May 31 2013

No, No, No, Mr. Volcker!

Charlotte Hays

The Weekly Standard reports:

Former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker has launched a group with the mission of restoring trust in government, according to this report by Charles S. Clark in Government Executive.  No question something needs to be done and none, either, that Mr. Volcker has a way of getting things done.

No, no, no, Mr. Volcker!

You’ve got it backwards!

We do not need to trust government more. We need to trust government less.

We need to restore that sense of skepticism and distrust of government the Founding Fathers believed appropriate.  It would be far better to launch a group with the mission of telling citizens of the perils of a big and intrusive government.

Denise McAllister put it this way in a critique of President Obama’s learn-to-love government speech to the graduating class of Ohio State, in which the president told the graduates to close their ears against those who speak ill of our beneficent state:

Alexander Hamilton warned, “If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.”

George Washington warned Americans to be on guard against tyranny because “government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

We need to keep this in mind as we learn more about abuses by the IRS and the Obama administration’s snooping on journalists.

Sure, we need to hold accountable (to use one of the president’s favorite locutions) those who have broken the law or behaved unethically. But we should not lose sight of the real issue: the state as a fearful master.

On this matter, Bill Kristol shares an email from an unnamed Washington veteran:

Bill, I trust conservatives will resist temptation to join the chorus to “sack Holder.” As Jack Germond used to say, “It is like wetting yourself in a dark suit, it feels good, but nobody notices.”

Calls to sack Holder create a useless side show from the main event--a “breathtaking and systematic abuse of power by the Obama administration” that is only a taste of what a full agenda implementation will hold for America (Obamacare, EPA regulooza, and most important and pernicious, an unholy, unspoken, dog whistle relationship between the White House and federal agencies like the IRS).

Focusing on the fate of Eric Holder could create the catharsis Obama and his allies (the media) need to “reset” and return to business as usual.

Sacking Holder would inebriate the home team for a weekend, cause the usual “backlash” in the media—guilt, remorse and regret focused on the embattled Obama—and ... return to the status quo ante.

If and when Holder packs it in, R's should shrug and say, “it's his choice, doesn't matter or change things, stay or go, the real issues are those listed above...”

No agency in a democracy should be powerful enough to do things like this.

So, Mr. Volcker, I offer you a better mission, if you choose to accept it.

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