L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 261, February 29, 2004
The Blessings of Liberty
Special to TLE
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The Constitution established what was supposed to be a fairly limited government, one powerful enough to secure individual liberty, but not so powerful that the government itself would become a significant threat to that liberty. In the two centuries since its adoption, the government has grown well beyond those constitutionally defined limits. Libertarians have reacted with alarm to this development, but perhaps we have not fully considered all the benefits we receive from a powerful central government. In fact, I came up with a list of the top ten benefits to having a central government that is much more powerful than the Constitution allows:
10. The US military, at the sole discretion of the President, can knock foreign dictators around, so they don't land on our shores and knock us around for enjoying a life that's too free, which would otherwise be high on their agenda. Since the main reason foreign terrorists and the rogue states that arm them want to attack us is because we are free, it only makes sense for the President to curtail our liberties via the Patriot Act and similar measures, even if they technically violate several of the first ten amendments to the Constitution.
9. The FDA keeps potentially dangerous new drugs away from terminally ill patients who might be tempted to try them otherwise. Since all commerce is, in essence, interstate commerce, even locally grown herbal treatments for pain or nausea should be centrally regulated, to prevent them from being used for non-medicinal purposes.
8. Poor people in your neighborhood can best be helped by sending a lot of your money to Washington, DC, where trained federal employees can best determine how it should be spent when some of it is returned to your neighborhood. Local private charity sounds good in theory, but could never match the comprehensiveness or efficiency of a large federal bureaucracy.
7. You don't have to worry about spending 20% of your income, since the federal government spends it for you on worthy projects approved by representatives of all 50 states. The IRS helps you figure out how much you owe them, and directs your spending to the most politically popular activities so you can get nice tax breaks. Without a large central government spending so wisely, you might spend the money on frivolous things like a new car, a vacation, or worse yet, sock it away for a few decades for your retirement, keeping the money out of the economy in the short term.
6. If you own a business, OSHA makes sure you don't inadvertently create a workplace that's dangerous for your employees, since you wouldn't care if some of them got hurt or killed otherwise. You might be a decent, caring human being, but we all know that your greed to make another buck would trump your concern for your fellow man, if not for OSHA's forms, regulations, and inspectors.
5. The Federal Reserve prints paper money for us, ensuring long-term inflationary trends to encourage present consumption by consumers. Since the health of the economy is measured solely by annual spending, this makes the economy much healthier than if some consumption were deferred, and directed to savings or investment instead.
4. The DEA keeps dangerous drugs out of the country. Just think what life in this country would be like if drugs were widely available.
3. The federal Dept. of Education sets national standards for educational achievement, so no child can be left behind. Without federal standards, education policies could be set at the local level, with parents allowed too great an input into their children's education. Some parents may be concerned for their children, but no untrained parent can know as well as a trained educational bureaucrat what is truly best for a child.
2. The Supreme Court decides legal and moral questions for all the states, so no one can set up a state with oddball ideas. This makes it much easier for you when you move to a new state, since you can be certain that the laws will be pretty much the same everywhere, even if a majority of people in that state disagree with them. Allowing different states to set different social policies would be un-American, and detract from the goal of national greatness.
1. The Social Security Administration helps make sure that you have a subsistence level income when you retire. By taking a large portion of your current income, and replacing it with a promise to tax future workers on your behalf when you are older, it also guarantees the stability of the central government, since you will have a financial incentive to turn out to vote to make sure that promise is kept. At no extra cost to you, the Social Security Administration also provides you with a handy national ID number.
Is America becoming a police state? Friends of liberty need to know.
Some say the U.S. is already a police state. Others watch the news for signs that their country is about to cross an indefinable line. Since September 11, 2001, the question has become more urgent. When do roving wiretaps, random checkpoints, mysterious "detentions," and military tribunals cross over from being emergency measures to being the tools of a government permanently and irrevocably out of control?
The State vs. the People examines these crucial issues. But first, it answers this fundamental question: "What is a police state?"
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