Social observers from Aristotle and Juvenal to James Madison and George Orwell have all warned of the dangers of out-of-control government. Lately, we have seen plenty of proof that they were frighteningly correct.
The Environmental Protection Agency spilled 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into a tributary of the Animas River in Colorado. The stinky yellow flume of old mine waste — rife with cancer-causing mercury and arsenic — threatens to pollute the drinking and recreational water of three states.
Had a private oil company acted so incompetently and negligently, it would have been fined billions of dollars by the same EPA. The company’s top executives might have been subject to criminal prosecutions. The business’s reputation would have been tarnished for years. Just ask BP officials what the Obama administration did to the corporation after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.
But who will police the green police at the EPA?
When EPA administrator Gina McCarthy promises that the agency will take “full responsibility,” what does that tired banality mean? Will she resign? Will bureaucrats responsible for the toxic spill face fines and jail sentences? Will residents be able to sue McCarthy and her subordinates for diminishing their quality of life? Will the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund rush to federal court to file briefs?
Consider the vast bureaucracy of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Is it culpable for knowingly not enforcing immigration law and thus allowing some undocumented immigrants to commit violent crimes?
In cases where innocent Americans are killed by undocumented immigrants with long histories of felonies and deportations — such as the recent killing of Kate Steinle in San Francisco — can the victims’ families sue ICE or sanctuary cities for either releasing or hosting criminals who were residing in the U.S. illegally?
In our litigious society in which plaintiffs sue fast-food franchises for serving excessively hot coffee, why do government bureaucrats escape culpability when the innocent die or are injured as a result of bureaucratic negligence?
When the IRS hounds citizens about their taxes, can Americans inform the agency that they are invoking the Fifth Amendment and refusing to answer out of fear of self-incrimination — and expect to face no criminal consequences?
No? Why, then, was high-ranking IRS official Lois Lerner able to sign off on the excessive scrutiny of some conservative nonprofit groups, lie about it, and then invoke the Fifth — without any legal consequences?
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton likely broke a number of federal laws while secretary of state in using a private e-mail server at her home to conduct both private and public business. One, she kept documents containing classified information at an unauthorized location. Two, she either destroyed or removed official communications entrusted to her as a public servant. Three, she was legally responsible for the loss of information involving national defense. Four, she likely destroyed documents to block federal agencies’ examination of them.
So far, Clinton had escaped any consequences.
What is the common denominator in these government scandals — as well as the recent scandals involving the needless deaths of veterans waiting for care at Veterans’ Health Administration facilities, the sex and booze escapades of Secret Service agents, the Las Vegas junketing at the General Services Administration, the snooping at the National Security Agency, and the lack of cyber-security at Office of Personnel Management?
The bigger that government gets, the more employees who are hired, and the more unaccountable power that accrues to bureaucracies, the more government takes on a life of its own. Public grandees resemble Hollywood’s out-of-control androids or Frankenstein monsters that turn on their creators — in these cases, us, the taxpayers.
Secure, high-level government administrative jobs — where dismissal is rare and automatic promotion common — promote mediocrity. Institutionalized incompetence explains why NASA can no longer launch its own astronauts into space without help from Russia, or why the cost of the California high-speed rail project soars before an inch of track is laid.
Clearly, Clinton and Lerner apparently assumed that as federal officials, they were not subject to the same laws imposed on other Americans. They reckoned that others in the fraternity of big government would protect them from legal jeopardy. And they are probably right.
Under the Obama administration, there is also a more disturbing trend: the equation of big government with social justice and hostility to private enterprise. If the EPA and other federal agencies are felt to be on the “right side” of fairness and equality, then why object when their means to supposedly noble ends violate or neglect the law?
Big government has become the new Terminator, at war with those who created it, who fund it — and who must obey it.
© 2015 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
28 thoughts on “As the EPA and IRS Have Shown, with Big Government Comes Little Accountability”
I know that all of us conservatives are fired up about immigration, but I’m a little hesitant about this e-verify solution. Sounds great, until you realize that it gives the government the power to determine who can get a job. This is the same government that has made a business out of seizing property involved in a crime and selling it for profit, regardless if the crime was eventually proven, and regardless of whether the property belonged to the criminal. This is the same government whose IRS pursues it’s political enemies. No system is perfect, so there will probably still be some illegals who can sneak through, but now there will be law abiding citizens who can’t support their families when they are mistakenly denied the ability to work. How about we leave the border enforcement to the government and not outsource it to businesses?
I agree. We shouldn’t enforce the law if it will inconvenience some people.
It’s useful to remember that the Rule of Law falls very lightly on the Liberal meme. With a history of consequenceless Civil Disobedience, blatantly illegal acts like the Occupy movement, IRS harassment of the Tea Party or riots in Ferguson, the Liberal meme has been taught that it need not recognize any limits to its actions. Faithful adherence to the Law is a failing of the opposition.
The Liberal meme rewards friends and attacks enemies, but the only true “enemy” that the meme recognizes is its own political rival in the US. Neither radical islam nor Iran are recognized as enemies. Nor is Russia. They enemies of the meme’s enemies (Conservatives), so the meme treats them as friends, while individual liberals call for imprisonment or death for Climate-Change skeptics.
The EPA is a friend, so naturally the EPA gets a pass. Naturally Iran gets a sweetheart deal. And naturally agencies like the IRS can be used as weapons. The dreadful treatment of women in islamic cultures is entirely ignored or glossed over.
I believe that the reason so many government employees are really incompetent is because we (taxpayers/government) used to hire “the best and the brightest” and we’ve degenerated into using government employees to ameliorate the social ills of the nation. One used to have to take a civil service exam and get placed on an “order of merit list”, not to say that there may not have been some cheating there, but nowadays we (government, not taxpayers) don’t hire “the best and the brightest” anymore, we hire based on gender, ethnicity, or race. Your intelligence doesn’t matter, it’s where do you fit on the social correction scale. I don’t have the resources or time, but I’ll bet that the “contractor” working for the EPA on the Gold King Mine disaster had marginal experience and was hired to fill a minority business quota. I’ve seen it a hundred times.
Not so harsh, professor Hanson, the EPA (and perhaps with the help of Planned Parenthood?) is just mixing up a batch Soylent Green!
We the people have become the servants and the public employees have become our masters. Our so called government needs to be shaken from it’s slumber and other bad habits and have a real house cleaning and elimination of the useless parts of it. Term limits for congress and the scotus must be enacted. Immigration laws already on the books must be enforced and severe punishment must be administered swiftly for law breakers and scofflaws now impeding the administration of justice. that means the elite , upper echelons of government as well as the non productive drones at the lower levels of government. It needs to be operated as if it were a private business or this country will cease to exist.
“Get to the choppa” Terminator was elected Governor of California, where he pumped iron and tried to clean house—- lost the battle to the A.I. democrats, and now Cali is a parched shadow of its former self. Clone Ann Coulter and you rule the World.
Rule of Law has been a one way street in the US for a long time.
The Progressive Theocracy will use it when it serves as a weapon to further their goals, and trample it when lawlessness better serves.
Meanwhile, constitutionalists use it when it supports their goals, and *submit* when it doesn’t.
This one sided Rule of Law is simply *submission* to the Progressive Theocracy. Just as you can’t have peace with an enemy committed to shooting at you, you can’t have Rule of Law with the lawless.
The Rule of Law has failed in the US. Too many of our neighbors simply don’t believe in it, and won’t support it. And they *certainly* won’t support it while they can mug you *without consequence*.
What now? For those who would prefer the Rule of Law, but realize they *can’t have it* given the power of their lawless enemies, what now?
That’s the fundamental question we’re facing.
I think one piece of the best available option is to *fight back in kind*. Perhaps when our neighbors start having to face the *negative* consequences of lawlessness to their own values, instead of just the positive consequences in the loot and control they extract from their neighbors, that will kindle an actual respect for the Rule of Law in those who so violate it to their benefit now. Perhaps that will allow the Rule of Law to be reestablished.
Or, perhaps not. But either way, fighting back seems preferable to continued submission to a one way Rule of Law, where heads they win, tails we lose.
Ironic that that those initially tasked as our protectors have become our greatest threat to life, liberty, and property. No wonder we are in rapidly accelerating decline.
This is unfortunately a phenomenon that is not limited to the US.
Under the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Prime Ministerships in Australia (2007 – 2013) a wilful and systematic destruction of the nation’s border controls resulted in a flood of illegal arrivals – peaking at 50,000 people per annum; and some 1100 deaths at sea. The supposedly intractable nature of the problem was proven to be illusory when the incoming conservative government put an immediate stop to unlawful people smuggling by reinstating the successful and effective border control measures of the previous conservative government. The various ALP (progressive) politicians who were directly or peripherally involved continue their political careers, or find cushy taxpayer funded sinecures in the universities or NGOs.
The absence of accountability, personal responsibility and character is an intrinsic aspect of the progressives in both hemispheres
“” Live updates Donald Trump breitbart.”” Trusting Rubio/Bush on the border is like trusting a blue-pilled-Bubba in a french cathouse.
I agree with what you said, Dr. Hanson, but I think that you missed the core fundamental reason for why the government is almost always held unaccountable: the government is, at its core, nothing but a gun. If you disobey the government, they’ll send armed government agents (police, SWAT, military, etc.) after you. Laws are simply situations in which these guns will be used. Since government is the one holding the guns, of course they’re going to be held unaccountable. This is a situation that will not and can not be reconciled as long as government has the legal power to *initiate* physical force against us, which would bring us to a very long discussion of the proper role of government, but I’ll leave it at this for now! Thanks for another great essay.
Conservatives have never been big fans of the EPA for a reason due to its regulations, but it is smart that the right has assaulted the agency lately. During budget battles, House Republicans have sought to decimate the agency’s funding and handcuff it from action on a long list of environmental concerns. Treating milk spills like oil spills makes little sense. Blood is thicker than water. In the documentary film “Pumping Iron,” Arnold replied that milk is for babies and beer is for real men. Clinton and Lerner need to terminated. The EPA regulates the particular matter under the Clean Air Acts, which mostly is aimed at dealting emissions from power plants, factories and automobiles. They also seek to regulate dust. I am no stranger to dust on farms espeically when it comes to grape mites in July-Septemeber. Clinton and Lerner are the roots of the problem. Out of control big government is quite a bit of hot air. The disaster of Big Government is similar to the diaster of the Hindenburg it catches fire and can quickly become inflamed. Where the fire started is with Clinton and Lerner. The liberal sabotage hypothesis also applies here.
When law enforcement is used to “punish our enemies” and sieze our property in clear violation of the constitution, we have NO LAW. And if we have no law, we can do what-ever we want, whenever we want without regard for (legal) conesequences. It’s called ANARCHY and this is where we’re headed.
We have seen what happens under the rules of anarchy in Los Angeles in 1992 and most recently in the Furgeson, Mo. riots. It could get much worse before it gets turned around—although it’s hard to see that happening with our un-educated and distracted public.
We are no longer citizens of the Republic—–we are slaves to the system. The very government we elect and support has no intention of doing it’s elected duty—and this is from the top (White House) to the bottom (your local city mayor and council).
Do not forget Hollywood’s forgiveness.
Anyone who still partakes in their cheap fare surely will not hear the characters of every other movie and episode spew vitriolic references to the EPA the same way they drop BP and other “big oil” names.
“…can the victims’ families sue ICE or sanctuary cities for either releasing or hosting criminals who were residing in the U.S. illegally?”
Forget suing the department (ie: net the taxpayer) I’d rather they be able to sue the specific individual personally who is responsible.
The President, and the department head, all the way down the chain of the given command.
“”” trump 2015 iowa presser liberty news.”” 30 min vid from liberty news. 16 min mark and 27 min mark does battle with jorge of univision—- Trump kicked his ass. No question he earned those billions. Trump to Jorge—They want jobs, i have employed 10’s of thousands of Hispanics….
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