The Year of Big Government
December 30, 2001
by John K. Bates
Years end usually finds commentators and pundits doing one of
two things: Reviewing the year that was, or predicting the year to come.
Obviously, the year that was had a single, dominating event (anyone remember
Gary Condits fiasco or Timothy McVeighs execution? Didnt
think so.) Writing much about the year that was, therefore, is rather
futile and more or less has been done in many previous columns.
Which leaves the year to come. Your humble columnist considers himself
as qualified - he has a space to publish - as any other writer to make
valuable, cant-miss projections of the upcoming year. And so without
further adieu - and realizing that some may find his prognostication skills
to be about as accurate as his scriptural interpretation skills - here
are my predictions of some of the major (and not so major) events that
will occur in the Year of Our Lord 2002.
- Usama bin Laden will not be found. He may be dead, he may not be dead.
While the thought of him not being dead is a bit unsettling, in reality
it makes little difference. His followers will continue - as resources
become available - to try to disrupt America, its allies, and Israel.
This will continue whether or not he is, in fact, alive. These followers
will fail, but the effort will be made. Meanwhile, bin Laden will achieve
a kind-of Elvis stature, with sightings and rumors here,
there, and everywhere. And it is only a matter of time before some tabloid
claims a woman is bearing his baby or that he has been abducted by space
- There will be a few isolated terror incidents, but no major events
will occur. Granted, this is the prognosticational equivalent of predicting
partly cloudy with a chance of rain; it is the safe bet.
But chances are the networks necessary to plan an operation as complex
as the September 11 attacks have been destroyed at least temporarily.
Furthermore, Americans - and people everywhere in the West - are still
alert for more attacks. So nothing big will happen, although we can
expect minor incidents such as the attempted shoe bombing and Americas
anthrax mailings to continue.
- Oprah Winfrey will cancel her show and apologize to men worldwide
for years of teaching women completely wrong ideas about men. Sorry,
- Major League baseball will cancel the first half of its season due
to an owner-mandated lockout. Owners will follow the pattern set by
NBA owners a few years back in order to restore some sense of fiscal
responsibility to the game. Simply put, baseball cannot continue with
a few select teams (the Yankees come to mind) buying all the talent
they need while everyone else struggles to make a profit. There is no
easy solution, but the system as is cannot work and will not work. Enough
of the smaller market teams will force this issue.
- The University of Florida will declare a 30-day period of mourning,
as Saint Steve Spurrier is finally lured to the NFLs Tampa Bay
franchise. Police will be called out to stop despondent students from
jumping out of dormitory windows. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, will become
the second team in NFL history to have an undefeated season.
- The Democrats will have remarkable success in 2002, winning the House
and expanding their margin in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Tom
Daschle will follow his mentor George Mitchell and will successfully
paint George W. Bush as uncaring in domestic affairs. Republicans, who
long ago lost the desire to cut government, will find that when people
have a choice between those who genuinely believe in bigger government
and those who claim they dont but act like they do, they will
choose the true believers. Mr. Bush will find himself as the underdog
- The budget deficit will resurface, and the government will raise taxes.
Mr. Bush will make the same failed deal with the devil as
his father - and will suffer the same ridicule. Higher taxes will not
of course reduce the deficit, but with the Democrats and their willing
allies in the media daily pounding the point that the GOP is the party
of fiscal recklessness, Bush will conclude (wrongly) that he has no
- The media, politicians, and Hollywood will milk September 11 for all
it is worth. After all, they still milk Columbine here in Colorado,
and that occurred almost 3 years ago. Any time there is a slow news
day, the front pages will be full of human interest stories
of victims families, or scare stories about some new threat. They
have found a nice little gravy train, and they will keep it going as
long as they can.
- And finally, 2002 will be known as the Year of Big Government. It
will be 1994 in reverse, as the Democrats will run and win on a new
Contract with America that will focus on domestic and economic
security. Just as the children was the catchall word for
Bill Clinton, security will be the password for 2002. Anything
and everything that enhances security will be given a fair
hearing and likely will become law. Most ominous among many bad ideas
is that of a national I.D. card which would first be required
to fly on airplanes. At least that is what the politicians say now.
But since the functions of such a card could easily be expanded, many
other measures would be added to the card, all in the name
of security. Want to get in a stadium? You have to have
a pass card. Want to see your child at school? Better have that pass
card, too. You want to buy a gun? Better have a clean pass card, and
no parking tickets or any other criminal infractions that could show
you are a citizen of ill repute. Anything, anywhere - so long as it
is considered a safety measure - will be fair game for government
- Combine this new philosophy with Attorney General John Ashcrofts
disdain for basic civil liberties, Mr. Bushs general approval
of big government and the GOPs absolute love of the federal government,
and you have the recipe for federal powers that even Ted Kennedy would
blush over. There is no hope right now for the libertarian or constitutional
viewpoint; all policies must be and will be viewed through the lens
of security. No sacrifice of freedom will be considered too large in
order to protect the people. Those who object to the new,
bigger government will be ostracized and likely turned out of office,
making the voice for smaller government that much smaller. Those who
cherish individual freedom will find less and less of a voice in their
politicians, pundits, and even conservative media.
This nation has come a long ways since Ronald Reagan, bless his heart,
declared, government is not the solution to the problem, government
is the problem. George W. Bush never was suspicious of government,
and his Republican party has grown to love the power of government. September
11 will become the catalyst to create a big-government lovefest the likes
of which this nation has not seen since 1933. And just as with FDR and
his New Deal, the powers grabbed by the feds in the next year
will never, ever be relinquished back to the American people. We may become
more secure (though that is certainly open for debate), but we will become
less free. Sadly, we will forever remain so.