Hart: The Fourth of July has lost meaning of freedom

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"Freedom is not an endlessly expanding list of rights - the "right" to education, the "right" to food and housing. That's not freedom, that's dependency. Those aren't rights, those are the rations of slavery."

-P.J. O'Rourke

Independence Day, a great American tradition, is upon us. Set against the pent-up tension of having to be around all your relatives in scorching heat with dubious potato salad and booze, what could go wrong?

For me, Independence Day is the top holiday. It involves no church, and I don't have to buy gifts. Also, I get to combine two things I really like: beer and explosives.

We not only get to eat, but we get to watch Joey Chestnut and that upstart Asian guy eat hot dogs. It's incredible: In the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, the winner eats 70 hot dogs in nine minutes. Wow! My garbage disposal doesn't work that fast.

In all the rituals and remembrances of the bravery of our founders, the Fourth of July is also one of only 362 days a year when you can score "low, low prices" on a mattress.

If our founders came back to life today, they would be shocked by how much a ticket to the Broadway play "Hamilton" costs, but mostly by how big the government has grown.

What would they think of $55 million of out-of-state money being spent on a Georgia 6th District House race that pays the winner $175k a year? That we have 800 military bases in other countries and are $20 trillion in debt? That our FBI director has a taxpayer-funded, $65 million Gulfstream 650 jet he flies across the country on an "employee recruitment trip"? Of then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in her own jet, having a secret meeting with Bill Clinton on the tarmac - in his private jet, too - to discuss an ongoing investigation into him and his wife?

And these are the same government officials with their private jets lecturing U.S. citizens on global warming?

Independence Day is personal for me, as I am a descendant of John Hart, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Reading about our Founding Fathers and knowing myself, I realize we are a country of ADD folks because of them.

Most founders came from families that had great lives in Europe, but they risked everything to come here. Some say it was for the promise of America. I think it was to escape having to watch soccer. Either way, it explains why most creative entrepreneurs, artists, and innovators live in the U.S. and why the Germans, English and Swedes left over there are stoic and boring.

Ben Franklin was a printer, musician, scientist, diplomat and writer. Lore has it that he was flying a kite and did not notice lightning when he discovered electricity. Today, OSHA would shut him down.

Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were real men; they handled their differences with a gunfight. That resulted in our country being run as it was intended, by the better marksmen. FBI Director Comey handled his disputes by secretly leaking CYA government documents to The New York Times to get back at Trump.

Trump personifies Attention Deficit Disorder. On the same day he tweeted that his travel ban had been stalled, his press secretary, Sean Spicer, told reporters it was not a "travel ban." This is the same president being investigated for colluding with the Russians? Hell, he can't even collude with his own press secretary.

The founders would not spend money to investigate Trump over this Russia bull. There's more evidence Trump shot Abe Lincoln than that he colluded with Russia.

Our founders did not write "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness unless it offends someone." Their pursuit of happiness would not involve spending government resources to impede gay marriage or punish citizens for not buying government-mandated health insurance. Remember, those men donned satin pedal-pusher britches, wigs, fancy shoes and ruffled shirts. They'd be cool with gay marriage. They won our freedom - and a Tony for Best Costume.

Freedom comes with responsibility, which entitlement-minded believers in big government begrudge. We need less government, not more. Yes, we have a lot of Attention Deficit Disorder, but I do not understand how the government and the "deep state" have grown so big when our founders intended government to be small. It must be that we were not paying attention.

Contact Ron Hart, a syndicated op-ed humorist, author and TV/radio commentator, at Ron@RonaldHart.com or Twitter @RonaldHart.