As I write this, the barges are being towed along the Hudson. Streets have been blocked off, police officers collecting overtime have assembled, and the crowds are trickling in hours early to grab prime viewing positions for the fireworks display. While Independence Day is the official name of the celebration, the media is still celebrating a Supreme Court decision which granted the government the power to outsource taxation to corporations by compelling everyone to purchase a product from a private company by virtue of having been born.
Co-Dependence Day is the new Independence Day. “I love you, you tolerate me and we all live together in a happy planned economy.” Free riders are people who, like the Colonists, are perceived to have benefited from the gargantuan investment of government without paying their proper share.
All that the Crown really wanted was for the colonists to pay their “fair share”, a share that was determined thousands of miles away. All that the colonists wanted was the rights of Englishmen that they believed they were entitled to. After a great deal of bloodshed, the colonists won the right to be Americans instead—an odd series of consonants and vowels having to do with an Italian explorer but meaning free and limited government.
The “Free Riders” who didn’t want to pay into the empire won the day, but hardly anyone in the crowds heading toward the Hudson remembers what the day is about. The denizens of public housing, who are the true “Free Riders”, certainly don’t. They are getting a free ride on everything from food to housing, but the free ride comes from the taxpayers that Pelosi and Obama damn as “Free Riders”. And the only way to keep their free ride going is by ending everyone else’s freedom.
The fireworks are just one more free thing in the sea of free things that they swim in. The Fourth to them is Fireworks Day. Every country has its fireworks days and this is the day that this one chooses to light up the night sky. The day means nothing to them because though they are surrounded by free things, they aren’t free. The difference between freedom and free things has been progressively erased so that many think that the American Revolution was fought because the British weren’t providing affordable health coverage to the colonies. If only they knew about the NHS, they would vote to go back.
There is a big difference between a free country and a country of free things. You can have one or the other, but you can’t have both. A free country isn’t obsessed with free riders, only a country of free things obsesses with making everyone pay their fair share for the benefit of the people who want the free things.
The rugged individualism of Colonial America has given way to stifling crowds, co-dependent on each other, lined shoulder to shoulder, clutching at each other’s wallets, crying, “Take from him and give to me.”
We are a nation overflowing with the right to things paid for with other people’s money. A nation where the government gives you food, housing and education; while Walmart gives you cheap products made in China, that used to be made in America, back when people were able to afford health care, housing and food without having to pick each other’s pockets.
The fireworks that shoot up in a wonderland of blue and red, silver and gold, are a faint echo of the real thing, the gunpowder that blasted back and forth between the lines of government troops, their Hessian mercenaries and the rebel colonists who chose to ride free, rather than bend their necks to the plans of an expanding empire. The faint smell of gunpowder and the dark shapes of the barges only mime the war that was fought here. A play of light and shadow whose meaning reaches fewer and fewer people each year.
The expected speeches will celebrate some notion of American Exceptionalism and Independence, but what substance is there to either one? Did so many men risk their lives just to end up with a system that made the one they escaped seem positively libertarian by comparison? If they had known that they were going to end up with the NHS, death panels that will eventually adopt some version of the Liverpool Care Pathway’s euthanasia protocol, and a co-dependent system where everyone is looted for the greater good of the looters—they might have stayed home on their farms, sadly watching the fighting from a distance.
JFK’s famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” was always a hollow lie. Half the country is expected to ask what their country can do for them, while the other half is expected to ask what they can do for their country. This simmering civil war is often pegged as a class war, but it isn’t about class. There are billionaires and paupers on both sides, and the divide cuts across the Middle Class, dividing those who derive their income from private business from those who receive it from government and government-subsidized employment.
The Tea Party, both of them, began when an out of touch government and its monarch levied taxes on a subject population that the cloistered capital considered mere savages, clinging to backward beliefs and living without the benefit of the civilization to be found in the inner cities of the realm. The Gadsen flag with its twining serpent is not a symbol to be found on the split river that flows around a narrow island. But the island was a Loyalist government enclave even then, that Washington was forced to flee, putting the torch to half of Brooklyn to aid his escape. Now the new empire operates out of a city named after him and buildings with more bureaucrats than the entire deployment of British forces in the colonies govern what is still described as a “Free Nation.”
The American Revolution was not a struggle for another nation, one of many, but for a free nation. It was not split off to accommodate the national strivings of an ethnic group or their historical destiny. Its guiding idea, like its national holiday, was independence, but independence means very little unless it reaches the individual.
A nation where everyone is part of one great co-dependent community, a centrally planned marketplace that can only be balanced if everyone is forced to buy what they are told to buy, is not a free nation. It will not even be independent for long. The logic of co-dependence is to expand that dependency beyond the borders and make the region and then every part the world dependent on one another to balance out the numbers.
Co-dependence required an end to states rights. It will eventually require an end to the rights of nations. The Eurozone is a spectacle of co-dependent economic implosion with bailouts for all in the name of a regional stability that cannot be sustained. America, like Spain and Greece, is also passing along its debt to more vibrant economies. We are no longer co-dependent with the Mother Country, instead we are co-dependent with the People’s Republic of China, buying their products, while their buy our debt.
As Britain gives way to the European Union and America gives way to NAFTA and nations give way to the United Nations, the burden of dependency is passed on to greater and greater systems until its weight is more than that of the entire world. That burden of co-dependency is like a rock rolling downhill; it gathers more and more mass to itself, increasing its momentum, until it crashes.
The system attempts to stay ahead of the inevitable crash by making sure that every productive person pays his “fair share”. It hunts for “Free Riders”, both individuals and nations, who still aren’t rolling downhill, tips them over and pushes them off the mountain. All in the name of the greater good.
The “Free Rider” principle is that the benefits of a policy must be forcibly extended to everyone in order to mandate that they help fund the entitlement. There is no natural limit to such an expansion. If your wages can be said to have risen because unions negotiated a new contract, then you can be compelled to pay the union. If you aren’t buying health insurance, then you must be getting it for free. If you aren’t part of the system, then there will be a mandate that will make you part of it.
As the last wave of fireworks die out, the shooting stars sinking to earth and vanishing into the darkness, the light of Independence Day fades and the crowds slowly trudge away from the brief spectacle, past the lines of police barricades, through narrow streets, past government buildings, back to their co-dependent lives in a co-dependent nation where the will of the people and the rights of the individual matter less than the latest proposal to solve the problems of their independence by making the country a more dependent place.
A few hundred years ago in these streets, men and women celebrated the end of tyranny, and in its darkest hour, lines of grim men marched along the waterfront up to the highest point on the island to mount a final defense. Sometimes the older buildings still wear their shadows on their brick walls and by the golden light of the fireworks you can almost see them, shadows moving in the darkness, their footsteps taking them north, a faint song on their lips, muskets in their hands, their lives lost and gained in defense of their freedom.