Despite July 2nd as the actual day the Continental Congress voted to approve a motion by the VA delegate Richard Henry Lee, calling for the colonies’ independence after a year of fighting with the British, July 4th became the official day, set aside to celebrate the birth of our nation. The leaders of that era boldly decided to embark upon one of the greatest, and most envied political experiments in history … a free nation where all men are created equal, where a central government could not dictate religious beliefs, and the bulk of governance was left to local jurisdiction.
The size of the central government was deliberately designed to be small, it’s intrusion into citizens’ lives was to be few, and what it was expected to “provide” to it’s citizens even fewer.
I doubt anyone disagrees that we have strayed far from the original intent 236 years later. It is the penchant of lawyers to tinker with contracts, viewing the simple, short and sweet as inadequate. What began with a formal document, signed by 56 delegates representing the colonies – followed by a carefully penned Constitution and 10 Amendments, called the Bill of Rights – has been expanded by 17 more Amendments (including one “oops” resulting in a repeal), and a US Code book of torts that is over 200,000 pages long…. And growing every day Congress is in session.
The federal tax code has been one of the fastest growing sections since the 1940s. It’s prolific growth was illustrated with a graphic on PoliticalCalculations blogspot last year, as part of a clever 4th of July challenge to guess the number of current pages. From a single book of 400 pages in 1913, it has grown to 72,536 pages by 2011… likely not including the latest tax increases attributed to O’healthcare. This coincides, unsurprisingly, with the ratification of the 16th Amendment in 1913 which “clarified” Congressional powers of taxation.
We, The People, have frittered away the basics of our founding for generations by electing those to the hallowed halls of Congress who do not believe in the basic tenets of our founding – that of minimum intrusion, and small federal powers that left governing choices to local smaller and controllable governments.
Perhaps it’s the very idea that elected officials, who are there to make law, feel they are not doing their jobs if they don’t generate law after law to add to the code books. The idea of a full time Congressional session seems counter-intuitive to the founding principle of short, simple and non-intrusive. When the simple document that states a central government can only do that which is definitively stated, and no more, it defies logic that this induces a parade of legislation and resolutions by career politicians who never intend to return to the private sector.
It’s as simple as this… when you have your sculpture created, it’s not necessary to keep a sculptor on staff, full time, to monitor the sculpture. But if you do, that sculptor will find the need to justify himself as useful, perhaps by constant alterations to the original work. What began as a Rodin morphs into a hideous potpourri, destroying the beauty and integrity of the original piece.
Our obvious woes of a bloated beyond control central government are attributed not to a Judicial Branch, tasked with interpreting volumes of bad laws, nor an Administrative Branch that selectively picks and chooses which of those bad laws to enforce… but to the Legislative Branch that relentlessly churns out bad laws as a reason for their full time existence to thrive off the taxpayers nickel.
But in the simplicity of our system also lies the solution… for those tasked with control of Congress are We, The People. In order to return to our founding simplicity and principles, a re’education of the masses, and a societal reversal of an entitlement attitude, is integral. For no one voter or State of the Union can accomplish that without the help of all others.
So this 4th of July, in between your festivities of BBQs and fireworks, I invite you to take a cyber museum trip to The Charters of Freedom exhibit in our National Archives. Again read our founding documents and revel in their simplicity, then embark upon the small, but important task of educating your neighbors, friends and family to the solution that lies in our hands.
Four years ago, I penned a 4th of July post about the National Archives invitation to add your name to the signers of the Declaration of Independence. That offer from the National Archives still stands. And perhaps you might consider making it part of your personal celebration of this day… renewing that vow and pride in that original simplicity annually.
Enjoy your 4th of July. Take a moment to remember and honor our warriors who serve to protect our simple freedoms. And never forget our roots, firmly entrenched in limiting the powers of central government over our lives, and our wallets.