The Year of Big Government

December 30, 2001

by John K. Bates

Year’s 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 Condit’s fiasco or Timothy McVeigh’s execution? Didn’t 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, can’t-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 aliens.
  • 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 America’s 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, couldn’t resist.
  • 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 NFL’s 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 don’t but act like they do, they will choose the true believers. Mr. Bush will find himself as the underdog in 2004.
  • 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 choice.
  • 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 intrusion.
  • Combine this new philosophy with Attorney General John Ashcroft’s disdain for basic civil liberties, Mr. Bush’s general approval of big government and the GOP’s 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.


John K. Bates is a part-time freelance writer who works in the energy engineering field and lives in the Denver, Colorado area. He enjoys many outdoor pursuits and the company of his family of three cats. His columns can also be seen on

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For more of John's articles, visit his archives.

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