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Play Ball By Charles Payne

It is opening day for America's favorite pastime that ushers in summer, fun and freedom. It feels great, but more and more it's a nostalgia that's not all together true anymore. All-American items fifty years ago may indeed have been these:

Apple Pie

But nowadays there's no doubt these things are more popular:


Okay, I have to admit fudge seems odd, but a couple of Google searches came up with that answer with chocolate cake a strong second place. As for favorite fast food items, fried chicken and tacos now top hotdogs. Still, even non-baseball fans get excited at the notion of an end to winter and a renewal process that means new chances. In so many ways that's been the story of America from the very beginning, a new chance, birth by freedom.

As the nation fought more and more to become a more perfect union, somewhere along the way we may have peaked and could in fact be fading from the kind of backdrop that fostered the evolution of the greatest country. As a percentage of the global economy, the United States peaked in the 1950s. America is the world's lone super power, but I can't remember the last war the country won as we are pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan and turning a blind eye to conflicts where oil isn't at stake.

The things we enjoy are being changed for our safety, so soon football players may all have to run upright with the use of helmets in tackling and blocking prohibited. And the way things are going, we could one day see hamburgers and fudge replaced by tofu and wheatgrass shakes. Okay, that's a little farfetched, but what's not farfetched is the fact powerful forces want to intrude on our lives in such a way that we'll have to eat what others deem is good for us, not considering what we like or what feels good for our soul.

That change in sports, food and even being able to express religious beliefs is part of a greater battle that I see as Old America versus New America.

Old vs. New

In the latest update, Freedom in the 50 States, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University ranked epicenters of liberal thinking as places in America with the least amount of freedom. The report doesn't even take into account how people with different opinions are treated in these places that brag of open-mindedness. The report was based on three categories:

Fiscal Policy
Regulatory Policy
Personal Freedom

The study underscores, on a micro point of view, why the welfare state and guilt associated with fanning flames of anger and filling government coffers with funds that are never enough, really enslaves people and makes prosperity harder to attain. Why is it that great and generous states have the poorest people, highest crime rates, and widest gaps in income inequality?

It is all a farce, and sadly it's spreading. Consequently, those states that hark back to an era of freedom that allowed people to take risks, encouraged people to take risks instead of cowering under the umbrella of government "help" that never seems to leave recipients smarter, richer or free.

Home of the Brave...

The land of the free and the home of the brave ... rings truer now than in 1814 when 35-year old lawyer Francis Scott Key wrote "Defence of Fort McHenry." The poem was inspired from watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British during the War of 1812. These days America is fighting a different war, it's a civil tug of war over a transition or "fundamental change" that would see the individual cede inalienable rights in return for the need to not to have to be brave, not have to endure doubt, not have to struggle.

The irony of this battle between Old America and New America is we are already seeing the winners and losers.

Old America was about the freedom to overcome hurdles with a backdrop of few regulations and economic deterrents.

The New America is about massive taxes and regulations to pay for a nanny state that supposedly has no hurdles.

Places in America that still believe individuals can pull themselves up by the bootstraps have seen huge inflows of people, jobs and opportunities. Those that promote Big Brother via Big Government have witnessed an exodus of people, jobs and hope. In both cases we are seeing self-fulfilling realities that are fracturing the nation into one of great satisfaction and pride and one of self-doubt and limited opportunities.