Paying homage to the ‘Signers’

Happy 234th birthday, America!

On Sunday, we will celebrate the bravery and vision of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. It seems hard to fathom that we were ever under the ruling influence of any other country. Decades after its signing, President Abraham Lincoln called the Declaration of Independence “that immortal emblem of humanity,” for it clearly set us apart from the rest of the world.

It was a ragtag army of committed patriots that banded together to demand an end to the repression and excessive taxes of England. Their actions paved the way for the establishment of a democracy unlike any other, grounded in our Constitution. With three arms of government — the executive, the legislative, and the judicial — we provided ourselves a framework of constant checks and balances, to insure that no one arm of government would ever control the fate or future of our country.

The Revolution and the Declaration, written by Thomas Jefferson, was founded in the writings of Thomas Paine. In his book “Common Sense,” Paine argued that England was ill-poised to rule a continent.

He wrote, “I am not induced by motives of pride, party, or resentment to espouse the doctrine of separation and independence; I am clearly, positively, and conscientiously persuaded that it is the true interest of this continent to be so; that every thing short of that is mere patchwork, that it can afford no lasting felicity, — that it is leaving the sword to our children, and shrinking back at a time, when, a little more, a little farther, would have rendered this continent the glory of the earth.”

As we celebrate this weekend with beach parties, barbecues, family gatherings, friends and firework displays, in the back our minds, I hope we take a few moments to pay homage to the momentous event that was the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

There are echoes of 1776 in many of our current events. The birth of a “Tea Party” platform harkens back to the seemingly mad action of dumping all the British tea into Boston Harbor. The renegades were afraid that given a chance, the colonists would not hold fast to the tea embargo, but rather purchase and consume the tea. While I don’t espouse the current Tea Party’s actions, I find it interesting that they used the Boston event as a rallying cry.

Taxation is an ominous topic — in all political parties — and certainly in my own wallet. Here is a list of some of the taxes that affect me (and possibly you): sales tax, property tax, inheritance tax, gasoline tax, luxury tax, building permit tax, capital gains tax, income tax (personal and corporate; state and federal), dog license tax, federal unemployment tax, inventory tax, Medicare tax, marriage license tax, liquor tax, social security tax, recreational vehicle tax, automobile license tax, real estate tax, school tax, telephone tax, state unemployment tax, cable usage tax, utility tax, workman’s comp. Feel overwhelmed? I do, and I’m sure you can come up with even more.

There is talk of a fast-food sales tax, akin to a cigarette tax (I don’t smoke, so this one does not affect me), and a tax on labor. Our government has grown so far beyond the point of balance that, not unlike England of 230 or so years ago, taxation has become the only vehicle it can discern to raise the funds it needs to feed its voracious consumption of capital.

In an echo to the words of Thomas Paine, I think about the legacy that we create for our children. Do we bankrupt them from the start?

From my standpoint, government has run amok. We are top heavy, with a load of never-ending payouts in the form of pensions to men, woman and their heirs, who no longer work for us. We have to fund more studies, fight never-ending wars, create new committees to research the results of other committees – and yes, we pay people to NOT work. Our leaders vote themselves raises and provide health care that we could never afford. When they run out of money, they simply print more.

This weekend, our beaches will be packed, our roads will be clogged and colorful umbrellas and body-to-body beach chairs will change the character of the shoreline. The aromas of the 4th — hot dogs and burgers on the grill — will mingle with sea breezes and the pungent smoke of Laguna’s firework displays. There will be laughter and joy city and nationwide as we celebrate our freedom.

Pause, I suggest. Think back to those 56 men who put their lives on the line for you 234 years ago. And then ask, what are you willing to fight for? And how will you protect your children’s legacy?

Happy Fourth!

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