“When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”
The quote is often misattributed to Thomas Jefferson, but the source doesn’t matter as much as the sentiment. It is a concept that has been all but forgotten in today’s America. There’s no reason to let a fear of government keep you from living your life, but there are plenty of reasons to remember it when you go into the voting booth. Consider a couple of recent stories. If local officials can destroy a person’s finances, what can the feds do?
First, let’s look at an unfortunate and sad story out of Philadelphia where a man named Nathan Lerner is being held responsible for a $280,772 tax bill that even city officials acknowledge is bogus. Commonwealth Court is requiring Lerner to pay the outstanding bill, even though the six-figure sum is purely imaginary.
The fault the courts found was not in Lerner’s failure to pay taxes, but rather in his failure to follow proper procedure when challenging the bill. Because he didn’t obey a county court order to fund a Tax Review Board transcript, of all things, his appeal was ultimately dismissed. Commonwealth Court “reluctantly” made the judgment against Lerner, noting even in the ruling that the tax sum was made up by Philadelphia city officials to draw Lerner into their offices.
Then there’s the ongoing saga in Pasco County, Florida, where a local news station has highlighted dozens of cases where homeowners have been sent outrageous water bills. According to WFLA in Tampa, at least 50 people have complained about Pasco County Utilities sending them bills that don’t match water usage. Plumbing experts have investigated the claims, insisting that many of the bills describe an amount of water use that would be physically impossible for homeowners to attain. Still, Pasco County Utilities has yet to refund a dime.
Small Government Writ Large
If local government is so bureaucratic and money-grubbing as to be impenetrable even with judicial and journalistic interference, what hope does the average citizen have against the federal government? Especially one that has grown to the enormous size and strength of ours? Yet year after year, so-called Republicans fail to tame the beast. Worse, Democrats like Obama come up with programs that only serve to enlarge the behemoth.
Even in the face of this giant, you still see liberals claim that government isn’t the problem. Instead, big corporations like Wal-Mart are the real enemy. What a joke. When was the last time Wal-Mart threw innocent people in prison? When was the last time Johnson & Johnson bombed a pharmacy in the Sudan? What role did Pfizer play in the Holocaust?
The world’s greatest tragedies are, almost invariably, the work of tyrannical governments. Big government is a problem for many reasons – stifled progress, reduced innovation, and higher taxes, to name a few – but the biggest problem is that with ever-increasing expansion comes ever-increasing power. Limiting that power is integral to the survival of our nation. The seed we are now sowing in Washington will bear fruit far more dangerous than a fake water bill.