Independence Day in the United States of America — the quintessential celebration of freedom.

So many events, movements, and motivations led to this great nation’s genesis, but not least among them was a fight for economic freedom. The spark that started the blaze was a tax on tea that no colonists agreed to; how could they? They didn’t have representation. So, they had a little “tea party,” declared independence, and the rest, as they say, is history. It’s a history marked by the incredible world-changing power of a free society, where liberty is secured and government is limited.

Alas, all of this is still in a world where power corrupts and naïveté reliably erupts.

Fast-forward a couple centuries, and we find ourselves in a nation of seemingly infinite options and instant gratification, yet, ironically, one that is increasingly devoid of economic freedom.

We are presented with an endless gallery of products available for order online, from vendors tapping global supply chains, to be delivered to your doorstep, before the end of the day in some cases. It’s amazing. But while the sheer convenience of modern efficiencies may temporarily satisfy our inner urges for freedom, it also serves to blind us from a long-running (and accelerating) attack on a core expression of individual liberty.

That’s because, for all the innovative logistics and super-economies-of-scale some genius tech entrepreneur pulled together in order for you to receive a just-in-time resupply of baby diapers without having to put on real clothes and venture out into the world, so, too, have the chains of government undergone a modern polishing, such that they aren’t quite so abrasive.

Heck, as long as those coffee pods you double-clicked get delivered to your very own kitchen within the next two hours, you might even forget the chains are there.

That is, until you reach for something that tests the bounds of your freedom, like that virtual cart you used to checked out without a second thought in 2019 (CLANK!), or healthcare (CLANK!!), or housing (CLANK!!!).

The state of housing affordability alone is enough to convince most Americans that the insta-cart convenience of 2024 does not equal economic freedom. According to a Harvard University study published in March, a record-high 22.4 million renter households spent more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities, with half of those spending more than 50% of their income.

While the report was released earlier this year, the data informing those numbers is from 2022. Considering the trends of the last two years — in terms of inflation, aggressive interest rate increases, and rising energy costs — the number of cost-burdened and severe-cost-burdened renters is bound to be much higher now.

And the supply of available housing is still too low. Why? The builders are tied up by bureaucrats and endless regulations.

President of the National Homebuilders Association, Carl Harris, reacting to a Biden administration pitch for affordable housing, said excessive regulations are to blame for the high prices.

“NAHB agrees that the lack of homes is the primary cause of the nation’s housing affordability crisis and that boosting housing production is the best way to make homeownership and renting more affordable,” said Harris. “Implementing these practical solutions, which include eliminating excessive regulations, overturning inefficient local zoning rules, and adopting reasonable and cost-effective building codes, will allow builders to increase the nation’s housing supply and bend the rising housing cost curve.”

The administrative state, however, will continue to push the cost curves skyward wherever it meddles most.

Need some healthcare? Bureaucrats in Raleigh have put guardrails on your freedom there, too. They leverage Certificate of Need laws to arbitrarily constrain the amount of healthcare facilities and services doctors can offer, reducing competition and driving costs through the roof.

Maybe you want to open a new savings account, of which the feds will be immediately informed. Don’t worry, they’ll keep watch, too, for any unusual activity in the account, like depositing or withdrawing certain amounts of cash for any reason. Make those transactions unusual enough, and the pattern of deposits alone could be labeled as a crime of “structuring” to avoid reporting requirements.

Earning money from the new side hustle at the local farmers market? You’ll require a license from the state to sell that delicious homemade family recipe, as long as it’s not on the list of home-made goods that you’re banned from selling altogether. Unless you want to open a restaurant, which comes with a lot more red tape, and don’t forget the franchise tax!

Or perhaps you want to forget all that, and just celebrate your freedom this Independence Day with some big, loud fireworks? After all, we seem to be losing our identity as a nation. With social cohesion around first principles at a critical low, why not gather ’round the rockets’ red glare?

Any red-blooded American can understand that. But you’ll have to drive south across state lines, because we’re not free to buy and sell “the good ones” in North Carolina. Actually, you can go to jail for six months for that Roman Candle you’re about to light in the back yard.

This “Fourth of July,” I hope Americans recognize, despite how close we may feel to the future, just how much we need the principles from our founding and recommit ourselves to ringing the bell of economic liberty loud and clear.