"The first people totalitarians destroy or silence are men of ideas and free minds." ~ Isaiah Berlin
Statists at the Gate
Only a few short days ago, on July 11th 2003, our nation reached the point at which taxpayers could begin to work for themselves as opposed to working for the federal government. This day was lamented by federal bureaucrats who would like nothing better than to see citizens divert every one of their pennies to buoy up a centralized Disneyland of rides and pork barrel projects--also known as Washington, DC.
The day of the year in which we finally pay off our debt has gotten later and later since George W. Bush took office. Unlike many of our readers, who were smart enough to know better, I assumed that Bush would retard the growth of Leviathan. Sadly, he has done nothing to hinder its appetite, and there seems to be little promise of him doing so in the future. One would have thought that, by 2003, strong consideration of trimming here and trimming there would be in evidence, but adjusted for inflation, George W. Bush has increased the overall size of government by 14 percent.
Nowadays Bush is often compared to Ronald Reagan, but unlike the 40th President, Bush has refused to cut domestic discretionary outlays while he increased the size of our armed forces. In my mind, Bush has not put forth the slightest effort to control the size of the octopus we call Washington, DC. The fact that he has not vetoed one spending bill during his time in office illustrates his lack of concern about the burden the people face as they carry a bureaucracy that will tax them as they make money, tax then whem they invest money, and tax them whenever they purchase practically anything.
Some people have called Bush "Clinton Lite", but lately it appears to me that he is a heavy whipping cream version of the man (sic) from Hope. His budgetary Vegas extravaganza may well get him reelected in 2004, but his fiscal irresponsibility is co-signing our names to a nearly infinite list of government obligations.
He has no idea whether the government programs that his revenues support are in any way effective, and he does not appear at present to have any will or interest in finding out. As an example, many believed that he would make an attempt to reform Title IX (which is a set of Byzantine regulations that are currently mangling men's sports in our universities), but last week his administration disappointed many of their supporters by proposing no reform to its guidelines whatsoever.
The great body of these programs help few people, but the one thing they do for certain is to entrench a statist agenda for our futures. This agenda labels any law or regulation they adopt as being a way of 'helping people,' but as Lew Rockwell commented, 'If we take a look at all the sectors in which government socialism is expanding most dramatically--whether education, health or security--we find that they are ones where the government has been heavily involved for the longest and failed the most miserably.' The only guarantee of a government program is that it will not be successful in solving the problem for which it was created. It will, however, allow the problem to fester and then offer our leaders an excuse to showcase new and vaster solutions for it.
It's old news to the reader, but this year, while most of us seriously monitor our own expenditures, our elected kleptocrats in DC will be spending $450 billion more than they actually have. The bottom line is that our legislators are far more concerned with being reelected than they are with the economic health of this nation. In 2003 they have already spent $22.5 billion on pork barrel projects, the main purpose of which is to offer incumbent members of the House and Senate easy reelections in 2004. I, for one, am sickened by the thought of financing the maintenance of brown tree snakes in Hawaii. A government that profligately wastes its people's output is no government I feel inclined to endorse.
Our legislators appear to have absolutely no idea what financial austerity is and believe that the public can be convinced of the sanctity of whatever bureaucratic boondoggle they quickly vote into reality. The public often has no idea that the cash they get back for the government's medical and pharmaceutical ventures is the same cash that has been ripped from their paychecks--although we usually see far less of it the second time around.
There is no better example of 'statism uber alles' than our Internal Revenue Service. They are the most Soviet of our bureaucracy. Indeed, they revel in their labyrinth of their own complexity. Our tax code is so lengthy and unwieldy that it could be burned and used as an alternative energy source for much of the eastern United States. Even the forms that we fill out each year are getting more labor intensive. The IRS actually acknowledged that it takes the average taxpayer 27 hours to complete their 1040 form. They charitably have written 16,000 pages in which to 'guide us' in correctly meeting their demands.
The idea of big government being dead was laughable when Bill Clinton said it years ago, but it is even more hysterical today, as many in the Republican Party have abandoned its previous goals for a limited government. Indeed, their spending habits appear to be no different from those of the Democrats. Conservatism has been partially contaminated by those who believe that mega spending will yield overwhelming electoral support. That's not strategy, that's treason (at least as far as the individual is concerned).
Today, the statists are not only at the gate. They own the gate and will soon be past us.