By Llewellyn H. Rockwell,
8:30 am, the Dayton Tire Company plant in Oklahoma City was at work
as usual, when the Secret Service escorted a man up to the gate,
trailed by a host of television cameras.
was Labor Secretar Reich with a scowl and a large stack
of papers. He announced that Dayton had committed 107 "safety violations,"
and therefore owed the feds $7.5 million.
and his band then marched to a federal judge and got an order forcing
the company to comply or be held in contempt of court.
plant had to shut down for the day, just as the government intended.
"American workers are not going to be sacrificed at the altar of
profits," said Reich piously at a news conference.
was D.C. totalitarianism in action, complete with the usual lies
and propaganda. But this time it backfired, like so much else the
central government does these days. Workers, managers, and local
citizens agreed that the real enemy is not a productive corporation,
but the government that would further damage it.
"just didn't know what the Hell he was doing," said worker Larry
Pierce, who, as the Wall Street 7ournal reports, was "sitting
in his rusty pickup and drinking beer with co-workers" near the
plant. "It was all political," added Virginia Jolley, who has worked
at the plant since 1982. "I felt he was trying to further the Clinton
administration. He was just so cocky." Alex Compton, who has worked
there since 1984, called Reich a power-hungry outsider. "I don't
trust government anymore," he said.
much power," said Rick Chesser, a local farmer who grows wheat and
alfalfa on Dayton Tire land. "It's kind of frightening, isn't it?"
don't "think much" of decisions handed down by "a person in Washington,"
said Joe Carter, a girls' basketball coach. His brother-in-law works
at the plant and he used to buy the team's shoes. But higher taxes
have made it impossible for him to keep doing so.
Chamber of Commerce took out an ad saying: "We Support Dayton Tire."
The Daily Oklahoman ran a caricature of Reich, not a hard
man to caricature, and labeled it "Time To Retire." The paper's
editorial was headed: "Reich's Amerika."
Reich lunges from raid to raid against a tire company for
safety, against burger joints for child labor, against law firms
for "discrimination," against all businesses for smoking
he and his administration are increasingly seen as enemies of the
from being grateful for the central state, Americans are fed up
with the entire arrogant enterprise: its abuse of power, its confiscation
of income, its violation of property, its regulatory rackets, its
pyramid schemes, its endless appetite, and its chilling disarmament
of the people.
problems modern life seems to offer are best solved by individuals,
families, companies, and localities, and not by D.C. For when Americans
look at the central state, they see not public servants dedicated
to the common good, but a criminal gang eying what's left of our
money and our freedom. More and more, it is the government versus
the rest of us.
accounts for the remarkable results of a Time Magazine-CNN
poll taken in August 1994. Americans were asked how much confidence
they have that Washington, D.C., can solve our social and economic
problems. A full 91% said: little or none. The rest probably work
for the federal government.
the last years of Soviet communism, we marveled at the occasional
poll showing that only 20% of the public supported the government.
We wondered how such a government could stay afloat. It couldn't.
So what does less than 10% indicate?
Americans accept the view that a government is just only when it
has the support of the people. But this is not just a moral judgment;
it also reflects political logic. The state is a minority living
off the majority. So long as the state doesn't become openly extortionist,
there is no particular reason for the majority to revolt. People
will give up a surprising amount of liberty and property in exchange
for security, or the perception of it.
some point, however, especially when the country faces no convincing
foreign enemy and domestic security vanishes, people catch on. They
begin to realize that they are in charge, and that all that is necessary
to make Reich and his cohorts private citizens is the withdrawal
government, elected or not, ultimately depends on the consent of
the governed. Withdrawing consent ended British rule in our country
and communist rule in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania,
East Germany, and the Soviet Union. Cuba may be next, and then it
may be D.C.'s turn.
is reason to believe we are approaching this point, for we live
under the biggest, most powerful government in world history. There
are few aspects of modem life it does not pretend to manage.
real income continues to decline, as it has since 1972. Official
economic data look okay, but people know that their standard of
living measured by discretionary income, public safety, quality
of schools, leisure time, prospects for raises and comfortable old
years are in continual decline. As just one example, wives
went to work in the 80s to make family ends meet, and the state
hailed it as a victory for equal rights. Now the newest census data
show that three-job families are more and more common. The
husband works two jobs and the wife one, and still they aren't keeping
taxpayers are being squeezed, and it is they, not the rich, who
are on the other end of the government transfusion tube. When they
have time to think about politics, it's only to despise the agencies
that are eating out their substance. They have little interest in
voting, because they are beginning to give up on the entire system.
average American has to pay 40% of his income to government. Ms
economic opportunities are constricted by an ever-expanding bureaucracy,
and there seems to be no end to the march of the pseudo-victims.
He is no longer free to speak his mind on the affairs of the day,
for fear of investigation. So the common man is making the shift
every politician dreads: he is thinking of the government as his
enemy, not his protector.
long-running debate among libertarians concerns whether political
revolutions for liberty can best be achieved by converting the intellectuals,
or by an anti-government revolt from the grass roots. Either can
be useful, of course. But only one condition is both necessary and
sufficient: the loss of support among average people, and that seems
to be taking place, regardless of what the statist academic establishment
Western Europe, the revolt against the welfare state is being undertaken
by the poor and the jobless. More and more, they vote for the parties
of the authentic Right, that seek to scrap the modem experiment
in social democracy and restore liberty. The international press
treats the disgruntled classes as cretins, unenlightened about the
glories of the interventionist state. In fact, they are all too
educated in what a hustle it is.
too how the Left, defender of the old order, increasingly speaks
in elitist terms. When it loses a political battle, it says the
people just don't know what's good for them. Notice the Left's hatred
of talk radio. It can't stand any challenge to ruling-class power.
Even when people write Congress and call the White House, the Left
resents the public participation.
be a popular politician these days is to be automatically hated
by the media, to be called ugly names by the pundit class, and to
be regarded as a threat by the academy. To be a friend of the Left
is to say immensely unpopular things, and to govern without the
support of the public.
Left fears and hates the ground-swell of opposition to statism,
which has only become dominant in the last two years. It has yet
to reach its apogee.
was a time when anything called a "Crime Bill" sailed through Congress.
No longer. The degree of public cynicism really, sophistication
has dramatically increased. Now people are more likely to
demand the bad news from any piece of legislation, no matter what
its name, and to oppose it simply because the Executive supports
it. You can't go far wrong with that as your guide.
popular shift has coincided with increasing government authoritarianism.
The less support the state has, the more desperately it attempts
to crush its opponents. That is why state enforcers think nothing
of trespassing on rights that were considered inviolate only a few
Left tries to convince us that it's okay to restrict free speech
when civil rights are at stake. It's okay to shut down companies
in the name of 49 worker rights." It's okay to close mom-and-pop
grocery stores when they don't take full account of the rights of
disabled people in absentia. It's okay to confiscate property
without a trial. It's okay to throw people in jail for thinking
the wrong thoughts.
the Left that cheers an expansive federal police power, whether
in Waco, Ruby Ridge, Vidor, Ovett, Oklahoma City, Berkeley, or Wedowee.
At last we are allowed to see the real face of modern liberalism:
what Isabel Paterson called the humanitarian with a guillotine.
with an increasingly angry people, the next time Robert Reich tries
one of his tricks, he may be turned back. Under statism, as Auberon
Waugh has pointed out, "the concept of the law-abiding citizen has
changed." From "being the lynchpin of society, he is now society's
fall-guy or mug. The wise man answers no letters from any department
of national or local government," and "never lets any public employee
into his house, if he can possibly keep him out." That's good advice
for business too.