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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Czar by Any Other Name

During these first seven months of the Obama Administration, I’m fairly dizzy from the flurry of activity generated by this president, not to mention his daily appearances on television. The other day I was sitting in a restaurant that had a TV which was set to a news station carrying a speech by President Obama. I wasn’t paying much attention until a man walked in, stopped, and said to no one in particular, “He’s on again?” I smiled in silent understanding.

What is troubling to me is the massive number of issues being undertaken by President Obama and his administration. It appears that he is attempting to bring about all the promised campaign changes immediately with no apparent concern for adequate oversight of these varying plans and policies being rammed down our throats.

For instance, I’ve never seen so many “trial balloons” floated out to the American public as I have by this administration. Trial balloons means information that is purposefully fed to the public to see what will be tolerated. This is part of what I mean by the dizzying effect. I simply cannot keep up with all that is being thrown at us. Whoever is orchestrating this within the administration seems to be very intentional, almost as if they are saying to themselves, “Let’s see how much of this we can get past these people.” Well, they succeeded in getting the Stimulus Bill passed by us, not because we Americans thought it was a great idea in an attempt to stimulate the economy. Most of us understand the principle that says you do not spend your way out of debt. But hey, this was our new president’s first run at “change,” so we gave him a pass.

Now we’re faced with HR 3200, the Health Care Bill in Congress. It is gratifying to see the American people sit up and take notice of this abomination of a bill by letting their voices be heard in town hall meetings all over this great land. Hooray for Joe Citizen!

But I’m still troubled. I sense a certain slight-of-hand going on here. While we’re being distracted by the ebb and flow of the fate of the Health Care Bill, I have this uneasy feeling that there are other things passing below the radar that we’re not aware of for the most part. Some might say I’m being paranoid. Maybe I am. Reminds me of the definition of paranoia sent to me by my brother some years back: Paranoia is a heightened state of awareness.

I was in the local donut shop earlier today to grab a donut and a cup of coffee on my way to the office. As I stood at the counter doctoring my coffee, an elderly gentleman and his wife engaged me in conversation. The man said, “Aren’t you Pastor Roots?” I said, “Yes, sir, I am,” to which he replied, “Figured it was you from the picture in the paper. We read your articles every week. We like’em!” We discussed some of our concerns about our government. I mentioned my particular concern about the appointment of czars and that I was thinking about writing my next article on this subject, to which the gentleman said, “That would be all right by me!” One of those issues that most of us have ignored is the assigning by this president of czars to have oversight of various parts of government. The name “czar” just doesn’t set well with me. I remember my world history well enough that czars leaned heavily toward the enforcement (use of physical force was common) of what they thought was right – and the people be damned. The word czar (or tsar in Russian) derives from the word Caesar from which the word Kaiser was formed. By definition, in our use of the word today, czar means “any person exercising great authority or power in a particular field.” Webster’s Dictionary puts it this way: “One having great power or authority (a Banking czar).” The term czar is sometimes applied generally to a powerful leader or to a government administrator with wide-ranging powers.

As of the first of June, President Obama had appointed thirty-two czars within his administration. More have been added since then I’m sure. This is not the first time this term has been used in American politics. It goes back as early as the 1830s under President Andrew Jackson. However, most every other time this term in American politics was used it was done so in a demeaning, disparaging manner. Ironically, the reason President Jackson used the word was to denigrate his opponent in what became known as the Bank Wars of 1832-36. Jackson’s chief opponent was with the president of the Bank of the United States, Nicholas Biddle, referred to as “Czar Nicholas” by opponents. Jackson was vehemently opposed to the centralized power of the bank. So here we are 175 years later and the current leader of the Free World, President Barack Obama, has appointed a “Bank Bailout Czar.” Does anyone else see the irony in this?

The implementation of a raft of czars may, in the short run, seem to gain control in certain areas of government that are out of control, but in the long run, we have increased the size of government exponentially – a problem we simply do not need to exacerbate.

Here’s a simple formula to keep in mind. The bigger government gets, the more taxes we pay. Conversely, the smaller government gets, the less taxes we pay. As for me, I want less government (particularly less government intrusion into our lives), and I want to see our tax burden reduced significantly. Also, I am not comfortable with czars running our nation. They need to go. Too much power – too little accountability. And finally, don’t trifle with the Constitution! That’s a No, No!

The greatness of our nation has always been in its people, not in the government. God gave us an opportunity to rule this new nation without the fear of autocrats imposing their wills on the people. That’s why we shucked the manacles of political and religious despotism from the British monarchy for the fresh air of freedom in America.

In the immortal words spoken by President Abraham Lincoln at the conclusion of his Gettysburg Address, he said, “That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Amen!

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