(Courtesy: The Daily Caller – EPA agents in Chicken, Alaska)
What happens when federal bureaucracies, begun with the best intentions, become bloated instruments of tyranny with age?
“Imagine coming up to your diggings, only to see agents swarming over it like ants, wearing full body armor, with jackets that say “POLICE” emblazoned on them, and all packing side arms,” gold miner C.R. Hammond said to the Alaska Dispatch. Unfortunately, last month’s raid that was reportedly carried out to investigate violations of the Clean Water Act is far from an isolated incident involving an armed EPA.
In May 2012, North Asheville, NC resident Larry Keller e-mailed Al Armendariz, an official who had just been caught on video laying out his preferred green enforcement strategy of “crucifying” gas and big oil executives that aren’t in bed with Obama. Later that month, Keller was mysteriously visited by armed EPA agents at his home. Just what threat the man posed at all to the environment remains in serious question.
More often than not though, what can best be described as the EPA’s clear abuse of power at the bare minimum usually finds its home in the legal system. Just last year, a judge finally ruled in favor of an Idaho couple’s four year long court battle that had cost them thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees. A well documented history of similar incidents detail a bureaucracy plagued with abuse, misconduct, red tape, pseudo-science, interlocking directorates, intimidation, hypocrisy, fraud (did I say fraud?) and secrecy can be found here. At times, the rogue federal agency has even acted against its own stated reason for existence.
Since the Environmental Protection Agency’s inception by President Richard Nixon, we’ve been told our environment would not be clean or livable, and that our health would be in serious jeopardy, without a $10 billion a year “green” police staffed by almost 20,000. This is the same line we’ve been sold on the need for a trillion dollar failed drug war, a failed war on poverty, an endless war on terrorism, or any runaway tool of the state. It is the goal of any aspect of government, once created, to justify a continued need for its own existence. In the case of enforcers of each new law, their employment is at stake.
For decades, DEA czars, police unions, and their fundamentalist MADD lobby have conned us to believe that if just one bed-ridden cancer patient could legally seek alternative treatment to chemo, a pot menace would poison every kid in America if cartels, skinheads, and crooked cops were ever put out of business for good by the free market. Whenever entitlement reform is even whispered in congress, we’re warned “grandma will go hungry in the street” if just one inch of the cradle to grave welfare state were ever phased out before bankruptcy. For twelve years, perhaps we’ve been duped worst of all to believe Islamic terrorists hate us for our freedoms, and that we must give up those same freedoms to protect freedom.
If it weren’t for “tough on terror” legislation, blanket domestic surveillance, the export of our welfare state abroad, billion dollar bases the world over, or the loss of over 6,000 troops and countless civilians in the Middle East, Bill Kristol and Clinton alike reassure us the “terrorists, and those who harbor them,” would win their holy jihad they wanted to exhaust the West in in the first place. We’ve all heard the reasons for a war on terror’s justification. In the beginning, the argument was to punish those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Once troops were on the ground in Afghanistan, and the medieval regime that had harbored Bin Laden was routed in a matter of weeks, the continued presence of troops has been rationalized in the name of preventing the establishment of a terrorist sanctuary that seems to be sprouting up anyway. Had Bush’s anti-terror crusade not hit Baghdad, in the name of spreading democracy and hunting weapons W.’s dad gave Saddam, we’re told Iraq would be a destabilized terrorist safe haven today, Iran would be a regional power, and the Middle East would descend into violence and turmoil terrorism could thrive in….
This cyclical cycle of government growth was identified early on by the French economist Frederic Bastiat. In 1848, he warned in Journal des Économistes that:
“(The socialists declare) that the State owes subsistence, well-being, and education to all its citizens; that it should be generous, charitable, involved in everything, devoted to everybody; …that it should intervene directly to relieve all suffering, satisfy and anticipate all wants, furnish capital to all enterprises, enlightenment to all minds, balm for all wounds, asylums for all the unfortunate, and even aid to the point of shedding French blood, for all oppressed people on the face of the earth.
Who would not like to see all these benefits flow forth upon the world from the law, as from an inexhaustible source? … But is it possible? … Whence does [the State] draw those resources that it is urged to dispense by way of benefits to individuals? Is it not from the individuals themselves? How, then, can these resources be increased by passing through the hands of a parasitic and voracious intermediary?
…Finally…we shall see the entire people transformed into petitioners. Landed property, agriculture, industry, commerce, shipping, industrial companies, all will bestir themselves to claim favors from the State. The public treasury will be literally pillaged. Everyone will have good reasons to prove that legal fraternity should be interpreted in this sense: “Let me have the benefits, and let others pay the costs.” Everyone’s effort will be directed toward snatching a scrap of fraternal privilege from the legislature. The suffering classes, although having the greatest claim, will not always have the greatest success.”
Bastiat’s classical liberal thought divided socialist sentiment into two camps; those who mean well in their pursuits, and those who know better than to try.
In 1850′s The Law, he directly addresses those who mean well in their intentions to expand bureaucracy.
“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
But whatever angle its origin, expansion is the nature of the beast.
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
Economic sophisms, 2nd series (1848), ch. 1 Physiology of plunder (“Sophismes économiques”, 2ème série (1848), chap. 1 “Physiologie de la spoliation”).
An EPA isn’t a failure, it has achieved many of its aims to hold final say over any plot of land they deem the “environment.” In the name of protecting the environment you live on, your land can be preemptively “saved” from a threat defined by the EPA alone. We should have learned from the last time government “saved” us from a preemptive threat. Saddam Hussein’s nuclear-tipped drones weren’t built yet, and had no capability to reach the United States. It is for that reason the agency is immoral. Not because it’s unconstitutional, or that it endorses a preemptive strike, but because Bastiat’s worst fears have been realized. Plunder has now become a sustained way of life for entities tasked with stopping others from plunder. When recent modest proposals to trim 34% of the EPA’s budget, far from a radical suggestion, are portrayed as such staggering cuts, they get away with characterizing proponents of the measure as hateful of the environment. Just as Gitmo critics were once framed as enemies of their country, everyone is now with the EPA, or with the terrorists.