By John & Nisha Whitehead
It’s hard to say whether we’re dealing with a kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves), a kakistocracy (a government run by unprincipled career politicians, corporations and thieves that panders to the worst vices in our nature and has little regard for the rights of American citizens), or if we’ve gone straight to an idiocracy.
For instance, an animal welfare bill introduced in the Florida state legislature would ban the sale of rabbits in March and April, prohibit cat owners from declawing their pets, make it illegal for dogs to stick their heads out of car windows, force owners to place dogs in a harness or in a pet seatbelt when traveling in a car, and require police to create a public list of convicted animal abusers.
A Massachusetts law prohibits drivers from letting their cars idle for more than five minutes on penalty of a $100 fine ($500 for repeat offenders), even in the winter. You can also be fined $20 or a month in jail for scaring pigeons.
This overbearing Nanny State despotism is what happens when government representatives (those elected and appointed to work for us) adopt the authoritarian notion that the government knows best and therefore must control, regulate and dictate almost everything about the citizenry’s public, private and professional lives.
The government’s bureaucratic attempts at muscle-flexing by way of overregulation and overcriminalization have reached such outrageous limits that federal and state governments now require on penalty of a fine that individuals apply for permission before they can grow exotic orchids, host elaborate dinner parties, gather friends in one’s home for Bible studies, give coffee to the homeless, let their kids manage a lemonade stand, keep chickens as pets, or braid someone’s hair, as ludicrous as that may seem.
Consider, for example, that businesses in California were ordered to designate an area of the children’s toy aisle “gender-neutral” or face a fine, whether or not the toys sold are traditionally marketed to girls or boys such as Barbies and Hot Wheels. California schools are prohibited from allowing students to access websites, novels or religious works that reflect negatively on gays. And while Californians are free to have sex with whomever they choose (because that’s none of the government’s business), removing a condom during sex without consent could make you liable for general, special and punitive damages.
It’s getting worse.
Almost every aspect of American life today—especially if it is work-related—is subject to this kind of heightened scrutiny and ham-fisted control, whether you’re talking about aspiring “bakers, braiders, casket makers, florists, veterinary masseuses, tour guides, taxi drivers, eyebrow threaders, teeth whiteners, and more.”
This is what happens when bureaucrats run the show, and the rule of law becomes little more than a cattle prod for forcing the citizenry to march in lockstep with the government.
Overregulation is just the other side of the coin to overcriminalization, that phenomenon in which everything is rendered illegal and everyone becomes a lawbreaker.
As policy analyst Michael Van Beek warns, the problem with overcriminalization is that there are so many laws at the federal, state and local levels—that we can’t possibly know them all.
“It’s also impossible to enforce all these laws. Instead, law enforcement officials must choose which ones are important and which are not. The result is that they pick the laws Americans really must follow, because they’re the ones deciding which laws really matter,” concludes Van Beek. “Federal, state and local regulations—rules created by unelected government bureaucrats—carry the same force of law and can turn you into a criminal if you violate any one of them… if we violate these rules, we could be prosecuted as criminals. No matter how antiquated or ridiculous, they still carry the full force of the law. By letting so many of these sit around, just waiting to be used against us, we increase the power of law enforcement, which has lots of options to charge people with legal and regulatory violations.”
This is the police state’s superpower: it has been vested with the authority to make our lives a bureaucratic hell.
In this way, America has gone from being a beacon of freedom to a locked down nation. And “we the people,” sold on the idea that safety, security and material comforts are preferable to freedom, have allowed the government to pave over the Constitution in order to erect a concentration camp.
We labor today under the weight of countless tyrannies, large and small, carried out in the so-called name of the national good by an elite class of governmental and corporate officials who are largely insulated from the ill effects of their actions.
The overt signs of the despotism exercised by the increasingly authoritarian regime that passes itself off as the United States government (and its corporate partners in crime) are all around us: censorship, criminalizing, shadow banning and de-platforming of individuals who express ideas that are politically incorrect or unpopular; warrantless surveillance of Americans’ movements and communications; SWAT team raids of Americans’ homes; shootings of unarmed citizens by police; harsh punishments meted out to schoolchildren in the name of zero tolerance; community-wide lockdowns and health mandates that strip Americans of their freedom of movement and bodily integrity; armed drones taking to the skies domestically; endless wars; out-of-control spending; militarized police; roadside strip searches; privatized prisons with a profit incentive for jailing Americans; fusion centers that spy on, collect and disseminate data on Americans’ private transactions; and militarized agencies with stockpiles of ammunition, to name some of the most appalling.
Yet as egregious as these incursions on our rights may be, it’s the endless, petty tyrannies—the heavy-handed, punitive-laden dictates inflicted by a self-righteous, Big-Brother-Knows-Best bureaucracy on an overtaxed, overregulated, and underrepresented populace—that illustrate so clearly the degree to which “we the people” are viewed as incapable of common sense, moral judgment, fairness, and intelligence, not to mention lacking a basic understanding of how to stay alive, raise a family, or be part of a functioning community.
In the end, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, such bargains always turn sour.
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His latest books The Erik Blair Diaries and Battlefield America: The War on the American People are available at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at email@example.com. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Trends Journal.