INDEPENDENCE DAY: Fireworks are a part of July 4 celebrations.
By Steve Wilson | Mississippi Watchdog
As you hit the beach, fire up the grill and watch some fireworks on this July 4, here’s something to ponder.
Independence Day celebrates the unveiling of a bold experiment of liberty built on upon a mission statement and a breakup letter all wrapped into one document known as the Declaration of Independence. Those 56 signatories knew that by signing their names to the document that severed our ties with Great Britain they’d made their lives and property forfeit in the eyes of the crown. They crossed their own Rubicon, and there was no going back.
The opening sentence doesn’t need a lot of interpretation.
“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.”
Fast forward 238 years later and I doubt they’d recognize this country. We have President Barack Obama — a former constitutional law professor, no less — who believes when Congress isn’t passing the laws he wants, he can simply draft an executive order route to get what he wants, as he did on his immigration “Dream Act.”
Our federal government’s spending is out of control, despite the so-called “grievous” cuts of the sequester. Too many states are dependent on federal largesse as a regular part of their budget, with 34 states receiving 30 percent or more of their state income from D.C. Federal money always arrives with strings attached, and that can tilt the delicate balance of federal and state power so critical to the nation’s founding.
We have an Internal Revenue Service that spent $1.8 billion on information services in 2011 and can’t find Lois Lerner’s emails — the documents that might illuminate the logic behind that agency’s targeting of conservative groups. Either $1.8 billion doesn’t buy you much in terms of secure computers and appropriate file backups, or maybe — as some suspect — the hard-drive crash that allegedly ate Lerner’s communications were purposely shredded. I’d like to say “You be the judge” but you can’t. In an agency that thrives on other people’s information, there’s simply not yet — and may never be – enough information.
We have an National Security Agency that spends an inordinate time spying on its own citizens. Our local police departments look like paramilitary militias with infantry weapons, close-quarter combat tactics and mine-resistant vehicles. Just getting onto an airplane requires an ID check, a pat down, body scanners and often a mandated removal of your shoes by the friendly folks at the Transportation Security Administration.
What can blue do for you? Not a lot if it means finding terrorists. Just ask the airplane passengers who discovered and stopped “shoebomber” Richard Reid in 2001 or “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in 2009.
We’ve strayed from the things that make us great because we believe we ought to have 100 percent security — financial, geopolitical, even emotional — and we want the federal government to provide it. We have, as Benjamin Franklin observed, traded freedom for security and gotten neither. This July Fourth, I’ll be celebrating the bravery — and the wisdom — of Franklin and his fellow travelers on the tough road of real liberty.