"It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expence, either by sumptuary laws, or by prohibiting the importation of foreign luxuries. They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expence, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will." ~ Adam Smith
Spitting on Our Founders' Graves
In her article, 'Spitting on their graves,' Michelle Malkin tells us how politicians and their friends will be at their hypocritical best on Sept. 11.  Although she fails to mention the media's role as accomplices, she sketches the melodrama of promises and patriotism we can expect to see on the day 'The Nation Remembers,' as Fox News might label it. But then, she asks, what happens next? Our public servants will 'go back to work, roll up their sleeves, and spit on the graves of the 9-11 dead.' They'll do this by lax law enforcement, appeasing our enemies, and stonewalling desperately needed changes. She describes how public employees from librarians to members of Congress -- but not the president -- will act in ways that threaten our security. Illegal aliens will go unreported, local police will refuse to cooperate with federal authorities in criminal investigations, senators will block funding for 'long-delayed homeland defense measures.' The State Department will appease Saudi terror-backers, TSA will continue keeping pilots unarmed, Republican and Democrat elites will go PC on immigration reform and amnesty policies, respectively. As I see it, she has two broad complaints: State treachery (such as the TSA and Saudi corruption) and people's resistance to government intrusion. There's a connection between state treachery and resistance to government that other people noticed and did something about. The people who noticed were our Founders. What they did, after fighting a long bloody war for independence, was limit the power of the government. Founders such as Jefferson, Adams, and Madison didn't ignore history, as many pundits today are prone to do. They regarded their hard-won liberty as a sacred and rare human condition. They were determined not to lose it. In Madison's prescient words, 'Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.'  Armies, debts, and taxes are the instruments of government. The question became how to keep government out of unnecessary wars. The answer, they believed, was a Constitution shackling the power of government while protecting people's rights. For the most part, the Constitution worked. We grew and prospered and stayed out of foreign wars during the 19th century. Government was following the advice of Washington, Jefferson, and John Quincy Adams, who told Congress in 1821: 'Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will [America's] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.'  By the close of the century these words were forgotten, and people were clamoring for legal aggression. An ideology euphemistically called 'Progressive' permeated our culture, urging government to use its monopoly of force to bring about social reforms. Big business, including banking, wanted government favors, as well. The trust movement, which had attempted to curb 'ruinous' competition, had failed to do so on a quasi-free market. In the name of the 'public interest,' business turned to government to thwart and preclude competitors. It also wanted the military to 'stabilize' foreign markets. After giving us the Federal Reserve and the income tax in 1913, government had the resources to get more active still. Wilson won re-election on a promise not to get us involved in Europe's conflict, but soon sent our young men overseas in the war to end all wars. Credit policies of the Fed created the false euphoria of the Twenties and brought on the Depression, which brought the roof down on the Constitution in Roosevelt's struggle to fix the economy with state power. Rather than abandon the Federal Reserve, government abandoned sound money by confiscating the people's gold. By the end of World War II, income tax withholding was a permanent fixture of 'painless' taxpaying. Between the Fed's printing presses and withholding, government had the funding it needed to grow beyond anything ever imagined. And it has. To my surprise, this apparently doesn't bother Michelle Malkin, but it bothers many people who share with our Founders a strong distrust of political power. Government is too big, bureaucratic, and turf-conscious to protect us. We've seen it fail too many times, most shockingly on Black Tuesday. If we're truly interested in security and honoring the 9-11 dead, we need to bring it back under constitutional control ' or get rid of it altogether and have the market provide its vital functions.