Today's Politicos vs The Words and Deeds of The Founders
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There Oughta Be a Law … And There Probably Is

Being provoked about some frequent irritation often evokes a heart-felt “there oughta be a law,” usually preceded by an expletive. Of course, people really don’t want government telling them what they can and cannot do. It’s just a way of blowing off steam. But mean it or not, government is expanding and liberty is shrinking.

Unfortunately, the more government infringes on liberty the more willing people become to permit it. History demonstrates that governments’ primary excuse for encroaching on people’s liberties is the promise of enhanced physical or economic security.

Here’s a case in point.  Most of us can remember when getting on an airplane meant walking through a metal detector and that was about it.  Some of us can remember a time before that was required.  But, we can all remember when airport security began to dictate that passengers remove their shoes, empty their pockets, bag up their shampoo’s, remove their electronics, and possibly have their hands swabbed, before going through a metal detector.  We went along with the request although many muttered watching white-haired grandmothers, forced to totter, shoeless, through those metal detectors.

Now, the government says new threats justify more extreme measures.  Full body scans and intimate pat-downs of the inside of thighs and buttocks are now the order of the day. US officialdom insists that the scans are safe, (no mention of how repeated scans may affect frequent flyers, neither is there any science to support the contention. Long term cumulative affects are simply not known) and the pat downs are necessary to prevent terrorism.

“It’s all about security,” said Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security Secretary. “It’s all about everybody recognizing their role.”

Really!

It’s all about everybody recognizing their role.

Citizen, you vill shut up and do as you are told!

The government now defines the role citizens are to play in the farce called Homeland Security.  The TSA has been instructed to make an example of any American who has the temerity to balk at such an intrusive invasion of their privacy.  Meg McLain was screamed at, handcuffed, had her ticket ripped in half, and finally escorted from the airport by 12 Miami cops.

If being groped and losing your ticket isn’t bad enough, some passengers who decline the procedures are also being threatened with civil suits and $10,000 fines.

At least two airline pilots have been grounded since refusing to submit to the new procedures.

A sane person might question the efficacy of putting the people that fly the planes through such rigor.   After all, if the pilot wants to do some damage, he’s in a pretty good position to do so, even without his nail clippers.  Pilots evidently aren’t all that is flying these days; logic has also taken wing (and it’s gone out the window).  It wasn’t that long ago that an option for pilots to carry firearms was seriously being considered.

Speaking of common sense, one might ask why it is necessary to put all travelers through this ordeal instead of concentrating scrutiny on those most likely to pose a threat. The answer, of course, is that political correctness will trump security every time in the never-never land in which Napolitano resides.   It will be interesting to see what DHS does with CAIR’s recommendations for Burkha-wearing Muslims:

Special recommendations for Muslim women who wear hijab:

  • If you are selected for secondary screening after you go through the metal detector and it does not go off, and “sss” is not written on your boarding pass, ask the TSA officer if the reason you are being selected is because of your head scarf.
  • In this situation, you may be asked to submit to a pat-down or to go through a full body scanner. If you are selected for the scanner, you may ask to go through a pat-down instead.
  • Before you are patted down, you should remind the TSA officer that they are only supposed to pat down the area in question, in this scenario, your head and neck. They SHOULD NOT subject you to a full-body or partial-body pat-down.
  • You may ask to be taken to a private room for the pat-down procedure.
  • Instead of the pat-down, you can always request to pat down your own scarf, including head and neck area, and have the officers perform a chemical swipe of your hands.

After all, it is not as though terrorists have ever used women to smuggle bombs.

So, what’s next? Strip searches, latex glove explorations of body cavities? What if the next would-be bomber hides explosives you know where?  (Unless, of course, you dress in the garb that most female terrorists wear.)

Alexander Hamilton had a thing or two to say on the subject.

Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free…

Visitors from the former Soviet Union used to be amazed that people travel freely in America. On preparing to take an interstate trip, a common question was, “Whom do I need to tell?”  In America no one keeps track of anyone’s whereabouts. Passports and room keys are not surrendered at hotels. Law abiding citizens are not stopped on the street to have their papers checked.  Not yet.

However, becoming less free in the name of safety is only part of the problem.  Just as people become inured to the loss of their freedom, they also quickly grow accustomed to surrendering their self sufficiency in favor of government largess.

Every year Heritage Foundation publishes an Index of Dependence on Government.   The Foundation’s preview of its 2010 index reveals:

1. Americans’ dependence on government grew by 13.6 percent in 2009.

2. The Index’s dependence variables that grew the most over that past year are:

  • Health and Welfare at 22 percent,
  • Rural and Agricultural Services at 20 percent, and
  • Housing at 15 percent.

3. The increase over 2009 means that the Index has grown by 49 percent since 2001.

The increase in the Index of Dependence on Government during 2009 is the greatest single-year percentage change since 1976.

As Heritage points out, dependence-creating programs quickly become political assets. Buying votes with the people’s money is an old, but effective confidence game.  It becomes “a mechanism that creates and sustains a never-ending cycle of dependence—and entitlement thinking.”

The more people there are that depend on government subsidies for much or all of their existence, the smaller the percentage of tax-paying citizens who finance those subsidies. Combined with Congress’s loss of control over the national budget, an impending tipping point is becoming increasingly likely. The Tax Foundation reported recently that the percentage of tax returns filed that required no taxes to be paid in 2008 passed 35 percent.[2] Even more of a wake-up call, the Tax Policy Center says that the percentage of all taxpaying units—single, married filing jointly, head of household, married filing separately—who paid no taxes in 2009 is close to 47 percent.[3]

170 years ago Tocqueville warned about the kind of despotism that could overtake America.

Above (the people) an immense tutelary power elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring enjoyments and watching over their fate. It is absolute, detailed, regular, far-seeing, and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood; it likes its citizens to enjoy themselves provided that they th8ink only of enjoying themselves. It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the sole agent and sole arbiter of that; it provides for their security, forsees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industry, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances: can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living?

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) makes it possible for all school children (not just those whose parents are poor) to receive a nutritious lunch every school day.

The first lady’s national obesity project will receive as much as 1 billion dollars a year in federal funds for 10 years. A national task force on childhood obesity has now been established to turn the first lady’s list of proposals into action. Coming soon, laws against Twinkies?

Children are prohibited from singing Christmas Carols in public schools and the terms Easter and Christmas are no longer permitted. Easter Vacation is now Spring Break, and so it goes.

Such a power, Tocqueville concluded: does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more then a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.

2 comments

1 mike { 11.18.10 at 11:19 pm }

regarding the school lunch program: you’re wrong if you think it’s about dependence on government programs. It’s so kids who go hungry will at least be fed at school. Proper nutrition feeds brains- so it’s also about making education more effective.

I suppose your next argument would be to eliminate dependence on the government for education as well.

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2 ruffedge { 11.20.10 at 7:03 am }

I don’t believe that the writers intended nor did they imply that schools providing meals for poor kids was a negative. However when programs such as this are abused by those that don’t need them then there is a serious waste of dollars at tax payer expense.

As far as eliminating “dependence on the government for education”, not so much. How about if the government instead tacked the per child money directly to the child rather than the school board. This would allow parents the freedom to determine whether their kid goes to public, parochial or private school and would inevitably eliminate our “dependence” on unionized public schools in favor of a superior education.

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