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We have a friend named John who tends bar in a small club. His workplace is in a rural town of 2,500. Over the last few years, John has listened to endless conversations from the folks who come in for a beer or two after work. Talk used to dwell on things of interest in a rural town: hunting, fishing, trucks, local politics, things like that.

But lately John has noticed a distinct shift in the tenor of conversations. People are not focusing so much on the trophy elk that fills their freezer. Instead, they’re talking about the government, specifically a federal government that increasingly fails to represent the people of this nation, and of elected officials who completely disregard the constitutional restraints that are supposed to keep them in line and out of our business.

People are getting angrier and more suspicious. Let’s look at just a few reasons why.

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, federal authorities will shut off all television and radio communications simultaneously at 2 p.m. Eastern to complete the first-ever test of the national Emergency Alert System (EAS). The test is supposed to last no more than two or three minutes. “In essence,” notes The Blaze, “the authority to seize control of all television and civilian communication has been asserted by the executive branch and handed to a government agency.” Officials later backed the test down to a more conventional 30 seconds after people expressed their concerns.

While some folks will applaud the warm fuzzy benefits of such a test – after all, who can argue the need to disseminate critical national-security information to everyone? – there are others who have darker suspicions. Why 2 p.m? Why not 2 a.m.? As one commenter said, “This is not a test – it is a demonstration. A test would be done at 4 a.m. so it would inconvenience as few as possible.”

Yes, a demonstration. Our government is apparently eager to make evident its supremacy in our communications systems. “Now we know in the event of a major crisis, the American people will be told with one voice … about an emergency. All that’s left to determine is who will control the EAS when that day comes, and what their message will be.” One voice. No others allowed.

We’re from the government, and we’re here to help. Now shut up, sit down and do what we say.

Other worrisome developments involve your friendly neighborhood Department of Homeland Security. The DHS is openly monitoring social network sites for signs of civil unrest. It has also teamed up with the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Wal-Mart to show public-service announcements urging people to keep their country safe by reporting suspicious activities. The DHS has also formed partnerships with Amtrak, the U.S. Tennis Association, the NFL and the Mall of America … in short, wherever they can find a captive audience.

We’re from the government, and we’re here to help – if you’ll help us in turn by spying on your friends and neighbors.

Closer to home – literally – we learn of a pending move in Washington, D.C., which could “require parents who homeschool their children to teach certain government agenda issues” as well as effectively removing “much of the decision-making authority of local school boards and districts.”

Homeschoolers and other independent thinkers have long been a thorn in the side of government officials on all levels, from local to national. How dare a group of homespun yokels educate their own children, children who continue to humiliate public schools with their outstanding test results and who grow into exceptional citizens with impeccable civic-mindedness? Muzzle them by forcing them into the unified national curriculum.

We’re from the government, and we’re here to help. Now give us your children so we can educate them to our benefit.

Is it any wonder John is noticing a lot more of his customers are getting mad?

We have learned that government-supported ACORN is scrambling to shred documents, fire employees and otherwise cover their butts (euphemistically called “damage control”) in an effort to pretend it wasn’t “a key organizing force behind the Occupy Wall Street protests.” Do you realize what this means? It means our own government is PAYING people to cause chaos and disruption.

We’re from the government, and we’re here to help. Pardon us as our paid representatives literally spread their feces in your flower beds.

As if defecating on police cars isn’t bad enough, the (cough) “peaceful” Occupy movement turned ugly in Oakland this week, in line with the agenda proposed by United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard, an adviser to President Obama. “I think what we need is, we need more militancy,” he said. “I think we’ve got to start a resistance movement. If Wall Street occupation doesn’t get the message, I think we’ve got to start blocking bridges and doing that kind of stuff.”

We’re from the government, and we’re here to help. We’ll bring hope and change by blocking bridges and ports, smashing windows, vandalizing small businesses and otherwise creating anarchy.

It is indisputable that our government is out of control. Insanely and dangerously out of control. Now the question arises, is the government deliberately fomenting rebellion? Is it goading citizens until they snap, rebel and can be put down? Is its goal to create a national crisis in order for martial law to be declared, 2012 elections to be suspended and other speculations that feed the conspiracy theorists?

I don’t know. I’m not into conspiracy theories, so I won’t even try to guess. A tree does not “conspire” to grow; it just does. So can government.

But whether deliberate or unintentional, growing government tentacles are surrounding us from all sides. More and more people – even good progressive drones – are getting the uneasy feeling that something big and beyond their control is looming, like an evil foreshadowing of something on the horizon.

Let’s just say that if someone tells me they’re from the government, I am far more likely to cower in terror than I am to embrace their “help.”

And maybe – just maybe – that’s the idea.

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