Guest Column: What's different?

By Ron Maciejewski
Special to The Newnan Times-Herald
What’s different from when 13 colonies decided enough was enough?
What’s different from the mid-1700s, when the Framers, even with very differing opinions, ultimately agreed and crafted those eloquent documents that became the foundation of our country? What’s different since many sacrificed, suffered and died to make it so? What’s different about those running our country today and the monarchs controlling Europe and Great Britain in the time before we fought for our independence? What’s different that so many took that hazardous first step boarding a wooden ship sailing to an unknown “new world” seeking freedom from the tyrannical regimes?
Unquestionably today, the U.S. and much of the rest of this planet have changed from the world of the 15th to 18th centuries. Agricultural, industrial and technological progresses abound —from sailing the oceans to the Americas and beyond to launching adventurers exploring the new unknowns of space, landing on the moon and searching the ocean’s depths.
European and British royals consisting of kings, queens, dukes, duchesses, counts, viscounts, etc., lived in castles, posh for their time, with servants catering to their every need. They wanted not for material necessities or luxuries -- gold, diamonds, clothes, food or gilded carriages pulled by teams of elegant horses carrying them wherever they chose guarded by knights in shining armor. All paid for directly or indirectly by their subjects.
In the United States our presidents and their families live a life of luxury in a house provided by the citizens. Even the first lady, who is not elected and officially does not have a job, has a staff of more than 100. Vacations and campaign trips on government aircraft exceed the $1 million mark per trip. And our presidents spend more than a quarter of their first term campaigning for their second term in office. Therefore, devoting considerably less effort to the job for which they were elected. Both houses of Congress (this would be the dukes, duchesses, counts, etc.) enjoy frequent paid trips to and from their resident cities, elaborate expense accounts, limousines and outrageous retirement and health care benefits that far exceed those in the private sector.

Additionally, the lobbyists reward these representatives of the American citizens with all sorts of booty and boondoggles.

All of this for working less than a full-time job as they also spend considerable time chasing their primary objective, re-election. These salaries and perks contribute to the national debt burdening their constituents for generations to come with higher taxes or forcing sacrifices that they themselves are unwilling to accept. All paid directly by taxing their subjects and to an ever increasing extent with borrowed money, saddling U.S. citizens with intolerable debt for decades and probably longer since bi-partisan agreements for the good of their constituency come with great difficulty or not at all.

In John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address he challenged the country: “Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country.”

That now famous challenge may have been more appropriate if directed at the representatives of the government elected by “We the people of the United States.”

What’s different if we have thousands of pieces of legislation dictating how we should live and over one million pages of income tax rules and regulations providing financial support to the “royalty” in Washington, D.C.?

Many risked their lives escaping the tyranny of British and other countries’ monarchs to be different. Those who fought and supported the American Revolution sought to be different. Our incredibly astute founders authored some of the finest and innovative documents in history while forming a decidedly different form of governing. The United States was so different it became the greatest nation in the world to a large extent simply because it was different.

The more things change the more they stay the same. -- Alphonse Karr, 1839.

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