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DEPENDENT ON WASHINGTON


By Larry Pratt

August 4, 2003 
NewsWithViews.com

If we look back to the turn of the previous century with an eye to personal freedom and independence, it comes as no surprise that we are a lot less free today, and that we are much more individually dependent on the burgeoning bureaucracies of Washington.

This should concern gun owners because the mindset of dependency will not be limited to our old age, medical care, education, operating a business, and virtually every other area of life. To think that somehow guns will remain a cocoon of freedom in a society that otherwise is enmeshed in government control is self-delusional.

Moreover, the expansion of government has followed a universal tactic spelled out by Boise State University Professor of Economics, Dr. Charlotte Twight, in her book Dependent on DC. She discussed this topic with me in her Live Fire interview which can be found at http://www.gunwoners.org/radio.htm

Politicians and bureaucrats quickly discover on entering office that making it tough to find out what they are up to keeps the peasants from getting all riled up. Dr. Twight read through mountains of testimony before Congress and other documents. She developed her theory of the universal tactic from her voluminous reading.

In brief, the elements of the universal tactic are first, the fog factor - an appealing rationale, even if it is irrelevant or untrue. For example, don't call controls controls so that those being controlled won't resist the proposal. Second, proposals should be multi-faceted so that there is something for everybody. Third, get the executive's support so his powers can be used to drag along reluctant legislators. Fourth, get bureaucrats behind the proposal because it means more jobs. Fifth, get outside interest groups to support it because it means money and power for them. Sixth, get a political party behind it because the proposal will attract a supportive constituency that will benefit. Seventh, keep the media from getting information that would impair the proposal's prospects. Eighth, appeal directly to the self-interest of a group of voters. Ninth, show the big government supporters that your proposal is consistent with their ideology. Tenth, take it easy, promote the proposal incrementally.

Twight found that whatever the fog factor that might surround a proposal when it was discussed in public, at hearings or at other venues that were less visible to the public, officials were often surprisingly candid.

During the debates over the income tax, Rep. James M. Miller (R-KS) was unashamed to reveal his larcenous spirit: "I stand here as a representative of the Republican party of the central West to pledge you my word that the great western states will be found voting with you for an income tax. Why? Because they will not pay it!"

A former Treasury Department economist had this advice: "…an essential principle in taxation is 'Don't do anything suddenly.'" Not as colorful as the way to cook a live frog in gradually heated water, but the point is the same.

When the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik satellite, the federal government used that as an opportunity to get itself involved in education to solve the "crisis." It was not found convenient by the Eisenhower administration to tell America that the government had an even more sophisticated satellite ready for launch.

Speaking of the pending measure to get the federal government involved in local education, Assistant Superintendent of Education, Dr. Burton Donovan, said it straight out: "This is our first… crack at Congress for it. We did not want to come down here and bite the hand that is trying to feed us…. So we are a little more gentlemanly than we will be next time." A "crisis" got the Feds involved in elementary and secondary education, but nothing would get them out.

When the Social Security system was initiated, an individual's Social Security number was not to be used for purposes of an ID. I still have my original card, and it bears the promise that the card is not to be used for purposes of identification.

Twight sums up the history of that lie with these words: "Incrementalism, misrepresentation, hiding threatening measures in larger bills, and other forms of [making it hard to find out what was really being done] spawned a system of linked federal databases that now makes it virtually impossible for a person to opt out of, let alone actively resist, the federal government's monitoring of ordinary, law-abiding American citizens."

For practical purposes we do have a national ID card. We don't have to carry it or show it to authorities as in Nazi Germany. Rather, the number is placed by our names in the myriad of government databases that keep Big Brother's eyes on us 24/7.

Gun owners are already aware of this. We haven't been able to buy a gun at a store since 1968 without providing our social security number.

But don't worry about all the government knows about you. It is all for your own good. And especially for the children.

© 2003 Larry Pratt - All Rights Reserved


Larry Pratt has been Executive Director of Gun Owners of America for 27 years. GOA is a national membership organization of 300,000 Americans dedicated to promoting their second amendment freedom to keep and bear arms.

GOA lobbies for the pro-gun position in Washington and is involved in firearm issues in the states. GOA's work includes providing legal assistance to those involved in lawsuits with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the federal firearms law enforcement agency.

Pratt has appeared on numerous national radio and TV programs such as NBC's Today Show, CBS' Good Morning America, CNN's Crossfire and Larry King Live, Fox's Hannity & Colmes, MSNBC's Phil Donahue show and many others. He has debated Congressmen James Traficant, Jr. (D-OH), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Vice President Al Gore, among others. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country.

He published a book, Armed People Victorious, in 1990 and was editor of a book, Safeguarding Liberty: The Constitution & Militias, 1995. His latest book, On the Firing Line: Essays in the Defense of Liberty was published in 2001.

Pratt has held elective office in the state legislature of Virginia, serving in the House of Delegates. Pratt directs a number of other public interest organizations and serves as the Vice-Chairman of the American Institute for Cancer Research.

The GOA web site is:  http://gunowners.org. Pratt's weekly talk show Live Fire is archived there at: http://gunowners.org/radio.htm   E-Mail: ldpratt@gunowners.org


 

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"When the Social Security system was initiated, an individual's Social Security number was not to be used for purposes of an ID. I still have my original card, and it bears the promise that the card is not to be used for purposes of identification."