Big Versus Small, Government— the Impending Collision

Special to The Bold Pursuit … an insightful blog by Robert Arvay

Two major philosophies of government seem to be on a collision course. In the “Big Government” approach, the view is that ordinary people cannot be left to their own devices. The ordinary man, unruled by a wise and benevolent government, is either incompetent or greedy. The greedy will take advantage of the incompetent, and social injustice will inflict its cruelties upon the weak and helpless.

In the “Small Government” approach, big government is not viewed as wise and benevolent, but rather, insulated from the consequences of its failed policies. It is government, not the populace, which must be held accountable, and restrained from becoming cruelly tyrannical.

Among the great confusions of the argument, is that “Small Government” is taken by its opponents to mean, “No Government.”

The US Constitution clearly rejects that myth. Instead, the powers and responsibilities of government are specifically enumerated. Within its boundaries, the federal government is very powerful. It can levy taxes, declare war, imprison miscreants, and put to death traitors. Although the fifty states are each sovereign, self-governing entities, the federal government can regulate their inter-state relations, and in some cases, overrule their laws. This is hardly a “no government” approach. The limited powers of the federal government are significant to say the least.

Key to understanding the US Constitution is its first ten Amendments, known collectively as the “Bill of Rights.” Freedom of speech, of religion, from unreasonable search, and so forth, give the citizenry enormous powers of autonomy, and freedom FROM government, except where specified in the Constitution. And just in case anyone misses the point, the final and Tenth Amendment (of the first ten) stipulates quite carefully, and I quote its entirety:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Clearly, the boundaries of the federal government confine it to the Constitution only, and not to any whim, not to any sense of a “good cause,” not to any opinion of fairness, nor to any conception of” social justice.” Those kinds of value judgments are left entirely to the states and the people, and prohibited to the federal government.


And just as clearly, there has been a steady drift away from those limits, and toward an ever more powerful, ever less accountable, federal government, until finally, we have a president and congress that are unabashedly socialist. Although they prefer the term, “Progressive,” their policy ambitions are barely distinguishable from West European socialism. Indeed, they often seem more draconian.

Now that the gloves are off, now that the US federal government has extended its reach far beyond its Constitutional confines, there finally is a popular backlash. It may be too late, but those who say it is too little are underestimating its strength.

In the past, social policy protests have largely been conducted by college students, and by people who have the leisure time to spend on picket lines.

No more.

The recent protests in the US are dominated by older, working-class Americans, including moderates, independents, and yes, even some liberals, who have finally been awakened to their impending fate. The trigger seems to have been the health care law, but that was only the trigger.

Regarding health care, nowhere in the US Constitution is the federal government authorized to dictate to Americans which health care measures they are obliged to purchase. The amendment process is the only legal way for the federal government to obtain that power, and the voting public would never tolerate such an overreach. The Tenth Amendment specifically denies such powers to the federal government, and there is little sympathy to make an exception.

Many Americans have become aware, that if the federal government can blatantly disregard this limit on its power, then it can with impunity ignore any limits on its power.

Suddenly, the vastly popular president has slipped in his approval ratings to historic lows. The upcoming November elections threaten to remove his Congress from power and replace it with not only one of the opposition party, but even, a body of those who represent an energized and outraged public.

Warning. Nothing in the behavior of the present government suggests that it will relinquish power easily. Nothing in its record indicates that it will bow to the will of the people if there is any possibility, by any means, of enforcing its will.

War against Iran seems to me to be the perfect pretext for canceling the elections. A devastating attack on Iran, the preparations for which have been far more reported in the British press than in the American news, would surely unleash havoc. Many tens of thousands of Islamic fanatics already inside the US could be called upon to wage Jihad in our shopping malls, schools, and government offices. Such and various forms of chaos have already been anticipated by the “Continuity of Government” plans, in which UNELECTED officials would take control of the infrastructure.

While this is an extreme “worst-case” scenario, it is not entirely out of the question. Britain would not be spared, and undoubtedly, all of Western Europe might find itself engulfed in Parisian style riots by Islamics.
My hope and dream is that the November elections will be held, will be honest, and will be obeyed by the US federal government. We shall see.

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