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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 9:59 am | Fair 58º


Tom Watson: Are Americans to Be Governed or Ruled?

Tyranny in the guise of good intentions is taking our country down a path to destruction

“There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
James Madison, 1788

The Declaration of Independence expresses the foundational principles of our country:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our Constitution and Bill of Rights enshrine these principles as the governing contract for the republic.

The fundamental difference between the United States and many other nations is that we believe our rights come from our Creator. They are intrinsic to our being. Most other nations hold that rights come from government. Our government serves only by the consent of the governed.

The primary responsibility of our federal government is to protect our rights This is why the Bill of Rights was passed shortly after the Constitution, to codify the individual’s rights as supreme and our federal government as one of limited and specifically enumerated powers, and no more.

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
Thomas Jefferson, 1788

Jefferson and Madison were prescient. Over the years, our liberties have slowly been usurped by government expansion into more and more areas of our lives. Our forefathers lived under the tyranny of an all-powerful monarch, and they understood firsthand that the bigger the government, the smaller the individual.

The Constitution is a directive for limited government. So how do we square recent federal meddling into our lives such as mandating the use, on our private property, of compact fluorescent light bulbs and outlawing some incandescent light bulbs, with limited government?

Perhaps it was the next logical target as they were already picking our toilets and showerheads with restrictive federal mandates. So, we are smart enough to elect these busybodies who supposedly serve us in government, yet too dumb to pick our own light bulbs, toilets and showerheads? One doubts Madison and Jefferson would approve.

The most recent and egregious example of federal overreach into our lives is the Affordable Care Act, i.e. Obamacare, which commands us all, as ostensibly free citizens, to enter into private binding contracts as a condition of merely existing. This is a profound and direct assault on individual liberty, the foundational underpinning of our republic.

If the federal government can force you to buy a product because you breathe, it can force you to do anything. The implications of this mandate on all aspects of our lives cannot be overstated. There will be no effective limits on federal power if this stands.

As a timely example, we were treated to the spectacle of a temporary politician, President Barack Obama, forcing a centuries-old religious institution, the Catholic Church, to pay for products and services that the church finds morally abhorrent based upon religious beliefs. Doesn’t the separation of church and state we hear about so much go both ways? This is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

Our American Revolution was triggered over a two-cent tax on tea. Two hundred years later, the federal government is forcing us to effectively buy tea because it says that it can and it’s good for us. It doesn’t matter if it’s tea, low-fat food, health insurance, birth control, an electric car, or a curly light bulb. This is tyranny, plain and simple.

We aren’t being governed; we are being ruled.

Our fundamental liberties are being slowly and methodically eroded while we silently assent. Taken by a government trying to protect us from ourselves.

Taxation is the instrument of government that is most prone to manipulation for tyrannical ends. Indeed Karl Marx, in the Communist Manifesto, detailed 10 steps to collapse a market economy and convert it to a socialist worker’s paradise; No. 2 on that list was the progressive income tax.

The intention was to foster resentment of the well-to-do. Sound familiar? We’ve heard a lot lately about the 1 percent and how much they earn, but we haven’t heard much about what they already pay.

According to the latest IRS data, the top 1 percent (those earning $343,000 and up, annually) earns about 17 percent of the income but paid 37 percent of the income taxes. The top 10 percent ($110,000 annually) earn about 40 percent of the income and pay 70 percent of the taxes. A full 50 percent pay zero income tax. Marx would approve.

We Americans have arrived at a point of choosing — a choice forced upon us by a federal government operating at odds with our Constitution and basic principles.

What do we value more: equality of opportunity or equality of outcome? Our founders bequeathed to us a republic built upon freedom and the equality of opportunity, put best in President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal Gettysburg Address:

“... Our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

That doesn’t mean they end up the same. Personal effort and industry largely determine one’s success in this country. Life is not fair, but it is fairer in this country than anywhere else on this planet. Anyone can succeed in America if they apply themselves.

Where does the alternative government centric, social welfare state model that seeks to level life’s outcomes, lead? Look no further than our friends in Europe who are sadly collapsing under the weight of their big government, big spending, high taxes, stifling regulation, and generous, unaffordable social welfare state policies.

It is a utopian fantasy they pursue: equal outcomes with unequal inputs. A utopian fantasy that has never worked and can not work as it conflicts with human nature.

Unsurprisingly, Europe has hit a very predictable economic wall. The same wall we will hit if we don’t change course. Freedom and broad economic prosperity are incompatible with a big and activist government. They are mutually exclusive objectives.

The private sector creates wealth, while the government consumes that same wealth to achieve its ends. More of one means less of the other.

Tyranny can be defined as the cruel use of power. There is no greater tyranny or immoral cruelty than leaving future generations a crushing debt they had no hand in creating. Enslaving our children and grandchildren with the consequences of our current spending ambitions is as tyrannical and immoral as it gets.

Limited government, individual liberty, entrepreneurial enterprise and free markets are what made the United States the most exceptional country in history, and that is what will return us to that destiny. Our current path leads to inevitable decline. The choice is ours.

Tom Watson is a Santa Barbara businessman and was the 2010 Republican nominee for the 23rd Congressional District seat.

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