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February 11, 1999

Two Recent editorials from the Investors Business Daily

It looks like Franklin Delano Roosevelt's ''four freedoms'' will have to make room for a fifth. Republicans have virtually joined their Democratic brethren in adding one more to the list FDR proclaimed - freedom from responsibility.

FDR said there were four essential human freedoms: of speech, of worship, from fear and from want. FDR got it half right.

The first two are enshrined in the First Amendment. The second two have become entrenched in modern public life. By implicitly promising Americans that government would protect them from fear and provide for their needs, FDR set the country on the road to big government - and less individual responsibility.

And both parties have fallen in close order drill on this march to a security agenda.

President Clinton has played ''the security card'' so well we're not sure whether he'll soon propose a federal ''Band-Aids for boo-boos'' program. Naturally, his fellow Democrats follow his lead.

But look no further than the office of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., for evidence of this agenda's advance. His Web site's banner assures readers that Denny Hastert is ''Securing America's Future.''

But that's not all. At the close of the impeachment trial, Hastert announced his intention to move on to ''an agenda that will make America more secure in the next century.''

Four planks frame the Republican protection agenda: saving Social Security; pushing economic security through tax relief; ''improving'' educational security with Hastert's more ''dollars to the classroom'' initiative; and beefing up national security.

Republicans did much better for themselves and the country when they pushed for an end to the cruelly false security of welfare and an increase in people taking control of their lives.

As February drew to a close, Hastert was at it again. In a statement announcing appointments to a House anti- drug task force, the likable Illinois native said, ''I'm proud of Republican efforts to secure America's future by protecting our children from illegal drugs.''

There's no doubt that the federal government has a role in stopping drugs at the borders. But is it Washington's job to police communities? Provide drug rehabilitation or counseling?

These are tasks that used to be reserved to local governments, churches and most importantly, parents, not politicians bent on getting re-elected. Capitol Hill Republicans like to invoke Ronald Reagan in pushing their plans, but their tributes ring hollow in light of their recent march to bigger government.

What prompted this march? Hastert, and many other Republicans, have bought in to the age-old Democratic rule of thumb: Government attention fosters political success.

''If we're going to have a Democratic agenda, what's the point of having Republicans control Congress?'' Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., asked recently. Exactly.

Our larger concern, though, is that our elected leaders - Republicans and Democrats alike - have forgotten about securing the blessings of liberty.

Benjamin Franklin warned us of the consequences of this amnesia: ''They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.''

(C) Copyright 1999 Investors Business Daily, Inc.


Government's Solution Is The Problem
February 2, 1999

Our nanny in chief is making the highways safer for children. He said so himself. During his weekly radio address Saturday, President Clinton announced a new federal rule that will ''save lives and prevent up to 3,000 injuries a year.''

Maybe. But like all government decrees, this one will surely create unintended consequences. Let's hope they're not as deadly as so many others have been.

The new rule makes standard the way child safety seats are anchored to cars. It requires carmakers to place fixed metal bars in the back seats of new autos beginning with the year 2000 model. Child car-seat makers will have to build hooks into their seats that latch onto the bar. Together, the system is supposed to stabilize the child's seat during a wreck.

The rule may be good or bad. Who knows? But it isn't the rule that's at issue here. It's the dangerous arrogance that government always knows best for you and your kids.

Imagine: The leader of the free world, the most powerful person on Earth, telling parents that they can't take their children anywhere unless they comply with federal dictates.

But it's a perfect issue for this president. He loves to look big by playing small-ball politics. His spinmeisters can once again cast him as the compassionate president concerned with our children. He'll be a hero to soccer moms, minivan families and all those advocacy groups that think the government can ensure a no-risk life for everyone.

Aside from the added expense -about $10 per car plus $10 to $65 per car seat - most Americans won't think much about the new law. With jobs and bills and kids to lash down tight in the back seat, they have little time to ponder the implications of a government that can invite itself into a family's business.

They should. Government's involvement in our lives keeps growing. It comes in such small steps that we're often unaware of how intrusive it is. But if Americans don't stand in front of the runaway government train and yell ''halt,'' as William F. Buckley once suggested, we'll soon have bureaucrats making all of our decisions for us.

We're not questioning the effectiveness of the new rule. It could make children safer, though it will never make irresponsible parents responsible.

What we question is government's right to force the system on parents, who have a far greater interest in protecting their children than the government does.

A government that can regulate how parents transport their children shows that it knows no limits. It can force automakers to boost their cars' fuel efficiency - which leads to lighter, smaller cars and more highway deaths. It can also require air bags in cars -which inflate with such force that they've killed more than 120 people, more than half of them children, since 1990.

So now the government comes with yet another regulation. We expect it will eventually require even more regulation to correct the unseen problems it will no doubt create.

(C) Copyright 1999 Investors Business Daily, Inc.


Hans-Hermann Hoppe has written a large essay exploring the market provision of security services, in our series, "Essays in Political Economy." It is available for $5 (which includes postage). Call 334-844-2500.


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