I looked at the photograph in The Oregonian that morning with no little amazement. There was Kenneth Lay, top executive of the now-defunct Enron energy corporation, being led away in a $5,000 suit � and handcuffs. Such things are rare in our world � that highly-placed, wealthy businessmen are arrested at all, much less in handcuffs. This was the capstone of a number of what had begun to be called �perp walks� in the media since the massive corruption scandals began a few years ago. This perp walk hit the top of the food chain in Kenneth Lay.
The Left has been decrying corporate greed and promoting an �eat the rich� mentality for years and was gleeful when these scandals � all seeming to come at the same time � seemed to support their mantra that big businesses are inherently evil. Amidst the wailing over the losses of �the little guy� who had investments (in hopes of fast profits, I might add) in Enron et al, came the renewed cry of the thinly disguised socialist � we need public utilities, that is, �Socialize the energy industry!� This is a recent cry here locally as Portland General Electric (an Enron subsidiary) is on the blocks.
Now the Left (not to worry, Right, your turn approacheth) is traditionally suspicious of government�s ability to provide things that only government can provide, i.e., military, police, courts, lawmakers, etc. Yet there is a strange suspension of that cynicism when it comes to things like schooling, health care, and, now, utilities.
Does anyone find this a little odd?
There is a similar problem on the Right. We want the government to provide for defense � national and local � and to stay out of our lives as to how many guns we own or what kind. We are suspicious of government getting involved in our personal business with overly inquisitive census questions, curbing religious or political speech, wage and price controls, and such. However, we are often way too willing to grant powers to law enforcement that would serve those same ends � and worse.
For many years the Right has supported �tax exempt status� for churches and charities. Now while the dictum, �The power to tax is the power to destroy� has some validity, I suggest that there is far more truth to my modification: �The power to not tax is the power to destroy.�
I�m sure many of you have noted the obsequiousness of the American churches when it comes to �political involvement.� The craven fear of having their 501(c)(3) status taken away has silenced the American church to almost all �social� issues like abortion and homosexuality. Most of these churches and charities end up modifying their beliefs � or at least suppressing them � for the 30 pieces of silver they can get from being tax exempt.
We know that private watchdog groups, the media, and others have been adept at finding abuses in churches and charities in recent years. As a result of publicity, we�ve seen our share of perp walks and lawsuits dealing with this as well.
Now, however, we find the Right lining up for the goodies again in the �faith�-based services initiative. Already the IRS gets to decide who is and who is not a religion or a charity, now a whole new bureaucracy will wade in on the process.
Didn�t anyone learn anything from seeing the �tax exempt� churches grovel?
This strange trust people have for letting the government run important parts of our lives is beyond comprehension. The explanation I hear, for instance, from the Left wanting public utility districts is that these government agencies will be more accountable and more responsive to �the people.� The Right has similar claims about the federal oversight of what is �proper� for charities.
My question on this misplaced trust is: How often do we see perp walks for government regulators who abuse power and break the law?
Are our courts hearing cases against IRS agents who extort more money than due using threats of intensive audits? Do we see FBI sharpshooters who kill unarmed citizens on trial? Do BLM regulators who steal the use of private land for public �wetlands� ever feel the pinch of handcuffs?
I�m sure you can all think of examples, so I need not go on.
Considering this, I am mystified as to why we think that taking something out of private hands and making it a government responsibility would make for more accountability. The government protects its own for the most part � and, if necessary, sacrifices a pawn. However, the power of private businesses � even the largest of corporations � to cover for themselves pales in comparison.
The government has simple and limited jurisdiction. The protection of life, liberty, and property, are its tasks. The Bible puts it that government is authorized by God to punish the wicked and reward the righteous. (1 Peter 2: 14)
We all need to be more careful about what things we trust government for.
� 2004 Paul deParrie - All Rights Reserved
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Paul deParrie is a 17-year veteran of anti-abortion street activism, a preacher, and a social critic. He is the author of "Dark Cures: Have Doctors Lost Their Ethics" (Huntington House) available at NewsWithViews Online Store Front. deParrie may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Have Doctors Lost Their Ethics can be purchased by calling
I�m sure many of you have noted the obsequiousness of the American churches when it comes to �political involvement.� The craven fear of having their 501(c)(3) status taken away has silenced the American church to almost all �social� issues like abortion and homosexuality.