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Stossel: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

What we should celebrate on Independence Day.

This Fourth of July, when you watch the fireworks, will you think about the Declaration of Independence?

We should, says John Stossel. After all, the holiday is meant to honor the Declaration. It, and the Constitution it led to, help keep us free.

Compare America to Britain, the country we broke away from. There, they sentenced a man to more than a year in jail for making a Facebook live video outside a courthouse.

Getting locked up for something you write on social media is also common; hundreds get arrested for that in Britain every year.

Fortunately, in America, thanks to the First Amendment, we can say most anything without being jailed.

We also have a right to bear arms. Not in Britain, which has some of the strictest gun regulations in the world.

Yet those regulations haven't stopped crime. London's murder rate recently passed New York's. After knife crime surged, London's mayor Sadiq Khan even called for a crackdown on knives.

One British police agency bragged on twitter about a "weapon sweep" that found scissors and pliers! But don't worry, those tools have been "taken off the streets."

Stossel is glad he lives in America, where he can carry pliers and speak freely.

Of course, there's more to the Constitution than the First and Second Amendments. The Constitution divided government power in ways that limit authoritarian politicians from both parties.

Trump's own Supreme Court appointee ruled that a law making it easier to deport some immigrants was unconstitutionally vague.

The Supreme Court stopped President Obama 96 times.

The Constitution has failed in some ways. It accepted slavery. Although Thomas Jefferson promised "a wise and frugal government," the Constitution didn't stop our politicians from running up $21 trillion in debt. It didn't stop our government from passing 180,000 pages of rules.

Still, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence have helped keep us free. That's what Stossel will celebrate this Fourth of July.

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The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel, his independent production company, Stossel Productions, and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

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  • ||

    The DOI was America's libertarian moment.

  • creech||

    I'm told we are supposed to think about what hypocrites the Founding Fathers were, and how Jefferson was screwing his 3/4s white slave.

  • Rebel Scum||

    Why judge ideas when you can judge people?

  • Rock Lobster||

    Ignoring historical context and knocking over statues of dead white guys is so much fun!

  • vek||

    A few outright errors not withstanding, I'm pretty sure the founding fathers had a more accurate to reality understanding of the world than we do now. Ultra-egalitarianism has gone too far in many ways. The founders understood all people aren't actually equal in reality, but that all should have equal protection under the law. That's a lesson that the left could certainly come to terms with again if they ever want to return to sanity...

  • Ron||

    I live in a high fire danger heavily wooded area where there are to many idiots, hence I'm glad they banned fireworks here

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    A good cleansing fire is nature's way, and often a beneficial one. Bans impair freedom. Even if an occasional fireworks-induced fire makes huge rural tracts uninhabitable for a few decades, or makes residing in rural areas less attractive, who are we to interfere with nature or restrict freedom?

  • Don't look at me.||

    You should have a fireproof house.

  • Ron||

    Why should I have to fire proof my house against idiots. That said I tend to agree in fact when I built my own home I asked the insurer if I could git a brake on my rates if I install fire sprinklers on the roof. The idiots said no. I rent now but when there is a fire nearby I put water sprinklers at both ends of the house. of course once the power goes out then I'll have no water

  • markm23||

    I assume that "once the power goes out then I'll have no water" means you get water from a well and have no backup for a power outage - in a region where wildfires that destroy the power lines and threaten the houses are common. It sounds like a good reason not to lower the home insurance rates.

  • vek||

    The world is not a safe place my friend. Anybody who fools themselves into thinking it is is a moron.

    Lightning, a dropped cigarette, an electrical spark, etc could all set off fires. Fireworks bans are bullshit.

  • wreckinball||

    Good article as usual by John.

    The other wack jobs on Reason not so much

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    I love this little disclaimer, which I don't remember ever seeing here before:

    "The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel, his independent production company, Stossel Productions, and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason"

    His opinions are most definitely NOT those of Reason, because he's an actual, honest-to-goodness libertarian!

  • vek||

    Right??? He's pretty much the best thing Reason has going for it anymore.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I wonder if he comes up with the prop ideas himself.

  • vek||

    I'm sure he came up with the idea for the 'stache at least... Which is obviously his best prop!

  • Rebel Scum||

    This Fourth of July, when you watch the fireworks, will you think about the Declaration of Independence?

    I do but unfortunately for most people it has become another day to fellate the military.

  • CE||

    I will celebrate the Declaration of Independence forever asserting a basic human right to secession.

  • Rockabilly||

    Nice wig!

  • Josh Melton||

    Stossel, If you keep up with Sowell, he points out that slavery was global and quite normal at the time of our country's founding. Only in America was it primarily racial slavery, and the source of continued divisiveness I believe our founders articulated carefully, the preemptive strike against slavery with "all men are created equal." To ban slavery on day one would have not only been impossible, but would have jeopardized the creation of our nation. They moved the chains, but didn't score a touchdown on slavery. That was left to later generations. Too many cite their failures, but the core of what they did serves as the bedrock for all of our successes in leveling the playing field for men and women of all races. It's up to us to not screw up what they gave us, and we've done poorly at times, and quite well other times.

  • Josh Melton||

    There was supposed to be a period after "divisiveness. Punctuation is important.

  • mtrueman||

    " Sowell, he points out that slavery was global and quite normal at the time of our country's founding. "

    Did Sowell point out that slavery was on its way out in Britain, where it counted? Thanks to the founding of a new nation, slavery could live on for decades after the British banned it.

    "To ban slavery on day one would have not only been impossible, but would have jeopardized the creation of our nation. "

    The nation was created precisely to preserve slavery which was on uncertain footing thanks to court decisions and public sentiment in Britain.

  • SRoach||

    https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Rotten_and_pocket_boroughs (remove the space.)

    The way I learned it, the US might not have happened, if the colonies were given representation in parliament, and the argument they received was, well, other areas, in England proper, weren't represented either.
    Then, of course, there was the issue that the American Colonies had to sell only to England, and buy from England. The reason we have the U.S. Dollar today, or so I've been informed, is because the colonists, despite being Englishmen, weren't allowed to have English Pounds in the colonies, so black-market Spanish dollars were commonly circulated.

    Even at the time of the signing of the Constitution, the issue of slavery was divisive, so it seems disingenuous to say that the formation of this new nation was for that purpose.

    Here's a wonderful webcomic I'm following. He's currently writing on the issue of Constitutional Law. I'm linking the first strip in the current, and relevant, chapter.
    There is some wonderful reconstruction on the thoughts and arguments of the framers within the strip.
    http://lawcomic.net/guide/?p=4751

  • vek||

    Well you sure are a little off in your historical knowledge.

    Yes, the Brits outlawed it first. By a few years. In the context of human history where we have written records of slavery back to literally the first civilizations that ever wrote anything down, and where we know per-literate tribal peoples almost all practiced forms too, so probably 100,000+ years of slavery in one form or another... I imagine a couple decades one way or another can be forgiven.

    Let us also not forget that AFRICANS IN AFRICA practiced slavery after we abolished it, as did the Muslim world. Did I forget to mention that the last slave owners in the USA were in fact Native Americans who still owned slaves post Civil War in the western states? Why doesn't the left talk about THAT much?

    Chattel slavery is actually STILL practiced in Africa, and slavery like states are still quite common in Asia as well. So STFU with trying to paint the USA as EXTRA EVIL in this regard. It's just not accurate or factual. We were par for the course, until we became BETTER than the rest.

  • mtrueman||

    The USA was created precisely to let slavery flourish as Britain was doing away with it. I don't know what slavery in Africa or what was going on 100,000 years ago has to do with it.

  • markm23||

    That claim is inconsistent with the timeline. At the time of the American Revolution, Parliament had never passed a law banning slavery, nor the slave trade. There were court decisions that put a slaveowner who brought his slave into England or Scotland at risk of losing the slave, but no general emancipation, and no assurance that the next judge wouldn't reverse the decision...

    But slavery was both legal and widely practiced in British colonies, with a thriving trans-Atlantic slave trade to keep the more southerly British colonies supplied with a slave workforce. None of the American colonies could abolish slavery until they were free of British rule.

    In 1784 - right _after_ the USA won it's freedom - Lord Wilberforce in England began a movement to abolish the transatlantic slave trade. It took 23 years, and the USA banned the importation of slaves 1 year later. But slavery remained in both the British Caribbean colonies and the southern US states.

    Parliament finally abolished slavery in most of the British colonies in 1834, with some exceptions. Meanwhile the US had definitely divided between slave and free states, with the balance tilting towards free until the slave states began using the power of a large enough minority in the Senate to block the admission of new free states unless each one was paired with a new slave state.

  • mtrueman||

    " At the time of the American Revolution, Parliament had never passed a law banning slavery, nor the slave trade."

    I never claimed otherwise. I wrote that slavery was on its way out in Britain as evidenced by some noteworthy court cases and public sentiment.

  • vek||

    And northerners in the colonies were bitching about it too? And even slave owners, like Jefferson. The idea that we rebelled BECAUSE we wanted to maintain slavery is simply ridiculous on all fronts. That issue wasn't of any importance at all during the Revolutionary War. Maybe it popped into a couple southern peoples heads that that could be issue #138 on the list of reasons to declare independence, but it was NOT at the forefront of anyone's mind. Quit trying to rewrite history to fit your narrative, which seems to be "The USA is even MORE evil than all other countries ever." because objective reality show it is not.

    I know what direction you're coming from, and that is why I mentioned above that Africans, Arabs, etc practiced slavery long after we abolished it here. Go find a narrative that fits the facts please!

  • mtrueman||

    Slavery was essential to the southern economy and the northerners were willing to accommodate them. These are the facts you should concern yourself with. What was happening in Africa 100,000 years ago is not relevant.

  • vek||

    Sure. But that's a far cry from it being a MAJOR REASON we decided to declare independence. That is simply not the case. Like I said if anything it was reason #138 to a few people.

  • Whorton||

    It's a shame the UK can't trust their poor citizens any more than that. That country seriously needs some reform. . .

  • vek||

    Well, it ain't native born white Brits that are the problem... They don't like to publish stats none too much, but from what does get out their crime stats are a lot like those in the USA where the overwhelming majority of the crimes are committed by a small portion of the minority population.

    They could have guns and things would probably be better, or the same at worst. Their government just doesn't want an armed populace...

  • Hank Phillips||

    British politicians preach altruism and legislate the initiation of force, like National and International socialists. There is an LP there, so British voters have only themselves to blame for the cesspool they're in.

  • vek||

    Good ol' Stossel. About the only good thing left at Reason anymore!

  • Hank Phillips||

    Good essay. Eaually good is H.L. Mencken's translation of the Declaration of Independence into the vernacular. Mencken's version needs to be translated into at least 199 more foreign languages.

  • Trainer||

    From BOTH parties!? Doesn't Stossel know that there have historically been more than two parties and Constitution limits power of any party or individual? I expected more from a libertarian website than the acceptance of the "two party system" as fact.

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