by Richard Ebeling, Mises.org
As we prepare to celebrate the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence we should recall why the American colonists made their decision to break away from the British Empire. The Declaration, in the enumerated grievances against the British Crown, makes it crystal clear that the cause was Big Government.
I explain this in a new piece of mine, “A Declaration of Independence from Big Government.”
It was a Big Government that violated the colonists’ personal and civil liberties, and denied them economic freedom through the stranglehold of a spider’s web of commercial regulations, controls, and restrictions.
In addition, the hard working people of those thirteen colonies along the eastern seaboard of North America were burdened with numerous taxes that consumed significant portions of their wealth, and were imposed without their consent.
Everywhere, the king appointed various “czars” who were to control and command much of the people’s daily affairs of earning a living. Layer after layer of new bureaucracies were imposed over every facet of life.
“He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance,” the Founding Fathers explain.
In place of this oppressive system, the Founding Fathers declared the principles of a free people: every individual’s right to his life, liberty and the pursuit of his own happiness. The ground was laid for the noble experiment of a society of free men associating on the basis of voluntary consent and mutually beneficial exchange.
Unfortunately, in our own time we have returned to a system of government controls and fiscal burdens that are far more oppressive than the ones our Founding Fathers revolted against.
Those freedom-loving colonists rose up against a government that taxed a fraction of what the U.S. government plunders the American taxpayer, nowadays.
And the intrusive hand of government in our personal, social and economic affairs is far more pervasive today than anything those American colonists faced 233 years ago when the Declaration of Independence was signed.
This 4th of July, each of us should try to remind our fellow Americans about why the Founding Fathers led a revolution against the British government, and why the danger of Big Government is far greater in 2009 than anything they faced in 1776.