Big Government: What does it take for America to wake up?
Someone did an experiment to test an old tale — that a frog placed in a pot of cool water, which is then slowly and continuously heated, will be boiled to death. By contrast, if thrown directly into scalding hot water, the frog jumps out. But it turns out that, no, once the water got hot enough, the critter hopped out of Dodge.
This raises a question. At what point does the continuous growth and intrusiveness of government make people wake up? This is not just a matter of theory or philosophy. People are hurting — as a direct result of President Barack Obama, his party and the inability of the GOP to make the case for a smaller, less expensive and less intrusive government.
For five years, we have watched as President Barack Obama successfully pushed the following redistributionist agenda for building an economy: Take from the most productive to “stimulate” the economy by redistributing money, often with political consideration involved or attached; allow bureaucrats to pick winners and losers in the market; issue feel-good, top-down regulations that cost jobs and do little to improve conditions; and dictate the terms of health care with ObamaCare, a monstrosity that places one-seventh of our economy under the control of the federal government.
The results are in.
This is the worst economic recovery since World War II. Unemployment remains high. So many able-bodied people are dropping out of the labor force that the “labor force participation rate” remains near a 30-year low.
In 1900, government at all three levels took about 10 percent of our income. Today, government takes nearly 50 percent, or twice as much as people say government should. Yet when pollsters ask Americans how much money should government, at all three levels — state, local and federal — take from them, their answer has been consistent for decades: 25 percent.
Why, then, aren’t politicians in Washington, D.C., cowering under their desks, as angry constituents pound on their doors?
People, in the abstract, talk about freedom and liberty. But government dependency is so widespread that we accept the benefits — unaware that the costs are much higher than we think.
Nearly half of the federal budget goes to the three major entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. All of these programs address problems that the Constitution never intended. How do we know? Earlier presidents, citing constitutional reasons, rejected congressional attempts at growing the government.
In 1822, James Monroe, our fifth president, cast his only veto in rejecting an expansion of the Cumberland Road, even through it stood to economically benefit his home state of Virginia.
According to Monroe’s biography on the University of Virginia’s americanpresident.org: “Although Monroe personally supported the idea of internal improvements, he balked at the federal government’s role in the American System being proposed by Congressmen Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. They wanted a series of federally financed projects designed to improve and update the nation’s roads, bridges and canals. Monroe worried, however, that federal payments for such internal improvements would expand even further the power of the federal government at the sake of state power. Where would the limits be drawn?”
Economist Walter Williams writes of Presidents James Madison, Franklin Pierce and Grover Cleveland, and how they quoted the Constitution to turn away congressional attempts to spend money because, they argued, the federal government is unauthorized to do so.
Fast forward to ObamaCare and the Supreme Court. Twenty-six states sued over the law, arguing that the individual insurance mandate — which requires every citizen in the country to purchase health care insurance or face a fine starting in 2014 — was unconstitutional. But the court, citing Congress’ authority to tax, let the mandate stand. In their dissent, Justices Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito said, “The entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.” Further, they wrote, there is a “mountain of evidence” that the mandate is not a tax. “To say that the individual mandate merely imposes a tax,” wrote Scalia, “is not to interpret the statute but to rewrite it.”
In the end, of course, we get the government we vote for. Given that information gets filtered out through the Axis of Indoctrination — Hollywood, academia and media — how much hope is there that people will wake up?
The smart, the well-connected and the well-educated will be fine. Their previously depressed stock portfolios have returned, as companies learn to do more with fewer workers. High-end real estate is back, and the top 1 percent has regained the wealth lost during the recession — and then some.
The very people whom the left says it cares about are hurting. But rest assured, these elites care about them. They just have a strange way of showing it.
Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host.