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An Echo in Time

Mark Twain wrote that, though time does not precisely repeat itself, events in time seem to rhyme. Another way to view history is that events of past ages reverberate like waves of sound, echoing through to our own. If so, there are some things we may hear in our present day whose echoes are worth a note and whose origins sounded 250 years ago.

In the aftermath of the French and Indian War, the British crown issued the Proclamation of 1763, that the lands west of the Appalachians were, henceforth, crown properties. Families who settled on lands to the west, who cleared them, built homes and farms, had no rights of property to them any longer. An echo of that proclamation is found today in our own EPA. Though the “Waters of the United States” rule was struck down as an overreach of administrative state power, the EPA is ramping up again, making claims that it can determine how property owners in the west may not use their property as they choose by way of environmental provisions in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, “The Green New Deal.”  I suppose the affected property owners should not complain about not being able to use their property, though their names are on the titles and they pay the fines and taxes.

Concurrent with the Proclamation, the crown dictated that colonial governors were to be appointed, not elected by the people, and the governors could dissolve colonial assemblies at their will. Judges would also serve by royal appointment and serve “at the king’s pleasure” rather than “during good behavior,” as assessed by the colonists. Thus, with a stroke of the royal pen (they did not have phones back then), the king assumed absolute rule through executive, legislative, and judicial powers in the colonies. Today, with the EPA as an example, our administrative state agencies echo a similar (and unconstitutional) power, as the EPA and others of the 435 unelected agencies in Washington, D.C., can make rules carrying the force of law, enforce that same “law,” and act as judges over those who transgress those laws, pronounce them “guilty,” and punish them for putting a pond on their ranch in Wyoming.

During the time of the Proclamation, George Grenville was appointed by the crown to reform the tax-collecting customs offices in the colonies, which answered only to the monarch. The customs officials were employed, some in disguise, on ships and in harbors to spy on ship companies and their cargoes. Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s mandate is that commercial fishing vessels, such as that of Jerry Leeman in Maine, must take a monitor with them at all times to spy on the catch. The “monitor” is there to make sure the vessel and crew are fishing according to agency “rules.” Captain Leeman must also pay the monitor’s wages of $780.00 a day, which is more than he pays his crew.

In 1765, the Parliament of England passed the Quartering Act, which demanded that soldiers of the British Army were to be housed in every colonial town at the town’s expense, sometimes in colonist’s houses; and like the customs officials, these soldiers doubled as spies. In our own time, it has just been found that the Treasury Department has been using banks in every town in America as spies to monitor America’s citizenry for certain political leanings they may have as indicated by the purchases they make. If you have purchased a religious text lately, you have been categorized as a “Homegrown Violent Extremist” by the Treasury’s collaborator in law enforcement: the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In 1766, England’s Parliament passed the Declaratory Act, making it absolutely clear that Parliament had the “absolute right” to legislate on all matters whatsoever for the colonies according to theirs and the crown’s will, without colonist’s being represented. That absolutism is echoed in our administrative state’s assumption of the right to create “rules.”

In 1770 America, “laws” were being passed in a distant capital by persons no one in America elected.  And the king, with his crown-appointed governors, judges, customs officials, and surveillance spies of the colonists, could condemn and strangle anyone from 3,000 miles away. The echo can be heard: the same thing can occur in America today, but through appointed “administrative state” agencies that are unanswerable to the people.

The echo sounds to a deeper note: the colonists no longer felt they had rights of property, or protections under common law, or any representation in England, a distant capital. And the appointees of the crown—the governors, judges, customs officials, and an occupying army—formed an upper class, under which colonists were treated as “lesser subjects.” And worse, the taxes wrung out of the colonists became the treasury, which paid for the forces arranged to create their oppression. Does our government not echo that today?

This echo does not exist in solitude between ourselves and our nation’s founders. The echo of tyranny can be heard through wailings of suffering that have traveled from every corner of time and every point on the globe. Tyranny has been the common cry of humanity since the pharaohs.

Our founders put forth their honor, their fortunes, and their lives for the sake of a unique cry for freedom and became our nation’s heroes. It’s time we echo their calls—and actions.

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