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October 20, 2005


Walter Williams has a pretty on-point column going in today's JWR about a nation of sheeple.

The column's about the way we, as Americans, have been gradually ceding the guardianship of our rights to the very elements they are supposed to protect us against.

...In the name of safety, we've undergone decades of softening up to accept just about any government edict that our predecessors would have found offensive. Let's look at some of it.

The anti-smoking movement might be the beginning of the softening up process. They started out calling for reasonable actions like no-smoking sections on airplanes. Then it progressed to no smoking on airplanes altogether, then private establishments such as restaurants and businesses. Emboldened by the timidity of smokers, in some jurisdictions there are ordinances banning smoking in outdoor places such as beaches and parks. Then there are seatbelt and helmet laws that have sometimes been zealously enforced through the use of night vision goggles. On top of this, Americans accept government edicts on where your child may ride in your car. Americans sheepishly accepted all sorts of Transportation Security Administration nonsense. In the name of security, we've allowed fingernail clippers, eyeglass screwdrivers and toy soldiers to be taken from us prior to boarding a plane.

Yeah, I know what he's talking about. Micromanagement by government does kind of suck, it goes against the grain of the Constitution and the American way of life as a whole. It would, however, be just fine in a socialist country or San Francisco.

The article began with reference to President Bush's proposal for using the military as a primary disaster management entity and the author's belief{mine as well} that the Posse Comitatus Act serves a positive purpose toward preventing the federal government using the Armed Forces for domestic police duties.

In my opinion, the only reason the Administration has been so quick to volunteer our military thusly is that they are overreacting to all the undeserved flack they took in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, panicking when there's no reason to panic. At least there wouldn't be if the current batch of Republicans(you know, the majority?) could be counted on to support their president instead of appeasing the Democrats at every turn.

But I digress, an ongoing problem I have.

It is quite true that we've been "taking it sitting down" while we allow our politicians to run amok, pretty much controlling our lives and circumstances through the incremental introduction of increasingly invasive and restrictive laws. The majority of Americans have become lazy in that they don't look over their elected officials' shoulders from time to time to learn the details of these people's voting agendas.

We've accepted federal intrusion in our financial privacy through the Bank Secrecy Act. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, says, "More than 99.999 percent of those [who] had their privacy invaded were law-abiding citizens going about their own personal financial business." Most recently there's the U.S. Supreme Court Kelo decision, where the court held that local governments can take a private person's house and turn it over to another private person. Politicians have learned and become comfortable with the fact that today's Americans will docilely accept just about any legalized restraint on their behavior.

He weighs in on a time when Americans reacted quite differently to government infringement on their freedom.
You say, "Hey, Williams, but it's the law!" In the late-1700s, the British Parliament enacted the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts, and imposed other grievances that are enumerated in our Declaration of Independence. I'm happy that we didn't have today's Americans around at the time to bow before King George III and say, "It's the law." Respectful of the Posse Comitatus Act, President Bush has suggested that he'll ask Congress to amend the law to allow for the use of the U.S. military to enforce regional quarantines. Whether Congress amends the law or not, Bush has no constitutional authority to deploy military troops across the land. Why?

Give the entire column a read, it's surely food for thought.

Posted by Seth at October 20, 2005 06:20 PM