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What, if anything, will we do about it?
The big question that remains
There are many, and they seem to be increasing almost daily, but I believe that if President Obama has taught our nation anything throughout his six years in office, it is this: an unchecked Executive Branch is the greatest threat to freedom that our nation has seen in its short existence.
Over the course of the last several years, we have seen the unprecedented expansion of the power of the federal government, and while some of it came to us through legislation such as the Affordable Care Act, much of it has come from a single branch of government. Over the course of decades, Congress has ceded power to various Executive departments, in violation of the Constitution's definitions of the responsibility of our government's various branches. This self-emasculation by the Legislative Branch has been affirmed by a misguided Judiciary, so that the combined efforts of our tricameral government have led to the creation of a massive unconstitutional administrative state.
Consider what has taken place only very recently. After the passage of the Affordable Care Act, a 2,000+ page monstrosity of a law that was written in such a way that no single human being could possibly understand it in its entirety, the Department of Health and Human Services created another 20,000 pages of regulations. Due to the broad authority given to HHS by the ACA, the federal bureaucracy was able to draft its own laws regulating our nation's health care and insurance industries, many times more massive than what had been voted on by Congress, so that by now, Obamacare has morphed into an entirely different law than what Congress actually voted on...and all of this in spite of the fact that the Constitution gives no authority to any Executive Branch department to create new laws.
Just earlier this month, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), in the face of overwhelming opposition from gun owners and lobbying groups, abandoned a proposed regulatory change that would have banned one of the most popular types of ammunition for AR-15 platform rifles...and while they have abandoned this current attempt, the head of BATFE has made it clear that they will be trying again. BATFE has a long history of making up and changing rules as they go, making federal firearms regulations extremely confusing - sometimes they can even change just based on the mood of whatever bureaucrat is asked at the time.
A couple of years ago, the federal Department of Education came up with a great new scheme: they would offer federal grants to the states as part of the federal "Race to the Top" initiative - and, like any grant offered to the states by the federal government, there would be certain strings attached (this is a tactic the federal government has used for decades to contravene the Tenth Amendment). Money is always talked about in education, and any time money is offered, it is almost never refused - and this time it was no different. Many states signed up for the grants, not realizing that doing so would require them to implement the new "Common Core" standards, which are in the process of turning American public education into even more of a farce than it was before. Thanks to the hard work of vigilant patriots, several states have passed laws banning Common Core, but many others have jumped into the new program willingly. Unfortunately, it will be several years before we start to realize the damage that this program is doing to our education system.
Then, there is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA has long been charged with regulating navigable waters - the ostensible Constitutional justification being that if a waterway can be used for interstate commerce, then it falls under the federal government's power to regulate it. But the EPA has been working on changing the definition of what waters it can regulate, and if this change is allowed to go through, it will lead to one of the greatest seuzures of freedom our nation has ever seen. The change would allow the EPA to regulate virtually any waterway, from the Mississippi River to the drainage ditch in your backyard to potentially even any area that has standing water when it rains hard enough - in other words, every square inch of the United States of America. There are plenty enough bureaucratic roadblocks to economic progress in our nation, what with local, county, and state regulations, and this proposed rule change would grant the EPA to become yet another massive roadblock in nearly every sector of our economy. Want to build or expand your office building or warehouse? Not without a permit from the EPA. Want to build a storage shed in your backyard? Better pull a permit, or you could be facing fines from the EPA. And what's more, the EPA has recently granted itself the power to dictate what kind of fireplace you can use. They are also planning to dictate to you how you use your barbeque grill, and how long you shower.
One of the best examples of federal overreach comes from the recent actions by the FCC. For months, the FCC and the White House pushed out a narrative about how great their proposed "Net Neutrality" rules would be. They told everyone of the utopian future that government regulation of the Internet would bring, yet all the while they refused to release their proposed regulations to the public. In the end, the Board of the FCC voted along party lines to grant itself the power to regulate the Internet. Got that? We're supposed to have these little things called Checks and Balances, yet in the 21st Century, a few unelected bureaucrats can just get together and vote themselves the power to regulate a major American industry...and it's only now, after they have taken the vote, that we are beginning to find out that these regulations weren't what was promised. It will only get worse as we find out more as the regulations are implemented.
The few examples I have named here are only a tiny fraction of the threat that the modern administrative state represents to our freedoms. Every year, dozens of bureaucratic departments institute tens of thousands of new laws, usually with no Congressional say-so. And while they sometimes hold their "public comment" periods before implementing their new laws, in the end even overwhelming public condemnation cannot really stop them from expanding their tyranny over us. These regulations suck trillions of dollars out of our economy every year - taxation without representation, called "fees" because that is somehow supposed to make it okay. Those who fail to bow to this illegal tyranny can be subjected to the confiscation of their money and possessions, and can even be imprisoned.
In this way, we have created a sort of "shadow government." While it exists in the light of day, it operates entirely in contravention of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, with the blessing of both the Congress and the Courts. We have come full circle, with the present government committing many of the same offences for which the founders of our nation fought a war to separate themselves from the British Empire.
The big question that remains: what, if anything, will we do about it?
Robert Cleveland, Senior Conservative Editor: Robert Cleveland is the IT Director for a document management services company. When he isn't working on computers and scanners, he's spending time with his wife and kids, or writing about just how jacked-up Washington politics is. He is a strong believer that hard work and freedom are what make America the greatest nation on the planet, and it is of the utmost importance that we never lose those values. Robert's other writing can be found at his blog, more...)