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Statism Starts With You
Why did federal regulators not intervene sooner? A tragedy could have been averted. That was the first demand made following the accidental death of eight spectators, and the injury of 12, on August 14 at the California 200 off-road race. The derby was held in the Mojave Desert, in the Lucerne Valley. The driver of one of the racing trucks lost control of his vehicle, flipped and landed on bystanders, who are in the habit of getting as close as they possibly can to the tracks.
It's all great fun until something goes terribly wrong. Then it's someone else's fault.
The "Mad Max" atmosphere at these races — "no guardrails, no enforced rules and no police to hold spectators" — has both fans and opponents of the sport united in agreement. The promoters," Mojave Desert Racing," had been remiss in allowing the adult spectators the rush they paid for; the Federal Bureau of Land Management has to step-in and step-up regulation of the permit process. While at it, compel the lords of the land, the feds, to police the events too.
This tragedy, off-the-beaten-track, well illustrates the dynamics of state encroachment. Statism always and everywhere begins with The People. "Americans—with their lawsuit culture, their safety obsession, and above all their addiction to government spending programs—demand more from their government than just about anybody else in the world," observes Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum. "They don't just want the government to keep the peace and create a level playing field. They want the government to ensure that every accident and every piece of bad luck is either prevented or fully compensated. And if the price of their house drops, they will hold the government responsible for that, too."
That Americans expect Mayo-Clinic quality care for every nosebleed is obvious from the health care "debate" we've just endured. Considering that the Orwellian named "Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010″ has entrenches yet more affirmative action in lending, and given that the thieves in the US Treasury have renewed the country's fiscal fealty to the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae money pits — the Applebaum point worth belaboring is this: A property is worth what the market will pay for it at the time of the sale; no more, no less. If you bought a home for $350,000 and nobody will pay you more than $250,000 now, you are not owed $100K. In the US, however, a quaint notion has been nurtured. It is that an owner whose mortgage is worth more than his house ought to be compensated somehow for that — and for any decline in property values, in general.
Republicans and Democrats, and the conga-line of Americans filed behind them, evidently agree: You have a property title in the perceived value of your property.
Back to Applebaum:
To put it bluntly, middle-class Americans of the right, left, and center have now come to expect a level of personal financial security that—despite the stereotypes—most people would never demand from their governments. In a review he wrote earlier this month, Brink Lindsey, the vice president of the libertarian Cato Institute—a man who knows what he is up against—pulled up some extraordinary statistics. Most Americans, it turns out, are suspicious of the free market. And most Americans also approve of high government spending. The majority of Americans are wary of global trade, don't trust free markets, and also think 'the benefits from … Social Security or Medicare are worth the costs of those programs.' And when the sample is restricted to people who support the Tea Party movement? The number is still 62 percent.
Yet more proof that the fatter the feds the happier Americans are: "According to the Iatest Society for HUman Resource Management / National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, conducted with the Pew Research Center, 46 percent said Obama's path would do more to improve economic conditions in the next few years, compared to 29 percent who said policies put in place by Bush would."
Don't take this to mean that Bush was less of a statist than Obama. Not so. My point is simply that Americans have little aversion to the programs of the president who is perceived as more of a big-government guy, and is certainly no less of a central planner than was Bush.
ILANA MERCER is a widely published classical liberal writer and the author of Broad Sides: One Woman’s Clash With a Corrupt Society. Ilana is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. She is also a columnist for WorldNetDaily.com. Her forthcoming book is Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South Africa. “The titular tease,” writes ilana in the Introduction, “is meant as a metaphor, and is inspired by Ayn Rand’s wise counsel against prostrating civilization to savagery.” Ilana’s website is www.ilanamercer.com; she blogs reluctantly but regularly at www.barelyablog.com.