It is another year of July 4th festivities. While people barbecue and set off fireworks, we continue to get big government. While many Americans will complain about their government, they still grant their consent.
You really have to point out to the average person that Independence Day is really Secession Day. The same people who think it is horrible that the South tried to secede (which led to the misnamed Civil War) will cheer on Independence Day. You have to point out to people that what the American colonists did was an act of secession. To the British crown, they were committing treason by betraying their own government.
There were multiple reasons for the secession of the American colonists. It is not black and white. Some of the reasons were good, and some were not so good. One of several reasons was taxation.
(As a side note, this whole idea of taxation without representation is not a good one. It doesn’t really make me feel less enslaved knowing that people voted for the enslaver.)
When the colonists seceded, taxation from the British crown was probably in the neighborhood of 1%. Now we fork over about 25% to the federal government (if you calculate spending instead of just direct taxation). You can add another 15% or so from state and local governments. How free should we feel paying about 40% to government at all levels? And if you add in the regulations, you can bet that at least half of our productivity is being sapped by government.
Maybe there is something to the idea that we wouldn’t be any less free had the colonists never seceded.
The elements of American society where we do have relative freedom isn’t because of Independence Day. It mostly isn’t really because of the Constitution either. It is the mindset of the people. The government will mostly reflect the mindset of the people. The government will expand to the degree that it is tolerated by public opinion.
While I am pessimistic on some fronts, I am also optimistic on others. I think the worst thing right now is the military empire. The U.S. government intervenes in so many countries that it is almost beyond imagination. Many people don’t realize just how many coups and secret operations are being performed by elements within the U.S. government. I probably don’t know either. But we do know for sure that the U.S. government is currently involved in a lot of wars and has a presence in well over 100 countries on the planet.
Aside from the immoral foreign policy, we also have the surveillance state that has become more known in recent years. This is the NSA and the other so-called intelligence agencies.
Of course, there is also the economic front where we are highly taxed and regulated. The economic piece of the puzzle would improve somewhat if the military foreign interventions stopped. Things would also improve if the Fed stopped tampering with the economy so much.
Compared to the other first-world countries, the U.S. is still the best when it comes to a few things. I can think of 3 things right away.
- Gun ownership
- Free speech
In terms of gun ownership, I think the U.S. is the best. I also think it will stay the best for a long time. Even though libertarians like to hail Switzerland, the Swiss are basically required to join the militia. In terms of private ownership of firearms, nobody beats the United States.
Homeschooling has really taken off over the last couple of decades. That is one positive aspect of the our pathetic government-run educational system. You have to believe that children who are homeschooled have a better chance of getting to adulthood without being too indoctrinated, or at least not to the same extent as those attending government schools.
In terms of free speech, it is only in recent years that I have really come to appreciate this. You can say almost anything in the U.S. as long as you aren’t insinuating violence. I know the politically correct movement is out there, but most Americans don’t really like it. They don’t want to be shut up, especially just for telling things that are truthful.
In Canada and Western Europe, things have really gotten worse in terms of free speech. They have these hate speech laws where you can actually go to jail for saying politically incorrect things. The whole purpose of free speech is to be able to say things that aren’t popular. It is especially important to be able to criticize your own government and question the official stories put out by the government.
With these three things, I understand there are exceptions in the U.S. There are gun laws. There are certain requirements for homeschooling. Even free speech is not absolute in all cases. If a high-level government official wants to make your life miserable, then he can probably do so. But overall, in these areas, we have a high degree of liberty, especially as compared to the rest of the world.
I think libertarians need to embrace this more. I feel like there are some libertarians who are going to fight forever for liberty without ever enjoying any of it. Are you going to fight until you get 100% liberty until you finally step back and take advantage of it?
Even in economic terms, we certainly have a lot to gripe about. There is no question that the government and central bank are making it really hard on the middle class. At the same time, you shouldn’t let this handcuff you. There are many entrepreneurs out there who are embracing our digital world and making tons of money working at home. They are doing things that just weren’t possible a couple of decades ago. Meanwhile, there are some libertarians who are too busy making up excuses as to why they can’t do anything. I beg you not to be one of these people.
You can’t fully secede from the state as an individual, but you can at least take advantage of the areas where you do have a great degree of liberty. In this sense, you should declare your own independence where possible.