Getting America Right
The federocracy: Explained and indicted
By Bernard Chapin
There is no group of Americans so perplexing and exasperating as those holdouts who continue to view giving money to the government as a form of charity. They wrongly regard their contributions as dollars spent towards saving lives and promoting virtue. The real story of government, indeed, the real story behind any socialist enterprise, is that the power given to the state is always power wrenched away from the people. Where Leviathan reigns supreme the rights of the citizenry are irrelevant and dismissed for the "good" of the whole as disinterested clerks and functionaries determine the fates of millions.
Regardless of this historically evident truth, for a public nurtured on sound bytes rather than study, many are in no position to recognize how pernicious the lumbering, corrosive micromanagement of our lives actually is. Yet, awareness could quickly be gathered upon reading the recently released, Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today by Edwin Feulner and Doug Wilson. It is a muscular condemnation of Big Government while also being concise enough to ensure the focus of those with television attention spans.
In these pages, the authors do not propose an end of government, but they do offer up a six prong test to be used in regards to the efficacy of state action. These tests take the form of questions and are explored within individual chapters. Citizens are encouraged to make sure that federal "help" promotes self-reliance, is responsible, makes us more prosperous, makes us safer, and in some way enhances national unity before they should consent to its implementation—so perhaps my analysis was a tad bit premature as, were we to utilize their template in relation to current and proposed federal programs, it would mean the end of government as practiced today.
One of strongest features of Getting America Right is that it cannot be pushed aside as a polemic as its narration is calm, objective, and avuncular. The body of the book is dedicated to reviewing the numerous, yet characteristic, failures of government as our Federocracy promises everything but delivers precious little.
Programs like Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) have respectable names but achieve nothing. With air traffic control, it is something which need not be under government purview as 40 percent of the world farms out these services, yet the centralized system costs our fragile airline industry over three billion dollars a year due to its inefficiency. Congress continues to shelter its zone of authority by classifying the industry as "inherently governmental." Medicaid competes for the title of greatest federal boondoggle, but a lesser cited one is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Its over-inflation of funding needs resulted in the suspension of 150 projects in 2002, and, long after the end of the Great Depression, the Tennessee Valley Authority continues to slumber along doing who knows what. The list of redundant and useless initiatives could fill up the pages of our 9 million word tax code.
Some of the individual examples of waste are utterly boffo. We find that the taxpayer, as opposed to the Disney corporation, is expected to provide a bus system for those wishing to navigate Disneyland while Senator Robert Byrd (a Grand Dragon of Pork as it were) established the four million dollar Geographic Information Center for Excellence. This must have been due to our recent Louisiana Purchase which showcased the shortage of quality maps available describing our hinterland. Risibly, Defense Department credit cards were misused for the purposes of entertainment as over $100,000 was wasted on gambling, cruises, and trips to strip clubs. Should readers wish to further familiarize themselves with the pointless madness, the Congressional Pig Book is recommended. If the excess pork could ever be butchered, it would save us 100 billion dollars a year.
The saddest eventuality is that government, by casting itself as Lancelot, has fundamentally changed the character of our people. In their chapter on self-reliance, a transcript of a call to a 911 hotline is reproduced. In it, an outraged citizen demands that justice be wrought against Burger King because they won't give her the type of hamburger she wants. When informed that it's not a criminal matter, she pleads, "…you're supposed to be here to protect me." Warning labels confirm that the state views us as a herd of foster children in need of dawn to witching hour support. Labels upon blow-dryers warn us to, "not use while sleeping," and food packages announce that we must, "Unwrap before eating."
Who is to blame? Well, a better question may be, at the present time, who is not to blame? Certainly, George W. Bush is far from innocent as he has legitimized the toddler state via comments like, "We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move." Actually, government has no such responsibility. Those in pain can heal themselves without beadledom sending over a social work task force to purify them.
The subject of the current president is important independently as the authors' treatment of him grants legitimacy to the book. I would not have presumed that two men working for the Heritage Foundation and Townhall.com respectively would be so frank regarding Bush's failures in restraining the Leviathan's expansion. They mention, that in his first four years in office, "George W. Bush did not veto a single spending bill…and Congress raised discretionary outlays by 49 percent, the biggest jump since World War II." They also argue that many Republicans, although they claim otherwise, are no better than Democrats at disintegrating the financial security of the people. Pretending that borrowing and spending differs from taxing and spending is simply absurd.
I suppose there are those who will greet such a work with the statement, "We've heard it all before." Well, if they did then they should have started to hold their Representatives accountable immediately. The financing of Ponzi schemes because "I deeply care" does not mitigate the felonious nature of them. Ignorance is not an excuse. After all, it was Franklin D. Roosevelt, perhaps the most economically ignorant president in history, who was overheard to ask, upon signing the social security bill, "This isn't welfare, right?" His simple misunderstanding resulted in the creation of a program which will one day break our nation.
The entity that is supposed to be watching out for us must in turn be watched. A sacking for those politicians who confuse bureaucratic interests with those of the people is mandatory. The status quo is rank, and the future is not promising as our citizenry's dependence on federal aid has risen by 112 percent since 1980. To quote and reapply the words of a recently retired Supreme Court Justice, "the Founders cannot have intended this perverse result."
Bernard Chapin is a writer living in Chicago . He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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