Homeland Stupidity is a bit over two years old, so as 2006 draws to a close it’s time again to look back at what has passed, and to look forward at what may come.
Some other site I read is doing a “Top 20 posts of 2006″ as a year-end review. But I’ve always been about bringing attention to important things which might otherwise pass unnoticed, so I’m going to do something different: The most important stories you probably missed.
There have been a few big changes I want to note, though, from this time last year. The big change happened in May, when this site moved from its original domain name to the one we have today. It’s also outgrown web hosting package after web hosting package, and is now on a dedicated server, with a second server providing various support functions such as e-mail.
This started out as my own personal site, and many of the earliest posts reflect that. During the first year, it quickly became focused. And in May I was pleased to welcome guest writers who have contributed important content on education, health care and other issues. Homeland Stupidity also became a source in Google News, which increased our exposure even more.
With the big changes covered, let’s take a look back and see how 2006 shaped up.
Back in April we brought you one horrifying story of how socialism not only drives up prices, it can drive ordinary people out of business while making corporations rich. The progressives among you are on the right track with your hatred of all things corporate, but you must realize that your proposed solutions will make the corporations even more powerful. The case of Hein Hettinga illustrates the point. In the U.S., we don’t have a free market in milk, but rather milk socialism. It’s this milk socialism, pretending to be “milk marketing,” which keeps Big Corporations in business, drives small guys like Hein Hettinga out of the market, and drives up the price of milk, cheese and other dairy products. Clearly this isn’t progress, unless your goal is to create a corporate state.
We haven’t focused very much on the economy in 2006. But with the incoming Democratic Congress and their flawed corporation-empowering, people-oppressing socialist plans, I expect economic issues to come to the forefront.
One of the big stories you almost certainly missed in the last year was the federal government’s plan to “fundamentally alter the form and function of the mental health service delivery system in this country” by putting as many children as possible on psychoactive medication, even in their infancy. The implications are staggering: “The federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in mental health and early childhood issues and the record of success of these types of programs is abysmal,” said Dr. Karen R. Effrem of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology.
One of those drugged children was Abraham Cherrix, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. The government tried to force him into medical treatment neither he nor his parents wanted.
Then there are the schools. Most people know there’s something wrong with the nation’s schools, but either haven’t figured out what it is, or have misidentified the problem. Dana Hanley, one of our writers, has covered this issue well, and knows exactly what the problem is: the U.S. Department of Education. Her work is well worth following, especially if you like watching the government destroy your children.
It’s completely impossible to keep up with all the ways government wastes the money it stole from you. But the government is trying to make this process easier. And in the process, people might actually wake up and figure out that having government provide “services” is not such a good idea after all.
Consider the Web site expectmore.gov, which the White House launched in February. It also found that 25% of federal programs were “not performing,” i.e. not living up to their expectations, or not measurable. The site’s name implies that people should “expect more” of their government, a dangerous proposition. The only thing you’re going to get more of is screwed. Maybe this is why the TSA still allows people to bring unlimited amounts of K-Y Jelly on planes?
And after September 11, one of the biggest threats to national security, what former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called “a matter of life and death,” got swept under the rug entirely. The threat? DoD’s horrible accounting. It’s already caused supply shortages in Iraq and elsewhere, and there seems to be no end in sight. This national security threat consumed untold and unknowable trillions of your stolen dollars.
This isn’t just a problem for the military. Homeland Security suffers from a major pork problem. Nobody outside D.C. really likes pork, so why does it keep coming back? There’s no end in sight to the waste of money, thanks to people like Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), the Prince of Pork, who diverted untold numbers of contracts worth God only knows how much back to his district, whether it made sense or not, and regardless of the damage to national security.
Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. First, I must give credit where credit is due. The Department of Homeland Security has been quite zealous and quite successful at protecting Americans from terrorists, criminals and other threats to national security. But it is only through eternal vigilance that we can be sure that it does not itself become a threat to our liberty and our security. Indeed, many would say we’ve already sacrificed too much liberty for too little security, and that’s an ongoing theme around here.
And the government, being what it is, can’t help but screw things up. Consider the National Asset Database, being used to determine what needs to be protected from terrorist attack. It’s full of poor quality data, or rather, useless junk like Old MacDonald’s Petting Zoo, a Kangaroo Conservation Center, Jay’s Sporting Goods, several Wal-Mart stores, Amish Country Popcorn, and the Sweetwater Flea Market. Mere hours after publishing this, I was on talk radio legend Brad Messer’s radio show for a half hour talking about it. Even so, you still probably missed it.
Liberty was under attack from all sides in 2006, not just via homeland security. And the primary problem, we learned, was that most people don’t even know what it is. So I wrote an irregular series of posts called Liberty 101 so that people could learn what they weren’t taught in school about the philosophical foundations of liberty.
People aren’t learning fast enough, though, to stop the tide of totalitarianism which is washing over the country. It may even be that liberty is already dead, as some people have already built a museum for it. But I certainly hope not. This is why I joined the Free State Project: to fight for freedom before we lose it entirely.
For instance, smoking bans of various types have passed in numerous cities and states, undermining further Americans’ property rights. In Indianapolis, the smoking ban is causing businesses to shut their doors. Washington State passed a particularly egregious ban on smoking on private property, and it’s draining Seattle’s creative spirit. And, we also learned, the “science” used to justify smoking bans is pure bunk, some of it even being spread by the Surgeon General.
Eminent domain remained a hot button issue for millions of Americans as well, though the news media didn’t report on it nearly as much as they did in 2005. Several states placed restrictions on the use of eminent domain after last year’s Kelo v. New London Supreme Court decision which said that government could take your property and give it to someone else for private economic gain. That saga is nearly a decade old, and is still going on, with the last person to leave, Lauren Canario, having been removed by the police and only released from jail today.
One of the latest fads among bureaucrats who think they know better than everyone else is to ban food. Several places are considering banning trans fats, and Chicago even tried to ban foie gras, a ban that no restaurant worth going to is actually obeying. Expect this to be covered much more in 2007, because the food Nazis have only just begun.
With the Democrats now in control of Congress, the threats facing us are going to shift noticeably. So the reporting here will also shift. You should expect much more reporting on economic issues, because this is historically where Democrats have managed to completely screw things up for everyone, especially the people they claimed to be trying to help.
Finally, last year I very pessimistically predicted that the government would be unable to prevent another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Fortunately they’ve risen to the challenge and proven me wrong, arresting dozens of people in the U.S. for various terrorist plots, and also helping the U.K. to foil a major plot to blow up airliners bound for the U.S.
As a result, however, the government cracked down on ordinary liquids, banning most of them from being carried on board aircraft. The efficacy of this approach is debatable, but one thing that isn’t debatable is that this sort of reactive approach to whatever idea the terrorists come up with next is going to eventually lead us to a tightly controlled, regimented society which bears little resemblance to the free country we all thought we lived in, and bears much more resemblance to countries we used to call evil.
And that’s the great challenge: How do you preserve liberty and be secure? It certainly isn’t going to be by a cost-benefit analysis.
The answer to that question, and much more, coming next year.