Millions of Americans are frustrated and perplexed watching bureaucrats party it up on their tax dollars, even those who work for the very agency that takes their money in the first place. More and more people are at a loss to understand “why somebody doesn’t do something about it.” Day in and day out, they watch thieves flaunting their ill-gotten gains on television, while at the same time using their power to try to punish those who would question their authority.
How did America evolve from a constitutional republic to a dictatorial nation where the ruling class is far more powerful and brutal than King George was back in the good old days of English rule? The intent of the Founders was that representative government would reduce government’s involvement in people’s lives. They believed, somewhat naïvely, that the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government would hold each other in check. Instead, what we have today is ever-increasing government power over the lives of individuals, so much so that the government now spies on its own supposed employers, the citizenry, beyond anything the Gestapo in Nazi Germany could have imagined.
Nothing has so expanded the power of the state as the increasing emphasis on elections, which have totally changed what the Founders had in mind when they talked about self-rule. But even more important than the electorate is that political power is no longer visible. Since World War I, most power in America — and in other Western countries as well — has become invisible as a result of the explosion of government bureaucracies. What allows these agencies, departments, and commissions to wield their enormous power without much notice is that they are camouflaged as necessities for carrying out “humanitarian” work.
Over the past century, a quiet revolution has taken place whereby power has been transferred first from individual citizens to visible government, then, from visible government to the invisible power brought into existence by government bureaucracies — bureaucracies that a majority of citizens believe are necessary to protect the little guy from being exploited.
Free people are naturally alert to the dangers of overt tyranny. But the greatest danger to their freedom — the actions of supposedly well-meaning zealots who have little or no understanding of the relationship between freedom and equality — is invisible. These zealots genuinely believe they are smarter than, and morally superior to, the average citizen, and feel it is their humanitarian duty to become involved in the smallest details of people’s lives. Whether it’s education, welfare, taxation, safety, health, or environment, the invisible power of government confronts us at every turn.
Rousseau was insightful on this issue, saying “It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life. For my own part I should be inclined to think freedom less necessary in the great things than in the little ones, if it were possible to be secure of the one without the other.”
When Congress passes laws, the executive branch enforces them, the judiciary interprets them, and all is well — and visible. These actions are reported day in and day out by the media even if they damage individual freedom. But the invisible government agencies they create do far more damage. These agencies act autonomously and are shielded not only from the will of the people but from the very bodies that created them.
Perversely, as these bureaucracies clamp down on individual freedom and destroy the economy in an infinite numbers of ways (think Environmental Protection Agency), those in their employ not only are grossly overpaid recipients of obscene retirement packages (versus similar jobs in the private sector), they also are virtually impossible to fire. And, to rub insult into injury, they waste untold billions of dollars of taxpayer money on perks for themselves, such as bonuses for non-provable results, paid vacations (masking as conferences), junkets, parties, and more.
The key to invisible government’s power is humanitarian propaganda. Everyone in today’s Orwellian world lives in mortal fear of being accused of lacking compassion. And businesses and institutions are not exempt. Through the implied threat of force, government regulators influence corporate decisions to such an extent that they often, in effect, are the ones making the decisions. Either corporations bend to the will of the bureaucracies or they become targets of destruction. This is what the IRS’s targeting campaigns are all about.
In referring to the relationship between centralization of power and equalitarianism, Tocqueville, in his Democracy in America, said that “the science of despotism, which was once so complex, has been simplified and reduced, as it were, to a single principle.” What he was referring to was getting people to believe in equality of results as a way to centralize power in the hands of government.
Ironically, the original concept of equality — equality of opportunity and equality before the law — are actually obstacles to equality of results and equality of living standards. From whence comes the constant whining about “the increasing gap between the rich and the poor.” Only a powerful central government can correct this inequality, which is why a majority of people vote for a more powerful central government (as evidenced by those they elect to office). But the Founders’ idea of equality of opportunity and equality before the law are clearly incompatible with this objective.
The problem with equality of results is that once it becomes ingrained in people’s minds, its demands are insatiable. And because the notion of equalitarianism is based on emotion rather than fact or logic, it was inevitable that those who kneel at the altar of this insidious religion would demand that the Third World be brought into the fold and share in the spoils of equalitarianism.
In simple terms, dear reader, the America of Washington, Jefferson, and Madison has finally been fundamentally transformed. Congratulations are in order to the tens of millions of American citizens who made it possible.
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Copyright © 2019 Robert Ringer
ROBERT RINGER is a New York Times #1 bestselling author and host of the highly acclaimed Liberty Education Interview Series, which features interviews with top political, economic, and social leaders. He has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business, The Tonight Show, Today, The Dennis Miller Show, Good Morning America, The Lars Larson Show, ABC Nightline, and The Charlie Rose Show, and has been the subject of feature articles in such major publications as Time, People, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Barron's, and The New York Times.