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Paul Ryan: Civic Solidarity & American Virtue

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Uploaded on Oct 26, 2011

"Saving the American Idea: Rejecting Fear, Envy and the Politics of Division"
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan -- Heritage Foundation
Full text: http://budget.house.gov/News/Document...

Telling Americans they are stuck in their current station in life, that they are victims of circumstances beyond their control, and that government's role is to help them cope with it -- well, that's not who we are. That's not what we do.

Our Founding Fathers rejected this mentality. In societies marked by class structure, an elite class made up of rich and powerful patrons supplies the needs of a large client underclass that toils, but cannot own. The unfairness of closed societies is the kindling for class warfare, where the interests of "capital" and "labor" are perpetually in conflict. What one class wins, the other loses.

The legacy of this tradition can still be seen in Europe today: Top-heavy welfare states have replaced the traditional aristocracies, and masses of the long-term unemployed are locked into the new lower class.

The United States was destined to break out of this bleak history. Our future would not be staked on traditional class structures, but on civic solidarity. Gone would be the struggle of class against class.

Instead, Americans would work, compete, and co-operate in an open market, climb the ladder of opportunity, and keep the fruits of their efforts.

Self-government and the rule of law would secure our equal, God-given rights. Our political and economic systems -- rooted in freedom and responsibility -- would reward, and thus cultivate, traditional virtues.

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