"...That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…." -- Declaration of Independence
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union...do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." -- The Constitution of the United States
The idea of government is not inherently bad. Our Founding Fathers, certainly skeptical of and experienced with overreaching governments, thought enough of the concept to create the system we have now. Governments maintain order, regulate commerce and business contracts, help provide a safer community, and maintain local and national infrastructures.
The evil that men do
The problem is that governments are instituted among men, and Man is fallen and prone to evil. When whole governments go bad, it’s almost always the man at the top: Mao, Stalin, Hitler, among many throughout history.
Nobody will argue that the ethnic cleansing, genocide, and willful killing of their own people is evil. If “governments-as-evil” had faces, theirs would be among the most prominent in history.
But government overreach doesn’t have to rise to these levels to be evil. When governments fail to perform or start to reach beyond their legitimate duties, it can go from zero to evil very quickly.
For the most part, people just want to be left alone. There are, however, a large contingent of folks who won’t leave them alone...who believe they must step in to regulate, rule and restrict those who want to live their lives in peace.
And that’s when the grievances start.
Government overreach, part 1
Examples of government overreach are common; The Ruby Ridge incident happened because a man, at the insistence of undercover federal agents, cut a shotgun barrel ¼” shorter than he was supposed to. During an initial raid, the man’s son and a federal agent were killed in a shootout. His wife was later killed by an FBI sniper, while the wife was holding her infant daughter. All of this because of the 1934 National Firearms Act.
The Waco siege occurred because the ATF conducted a raid on a religious compound due to ‘illegal weapons charges’ against the church’s leader. The Branch Davidians fought back during the initial raid, and six church members and four ATF agents died. The subsequent assault on the church compound by the FBI fifty-one days later killed 76 church members. There were numerous instances to peacefully resolve both of these instances before the bloodshed happened. But they weren’t taken. While several attempts were made to hold government agents responsible for their unjust use of force, nothing came of them.
Other examples include the Ohio National Guard shootings at Kent State during anti-war protests (4 students dead) and the Philadelphia Police dropping a satchel charge onto an apartment building housing an anti-government liberation group. Eleven people died, including five children, and 61 homes were destroyed in the subsequent fire.
The egregious examples are easy to cite and often represent the extremes of evil that come from government abuse. But as we’ll see in the next article, not every abuse results in loss of life.