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Old 03-06-2010, 03:05 PM   #1
Fredkc
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Riverside, ca.
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Default Power To The People

By Gary North

Before I explain the title of this report, I want to prove to you that Americans are losing their liberties, day by relentless day. I also want to prove to you why it is that, unless there is an economic breakdown so severe that Washington D.C. goes broke, we will not get back these surrendered liberties. My demonstration will take approximately three minutes. For skeptics, it may take five minutes.

The United States Government Printing Office publishes the Federal Register. Each issue is a 275-page book, three columns per page. There are about 250 issues published each year, totaling approximately 69,000 pages. These are pages of incoherent rules that apply to every area of our lives. They are written by government lawyers to be interpreted by lawyers and debated by lawyers. Unless the public, including Congress, demands a hearing on a rule within 15 days of publication, the rule becomes the law of the land.


Congress rarely protests. It is too busy with its infighting to pay attention to the Federal Register. The public rarely protests. It takes a team of lawyers to gain a hearing. Only if the rule generates a huge outcry from the media or the public is a rule repealed.

I have been involved in only one such protest, which was successful: the IRS's 1979 rule to withdraw tax exemption from any private school founded after 1960 that did not have the same racial percentages of students and faculty as prevailed in the community in which it operated. It took 125,000 letters of protest in 30 days, plus Congressional hearings, to get that rule reversed. The public buried the IRS in written protests – the most it had ever received on a ruling. I generated this protest by pulling copyright on my Remnant Review report on that ruling. This led to the letters of protest generated by the second newsletter after mine went out. The snowballing effect took over.

To head off such protests by the public, the limit was cut to 15 days. We would have failed in 1979 under this limit. Almost no voter has ever heard of the Federal Register. Of those who have, only a tiny percentage have ever read a single page.
I am asking you to spend three minutes reading one column of one page. Read it carefully. See if you understand it. Pick your page here.

After you read that column, ask yourself this question: "At 69,000 pages per year, meaning 207,000 columns just like this one, what is happening to Americans' freedom of choice?"

To ask this question is to answer it.

"POWER TO THE PEOPLE!"
Back in the late 1960's, "Power to the people!" was a well-known phrase of Black power activists. I remember it as being up there with "never trust anyone over 30" and "make love, not war."

The people have gained no increase in power. The under-30 crowd is now over 60. Viagra is selling well, but America is still at war.

We have come a long way, baby: in the Federal Register – maybe two million pages (it used to be shorter), or six million columns.

We think of the Presidency as the culmination of American political power. Yet the Presidency is a shell of what it was under Franklin Roosevelt.

Apart from some perceived national emergency, either terrorist or financial, nothing gets done in Washington. In the financial crisis of 2008, Bush was invisible. Paulson ran the whole media show: nationalizing the mortgage market on his own authority, bailing out the financial sector along with silent Ben Bernanke.

This is not new. Richard Nixon became the symbol of authority after Lyndon Johnson left the scene. He succeeded Johnson, who refused to stand for re-election. I cannot think of any two Presidents in American history who possessed greater knowledge of the details of the political process. I also cannot think of any two Presidents who were more chewed up and spit out by this process. Both men achieved enormous electoral victories: 1964 and 1972. Both left the office as beaten men, consumed by the system they had overseen. Johnson was heralded by the Left in 1964, as well he should have been. The Left drove him out of office in 1968. Nixon was seen by the Left as a bastion of the Right in 1968. The Right did not lament his departure in 1974.

Meanwhile, gridlock in Congress now prevails.

What's going on here? If the people have lost power, and the Presidency has become a shell, and Congress is in gridlock, who grabbed all that power?

The bureaucrats.


In every nation, it is the same story. The politicians centralize power. The bureaucrats exercise this power. Politicians come and go. Political parties exchange the trappings of authority. The bureaucrats keep their jobs, extend their reach, and consolidate power.
In the 1980's, the British sitcom Yes, Minister showed us how the system really works. It is on Netflix, and we can watch it on our computers. It is just as funny today and just as true as it was then.

In 1983, Harvard University's legal historian Harold Berman summarized the story in a 45-page introduction to his book, Law and Revolution. We are losing our liberties in the West, he said, because of a quiet but relentless legal revolution that has been underway for a century: the transition to administrative law. The executive bureaucracies are writing the regulations and enforcing them through administrative law courts. You can read 90% of his introduction here.

Nothing reverses this process. Only one thing can: budget cuts. No other force can reverse the relentless extension of administrative law over the lives of citizens. No other reform ever takes hold, for the system is self-enforced. It takes a bureaucrat to hedge in a bureaucrat. The best we can hope for, apart from budget cuts, is bureaucratic gridlock. But bureaucratic gridlock restricts progress, economic growth, and the recovery of lost liberties. The status quo prevails until such time as one or the other bureaucracy prevails. Then the process resumes.

Liberty expands these days by being able to stay two jumps ahead of the bureaucracies. Digital technology surely helps. The bureaucrats are slow learners and slower movers. By the time they write new regulations, the technology has moved on. But, when the grasping hand of bureaucracy slows economic growth, the capital available to entrepreneurs gets more scarce. Innovations cannot get as much funding as before. It becomes more expensive to stay ahead of the regulators.


You can read the rest here.
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