I’m frequently bewildered when I observe the Big Gov pom-poms shaken, Big Gov banners unfurled, and its flags waved with roaring cheers and applause. I wonder if those doing the somersault splits have actually thought through what they are doing flips over. Have they thought beyond the obvious short term, immediate consequence of more Government goodies in their grab bags? Have they truly considered all of the aspects, long term, intended, and possible unintended consequences?
I don’t believe many of the Big Gov cheerleaders have really thought about the consequences of much of what they’re advocating, or perhaps they have and are simply insouciant about it. Because many of the “solutions” to problems the Big Gov folks advocate for, more often than not, distill down to more Government. Therein lies the problem. Even Obama’s confidant David Axelrod admitted the other day that “we have a large government” and that the “government is so vast” to really know what’s going on down in its depths. So, how does making it bigger help anything? It doesn’t.
But it’s not just the size. Big Government as defined by most on the right does not refer to its size (though size usually plays a part) in sheer numbers in terms of money spent, number of programs, size of programs, or number of employees, etc. It more importantly refers to the scope of Government that makes it “Big”, i.e. how far into everyday life of the individual is Leviathan’s tentacles going to invade and manipulate.
It’s this last part where I’m completely nonplussed by the Left. They were all hell-bent and claiming “abuse of power” when W was in the White House but seem strangely sanguine over the foibles of O (e.g., Benghazi, drones, FISA extension, etc.). Then there’s the irrational dissonance when, on the one hand, the Left claims “abuse of power” when the opponent controls and uses the government’s levers, only to then turn around and advocate to give those same state levers more power, as in Health Care, for example. I brought this up before, but the discretion of the HHS Secretary is quite large in Obamacare, and you might agree with what Sebelius decides to do with that discretion. Can you say the same if it’s Sarah Palin’s discretion to use if she become the HHS Secretary?
This past week, we’ve seen the result of bestowing too much faith in Government: the IRS targeting its own citizens based purely on the political viewpoint that the citizen is expressing; the DOJ’s vast sweep of AP’s phone records; the EPA FOIA scandal; and the HHS’ Sebelius shakedown…alas, I’m probably forgetting one. This is endemic in Big Government. As Axelrod said, it’s too vast for anyone in charge to really know what’s going on.
So, why make it bigger?
The same wretched qualities that the Left/Progressives/Liberals call out in CEO fat cats, Wall Streeters, bankers, hedge fund managers, executives in Big Oil, in Big Media, in Big <insert enormous industry here> also exist in government.
The fallibility of human nature, the temptation, the greed, and the hubris, among many others, do not dissolve from a person simply by him or her accepting a job in a government bureaucracy or being elected to office. Those same traits that are deplored and derided by the Left when they exist in the private sector, also exist in the public sector. Pretending otherwise is folly. The difference is that in the public sector, those that succumb to the temptation of the darker traits that live within us all have the power of the state, the power to seize, coerce, and apply violence to do so. This is why government must be limited in scope and size.
The acknowledgment of man’s fallibility is why there are founding documents. Montesquieu’s Separation of Powers used in the Constitution is designed precisely to place one faction against another in the struggle for power.
However, the Separation of Powers can be sidestepped and has. It is sidestepped when the Rule of Law is abandoned and the Administrative State takes over (read: regulators, bureaucrats, sinecures, apparatchiks, etc.). The Rule of Law, defined as general abstract rules, applying to equally to everyone, and well-known and easily understood by all and are predictable, protects us from arbitrary coercion and administrative tyranny.
We all know that our current system is far removed from complying with that definition. I would wager that everyone reading this is culpable in violating one regulation or another and doesn’t know it. Whether you’re running a lemonade stand, collecting drinking water, or trying to build on your own property, you’re probably in non-compliance. This is what happens with the abandonment of the Rule of Law.
As these scandals continue to unwind over the next weeks and months, I urge you to ask yourself the following: Are all of these bureaucracies really necessary? Do we really need to live in fear of being targeted by one agency or another? Doesn’t the government exist so serve us and not the other way around? And if you think you’re in total compliance with all regulations, call up a few agencies and have them audit you. But get a lawyer first.