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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Freedom and Government

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States. (United States Constitution, section 8)

Hmm! Lay and Collect taxes and pay the Debts: Republicans refuse to raise (lay) taxes and  insist on paying our colossal debt simply by slashing the budget. Both parties incurred in creating the humongous deficit, though Bill Clinton was the last President to balance our accounts. Two wars and 11 years later, they(Congress) keep hiding their head in the sand as if the trillions owed could magically disappear. Did I mention that Washington's credibility is the lowest it has ever been?

Common Defence (British spelling): Does it say "Offence" ?  No, defense only. With the creation of Homeland Security, a department that supposedly embraced all agencies involved in gathering intelligence, we gave up some of our freedom and individual rights, as aptly described by Mr. Ron Paul. "National Security" is a moniker that allows its agents to arrest and detain anybody in the United States who fits a certain description; they can call you a terrorist for whatever reason and keep you in jail and even make you disappear without answering to any superior power. That's a definition that can be applied to any repressive regime in the Arab world. However, the Constitution clearly states the concept of  habeas corpus: "The basic premise behind habeas corpus is that you cannot be held against your will without just cause." Did we give up that fundamental right? Can an American citizen be held in a secret jail without access to a lawyer?

Presidential Directive NSPD 51/Homeland Security Presidential Directive HSPD-20, sometimes called simply "Executive Directive 51" for short), created and signed by United States President George W. Bush on May 4, 2007, is a Presidential Directive which claims power to execute procedures for continuity of the federal government in the event of a "catastrophic emergency (Wikipedia). Few people are aware of its exact contents but what we know is frightening: Only the President can declare a national emergency, whatever that means, and he/she will coordinate actions among the three constitutional powers, thus placing the entire government under the control of the executive power. Nothing is said about individual rights, but we can safely assume that those would be suspended. I cannot understand how such all-important usurpation of the legislative branch's function has not been examined by the Supreme Court and declared illegal. In other words the President is allowed to create his or her own laws with no oversight from the other two government bodies.

There is growing concern among the States that Washington is taking too much power to address natural catastrophes; we have all seen the disastrous response of FEMA after Katrina. Local authorities have much better knowledge of what is needed and would spend the available funds more wisely. Remember all these emergency mobile homes to house victims of hurricanes? They turned out to be contaminated and millions of federal dollars were wasted that could have been given to the States. FEMA, by the way, is a part of Homeland Security which also includes all Border Patrol, Coast Guard and Customs. Such an unwieldy agency cannot function efficiently and we have seen multiple examples of mismanagement of resources. Its components are:

Do you think such "bureaucratic monster" can handle all these functions well? Of course not. I have requested a green card for my daughters 5 years ago; due to the accumulation of paperwork, read inefficiency, my lawyer tells me that it may take another 14 years. What's the point? I may well be dead by then!

To end this essay with the words of a very wise American, Henry David Thoreau:

But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.

Can we aspire at getting a better government in November of 2012?


Elena said...

You ask, " can we get a better government in 2012?" and my answer would be........ I personally feel very disillusioned by our overgrown government and its wasteful entities. The current president has been ignored and blackballed from any decision making by the corrupt and racist GOP - meanwhile, as the country continues to be held hostage by swindler politicians, "we the people" are also ignored, sliding closer to a police state each day losing more and more of its rights and privacies being dictated by the greedy and corrupt actions of an ever over extended political tinder box. You are so right regarding states being allowed to handle many of the agencies currently under the thumb of one more, overly burdened dept. created by the prior administation for the prevention of terrorism and handling of natural disasters. What is wrong with all of us? A solution envolves a lot more than an election - we need to be more proactive with our hired hands and to demand the following of our rules and regulations - politicians ARE NOT ABOVE THE LAW and need to be held accountable as the reat of this nation is when laws and rules are broken. We can do soooo much better. Bring back respect, honor, ethical behavior and truth........... tick tock.

Jacques said...

Under the pretext of national security, many abuses have been committed. The creation of a super agency was a knee-jerk reaction by a scared Congress after 9/11. Better coordination was sufficient.