There are certain absolutes in life — death, taxes, E=MC2, and the
“federal rule,” which says that if you take federal money you’re going
to take a boatload of rules, regulations and mandates from the
government as well.

Some of the nation’s police departments are finding out about this
last “absolute” the hard way.

For years local and state police departments have taken federal money
for a variety of reasons — usually to bolster department payrolls but
also because Washington mandates certain things from time to time.

Now, however, the feds are coming into their station houses and
telling them how they’re going to run their departments. Local cops say
they don’t like that much.

Well, too bad — it is a situation born of their own making.

According to an article this week in

Insight Magazine,
local police departments in two states are being “taken over” by federal officials from the Justice Department because a few departments have rogue cops who routinely violate the civil rights of suspects. They beat them, mostly, but what ticks Uncle Sam off is that when the beatings occur, Sam says the local cops and prosecutors don’t do much to “police up” that kind of behavior.

To remedy the situation, the feds are landing hard on local cops and imposing solutions. Not that suspects should be beaten or have their rights denied or that cops guilty of this behavior should get away with it. But let’s face it — the federal government’s vast realm of agencies have a poor record of “fixing” anything. “One size fits all” doesn’t fit all, at all.

Worse, logic — and facts — don’t support federal claims that such abuses are rampant among local departments. They are not, but the bureaucrats seem to have already made up their minds that such civil rights violations are rampant. That decision has prompted more than a few legal types to predict that Uncle Sam will begin to butt into every police department’s internal affairs if he is allowed in anywhere. I have to admit that sounds historically correct.

But the hue and cry now about such federal intrusiveness is a moot point because Washington has long since given itself the “right” to come into your state, your city, and your town because your officials are hooked on your “federal” money. So much for the

10th Amendment.

However, don’t for a second believe that Uncle Sam didn’t know what he was doing.

In the police case cited by Insight, the magazine also reported that if local police departments under examination try to refuse Washington’s “help,” the Justice Department will sue them to recoup all of the federal money they have ever received.

The lesson? If you take the dough, they’ve got you.

The idea isn’t even new. The magazine said it has been floated before — sometimes by government and sometimes by pro-government stooges. Knowing that, who among us doesn’t think this threat won’t be used again and again in any number of ways for any number of other federally-mandated or sponsored local programs?

Congress could stop this intrusion, but it won’t. It’s power, you see, and if Congress is famous for anything it is never giving up power. It will even use state-sponsored blackmail to maintain it.

As an aside, I find the threat to sue especially galling. This, coming from a Justice Department that doesn’t see, hear or speak any evil about foreign espionage (or the president who facilitates it)? Ironic, to say the least, considering that the information stolen will eventually be used to build weapons to aim at people in the White House and the Justice Department, among others.

That’s not an “issue,” though. No — instead, Justice is worried about “suing” to recoup money the government spent on programs the government said it needed money to spend on in the first place. Too damned many tobacco litigants in the Justice Department, methinks.

The best way to avoid this government blackmail trap is to tell federal agencies where to stuff their “free money” when they “offer” it. Nothing’s free; people know that. Besides, in this age of bulging state treasuries, it’s worse than criminal for local and state officials to be taking “federal” money (and the control it comes with) anyway.

Besides death, taxes, and the rule of taking federal money, perhaps its time for Americans to adopt a new “absolute”: Fewer agencies equals fewer rules, equals less money, equals more take-home pay, equals more local control.

It’s that simple.

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