Happy Fourth of July
My favorite holiday. Not because of the barbecues that could be held any other day. Not because of the parades, of which there are many for many other holidays. Even not for the fireworks, which are rather spectacular. (In 1986 I was in Lake Charles, Louisiana, for the Fourth, and there were no fireworks or parades. I wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper, the American Press, complaining. “Couldn’t the city work with the biggest companies in town to come up with a few thousand bucks worth of fireworks?” I asked. They published that letter. The next year there was the biggest fireworks display Lake Charles ever had. I’m not sure if my letter caused the act, but I sure like to think so.)
No, I love the holiday for what it celebrates – the first time in history that any group of people did say to a king – “go jump in a lake, and take the crown with you.” And then we set up a free republic that relied on each other. Not since the dawn of recorded history was there a national polity where all citizens were equal, endowed by their Creator (amazingly, our First Amendment gives voice to the reality that everyone has a different version of their Creator, which all are allowed to believe in their own way,) with certain inalienable rights. Life, liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. What a call to arms. To be happy.
Every other call to arms of mankind was for the glory of the king and his state. Every other people on earth were given such “rights” as the king saw fit, and such “rights” were taken away at the capricious whim of one man. Life was cheap to kings. They slaughtered people of the neighboring kings, and they slaughtered their own for having the temerity to ask for liberty. Every king on earth did look at his people as mere fodder for his wishes. It was not only Louis XIV who thought the state was he. No, every king did think that. They all believed in Royal Prerogative. And every religion gave the king the “moral” authority to say so. Not that there was, or is, anything moral about one man having sway over the liberty of any other, as our 13th Amendment does say so clearly, too.
Liberty, that thing which is defined more by what it is not than by what it is. It is not having the government, the king, the potentate by any moniker, tell you what to do with your life or your money. What you do with liberty is your business. How we keep it is our business. The liberty is ours, it does not belong to the government or the governors, as they have grown to expect. But, all that’s asked is don’t go too far in your liberty by taking the life or money of anyone else. It’s simple, right there in the 10 Commandments:
Though shall not steal. Though shall not covet.
Not hard to follow.
But oh how theft, and covetousness, and lying to aid and abet the dishonoring of mankind has come to the surface in pernicious ways. Now we have a government that has slowly been returning to the ways of kings of old, and modern potentates who masquerade as presidents of democratic republics, or prime ministers of ancient parliaments. It didn’t start with Obama. It might not end with him. But it will end.
There is much argument about when the slip back to potentate power began. Some say even as far back as Lincoln, but more so Woodrow Wilson, and then Teddy Roosevelt. Some date the tipping point to FDR. Or perhaps it was the creation of both the Federal Reserve Board and the income tax. Perhaps all these were merely akin to small princes and dukes in ancient France, after the fall of the Roman Empire by 500 AD, which took 1000 years to coalesce into the French State of 1500. Little men who fought endlessly for power. Who killed all in their way for the power of Empire. Sure, they were tiny. So was the EPA when it was founded. And the Department of Education, et al.
Now, we don’t have a Prince of Massachusetts, but that was the concept behind “Teddy Kennedy’s seat.” But we do have a “prince” of Energy, and one of Health. And sure too a Duke of Education, and of Commerce, and Housing, and Urban Development. Look at all the fiefdoms set up. These bureacracies of our times are just as inscrutable in their hold over the life and liberty of We the People as the Dukes of Guise, Navarre, Cumberland and Cornwall ever possessed in the Middle Ages. In fact, from 500 to 1500 AD there was a lot of liberty if only because the state, nor any local duke, could not pull together the power to recreate the ancient power of Caesar and Pharaoh.
But they tried. Charlemagne got himself declared Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day 800 AD, by the Pope. Wow, what a gift to find under the tree. And he spent decades trying to rule every aspect of everyone’s life. The rules and regulations pushed by that man outlined every thing a person might encounter in his life. From food, to housing, to clothing, to travel, to business, to worship. And what would our bureaucrats do?
The FDA, the EPA, HUD, OSHA, FCC, FAA, NTSB, CAFE and a thousand others — all are merely replacements for what Charlemagne had to rely on: his Dukes in small plots of land. But we in the modern era use technology and communications to divide it up by type and not geography, but princely it remains. And with each new rule there’s less liberty. Thus life is stunted, and worse, happiness unpursuible.
Which is why with little editing we could substitute the name of King George for our president today in the Declaration of Independence. (Yah, and the “Merciless savages, destroying all ages, sexes and conditions,” are merely the Muslims with which our current president comports himself.) I’m not sure if any other person who would have got to the presidency in 2008 would have done any less in aggrandizing the power of the state than Obama did. McCain wanted that TARP and bailout thing too, after all, and health care reform for sure. Sure, the style would be different, and surely the competence in doing it too. But still, many of the forces towards tyranny and kingship in all but name were already well in place. The IRS was there. Along with the entire alphabet soup of agencies, subagencies, divisions, bureaus and what have yous – each having authority from someone up the chain of command in fief, until all was in the royalist Oval Office, our tiny throne room. It’s as convoluted as any chart of fielties and fiefdoms of France or England or Spain in the year 1500. All the feudal characteristics are back.
Up to and including forfeiture of assets to the state should you befall afoul of the decress of the king, which are inscrutable. So vaguely worded now are the laws, that there is endless maneuverability for the rich and powerful and connected, like courtiers of ancient Louis du Paris, to get out of it, and so little the citizen can do to stop the onslaught, we the serfs, as it were. Working already five months or more of each year for the state, more than Medieval serfs had to. And still subject to forfeiture at the whim of a prosecutor who can pull out such vague statutes as RICO. Not to mention the morass of rules and regulations of every other agency with its own law enforcement powers, of which there are now dozens, if not hundreds, equal to the number of princes and dukes in Ancient France and beyond.
That they all operate from secure castle like locations, behind knights in shining armor and thick walls, and sentries patrolling the perimeter like any ancient castle on a crag is most instructive of the depth and length of the return of princely rule. So fearful of the people that they hide in their warrens of offices which are as thickly put as those rooms in massive castles surrounded by moats. Go to Europe, see the glory.
Then too, there’s the power of the presidency, now done more by Excutive Order and “Emergency Powers” and “continuing resolutions” and “cabinet agency rules and regulations,” and “findings” and “signing statements” and “authorizations to act as the president shall determine” and by power given by unread laws crafted by unknown henchmen, often relatives and friends of the princely powerful themselves, and voted on by compliant parliaments, to vast swarms of bureacracies with no other purpose than to eat out the substance of the people to support their own sinecures. Not unlike the Counts of Foix in the 1100s who collected taxes and ruled the south of France in the name of the French King in Paris who had virtually no power other than suasion to get his share. The communications were just too difficult.
Now it’s the scope and size and scale that is the obstacle. Any president, however genius and competent he might be, simply is unable to police, control, command or know what millions of his underlings are doing and why. So those petty underlings amass power to themselves, unrestrained by anyone or anything save the bleatings of the supplicants for crumbs in the form of a favorable reading of an obfuscatory law.
Such is our Republic of the Day.
So our Declaration is re-applicable today.
So our fortunes and sacred honor is put towards stopping the onslaught of rising royalism.
And stopped it will be.
For freedom is sort of like toothpaste, once out of the tube it ain’t going back in.
And though we now be in a trough, feeding on the royal will, and seemingly lost in our Pursuits of Life, Liberty and Happiness, I’m seeing more and more every day the uprising of the, um, peasants. We the People are so visibly and audibly upset that overthrowing the princes in one way or the other is now certain. Fortunately for them We the People already did the hard work of Declaring that Certain truths are self evident. And that not for transient causes will we overthrow the usurpations of the power of the people by pretended princes. But we will, for we have right and duty, abolish such forms of government inimicable to Liberty and establish a new form of government.
Remember, if this Constitution of ourse is broken, or outdated, as so many Leftists say, then they should be well aware that We the People will one day make it much more clearer, in modern language, just exactly how limited any government will be. And it will not be a socialist republic that’s for sure.
So enjoy your last few years of the Ancien Regime of growing presidential power, Mr. Obama. And thanks for making it oh so clear as to how bad it’s got.
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