Met a retired couple at Starbucks who split their year between their home on South Market Street and a place they bought in Tuscon AZ. They spend the winters in Tuscon and the summers here in Frederick. July 4 always seems memorable as the middle of summer and of course there’s plenty of very hot and humid weather here. But the heat here is not as relentless as in the real South or in the southwest. Nights are usually nice, and several days with >90F temps are soon matched with days with highs in the lower and mid-80s. In the southwest they get much of their annual rainfall in the late summer. The Starbucks couple prefer the variable summer weather of the mid-Atlantic to the relentless dry desert heat that is followed by the ‘monsoon’ rain of the southwest foothills.
We’re fortunate too in that we seem here in Frederick to be just sufficiently far inland to be outside the track of most hurricanes. Most, but of course not all. Old-timers here tell of 1972’s Hurricane Agnes. Coming out of the Gulf in mid-June it went over the Florida panhandle into Georgia and weakened in the Carolinas, then intensified in Virginia, and ran up the coast to New York City as a tropical storm. But then in an extraordinary track it intensified curving west across central New York state and it looped back with devastating energy south across Pennsylvania. Agnes has been characterized as the costliest hurricane in American history, most of the property damage being from the extraordinary rain and consequent flooding. There were 122 deaths.
The very worst of Agnes hit the Susquehanna River valley but Frederick lost bridges and the downtown was heavily damaged and largely shut down through to the winter. A positive result of Agnes and floods in 1976 was the big Carroll Creek flood control and linear park project (1983 to 2003) designed around the construction of the huge concrete emergency drainage conduits which have since protected the downtown from flooding.
What began as an unprecedented setback to historic Frederick ended up – thanks to the good government work of then mayor Ron Young and others – as an unprecedented advance.
Government works best when it has a large straightforward objective like design of a flood diversion for the downtown. As current news from down the road reminds us – VA, ACA, IRS, DHS, EPA, NSA, HUD etc – government does less well when it comes to managing the complexities of people’s health, or their housing, or employment, or…
However worthy the original objectives the agencies of big government are soon diverted to their own agenda and that of committed organized political players. They become a spoils system for organized interests and ideologies.
So they are always liable to over-reach – without vigorous checks and balances.
On July 4 we celebrate the strengths of this country. Its greatest strength is investing power and responsibility in people, not rulers. The American revolutionaries rebelled not against Britain but against an intolerable British monarchy – George III’s – that was disregarding their British rights and trampling on their free British institutions.
That king was a high traitor and a usurper.
Charles Cooke reminds us that the American revolution is most accurately viewed as a British civil war in which American Britons were fighting not so much for independence itself as for maintenance of traditional British rights:
The resulting Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are the work of heroes who were brave and selfless enough to risk their lives to defend them against a tyrant and his enablers. They are also the work of geniuses who managed to nut out with great sophistication the institutions that were needed to prevent tyranny and give freedom a chance over the long haul.
Les Lenkowski writes of the Chinese ruling class’ great fear of the strength and attraction of America’s Constitution. They recently pressured Gao Yu, a 70 year old journalist in Beijing into confessing to “threatening national interests” (read: ruling class interests.) Her crime was to reveal Document Number 9 (Doc#9) a top secret “Communique on the Current State of the Ideological Sphere” issued by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.
Doc#9 is characterized by Indiana University professor Lenkowski as focusing on seven “false ideological trends, positions, and activities” that the party leadership believes are spreading in the country and endangering “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” The most threatening is “Western Constitutional democracy,” the idea that good governance requires a separation of powers, general elections, a multiparty system, an independent judiciary, and other features. According to Doc#9, China’s system of government by contrast must reflect “Chinese characteristics.” It should place “the Party’s leadership” and “the People’s Democracy” ahead of the political and legal processes championed by the West.
Questioning public policies in the name of “reform” or of “opening,” is impermissible.
Raising doubts about the direction or pace of the government’s current course, Doc#9 says will “disturb people’s existing consensus on important issues like which flag to raise, which road to take, which goals to pursue etc,” retarding China’s “stable progress.”
“We must reinforce our management of all types and levels of propaganda on the cultural front, perfect and carry out related administrative systems, and allow absolutely no opportunity or outlets for incorrect thinking or viewpoints to spread,” Doc#9 concludes.
You can admire the tactical political insight of the writers of Doc#9 while doubting they have discovered in centralized party control a strategy for stability. Lacking the checks and balances of our system opens the way for massive corruption, massive injustice and massive mistakes in the way resources are allocated – they have Fannie Mae, the IRS, and the VA multiplied a thousand-fold. That’s a formula not for stability but for another revolution – Peter Samuel. 2014-07-04