- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 5, 2012

In 1776, the warning that “the British are coming” came in a lantern lit in a steeple, and Paul Revere rode horseback to alert the people. In terms of mass communication, not much had changed since the days before the Roman Empire’s horse-drawn chariots and widespread ignorance. All this changed after the War of Independence, and a free nation was formed.

For more than 2,000 years, there were kings and dictators. Then came a government that assured freedom and gave an incentive to work, build and maintain. This brought a technological leap: telegraph, telephone, autos, aircraft, medicines, mass communications, steamships and space travel. People came from other nations to the United States in order to create. More has been developed here in the past 250 years than in all of history. Are people in the United States today smarter than all the previous generations, spanning thousands of years? Hardly.

It was government getting out of lives of individuals that resulted in such opportunities. Now we are engaged in a great conflict, testing whether that position should be replaced by an ancient form of authoritarianism. Government control has continued to fail. European nations such as Greece and Spain, Russia, Cuba and most of the Middle East are just a few examples of this failure. Government can give nothing except that which it first takes from its people, and then, only so long as it lasts. Government’s role is to provide security, freedom and opportunity — nothing more. Government intrusions beyond those functions are counterproductive and unwelcome.

CHARLES SPENCE

Gaithersburg