BETWEEN THE LINES: The luck of the draw

The game of blackjack emulates life in that it combines the elements of skill and chance to determine outcomes. In any given hand, the winner is determined by the luck of the draw; however, over the course of a lifetime, skill and experience determine the real winners. Life is very similar.

We do not have a choice in who our parents are or in what country we are born. Nor can we choose the time of our birth. As a baby boomer born in 1946, I might have been fortunate enough to have lived during the zenith of American history.  What history tells us is that great civilizations rise and fall.

The progressives of the 20th century sought to eliminate the consequences of disparity of income and intelligence through utopian legislation designed to level the playing field. As a result, government spending has gone from 4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product to its current level of 24 percent and climbing.

The results of these socialistic efforts have been tabulated, and the number of disadvantaged citizens has increased. By passing laws creating a disincentive to work, our politicians have made more people slaves to government bureaucracies. Their idealistic schemes have failed to take into account human nature. Perhaps they failed to understand the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln when he said, “You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could do for themselves.”

If one wanted to predict our future, he or she only needs to look at Europe where the progressive movement had a head start. Economically speaking, it is a disaster, with the exception of Germany, which is forced to bail out the euro to avoid an economic downturn.

Across the pond, unemployment is skyrocketing, especially among the young.  Birth rates are declining to the point new citizens are no longer replacing the dying. Church attendance has been in a free fall for years in the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation. The family is in decline as fewer choose to marry. Multiculturalism has destroyed unity. Putting it in basketball terms, Europeans are playing as individuals rather than as a team.

For far too long, we have been concerned about the hand we have been dealt instead of how best to play it. Throughout my lifetime, I have met many people who have overcome adversity. As a highly materialistic society, we have based our success on our bank accounts and retirement benefits.

Why is it that within the same family under virtually identical circumstances, some children succeed while others fail? The answer is simple: It is the choices people make that determine their destiny. The same holds true for our religious walk. God gives us a set of directions that are in our best interest, but because our creator gives us free will, it becomes our choice. When we make poor decisions, we suffer the consequences of our actions.

It appears to me that God’s tough love approach is much more realistic than the utopian dreams of the progressives.

Laughlin is a Christian Libertarian. He is an economist, teacher, father, husband and most recently a grandfather. He has written a weekly column for The Tribune for 13 years. He and his wife Gina reside in Meadowlakes. To contact him, email He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company.

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