How are we doing, safeguarding those “unalienable Rights” with which we are “endowed by our Creator” — in support of which 56 patriots solemnly pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor 242 years ago?
We remain free by most measures. Americans can still pretty much live where we want, work where we want, drive where we want. In fact, for women and minorities, those liberties have expanded over the past 70 years. We should all be proud of that.
But the average Southern Nevadan can be excused for sensing that the government now constricts like a boa around many of our remaining freedoms.
The cameras at every major intersection will be used only to spot traffic tie-ups, we’re assured. Now we’re told the very kinds of robot drones used to assassinate terrorists overseas will be used by domestic police agencies, as well.
Instead of us watching our government, our government is watching us. The National Security Agency is far more informed about the U.S. citizenry than anyone could have imagined regarding our phone calls, emails, web browsing habits and social media posts.
In the time preceding the Revolutionary War, one of the colonists’ complaints about George II was that he had “erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” That sounds familiar today, with one recent president bypassing Congress and instead using federal agencies to impose hugely burdensome regulations on businesses and the public.
Many of today’s politicians pretend there’s some mystery about why the American economy struggled in recent years but has rebounded somewhat recently. What mystery?
Americans are an entrepreneurial people. Many of today’s most successful corporations started as mom-and-pop operations, or with a couple of tinkerers building computers in a garage.
But talk to anyone who’s tried to set up such a business. It requires a wall full of licenses and permits, none of which comes in a Cracker Jack box. The would-be entrepreneur is indeed “swarmed” with regulators, inspectors and tax men. And boatloads more regulations arrive once you dare open your shop and hire an employee. President Donald Trump’s efforts to roll back the administrative state have been a welcome development in this regard.
Yes, on this Fourth of July, there’s still vastly more freedom to celebrate here than in most parts of the world. But to keep it that way — and, better still, to expand it — we all should remember the words of Ronald Reagan: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
A version of this editorial has appeared in the Review-Journal since 2012.