Thursday, July 14, 2005

Happy Bastille Day !


On July 14,1789,the people of Paris rose up in revolt,and marched on the Bastille: a grim prison, that had long been the symbol of despotic government.


They were armed with little more than gardners’ and farmers’ tools,and should have been easily scattered by the soldiers guarding the prison-but the soldiers threw open the gates,and joined forces with the people.


Within two days,the hereditary monarchy of France – for all its pomp and power – was in ruins ; and, within weeks, the privileged aristocrats were fleeing for their lives.


Today – despite the frictions between France and my country – I raise my coffee cup in salute to the courageous "rabble" who lit the sacred fire of Freedom in France.


Today,also, I look at my own nation ,and wonder at our eagerness to smother that same sacred fire.


Most of us worry about seizure of power by the Federal government – but turn an uninterested and uncomprehending look at outrageous seizures of power by our local governments.


We utter cries of alarm if the Big Boys lay claim to a few acres of salt water swamp – and yawn when the unelected members of a Zoning Commission issue decrees about what species of shade tree we may plant on our land,how they must be trimmed,and what approvals must be obtained to remove one of them after a storm.


We authorize local Magistrates to have people dragged in handcuffs before the court – for unpaid parking tickets; permit County judges to "enforce" child support obligations by locking up delinquent payors; permit Building Inspectors to enter private property, without warrant or permission, to search for evidence of code violations.


The list of what local governments can do, have done, and will continue to do every day is staggering – but, because it doesn’t involve the dreaded "Feds",we shrug it off – until it affects us personally.


Then we cry : " Who gave these people such power over our lives ? "


The answer is no further away than the nearest mirror.


Happy Bastille Day, fellow inmates !

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