On Independence Day Two Presidents Deserve Our Thanks
June 30, 2001
There are many Presidents that we might honor on Independence Day, but today I am thinking of two men in particular, and for a particular reason. Unfortunately, neither will be able to read these words.
These men were as different as night and day. One was a Democrat, the other a Republican. One was liberal, the other was as conservative as they come. One came from great wealth, the other had to work hard every day of his life. Their views were widely divergent in almost every area of social concern and politics.
The common bond that unites these very different men is the degree of freedom they gave this nation’s citizens from the oppression of taxation. John F. Kennedy gave the United State the largest tax cut in history up to his time. Ronald Reagan used his moral authority to force Congress into enacting the largest tax cut of all time. He lowered the highest tax rate from an unbelievable 70% to 28%.
The United States is one of the youngest developed nations in the world. We have been very busy for the last two hundred and twenty-five years building a great nation. We have been making history, so perhaps we can be forgiven for paying little attention to history. But if we continue to ignore our own history, we may be dooming ourselves to repeating it.
We all remember the Boston Tea Party. How can we forget such a colorful, dramatic scene? Brave men dressed as Indians, smashing boxes of British tea and pouring it into Boston Harbor. But do we remember WHY these men performed this outrageous act?
"Taxation without representation," you say. "They sure stopped that once and for all." I agree that they stopped it for a good long while. But I respectfully suggest that the same oppression so valiantly opposed by Patriots in the late 1700’s faces America today. We just face a different group of oppressors today.
They don’t wear red coats, and they don’t have British accents. Today we call them Senator or Congressman, and they have all kinds of accents. But most of them have the same attitude toward "We, the People" that the British government had toward what they called "The Colonials." They consider us too stupid to know what is best for ourselves, and they feel they need to protect us and tell us what to do. Of course, such benign treatment deserves compensation, so they feel free to take anything from us that we don’t need to survive.
I hope that we never forget that the reason America declared its independence from the tyranny of the British Crown was the excessive taxation of King George III, and the illegal measures he used to enforce his will. It may come as a nasty shock to you to find that Americans pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes today than they did on July 4, 1776!
The people that we elect to protect our interests, to speak for us in the nation’s capitol, instead tax us unmercifully to advance their own careers and financial interests. I think that qualifies as taxation without representation. Most of our "representatives" are definitely not representing our interests.
Here is one small example. Are you aware that not one Senator or Congressman pays into the Social Security system? Social Security is good enough for the dumb people who elect them, but not for our elected royalty. No, they have a slightly different retirement system. Even if they serve just one term, they receive a huge monthly income for life, in most cases equivalent to their full salary as a legislator. Most will collect MILLIONS of OUR tax dollars before they die. "Wow!" you say, "They must pay a lot each month for such a great retirement plan." Actually, they pay nothing. WE pay all of it.
If that upsets you (or enrages you) do some research on the "pork-barrel" projects on which our elected representatives spend our hard-earned tax dollars. Most are designed to accomplish one purpose: the re-election of the legislator who negotiates with his fellow legislators to get the "pork." "You vote for mine and I’ll vote for yours." I could give you hundreds of examples, but just a few will make the point:
Politicians protect defense projects that are proven to be unsafe or ineffective, because the factories that produce them are in their state. Out-dated, unnecessary military bases remain open because the representatives from those districts would lose votes if they closed. Politicians with liberal constituents bestow millions on the National Endowment for the Arts and on National Public Radio. The National Endowment is famous for such "Art" as placing a crucifix in a bottle of urine, and a photograph of an "artist" baring her breast for the camera. National Public Radio recently ran a special denouncing the Boy Scouts of America for refusing to allow homosexual Scoutmasters, even though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional for the Scouts to do so. (See the related article below.)
Their political reasons for cutting taxes might have been different, but both Kennedy and Reagan understood some important truths. They understood that a people can be taxed into oblivion. They understood that confiscatory taxes demoralize a people. They understood that the levels of taxation we are again experiencing today make the people the slaves of the government. I applaud these two Presidents.
You may be wondering why I didn’t include George W. Bush in my short list. Although he fought hard against the liberal forces in Congress for his tax cut, it was so small as to be insignificant. Not that I don’t appreciate his efforts. As Alan Keyes says, "I never met a tax cut I didn’t like" But we need REAL tax reform if this nation is going to reach its potential. How about this? What if several thousand Patriots dress up as Indians and show up the same day in the offices of our Senators and Congressmen? Do you think they’d get the message?
PBS BROADCAST ON SCOUTS LAMBASTED BY PRO-FAMILY GROUPS. Recently, the PBS program Point of View ran a documentary titled Scout’s Honor, which focused on four critics of the Boy Scouts’ policy banning homosexual troop leaders- a policy that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. Several pro-family advocates had called for their supporters to contact their local PBS stations to protest the broadcast, saying it did not fairly present all sides of the issue- and that it was improper for taxpayers’ money to be used to finance and air such a program. The American Family Association is blasting PBS for airing what it says was a biased documentary against the Scouts. For more details: http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/6/212001b.asp
THESE MEN RISKED THEIR LIVES FOR YOU. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry, Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton, Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery, Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott, William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris, Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross, Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas M’ Kean, Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carrol, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton, William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn, Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Thomas Lynch, Arthur Middleton, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton.
You may not recognize most of their names, but these are the men who signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. They knew full well that they would be hung or shot as traitors to the Crown if they were captured. I am sure that each man weighed his decision to afix his signature to this document very carefully. They knew their beloved families would suffer as a result of their action. These were well-educated men of means. They knew that they would lose their houses, lands, and businesses. But they loved freedom so much that they risked everything to allow America to be birthed. They knew that unless leaders stepped forward and said, "I believe that this is right and necessary," no one else would find the courage to oppose the tyranny. And so these men, most of them fairly unremarkable prior to that momentous day, became extraordinary men because their consciences required them to become leaders.
What happened after the signing of the Declaration of Independence would have caused many to to turn away from their duty, but we find no record of any of the signers doing so. The tactics the British attempted to crush the rebellion can only be described as savage. Not only were soldiers tortured in captivity; their wives and children were murdered, sometimes being burned alive in their homes. Yet, as I was researching this article, I was impressed by the faith of one of the signers, a medical doctor named Matthew Thornton, as he encouraged the people of New Hampshire. "In a word, we seriously and earnestly recommend the practice of that pure and undefiled religion, which embalmed the memory of our pious ancestors, as that alone upon which we can build a solid hope and confidence in the Divine protection and favour, without whose blessing all the measures of safety we have, or can propose, will end in our shame and disappointment."
Have you ever thought about what happened to the men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Five were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured to death. Nine died from wounds received in the war for independence. Two of them lost sons who died while serving in the Revolutionary Army. Carter Braxton, a wealthy trader, saw his ships sunk by the British Navy. He died in poverty after selling his home and property to pay his debts. Thomas M’Kean was hunted by the British and had to hide his family to save their lives. His possessions were taken from him; poverty was his reward. He and many other of the signers served in the Congress without pay.
Thomas Nelson, Jr., a wealthy man, was appointed Commander of the Militia of Virginia. Many times, with his army starving and in need of provisions, he paid for them out of his own pocket. At the battle of Yorktown, Nelson found that his home had been taken over by the British for their headquarters. He urged General George Washington to open fire, and his home was destroyed. Nelson died bankrupt. The home and properties of Frances Lewis were burned. The British imprisoned his wife, and she died within months. John Hart and his children were forced to flee for their lives as Mrs. Hart was dying. Hart lived in forests and caves for a year. He returned to find his wife dead and his children vanished. He died from exhaustion and a broken heart. British soldiers looted the properties of Ellery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Rutledge, Middleton, Norris and Livingston. These are just a few of the sacrifices of these American heros.
These men were not wild young rebels. They were men of substance. They had security; many were wealthy. They had much to lose, but they valued liberty more than their own lives, more than the lives of their families. Unwavering, they pledged: "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." Their sacrifices gave us a free and independent America. We honor their courage today.
Some of us take these liberties for granted. That is a grave error. Freedom isn’t free. If we forget that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, we may someday have to make the same sacrifices that these brave men did.
THIS IS AN INDEPENDENCE DAY SITE THAT I THINK YOU WILL ENJOY:
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