Tag Archive | "July 4th"

Independence Day, The Fourth of July

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In the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day, Earth is invaded by aliens with intent to exterminate all mankind.  The United States, devastated by the destruction of its major cities and death of most of its leaders, plans and coordinates a global counter-attack as a last ditch effort to destroy the alien invaders.  The counter-attack occurs on July 4th, Independence Day.

 

In a stirring speech to the ragtag group of pilots – both military and civilian – that are to carry out the American component of the mission, the President – portrayed by Bill Pullman – inspires the troops with the following words:

 

“Perhaps it’s fate that today is July the Fourth, and you will once again fight for our freedom.  Not from tyranny, persecution or oppression.  But from annihilation.  We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist.  And should we win the day, the fourth of July will no longer be remembered as an American holiday but as the day that all of mankind declared we will not go quietly into the night.  We will not vanish without a fight.  We’re going to live on.  We’re going to survive.  Today, we declare our Independence Day.”

 

Of course, the American offensive is successful and demonstrates to the rest of the world how to defeat the aliens.  In a spectacular “Hollywood ending,” fireworks streak through the sky as the debris from the exploded Mother Ship enters the atmosphere like thousands of shooting stars.

 

The film, whose title is eponymous with the American holiday commemorating the adoption of our Declaration of Independence from England, celebrates freedom – in this instance, freedom from annihilation by malevolent alien beings.  And, freedom is a state of being to which all humankind aspires.  This is just as true in 2012 as it was in 1776.

 

236 years after our American Revolution, much of the world finds itself in the midst of cultural and political revolutions.  In the 23 years following the Tiananmen Square protests, China has witnessed a wave of personal entrepreneurship that continues to grow unabated and has become the driving force in its economy.  Subsequent to the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, Russia and most of the former Soviet bloc states have embraced democratic principles that have defied recidivism to their authoritarian roots despite economic hardships and uncertainties.

 

And, most recently, the Arab Spring has dramatically changed the face of the Middle East.  Since its inception in December 2010, this revolutionary wave has displaced longstanding leaders in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt.  Civil uprisings have erupted in Syria and Bahrain, along with major protests in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco.  Minor protests have occurred in Arab states including Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Western Sahara, and Iran.

 

It appears that in every part of the world, people yearn for freedom and self-determination.  But, in words attributed to Thomas Jefferson, “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”  And so, as people in most of the rest of the world gain more freedom, Americans must remain on guard against infringements on the freedoms we have historically held dear.

 

As was proved by the Supreme Court decision of last week that upheld the Constitutionality of President Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act – otherwise known as Obamacare, our growing federal government can now mandate how citizens spend their money – penalizing those who do not comply.  When considered along with continuing efforts by some in our federal government to limit the right of our citizens to bear arms and the confiscatory nature of our federal and state systems of taxation, Americans should remain cognizant of how rapidly concerns for security can slide down the slippery slope to tyranny.

 

So, as you enjoy a day off from work, perhaps a family barbecue, and a fireworks display, think about what freedom means to you and remain vigilant in its defense.

 

 

 

Whatever Happened to our Independence?

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Here we are once again: awaiting the day that we have marked to celebrate our independence from England through the birth of a new nation in 1776.


To most Americans, Independence Day is ushered in with picnics, cookouts, or visits to the seashore or mountains.  Whether in a park, on a city balcony, or from our TV screens, most of us will view the fireworks displays as the day’s culmination.  But in celebrating the Fourth of July, how independent are we, truly, as a people and a nation?


In 1776, the people and nation experienced the dream of being set free from tyranny (taxation without representation in England’s Parliament).  This was an era when men and women were responsible for carving out their own destinies.  Then, America was wide open, a vast and as yet largely unexplored land holding the promise of unlimited opportunities.


From the wilderness, pioneers created log cabin homes, farms, and eventually, towns and cities.  Basically, these hardy, brave settlers lived off the land for food, shelter, and clothing, with the raw materials supplied by Mother Nature.  Those were the days when we were truly independent.


Two hundred and thirty five years later (the year 2011), how things have changed!  America no longer has the unencumbered opportunity and land to equate to true independence. Government, major financial institutions, and legislation have all changed the true meaning of independence.


True home ownership will never exist in the land of the free and the home of the brave, because such undertakings are encumbered by taxation and interest charges. One would think that the freedom for which we fought as a new nation would protect honest homeowners from such situations.  These situations include the Sword of Damocles known as potential loss of home due to a recession that is, in actuality, a lot closer to an actual depression.  So much for the time-honored cliché, “A man’s home is his castle.”  Or a woman’s, for that matter.


Since the birth of this nation, government has manipulated laws and taxation to created dynasties; they’ve dubbed these dynasties “Departments.”  Each Department has a Head as well as lots of staff whose salaries and perks have added to our country’s financial woes.  The taxation that we viewed as unjust, the taxation that stimulated the birth of the United States of America, has now become stifling to our independence.  We have, you see, become more and more dependent for our very existence upon our ever-ravenous, tax-siphoning government. 


On July 4th, 2011, as we watch the display of fireworks and other entertainment in Washington DC, try not to choke on your hot dog or hamburger when they hand you the bill.  What bill?  Why, the one that will incur more taxes for average citizens due to the cost of the DC celebrations, of course!


How strange and unjust and plain insane is it, to view such costly festivities on national TV, including patriotic songs, Old Glory waving proudly, and “bombs bursting in air” in a country that is going broke?  When you have the answer to that, you’ll also have the answer to the question, “Whatever happened to our independence?” 


Reflections on Independence Day

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Fireworks

July 4, 2009 marks the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, thus establishing the United States of America as a new nation.  The reason that the Thirteen Colonies determined to separate from the mother country was widespread disagreement with Great Britain’s “taxation without representation,” the practice of taxing the colonists without granting them a voice in Parliament.  Our Founding Fathers reacted to this tyranny with the first peaceful, anti-government demonstration conducted upon these shores.  Dumping carton after carton of tea (a major staple for the colonists) into the Boston Harbor in protest of taxes, the protestors took part in what came to be known as the Boston Tea Party.  The rest is history.

 

233 years later, America stands at another crossroads, deciding whether government will make certain choices for us or whether once again independent citizens will choose their own destinies.  These revolve around issues that include but are not limited to the proposal for a national health insurance plan, a major controversy.

 

It is my contention that the introduction of insurance into this county was the beginning of another round of taxation without representation.  Mandatory insurance coverage, as sanctioned by our legislators, was intended to protect us from the pitfalls of life.  However, insurance carriers are strangling us with premiums. AIG, the giant of the industry whose motto was “Never outlive your money” had to be bailed out by the citizens of this country to ensure that they could live up to their own motto!

 

As with auto insurance, legislators are considering bills that would make health coverage mandatory, at the risk of a hefty fine for violators.  Before the institution of mandatory insurance coverage — during the Great Depression, for example — the family doctor solved everyone’s medical needs.  He did not charge his patients co-pays and even made house calls at no extra charge.  And we all survived nicely.  Now with a national health insurance plan on the horizon, the cost for such an initiative will once again fall upon the shoulders of the already overburdened taxpayers.  If this is not taxation without representation, I don’t know what is.

 

As we celebrate the dream of our founding fathers on this 233rd Fourth of July, I wonder what they would say about the state of the union today.  Would they cry, “Give me liberty or give me death?”  Would they depend on the Constitution that they authored to protect the independence of our citizens?  Would they, recalling the Boston Tea Party, rise up in protest?  Almost one thing is certain about those men and women who were courageous enough to establish this country and fight for its independence.  They would not “go quietly into that good night;” they would not, meekly, like sheep, accept a governmental edict with which they did not agree.  They would, at the very least, make their voices heard. 

Tea, Anyone?

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Boston Tea Party

On July 4, 1776, patriots from the 13 British colonies in North America declared their independence from England and formed the United States of America.  Decrying “taxation without representation,” colonists demonstrated their displeasure with British rule via acts of civil disobedience, the most famous of which was the Boston Tea Party.  233 years later, a new group of self-proclaimed patriots is again expressing its displeasure with the direction of government.  Alarmed by high rates of taxation and plans to further expand the scope of government at all levels, a loose affiliation of groups from around the country have dubbed themselves “Tea Party Patriots.”  This weekend, in concert with Fourth of July festivities, they will conduct 1300 events across the country and anticipate more than 1 million participants.

 

On July 3rd at the “Green” in Summit, New Jersey, several hundred citizens from the general area rallied in support of this nascent movement.  They came to listen to speeches, sign petitions, and voice their general disapproval of the direction of government at all levels.  Many carried flags and signs critical of universal healthcare, pending cap and trade legislation, and current political figures including President Obama and Governor Corzine. One man wore a shirt bearing phrases from the Declaration of Independence.  Many people bore hats or accessories indicating affiliation with military and other organizations.

 

Political candidates consonant with the viewpoint of attendees circulated among those gathered.  Tents and tables were setup to facilitate collection of signatures.  On one end of the “Green” was placed a wall of posterboard and a table with post-it notepads.  Participants wrote and posted messages.  Among the messages were “Legalize Liberty,” “Get Rid of Incumbent Politicians,” “Just Say No to Socialism,” and “Send Illegals Home Now and Save Trillions on Healthcare and Education.”

 

From a podium, a number of speakers shared points of view, among them a self-avowed Presidential candidate, Warren Mosler, who explained monetary policy in some detail and the Libertarian Party Gubernatorial candidate in the upcoming election, Ken Kaplan, who beseeched the audience to consider the possibility that a third-party candidate might actually win this year’s election.

 

The real stars of the show, however, were those ordinary citizens who, without expectation of personal gain, expressed their opinions clearly and persuasively.  One such individual who inspired those in attendance was Barbara Summers of Plainfield, New Jersey.  One of only two minority members in attendance, Barbara, an African-American mother of three, grandmother of four, and a lifelong Democrat, electrified the audience with her personal experiences with public healthcare and her recounting of the failures of government in general.  When asked what motivated her to appear and speak, she stated that she was witnessing “her country fall apart before her eyes” and that “half the country doesn’t know what’s going on.”  In response, she vowed to “keep knocking on doors” and to “stand up for America.”  When asked to what she attributed the lack of African-Americans and other minorities in attendance, Barbara indicated that many people were uninformed.  She further indicated that she was the only member of her family who did not vote for Barack Obama, indicating that she stands with the philosophy of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and judges candidates “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

 

Another such ordinary citizen was Joe Schilp, a video producer and State employee.  Joe gave an impassioned speech detailing the large tax burden endured by the citizens of New Jersey, quoting “53%” as the combined tax rate (federal, state, municipal) paid by the average New Jersey family.  A father of three and lifelong resident, he indicated that the birth of his children motivated him to become more active politically.  He is concerned about the direction of government and doesn’t want to leave his children with a “socialist state where the government controls everything.”  Stressing that he is not a professional politician, he expressed his concern about the growth of government and established goals of “getting liberty back, getting tax money back, and…stopping government from growing so fast.”

 

Regaining liberty and control over government were themes common to both speakers and those in attendance.  Among those in attendance were a young couple John and Nora Brower and their adorable young daughter Angelina.  With a sign saying “You Bankrupted My Future,” the Brower’s message was clearly in tune with that of the speakers and others in the audience.  Tim Adriance, an organizer for NewJerseyTeaPartyCoalition.org from Bergen County, historical restorationist, and historian with no less than fifteen ancestors in the American Revolution, believes it essential that the message “preserve your liberty” be impressed upon every citizen.  He further indicated the Federal government has overstepped its Constitutional bounds, infringing upon the rights of the individual states.  On the Fourth, he and his group will march as a contingent in the Ridgewood, New Jersey Fourth of July Parade to increase public awareness of the current threats to liberty.  Brian Arnesman of Morris County attended because he “felt it was time to stop just speaking with [his] vote and…to do something more”  Travelling by motorcycle with a group of other bikers, Brian relished the opportunity to meet and speak with other like-minded individuals.

 

A common theme among speakers and attendees alike was dissatisfaction with both Democrat and Republican parties.  While no surprise that the more liberal Democrat party would receive low marks from the Tea Party Patriots, the loudest boos were reserved for Republicans considered turncoats by virtue of their abandonment of conservative principles.  New Jersey Congressmen Leonard Lance, Chris Smith, and Frank LoBiondo were pilloried for their alignment with the Democrats in recent House passage of cap and trade legislation.  Even a local Republican candidate criticized Congressman Smith as an example of Republicans who had “compromised their ideology” to gain reelection.  Richard Piatkowski, Republican State Assembly candidate for the 19th Legislative District, shared this and other views while circulating among the event’s attendees.  Pointing to a public works project in Perth Amboy, he tied cost overruns to campaign contributions to the Mayor and his 19th District opponent, flagrant examples of “pay to play” in New Jersey..

 

Perhaps the most unique political perspective was that of Neil McGettigan, President of the Objectivist Party of New Jersey.   Convinced that the upcoming Corzine-Christie race does not provide New Jerseyans with a real choice, McGettigan and his group are promoting a write-in candidate, John Galt, as a protest vote.  Now, if you are wondering who John Galt is, he is not a person at all, but a character from Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”  In the dystopian novel, Rand depicts a United States that has fallen into socialism.  Tired of the dictates of the government, society’s innovators and producers, led by the mysterious John Galt, progressively disappear from society and start their own, one of absolute freedom.  The Objectivist Party, according to McGettigan, wants to “go back to the Jeffersonian ideal.”  And, by writing in John Galt for governor, you can send that message.

 

Will the Tea Party movement, with well-known supporters including Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, succeed in reversing the course of big government and returning power to “we the people?”  Only time will tell.  But, if the enthusiasm of those attending the Summit Tea Party is any indication, one of their own will be sipping tea in the Oval Office in January 2013.

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