The tyranny of bureaucracy

Saint Paul noted some 2,000 years ago that the root of all evil is the love of money. A corollary of that prescription might be that the root of all tyranny is the love of other people’s money.

It would seem that the power to tax and spend is a lure to potential tyrants as much as putrefying carrion is to bare-toothed scavengers. Other people’s money allows any politician to convert the public’s own love of filthy lucre into a power base of potential voters. With enough money to dole out of the public treasury, even the most disreputable officeholder can earn the esteem of those on the receiving end of his or her beneficence, thus cementing power and inviting corruption.

I have written before about the warning of Alexis de Tocqueville, the French philosopher, about the danger that would befall American democracy as it grew from its origins of rugged individualism to the inevitable day when the government would grow strong enough to first provide for every individual’s needs and then later tell them just what those needs are. >>>

No wonder the Tea Party, with its insistence on turning off the federal spigot, is being painted by progressives as a danger to the national well-being. The national well-being, after all, is a state of stuporific addiction to entitlements and congressionally approved benefits spooned out by thousands of federal bureaus and agencies that prove their worth by keeping the populace in what de Tocqueville called “perpetual childhood.”

This role of government as “the sole agent and the only arbiter of [the people’s] happiness” is nothing new, though Obamacare has pushed it to a new level. >>>

If we ARE the economic engine of the world, we are permanently stuck in first gear, thanks to the crush of regulations, mandates and red tape that Congress has imposed on business. And if we ARE the champion of freedom, it is the freedom to do what we are told to do by the federal government or else pay a fine, tax or penalty (or whatever Justice Roberts decides to call it this time). >>>

We have indeed at last reached the era prophesied by that long-ago editorial writer, who worried about a bureaucracy that would “supervise every conceivable activity from the cradle to the grave” — and would be able to do so in perpetuity thanks to “the passive acquiescence of the great majority that permits the condition to exist without serious protest.”

To paraphrase Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for tyranny to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”

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Great article.