Limited Taxation
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Barbara's Column
January 2000 #1

Predictions for 2000:
Personal Responsibility Makes a Comeback

by Barbara Anderson
(Submitted December 30, 1999; published first week in January)

I am writing this column in one century, and you are reading it in the next: has anything changed in your last few days that I should know about before I start?

Are you reading by electric light, or candle light? Was there a terrorist attack somewhere? Did Jesus come for the good people? Did I get to go?

With this uncertainty about where I am, it's hard to make predictions for the coming if it is year. Barring the end of the world, the earth will travel once around the sun, which every day will appear to rise in the east. This mix of scientific fact and sensory illusion is as sure as I get even in normal circumstances, when the first two digits of recorded time don't change at the stroke of midnight.

Progress depends upon people setting aside their uncertainty, though, so here is my own prediction for 2000 and into the new century/millennium.

Morality will make a comeback. I am not referring to organized religion or transcendental spirituality, necessarily, but to the general concept of objective right and wrong. Eight years of Bill Clinton illustrated what we all really knew: my generation's rebellion, while healthy in many ways, was flawed. Sex, love and rock & roll are not enough.

Albert Einstein may deservedly be Time Magazine's Person of this Century, but we must remember that relativity is only a theory. Petr Beckmann, who began pondering the theory in the late 1950s at Prague's Institute of Radio Engineering, used technology after his defection to the U.S. that was not available to Einstein in 1919. Eight years ago, Dr. Beckmann told AmericanSpectator correspondent Tom Bethel that "the aberration of light from binary stars definitely refutes Einstein." Whatever. Whether the Person of the Century was correct or not, the distortion of his scientific discoveries into "the age of relative morality" upset the theoretical underpinnings of our western culture.

I predict that these distortions will be challenged. We may not have finally determined what is and what is not, what is right and what is wrong, but I predict that we'll begin to appreciate that it's objectively "out there" to be discovered by each of us. I predict a monument will be erected in the public consciousness, if not the Public Garden, to Personal Responsibility.

This idea comes from a Berry's World cartoon I clipped years ago, which shows people reading the inscription on a statue of a rather ordinary looking man: "He assumed responsibility for his own actions." The people look impressed, as well they should be.

Pop psychology reached thousands of present-day leaders in the '70s with Erhard Seminar Training (EST), which taught its trainees to take total responsibility for all they experience, to stop blaming everyone else for what is wrong in their lives.

Even public policy, which usually promotes dependency, has been leaning in this direction with welfare reform and student testing. Parental choice in education is a concept which implies parents choosing to take responsibility for their kids instead of assuming that the government schools will do well by them. I predict that charter schools and vouchers will gain popularity, that the teachers unions' power will continue to decline.

In my own area of initiative politics, I predict that Massachusetts ballot questions will be decided on arguments that have reference to the new morality. Voters will cut the income tax not for the money but for the principle: that promises about temporary tax hikes should be kept. They may, however, give much of their savings away, after also voting for the income tax credit for charitable contributions.

Voters will reject government-controlled health care but will continue to pursue personal responsibility for their health. Marijuana will be discouraged as a way to avoid facing reality but encouraged for medical purposes. Voters will decide on the pesticide issue by responsibly weighing which is more harmful to their personal environment, chemicals or bugs.

The race tracks could preserve dog racing but only if they take responsibility for creating retirement compounds, with lots of room to run, for aging greyhounds. If not, the movement for people to take responsibility for the well-being of God's other creatures, which has been gaining strength, will win another ballot campaign.

As I write this, Armageddon may be coming: if it does, I hope my support for the new morality has me sitting on the right side of that judgment angel. If, as I suspect, it does not, then I predict that the fairly arbitrary determination that we are entering a new era will cause a shift in our consciousness anyhow.

My prediction boldly quotes a favorite 20th century television series: we will "boldly go where no man has gone before," toward a world in which human beings assume responsibility for their own actions, just like the guy in the cartoon. Happy New Year.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation.  Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem Evening News, the Cape Cod Journal, the Lowell Sun, and MediaNews Group newspapers around the state; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette.

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