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How the Iron Hand of Government Has Crushed the American Individual

AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe

“The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.” – Dennis Prager

There are plenty of issues on which libertarians and conservatives might disagree. But when it comes to the size of government, both camps understand that the federal government has become a bloated leviathan, far more powerful than many of the Founding Fathers would have imagined.

Now, 247 years after the United States of America was established, Americans live under a corrupt and intrusive federal government. National agencies have been weaponized against political opponents. The government has enacted a gazillion regulations, making it harder for regular people to create successful businesses. The elite ruling class that controls the federal government has only used it to enrich themselves at the expense of we the plebes.

But there is another consequence that is rarely discussed.

Ron Paul, a physician, former politician, and presidential candidate, once said:

If we stuck to the Constitution as written, we would have: no federal meddling in our schools; no Federal Reserve; no U.S. membership in the UN; no gun control; and no foreign aid. We would have no welfare for big corporations, or the “poor”; no American troops in 100 foreign countries; no NAFTA, GAT, or “fast-track”; no arrogant federal judges usurping states rights; no attacks on private property; no income tax. We could get rid of most of the agencies, and most of the budget. The government would be small, frugal, and limited.

What we are seeing today is a far cry from what Paul articulated. Under the Constitution, the government’s primary role would be to protect our rights from threats, foreign and domestic. Societal problems were to be addressed by local and state communities instead of relying on the power of the state to act as a nursemaid to the populace. This trend has brought about a common attitude among most Americans that if there is a problem to be solved, we should look to the government to swoop in and rescue us. In so doing, we have essentially abdicated the role of individuals to the state.

Instead of asking what we the people must do for our communities, we ask what the government must do to address the issue. Is there a problem with gun violence in your city? Let’s pass laws disarming lawful citizens, thereby ensuring that only the bad guys will possess firearms. After all, state officials will always be there to protect us, right?

When there are poor people living in squalor, we expect the state to lift them out of poverty using the money it steals from the rest of the population. Before we had a welfare state, taking care of the poor fell under the purview of churches, organizations, and good Samaritans. Now, even local governments are making it harder for people to take care of their fellow man.

Indeed, the fact that so few of us are even aware of the rampant corruption that has infested local governments makes the problem even more apparent. Elite media and social media influencers have kept our focus on the federal government to the point that we all but completely ignore what our mayors and city councils are doing in our backyards.

In essence, the federal government has dominated so much of the American psyche that we find it difficult to think of addressing our issues without involving the state. French economist Frédéric Bastiat  summed up the situation nicely in “The Law.” He wrote:

Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

This quote illustrates how too many Americans have replaced God with the government, and society is suffering greatly because of it. Unfortunately, it is difficult to figure out a solution to this problem. As the government grows bigger and more powerful, the individual continues shrinking to the point that we will eventually end up as a cog in the state machine, similar to how others have lived under authoritarian totalitarian regimes. The only way to get out of this rut is to have a revolution of the American psyche, one that results in a freeing of the minds of millions from the idea that the government is our savior and safety blanket.

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