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The roots of the IRS

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When the federal government spends more each year than it collects in tax revenues, it has three choices: It can raise taxes, print money, or borrow money. While these actions may benefit politicians, all three options are bad for average Americans. -Ron Paul

Where did it all begin?

One of the most reviled of all US Federal agencies is the dreaded IRS or Internal Revenue Service. This agency created to help fund the US Federal Government’s never ending spending appetite has its roots in rebellion. In early 1861 President Abraham Lincoln, looking at the imminent secession of Southern states and the loss of their lucrative seaports, began looking at ways to make up lost revenue. Lincoln made inquiries of his cabinet members Edward Bates, Salmon Chase, and Gideon Welles wanting to know if he had the constitutional authority to collect duties on goods and services as well as import tariffs and property taxes. The end result was the Revenue Act of 1861 passed on August 5th 1861 and the first federal income tax statute of the United States. The income tax placed a 3% tax on all individuals whose annual incomes were above $800 per year. file5339fc92e570f By 1862 however realizing the war was not going to be a short affair, the Lincoln administration passed of the Revenue Act of 1862  which established for the first time an Office of the Commissioner of Revenue. It also levied excise taxes on everyday goods and services and established the first graduated or progressive tax system in the US which  separated citizens into multiple categories and taxed them based upon their abilities to pay. As the years would pass the revenue generated from this law was not enough to pay the burdensome debts the war was amassing and subsequent legislation would need to be passed. After the Civil War and ten years after the original income tax law was passed the largely unpopular law was repealed, only to be revived once more by Congress in 1894. The subsequent year saw the Supreme Court rule the law unconstitutional, based upon the fact that the income tax was a direct tax not apportioned according to the population of each state. In 1909 President Taft would recommend Congress propose a constitutional amendment that would give the government the power to tax incomes without apportioning the burden among the states in line with population. In 1913 Delaware became the 36th and last state needed to ratify the 16th Amendment which established the federal government’s authority to enact income tax.

What’s next?

All governments throughout world history have levied taxes on its citizens to help pay off debts accrued by war and or other expenditures. Our country is no different and at times has had tax rates as high as 77% of income. Image that, 77 cents for every dollar earned was going to the government. That’s simply outrageous. If we allow our leaders to keep spending money like they are doing now we may well see tax rates that high again.

This is why it is imperative now upon all our citizens to understand the implications of Lincoln’s legacy, the establishment of the federal income tax system, and all that it entails. We are trusting our elected officials with our money and should they continue on the deficit spending track there will be dire consequences for all of us,  to include higher taxes.

In my opinion we cannot afford to maintain global hegemony for much longer. We simply do not have the revenue to be the world’s beat cop, and defender of the free world. It’s time for the other nations to pick up some the slack.

It’s time to win the war for peace as we cannot afford to wage war in perpetuity. No nation can do that and survive.

We need to look at ending entitlement programs that do not change people’s lives for the long term. Investment in education and skill training instead of extending unemployment benefits for example.

We need to change our foreign policy so that it’s not so reliant on dollar diplomacy. We cannot afford to keep giving billions and billions in aid to foreign nations, some that do not even like us or have the same values.

 

Our leaders need to represent WE the People and not spend our hard earned money that the IRS is so hard at work taking away from us.

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Sincere tyranny

C. S. Lewis Photo Source: Wikimedia.org

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”  ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

In today’s American society we are experiencing a soft tyranny of sorts sincerely exercised  for the good of its victims, the American people.  The modern Statist in America , as the author Mark Levin described the modern left wing liberal, is the living embodiment of the moral busybody.  Firm in their convictions and intent on the destruction of what they view as dangerous personal liberty.

We live in an age where government decides or tries to decide  for us among other things what food we should eat and how much;  how much water we need to flush our toilets; what kind of light bulbs we can use; what type of gas we can put in our cars; and now what type of health insurance coverage we should have.

An outsider must wonder how America survived for over a hundred plus years without the modern Administrative State and its  moral  busybodies managing every aspect of our lives from cradle to grave.

 

Oh how we have lost our way America.

Religious Freedom?

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At issue is religious freedom. The Obamacare mandate forces businesses to provide coverage for contraceptive drugs to include drugs and devices that will abort babies.

Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts store chain was providing 16 of the 20 contraceptive drugs available in the new healthcare law but refused to provide coverage for abortion inducing drugs which is at odds with the owner’s religious beliefs. The story has largely been portrayed by the media as Hobby Lobby refusing all contraception drugs which is just not the case.

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The owners of the business feeling they had no choice filed suit  against the government’s position and clear disregard for religious freedom . Making the owner choose between accepting the mandate and violating their faith or paying a per-employee penalty which in the case of Hobby Lobby would amount to millions of dollars is worthy of a fight.

Some have argued that  the business is a corporation and the owners’ beliefs do not fully represent the stockholders views . The three left leaning women on the Supreme Court questioned how a corporation could be religious.

In my opinion, if a majority of the ownership believes one way then the majority should win the argument. Why is it any different than when a majority ownership decides to buy or sell off a division or take the company in a different direction? The majority ownership always takes the risk that if their decision is so unpopular their employees and stockholders might just leave or sell off their stock interests. Such is the case here too. If Hobby Lobby’s majority owners want to inject their belief system into their business, and they do they’re closed on Sundays for example, they take the risk that others will abandon them. That is their choice and something no government entity or court should be allowed to dictate.

What we are seeing is a good example of the kind of war on freedom the Obama administration and his Democrat supporters wage every day. Putting the state’s needs which they claim are just the poor and needy in front of the individual’s need. It appears that an overwhelming majority are meant to ignore their faith and suffer penalties if they ignore the government’s bullying because a small percentage of the population doesn’t have access to birth control drugs and the ability to kill their babies.

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For Obama and his supporters asserting government’s position to that of sovereign over our lives and welfare is their mission and part of his hope and change plan. One doesn’t have to be a member of the Tea Party movement to feel the heel of government oppression on the throat of religious liberty.  I reject them and so should you if you believe in religious freedom.

 

  “Don’t tread on me”!

 

 

don't tread on me

Elected Elites?

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In a recent Linkedin story written by Richard Branson, the billionaire of Virgin Atlantic fame, he defends Democracy and calls on Democracies everywhere to consider looking at successful businesses and their structures as a role model presumably for better government.  He makes note of China’s speedy economic growth and how they are able to move quickly and without gridlock. He then goes on to suggest government could cut costs by eliminating so many representatives we have now, and instead paying the remaining  fewer representatives more money.

 

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According to Branson:

 “..Research has shown paying politicians more improves quality, and a talented, diverse new generation of people who would be attracted to positions where they could make a difference.”

First off I am not sure what research he is referring to but that sounds like a terrible idea. If anything we already pay politicians particularly US Congressmen far too much for too little return on investment. I fail to see how having less representatives somehow gives people equal or more representation than they already have now. It would appear Branson would like to see power concentrated into the hands of just a few representatives and given a freer hand to get things done. What “things” would remain to be seen, but you can be sure you and I won’t have a say in it if he gets his way.

Also, how does offering more pay for abysmal performance make for better representatives? For far too long we have elected people whose self-interest was the primary motivating factor for going into public service. You want to really start fixing things you have to change this paradigm. Political office currently attracts those seeking power, influence and money. How does that equate to good representation for the people? In the private sector money attracts more talent but does the type of person drawn to money, power, and influence make the best representatives of people who come from diverse backgrounds, cultures and economic conditions?

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In today’s society once these money and power hungry people take office is it rational to believe that they will somehow shelve their own personal interests that have driven them their entire lives, and expect them instead to suddenly become altruistic and put their country and constituent’s needs first? I don’t think so. Offering more money like Branson suggests to attract a new diverse generation will only attract different sharks to the same pool, not better representatives.

We have drifted from the principle ideas of true representative government, perhaps out of ignorance or apathy I don’t know but we have grown too comfortable electing and putting our blind faith and trust in these type of people. The very same kind that thinks it’s okay to spy on you, lie to Congress, and ignore the Constitution.

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In my view the compensation for any elected politician should be primarily the opportunity to serve the people. That should be reward enough. A small salary plus costs reimbursement should be in place but that’s it. Also there should be cumulative term limits for all those in public service. After eight or ten years in public life,  that’s it, you’re off the public dole and you have to go find a real job or start a business of your own. The days of career politicians should be numbered.

The Congress is supposed to be a snapshot of the American people. All of them not just the successful power hungry ones that come from five or six different career professions primarily. One of the major problems I have noticed and have written about in the past is the demographics of the USA and the demographics of Congress are dramatically different.

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In John Adams’s Thoughts on Government, Adams wrote about Congress saying

“..It should be in miniature an exact portrait of the people at large. It should think, feel, reason, and act like them.”

Ask yourself the question, do our current Congressmen and woman think, feel, and act like you? They probably don’t and most of you would probably have little in common with them.

I wonder what kind of people would then be attracted to public service if pay for elected office was nominal, had little perks, and service was required to end after a few years. Would we be better off represented by Joe Citizen, the plumber, the baker, the teacher, or the software guy who took four or six years off from his live to “serve” a bigger purpose? Would we get a better return on our investment than leaving it in the hands of the “political professionals”? Would people step up and do the job? I think they would despite what other political hacks might think.

Lastly, while I oppose government bureaucracy just like the next guy, some gridlock is not necessarily a bad thing, despite what Richard Branson, the business mogul thinks. Our system of government was built with gridlock in mind to prevent hastily written laws that have bad consequences later. The intention was not to put laws in place that could easily be changed or circumvented at the whim of the people, businesses or political influences of the moment. The government was structured so that the passions of the people and various special interests were to be given time to cool off, and rational discussion and input from all interested parties could follow before legislation was to be enacted.  As Justice Scalia once said in support of the argument that the Constitution should be interpreted as the framers intended  “If the Constitution means whatever we think it means today, why have a Constitution. Just have a legislature.”

In summary Branson’s off the cuff idea would further disenfranchise the average American citizen and would concentrate more power into the hands of an elite few and keep it there. I think he should stick to his business and leave We the People’s business alone.

 

 

Internet must remain uncensored

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Earlier this month U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced  that it was giving up oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN  as it is known. ICANN is a US non-profit created in 1998 with the purpose of managing the internet’s Domain Name System or DNS. The company also has been responsible for managing top tier domain names like .com, .org and .gov.  The US government responsible for the creation of the internet beginning in the 1960’s has maintained some oversight of its functions but has faced criticism from more than a few nations who do not like the idea of a free and uncensored internet.

According to the Washington Post “Pressure to let go of the final vestiges of U.S. authority over the system of Web addresses and domain names that organize the Internet has been building for more than a decade and was supercharged by the backlash last year to revelations about National Security Agency surveillance.”

The Obama administration’s announcement that it would not be renewing ICANN’s contract in 2015 and doing so without a firm plan in place to transition oversight has caused a stir among many here in the US and from unlikely bedfellows. Former President Bill Clinton speaking at a panel discussion Friday night  regarding internet governance stated “A lot of people … have been trying to take this authority from the U.S. for the sole purpose of cracking down on Internet freedom and limiting it and having governments protect their backsides instead of empowering their people..

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 Heritage Foundation fellows Brett D. Schaefer, James L. Gattuso, Paul Rosenzweig and David Inserra weighed in essentially agreeing with Clinton stating  “The U.S. has a strong interest in maintaining an open and free Internet. If Internet functions were harmed, not only would there be economic damage, but a vital forum for freedom of speech and political dissent would be compromised. While the transition of Internet stewardship from the U.S. may have been inevitable, it is unclear why the U.S. surrendered its greatest point of leverage prematurely. Surrendering U.S. oversight of ICANN was a key objective of many nations that wish to curtail freedom on the Internet.”

The danger lies giving a governing body like the UN which is made up of countries like  China, Russia or Iran, not known for their support of free speech or any type of dissent,  to weigh in and regulate the internet and its functioning.  The consequences that would have are not small. The internet has been a bulwark for freedom and communication across the globe. It has been our government’s ambassador at large for freedom and democracy.  Anyone including the oppressed with a connection has a voice that can be heard around the globe by millions. The disenfranchised can see for themselves what it looks like to live in a free country as a opposed to one that is “secure”.  A good example of the effectiveness of the net was when world wide attention was brought on Syria and their use of poison gas during their civil war, something  that would not have been readily known otherwise had it not been for the internet.

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One thing is clear; the US should not surrender oversight quickly regardless of how bad some in the international community want that to happen. A clear plan must first be in place that guarantees a smooth transition to a new governing body that is completely on board with the principles of freedom and uncensored speech. The US has provided the ordinary citizens of the world a voice that must not be silenced by authoritarian governments or well-meaning but dim-witted bureaucrats in the United Nations assembly.

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A friend’s passing

A close friend of mine died today. He lived a long, long, life filled with adventure, intrigue and the stuff you read in the history books. During his birth he beat the odds and many said he should not have survived. When he was a child, others left him mostly alone, not sure what to make of his odd ideas, manners and customs. He was blessed with a good place to live filled with abundance, and was raised by parents that respected God and family.

As a young adult he grew strong, powerful and self-confident. Some would even say he had become arrogant. He was also known to be cruel and selfish in his youth. However life’s experience would teach him hard lessons, and he learned from his mistakes. Slowly over time his character was built with confidence to overcome any obstacle. His can do attitude won him much adulation from his peers.

He became a fierce warrior with the heart of a lion out of necessity for survival. Others would call for his help frequently and he always answered that call. He would be forced to fight in wars and conflicts overseas seeing firsthand the cruelty and barbarity men could inflict upon others but it did not change his character instead making him only stronger and wiser as he aged. He was industrious, compassionate, and generous with his money.

In the years that followed he grew happy and content and sired many children. Over time however as with many families his children grew complacent, fat and lazy. Having not experienced the same challenges and hardships that their father had experienced, the same challenges and hardships that built his character; they became weak and insecure.

His children ignored their father’s warnings and lessons and ridiculed his past mistakes. They chose to spend their inheritance and squander the good will their father had built up with his friends over many years. They welcomed their father’s old enemy’s ideas into their hearts and borrowed money they could not pay back from those same enemies. Over time displeased and disgusted with their father and his ways, they dispatched him while he slumbered. His children celebrated their new found “freedom” from their father proclaiming his old ideas were slowing their progress and that with him gone their direction was certain.

However, seeing my friend’s demise, at the hands of his children, my friend’s old enemies no longer were afraid of my friend’s family and rose up against the house their father had built with blood, sweat and treasure expended and destroyed them all, taking their lands, their livelihoods and their freedom forever.

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I shall miss my friend America, as will most of the world as there has never been a country quite like it before in history and we are not likely to see one like it ever again.

 

Where will freedom reign once it is extinguished here?

 

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

America the Beautiful

In 1893 an English school teacher, Katherine Lee Bates from Wellesley College in Massachusetts decided to take a summer teaching job at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO. Her long journey by rail would take her across the heartland of America stopping finally at the front range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs. After admiring the view from atop Pike’s Peak, the 14,115 ft mountain that sits immediately west of the city overlooking it, Bates was inspired to write a poem about what she had seen during her journey. The poem was later put to music and would become one of our countries most memorable songs. Subsequent to the song’s popularity there have been numerous petitions to make it our country’s National Anthem. Its moving lyrics and ease of singing provide good arguments for their case.

America the Beautiful

O beautiful, for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.

O beautiful, for pilgrim feet

Whose stern, impassioned stress

A thoroughfare for freedom beat

Across the wilderness!

America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw;

Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!

O beautiful, for heroes proved

In liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved

And mercy more than life!

America! America! May God thy gold refine,

Till all success be nobleness, and ev’ry gain divine!

O beautiful, for patriot dream

That sees beyond the years,

Thine alabaster cities gleam

Undimmed by human tears!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!

Lyrics Source: Pikes Peak.us.com

To anyone who has not taken the journey across America you owe it to yourself to add it to your bucket list. I think America’s size, scope and her rich history cannot be fully appreciated until one has traveled by car or train across America. I have had the privilege of traveling all over America, from Maine to the Florida Keys, and from New York and places in New England to the southern-most borders of California.  The fruited plains and amber waves of grain do exist and are not just exaggerations. From where I write this today I can see Pike’s Peak. On clear early mornings, when the sun shines just right, you can truly see the purple mountain’s majesty. It is a sight to behold and a reminder to be thankful we live in such a great country blessed with beauty and abundance.

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Justice Louis Brandeis  cir 1916  Source:  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-31230

Justice Louis Brandeis
cir 1916 Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-31230

“The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.” –Justice Louis Brandeis

Painless War?

Last evening according to Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby, US Navy Seals stormed aboard an oil tanker called the “Morning Glory” which was being held by three Libyan rebels. The tanker according to a Blaze report contained 36 million dollars’ worth of crude oil. The Seals took control of the tanker and no casualties were reported. According to reports, President Obama himself ordered the attack at the request of both the Libyan and Cypriot governments. Kirby said “The Morning Glory is carrying a cargo of oil owned by the Libyan government National Oil Company. The ship and its cargo were illicitly obtained …”

US Navy Seals fast rope on to a ship's deck.  U. S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class (AW) Michael W. Pendergrass

US Navy Seals fast rope on to a ship’s deck.

 

I wonder had there been Navy Seal casualties, if this story would have ever seen the light of day and possibly instead been given a Top Secret classification, the details hidden in the interests of National Security, i.e. avoiding White House public embarrassment. There may be some national security purpose to this raid but really it just looks like we helped out an oil company for the Libyan’s as a favor. Who knows? One thing for sure is we have made some more enemies with this action.

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President Obama making a call in the Oval Office

In my opinion this President or any sitting President for that matter, using the Seals as the World’s 911 first responders is a gross abuse of Presidential executive powers. Just because there is precedent for it does not make it right or just. Had there been casualties and say deaths, the Seals’s loved ones would be told they had died bravely in the performance of their duties for their country. In other words they would have died so an oil company could keep its oil. Will we ever hear outrage from the political left in this country about how this President put brave men into harm’s way over oil interests like we did when President Bush was in the White House? I’m not holding my breath.

President Obama delivers statement on US Consulate attack in Benghazi.

President Obama delivers statement on US Consulate attack in Benghazi.

We place our trust in politicians to represent us and do what’s right for the country, but are they really doing so? How would we know when they frequently hide their questionable actions behind the veil of national security? We have seen this administration openly sacrifice a US Ambassador and his security detail at the embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Those men died at the hands of terrorists and this Administration tried blaming some film maker for the incident. We may never know the real reasons why they were sacrificed. According to Hillary Clinton what does it matter? Well it does matter.

 

Going to war, which is really what it is when you give the green light to use Navy Seals or fire drones at targets in other countries for that matter, should be something that is used sparingly. This is why Congress has to be involved. Declarations of War involving the Congress must be required, something that almost never is done anymore. The practice needs to be restored so that the people have a voice in these potentially long, bloody, protracted engagements with dubious purpose. War making is a tool in a President’s diplomacy bag to be sure but it should be a tool rarely reached for at the bottom of the bag when everything else has failed.

Predator Drone

Predator Drone

I am concerned that we in this country have made war far, far too easy and relatively painless. It used to be for most of human history that war was waged by entire societies willingly or not; engaged in the cause, invested totally in the endeavor. Blood, treasure and lives were expended for the cause at great peril to those societies.

Scrap Metal Drive in Hood River, Oregon during WWII 1942

Scrap Metal Drive in Hood River, Oregon during WWII 1942

What sacrifices today does the average American experience as a result of war being fought on their behalf overseas? Today most Americans know little of the sacrifices our soldiers experience on daily basis in combat other than what they see on the web or television. Our leaders too have little invested personally in the endeavor and do not appear to be concerned about the long term consequences of their actions. Yes, there might be political fall-out if things go wrong, but when it’s all said and done they eventually retire from public service with full benefits and country club lifestyle at the tax payer expense for the rest of their lives.

 

Today with our satellites in orbit tracking everything; and the NSA listening to everybody, our leaders can sit in comfort and order death sentences to foreign nationals with never experiencing the real costs of waging this new kind of war. To me it seems talking is no longer part of US diplomacy and has been left behind in favor of brute force. Our policy now is shoot first, plan later and apologize only when absolutely necessary.

 

Our leaders in Washington argue that we are still at war against terror, but for how long does that last, another year, ten years, fifty? No one knows. How much longer can we afford to wage this type of war? In the year 2012 we spent 682 billion dollars or four times more than our nearest rival China on military expenditures. What are the incentives for peace? How about because we are broke financially as a country. That sounds like a good incentive to me.

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War however appears to be big business. When you add our dependence on oil from the Middle East to that equation it almost guarantees justification for more and more spending on defense. I see no end in sight. Do you? I am not a peacenik but any stretch of the imagination but I am being practical in saying when will there be peace?

 

Has anybody really started asking that? We cannot remain in a perpetual state of war. What foreign policy initiatives are we taking right now to ensure that peace will come? I don’t think there are any on the table. Make no mistake about it, there are organizations and individuals in our country that benefit from our country being energy dependent and prolonging this war on terror as long as possible. I think the dangers of Eisenhower’s military industrial complex have come to fruition.


Fighting the war on terror is like fighting the war on poverty. We have invested billions of dollars on a problem that never goes away. Where is the return on investment? It could be argued we have developed better weapons and capabilities to fight this war and have men with experience now they wouldn’t have had otherwise, but it’s all spent in making war more efficient not eliminating the war. Just like the war on poverty, we’ve added new programs and spent huge sums of cash since the 1960’s fighting the “poverty war” but instead of eliminating poverty we have increased the numbers dependent on some form of assistance. Where does it end? It doesn’t apparently. It’s self-sustaining and painless until the bill comes due.

The Flag

“I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself, the pictured suggestion of that big thing which makes this nation.  My stars and my stripes are your dream and your labors.  They are bright with cheer, brilliant with courage, firm with faith, because you have made them so out of your heart.  For you are the makers of the flag and it is well that you glory in the making.”  ~Franklin Knight Lane
 

I was driving past a business office the other day and noticed an appalling site; there hanging from a pole on the side of this office building was Old Glory tattered to the point of rags. Its ends were so frayed that you could see strips of flag all along the bottom edge.  Had I not been already late for an appointment I would have stopped and asked the business to please remove the flag they were displaying. (Someone beat me to it later thankfully)

In today’s society we are bombarded with iconic images and messages constantly and it is not surprising to me that a great deal of our population look at the flag as being no different. However it is very different and not just any icon.

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For one the US flag in its present form has been around longer than most every other visible icon in America. However in December 1860 Major Robert Anderson of the Union Army made a stand at Ft Sumter, South Carolina in Charleston Harbor and from that point the flag took on even more meaning and symbolism. According to Adam Goodheart in his prologue for the book  1861: The Civil Awakening he states:

Before that day, the flag had served mostly as a military ensign or a convenient marking of American territory, flown from forts, embassies, and ships, and displayed on special occasions like American Independence day. But in the weeks after Major Anderson’s surprising stand, it became something different. Suddenly the Stars and Stripes flew—as it does today, and especially as it did after the September 11 attacks in 2001—from houses, from storefronts, from churches; above the village greens and college quads. For the first time American flags were mass-produced rather than individually stitched and even so, manufacturers could not keep up with demand. As the long winter of 1861 turned into spring, that old flag meant something new. The abstraction of the Union cause was transfigured into a physical thing: strips of cloth that millions of people would fight for, and many thousands die for.” —Adam Goodheart, Prologue of 1861: The Civil War Awakening (2011).

For millions of Americans and especially those who have served in the US military, the flag is the very embodiment of the nation. Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the words that would become our national anthem while standing on the deck of a British warship and seeing the stars and stripes still flying over Ft McHenry. The fort had been pounded by cannon and rockets throughout the night, but the flag by morning was still obstinately flying after receiving that pummeling and was an inspiring sight. For US Marines fighting on the island of Iwo Jima, the raising of the flag over Mt Suribatchi represented victory that was close at hand. When Joe Rosenthal snapped the photograph of that flag raising, the entire country was inspired, as it still is today when then they see that image.

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That same inspiration has been felt on every battlefield where Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice. This is why seeing the flag burned by our enemies or radicals in our country attempting to make a political statement is so shocking and upsetting. It’s been argued that the right to burn the flag is a right of expression that the Constitution protects. Even if that is so, in my opinion respect and love for your country is something every American citizen owes. In times of old it was called fealty or a pledge of allegiance. The flag represents the nation of the United States of America and it represents the men and women who sacrificed all of their tomorrows for our todays. Its symbolism is clear and for this reason alone the flag should be treated with the utmost respect and care.

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The US government has sought to protect the US flag from mistreatment and misuse. Laws relating to the flag can be found in detail in the United States Code, Title 4, Chapter 1.  Among some of the more notable things to remember about the treatment of the flag are:

  • No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing.
  • The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, etc..
  • The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
  • The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

As of this date although the Flag Code is U.S. federal law, there is no penalty for a private citizen or group failing to comply with it but that may change. Until then Americans who love their country need to respect their flag and also politely inform their fellow citizens of the proper care of their flag that is torn, tattered or poorly lit in cases where the flay is left flying at night time. An informative website I came across while researching this article is here.

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