F r e e d o m W i r e ~ J u l y 4 , 2 0 0 3
Uncelebrating the Fourth
by Harry Browne
Unfortunately, July 4th has become a day of deceit.
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress formally declared its
independence from Great Britain. Thirteen years later, after a
difficult war to secure that independence, the new country was open
It was truly unique -- the first nation in all of history in which the
individual was considered more important than the government, and the
government was tied down by a written Constitution.
It was the one nation where you could live your life secure in the
knowledge that no one would ask for your papers, where you weren't
identified by a number, and where the government wouldn't extort a
percentage of your income as the price of holding a job.
And so each year July 4th has been a commemoration of the freest
country in history.
But the America that's celebrated no longer exists.
The holiday oratory deceitfully describes America as though it were
the unique land of liberty that once was. Politicians thank the
Almighty for conferring the blessings of liberty on a country that no
longer enjoys those blessings. The original freedom and security have
disappeared -- even though the oratory lingers on.
What made America unique is now gone, and we are much the same as
Germany, France, England, or Spain, with:
* confiscatory taxes,
* a Constitution and Bill of Rights that are symbolic only --
merely documents used to justify governmental actions that
are in fact prohibited by those documents,
* business regulated by the state in the most minute detail,
* no limits on what Congress or the President might decide to do.
Yes, there are some freedoms left, but nothing like the America that
was -- and nothing that you can't find in a few dozen other countries.
Gone, too, is the sense of peace and security that once reigned
throughout the land. America -- bound by two huge oceans and two
friendly neighbors -- was subject to none of the never-ending wars and
destruction that plagued Europe and Asia.
Now, however, everyone's business is America's business. Our
Presidents consider themselves the rulers of the world -- deciding who
may govern any country on earth and sending Americans to die enforcing
Whereas America was once an inspiration to the entire world --
its very existence was proof that peace and liberty really were
possible -- Americans now live in fear of the rest of the world and
the rest of the world lives in fear of America.
Because the education of our children was turned over to government in
the 19th century, generations of Americans have been taught that
freedom means taxes, regulations, civic duty, and responsibility for
the whole world. They have no conception of the better life that could
exist in a society in which government doesn't manage health care,
education, welfare, and business -- and in which individuals are free
to plot their own destinies.
Human beings are born with the desire to make their own decisions and
control their own lives. But in most countries government and social
pressures work to teach people to expect very little autonomy.
Fortunately, in America a remnant has kept alive the ideas of liberty,
peace, and self-respect -- passing the concepts on from generation to
generation. And so today millions of Americans know that the present
system isn't the right system -- that human beings aren't born to
serve the state and police the world.
Millions more would be receptive upon being shown that it's possible
to have better lives than what they're living now.
Both groups need encouragement to quit supporting those who are taking
freedom away from them.
You and I may not have the money and influence to change America by
ourselves, but we can keep spreading the word -- describing a better
society in which individuals are truly free and government is in
chains (instead of the opposite).
And someday we may reach the people who do have the money and
influence to persuade tens of millions of Americans to change our
country for the better.
I don't know that it's going to happen, but I do know it's possible. I
know that the urge to live one's own life is as basic in human beings
as the will to live and the desire to procreate. If we keep plugging
away, we may eventually tap into that urge and rally the forces
necessary to restore the real America.
And then the 4th of July will be worth celebrating again.
FreedomWire is Harry Browne's email list.
Harry Browne was the presidential candidate of the
Libertarian Party in 1996 and 2000. He is currently
the Director of Public Policy for the American Liberty
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