Is America united by what?
*** Illusion of Self-Government *** Dear reader,
Today we're sharing an essay from American Consequences featured contributor Bill Bonner. It's the kind of pull-no-punches look at American liberty, patriotism, and history we've come to expect from Bill, and we think you'll enjoy it...
The Hollowing Out of American Liberty
How independent we really are, circa 2019...
By Bill Bonner
Date: 9/3/2019 8:32:53 PM ( 14 mon ) ... viewed 289 times
If Americans weren't united by blood, history, religion, or language – what else is left?
Only an idea: that you could come to America and be whatever you wanted to be. You might have been a bogtrotter in Ireland or a baron in Silesia; in America, you were free to become whatever you could make of yourself.
"Give me liberty or give me death!" said Patrick Henry, raising the rhetorical stakes and praying no one would call him on it. Yet the average man at the time lived in near-perfect freedom. There were few books and few laws on them. And there were fewer people to enforce them.
Henry, if he wanted to do so, could have merely crossed the Blue Ridge west of Charlottesville and never seen another government agent again.
Illusion of Self-Government
Thomas Jefferson complained, in the Declaration of Independence, that Britain had "erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People and eat out their Substance."
Yet the swarms of officers King George III sent to America would have barely filled a mid-sized regional office of the IRS or city zoning department today.
Likewise, the Founding Fathers kvetched about taxation without representation. But history has shown that representation only makes taxation worse.
Kings, emperors, and tyrants must keep tax rates low; otherwise, the people rise in rebellion. It is democrats who eat out the substance of the people: The illusion of self-government lets them get away with it.
Tax rates were, on average, only 3% under the tyranny of King George III. Among the dubious blessings of democracy are average tax rates 10 times as high.
"Americans today," wrote one of the founders of the libertarian movement, Rose Wilder Lane, in 1936, "are the most reckless and lawless of peoples." But, she immediately continued, "we are also the most imaginative, the most temperamental, the almost infinitely varied."
This was after the Lincoln administration had annihilated the principle of self-government... but before the Roosevelt team had finished its work.
By the end of the 20th century, Americans were required to wear seatbelts. And they ate low-fat yogurt without a gun to their heads. By the start of the 21st century, they were submitting to strip searches at airports and demanding higher taxes to "protect freedom."
The recklessness seems to have been bred out of them. The variety, too. North, south, east, and west, people all wear the same clothes and cherish the same ideas.
Liberty has been hollowed out in modern America. But it is still worshipped as though it were a religious relic.
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