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The cornerstones of the American dream are presently being chipped away from every direction.
As I write this, liberty is under siege, not from Muslim extremists or communists, nor from organized crime or students rioting in the streets. The assault comes from the very institution established to protect and defend “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”: the government.
The American system of government, different in its time from all other forms of government, was a statement that the new system was designed to be as different from the existing form of government as possible. It was not to be government imposed from without but government voluntarily embraced. A government “of the people, for the people, by the people.” The existing form of government was oppressive, violated the rights of the citizenry and imposed burdens, among them “taxation without representation.” The people were subject to a government that was free from public control and/or scrutiny and could punish, or reward, at will.
Furthermore, the government, without permission or consulting with the people, could tax and spend as it saw fit. There were no means available to the governed to prevent or control how the money was allocated; it was strictly at the discretion of the government, and taxes could be, and were, levied at the will of bureaucrats. Said in modern terminology, Congress and the IRS raise taxes, issue tax exemptions and/or impose penalties at will. The people were without options and had no say in how or why money was spent or debt incurred. Does any of this sound even vaguely familiar?
The current U.S. national debt, as of April 2013, was $16,808,240,386,273. There are various estimates and/or projections in existence, and here is but one: Our national debt works out to $53,400 per person, plus $466,750 in unfunded liabilities (“promises made by the federal government where there is no money behind it to pay it”) for a total debt of $520,000 per household., according to USA Today.
Is this all something that has appeared out of nowhere, or have we found ourselves on the path Thomas Jefferson warned of years ago?
“If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, and give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; And the sixteen being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they do now, on oatmeal and potatoes, have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; But be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains around the necks of our fellow sufferers; And this is the tendency of all human governments.
“A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second, that second for a third, and so on ’til the bulk of society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering … and the forehorse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.”