KNIGHT: When government grows like kudzu

True independence disappears beneath a tangle of bureaucracy

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Some federal employees, as we have learned recently, accumulate data about our phone calls, emails, Facebook postings, Tweets, bank accounts and credit cards — trillions of bytes of information. They want to know everything — in order to protect us.

To administer Obamacare’s new taxes, the Internal Revenue Service is adding at least 16,000 more employees. Somebody has to wade through the thousands of pages of regulations to figure out how to stick it to us — for our own good.

C.S. Lewis, who had a jaundiced view of “progress,” warned in “The Screwtape Letters” that the people to be feared most are those who expand authority under benevolent auspices.

“The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint,” Lewis wrote.

“It is not done even in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.

“Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state .”

America is not a police state — yet. Government is necessary because, as James Madison observed, men are not angels. Without government, life would be nasty, brutish and short.

But right now, the federal government, with Democrats pouring Miracle Gro on its kudzu-like growth, has far too many people watching over us for our own good.

We’re finding out the hard way where the road goes that’s paved with good intentions.

Robert Knight is senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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