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Once again, all the talk about reducing the size of government and
getting it out of our lives, businesses and pocketbooks proves to be
pure hokum.

The recent federal budget agreement raises discretionary spending by
6 percent, more than twice the rate of inflation. This additional money
will feed the growth of bureaucracies, strengthen regulations on
businesses and society, create new programs and entitlements, and bloat
old ones. An effort to reduce this budget increase by 1 percent was
ridiculed by President Clinton, who called it “mindless and excessive.”
Eventually, the president and Congress compromised on a decrease of .038
percent, that is to say, 38 cents of every hundred dollars.

You know our nation is in serious trouble when a 1 percent reduction
in a 6 percent budgetary increase is successfully represented by
high-placed, Democrat demagogues as a “reckless and extreme idea” that
would severely endanger and/or cripple vital government services,
particularly to old people and children.

Surely, there can no longer be any doubt that Leviathan (the
government) continues to grow in size, power and self-righteous
arrogance as it asserts sovereignty over the lives and behavior of its
subjects. The government confiscates our money, and mandates our
obedience. The noose tightens, and the rabble wear it like a badge of
honor.

The American government is organized and motivated in much the same
fashion as a large company, with strategies to grow and prosper. In that
context, taxes are revenues, the higher the better; government workers
are employees, the more the merrier; people dependent on government
services are customers, with programs and entitlements to increase their
numbers. Increases in the public sector are viewed as increases in
market share. Government monopolies, such as government schools, prepare
future citizens to think of taxes as contributions, obedience as
patriotism, and to look to the government as the source from which all
blessings flow.

Tens of millions of unweaned, perhaps unweanable Americans are
comfortably enfolded in the sheltering arms of government maternalism.
They have organized their lives around the belief that it is the
responsibility of government to provide them with jobs, food,
child-care, fat-free popcorn, transportation, warm booties, a college
education, condoms, housing, Kleenex, health services, sexual validation
and heating oil. They have effectively turned over themselves, their
children, and their aging parents to the loving control of bureaucrats.

The fear always has been that the American dream would be over when a
majority became dependent upon big government. They would then be able
to vote themselves increasing benefits out of the national treasury,
that is to say, out of the pockets of those who work, produce and
achieve. And when that was not enough to feed their dependencies, they
would demand that money be borrowed from their children and
grandchildren.

That was the thesis of “Atlas Shrugged,” the novel by Ayn Rand, a
story about a rebellion of the achievers and producers against the
welfare state. Atlas carried the world on his back, but eventually,
became disenchanted with the spoiled masses who would not lift a finger
on their own behalf, believing it was his job to carry them. He shrugged
in disgust, and withdrew to a remote place in the mountains to start a
new society, leaving behind a nation rapidly falling apart.

The book will be the basis for a four-hour miniseries being developed
for Turner Network Television (TNT) by Albert S. Ruddy, who produced
“The Godfather” trilogy. Rand’s novel is full of innovative thinking
about individual and social problems presented in the context of
fiction. It is worth reading, and if faithfully followed, will be worth
viewing. However, it is not prophetic.

As circumstances have unfolded, Atlas has not shrugged, and Leviathan
is not threatened. They have struck a deal. This is to say, the
government overlords have put themselves up for sale, and the merchant
princes of industry have made a buy. While this is a sometimes uneasy
alliance, as in the case of Microsoft and the tobacco industry, it is
one that seems likely to endure.

Atlas will not lead a rebellion against an increasingly abusive
Leviathan — which is probably a good thing. It would have been like
most revolutions, not about the liberation of the people, but about who
would rule them.

The energy and resources for the good fight against a government
operating outside the legal boundaries set for it in the Constitution
will have to come directly from the people. The hope is this: If a small
band of Christians could overcome the mighty Roman Empire, perhaps
another group of the faithful — those who have not been bought,
corrupted, secularized or deceived — can bring Leviathan to its knees.

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