Is there anything government can’t do?

In my constitutional law class recently, we examined the limits that the framers intended for the federal government. Although concern was expressed about the expansion of federal power, the consensus was that there are still many things that the government absolutely cannot and never will be able to do.

It depends who you ask, though. According to our recent administrations:

The government can assassinate American citizens.
The government can search your telephone, e-mail, and financial records without a warrant.
The government can create money out of thin air… money that isn’t backed by anything of value.
The government can subject you to an intrusive inspection that might include a pat-down and body scan.
The government can start undeclared wars in foreign countries that pose no threat to American security (at least we don’t have the draft anymore… for now).
The government can tell you what you can and cannot eat.
The government can kidnap you and hold you indefinitely without charging you with a crime.

It’s not a joke. When presented with a list like this, very few people would say that it describes a free society. But this is what we continue to allow in the name of national security, safety, stability, and a range of other empty excuses.

Perhaps more alarming than these specific examples is the overarching philosophy that basically any action, no matter how offensive to our liberties, can be justified and brought into mainstream acceptance. The claims that the government makes today cannot be reconciled with the vision of the Founding Fathers in any way, shape, or form.

How much freedom do we actually have today? If we grant that government rightfully has this kind of authority, is there anything that we will not permit it to do?

Whenever we are tempted to think that there must be a limit to government’s encroachment on our rights – and tempted to trust that these politicians will somehow reign themselves in – we should look at how far we have diverged from a free society already. And we should then redouble our efforts to ensure that the destruction of our liberties goes no further.

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