A Parable of Liberties Lost

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful City by the Sea.  Its citizens were artistic, generous, productive, and self-reliant.  The Liberty Bell could be heard by these citizens, if not in their ears then certainly in their hearts.

Some of the people, however, began to grumble.  Those with children said loudly to Queen Constance that a new recreation park was needed.  Other citizens, and the Queen herself, argued that there was great need for a new palace and a new headquarters for the Palace Guard.

“We must have these things,” they agreed, “but who will pay for them?  Surely we cannot be expected to pay for these things ourselves.”  Queen Constance and her advisors decreed that these things would be financed by a tax upon those who came to the City by the Sea in order to dine.  And the hearts of the populace were made glad by the fact that they were to receive something for which they did not have to pay.

But this was not enough.  Soon, Queen Constance and her advisors approached the Chamber For Some But Not For Others.  Working together, the Queen and the Duchess of the Chamber decreed that a section of the City by the Sea be designated “Main Street.” 

Some of the citizens objected by stating the obvious.  There was, after all, no downtown thoroughfare known as Main Street in the City by the Sea.  “Nonesense,” said the Queen!  “Never mind,” said the Duchess of the Chamber For Some But Not For Others!  So the Queen and the Duchess created a Royal Region of privilege known as “Main Street” by combining sections of two previous boulevards called “Government” and “Washington.”  An ominous chill swept through the City by the Sea.

Upon this Royal Region the Queen and the Duchess of the Chamber For Some But Not For Others began to bestow untold riches.  Using taxes and fees taken from everyone, they planted trees, established colorful flower gardens, erected fanciful street signs, installed artistic lighting, sturdy park benches, bright flower pots, and even decorative receptacles for trash.  With funds and fees from those outside the Royal Region, they even paid energetic members of the Royal Staff to trim the trees, water the flowers, and collect the litter left by trolls passing through the area.

Alas, those whose businesses were not located in the Land of the Mythical Main Street wondered aloud at the good fortune of the People of Privilege.  “We have no hard feelings toward those on Main Street,” they said, “but we wonder why our taxes should be used for others when we receive none of the benefits of Main Street.” 

Queen Constance was hard of heart for she was convinced of the righteousness of her cause.  Greatly did she realize that people, even good people, are often in search of someone else to pay for the pleasures they seek in life.  And so, in the City by the Sea, the Liberty Bell no longer rang, neither in the ears nor in the hearts of its citizens.

To this day, however, portions of two streets in the City by the Sea are colorful and without the trash left by trolls.  Nonetheless, an occasional whisper can be heard among the citizenry:  “The flowers are lovely,” they admit, “but Liberty is too high a price to pay.”

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