The Big Rock Candy Mountain

by TOM MCLAUGHLIN August 31, 2012

People on both sides of the political spectrum believe our country is more polarized than ever, and it is accelerating. I believe they're right. Why is that? Full disclosure: for those of you who are not regular readers of this column, I'm a conservative. I write from that perspective and with that bias, but I spent fifteen years as a true-believing, politically-active leftist before moving rightward in my world view. Others have followed this left-to-right path including Ronald Reagan and it gives us a wider view of what's going on around us. Recent rhetoric emanating from the presidential election campaign is focusing my thinking on this political dichotomy.

Into this maelstrom of thoughts last Sunday came my parish priest's sermon, or homily as we Catholics call it. He reminded us there were not enough priests anymore to say mass at the various "cluster" churches. I called him our parish priest, but he's actually serving several parishes because priests who serve only one parish are a luxury the Portland, Maine diocese can not longer provide. Hence the clusters of parishes, but even this recent reorganization isn't enough to provide the basic services we Catholics used to take for granted. Church buildings are closing and being sold on the already-glutted real estate market. St. Andre's in Biddeford, Maine up for sale

So what's the connection? What resonated in me listening to the homily? Several things, but here I'll offer a few. I looked around at the people in the pews and the demographic was the now-familiar one in Catholic churches all over Maine and Massachusetts: most of the heads were white or bald. The old vastly outnumbered the young. Numbers-wise, things are bad for Catholics in New England and getting worse. We have too many buildings and not enough people. Too few of the people remaining want to attend mass anymore. Too few men want to serve as priests anymore. Too few babies are being born.

Plenty of people are having sex - probably more than ever - but babies are being prevented or killed when they do form in the womb - about 50 million since Roe V Wade in 1973. Of those allowed to be born, one-in-three have single mothers, three-out-of-four among blacks. The big, ornate, old churches being closed up and sold were built by small donations of immigrants and the children and grandchildren of immigrants who came to the United States to build lives for themselves - religiously, politically, and economically - because they were free to do so here in a country that prized those freedoms above all others. They "asked not what their country could do for them, but what they could do for their country," to paraphrase that great-grandson of immigrants who was inaugurated president in 1961.

Immigration is increasing, but a growing percentage of immigrants have very different motives for coming here. More than one-in-three now ask what the country can do for them rather than what they can do for the country. They go right on welfare even though many are illegal aliens. Both political parties recruit them, but especially Democrats. Obama Administration officials even recruit them in Mexico with promises of welfare when they arrive.

Maine Governor LePage observed recently that we have more people receiving welfare here than we have taxpayers. Similar trends are evident nationally. Nearly half of Americans pay no federal income taxes and many or those receive checks from the IRS instead of sending them in the form of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Nearly half of Americans receive some form of assistance from the federal government.

chart_americans on feeral assistance

Nonetheless, an article in the Washington Examiner described a US Government web site "": "More Americans rely on their families for assistance than the government, so federal officials have undertaken an effort to help people to apply for federal assistance."

There it is. The Obama Administration wants people to depend on more on government than on their families.

"Ask not what your family can do for you."

"Ask not what you can do for yourself."

"Ask what government can do for you."

Those are the principles of the Democrat Party and so-called moderate Republicans. Don't look to your faith, your family, yourself. Look to government. God is not omnipotent. Government is. Government will pay for your contraception, and if we can get those conservative Republicans out of power, government will pay for your abortions too. Don't worry. Be happy. This can go on forever. We'll just keep borrowing from the Chinese and then pay them back with printed money from the fed. Poster signed by Pete Seeger for sale on Ebay

Don't listen to those conservatives who say we're heading for bankruptcy. Life is good here on "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" as it says at the end of verse five of the anthem sung by old, communist Pete Seeger:

I'm bound to stay
Where you sleep all day,
Where they hung the jerk
That invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

Don't strain yourself pulling that wagon. Hop on and take a ride. Contributing Editor Tom McLaughlin is a (now retired) history teacher and a regular weekly columnist for newspapers in Maine and New Hampshire. He writes about political and social issues, history, family, education and Radical Islam.  Email him at


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