John Stossel

The filibuster is sure taking its lumps these days. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says "the Senate -- and, therefore, the U.S. government as a whole -- has become ominously dysfunctional". The Democrats won the White House and Congress last year and should have had no trouble passing the health care overhaul, yet "the need for 60 votes to cut off Senate debate and end a filibuster -- a requirement that appears nowhere in the Constitution, but is simply a self-imposed rule -- turned what should have been a straightforward piece of legislating into a nail-biter. And it gave a handful of wavering senators extraordinary power to shape the bill."

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Why is this "dysfunctional"? I assume Krugman would praise the filibuster if a President Palin and Republican Congress were ramming bills through. Regardless of what senators in the 19th century had in mind, the filibuster is a wonderful antidote to the tyranny of the majority. It's no argument against it to say that the statists' favorite piece of legislation didn't fly through smoothly enough. They'll have to come up with a better case than that.

There is no greater threat to individual freedom and autonomy than government. The threat from private freelance crime is small potatoes compared to the daily usurpations of the state, with its taxation, regulation, privilege-granting, inflation and war. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's immortal passage has never been topped:

"To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place(d) under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored."

That just about covers it.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate