MINOT, NORTH DAKOTA — History has proven the truth of these prophetic words attributed to both Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
Over the past 50 years, America has become one of the most heavily regulated and complexly taxed nations in history. America had been the beneficiary of our forefathers' understanding of the harmful nature of government. Their insights into the nature of governments and men are the foundation of our Constitution. They crafted this document specifically to minimize the opportunities for the federal government to grow out of control. It also gave America's citizens the freedom to live their lives, exercise their liberties, and pursue their dreams without undue government interference.
This document was this blueprint that allowed America to become the most wealthy, most free, and most envied nation in history — in less than two centuries. Never had the world seen a more prosperous people, a happier citizenry, and greater advances in living standards. America, as a melting pot, welcomed millions of people from different cultural backgrounds and wove them into the fabric of the nation. This shared unity bound us all together, even though we were free to embrace our individual cultural traditions.
The environment allowing the wealth and freedom put in place by America's forefathers has ended with the explosive growth of government. The end has come at the hands of selfish, egotistical charlatans, who have evolved into a class we call politicians. While we may joke about them, the sad truth is our courts and our people expect these charlatans to lie, cheat, steal, and use the powers they have given to themselves to persecute their enemies.
President Obama's former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, articulated the game of government well when addressing the economic crisis of 2008-09. He said, "You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." That crisis was brought about by government itself. We have to wonder how many of the "problems or crises" we face are real and how many are fabricated as excuses for the government to take more power.
...every increase in the power of government is a decrease in the freedom of individuals.
As a free people, or once-free people, we must understand that every increase in the power of government is a decrease in the freedom of individuals. Whether the power is in the form of increased authority, increased access to our wealth, increased invasion of our privacy, or increased ability to require us to seek and obtain permission to do anything, we lose some freedom in each case.
Every time the government gives money to any person — as welfare, a grant, or a subsidy — it does so only after taking by force what belongs to someone else. However, when the government takes what belongs to individuals and uses it to provide goods and services that equally benefit the community, it helps everyone thrive.
When the law is applied equally, fairly, and is easily understood, everyone benefits. When the law is used to interfere with otherwise legitimate activities, is unequally applied, is complex or arcane, then our freedom is diminished and our way of life is threatened.
America has become a fool's paradise. The government has grown to the point where one must continuously wonder what is and is not legal. No one understands the tax code, no one can explain it, and no one can, with assurance, be in full compliance. Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) see nothing wrong with the government requiring Verizon to provide the records of the telephone calls of all Americans. They argue that doing so is authorized under the questionable U.S. Patriot Act. The Act is itself a product of the "crisis" following the destruction of the Twin Towers; yes, it was, "an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." So goes freedom in the name of security.
The power of government has grown to the point that it controls us; we no longer control it. The recent revelation of the invasion of privacy by our national security agencies and the abuse of private information, as well as the attacks and harassment of taxpayers by the IRS, highlight how out of control our government is. It is unlikely these abuses will result in a single person being held accountable or punished. When abuse of power goes unpunished, such abuses are likely to grow.
The government routinely pries into every aspect of our lives anytime it wishes, for any reason it wishes, and justifies it by telling us it is for our own good.
Today, government spends more per capita than Americans spend on themselves, all in the name of welfare, government grants, and entitlements. We have lost our freedom to do as we wish without first obtaining permits or permission from the government. Security, to the degree there is any, comes at a terrible cost. The government routinely pries into every aspect of our lives anytime it wishes, for any reason it wishes, and justifies it by telling us it is for our own good.
So much for freedom, so much for security; Jefferson and Franklin were right. We now have neither, and we deserve neither. Does anyone care?
A Voice from Fly-Over
A Voice from Fly-Over Country is copyright © 2013
by Robert L. Hale and the Fitzgerald
All rights reserved.
Robert L. Hale received his J.D. in law from Gonzaga University Law
School in Spokane, Washington. He is founder and director of a non-profit
public interest law firm. For more than three decades he has been involved
in drafting proposed laws and counseling elected officials in ways
to remove burdensome and unnecessary rules and regulations.
See a complete biographical sketch.
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