Twentieth-century Americans have been conditioned to think of “tyranny” as something that happens to other people.
And when it does happen, it happens all at once — like Hitler’s attack on Poland, Soviet tanks crushing Hungary and Czechoslovakia, Iraq’s invasion and plunder of Kuwait.
Many Americans think that tyranny comes from an armed invasion, because that’s the way they’ve seen it in the newsreels. So they are waiting for enemy tanks to roll down Fifth Avenue or Wilshire Boulevard before they consider their freedoms in danger.
The truth is, tyranny is usually born at home — imposed on a government’s own people. It happens imperceptibly — just one step at a time. And it’s happening here. Some people are actually inviting it in.
Some well-meaning Americans want a wall on the border with Mexico, naively trusting government to violate only the rights of the immigrants, never our own. And the wall would only be used to keep invaders out , never to keep us in.
But successful tyrants are too clever to wipe out all freedoms in one fell swoop. That would bare their claws totally. (Hitler took five years to outlaw gun ownership, for example.) Instead, they pass a gaggle of little laws that nibble away at freedom.
The 16th Amendment in 1913, which gave us the income tax, was a “little” law that affected only a few people — the super rich, those big bankers on Wall Street.
So Americans bought the snake oil of class envy and let the federal government slowly begin its campaign of subjugation — ’til today, we’ve got income taxes for everybody. And 47 percent of our national productivity is swallowed up by the tax man — 88 percent more than the serfs of the Middle Ages were forced to surrender to their masters.
The Social Security number started out as the ID for your government-mandated pension plan. President Franklin Roosevelt even promised it would “never be used for identification.” But today, The Number has developed a life of its own and is no longer just the ID for your Social Security account, but the ID for you . Sixty years of “little” laws have built the SSN into a badge of tyranny.
Some lawmakers hear the discontent in the land, but are they offering to abolish the income tax or SSNs for ID? No, they’re taking for granted that we accept their rule over us and that our lives and property automatically belong to them. Now we’re just negotiating the percentage.
The first step in fighting tyranny is to identify the enemy.
To hear government officials tell it, the “enemy” is Saddam Hussein, or Fidel Castro, Haffez Assad, or North Korean Chairman Jong Il. Somebody far away, across thousands of miles of ocean. But consider this:
Who shakes you down for taxes — Saddam Hussein or Bill Clinton?
Who invades your business and fines you for “health,” “safety,” or “labor” violations — Fidel Castro or swarms of officers from the AQMD, OSHA, EPA, or Labor Dept.?
Who is more likely to stop you on the highway and snoop into your car or seize it outright — Boris Yeltsin’s KGB or Pete Wilson’s CHP?
Who is more likely to violently crash into your home — Chairman Kim Jong Il or deputies of the county sheriff, the ATF, or DEA?
Who is more likely to prosecute you for the way you fill out your tax forms — Haffez Assad or the IRS?
Politically aware Americans are horrified by what’s going on today. Many even are waking up and demanding a return to constitutional government, while taking action to lower their plunder-quotient:
Parents are pulling their kids out of the government-monopoly school system in favor of private schools or home schooling.
Corporations are downsizing, moving production out of the country, and even closing out products to escape sue-happy lawyers. Virtually all research into contraceptives, for example, has ended in this country because of super-aggressive litigation.
Small business owners are moving or closing facilities to duck rapacious tax collectors and regulation-happy bureaucrats.
Generation Xers are appalled to learn their share of the $5 trillion federal debt is $19,000 each, before they’ve even started their careers; that their government wants to snoop into their lives by censoring the Internet; that the compulsory Social Security system is nearly bankrupt.
Doctors are moving, retiring, and closing their practices, rather than knuckle under to the arbitrary rule of Medicrats.
Seniors are repelled by politicians who insist on making health care decisions for them.
If you’ve never thought about “where tyranny comes from,” compare your paycheck and lifestyle with five or ten years ago. You are paying more and higher taxes and surrendering more liberties to government authority.
Don’t look for Soviet tanks to roll down your block. The tanks are more likely to be labeled “FBI.”
Tyranny is a jackal born, bred, and unleashed at home.
This article appeared in the June 26, 1996, issue of The Orange County Register. Reprinted by permission. Copyright 1996 The Orange County Register.