Opinion

Historical perspective does have value

There was a time and place when the king owned all property, controlled the lives of all “citizens” and established the values of “good” and “evil” for the kingdom. Individual serfs had no rights and lived only to serve the crown.

In 1620, a small group of very courageous and independent individuals struck out to find a place in which they could build a life of personal freedom. They went forth not as delegates of the king, but as independent persons. In their initial effort to establish a new life, they tried the concept of communal living but soon found that the process blunted individual effort and entrepreneurial spirit. The community quickly shifted to private ownership of property and free market trade.

The settlements in the new free world grew to include many that were established by the foreign kings to extend their control and interest. Over time, those kings regained absolute control over the people and restored the very system that people tried to escape. Eventually, having tolerated enough of kings and abusive governments, the people rose up and threw the king and his government out. The people established a new country founded on individual freedom, individual responsibility and a strictly limited government. The economic system they chose was one of free markets that encouraged each and every citizen to prosper to a level at which they were willing to work and risk.

The new country prospered. There were internal and external problems along the way but the people proved themselves both resilient and innovative and able to meet and best every challenge. The nation they created became the harbor of refuge and hope for the peoples of the world still under the yoke of kings and dictators. Unfortunately, while the people enjoyed their freedom and prosperity, they began to ignore their primary duty — to oversee and control the activities of their elected government. They failed to adhere to the basic credo that “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

While the people enjoyed their individual prosperity, their government created ways to tax and spend those individual efforts “for the common good.” Programs initiated in times of crisis were not monitored and terminated when the need passed. New “programs” were initiated to allow government to better “serve” the citizens and to provide assistance to the “less fortunate” who were in need. Continuing government programs effectively created a new class of “serfs” who were beholden to government for their very basic existence and whose lives were, in fact, controlled by government. The very condition those who dared all so long ago to escape is now being recreated by their descendents who have forgotten to pay attention and to care.

Our nation of freedom-loving individualists is now faced with a massive government that willingly taxes all success to support political favorites. Our government determines where we will live, the type of transportation we will use, how we may save and invest the few pennies that we have left after taxes, how our children will be “educated,” how much energy we may use and where that energy will come from and how we will each insure our own personal health. In reality, we are surrendering our individual freedom to resume the role of “serf.” Many have accepted a subservient position as proper and expressed the belief the role government now plays is the proper thing to do and best for all. Those few who still raise their voices in objection are shouted down as “antagonists” and “trouble makers.” Those few elected representatives who raise questions are simply frozen out of the governmental process or shouted down in the halls of government and the press.

Our nation is one small step away from the very conditions that our forefathers sought to escape and fought against. Will we so easily be herded back into the cattle pens of serfdom and surrender the liberty we were given to protect for our children and grandchildren? If we are unable to see the dangers of the path we now follow, we had better pray that our creator will again work the miracles that have saved us in the past and deliver us once again.

Jack Hamilton can be reached at gradiver@wavecable.com.

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