Independence

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This July, we celebrate 243 years of American independence. All countries honor their origins, but let’s be honest. No country comes close to what the United States has achieved. Our founding declared us to be free. It is our tenacity, our shared values that our rights do not come from government, but rather they are the rights of every citizen either born on American soil, or earned through the immigration process, that keep us free.

The Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, with amendments, provide the framework to operate a functional government that clearly defines what those functions are. Current realities show an extremely divided electorate, due to a multitude of factors, that are putting our freedom and independence at risk.

One of those factors is that it seems we cannot agree on what a fact is. My college education was science-based. The basic tenets of science are based on facts, with plausible scientific hypothesis being subjected to facts as they appeared after testing. Not what you subjectively thought they should be. The science of Range Management has been assaulted by individuals wanting to factor in human values of aesthetics that extoll “pristine landscapes,” with a dose of Animal Planet thrown in. One of my elective college classes dealt with the concept that the future of conservation was not in the actual resource, but rather in the management of people. That particular professor was quite popular with students who could not pass the required courses of Organic and Inorganic Chemistry, advanced Calculus, Physics, and Soil Taxonomy that comprised a degree in Range Management. Or, in other words, the critical thinking classes that are based in hard science of resource management. Today, we are bombarded with what I am beginning to call emotional terrorism by all sorts of agenda-based interest groups that seek to convince us that their facts are the right facts.

A second factor that tears at our society today is closely aligned with what facts are. That would be what is true. This is where corporate media, left and right, go to work to earn their pay. I can say, I am wearing a blue shirt today, which is a fact. The shade of my shirt is royal blue, which is true. Another perspective might say, It’s electric blue, and as Jackie Gleason used to say, and away we go. Our news media corporations have made millions and live very comfortably by becoming partisan political cheerleaders instead of fact-based reporters. Despise Donald Trump? Watch MSNBC and read the Washington Post. Do you think Bernie Sanders is an existential threat to our country? FOX News can help you with that. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, egregious violations of our rights by government entities continues unabated.

Recently, the Journal posted a story about the La Plata County Assessor and Emergency Services combining efforts to surveil the entire county on a regular basis with high-resolution photography. This effort, already implemented, will increase tax revenue and lead to better protection of the people. If this doesn’t wake you up out of complacency, say hello to government management of your life. If, Montezuma County decides to go down that path, I will be shopping for new leadership. Technology can, and is, of great value, but we all know it has its dark side. It is incumbent on us, as citizens, to protect our rights as government always wishes to increase its size and its reach. That particular story screamed Judas and his 30 pieces of silver. Let us count the ways that information will be doled out to various interest groups.

Government is increasingly becoming a burden to the governed, as more citizens feel compromised by a bureaucracy that is more interested in itself than in the rights of its citizens. Instead of justice, people find themselves settling for mediation that requires compromises. Police, in some areas, decide which laws will be enforced and which ones do not rise to a level to be worth their time. Americans spend more on tax supported education than any country in the world and have mediocre results. Communities are having to deal with increasing homeless populations while our too big to fail corporate banks never faced consequences for their actions that had a direct impact on that. The Affordable Care Act has come to be more about billable hours than good care. Some advocacy groups are now clamoring for more money for their pet projects.

As taxpayers we are constantly being asked to pay for more programs to fix society’s problems. So many of today’s issues are more a result of greed and a lack of oversight and accountability than by actual needs. It reminds me of Warren Beatty in the movie “Bullworth defining what is really obscene.

Americans are intrinsically fair minded, but there are limits to being understanding. In contrast to our freedom and independence, we may in the near future, reach that limit.

Valerie Maez writes from Lewis, Colo.

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From Valerie Maez.