John Andrist: God Bless America

As a self-employed person I never cared much for holidays. When you work for somebody else your day is over at 5 o’clock, or whenever your work shift ends.

When you are self-employed your  day always ends with some work not being finished.

Holidays complicated getting the paper to bed, or getting it delivered.  So we had to squeeze more work into other days surrounding a holiday.

But I think my favorite holiday was the 4th of July.

Memorial Day and Veterans Day carried some obligations, paying homage for gifts of sacrifice and valor. Easter and Christmas required church activity for reflection.

President’s Day and Columbus Day were mostly for schools, banks, and government workers — entitlements I guess.

You had to buy candy or flowers for Valentine’s Day, and you had the obligation of hosting relatives and a meal for either Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. On Thanksgiving Day it was required that we be thankful for overeating.

But nobody expects anything of you on the 4th of July. It’s your day. Do what you want or don’t do what you don’t feel like doing.

I guess Labor Day is a near second. New Year’s Day becomes a more distant third, because we aren’t smart enough to schedule it in the summer time. So we just sit inside, eat and watch football, and otherwise lethargically waste the day and our bodies.

The Canadians seem to be much smarter than we are in this regard, because almost all of their holidays are scheduled in the summer.

The 4th of July would be perfect for me if we didn’t have firecrackers, but I can even put up with them until perhaps 10:30 at night.

One of the really great things about Independence Day is patriotic music. It’s hard to think of a patriotic song I don’t like.

Some patriotic music creates a tear or two, but those are good tears, like the ones that slip out at the funeral of a special friend.

The only really bad thing about July 4 is the high accidental death rate. So July 5 we get to exercise sighs when nobody has drowned or been killed in a car accident.

This is a pretty whimsical excuse for a column, I guess, but what do you expect? It’s a holiday for me too, you know.

The Candor of Tom Sowell

Do you know Dr. Thomas Sowell? Me neither.

He happens to be a black over achiever, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, raised in Harlem, and educated at Harvard, Colombia and Chicago.  He is an economist who has taught at Cornell, Brandeis, The Urban Institution, UCLA and now at Stanford.

Here’s a sample of his wisdom:

“Too much of what is called ‘education’ is little more than an isolation from reality.”

“The welfare state is the oldest con game in the world. First you take people’s money away quietly, and then you give some of it back to them flamboyantly.”

“I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you’ve earned, but not greed to want to take away somebody else’s money.”

And finally, this one, which may seem a little bit crass to some of you:

“One of the consequences of such notions as entitlements is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to gift us with their presence.”

I mostly like that one because I don’t think there really is such a thing as an entitlement.

I can buy into the belief that it is important for us to be Samaritans — healing, clothing, and feeding the needy. But we should be dong these things as a sense of honor, not as an obligation.

Jesus told us much about the way we should live, by example as well as by words, but I always read it as a gift of love, rather than an entitlement

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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