EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


July 7, 2013

Column: Beware of the law you didn't know you broke

I’m not trying to rain (after the fact) on anyone’s parade, or their fireworks.

It’s just that waving flags, listening to first-rate orchestras play, hearing celebrities sing their hits and watching massive fireworks displays – while perfectly fine things to do – seem somewhat akin to fiddling while Rome burns.

For the past few decades, every year that we celebrate Independence Day we are a bit less independent. And the most depressing part of it is that most of the increasing dependence is welcomed or ignored. We don’t even shrug our shoulders, let alone burn with outrage, when our president brags about how many more millions have been brought onto food stamps on his watch.

More dependence? Hey, that’s just “the village” taking care of its own. As the president said, “government is the one thing we all belong to.” And we nod, apparently not caring, or even remembering, that it used to be the other way around – government belonged to us.

Even more troubling: The kind of government surveillance that (justifiably) prompted massive outrage from alleged liberals under President George W. Bush gets only muted complaints when it is done to a much greater degree under President Obama. After all, his surrogates say, you can trust him. Whatever he is doing is for our own good – to keep us safe.

According to polls, a majority of us agree – it’s just fine for the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect information on who we call, from where and for how long, along with every activity we conduct online. We’re not terrorists. We have nothing to hide.

And that is where we are dangerously deluded. We no longer have any clue about whether we have anything to hide.

Declarations like that remind me of something my brother, a physician, told me a good 20 years ago. He and several other doctors were running a group practice. It opened his eyes to the crushing burden of government regulation.

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