I am fortunate enough to own a copy of Ken McCarthy’s book, The System Club Letters.
The great copywriter Gary Bencivenga (named “The Gold Standard” of copywriters by Brian Kurtz) called it “One of my secret weapons…”
Ken McCarthy is considered one of the “founding fathers” of Internet marketing. He was the guy who started to talk to businesses in 1993 about using this new medium to make money. For those who were lucky enough to hire him (and listen to him) back then, they’re very well-off today.
I decided to publish a chapter from the book that deals with Independence Day — or Fourth of July, which we will be celebrating today, tomorrow and throughout the weekend in the US. I didn’t get Ken’s permission for this but I don’t think he’d mind. For one thing, he and I are in agreement about entrepreneurship. And secondly, I can tell he’s got a high degree of admiration and respect for the founding of this country. So Ken, if you do happen to read this, know that I’m a kindred spirit. And thank you for your wise, beautiful words.
It’s Called Independence Day For a Reason
By Ken McCarthy
I’m not sure how Independence Day morphed into the Fourth of July – but I can make a good guess.
Independence Day means something. The Fourth of July is just a date on the calendar. It’s kind of like calling Christmas ‘The Twenty-fifth of December’ or New Year’s ‘The First of January.’ Dumb.
One of the features of a typical Independence Day celebration used to be a public reading – word for word – of the Declaration of Independence. They actually still do this in several towns in the region where I live, the Hudson River Valley, which was a major center of the conflict. Think Saratoga, West Point. Fort Ticonderoga. Washington slept here. A lot.
Everyone pretty much knows the “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” part of the Declaration of Independence. The opening phrase resonates in many people’s memories too. “When in the course of human events…”
But how much of the Declaration of Independence do you actually know?
Why We Fought
Here is a list of some of the things that Jefferson, Franklin, Washington and others found so objectionable about King George III’s conduct that they were willing to risk ‘life, liberty and limb’ to oppose him:
- “He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public.
- For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.
- He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.”
I have a theory as to why annual public readings of the Declaration of Independence have fallen out of favor and why Independence Day is now called ‘The Fourth of July.’
Independence is no longer a treasured virtue in our country.
Many of the things that the Founding Fathers found so objectionable – like taxation without representation for example – have become institutionalized in the US.
Big business, big media, big government – the country seems to be run for their benefit today, not ours.
For example, just last week, the Supreme Court voted to uphold the right of New London, Connecticut to command a group of home owners to surrender their homes for the benefit of a privately owned corporation. My mind reels. A similar thing almost happened in my neck of the woods recently.
When the Declaration of Independence was written, 90% of Americans worked – and thought – for themselves. Today only 10% do. Of the 90% who work for a paycheck, over 55% work for institutions with 500 employees or more. That means nearly half of our country is financially beholden to some kind of big bureaucracy. Not a good thing.
One of the best things you can do for your country is to become economically independent – and use your economic independence to take a stand against the forces that routinely undermine our communities and our country. If people like us don’t do it, who’s going to?
Here (www.TheSystemSeminar.com/hudson.gif) you’ll find an article about a project I was a part of which involved keeping a corporate bully from undermining the health and wealth of the region where I live. You can do stuff like this too.
Happy Independence Day!