The expansionist state and the invention of crises
Those who think the government has the answer to everything, and more troubling, those who earn their living from feeding off the government (taxpayer) trough, will always find reasons to seek to expand the reach of government.
And the best way to do this is to keep inventing one crisis after another, which supposedly only governments can deal with. The trouble is, these crises usually turn out to have been charades, while the proposed solutions end up being far worse than the imagined problem.
Plenty of examples come to mind, including some recent Australian debacles. Consider Rudd’s panic about the climate change crisis. His solution? Offer subsidised home ceiling insulation. We all know how that beaut solution turned out. At last count, four dead, 120 homes burned down, thousands more at risk, billions of tax dollars wasted, and an entire industry in tatters.
Then we have had various flu crises, such as the swine flu scare. Once again, the government steps in with grandiose plans, but they mainly seem to make matters worse. In Queensland a girl has died twelve hours after receiving a seasonal flu vaccine, while 60 children in WA have been hospitalised following very adverse reactions to the vaccine. As a result Australia’s chief medical officer has had to suspend the vaccines to all children under five.
Or consider the recent crisis concerning ash pouring out of an Icelandic volcano. Hundreds of flights were cancelled, tens of thousands of airline passengers were stranded, and many millions of dollars lost. This led one British columnist to ask, “Is volcanic ash the new swine flu?”
Governments certainly have a responsibility to look out for public health and safety. But we have seen plenty of groundless crises come and go over the years, and often the government solutions have been more dangerous and costly than the supposed crisis. And we also have the problem of the government playing Chicken Little once too often, with people soon disbelieving any cry that the sky is falling.
Don Feder recently had an incisive article on the need for governments to manufacture crises. Entitled, “The Perpetual-Crisis Machine of the Apocalyptic Left,” it is well worth mining for some revealing quotes. His opening paragraphs are well worth repeating:
“The left is in crisis-overdrive. Imminent disaster is its rallying cry. The world will end, if we don’t appropriate billions, launch another massive government program, shower condoms on 6-year-olds, socialize another sector of the economy, cede more of our freedom to Washington, and venerate polar bears.
“Since at least the early 1960s, the left has been in a constant state of agitation, prophesying doom at every turn. Any who question its hysteria-mongering are labeled anti-science, a tool of corporate interests, insensitive or just plain Republican.
“The refrain is always the same: Don’t question. Don’t examine the evidence too closely. Don’t debate the proposals. Whatever you do, don’t read the legislation before you vote. Just give us what we want or civilization, as we know it, will cease to exist – millions will die horrible deaths -and it will be your fault.”
He notes how Karl Marx was the original gloom-and-doomer. He continues, “It wasn’t quite a straight line from ‘The Communist Manifesto’ to Rachel Carson’s ‘The Silent Spring’ (1962). The Al Gore of her day, Carson warned of environmental catastrophe from the widespread use of DDT to control the mosquitoes that spread malaria.
“Considered the mother of the environmentalist movement, Carson was responsible for the 30-year ban on DDT, finally lifted by the World Health Organization in 2006. Her book claimed the compound caused cancer in humans and genetic damage to birds and beneficial insects – all based on anecdotal evidence and rats doing laps in vats of DDT.
“In 1981, Rachel Carson got a commemorative U.S. postage stamp. Millions in the Third World – especially pregnant women and children – got early deaths from malaria, which DDT had largely eliminated by the mid-60s.
“From ‘The Silent Sprint’ to ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and beyond, it’s been a steady march of hysteria, manufactured statistics and speculation totally detached from reality. Stroll down memory lane and meet the ghosts of liberal crises past.”
He examines the supposed US homeless crisis, a supposed epidemic of hate crimes, the global warming panic, and other crises which all resulted in an increase in government powers and a decrease in individual freedoms. Consider the crisis of the heterosexual AIDS epidemic:
“Everyone was susceptible. If we didn’t spend billions pronto, AIDS would sweep the nation like wildfire. ‘Now No One Is Safe From AIDS,’ screeched the cover of Life magazine. It was worse than the Black Plague, a Joe Biden speech and daytime television combined. Then-Surgeon General C. Everett Koop (who was co-opted by the AIDS lobby) forecast a ‘heterosexual AIDS explosion.’ Oprah said that by 1990, 20% of all heterosexuals would be dead from AIDS. Clinton’s HHS Secretary Donna Shalala said AIDS may leave ‘nobody left.’
“These projections were delusional, to put it mildly. According to The Centers for Disease Control, in 2007, 14,561 died from AIDS – not much of a mega-plague, when compared to 631,636 deaths from heart disease, 559,888 from cancer and 137,119 from stroke in the same year.
“A 1988 New York Times story (‘Researchers List Odds of Getting AIDS in Heterosexual Intercourse’) gave away the game. According to the paper, which never misses a chance to proselytize for the gay agenda, the chances of contracting AIDS from a single act of heterosexual intercourse – with an infected partner and without a condom – were 1 in 500. No one was safe from AIDS – no one who was gay, bisexual or into sharing (needles).”
Feder concludes with these words:
“If they were honest, liberals would confess: ‘There’s a severe power crisis in this country. When it comes to power over your own life, you have too much and we have too little. Please help us to rectify this situation.’
“Of course, that would get them nowhere. Hence, the left’s perpetual-crisis machine – apocalypse now. ‘Unless you let us do something drastic right away, you could get AIDS, end up homeless, lose your health insurance, see your beachfront property under 20 feet of water, and watch as beach towels are airlifted to the Eskimos.’
“Goebbels wouldn’t have the gall to concoct the lies they’ve been peddling for half a century. But more than a power grab is involved. The left hates the middle-class, hates private property and hates limited, constitutional government. It wants to make us feel guilty for what we have. Whatever the crisis, ultimately, it’s our fault – it’s our greed, stupidity, callousness or bigotry that fuels the catastrophe.”
Nothing beats a crisis to allow governments to usurp powers they would never get under ordinary circumstances. Thus we eagerly await what next week’s crisis will be. But hopefully most people are now catching on. The only sky that is falling is the risk of Big brother statism if we believe their manufactured crisis hype.