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Top 10 misconceptions about government
Posted By Harry Browne On 06/26/2001 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
When people argue for or against some new government program, a lot of what’s said is based on assumptions about government that just aren’t so.
Direct from the home office in the slums of Washington, D.C., here are the top 10 misconceptions commonly peddled about government today. …
The budget and Social Security
Misconception No. 10: “The federal budget has been in surplus since 1998.”
Not so. The federal debt increased by $109 billion in 1998, by $127 billion in 1999, and by $23 billion in 2000.
The politicians are taking excess Social Security receipts and using them to cover spending on foreign aid, corporate welfare, and thousands of other boondoggles. Lumping Social Security in with the general budget transforms a budget deficit into a surplus – but the federal debt continues to get larger and will have to be repaid someday.
Misconception No. 9: “The politicians are keeping Social Security funds separate and safe.”
See Misconception No. 10. Even as politicians posture that they’re protecting Social Security, they’re stealing from it in order to hide the budget deficits. So long as Republicans and Democrats continue to peddle this lie, they’re demonstrating that you shouldn’t believe anything they say.
Misconception No. 8: “The Republicans prevented a takeover of health care by the federal government in 1994.”
The Republican Congress has already enacted a large part of HillaryCare. Today half of all health-care dollars in America are spent by government, and another 20 percent by health-care plans that might not exist if it weren’t for the income tax code.
HillaryCare is a bogeyman raised by one party to persuade you it isn’t as bad as the other party.
Misconception No. 7: “The federal highway system allows poor states to have roads as good as those of the richer states.”
The truth is just the opposite. The federal highway program allows the richer, more powerful states to plunder the poor states.
A main recipient of highway funds is Pennsylvania. Why Pennsylvania? Because the chairman of the House Transportation Committee is Bud Shuster of Pennsylvania.
The people in states like Alabama or Montana are taxed so that congressmen and senators can reward friends with contracts for a $2-billion subway system in Miami that doesn’t work, a “People Mover” in Detroit that hardly anyone uses because it goes hardly anywhere, a billion-dollar airport in Denver that no one but the Denver mayor wanted. These are “your highway dollars at work.”
Intruding on your life
Misconception No. 6: “The defeat of the ‘Know Your Customer’ program in 1999 stopped banks from spying on you.”
Not so. Banks have been required to report large or suspicious transactions since 1970. And the definition of “suspicious” has included more transactions every year.
Now the government has expanded the reporting to include private financial companies. And the Post Office has a surveillance program called “Under the Eagle’s Eye.” Big Brother is watching you.
Misconception No. 5: “The problems created by the drug war are necessary to hold down drug use.”
To believe that, you have to believe that only the drug laws keep you and me and everyone you know from shooting up heroin. Otherwise, how could drug use be much greater than it is now?
Any teen-ager can get drugs just by asking around at school. Since 1972 the U.S. government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse has surveyed teen-age drug use – which in every major category has doubled, tripled, or quadrupled.
We have lost the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, innocent people have been sentenced to life imprisonment on the say-so of admitted drug dealers seeking reduced sentences, the drug business has been taken from legitimate pharmaceutical companies and turned over to criminal gangs, the politicians have played with hundreds of billions of dollars of our money. And all this has led to greater drug use – not less.
Misconception No. 4: “The government keeps the environment clean.”
A 1999 Boston Globe investigation concluded that the U.S. government is the worst polluter in America. And most of the rest of pollution occurs on government property – in government lakes and rivers, and on government land.
Private owners worry about the future value of their property, so they’re careful not to pollute their own assets. But the future is of no concern when they use government property. So there’s tremendous pollution on government property, where bureaucrats have no personal stake in protecting it.
The best answer for pollution is to get as much property out of the hands of government as possible. Then the remaining pollution problems shouldn’t require the oppressive regulatory nightmare being imposed today by politicians, bureaucrats and social reformers.
Misconception No. 3: “Government regulation saves lives by making medicines safe.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has routinely kept life-saving medicines off the market for years until its administrators were positive they couldn’t be held responsible for a single death.
Robert Goldberg of Brandeis University has estimated that FDA delays in approving drugs already used safely in other countries have cost at least 200,000 American lives over the past 30 years. These delays killed Alzheimer patients who weren’t allowed to take THA, people with high blood pressure who couldn’t get beta-blockers, kidney-cancer patients deprived of Interleukin-2, and AIDS patients who died waiting for AZT.
For true safety, we rely on doctors, research labs, insurance companies and other private agencies to determine what’s appropriate for each individual, not what is politically safe for the regulators. Doctors sometimes make mistakes, but they don’t make decisions on a political basis.
Why we tolerate government
Misconception No. 2: “We have to tolerate the bad things government does in exchange for the protection it provides against violence – domestic and foreign.”
Far from protecting us from violence, the government seems to be the foremost cause of it. Its drug war has spawned inner-city chaos and gang warfare, and its SWAT teams kill innocent people during mistaken drug raids. Government doesn’t protect our children in the schools, it doesn’t protect adults on the streets, and depending on 911 for protection makes as much sense as relying on the lottery for your income.
Overseas it is our government that’s roaming the world stirring up trouble. It has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi adults and children by forcibly preventing them from getting food and medicines. It subsidized the Afghan “freedom fighters” in the 1980s, but now claims those same “freedom fighters” are a main source of terrorism in the world. It bombed innocent people in Serbia to aid the Albanians – the same Albanians it now wants NATO to attack.
Some protection. No wonder the U.S. is the main target of terrorists.
Here it comes …
And by far the No. 1 misconception about government issssss …
Misconception No. 1: “The next government program will work the way its sponsors promise.”
The government’s war on poverty has transformed poverty from a short-term misfortune into a career choice. Its war on drugs has escalated drug use. Medicare has made health care more expensive and less accessible for senior citizens. Nothing the politicians have enacted has turned out as promised, and most programs have made matters worse.
So do you really believe George Bush’s voucher program will make education better – or his “faith-based” charity plan will make welfare work? Do you think the Democrats’ prescription-drug program will make medicines easier to obtain? Or John McCain’s campaign-finance bill will make politics cleaner?
If you believe any of that, consider buying a marvelous bridge I own in Brooklyn.
The solution to today’s problems isn’t to pass more government programs – or to reform government programs – or to get better people to manage them. The answer is to end completely all these government programs that have caused so much misery, waste, corruption and tyranny. Get government entirely out of health care, education, welfare, drugs, policing the world, and anything else not specifically authorized in the Constitution.
The worst misconception of all is the idea that government will give you what you want.
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