Stand in front of a mirror and ask the person you see this question:
"When your government looks at you, do you want it to see a creature of an all powerful State, or do you want it to see a creation of an almighty and eternal Father to whom both you and the officials of that government will be accountable someday?"
Two hundred and thirty-six years ago, a group of Americans asked themselves that same question. Their answer became the foundation of a new country, and was recorded in the document we know as the Declaration of Independence.
They were creations, with both the rights and the responsibilities of that status. And in order to protect their rights so they could honor their responsibilities, they were required to stand against a government that refused to recognize that truth.
Afterwards, they formed a government that they hoped would continue to recognize each citizen as a creation. They knew that this required strong fences to limit the might of the government, and they wrote a Constitution that included those limits.
But in the final analysis, protecting our rights and honoring our responsibilities as creations lies in our hands. No document can magically limit the power of the government unless we insist that the government obey its provisions.
We have not done so.
The current Supreme Court ruling is an excellent example. The Constitution explicitly says that Congress has the power to tax income. It does not say that Congress has the power to use taxes to control the behavior of citizens. It does not say that Congress does NOT have the power to use taxes to control the behavior of citizens. It does not address that issue at all.
But we the citizens addressed that issue long ago, and we said it was okay with us. We have allowed our taxes to be adjusted if we bought a home, or added weatherization, or paid student loan interest, or placed money in IRA accounts, or … And not only have we passively given permission, many of us have actively worked to add things to the list of tax "breaks".
But a tax break for one person is a tax punishment for the other. If person A buys weatherization and person B buys new bedroom furniture, but only person A gets the tax break, aren’t we actually punishing person B for not buying weatherization?
The issue is not really weatherization, or even health care.
The issue is whether or not the government has the power to use taxes to control the behavior of its citizens, effectively making those citizens the property of the state.
Will we allow ourselves to become nothing more than creatures of an all powerful state, who can be "molded" through economic and legal carrots and sticks into compliance, or will we retain our status as creations of that almighty and eternal Father?
On this national birthday, we would do well to remember that we can only exercise our endowed rights by honoring our endowed responsibilities. And protecting and preserving the freedom that each of us was created for is the most fundamental of those responsibilities.