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Commentary: The signs of the times are not encouraging

The sign at the Duluth Air Expo last weekend read "F16's Kill." That was certainly a profound statement. I'll refer to it as stupid. The sign should have read "Commercial airlines kill people," especially in the hands of terrorists who snuffed ou...

The sign at the Duluth Air Expo last weekend read "F16's Kill." That was certainly a profound statement. I'll refer to it as stupid.

The sign should have read "Commercial airlines kill people," especially in the hands of terrorists who snuffed out the lives of some 3,000 innocent men, women and children on Sept. 11, 2001. What is happening to our society today, have we all gone mad? Sometime, in recent history, a segment of our citizens has learned to use the term "freedom" to suit their own purpose ... and the results are obvious.

Granted, this writer grew up in a different generation, a generation of poor but proud Americans. My mother and father didn't have a window or a pot in those early days, but they did have something much more significant, a desire to live and work in a free society and benefit from their own ambitions in life. Handouts simply did not exist; only dedicated hard work put milk and bread on the table. There's no need to dwell on this, many of you reading this column remember those days well. Many of you who didn't witness the 1930s and 1940s don't have a clue, and that's understandable, too.

What is bothersome, however, is a growing attitude in our neighborhoods that the government owes us and those are the signs of the times that are taking away the true benefits of our free society. It's just too easy today to hold our hands out and ignore a profound statement given to us in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, namely, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." That statement may seem laughable to some, but it has a far-reaching reflection on the growth and development of America dating back to the pioneer days of yesteryear.

The term freedom today seems to be skewered to fit individual tastes and interests. That's the sign of the times that is most disturbing.

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The Bill Gates of the world are the real present day pioneers. Gates and others associated with computer science, have changed our lives forever, but because of their successes, they are considered the bad guys. Our government decided to punish Gates for his extraordinary ability at Microsoft and ordered a breakup of his company. Some will say that was a good idea, but history suggests otherwise. The point is, government has allowed itself to grow way out of proportion, and we, as citizens, have had little or nothing to say. In fact, we have encouraged this growth and takeover of our lives by a federal government out of control.

These are the signs of discouragement that are plaguing our society today. We encourage people not to work so the government welfare system can take care of them. As a result, department after department has been expanded to "help" people. In reality, all this help has expanded government to a point where we simply cannot afford it anymore. Every time someone in government has an idea, a whole new department is created to make it work. It isn't just social services, the arm of government is everywhere, and it continues to grow by the second.

Is it any wonder taxpayers are revolting and demanding a halt to all this madness? Locally, 50 years ago, we had 27,000 children in our public schools system. Four administrators with a limited staff operated out of a small school building across the street from the old Duluth Central building. Today, with approximately 11,000 children, four floors of the old Central building are filled with desks, classrooms and staff to operate the system. The federal government has played a large role in this staff expansion, and now local taxpayers are at a crossroads trying to keep the system alive and well. These are the signs of trouble posing a serious challenge to our leadership and our ability to cope with a changing world.

Sorry to share this frustration with you. Got any ideas?

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The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.