Things better than they appear this July 4

June 30, 2017 | By ANASTASIA BODEN
If you ask just about anybody — or scroll through Facebook or Twitter — it seems like our society is on the verge of collapse. We’re hopelessly divided and face one scandal after another.

But the Fourth of July is a good time to remember that things aren’t so bad. In fact, they’re wonderful.

Consider how far we’ve come since our nation was born 241 years ago. Fighting the Revolutionary War, our Founding Fathers had problems far greater than King George’s tweets. They had no phones, no electricity, no cars, let alone the bare essentials. Washington’s soldiers marched across frigid terrain without shoes! They couldn’t argue about vaccines; there were none.

Since then, we’ve seen a meteoric rise in standards of living thanks to technological innovation, courageous entrepreneurs and global advances in liberty. In less than 30 years, the share of people living on less than $2 a day has shrunk from more than 30 percent to less than 10 percent.

Almost half of the world’s population has access to the internet. On the technological front, 3D printers may soon allow us to print organs. We already have self-driving cars and prosthetic limbs controlled by thought.

Things are good.

The injustices that led to the Declaration of Independence make most of our political problems seem like trifles. That revered document describes grave abuses of individual rights that led our ancestors to break free.

In 1776, endorsing the Declaration of Independence’s ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was considered treason, punishable by death. Today we publicly criticize officials on social media without fear.

We still face challenges, to be sure. Nearly a third of Americans need government permission to pursue their chosen vocation. It’s not just doctors and lawyers. You also need a government license to pursue such harmless jobs as applying makeup or arranging flowers. Study after study shows that this licensing does not protect the public but stifles competition.

Entrepreneur Arty Vogt, for example, used his life savings to purchase a moving company only to learn that you need the state’s permission just to operate a moving company in West Virginia. He applied for a license but was denied because the state’s “Certificate of Necessity” law allowed bureaucrats to determine whether his business was “necessary.”

Property rights, too, are undermined. You need a permit to do just about anything with your own property.

The good news for these victims of government overreach is we live in a society so compassionate that it funds many charities to defend our rights.

Defending the Declaration of Independence’s legacy, we fight against those who violate our rights, and freedom is winning. Arty challenged the Competitor’s Veto law in court, and the legislature repealed it. Now he can compete with whomever he wants.

In the midst of political quarrels, it’s easy to forget how wonderful this country is. This Fourth of July, instead of lamenting the state of things, enjoy your time outside at the barbecue.

We’re freer today than we were yesterday, and getting freer. That’s something to celebrate.

Published by NWI