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COMMENTARY: What would the Founders say about America's declaration of dependence?

By   /   July 3, 2012  /   3 Comments

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

Matt Kittle

MADISON — I imagine John Adams in that stuffy room, amid the hot summer stink of Philadelphia, far away from his one true love — writing to her as he could find the time.

As this Revolutionary War slogged on, as one last chance at peace with the mother country died, Adams wrote these words to his Abigail.

“Your Description of the Distresses of the worthy Inhabitants of Boston, and the other Sea Port Towns, is enough to melt a Heart of Stone,” Adams penned on July 7, 1775, as he served in a Second Continental Congress still not entirely sold on the idea of American independence from the empire.

His wife, more than 300 miles to the northeast, was, like many coastal New England inhabitants, bearing the brunt of the British campaign to quell the revolt of the crown’s incorrigible colonies.

“Our consolation must be this, my dear, that Cities may be rebuilt, and a People reduced to Poverty, may acquire fresh Property,” he continued, adding a now-famous line that stands like a beacon for any and all liberty-loving people.

“But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever.

“When the People once surrender their share in the Legislature, and their Right of defending the Limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every Encroachment upon them, they cannot regain it ..”

Adams, a revolutionary of the highest order, continental legislator, U.S. ambassador, vice president and president of his nascent nation, wrote these words a dozen years before the Constitution that would delineate the powers of the federal and state governments was written – some 14 years before that document would bind the nation.

Much has changed from those harrowing early days of revolution, when a generation of men and women shared a common principle, a bond, to bring forth a new nation created by its inhabitants, for its inhabitants.

I wonder what Adams and his fellow Founding Fathers would say lo these 236 years later.

I’ve got a feeling it might be something like this:


The signers of that bold declaration, who pledged to each other their lives, fortunes and sacred honor, some giving every measure of that sacred vow of independence, must be appalled by the level of dependence their progeny have on their government.

From nearly $80 billion in foods stamps distributed each year to billions of dollars more handed out in corporate welfare to an estimated $1 trillion-plus marked for the U.S. Supreme Court-blessed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, the U.S. citizen has become more dependent on its government than any Tory ever was. The better comparison may be government as dealer, citizen as dope addict.

While caring for its weakest – its poor, destitute, sick and aged – is the mark of a good and gracious society, taxing citizens to pay for every ill borne by society is the stain of a foolish and failing government.

Hence, a federal debt rapidly approaching $16 trillion.

There is an arrogance that is often mistaken for generosity, I think, at the core of the government that attempts to be all things to all bodies, which, in return, raises generations of government dependents.

Case in point, the state of Wisconsin’s report this week on the state of the Wisconsin Retirement System.

In its recommendation to maintain the status quo of the $80 billion-plus pension system, the study’s authors cautioned the state not to allow beneficiaries to opt out of paying into the plan. The argument against letting pensioners keep more of their paychecks is that they run the risk of blowing it, or mismanaging it.

That’s a point not lost on a financially illiterate nation, which has seen trillions of dollars in in investments disappear like smoke over the Great Recession.

Still, the verbiage sounds patronizing. The report advises the state to resist the temptation of moving from a defined benefit pension-style plan to a defined contribution, or the 401(k) employee-driven investment system.

“Generally speaking, a significant portion of (defined contribution) plan distributions are not saved,” the report states. “Distributions that are not used for retirement savings are said to have ‘leaked’ from the nation’s savings … According to Professor Alicia Munnell at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, a high percentage of employees in DC plans cash out or spend all of their DC accounts when they change jobs, significantly reducing the amounts available to pay retirement benefits.”

Are Americans bad with money? Yep.

Should that ultimately be the concern of the government, i.e. the taxpayer?

There’s a simple saying that applies: You can’t legislate against stupidity. At least taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for it.

But how does a nation borne on the principles and statutes of liberty save itself from government dependence?

If only John Adams and his gang of revolutionaries were here to answer that big question.


  • Ralph C Whaley MD

    Every adult is his his own responsibility. Children are the sole responsibility of their parents until they become adults capable of being their own responsibility. Those adults incapable of caring for their own lives have only one moral option, an appeal for charity from those capable and willing to give it. A moral government’s sole responsibility is, as T Jefferson wrote in the original founding document of the first and only moral government in the history of man, “to secure these rights (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”. Porotecting the rights of every individual under its jurisdiction is the sole proper action of our gvoernment. Those functions are the responsibility of the police to protect us from criminals, the military to protectus from foreign affacks and the courts to peacefully settle disputes among men by applying objective law brfore impartial judges and/or juries of peers. Sad to say America has abandoned these principles and embraced the tyranny of a welfare state that is destroying America. It is not too late to restore America to its founding principle INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS TO LIFE, LIBERTY, and THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.


    Agreed…Good Doctor!

    The grand experiment is not over…it is just being tested for validity. These tests from within are intentionally destructive in nature and must be postponed for a good while (November 2012) before the entire test sample is irretrievablly and totally destroyed. Because once that total destruction is accomplished, outside influences will take soon over without any opposition and ensure that this experiment is never attempted ever again. They cannot allow it to ever totally succeed because their need for overreaching and total power will not be complete and overwhelming worldwide if it does…

    We the people…in these United States…wish to “to secure these rights (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) for all who will willingly stand up and help to protect and maintain them forever.

    Awaken this sleeping giant and open your brains and think about this for that business is now at hand!

    We must not allow our elected representatives to merely fight for things…we must hold them responsible for fixing things that are broken. If they do not “fix” those things…they “must” be replaced by those who will at the earliest convience!

  • Wisconsinite

    “But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever.

    This says it all. We the people have to wake up before it’s too late and save our great country. God bless the USA!