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America’s refusal to pick its own cotton, mow its own lawns and raise its own children reaps predictable harvest

Most of you have probably read this by now…

An apocryphal tale tells of an American who claimed to own George Washington’s axe. “Three times,” he exclaims, the axe has “had its handle replaced, and twice had its head replaced!”

This is a joke that has been rendered in more serious form by philosophers throughout the ages — perhaps most famously in Plutarch’s Life of Theseus — and it may be time now to consider it in relation to the United States. People and countries change, as they must. But, as with Washington’s axe, to change too much is to invite the possibility not merely of alteration, but of replacement. Predicated, as it is, on an established set of principles — rather than merely on geographical or racial fact — America could presumably reach a point at which it could no longer usefully be called America. How close to that point are we? (…)

Worse, as David Harsanyi has observed, “the president’s central case rests on the idea that individuals should view government as society’s moral center, the engine of prosperity and the arbiter of fairness.”


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