Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

May 13, 2014

Potpourri: Government porn, federal lands, freedom of speech and more

— — Here’s an example of what can happen when there are too many government employees with too much time on their hands.

A report says that an Environmental Protection Agency employee watches porn for up to six hours a day. He makes $120,000 a year, and still has his job.

Nothing epitomizes a government that is so big and inefficient that its left hand has no idea not just what the right hand is doing, but doesn’t even know what its own fingers are doing. Or, just doesn’t care.

When the number of employees in a department or agency exceeds the number of truly essential employees, bad things happen, as the EPA example shows.

Agencies like the EPA are regulators; they produce regulations. Too many regulations exist already, and those people are paid to create more. On second thought, maybe it’s less harmful if they watch porn.

An efficient government, the kind of government we expect, deserve and pay for, should have few enough employees that every one of them is busy eight hours a day doing beneficial work, serving us to the best of their ability, and to our highest expectations.

One of the major reasons our government has grown so humongous and overbearing is because too many people don’t understand that government is limited in its scope by the supreme law of the land, the U.S. Constitution, and haven’t been paying attention to what is happening, or haven’t protested it. Still others seem to like living under the federal boot or seek control over us.

Did you know that the federal government owns or controls nearly one-third of the land in the U.S.? Do you imagine that the feds are making the most beneficial use of it?

Some of it is used for government installations, national parks and memorials and so forth, which is fine. But much of it either lies essentially unused, like the land where Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his fellow ranchers freely grazed their cattle for decades before the federal government took over the land on the fraudulent premise that a tortoise that lived there was a “threatened” species.

More than a few cited Mr. Bundy as being a lawbreaker, so they thought it was just fine when the Bureau of Land Management sent 200 armed rangers to the area because Mr. Bundy has refused to pay grazing fees for many years.

Mr. Bundy’s critics apparently believe that “if government says so, we must do it.” Had our forebears had this attitude, hundreds of singers at sporting events would be badly singing “God Save The Queen” instead of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Other federal lands imprison vast stores of natural resources that would unleash new jobs and prompt energy independence.

When it was announced that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been invited to speak at the Rutgers University graduation and receive an honorary degree, some members of the faculty passed resolutions calling for her to be “disinvited.” Students protested outside the office of the university president, some with signs calling her a “war criminal” because of her role in the Iraq War and the Bush administration’s use of waterboarding.

Showing she clearly has more class than those faculty members and students, Dr. Rice withdrew her acceptance. “Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” she said. “Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”

And so the tolerant and open-minded atmosphere of the university endures and the grand ideal of free and open debate of important, often conflicting ideas on campuses everywhere may continue for yet a while longer.

Then there is this: “I think that there are impulses in the government every day to second guess and look into the editorial decisions of conservative publishers,” warned Federal Election Commission Chairman Lee E. Goodman in an interview. “The right has begun to break the left’s media monopoly, particularly through new media outlets like the Internet, and I sense that some on the left are starting to rethink the breadth of the media exemption and Internet communications.”

You have to admire the determination of the leftists to find a way to defeat contrary opinions when they cannot do so through the power of superior ideas and arguments. When they have control of government resources, they have no compunction about unleashing this power against their political enemies. “Well, we may not be right, but we will prevail.”

I’ve had an epiphany about Benghazi. I have adopted the Dem/lib philosophy: “Dude, that’s so yesterday.”

Since it happened on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s watch, and she is satisfied that all the questions have been answered, shouldn’t that be enough for anybody? What difference, at this point, does it make? Now I can focus on other liberal goals, like which of the 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights we should trash next.

Oh, have you heard that a new helicopter fleet to ferry the president for short distances is being considered, and that the Congressional Budget Office estimates it will only cost $20 billion?

James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist.

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