Uncompromising independence, rugged individualism, and unbounded personal freedom were once essential to the American character. According to popular American folklore, they still are. We have some reservations.
In the year 2014, the ideas that roused America’s War of Independence are, alas, just ideas. Limited government and individual liberty were long ago squandered for big government. Similarly, personal freedoms were turned over for safety nets and collectivism.
Was there ever a time when you could surf the web without the NSA ogling your every keystroke? Perhaps there was a brief moment during the twilight of the last millennium. We don’t know.
But we do know that gone are the days when you could earn a living without the IRS making a federal case out of it. So, too, gone are the days when you could board an airplane without some TSA boob squeezer touching your most private parts. Nearly all has been lost.
Over the last 100 years Washington has become a sort of money sucking vortex. At the Capitol Building sits a cadre of legislatures and an army of staffers working up new laws to take your money. New rules, proposed rules, and notices are published daily in the Federal Register.
A quick read of the daily publication will enlighten and alarm you to the vast array of agencies, departments, and commissions and their vast array of daily nonsense.
“That government is best which governs least,” began Henry David Thoreau in the essay Civil Disobedience. By that standard the Federal Register is an impressive indictment of the state of our current government…they govern everything.
Still, there is something endearing about present day American government. While the Democrats are all idiots and the Republicans are all morons, we take the scoundrels in stride with a smirk and a chuckle. President Barry Obama, for example…has there ever been a more dedicated buffoon?
He alone is living testament to what Alexis de Tocqueville first alluded to as American exceptionalism.
Yet it’s not just the federal government you must contend with. Some state and local governments are even worse. In Maryland, if you can believe it, residents are taxed when it rains on their property.
But we’re not here to bemoan America’s devolution into absurdity. For while the government is broke and the leaders are imposters, and much of the populace has been soften over to a warm bowl of mashed potatoes, America today is still a land of opportunity where lunatics thrive and eccentrics prosper. Here at the Economic Prism we wouldn’t have it any other way…
Independence Day Hootenanny
Despite the reformers endless efforts to encircle mankind, some persist beyond the broad extent of their casted net. In the backwaters of the Republic, for instance, the distant rumble and flicker of Saturday night hootenannies still befall yonder the mighty oak groves. In defiance of all things good and proper, the unconsecrated gather under the pale moonlight and jig step to zydeco washboard rhythms while downing tipples of corn syrup and fermented grain.
These knees-ups certify that, even in this era of big government, there remain places in the lower forty-eight where freedom reigns. Across the nation, no doubt, there are pockets of liberty where children can still eat cupcakes in school without fear of the pokey.
These places are uniquely exceptional with their own distinct rhyme. But, in common, they’re all places where the air smells sweet, the water flows clean, and the people can hold their chin up.
Here in our slice of Americana sits the very place where the manifest destiny of western civilization finally ran out of land. The concrete and steel collides with the Pacific Ocean at the Port of Long Beach in a breathtaking array of symbiotic disharmony. East meets West in the mutual reciprocation of China Shipping vessels rigorously stacked with containers carrying gewgaws and garments.
Just east of where the Los Angeles River dumps the urban runoff of 10 million – or more – people into San Pedro Bay there’s a park marina and expansive boardwalk. The weather forecast, in defiance of Al Gore, shows near perfect conditions…mid-70s, light breeze. No doubt, a wild collection of freaks and weirdoes will descend to the water’s edge for the quintessential beach party of the year…an Independence Day Hootenanny of sorts.
Hardly a soul out there will give a gosh darn about freedom and independence. Yet no one but an utter killjoy quibbles over a paid holiday and an excuse to get ripped and light off exploding bottle rockets. This day, like most things in present American life, is a remnant of a bygone era.
Celebrate it with gusto!
for Economic Prism