On this weekend as we celebrate America’s independence, the facts are grim for how dependent we’ve become. As one example, in the 1970s one in 50 families received food stamps. Today it’s one in five. That’s is a ten-fold increase.

Is America poorer than it was in 1776? Of course not. We’re richer, much richer. Then why are so many people dependent on government?

Much of it has to do with how much we’ve permitted government to take over things that are none of its business.

Our food, our water, our homes, our transportation, our businesses, our communication, our education, our money, our children, our health care and just about any other private and individual concern is now (mis)managed to a startling degree by the government. Our economy is being ruled, taxed, policied, czared and regulated to death … much of it without input from the citizens.

Now answer me this: Was this how the Founding Fathers envisioned America?

Of course not.

When I look at how far this nation has departed from the ideals of the founders, it makes me want to weep. We’re becoming the land of the shackled and the home of the oppressed.

Let’s face it, dependency is easy. It’s the lazy man’s way to do things. It’s the path of least resistance. But dependency breeds apathy, trashes a work ethic and corrupts the soul. And make no mistake, these factors – particularly apathy and a lack of work ethic – will take down this nation.

How? Well, consider these wise and prophetic words of Alexis de Tocqueville, the French historian and political thinker. Read the following passages very, very carefully:

I had noted in my stay in the United States that a democratic state of society similar to the American model could lay itself open to the establishment of despotism with unusual ease. … It would debase men without tormenting them. … Men, all alike and equal, turned in upon themselves in a restless search for those petty, vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. … Above these men stands an immense and protective power. … It prefers its citizens to enjoy themselves provided they have only enjoyment in mind. It restricts the activity of free will within a narrower range and gradually removes autonomy itself from each citizen. …

Thus, the ruling power, having taken each citizen one by one into its powerful grasp … spreads its arms over the whole of society, covering the surface of social life with a network of petty, complicated, detailed, and uniform rules. … It does not break men’s wills but it does soften, bend, and control them. … It constantly opposes what actions they perform. … It inhibits, represses, drains, snuffs out, dulls so much effort that finally it reduces each nation to nothing more than a flock of timid and hardworking animals with the government as shepherd … a single, protective, and all-powerful government. … Individual intervention … is … suppressed. … It is … in the details that we run the risk of enslaving men.

For my part, I would be tempted to believe that freedom in the big things of life is less important than in the slightest. … Subjection in the minor things of life is obvious every day. … It constantly irks them until they give up the exercise of their will … and enfeebles their spirit. … It will be useless to call upon those very citizens who have become so dependent upon central government to choose from time to time the representative of this government. … Increasing despotism in the administrative sphere … they reckon citizens are incompetent. … It is … difficult to imagine how men who have completely given up the habit of self-government could successfully choose those who should do it for them. … The vices of those who govern and the ineptitude of those governed would soon bring it to ruin and … revert to its abasement to one single master.

Sheesh, folks, de Tocqueville wrote this in 1840, and we are fulfilling – to the letter – what he saw 175 years ago.

So what is the solution to this road to destruction on which America is embarking? I don’t know. I’m a housewife, not a politician. I have no influence whatever on policy or laws. All I can do is cope with whatever diktats are imposed on me without my consent.

But I do know this: it is up to the individual to rediscover personal independence. No one can change someone else; he can only change himself.

So folks, it’s time to make your own personal declaration of independence. What does this mean, a personal declaration of independence?

It will mean different things for different people depending on age, circumstances, educational level, financial situation, health and endless other factors. But the common denominator is to withdraw and wean yourself away from any and all government connections, whenever possible.

This means you don’t look to the government to provide you with health care, education, entitlements, housing, transportation, food or any other necessity unless it’s a matter of life or death.

Learn how to achieve a simple lifestyle without “going green” or joining a monastery. Read Patrice Lewis’ helpful book, “The Simplicity Primer: 365 Ideas for Making Life more Livable”

The reason is simple: The more you depend on the government, the more the government controls you. If you depend on the government for food, or housing, or education, or health care – then the government can dictate everything having to do with what you eat, where you live, how you’re educated and how your health issues are treated.

In contrast to dependency, independence is hard work. It means you are sometimes deprived of the things you want. It means you have to delay gratification. It means you have to take risks and rise to meet challenges. It also breeds satisfaction, pride in a job well done and contentment.

Independence doesn’t happen overnight. Many things take a long time to figure out or plan for or achieve. Independence requires goal-setting and constant striving toward those goals. It requires a hard look at budgets and spending habits and other financial outlays. It means establishing priorities.

Independence can be frustrating because failures and setbacks are constant; but that’s the price. The rewards are immeasurable.

Above all, this kind of move toward personal independence teaches your children unspeakably valuable lessons: that independence is better than dependence, and that freedom is better than servitude.

The Founding Fathers would be pleased.

Media wishing to interview Patrice Lewis, please contact [email protected].

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.