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The greatest threat to American prosperity, privacy, and private
property
is not private crime but government policy, or what might be called
public
crime. In proposing an added $1.3 billion (in one year) in its “100,000
cops-on-the-beat” program, the Clinton administration is seeking to
unleash
the power of government to intrude even more into our lives, which is a
crime in its own right.

Private crime has been falling for a decade primarily because
Americans
have learned to deter it and work around it. Alarm systems in our homes
and
cars have become highly sophisticated. Gun ownership is more widespread
than it has been in decades. When out on a stroll, we know what areas to
avoid. When possible, we move to low-crime areas or purchase homes in
gated communities.

All these are market-driven responses to persistent crime threats,
and
have nothing to do with the federal government. The effectiveness of
these
private solutions is proof that the free market can make provisions for
personal security. Political theorists and economists who have always
said
otherwise are wrong.

And what a contrast with government’s promise of security, which too
often
results in the opposite. For example, criminal-coddling liberals say
they
are protecting us from crime by making it more difficult to purchase a
gun
when we need one. But this only makes us more vulnerable when trying to
fend off lawless intruders, whether they come from a criminal gang or a
federal agency.

Yes, we’ve learned how to protect ourselves against most private
crimes.
But defending ourselves against public crimes perpetuated by government
is
much more difficult. If the Clinton proposal is passed, when the FBI
decides to tap phones, investigate local businesses, shut down health
food stores, confiscate firearms, or assign spies to monitor grass-roots
political
groups, it will have more agents on the ground to do its bidding.

All these actions are official crimes in this sense: they invade
private
property and violate rights but do so in the name of the public policy.
Another examples: Clinton proposes raising cigarette taxes by 50 cents a

pack, a sure act of outright theft. But because he proposes using a
government agency to do it, it is called policy, not crime. There is no
way
for smokers to avoid getting fleeced without resorting to black markets.

If a hacker breaks into our bank records to examine our spending
habits,
we call the cops to nab the interloper. But when government does the
same
thing, it says it is merely enforcing “know your customer” regulations.
And
if we try to protect ourselves against this unconstitutional financial
snooping, we are suspected as smurfers and money launderers.

Government gets away with perpetuating the moral equivalent of crime
because its actions are wrapped in the garb of legality. For example,
when
the social worker takes children out of a home because of mere rumors of

“abuse,” the bureaucrat is not called a kidnapper but a humanitarian.
When
the Federal Reserve inflates the money supply and diminishes the value
of
our savings, it is not called counterfeiting but monetary policy.

The new policemen that Clinton proposes will rope cities and states
deeper
into the federal orbit. Already, the local police are heavily beholden
to
the federal cops. If the feds tell the police to arrest abortion
protesters
and beef up security at the local abortuary, they have to obey. If there

comes a time when the feds decide to declare martial law — and who
doubts
that they would jump at any excuse — Clinton’s “cops on the beat” will
be the
frontline enforcement crew.

Even on the international level, no one is safe from the criminal
actions
of U.S. government policy. Indeed, U.S. foreign policy increasingly
resembles the lawless behavior of a rogue state. We were told that U.S.
air
raids on Iraq last month were directed only at official buildings and
sites. But a new U.N. report, buried by the U.S. media, reveals that the
U.S.
government has as little regard for foreign private property as it does
for
domestic.

The bombs damaged an agricultural school and at least a dozen other
schools and hospitals (including a maternity hospital and an outpatient
clinic). It wiped out the water supplies for 300,000 people in Baghdad.
Bombs destroyed an important steel factory, and smashed a rice
storehouse in Tikrit, north of Baghdad. In the Kurdish north, an entire
secondary school was blown to smithereens.

There is a reason why international law has traditionally forbidden
these
kinds of tactics. They are worse than uncivilized. They are the actions
of
a terror state. And coming on the heels of the senseless destruction of
a
pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan, they illustrate why the U.S.
government has taken its place as the most hated institution in the
world.

The Clinton administration has sacrificed more than moral authority
in six
years of misrule. It has sacrificed its credibility in claiming to be
looking out for our best interests. Isn’t it time we subjected
government
officials to the same moral standards to which we hold ordinary
citizens?

Suspecting there is more to Clinton’s COPS program than the desire
for
safety, the Republican Congress is considering cutting it to the bone.
It
should. Then it should curb government power to spy on, rob, and
otherwise
aggress against the person and property of Americans and anyone else in
the
world. The framers never intended to erect a criminal state.

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