Friday, July 02, 2010
Let Freedom Ring indeed. Let it resonate across the land and down the valleys of this great nation as once again celebrate the birth of our nation. Let the smell of freedom mingle with the wondrous odor of hot dogs and burgers and the grill and fill the skies across the United Sates this weekend. Let the sound of freedom ring out in the sound of boat engines firing, fireworks booming and rock and roll bands rocking the dock. Watch the celebration of freedom explode across the towns and cities of America and high school bands and politicians (yeah it’s an election year. The hacks will be out. Guard your babies , they may be contagious) along with American Flags and tasteless floats of all varieties shall block up the streets for a few hours.
America, that great shining city on the hill ,is 234 years old this year. What changes we have seen as we have grown! We have welcomed generations of immigrants who have helped remake our nation, usually for the better. Too many times we have seen our sons and even our daughter grab their rifles and head off to protect our life, liberty homes. We have gone to battle to preserve our ideals and to aid the world in retaining their freedoms as well. This nation has been the source of the industrial revolution, the technology revolution and been the driver of economic global growth for decades. We have risen from a small nation yearning to be free of taxes and religious restrictions to what I truly believe is the greatest nation in the history of the world in less than 300 years.
We have not always gotten it right. There have been missteps and errors along the way. Just in the last few years we managed to export enormous piles of toxic financial crap to send the words economy reeling. The Marx Brothers could not recreate our tumultuous and almost always incorrect steps in the Middle East. We have developed a nasty tendency to elect our politicians on sound bites and some kind of mythical ideology. Yeah, I admit it, we gave you the Shah of Iran, leading to the Ayatollahs, Jimmy Carter ,George Bush the Second and our current President Dum-Dum. Slavery was a horrendous stain on our national soul that took far too long to eradicate. We also gave you Ronald Reagan, FDR and Abe Lincoln as well as a free Europe and the exported economic wealth in unheard of degrees so I think we are still way ahead of the game. The good we have done far outweighs our historical contributions. I will always be proud to be an American and celebrate the Fourth with a vengeance and ice cold cocktails.
In this year’s misguided missive on the joys of freedom and liberty I want to examine some key thoughts expressed over the years. The first comes from HL Mencken a fellow Marylander and enthusiastic imbiber of a wide variety of distilled beverages. Mencken observed that most people want security in this world not freedom. Coupled with Benjamin’s Franklins observation that they that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety and we find the most important threat to liberty we shall ever see. We were told for example that social security would give us safe and secure retirements. Instead it has turned into the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world and threatens the economic freedom of each of us.
Providing for the security of my family and myself is MY job not the governments. Get your hands out of my pocket and we will be just fine. I am not your responsibility and you are not mine. Leave me free from your ponderous taxes and my kids will eat well, go to college and achieve their dreams. I will retire or not as I so choose. That my friends if freedom. Do not I beg you allow freedom to vanish in the name of some mythical security the government can NEVER provide you, me or anyone else. Freedom comes from taking responsibility for your own life chasing your own dreams and controlling your own fiancés and destiny.
It was Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis who observed that “The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding. I get it. Feed the People! Save the Whales! Whip Inflation now! All that is well and good except that when you take money from me to fund your cause be it homes for the poor or a study of saving the microscopic weeping wood zit of Outer East South Cleveland it is theft at gunpoint. Think it’s not at gun point? Trying not paying taxes for a few years. I promise the agent that shows up too politely discuss the matter WILL be armed.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity do order and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. That is the preamble to the constitution of the United States constitution and outlines rather clearly the job of the federal government. Note that it says promote the welfare of the people not provide. The job of the Federal Government is to provide for defense and promote commerce in the eyes of our founding fathers. It is in my eyes as well.
The rest of the stuff that make up our lives was supposed to be in the hands of states and local communities. We along with our friends and neighbors were supposed to set community standards for education (anyone want to argue that the establishment of the Department of Education as a cabinet position in 1980 led to a quantum leap in the quality of education on the United States?), living and working conditions and social rights and wrongs. The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions. So too is the road to serfdom as Hayek pointed out years ago. With cumulative tax burdens on the most productive members of society well north of 50% can we say that were free?
I really do not want to come across as a ranting right winger. I am not one. In fact over the years I have been very generous with my time and my money to assist those less fortunate than I. In fact if you would stop taxing me and put down the gun I would do a lot more. So would most of us. In addition I believe in all freedoms. I really do not give two halves a shit who you sleep with, what substances you ingest or who you marry. As long as your actions do not infringe on me or mine I do not care what you do or who you are. The land of the free has to mean everyone is free to define the happiness they choose to pursue in my opinion.
Celebrate this weekend. At some point raise that frosted cocktail class to the skies and praise all those who defended that freedom and in some case died for her. Say a silent prayer of thanks for the men and women who built her with their labor and their genius. Be grateful for the steelworkers, the farmers and the business people who provided her literal and economic backbone. Scare the living shit out of neighborhood pets with the most over the top display of pyrotechnic devices your warped mind can conceive. Gather your loved ones close and light the grill. Skip over the waves at excessive speeds and dance your ass off at the dock bars. Splash in the pool and don your red white and blue. Celebrate this grand experiment 234 years in the making of freedom and individual rights. It should be celebrated with much noise, many imbibings and all the excess that earmarks being American.
Indeed celebrate the United States of America. However keep in mind the debt you owe to all those who came before you to protect and preserve the freedoms they worked, struggled and even fought to pass along to you.
God Bless the United States of America.