March 29, 2009
Obese Government Needs Bypass SurgeryBy Roger Banks
Yes, the era of big government is over.
It's been supplanted by an era of obese government.
Ignoring its own Surgeon General's warnings that obesity is hazardous to your health, the federal government has grown to outlandish proportions. Paradoxically, sizable growth is occurring even in the form of government programs to warn us about the dangers of growing excessively fat. With several agencies already ingesting funds for "obesity awareness" and other such indispensable services, a subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee is presently expending our resources in hearings to determine how much more government must consume to squash the problem of too much consumption.
Meanwhile, in another compartment of the Capitol Rotunda -- which, in my mind's eye, instead of a symbol of the beauty of self-government, has lately come to represent an impossibly distended, great white belly -- the Secretary of the Treasury opened his menu and placed an order for more public funds with which to "wind down" (i.e., crush) private enterprises. The primary targets are those characterized as having, in the coinage now in vogue, a "too-big-to-fail" attitude.
Thus, the federal bureaucracy gorges itself on the fruit of our labor to protect us from, among many other things, growing too big in either our persons or our businesses. In reality, the administration seems to believe only government can be "too big to fail." Yet if obesity poses health hazards to an individual body, how greatly magnified the risks must be for a grotesquely overweight government body, which threatens to flatten the entire population under its immensity.
The good news is, obesity has a cure.
Medical experts confirm that a procedure known as gastric bypass surgery can lead to dramatic improvements to weight and overall health. According to the Mayo Clinic, a patient can expect to lose 50 percent to 60 percent of his excess weight.
The National Institute of Health, a corpulent agency in its own right, cautions, however, that the operation should be performed only on "carefully selected patients with clinically severe obesity when less invasive methods of weight loss have failed and the patient is at high risk for obesity-associated morbidity or mortality."
Does the government meet its own criteria? That its condition is "clinically severe" is beyond serious debate: new trillion-dollar spending proposals issue practically every week; earmarks fill the nose with such malodorous projects as the study of pig excreta; a federal budget approaches a full 20 percent of GDP; "cramdowns" and "clawbacks" cram and claw their way more and more into the private decision-making of every household and enterprise. In sum, denying the mortal danger to a nation conceived in liberty would be very much like denying an elephant in the living room.
The only question, then, is whether less invasive means have been exhausted. Among conservatives, this seems to be the coming debate. On one side, are moderate approaches like the three-year "spending freeze" proposed last week by Senator Charles Grassley. On the other side is the more drastic bypass operation, described below.
For years, countless less invasive methods have been tried without success. Welfare reform; pay-as-you-go rules; lobbying reform; half-hearted pledges to make government more efficient; the list goes on. Despite all such efforts, the government has only continued to swell, until the present age of obesity as spending magnifies exponentially, with a positively bacchanalian lack of restraint.
Even tax cuts have failed to shrink the government because, as any glutton can attest, reducing caloric intake during daylight hours is nullified by late-night visits to the refrigerator. Whenever taxes are reduced, legislative raiders of the public purse will be found furtively stuffing themselves with substitute forms of taxation, including taxation of future generations by borrowing and printing.
The by-pass operation, however, eliminates the need, and the capacity, for massive taxation. The Mayo Clinic explains:
In the case of government obesity, a political by-pass would entail the detachment of the fiscal alimentary tract from the endless entrails of superfluous federal agencies, where trillions of dollars taxpayer funds are currently absorbed and excreted in wasteful government programs. Instead, a new incision would be made just below the gullet of the IRS and revenue would be routed exclusively to essential functions -- those that provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
According to the Mayo Clinic, "the success of the surgery depends in part on your commitment to following the guidelines given to you about diet and exercise." In this case, a simple low tax diet based on either income or consumption would be established, following surgical removal of the cancerous tax code.
Prognosis following surgery: The patient's health would be restored, with the limited government composed of lean muscle, and the economy invigorated in a new metabolic balance.
Roger Banks is a lawyer and writer in Washington, D.C.