It seems to me that this time of year, after the excitement of the holidays and the last of the seemingly endless array of college football bowl games, we should kinda step back and take a serious look at what’s facing us in the new year. In the forefront is the concern of many citizens about the federal government’s ongoing expansion and consolidation of power - such as the following examples.
The government is threatening The Little Sisters of the Poor, a non-profit organization of nuns providing nursing home and hospice services, with an annual $2.5 million fine if the nuns don’t agree to a health insurance program incorporating contraceptive devices and services. The nuns, who take a vow of chastity and minister to the dying, claim agreeing to such a plan would result in their denying basic tenets of their faith.
According to reports, the government’s response boils down to, “Shut up and do as you’re told or else.”
For some years small family farms have been exempt from many federal rules designed to regulate large-farm commercial agriculture. Recently the feds decided a small farm didn’t qualify as a “family” farm. The reason? The farm is a three person operation - father, son, and a single employee who is not a member of the family.
According to the feds, this “non-family” employee invalidates the family farm designation so the owners must comply with all federal farm-related rules and regulations at an estimated cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In another case, officials reportedly have decided that small family farms which store grain from their harvest on their farms must comply with the same regulations as those covering grain storage elevators. Apparently it doesn’t matter if the grain is being held for feeding the farm’s own livestock or is simply being temporarily kept to sell at a later date. Sure makes a body shiver a bit. Well, there plenty of more examples of discontent with and distrust of our government, but let’s get some perspective from a few news items elsewhere around the world.
Protesters aiming to topple the government in Thailand have shut down Bangkok by building barricades and blocking key road junctions. Some 18,000 security personnel have been deployed to maintain order and there have been no serious incidents so far, but reports say there are fears of renewed violence and protest leaders have vowed to reject any attempt at negotiation.
In India some 50,000 families try to survive in frigid, tent-city refugee camps where children die daily in disease-ridden, unsanitary conditions. The reason? Violence that erupted between Hindus and Muslims in which people were shot and hacked to death, women raped, and houses looted and burned. The camp dwellers don’t want to return home because they don’t believe the government will provide them security against further attacks. They would prefer facing the horrible conditions in the camps rather than trust the government to protect them from “sure death” if they returned home.
In Cambodia, a strike by garment workers has become deadly as police shot and killed at least four protesters and wounded a number of others. Military police armed with assault rifles fired on several hundred unarmed workers who were seeking an increase in wages.
In Egypt, security forces reportedly killed more than a dozen people while breaking up a protest against the government. An additional number of people were killed in other demonstrations around the country. The protests are expected to continue with the government increasingly using force to quell them.
OK, so what’s this perspective stuff? Well, although there is increasing discontent and disgust with the way our country is being governed, we remain a nation that has not yet resorted to violence and still has some trust in government and the rule of law. There is, however, ever deepening concern that the qdministration is effectively imposing a dictatorship.
A number of laws are being changed by administrative order while others are ignored; thousands of new federal rules and regulations controlling almost every aspect of our businesses and lives are being put in place; and, those who would oppose these imperial moves are being targeted as un-American villains and scoundrels. You know, actions like these have led folks in this country to openly rebelling against government in the past - that’s what the original Boston Tea Party was all about.
It’s something to think about. At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.