INDEPENDENCE

It is most desirable at this particular time, just prior to the celebration of Independence Day, to call attention to the real meaning of independence. Many people even in our own country seem to feel that Independence Day is celebrated entirely because this nation freed itself from domination by any other country, and many other individuals attach to the word independence only the attribute of financial security. As a matter of actual fact independence means freedom. Freedom from support or government by others. This means essentially that America is a self-governed nation, that the real rulers are the people themselves, and that the temporary elected officials are their servants, employed to carry out the will of the real rulers, the people. In other words using the immortal phrase of Abraham Lincoln, it is a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

The Constitution of the United States begins with the words, “We, the people.” It was on this basis that our glorious republic was founded and it has been on this basis that it has grown and prospered. It must inevitably be on the same basis that the nation shall go onward and upward to a higher and worthier destiny. The noble and magnetic attraction of freedom has drawn people from every nation on earth to participate in its advantages and benefits, but far more to participate in the spirit and soul of freedom itself.

It is true that we have made many mistakes in our struggles toward perfecting the mechanism of independence. Many rich men have at various times exploited those less fortunate than themselves, by virtue of their power or their cleverness. Many poor people have exploited the general public by throwing themselves upon the public as a burden. Broadly speaking, however, from the ranks of the honest and reliable day laborer up to the self-made captain of industry there has been an unanimous general process of thought in the minds of American citizens. To all of these men were available opportunities of education, work and acceptance of responsibility. Our nation’s record shows that the large majority of successful men have originated from the ranks of the relatively poor. Our history is filled with examples of such progress. Our educational system, while not perfect, has always been available for those who were eager to acquire knowledge. Our business opportunities have always been open for those who were sincerely in earnest in their efforts to make themselves worthy of higher responsibility. Our failure to properly handle one responsibility conscientiously has been a dominant characteristic. Although our nation’s existence and our personal freedom depends upon the intelligent handling of our franchise at the polls, it still takes almost a national crisis to get as much as eighty per cent of our voting population to actually take part in the selection of their public servants.

The thought that we desire particularly to bring out in celebrating our national anniversary is that independence can only be secured and made safe by the acceptance of responsibility on the part of the people. We do not select officials to tell us what to do, but we select officials to do what we tell them to do. If they fail to follow our instructions we have the power to remove them from office. However, when the people, themselves, will not even bother to find out what they do want, it is perfectly natural that politicians will conjure up schemes of their own to offer the people as bait for their votes. This gives rise to concerted pressure by determined minorities and accounts for the great influence that small but well organized groups can exert, not only upon our legislatures, but upon our executive officials. It has almost become a truism that our elected public servants do not consider themselves as the representatives of the people, but on the other hand consider themselves as the representatives of a party, or a political machine. The politicians of the party or the machine are the ones who give the orders, many times irrespective of the desires or the welfare of the general public.

Party platforms have to a certain extent become meaningless as all parties have tried to tempt the people with the same kind of bait. Unfortunately, however, party principles as expressed in a platform have recently been made meaningless in another sense and that is by calm and casual repudiation. This has a far more vital and deeper significance than previous duplications of promises by the two large political parties. If the standard bearers of a party cannot even be counted on to attempt to live up to the party platform, then the premises upon which our elections have been based are struck down, and there is no method by which anyone can figure out what elected officials will do with the authority that is given to them.

The only means by which this can be remedied is for each community to start correcting the situation at home. Their local representatives are the ones who vote for the representatives above them and these representatives should have the will of the people clearly indicated to them before election. This will of the people should apply to candidates for both of the large political parties so that regardless of which candidate is elected, they will be bound to obey the will of the people on the major and most important items. If they do not select representatives that will also obey the will of the people then they can be retired to oblivion. This necessitates, however, that the desires of the people be made known to their representatives, and this requires the sound opinion of men of good judgment and honorable character, who are in no way connected with political machines. Just so long as the people are willing to accept what politicians hand out to them and indorse this handout as their own free expression of opinion and judgment, just so long will the politicians be able to control platforms and policies for their own convenience and self interest. The people must not only know what they desire, but it must also be just, fair and honorable. No one class or group should expect special privileges for themselves that are not granted to all other citizens.

There has been an ever growing tendency for a number of years for the federal and state governments to use income tax as a means of securing revenue. This means in drastic terms that the government, itself, depends upon the rich to sustain it. This is certainly getting far away from independence. Instead of every able-bodied man contributing his proportionate share of running the government of his state and country, he pays far more in the long run through increased prices if he happens to be poor, without getting any credit whatever for his share in the support of his own government. The rich men find ways and means of making more money so that even after their taxes are paid they still have an enormous amount left. There is no possibility of taking money away from the rich with the estimable purpose of relieving the poor of a burden without making the poor pay much more heavily in other ways. Money that is taken from the rich man by the government is used for unproductive purposes. If the money were left in the rich man’s possession it would be used for productive purposes, giving more employment, more wages, and more purchasing power to the average man. If anyone will follow the history of the income tax it will readily be noted that government expenses have risen rapidly and alarmingly as the possibilities of this source of revenue became more apparent. Until the income tax went into effect the annual federal budget was around One Billion Dollars per year or less. All we have to do is to look at it now to see the comparison. There is an old saying that “the power to tax is the power to destroy,” and this is only too true in certain instances. It is not true, however, with regard to an intelligent and liberty-loving people, for such peoples will never consent to their own destruction or the destruction of their liberties. They may be patient and long suffering but they will eventually sweep out of office and power those who would enslave or destroy them. It is high time that a limitation was placed by the people, themselves, in a constitutional manner upon taxation. The people are the rulers of this country and as such have the right and the moral duty to surround the authority that is given by them to their representatives with such restrictions as to make it impossible for their temporary servants to encroach upon their liberties or their possessions.

In view of the growing size of national budgets in all the civilized countries and especially in America, this problem must necessarily be solved or finally government will cost more than the people themselves are able to make. There is no time or space to go into this matter fully, but in a general way the people, themselves, must specify in federal, state and local affairs, just what their legal representatives have the power to do and that any further extension of such powers would be void and of no effect. Witness the controversy that is now going on in regard to the taxing power and the authority over commerce.

Unquestionably, our forefathers who founded this republic desired a central government for the purpose of protection and of progress. The mere idea, however, that the Federal Government should act in any other manner than as the representative of the states would have nullified all attempts to set up the federal union. The central government was organized solely for the purpose of affording protection against enemies, of handling foreign affairs, and of handling controversies or difficulties as between the states, themselves. It was a union of independent states composed of independent citizens and was specifically modeled so that the central government could never be strong enough to oppress and subdue the states and the people themselves. Individual and personal rights are a natural accompaniment of states rights and when we destroy the rights of the independent states we have by such methods automatically destroyed the rights of the individual. What we need for independence is not more federal authority but far, far less. This means, however, that the individual states and their citizens must accept their own obligations more seriously than in the past. It would be far preferable for certain rich states to lend the federal government money in emergencies than it would be for the federal government at any time to give or lend money to the states. The power to tax may be the power to destroy, but the power to administer funds or to lend money is also a power to control the people to whom such money is lent, or given. It should not be possible for a federal political party to have such power in its possession.

The states are the possessors, through their citizens, of the entire wealth of the country. When they allow the federal government to take such part of this wealth as is needed for the economic handling of purely federal business, that is just and fair, but when they allow the federal government to possess itself of their resources and then to turn around and lend, or give it back to them with conditions attached thereto, which in a degree places the control of their state and its citizens and their welfare under the central government, they are thus being forced to contribute to their own enslavement as well as to the consequent enslavement of the people.

The war of the revolution gained us our original independence, but, make no mistake, we have had to continually fight for this independence down through the years. There was never a time when it was more in danger than at present, due to the determined attempt to foist so-called reforms upon the people. Most of these reforms are projected and proposed for the sole purpose of securing the votes of the people as a reward for their initiation, it being inevitably certain that these reforms will fall by the wayside and prove unworkable. This is so principally because none of them are founded upon work and upon a man being paid according to his ability and industry.

The gospel of pay without work should be excluded from any future system and the gospel of work for everybody, according to their capacity, should be substituted. Work should be the foundation, and not idleness. Every American adult, except the violently insane and those who are in the last stages of hospitalization, should be able to do sufficient work for which they are fitted, to at least pay for their upkeep and comfortable existence. It is by this means only that we can make and keep Americans free and independent.

It would not be fitting to close this article without referring to an independence of even a higher and nobler type, the independence of the soul and of the heart, which is achieved by having a conscience free from the stain of doing things that are mean, vile, cruel, or inconsiderate of humanity. Also a heart that desires to do at least a little something for those who are less fortunate than ourselves, of helping our country, our state and our community in some manner, and in some degree to be an example to the rest of mankind.

H. B. MONJAR – July, 1935