Summer traditions are upon us. Barbecues, beach days and the annual night of fireworks at Santa Monica College are all in full swing. Yup, this coming Saturday night at the college, there will be crowds, fireworks and fun to be had.

Gates open at 5 p.m., with entertainment at 7 p.m. and the fireworks at 9 p.m. The event is free (donations are welcome), and parking is just $5. Go to the Celebrate America websiteor call (310) 434-3001 for additional details.

I have it on good authority that Rocco’s Cheesecake will have some samples available for those who show up early. Since it’s right across the street, may I suggest that you call ahead, order a cake and have some special dessert with your free fireworks this year? The candied bacon is evidently quite popular — even though I’m a tiramisu kind of guy.

The Fourth of July is a holiday we celebrate to remember the reasons why we broke free from the British Empire. It is important in my estimation to recall what was stated as the grievances against an overreaching monarchy. So I decided to re-read the Declaration of Independence and frankly, I was shocked to find how many of the old grievances I can say are currently being perpetrated by the current government.

It is shocking to see how legislative overreach on the one hand, and procrastination on the other, were and are sources of discontent. We have a society that is highly regulated and becoming more so every day, yet some laws we cannot get passed because they don’t have a lobbying group behind them.

The administration of justice was delayed due to the King’s refusal to establish judiciary powers, which seems analogous to our inability to get Federal judges past a stalled Congress. What judges there were, depended on the King for their tenure and salaries, today we have Federal judges who have lifetime appointments but are shackled with ‘mandatory minimums’ in sentencing so that they have little discretion to be wise.

Bureaucracy creep is always a problem, and it was for the Founding Fathers, who wrote, “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.” Sounds like a description of locusts, which in some ways it was. Rather like the endless departments, inspectors, police, and administrative agencies we have to deal with today. Anyone who has run a business knows the endless rigmarole that government puts one through to comply with all the local, state and federal regulations, which are sometimes conflicting and always confusing.

Militarization was a problem then as it is now. The King quartered Standing Armies among the Colonists, in their homes and made them superior to the Civil Power. Today our police forces are increasingly looking like the Army, perhaps it’s all the surplus Army equipment that is being distributed to them? Just a quick perusal of a car accident in Santa Monica and you’ll see six squad cars, and as many officers with their vests, guns and Tasers — all to keep the peace in a fender-bender.

During the recent civil unrests throughout the country we have seen vehicles that look like tanks, armored cars, and officers in full body gear prepared to take arms up against their fellows. Officers can kill with near impunity in most cases, which seems to me to be an echo of the Kings ‘… protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States.’

Taxation was a major issue for the Colonists, and it appears today in the form of “fines, penalties, bail, and ‘convenience and user fees'” that trap people in a cycle of inability to pay and then further consequences which result in more of the same. How much do you pay each year just to exist. It is shocking to me how much taking the government does each day, from parking fees, parking tickets, user fees, administrative fees and assessments, to plain old taxes, how much are we left each out of each dollar?

And with all of that said, all the problems that were and are the causes of our consternation, I am still proud and happy to be an American. Because I can write all of this, have it printed and distributed in the paper, and not worry that I’m going to be jailed or killed over it.

So remember this Fourth of July what it is really all about, and why we celebrate. And trust me on the cheesecake.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in fathers’ and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.

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