Be an American Revolutionary – Make the Declaration of Independence Live Again

June 29, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More

It was summer; a hot, muggy summer in Philadelphia where Virginian Thomas Jefferson presented to the Continental Congress a document which would be a shot heard ‘round the world, a Declaration of Independence.

The brave men who signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 put their lives, liberty and sacred honor at stake for the good of what they believed should be a new nation, one conceived in liberty and where all men were created equal. How do we Americans in 2010 view the Declaration of Independence? Too often, we view the Declaration of Independence only as a part of our past, an historic document that is not relevant to us today. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is time that we declared our independence from those which would have us be satisfied with less than the complete American dream.  It is time to reclaim the American Revolution for the good of our country and the good of the world.

In the Declaration of Independence, the first principle to recognize in reclaiming the American Revolution is to re-affirm that America is a shared dream, a dream meant for all to share not just a few wealthy individuals or corporations.

Our nation faces a fiscal crisis. We spend far more than we take in revenues. A fundamental decision must be made as to how it is we will spread the burden of supporting the American dream, if we wish the dream to endure.

A frequently cited statistic by those which would advocate drastic reductions in federal spending is the percentage of debt as a percentage of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Frequently, advocates of our nation adopting more “fiscal responsibility” forget that until FY 2011, since 1980, each Republican administration has only increased the percentage of our national debt as a percentage of GDP. Since 1980, each Democratic administration had reduced the percentage of national debt as a percentage of GDP.

Of far more importance in preserving the American dream is to examine the percentages of wages as a percentage of GDP. In 2006, Bill Moyers reported that the share of GDP going to wages was at its lowest point since 1947, when the government started measuring such numbers.  What that means is that the largest contributor to corporate profitability over the last decade has been the decline of worker’s share of the national income. While real wages of workers have decreased, until the Stimulus Plan of 2009, their tax burdens have increased. While corporate profits have increased, their tax burdens have decreased, including over $300 billion more in the 2009 Stimulus plan.

The tax burden upon workers must be reduced in order for average Americans to reclaim the American dream of working hard, paying fair taxes, owning their own home, putting their kids through college and taking care of themselves in their retirement.

Our country has run amok in granting tax breaks, tax reductions and tax abatements to corporations which have temporarily increased corporate bottom lines but, without any increases in innovation or investments in new products. Locally, bidding wars for tax breaks have pitted the schools against municipal governments’ desires for added sales tax revenues with a resulting decline in financial support for schools as we demand more from the schools.  Is it such a surprise that our students fare less well in comparison to other countries internationally?

Corporations and the top 1% of income earners in America need to pay their fair share of providing for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. America doesn’t need to continue corporate welfare which has cost trillions over time and, if continued, will contribute substantially to our continuing fiscal crisis. America is not like 18th Century England: a country of privileged, landed gentry which decided what the masses deserve.

Tax breaks for corporations in the way of rebates or credits and reductions in local property tax support for education must be stopped. If credits are to be offered, focus them on monies for actual jobs created and actual employees added to a new or existing payroll, not for the physical plant or location to be built. It’s pretty easy to see that on day one there were 10 employees and on day 50 there were 200. Too often we rely upon the good faith of corporations on jobs from their activity and do not often focus on the actual jobs created as a result of corporate welfare.

Our schools need the necessary resources to teach our children to compete at home and abroad in the new economy. Declining physical plants prevent schools from targeting resources to classrooms and teaching. We need to renew our national commitment to education by making available additional federal funding for educational infrastructure through the federal bonding authority which will allow states to access funding by grants or bonds to rebuild our schools and make them places of education not confinement. If we believe our children to be the future of America, how can we continue to deny children a first class education?

But, as government support of corporate welfare and tax breaks has increased, the amount of money directed to support working Americans’ children at having access to college has decreased. Fewer and fewer are able to afford the expense of even state-funded schools. We need to make college more affordable for average Americans.

College is not the best fit for every student. We also need to create school-to-work transition programs, and we need to support greater access to technical schools for non-college bound students and put some of our youth to work by rebuilding the infrastructure of America. A giant government works program of building bridges, highways, levees, and roads rivaling New Deal era programs would put people to work in good paying jobs, make the new workers productive tax payers and provide new skills for those for whom college is not what they desire. Better bridges, highways, levees and roads will reduce delays, preserve property and crops, and save fuel which all cost tens of billions annually. Such savings could functionally finance most or all of the works’ programs.

45,000 Americans die each year because they lack health insurance. 30-45 million Americans don’t have health insurance. Cruel Republican cuts in Medicare and Medicaid have thrown hundreds of thousands of the poor, disabled, young, infants, pregnant women and seniors off the healthcare rolls. More people file for bankruptcy due to medical bills than any other reason. America has made an effort to avert the continuing crisis in healthcare by passing reforms. No sooner had healthcare reform passed when those same purely partisan persons who had voted nearly unanimously against healthcare reform, who had voted to cut Medicare and Medicaid, and had voted to secure trillions for the corporations and the wealthy at the expense of average Americans and their dreams, condemned the bill and called for its repeal. One recent Republican Congressional primary TV ad called for the violent overthrow of the government by force of arms because of the national healthcare reform law.

The treasonous rhetoric of the right must stop now. What has been done was done by a process of a series of votes over many months by elected majorities of the US House and Senate. The majority votes cast in the US House and Senate were by our elected representatives who, in part, we elected to do just what they did—enact healthcare reform. Healthcare reform will reduce the past abuses of insurers, make care more widely available, and reduce costs for consumers and the government. We will be a healthier, wealthier nation for the passage of healthcare reform.

If the American middle class is to have any staying power, it’ll be because of good education, good jobs and good healthcare. We need to recommit ourselves as a nation to these simple truths. I have put forward my ideas of how we make the Declaration of Independence live in our current lives. In these things, we may again have America as a shining city on a hill as a way to show others freedom and our shared values. We now need to teach our children, at home and in the classroom, that they own the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution and they can and must devote themselves to demanding their share of these prized possessions for which so many others have fought and died. It is the least, and the best thing, which we may do to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

So, on this July 4, 2010, I urge you to print out a copy of the Declaration of Independence (mine is 3’ x 2’) and sign it. Have your kids sign it. Have a party and invite your extended family and friends to sign it. Tell your children and the others the story of how the people who signed before you didn’t and couldn’t know if they would be hanged for treason.

Keep the Declaration alive.  Display it when family and friends gather and invite them to sign it. Mount the Declaration of your wall so any who enter your home may sign. It is time to reclaim our country and declare our Independence from those which would have us be satisfied with less than the full and complete American dream.

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Category: History, Politics

About the Author ()

imothy E. Hogan is a trial attorney, a husband, a father of two awesome children and a practicing Roman Catholic in St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Hogan has done legal and political work in Jefferson City, Missouri for partisan and non-partisan social change, environmental and consumer protection groups. Mr. Hogan has also worked for consumer advocate Ralph Nader in Washington, DC and the members of the trial bar in the State of New York. Mr. Hogan’s current interests involve remaining a full time solo practitioner pioneer on the frontiers of justice in America, a good husband and a good father to his awesome children.

Comments (1)

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  1. John Elliott says:

    Tim, it's me, Jellio. I'm always looking to make contact with fellow progressives in the battle against ignorance.

    See you on the boards.

    John

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