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.
Nancy Pelosi explained that the mandate was more of a penalty on “Free Riders” than a tax. Down by the Hudson River, British warships once plied the waterway in a bid to prevent the colonists from acting as “Free Riders” on their investment. The debate over whether people could be disenfranchised and compelled to pay for the grandiose plans of an out of touch government was eventually thought to have been settled further north at Saratoga. But the debate is back.
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 over 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.