For all of you history buffs in the audience, the Fourth of July represents one of the most important days of the year in terms of US history. It marks the official date of the Declaration of Independence (though the actual legal separation between the colonies and Britain occurred two days before). From a Spend Management perspective, I think looking at the reasons that led up to this fateful Declaration that forever changed the course of freedom, democracy and trade, are worth spending at least a minute on, lest the lessons of the past teach us anything about the future. It's rare that I get to deploy my MA in history and love of the past to good effect, so I'll attempt to in the next few paragraphs.
At the time of the American Revolution -- and the debates leading up to it -- there was still division in the colonies, even among the primary fomenters, over their view of uprising and the role of the colonies in the world. Many wanted to remain loyal subjects of the crown, desiring representation without having to unnecessarily tie their hands through taxes that they did not reep any benefit from. Of course if you follow the acts and responses that led up to the Declaration -- not to mention the first shots of the Revolution -- you'll know this was not something Great Britain was willing to grant. And the rest, as they say, is history. Despite their loyalties, the signers of the Declaration were willing to risk the ultimate price, their lives, for committing a treasonous act in large part because they believed they were being treated as over-taxed, second-class non-citizens.
Now, fast-forward two centuries. Aside from that representation thing, government spending -- in this case on world social programs rather than just to finance wars -- is out of control and taxes are on the way up. In many parts of the world, it looks like the early days of the 1770s. Some commentators and economists are forecasting more potential rioting and discontent within the EU if economies continue to flail (we're more civilized in the US now when it comes to protests, perhaps because tea is inexpensive and whiskey is cheap, although the latter is often heavily taxed).
Still, I believe the makings for yet another round of "shots heard round the world" could be in the future, if not in the US, then perhaps elsewhere as a result of rampant government spending, taxes, or even the potential loss of Democracy in countries like Spain, which has shown an historic tendency towards centralized authority during rough times. When governments get into debt and depend on the people to bail them out while failing to structure adequate representation, perhaps the acts behind what originally lead up to the Fourth of July, 1776, will once again play out, centuries later, in a newer form. In places like Venezuela, which continues to head down such a path, I'm sure we'd all welcome it.
So who said how governments spend -- and the actions they take to continue to support their spending -- has little to do with the future? I'd argue that the subject is central to understanding not only the course of history in the US, but also the future of crisis, conflict and resolution in much of the world.