Friday, July 4, 2008

The Declaration of Independence

I have a 4th of July tradition. It's not going to see fireworks (although I have done that). It's not eating barbecue (although I have done that, and will do that again today). My tradition is to actually READ the Declaration of Independence each year.

A few years back, I used to post on a certain message board. I put this quote from the Declaration, and then I asked folks to comment on it - especially the question, is our government "working" for us anymore:

"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"

A few people on the board accused me of being a traitor and calling for armed insurrection against the government (which I did not, nor would I ever advocate). Others said that since we had our independence, and now had a constitution, that particular line in the Declaration no longer mattered.

I have often wondered what Jefferson, Washington and Franklin would think of the state of the Federal Government, and what they'd say about the state of the Republic. A lot think they would be proud of our actions of late. Others aren't so sure. Since I don't know, they are all dead, I can only go by what they said and wrote when they were alive. Most of their writings indicated they were DEEPLY suspicious of centralized power, and were afraid of it accumulating. Others were deeply suspicious of militarism and standing armies and foreign entanglements. Still others were repulsed by an unholy unity of organized religion and the government.

Of course we are continually told 9/11 changed all of those quaint notions of a weak central government. We had to, in the words of the recently deceased Tim Russert "Go Get Em", before they got us. And, of course, since we were a "Christian" nation, it was all a righteous cause we needed to take to combat the evil in the world (meaning all those who don't believe as we do).

Washington is ruled (yes, ruled, not governed) by a specific class of elites, lobbyists and special intersts. I don't believe it is any longer by the people and for the people. I think there are good people up there, but I believe some go to Washington with good intentions and are co-opted by the system (lured by the power and riches). Others, like Congressman Ron Paul are trying hard, but are swimming upstream.

In asking the questions how our government is working, you have to wonder about the huge outlays of money (the most recent installment of $162 BILLION, almost all of it borrowed, thus mortgaging the future of our country) for continuation of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And recently the revelation of an authorised $400 million for covert operations against Iran (many thinking that it being a preparation for ACTUAL military action). They are spending obscene amounts of money which we don't have.

Meanwhile, our economy at home is hemorrhaging deeply. Many analysts believe that rumors of more war in the gulf against Iran add $40 to $50 dollars per barrel in risk assessment. In the event of an actual war, most analysts now won't even guess at what the price of oil will be. $200? $300? $400? Our infrastructure is crumbling. Many Americans are out of work. Many Americans can't get basic access to health care. This doesn't even consider the horrible misery caused in places OTHER than America due to rising petroleum and food costs.

When pointing out these discrepancies that the money we are spending for war could be used elsewhere, Americans are basically told to shut up and not question. It is traitorous to question. And, oh, by the way to give Americans access to health care and to help them out here at home would be Socialism. We are told that they should get a job so they can get all that stuff for themselves, and that personal responsibility would solve all the problems.

Never mind, a lot of them are working and still falling further behind. Never mind that a lot of people - good hard working people who obey the rules and have faith in the system - in the months and years to come will simply be swallowed up and will not be able to survive without assistance.

What then, am I thinking on this Fourth of July? A few days ago, I wrote about 6 points regarding freedom from fear of war. I think I shall consider those my personal "Declaration of Independence".

I see signs of hubris and arrogance where there is no evidence that we are in a position to be arrogant. We need to wake the hell up before it's too late.

1 comment:

Vince Patton said...

Nice write up as usual... I'm sure you're not thinking much about the "traitor" title. Only those who have such small minds and can't think for themselves would refer to namecalling as their line of literary offense.