If you've occupied space on this planet for more than two generations, you know that America has changed dramatically in just your lifetime, and that maybe, on balance, it's not been a change for the better. Since we're stuck with the perspective of our lifespan, I wondered what it might look like for someone who lived way back in...
1809 – Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, 3rd President of the United States, has retired to his beloved Monticello. He is greeted by a traveling delegation of his Congressman, his Senator, and a few bureaucrats from Washington DC, just arrived from 200 years in the future...
Jefferson is greeted by the delegation:
Mr President, we haven't met, but I'm Senator Fossell, and I'd like to introduce Representative Clymer, Ms Gaya from the EPA, Mr Theeves from the IRS, and Mr Minder from OSHA. And may I say sir, I have surely appreciated your support during my 24 years serving the great state of Virginia, as has Rep. Clymer for his 13 terms in Congress.
Jefferson: I'm somewhat confused, good sirs and madam. I've never heard of these aforementioned initials. I've never voted for you, Senator, while I was a member of the Legislature; and most certainly would never have supported any man, Mr Clymer, to serve so long in Congress.
Rep. Clymer: Uh, well, you see, Mr President, it's very important that Virginia have someone who knows the ins and outs of Washington, and with my seniority, I chair several committees and have great control over how much money comes back to this district. And of course, these days we elect Senators by popular election of the people- much more democratic, as I'm sure you'd agree.
Jefferson: Your pardon, sir, but America is a republic, not a democracy. A democracy is nought but mob rule, and not our form of government. And to both you gentlemen, have you no useful occupation to return to? We purposed that elective office should be a duty to the country, served for a season, and never a career.
Sen Fossell: (Harumph) Well, sir, you lived in much simpler times, and could not have conceived of the progress we've made in 200 years. We have challenges you cannot have imagined!
Jefferson: Indeed, has the nature of man become saintly and pristine? Is there no more greed, hypocrisy, or lust for power over one's fellow man? Whatever inventions have come, I dare say these are challenges that are eternal, and not solved by any mortal man.
Rep. Clymer: Well we have made great progress! We now realize the value in diversity, in fairness, and in concern for our environment. Actually, Ms Gaya would like to speak to you about a small issue – Ms Gaya?
Ms Gaya: I need to inform you that you must immediately cease disturbing the southwest corner of your property. That has been declared a protected wetland area, vital to the ecosystem, and you may not attempt to drain or alter it under penalty of law.
Jefferson: I know not what a Ms is, but madam, my property is mine to administer as I wish. Private property is the cornerstone of a free society, and you have no say in the matter!
Sen Fossell: Actually, Mr Jefferson, she does. And I hate to bring this up, but you apparently won't agree to sell the northwest 20 acres you own. I regret to inform you, but the government is exercising eminent domain and will take possession of that property. A large milling operation wishes to build there, and they will employ lots of people and pay a lot more tax than you currently pay on that land – it's for the greater public good!
Jefferson: Sir! Have you not read the 4th Amendment to the Constitution? A man's property is his own, and may not be seized by his government, excepting extraordinary circumstance. How I manage my estate, my business and those who labor for me is my affair and mine alone!
Mr Minder: Um, excuse me, sir, but we also have a little problem with your operations. It seems your buggy wheels are over the allowed dimensions, your outhouses are too far away from the fields, and I'm told you're using an unauthorized brand of kerosene in your lamps. It's not even stored in approved containers with mandatory warnings!
Jefferson: I cannot believe your arrogance! Would you tell me next that you would not only manage my land, run my business, but confiscate the fruits of my labor as well??
Mr Theeves: Not to add fuel to the fire, but it's come to our attention that you are seriously delinquent on not only your Federal Income Tax, but also your State Income Tax, FICA, Medicare/Medicaid, Workers Compensation and excise tax on your last crop of tobacco. I'm sorry, but Federal agents will be here tomorrow to formally take control of this property.
Jefferson::Well, good sirs and madam. I see am most certainly woefully short in my knowledge of the world's workings nowadays. I shall yield to your obviously superior knowledge and evolved approach to government. However, might I entreat you to all step behind the drying barn for just a moment? There is a rare and priceless bit of the ecosystem, if you will, that you simply must see before you depart. It is a bit of fauna that has rarely occurred in all of man's history, Right this way and you'll experience firsthand,,...
The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.