Independence Day should be a reminder of that to all of us - that we're only as free as we are independent. It's why we broke away from Britain. It's why the Tea Parties sprung up all over the US in the last 18 months. As our politicians do their level best to place government at the center of everything in the United States, the next two elections will illustrate whether our citizens want independence and freedom - or not.
Personally, I think the jury is out. I do believe that there is a point at which the people crave freedom. The question is whether they will gain that desire and the know-how (voting in freedom-preserving politicians) before it's too late to reverse it.
The more we look to government to be an answer to problems, the more we vote for politicians who will make us dependent on government. That's axiomatic. The more government is centralized in our lives, the less freedom we have to chart our own course and determine the direction of our own lives. Nothing that government gives us comes without serious strings attached, in part because we're the ones footing the bill and in part because government will need to control our behavior to make things work as their solutions require.
Said another way, greater and greater government is lesser and lesser individual choice. After all, the word "govern" means "to control." Don't want someone controlling your life? Then vote for less government. That too is axiomatic.
But somewhere along the way, the politicians and the media worked over the people of America and convinced them that we the people just aren't smart enough to actually manage our own affairs. It's why we suffer the expense of stupid labeling on products (don't climb inside dryer while drying), why we suffer the expense of ever-increasing regulations on products and services (because we obviously need a bureaucrat peering over our shoulder 24/7 to help prevent us from hurting ourselves), and why we suffer the expense of more and more government intervention into the private sector (CEO, you're fired - and employee, you don't deserve that raise or that bonus).
At some point in the last three months, I realized that I was depending on the people of the United States to be smart enough to reject more government. But I had watched the Tea Party of Iowa fester to ineffectiveness because of its insistence on religion and not the spending in Washington and here in Iowa. I saw the GOP get all excited about, well, the GOP, and not freedom for individuals. I remembered again that people only change lifelong habits when they're forced to do so because of the persistent pain they're enduring. Maybe the hike in next year's tax rates will bring that about... I don't know.
What I do know is that I can't be free if I'm depending on Joe and Jane Citizen to wake the hell up. I know what I can change and what I can't, and my focus has moved from political activism to personal freedom. I can sway some folks and help lead an effort, but I've learned that such an effort takes the kind of money and time that I don't yet have. As a result, I'm working to secure both.
I'm only as free as I am independent. You are too. Happy Independence Day.