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Clinton wants his private life back. His personal behavior is his
business
alone, and his family’s. It’s a moral outrage that a prosecutor wants to

turn a private matter into a public one. Ken Starr’s power is wholly
illegitimate.

Welcome to the early 19th century, when people actually did have
private
lives because the government dared not intrude. Family was autonomous
and
so too were extended families. Homes were sacred spaces. Businesses were

private property. Neighborhoods managed their own affairs without
outside
intervention.

There were no spooks listening in on phone calls, reading our mail,
investigating our politics, monitoring our income and stealing up to
half
of it for “public policy.” There was no army of social workers telling
people
how to raise their kids. There was no war on tobacco or drugs. These
were
all private matters.

Heads of households, pastors, and community leaders were the social
authorities, not politicians. The president had no agencies to regulate
business, tell property owners whom to hire and fire, much less pretend
to
manage the national and world economy.

There was no “sexual-harassment” law. People who didn’t like their
jobs
didn’t sue. Instead, they sought out a new job. Discrimination on any
basis
whatsoever was not a crime but a sacred right. There were no laws that
punished people for their choices and associations so long as they
didn’t
harm anyone.

It was a system called freedom, and it made possible the most
prosperous
and humane society in human history. We owe our current prosperity to
the
remnants of the old system.

But Bill Clinton represents something different, an ideology whose
primary
tenet is that private life shouldn’t exist. All behavior is public
behavior.

The State has an interest in managing all aspects of it. What choices
and
freedoms we have are ours because the State grants them. Children don’t
belong to the family but to society. Businesses are public property. Our

thoughts and motivations — even our jokes — are the business of courts
and
prosecutors.

But now Clinton, in high-flown libertarian rhetoric, attempts to tap
into
the seething resentment the public has for big government and demands
that
the Administrative State he heads and loves leave him alone. In his
new-found worldview, he alone enjoys the right to conduct his affairs as
he
sees fit.

He says no one has a right to know what he is doing with his
subordinates.
His friends cannot be subpoenaed and forced to rat on him to the feds.
“Even presidents have private lives,” he says. He means ONLY presidents
should
have private lives.

Can someone please welcome Bill to the late 20th century? The power
and
intrusions of the government now frying him are the same power and
intrusions the rest of America is forced to endure every day.

Every penny we spend is subject to investigation by the tax police.
No
business owner can take a step on his own property without consulting
federal agencies. Even in our own homes, we are not free to decide what
kind of paint to put on the walls or the size of our toilet tanks.

Recall that Bill would not be in this fix were it not for the
preposterous
advent of sexual-harassment law. On the day of his speech, thousands of
cases are roiling through the courts that will result in million-dollar
fines against bosses accused of far less. Managers’ lives will be ruined
by
a subordinate’s lewd remark or provocative picture displayed on a desk.

This is a law that Bill defends and champions. His own wife, now
bitter
that her personal space is invaded by government power, is the icon of
the
feminist movement that has long claimed that the personal is the
political.

Bill is inviting all of us to reject the authority that Starr is
exercising. Bill didn’t like the questions Starr was asking and
reportedly
even refused to answer them. Why should he? Hey, he’s thinking, it’s a
free
country.

It might be possible to be more sympathetic to Bill’s predicament.
Let him
repeal the sexual harassment laws in which he is now entangled. Let him
strip the CIA, the IRS, the FBI, the ATF, and the NSA of their power to
spy
on our private lives.

Let Bill light a bonfire on the White House lawn made of the federal
code
and a hundred years of the Federal Register. Let him grant to every
American the broad rights to private life that he demands for himself.
Until then,
we are entitled to regard his speech as the plea of a tyrant caught in
his own
web.

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., is president of the Ludwig von Mises
Institute
in Auburn, Alabama.

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