Archive for July 4th, 2012

Reflections on Independence Day

July 4th is a great day.  For most Americans, it’s a day off from work and a chance to spend time with family, enjoy a barbecue, and watch fireworks.  I wonder, though, how many Americans will know what we’re really celebrating today … and, if we really think about it, whether we should be celebrating at all.

Every year at this time, as I reflect upon the meaning of Independence Day, I find myself drawn to the Language of the Declaration of Independence, especially this portion:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

In the words of our founders, this is what justified the creation of a new government … “a long train of abuses and usurpations…”  These words were written, of course, largely because the King of Britain was passing laws with which we as Americans did not agree, forcing us to pay taxes without our consent, including taxes to fund Britain’s military conquests in other parts of the world.

I love America, and I can’t stress that enough.  However, I can’t help but feel, in many ways, like we’re back where we were in 1776.  For instance …

Why does “our” government encourage banks to foreclose on Americans instead of modifying mortgages (by insuring/guaranteeing payment of mortgages in full, to include default interest at 18% and any bogus fees and costs a bank can include in a foreclosure), then sell those foreclosed homes in bulk and in secret to uber-wealthy, third-party investors?  Does everyone not see how this is a widespread, system that has been designed to help big banks and the .001% to the detriment of everyday Americans?  And why does the media not discuss this story?  “Our” government has created a perverse system where untold number of Americans are being foreclosed, and while it’s the banks doing the foreclosing, it’s often “our” government that foots the bill, takes title to the property, and sells the property to those with an eight-figure net worth.  I can’t be the only one who thinks that’s the sort of stuff that prompted the drafting of the Declaration of Independence in the first place.

This is hardly just an issue of foreclosure …

Why does “our” government think it’s okay that we’re nearly $16 trillion dollars in debt?  That’s nearly $50,000 per person.  Per person!  Apparently, that’s American politics in 2012 – “spend now so as to get elected now, without regard for who foots the bill later, after I’m out of office.”

Why does “our” government think it’s okay to endlessly print money via the Federal Reserve System?  Every time more money is printed, we all become poorer.  If you don’t understand why that’s so, read this.

Why does “our” government keep spending trillions on wars?  What is this accomplishing?  And how can anyone justify it given the state of affairs in America over the past several years?  The iinterplay between wars and the Fed is appalling – we keep printing money to fund wars we don’t need … yet nobody seems to care.

Why has ”our” government created a system where bank profits are privatized but losses are socialized?  This chart lends some insight …

Why does “our” government force us to pay for healthcare we might not want?  Look … obviously I’d like for everyone to have health care.  But I don’t view this as a political issue; I see it as an economic one.  ”Our” government created Social Security and Medicare, and those programs are essentially bankrupt.  America is trillions in debt and “our” government has no idea how it’s going to fund the Social Security and Medicare programs we already have in place.  Is now really the time to have more spending?

I hate to sound like a downer on a national holiday.  Don’t misunderstand – I’m still going to celebrate today.  After all, it’s Independence Day, and we’re certainly doing better than many other countries in the world.

However, I can’t help but doubt how “independent” … how “free” … we truly are.  And I can’t help but read the words of our forefathers and wonder if the day is coming where we have to declare our independence from “our” government, a government that, in my view, has run completely amuck and is totally divorced from the beliefs and desires of everyday Americans.

Mark Stopa

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