A Review of Liberty in 2013

This wasn't a great year for liberty, thanks to government.

This wasn't a great year for liberty. A few disasters that government caused: 

Obamacare. It was supposed to "bend the cost curve" downward. The central planners had lots of time to perfect their scheme. For a generation, the brightest left-wing wonks focused on health care policy. The result? Soviet-style consumer service comes to America.

Government shutdown. The real disaster was the unnecessary panic over it. Zoos would shut down, and baby pandas would starve. The media made it sound like America might not survive even slightly limited government. They were happy to echo the politicians' claim that there's no wasteful or stupid spending to cut.

"The cupboard is bare," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "There's no more cuts to make."

Nothing to cut? Government spends $3.8 trillion a year!

Many Republicans are almost as eager to spend as Democrats, despite the difference in rhetoric between the two parties. About the only spending reduction Republicans accomplished in the past few years was the so-called sequester—which really happened by legal default because the two parties couldn't reach an agreement. The sequester instituted cuts of about $85 billion a year, a mere sliver of that $3.8 trillion budget and a still smaller sliver of our $17 trillion debt.

Yet even those modest cuts will not happen now under the new congressional agreement. Because some Republicans were upset the sequester made small cuts to the military's budget and were fearful another partial government shutdown might hurt their chances in upcoming elections, they gave up the modest spending discipline the sequester imposed. Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, said conservatives who want to keep the sequester are "ridiculous."

The Republican behind the new agreement, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was once called a fanatical budget-slasher who wanted to push Granny off a cliff. People talked about him reading Ayn Rand and being a cutthroat capitalist. But now, even he abandons the meager budget cuts that were already scheduled.
I suppose Republicans feel they have no choice. They face Democrats who will cut nothing. They hope to win the Senate next election and realize that spending cuts are not particularly popular with the general public.

Americans say they want less spending. But then they fight for farm subsidies, flood insurance and "economic development" schemes. Most federal spending funds Social Security, Medicare and the military. Even citizens who sound fiscally conservative, especially elderly ones, don't want these things cut.

This was also the year we found out just how much the federal government spies on its own citizens. I annoyed my fellow libertarians by saying the privacy I lose to data mining seems a small price to pay for surveillance against terrorism. I posted a list of a hundred other things government does that upset me more. Some people responded by calling me a "traitor" and "LINO" (libertarian in name only).

Look, libertarians, I'm constantly angry at my government for lots of things, but I just can't get worked up about data mining. My emails fly through the air. For all I know, my political enemies already read them.
It is upsetting, though, that the National Security Agency snooping goes far beyond what the government first claimed. President Barack Obama assured us the NSA does not read our emails or listen to our phone calls. But it turns out they sometimes do.

They say they only look for terrorists, and they won't use the records to harass and punish their critics. But why would we trust that the same big government that spends $3.8 trillion a year, raids our homes looking for drugs and regulates almost every part of our lives won't use its snooping powers to look into things other than terrorism?

Given the truth of Thomas Jefferson's warning—"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground"—I fear next year will be still worse for liberty.

To make it a better year, we can't trust such a powerful government to restrain itself. We should cut back its duties to reduce its power.

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  • Almanian!||

    "They went looking for Liberty, and couldn't find it ANYWHERE!"

    Yeah, it works. I haz a sad...:*(

  • CE||

    To make it a better year, we can't trust such a powerful government to restrain itself. We should cut back its duties to reduce its power.

    And how do we do that, when only 1 percent of the voters will vote for candidates who would cut government power in any meaningful way?

  • optimusratiostultum||

    ANFO

  • DenverJay||

    I logged in to make a long, very well written, and stirring speech about what to do to reduce government power.

    But you, sir, managed to do it in just 4 pithy letters. Bravo, and so be it.

  • DenverJay||

    Oh, and someone needs to write a joke about fertilizing the seeds of liberty...

  • DenverJay||

    No, that's not right..the TREE of liberty..OK I got it:

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants, and fertilized with ammonium nitrate"

  • Brandon Magoon||

    If we had free elections in this country those candidates might do better.

  • CE||

    The libertarian moment... we're right on the cusp of it, right? Right?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Most federal spending funds Social Security, Medicare and the military. Even citizens who sound fiscally conservative, especially elderly ones, don't want these things cut.

    Don't say that on Fox News, Stossel. They could fire you for telling the truth. Stick with the company line that "welfare queens/blacks" are taking all the money.

  • WTF||

    The retarded don't rule the night. They don't rule it. Nobody does. And they don't run in packs. And while they may not be as strong as apes, don't lock eyes with 'em, don't do it. Puts 'em on edge. They might go into berzerker mode; come at you like a whirling dervish, all fists and elbows. You might be screaming "No, no, no" and all they hear is "Who wants cake?" Let me tell you something: They all do. They all want cake.

  • Brian||

    Stick with the company line that "welfare queens/blacks" are taking all the money.

    Who actually says that?

  • ||

    The strawmen who anchor shriek's conception of what Fox News - excuse me, Faux News - is.

  • Logical 1||

    All "The Five" assholes who constantly rail against the people who "don't have skin in the game" meaning the folks who don't earn enough to meet the minimum threshold to pay income taxes. They're "the takers" - interesting coming from people who earn millions by prattling on about the same two subjects every night.
    (too bad Greg Gutfeld went native--his 3 am. show was funny before he got co-opted by The Five cast)

  • Loki||

    The voices in Shriek's head and the So-Cons under his bed.

  • Rufus J. Fisk||

    i look forward to a nice ironic moment for 2014....when Stossel hosts Monday Night Raw!!!

  • Hyperion||

    Look, we can't ever reduce spending, not even by one penny, or even slow down the growth in spending, or the exponential expansion in the size and scope of government. Because the moment that we do, women and children will be hit hardest. The science is settled!

  • Paul.||

    Any slowdown in the growth of government means bikers with mohawks and hockey masks riding around your neighborhood.

  • CE||

    Even though half of them are undercover cops who join in when the bikers start beating you, so as not to blow their cover and hinder the drug investigation?

  • DenverJay||

    Some of my best friends are bikers with mohawks and hockey masks! You, sir, are a bigot against bikers looking for gasoline

  • DenverJay||

    My favorite was the little fairy who tried to catch the boomerang and got his hand cut off! LMAO

  • mr simple||

    I annoyed my fellow libertarians by saying the privacy I lose to data mining seems a small price to pay for surveillance against terrorism. I posted a list of a hundred other things government does that upset me more.Some people responded by calling me a "traitor" and "LINO" (libertarian in name only).

    Hey, Stossel reads our comments!

    Seriously, that was a stupid article.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Then he says:

    "But why would we trust that the same big government that spends $3.8 trillion a year, raids our homes looking for drugs and regulates almost every part of our lives won't use its snooping powers to look into things other than terrorism?"

    Cognitive dissonance - how does that work?

  • ||

    I annoyed my fellow libertarians by saying the privacy I lose to data mining seems a small price to pay for surveillance against terrorism.

    I *could* see his point if the evidence of having prevented *any* terrorism were compelling. As it stands, the NSA is just spending lots of money flipping lots of bits about lots of people and not preventing people from blowing up a marathon or shooting up an airport. A really expensive "everything's okay alarm".

  • VicRattlehead||

    This would be true if government superior had the intent to shut down terrorists, as it stands they have granted tax exempt status to the Muslim Brotherhood charity CAIR for years. If you want to stop terrorism, maybe we could start by shutting down their "non-profits". If there was ANY indication that they were going to ACTUALLY go after a single real terrorist it wouldn't be such bullshit, but as it stands we have some half assed story about binladen supposedly getting shot and subsequently buried at sea so no one can see the body, 2 idiots that got tagged in boston, and a dude that walked across a base and shot up a hospital, none of which were thwarted even though the data collection has been going on for the past 20 years! All government spying on its own citizens is abhorrent and illegal, 18 U.S.C. § 241 these motherfuckers and let em ROT

  • setTHEline||

    Came here to say the same. The argument that mass surveillance is ok because it protects us from "the terrorists" is probably the most dangerous argument to concede. Stossel, the police state doesn't make us safe. You've got it backwards. The little bit of danger we *might* (tenuous, at best) be in by not having a police state is worth being free.

  • ||

    "We should cut back its duties to reduce its power."

    How exactly do you propose we do that?

  • florrichd553||

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  • Epi1317||

    How to cut back on gov't spending is simple.. Stop allowing politicians to eat $2,000 worth of luxury food in less than a 7 day week. There was a report on how much they spend on luxury dining alone. Half of them barely even finished their big budget meals. The people studied were the same politicians that wanted to cut part of the dhhs (food stamp) budget. Try a more "reasonable" spending limit of like $500 a week and the rest you pay for if you want to go over. Granted most Americans eat about half of that amount($250) in a full week with a family including 2-3 kids and a pet...
    On top of that we could tighten the budget they have on luxury vacations. Even 2% of the amount they all cash in on trips to where ever, would be enough to at least help the school system they keep taking money out of.
    There are plenty of little cut backs we could do that could improve the country that don't need to come from the programs people need, like healthcare, schooling, and science foundations. Only, I can see why none are mentioned ever by them.. because it would hurt their entirely too "small" of a pay check..

  • DenverJay||

    Yeah, that's small thinking there, brother. Why don't we just get rid of congress all-together, think of the money we'd save! We can let Caesar, err, I mean the President, just pass all the laws that we need by himself. So much more streamlined and efficient. Why, we can save billions out of our 4 TRILLION dollar Federal budget! My math is rusty and my calculator doesn't have a "trillion" button. What is that, like 1 percent per billion?
    "little cut backs" indeed. What are you, stupid or a troll? Government needs to be eviscerated, not trimmed. The lunch money of congresscritters won't quite do it.
    Again, government does not need a haircut, government needs a guillotine.

  • VicRattlehead||

    You're a Moron or troll, the department of education has lowered standards since its inception, the feds have no business or rights in education, if we were allowed pre tax health savings accounts (without high deductible health plans) to bank on we could do away with most federal medical care and after 65 that's another source of income for a retiree, Social security is a fucking ponzi scheme and should be closed permanently, the alphabet soup agencies could close their doors forever once they end the war on drugs. o.k. i think i'm down to about 50% of the current budget, but id keep going, close down all foreign military posts, withdraw from the UN, and establish a graduated minimum income for families that earn less than 50K a year while doing away with the welfare machine. the sad part is they all know they need to do this eventually.

  • gimmeasammich||

    I was with you until you said, "Establish a graduated income for families that earn less than $50K a year." How would this help, and how would this "eliminate the welfare machine?" Are you talking about the overhead to actually run the welfare programs, or help the people who are using these programs? Why $50k? Why not $60k? $40k? I am not convinced this would be helpful.

  • SuperOBD SKP-100||

    It's sure that it should Not Put Others at Risk.

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