Jan Larimer is the co-chair of the Republican National Committee.
In the 222 years since our Constitution was ratified, the trajectory of American ingenuity has always been on the rise. It was Americans who through their sweat and toil drove innovation in agriculture and powered the industrial revolution. It was Americans who through their entrepreneurial spirit sparked the technological revolution that gave rise to the internet and the digital era.
Nancy Pelosi made it clear last week that she would bring all of that to an end. Does she think America is not a place for men and women to rise through the virtue of hard work? In Nancy Pelosi's America, work is not much more than an unnecessary distraction. In her view of the American experiment, the primary function of government is to provide welfare benefits—not to serve as a protector of rights endowed by our Creator.
Nancy Pelosi's world view became clear last week as she spoke at an Asian American and Pacific Islander summit about the recently enacted health care legislation. While speaking to the group, she said: "We see (the health care bill) as an entrepreneurial bill, a bill that says to someone, if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent, your skill, your passion, your aspirations because you will have health care. You won't have to be job locked."
One wonders if Pelosi understands the nature of work and the history of America at all. Generations of Americans before us did not grow our nation into a superpower by ignoring their talents, their skills and their passions so that they could toil away in jobs in which they were locked. The great leaps forward that built America came about precisely because inspired Americans pursued their dreams within a system that rewarded innovation. Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb because he felt locked in his job. He found his passion, focused his talent and applied his skills toward work that would reward him.
The same could be said of the Wright Brothers, Alexander Graham Bell, or Henry Ford. In America, people have the freedom to apply their labor toward work that is personally as well as financially rewarding. That is a powerful combination.
It is not necessary to look that far into the distant past for examples of Pelosi's foolishness. The end state that is inevitable under her view of how our economy should work can be seen even today in Greece. For generations, Greece piled debt on to itself in order to finance welfare benefits such as unemployment insurance, old-age assistance and health insurance. In 2009, Greece's budget deficit equaled 13.6 percent of its gross domestic product.
Meanwhile, thanks largely to deficit spending pushed by Speaker Pelosi, America's budget deficit today equates to nearly 10 percent of our GDP. According to the Congressional Budget Office, America's total debt load will equate to 90 percent of our GDP by 2020.
The current path that Nancy Pelosi would have us take is unsustainable. The end result when leaders like Pelosi value welfare benefits over personal industry is national ruin. Our belief in America tells us that it can't happen here, but the evidence in Greece paired with our current fiscal projections tell a much different story. Pelosi's belief that work is now little more than an unnecessary distraction should trouble us on more than an economic level. Pelosi's comments strike at the very heart of the ideals on which America was founded.
Those who left Europe for America's shores in the 18th century did so for many reasons, but one of the chief among them was the freedom to work as they saw fit to provide for their families. They traveled across the sea to leave behind the caste system and indentured servitude that truly made them feel "job locked."
The generations who immigrated to America and built our nation into a superpower did so to find a better life for themselves. They came here with the knowledge that the road would not be easy, but certain in the belief that hard work would provide personal rewards.
That is the social contract that Nancy Pelosi could tear into pieces. She could replace self determination with a reliance on the government. If our nation follows her intended path, the arc of our nation will cease to press upward. It will instead be bent downward with that of Greece and the other fading nations of Europe.
If we allow it to happen, the shame will be hers but the blame will belong to all of us.