The media and talking heads have moved on from last week’s obsession — beating up on Dennis Rodman’s North Korea trip — to the new scandal du jour: Chris Christie and Bridge-Gate. Without rehashing the entire story and timeline, Christie, or at the very least his administration, allegedly sought to cause major traffic obstacles and disruptive delays for residents of Fort Lee, New Jersey, as retribution for the Democratic Mayor of Fort Lee’s refusal to endorse Christie’s reelection bid. The Christie Gang apparently succeeded, as traffic over the George Washington Bridge and into and out of Fort Lee was a nightmare over the course of several days in September. The story broke when Fort Lee’s mayor went public with his suspicions.
As the details surrounding Bridge-Gate continue to unfold, MSNBC and Fox duke it out each night on the prime time news programs. Objective news critics know how the story plays out without having to turn on the television. MSNBC attempts to tie it to Christie in an effort to derail his 2016 Whitehouse bid, while Fox tries to minimize its importance and refocus its viewers on the Obama administration’s various scandals. Stuck in the middle of the opinion molding are CBS, ABC and CNN, who try to land somewhere in between their competitors. The nightly stories focus solely on the political fallout: Was Christie involved and how will the scandal affect his prospects for national office? Few in the media deviate from this standard theme.
One thing that neither side of this story is interested in examining is the underlying problem of government’s all-powerful ability to completely disrupt, and in some cases ruin, average people’s lives. The massive state bureaucracy has assumed so much responsibility that the evil whims of a select few individuals can completely change the face of entire communities for the worse. Bridge-Gate also highlights in stark fashion how government officials view their constituents; to these officials, they tend to be nothing more than pawns to be used in the ongoing chess match that is politics.
The New Jersey scandal is not a new or unusual phenomenon in politics. In fact, it’s the norm for governments near and far. When an institution like government is given such complete power so as to control every important aspect of people’s lives, systematic abuses of innocent people becomes pervasive. In this case, it happened to be local New Jerseyans caught in the political crossfire of Chris Christie and some New Jersey Democrats. In other instances of government’s muscle-flexing, the innocent victims are charitable organizations attempting to do good in the world, but whose views don’t comport with bureaucrats at the IRS.
Nowhere is the “people as government pawns” problem more evident than in the foreign policy arena. Take for example the ongoing US/Iran feud. While the governments of both countries battle over the issue of nuclear weaponry, citizens of both countries suffer because of the intergovernmental power struggle. Iranian people are starved and deprived of life-sustaining medicine as the United States regime’s approach to defeating the Iranian government is to inflict pain upon its subjects to the extent that they feel compelled to affect government overthrow. Americans, most of whom have never been to Iran and who would be unable to point to Iran on a map, suffer (albeit to a lesser extent than the Iranians), as they are systematically robbed in the form of taxation to pay for their government’s wartime atrocities. All of this to further the ongoing fight that is solely between governments, not their people.
Alternative scandals and other smaller-scale wars on innocent people take place daily in every city, every state, and every country, because government at all levels have assumed monopoly powers over functions as diverse as defense, infrastructure, food and water, the environment and health care provision. Advocates of freed markets seek to strip governments of their monopoly powers and unwind government granted privilege, turning over control of vital command posts to individuals and communities. The likelihood of violence on a such a massive scale, as in the Iranian example, or politicians’ unleashing of chaos on unassuming constituents, as in the Christie example, becomes far less possible absent the institution that enables it. Bad actors will never cease to exist, even when localized control prevails, but eliminating the legalized means to affect these actions is certainly a good start.
Until the Rachel Maddows and Megan Kellys of the world start questioning the underlying nature of government as an institution, instead of trying to pick and choose the right people to compose it, we can expect many more instances of abuse of little people attempting to go about their daily lives.