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What Has Government Done to the Fourth of July?

It looks like America’s ailing economy will put a damper on Fourth of July celebrations this year.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday:

“Across America, Fourth of July fireworks won’t fly on the Fourth of July.

Some cities and towns are rescheduling their Independence Day fireworks shows because of a shortage of fireworks or workers.”

And as many outlets are reporting, cookouts will be much more expensive than last year. The Washington Examiner reported:

“The cost of a July Fourth cookout is expected to be 17% higher than last year, according to a market basket survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation. That is a number that outpaces headline inflation, as prices on average are 8.6% higher from a year ago, according to the consumer price index. It also represents a major reversal from the small savings for the holiday that the Biden White House infamously touted in 2021 — to the derision of commentators.”

It’ll be harder to celebrate America’s birthday when the American dream is on the ropes. But it will be a good time to reflect on how we got into this predicament.

The Fourth of July is America’s Independence Day. It marks our separation from the British Empire: a government that, through “a long train of abuses and usurpations” (as our Declaration of Independence put it) had shown themselves to be “destructive” of the individual rights of Americans. According to the classical liberal credo of America’s founders, that was unacceptable, because the only proper purpose of government is to protect the individual rights of the governed.

Now the US government tramples on the rights of Americans to a degree that makes our past British rulers look positively benign in comparison. Especially since the rise of Covid-19, the government’s attacks on liberty and property have escalated into an all-out war on production and thus on our very livelihoods.

They have shut down huge swaths of the economy and locked up millions of family breadwinners at home.

A massive expansion of government spending has shifted much of the country’s wealth from private to government control.

The Federal Reserve has waged a war on saving and sound investment and thus a war on sustainable capital formation.

The Biden administration has discouraged work with stimulus payments and throttled energy production with regulations.

And by using our tax dollars to drag the entire western world into a global economic war with Russia over the latter’s invasion of Ukraine, the US government has made a terrible situation worse and longer-lasting: causing trade in food and energy to plummet.

As Elon Musk warned in 2020, “if you don’t make stuff, there’s no stuff.” If you prohibit business owners from opening up shop and workers from going to work, there will be less stuff. If you prohibit domestic industries from importing food and oil from major exporters, there will be less food and oil. If you don’t have enough energy to produce transport consumer goods, there will be fewer consumer goods. Et cetera.

No amount of “stimulus” financed by Federal Reserve money creation will change these underlying facts of scarcity. Electroshocking a prison laborer won’t make him work harder if he’s manacled. Neither can you “stimulate” a shackled economy into prosperity.

Now, as an inescapable result, there are a lot more Federal Reserve notes chasing a lot less stuff than there otherwise would have been. And that is why prices are rising.

But they probably aren’t rising as high as they need to in order to fully reflect the greater scarcity, due to the standing threat of anti-“price-gouging” crackdowns (as economist Walter Block recently argued here on FEE.org). And that is a big reason there are chronic, widespread shortages.

We have betrayed the legacy of our founding fathers by relinquishing the rights they fought for to a tyranny many times worse than the tyrant they overthrew for the false promise of government-provided plenty, security, and health. That is why, this Independence Day, we have less freedom to celebrate, and as a result, fewer goods and services to celebrate with.

To truly honor America’s founding, we should start acting like Americans, declare our independence as individuals, and reclaim our freedom to cooperate with each other to produce, provide, and thrive.

Content syndicated from Fee.org (FEE) under Creative Commons license.

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