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Anytime I make a plea to reduce the size, scope and power of the
federal government back to its constitutional limits there are always a
few people out there who oppose me.
For example they say that the duties the federal government currently
reserves unto itself couldn’t be done — or wouldn’t get done — by
anyone else. They say most states and most private industries couldn’t
pick up the slack were government ever to shrink back within the
constitutional parameters set forth by our founding fathers.
Airplanes would fall out of the sky or crash into each other without
the FAA. The stock market would be rife with theft and chicanery. The
airwaves would be a jumbled mass of noise if we didn’t have the FCC
telling us when and how we could broadcast on radio and TV. Anarchy
would reign and crooks would run rampantly through our streets without
agencies like the FBI, the BATF, and the CIA around to “rein them in.”
And so on.
In response to every call to maintain or expand the current long
reach of the federal government, I always ask my detractors a couple of
First, I ask why big government advocates don’t realize that for
every new agency created and “duty” assumed comes an associated cost
that has to be picked up by taxpayers. They never seem to mind this; in
fact, many of them shrug it off as a minor “inconvenience” compared to
the perceived “benefits” of the new government function.
Secondly, I ask them, “How would we know what life would be like
without so much federal ‘oversight’?” Most of us have not lived a day
of our lives without it in some form, and it has only gotten worse over
They usually answer that the risks of having less federal oversight
are “not worth it.” I say, “Let’s try it and see.” Predicting doom and
gloom without the federal government to shepherd us through our lives is
like saying Americans are not smart enough to figure things out for
themselves, even though we’ve been doing it for over 230 years.
While we don’t know what life without so much federal “oversight”
would be like, we do know that lawmakers are reluctant to let anyone but
them handle even the most benign functions of government. Whenever
Americans suggest it, they are told, dismissively, that nobody but Uncle
Sam can do these things.
That worries me because in this country, the people — not the
lawmakers — are supposed to have most of the power. We don’t —
And as technology advances, the tendency to control more, snoop more,
and monitor more becomes almost too much to bear.
Witness the FBI’s vast and growing databases on American citizens.
Witness the BATF’s tendency to catalog and document every gun sale and
every gun buyer. Witness the White House’s moves to “control” and
“monitor” the Internet. And witness the Justice Department’s desire to
create a law that would allow federal agents to sneak inside your home
without a warrant and bug your computer.
These are not the machinations of a free society. These are not the
ideals of leaders who supposedly take oaths to “support and defend the
Constitution of the United States.” And this country isn’t China.
And each of these initiatives began incrementally, and over time has
expanded to include all sorts of things they were never intended to
Adolf Hitler used a similar incremental approach to consolidating
power. Who’s to say Bill Clinton, as disturbed as his logic is at times,
does not envision the same thing? I have to wonder because he supports
all of these initiatives.
So do many Republicans — a truly scary thought. In fact, too
many politicians routinely let people like Bill Clinton, Charlie Trie,
John Huang, Web Hubbell, and Janet Reno off the hook when they break our
laws and initiate such policies. The Justice Department, which is
supposed to defend the interests of American citizens in such cases,
rarely (if ever), goes against what our leaders want. And the courts
across the land are systematically being indoctrinated into this
incrementalist system as well.
With all of the checks and balances gone, who defends the rights of
Who, indeed. And that’s the problem. There is already a double
standard in this country, and a dual set of laws for the people. The
leaders can “get by with it,” but you and I cannot. That kind of
obvious duality cannot — and most assuredly will not — last forever.
But with this incremental approach to tyranny, will enough of us
awaken in time to stop the total usurpation of our Constitution, Bill of
Rights, and our way of life?
There is one truth about power. Each time we give our leaders more
of it, it’s never enough — they always come back for more. Sooner or
later this government will get so powerful they’ll stop asking us
to cede them power — they’ll just assume it.
If for no other reason, that’s why it’s necessary to keep the federal
government small and weak. Too much power concentrated in too few hands
always equals tyranny.