every dollar that is handed out to the opposing forces. They have had enough; they have paid their due and have no more to contribute without further damaging their own pocketbooks, their own families.

Just as there were opposing forces in the first US Civil War, there were opposing forces in the 1930s that demanded minimum incomes for every American, a “cap” on incomes for every American, Social Security, a jobs program of its time, and favored status for labor unions. Again at the time that President Johnson declared a “War on Poverty,” (which, by the way, Poverty won), the takers gained ascendancy for a time. So, just as in the battles of the first US Civil War, it has been a back-and-forth tug of war over the decades since Bull Run. For those who have been living on another planet – this nation is divided. It may be extremely difficult, even impossible, for those on the receiving end to thank the TEA Party. So be it. Just as an unruly child is saved from a horrible end by being disciplined by a responsible adult, the TEA Party has saved the takers from certain disaster that would have doomed everyone in America ultimately.
Frank Hyland is a long-time Writer/Editor who has written for The New Media Alliance, and also for The Reality Check and has appeared weekly on Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Conservatism on Sunday evenings on Blog Talk Radio, along with Babe Huggett and Warner Todd Huston.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001