Happy holiday to all Massterlistians!

Just wondering: if Jerry Seinfeld can create a new holiday for laughs, why can’t we add a new wrinkle to Independence Day?

For lack of a less awkward term, let’s call it Outdependence Day, a moment – perhaps late on the 4th, after one too many beers, or on the 5th, as we’re nursing our full-body wine and sausage hangovers – when we vow to shed some of our more glaring dependencies? For instance: Dependence on government.

We don’t want to call our fellow Americans a pack of hypocrites. But what other description fits a culture where the national political pastimes are grousing about government intervention and mocking bureaucratic incompetence, mixed with whiny demands that those pushy nitwits take care of all sorts of things we should probably be doing ourselves?

Prepare our own kids for learning by teaching them proper habits and discipline? Naw, that’s the schools’ job. 

Keep our own sidewalks clean and safe by not littering and shoveling after a snowstorm? And forfeit the pleasure of bitching about the local DPW? No way.

Resolve minor disputes by talking amicably with our neighbors and seeking compromise? But what would become of all the court docket backlogs we’ve become so used to?

And for gosh sakes, don’t you dare ask us to give up our relentless NIMBYism. Figuring out how to care for the needy and deal with the housing crisis is someone else’s problem, not ours; anyway, that’s what we hate paying government to do!

Dependence on markets: This is the flip side of dependence on government. Let the marketplace decide, we’re lectured.  Which works great, until it doesn’t. As the COVID-era supply-chain breakdowns, government stimulus spending and other culprits fingered for the gawdawful inflation we’re suffering recede in the rear-view mirror, enquiring minds want to know – where’s our cost relief? Could it be that the marketplace is…price-gouging? No, the private sector would never do that!

And while it’s reassuring to know that free-junket king Clarence Thomas has declared that, for Black and Hispanic Americans, “what matters is not the barriers they face, but how they choose to confront them,” they might beg to differ when the marketplace still engages in flagrant discrimination in key area such as housing.

Browse any random sampling of the consumer watchdog columns that routinely expose grotesque corporate ripoffs and indifference to customer complaint and then preach some more about how we should shut up and bow down to our marketplace overlords.

Dependence on smartphones: This will be a tough one. Who among us can bear the thought of waiting even briefly to check and see if someone has validated our otherwise-meaningless existence with a text or email? Wait to see what someone whose brain has been surgically removed has just tweeted? You might as well ask a person dying of thirst to stay away from the bubbler. And here’s our latest get-rich-quick scheme: a switch you can flip that converts your car horn from a beep to a loud voice screaming put your damn phone down and drive you idiot!

But if we designate a day to declare our independence from dependence, I know we can…hold on a second, I gotta check my phone.

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Jon Keller has been reporting and commenting on local politics since 1978. A graduate of Brandeis University, he worked in radio as a producer and talk-show host before moving into print journalism at The Tab newspapers and the Boston Phoenix. Freelance credits include the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Boston Magazine, the New Republic and the Washington Post. Since 1991 his "Keller At Large" commentaries and interviews have been a fixture on Boston TV, first on WLVI-TV and, since 2005, on WBZ-TV. He is a 12-time Emmy Award winner for political reporting and commentary. He began his Massterlist column in March 2020.