Monday, July 4, 2011

We Hold These Truths?

When I was a boy, my favorite holiday was Independence Day. I was very interested in the War for Independence. My favorite book was the How and Why Wonder Book of the American Revolution. My heroes were people like George Washington, Nathan Hale, Thomas Jefferson, and  Nathaniel Greene. I looked forward every year to the day celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Somewhere over the years, my enthusiasm became dampened so that now, if I am exposed to any mainstream media celebrations of Independence Day, I usually am saddened. Sort of like Charlie Brown at the beginning Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown.

I like celebrating the Fourth of July by, say, gathering with friends, reading the declaration. and watching fireworks, but "I always end up feeling depressed." On Independence Day, Americans pay lip service to freedom, but everywhere they are in economic chains. Government spending is almost 40% of GDP. The government central money creating machine, the Federal Reserve, has maintained a record high monetary base as the money supply increased $665 billion from June 2010 until April 2011. That is a nearly 10% increase over less than a year.The 2010 Federal Register, the regulatory code of the United States had 82589 pages. Such data begs the question, what sort of independence are we celebrating? It cannot be independence from a controlling state.

Also frustrating are the ideologies that view the 4th of July being primarily about self-expression, being able to "do whatever you want," or egalitarianism. It is understandable why people think this way. After all the most famous phrase in the Declaration says, "All men are created equal." The passage in question reads, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Clarence Carson Volume 2 of his A Basic History of the United States provides a brief, but valuable commentary on this section of the Declaration.
There are three kinds of equality which can be deduced from the context of the Declaration and the general beliefs of those who subscribed to it. In the context, the Declaration affirms, by indirection, that Americans are equals of Englishmen. . .

Second, the Declaration affirms that all men are entitled to certain unalienable rights, 'that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.' This was a reiteration of the natural rights doctrine. It was, however, a variation on the usual way of stating the doctrine, which was, that men have a natural right to life, liberty, and property. Jefferson substituted "pursuit of happiness" for property. The usual way of saying it is more logical, even if there are no substantial differences in meaning. the right to life means, most basically, that no one has as right to take a life. The right to liberty means, most basically, the right to exercise of one's faculties (mind and limbs) without restraint by others. The right to property means the right to the fruits of one's labors. (These rights were understood to be conditioned, of course, by respect for the equal rights of others. For example, one may forfeit his right to life by taking the life of another.) The right to the 'pursuit of happiness,' on the other hand, tends to fuse liberty and property. It means something like this: the right to use one's own faculties for one's own ends or purposes. Happiness, it should be noted, did not then refer to some sort of subjective state of bliss, as we might nowadays suppose. It meant rather that satisfaction that arises from developing one's abilities and receiving the rewards from doing so.

The third kind of equality Carson identifies is the right of all the people in general, not a small portion of them, to revolt.

The fact that one of "the unalienable rights" asserted by the signers of the Declaration was essentially the right to property makes it clear that the principles of the Declaration of Independence are antithetical to the economic policy of our national government and the Federal Reserve.

As the Psalmist wrote, "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes (Ps. 118:9). Indeed we are explicitly told to "Put not your trust in princes,  in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation (Ps. 146:3).

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