IN GOVERNMENT WE TRUST
Why We Elect Liars as Leaders Nixon: “I Wasn’t Lying. I Said Things That Later On Seemed to Be Untrue”
—Washington Post, NOVEMBER 29, 1978 Clinton Concedes He Lied About Affair
—Washington Times, AUGUST 18, 1998 Obama Promises “Tax Cuts” to 95 Percent of Americans, Even Though 44 Percent of Filers Pay $0 in Income Taxes.
—Manchester Union Leader, NOVEMBER 4, 2008
Did you ever stop to wonder why most governments—no matter where on earth you look, or what time period you consider—tend toward being tyrannical and predatory? I’m not referring just to those unfortunate nations suffering under openly brutal dictatorships. Even here in the West, where our elected governments portray themselves as benevolent and democratic, somehow they always end up taxing, legislating, and regulating us into servitude. Why?
To bring this topic into sharp focus, let’s start by taking a whirlwind tour of the world’s governments:
• Before America and its coalition partners invaded Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein, giving the Iraqi people a chance to choose another destiny, here’s what life was like there, according to the U.S. State Department: “In 1979, immediately upon coming to power, Saddam Hussein silenced all political opposition in Iraq and converted his one-party state into a cult of personality. Over the more than 20 years since then, his regime has systematically executed, tortured, imprisoned, raped, terrorized and repressed Iraqi people.”1 Though Iraq was once “rich in culture with a long history of intellectual and scientific achievement,” Saddam “silenced its scholars and doctors, as well as its women and children” with unimaginable cruelty, the official report documents:
Iraqi dissidents are tortured, killed or disappear in order to deter other Iraqi citizens from speaking out against the government or demanding change. A system of collective punishment tortures entire families or ethnic groups for the acts of one dissident. Women are raped and often videotaped during rape to blackmail their families. Citizens are publicly beheaded, and their families are required to display the heads of the deceased as a warning to others who might question the politics of this regime.2
With such unspeakable atrocities a part of daily life, why didn’t more Iraqis complain publicly? Maybe because of Saddam’s decree in 2000 authorizing the government to amputate the tongues of citizens who criticized him or his government.
The report also documents Saddam’s use of chemical weapons (that’s right, “weapons of mass destruction”) against his own people, destroying more than sixty villages and 30,000 citizens—some international organizations say 60,000—with mustard gas and nerve agents.
• In North Korea, every citizen is the slave of a demented ruling family. While Kim Jong Il—or the “dear leader,” as all are required to call him—lives in ostentatious regal splendor, most North Koreans endure crushing poverty. Indeed, during the 1990s as much as 10 percent of the nation’s population—an estimated two and a half million people—starved to death as a result of the communist nation-cult’s dysfunctional command economy.
“The unwritten and unspoken compact prior to the famine,” explained Andrew S. Natsios, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, in Senate testimony, “was that the people surrendered their freedom in exchange for which the state agreed to care for them, heavily tempered by political loyalty, from cradle to grave.”3
“Cradle-to-grave security”—there’s that coveted socialist holy grail we’re always hearing about. But for millions of North Koreans, all they’ve gotten in the bargain is cradle and
grave, with not much in between. In fact, it’s impossible to adequately convey the sheer horror they endure in their day-to-day lives, but perhaps this quick story from the Washington Post
will provide a tiny taste:
Han, a Communist Party official in North Korea, was walking home from work when he heard he was in trouble. He had smuggled a radio back from China after an official trip. He listened to it late at night, huddled with earphones on and shades drawn, to hear music that brought him a whisper of sanity and took him away from the horrors of his day.
Now, someone had found it, or someone had told.
“It could have been my children who said something outside. It could have been my friend; one knew,” said Han, 39, who spoke on condition he be identified only by his surname.
“If a farmer or laborer had a radio, he could have been released,” Han said. “But I was an official. In my case, it would have been torture and a life sentence in a political prisoners’ camp.”4
Torture and life in prison for possessing a radio? That just about sums up life in this communist “workers’ paradise” that has devolved into a brutal and bizarre national cult.
• Zimbabwe, once a gleaming gem of a country in the central highlands of southern Africa, featuring the breathtakingly beautiful, mile-wide Victoria Falls, used to be a major breadbasket for the entire continent. That was when it was called Rhodesia. But once Marxist Robert Mugabe was elected prime minister in 1980, Zimbabwe gradually was transformed into yet another indescribable hell-on-earth.
Thousands of productive white-owned commercial farms have been stolen by hordes of government-sanctioned thugs, the owners brutalized, tortured, and murdered, the farms left in ruin—causing the catastrophic collapse of the nation’s once-robust agricultural base. Reformers and political opponents are routinely executed and Christian churches bulldozed. As a result, Zimbabwe’s formerly thriving economy has disintegrated, causing the world’s highest— and frankly incomprehensible—inflation rate, over 11 million percent!5 Average life expectancy has been cut almost in half, from 57 to only 34 years for females and 37 for males—the shortest life span of any nation on earth.6
Yes, I know, these are some of the worst governments on earth. But in truth, a great many other nations are not much better. Burma and Sudan are ruled by brutal military dictatorships and mass slaughter and genocide are normal there. The vast Middle East is made up largely of Arab-Muslim police states, almost two dozen of them, where Islam’s strict, medieval sharia law reduces everyday life to one of repression, cruelty, and paralyzing fear at best—and at worst, terrorism, “honor killings,” and death by stoning for relatively minor offenses (and sometimes for no
offense)—all sugarcoated with a stiflingly rigid and intolerant religious code.
• China, currently with about a fifth of the world’s population—more than 1.3 billion souls—is still at core a ruthless and suffocating communist dictatorship, despite its prodigious economic growth. The government imprisons anyone who dares criticize it. “An estimated 500,000 people are currently enduring punitive detention without charge or trial,” reveals Amnesty International, “and millions are unable to access the legal system to seek redress for their grievances. Harassment, surveillance, house arrest and imprisonment of human rights defenders are on the rise… .”7
There’s no free press in China, news organizations being largely owned and run by the government, which even censors the Internet (cyber-dissidents are imprisoned for signing online petitions and calling for reform). And the government’s notorious one-child policy has been heartlessly enforced via mandatory sterilization, forced abortion, and even infanticide. Chinese goods may be cheap, but life there is even cheaper.
• What about Russia? Most in the West have the impression much has improved since the bad old Soviet days, but appearances can be deceiving. According to Andrey Illarionov, former senior economic policy adviser to Vladimir Putin, freedom in Russia has deteriorated
dramatically in recent years. Specifically, he reveals, the year 2006 “was an extraordinary one in a sense of destruction of all types and all elements of freedom. Whichever area we can look at—the political system, legal system, court system, civil society, rule of law, division of powers, freedom of expression, freedom of mass media, freedom of association—everywhere, in each area, we see tremendous backlash against the basic liberties of Russian people.”8 As this supposedly “reformed” giant of a nation, which spans eleven time zones, continues increasingly to resemble its former, malignantly aggressive “superpower” alter ego, Russia internally is in crisis. Its judicial system is almost dysfunctional, there’s virtually no freedom of the press, and international human rights organizations report widespread abuses, including systematic torture of people held by police.
We could continue on with our tour, but we’d just find that most other governments, from the Far East to Africa to South America, are corrupt, predatory, and power-hungry. Each typically perfumes its tyranny with an idealistic, utopian philosophy such as communism or Islamic fundamentalism to help control the population. Even Europe and the United Kingdom, once the crown of Western civilization, are firmly in the grip of secular (de facto atheistic) socialism, which suffocates their once-vibrant Christian culture and seduces their citizens into giving up their hard-won freedoms, independence, and wealth in exchange for “cradle-to-grave” security.
That brings ...