The Second Casualty

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Randolph Bourne famously observed that “war is the health of the state.” The present undeclared war against the Taliban government of Afghanistan and the stateless army of al Qaeda suggests that his observation is true, even when a war is undeclared and won quickly and – so far as most Americans are concerned inexpensively.

Despite the ease with which the U.S. military has dispatched its puny enemy, the American public has gladly surrendered liberty in ways great and small. The terrorist attack of Sept. 11 has been a rationale to raise taxes to pay for everything from rapid transit to the subsidy of travel agents. And consider the new developments on the regulatory front.

While one administration official tells Americans that, when they fly on commercial aircraft, they must stand ready to attack hijackers, another has made it illegal to carry onto an airplane anything that· might be used as a weapon, including fingernail clippers and crochet hooks. I suppose the idea is that passengers should attack with the plastic forks they are given to eat their airline 1/ food.”

As government grows more powerful and more expensive, support for its further growth and its confiscation of more of our liberties and more of our treasure also grows. Recent polls show that the federal government is more popular than at any time in memory.

The era of “the era of big government is over” is over.

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