Host: “What a surprise and an honor to have you visit. Our economy is struggling, people can’t find jobs, and people are losing their homes. Some citizens are wondering if the American Dream is still alive. Do you have any thoughts for us in these tough times?”
Benjamin Franklin: “Always liberty. In pursuit of liberty we pledged to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor. Liberty was more important to us than material prosperity. Prosperity is a fruit of freedom, not its root.”
Thomas Jefferson: “So true. A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”
Host: “I hate to tell you folks, but the country you created is facing a huge debt. The Federal Reserve Bank has been printing money to stimulate the economy, and it’s not working. They’re considering raising the debt ceiling to 16 trillion dollars.”
Jefferson: “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless.”
Host: Did you see this coming?
Jefferson: “This is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering… And the driving force is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its wake wretchedness and oppression.”
Franklin: “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.”
Host: “They say that they can’t cut entitlement programs—the programs designed to take care of our poor citizens. They point to the ‘general welfare’ clause in the Constitution. Is that what you meant?”
Jefferson: “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.”
James Madison: “Agreed. With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. I couldn’t undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”
Host: “That seems harsh to the modern sensibilities of many Americans.”
Franklin: “Such welfare encourages idleness and just increases poverty. In America, we wanted to encourage work and discourage idleness by guaranteeing its citizens the freedom to acquire property, neither helping nor hindering them with regulatory schemes or redistribution policies. And what lay behind this guarantee? The principle that men are created equal in their rights and, by extension, their responsibilities.”
Host: “People keep saying that the rich don’t pay their ‘fair share,” but the top 5% of the wage owners already pay more in income taxes than the rest of the citizens combined.”
Adams: “It must be remembered that the rich are people as well as the poor, that they have rights as well as others, that they have as clear and as sacred a right to their large property as others have to their’s which is smaller, that oppression to them is as possible and as wicked as to others. What other liberties are they attacking today?”
Host: “I hate to tell you but under the noble goal of increasing safety, Washington is controlling where and if you can smoke, how much water you can use to flush your toilets, what kind of light bulbs to use. They are always regulating something and hiring more government workers to make sure we comply!”
Franklin: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety.”
Host: “I hate to tell you this, but the cover story of this week’s Time magazine had the audacity to ask whether the Constitution still matters.”
Host: “I fear it’s a holiday known more for family meals than for truly celebrating our founding principles.”
Jefferson: “How sad. If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
John Quincy Adams: “I’m the youngster at this party, but you will never know how much it cost the Founding Fathers to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it.”
Host: “I’ve been a poor host. Sam Adams may not have joined us, but we can still drink a Sam Adams beer.”
Franklin: "We can all drink to that!"
The Founding Fathers won’t be joining your party today, but you can take time to keep the gift of freedom they gave us alive in the hearts and minds of those who do attend. Faithful Jews have used the Passover Meal Seder as a shared ritual that has kept the memory of the Israelites' exodus from Egypt alive for 3000 years. Using that as a model, Dennis Prager, talk show host, author and founder of Prager University, has created a simple ceremony that will transform your meal into a meaningful celebration of the birth of our country and our freedoms. By downloading Prager’s "4th of July Declaration" and purchasing a few simple materials and foods, you still have time to remember why this day is so important to America’s future and our freedoms.