- - Tuesday, June 12, 2012



BOCA GRANDE, Fla. — On this tiny fishing island in the Gulf, the majestic and prehistoric tarpon sheathed in its armor of giant scales is called “Silver King.” Fisherman here bow to the king when he breaks from his foamy lair and people who live along the shoreline of his domain talk of little else.

Washington, D.C., is more than a thousand miles away, yet seems so much farther.

About the only way you can be certain that you are, in fact, still in the U.S. is that, tucked away on the corner of Fourth Street and West Railroad Avenue, there is a small U.S. post office with little windowed boxes under four softly spinning ceiling fans.

No long lines or surly postmistresses here. It is a pleasant place where people drop in on daily strolls in flip-flops. It is where they swap stories about the latest tarpon sightings and tournaments. It is where they ship Christmas packages.

It is also among the 3,700 post offices around the country that were slated for closure after decades of malfeasance by the U.S. Postal Service that has left the organization bloated, years outdated, increasingly irrelevant and perpetually on the brink of bankruptcy.

The closures are a breathtaking admission of utter failure by the federal government. The postal service is one of just a handful of responsibilities of the federal government specifically outlined in the Constitution. The founders thought it was important that the remotest outposts of this sprawling and magnificently diverse country would remain part the national political discourse.

The bankrupting of the postal service — along with the abominable failure to simply maintain our borders — is why so many Americans despise the federal government. So many more simply wonder why it is so useless and go on paying their taxes to that far-off land of bureaucratic indolence.

When the federal government isn’t busy ignoring the illegals streaming over our open borders or bankrupting our local post office, it is busy meddling in all sorts of areas where it has no business.

Armed federal agents raid an Amish farmer before sunrise — for selling fresh milk?

Government “health” officials ban the very asthma inhalers that so many people rely upon to breathe — in the name of clean air?

The Department of Justice forces all public swimming pools in the country to install costly and potentially dangerous lifts so that people in wheelchairs can be lowered into the water. How is that for stupid and dangerous?

And now the Environmental Protection Agency is grabbing power to regulate ditches and gullies on private land?

Of course, there is not so much as a single word in the Constitution establishing the federal government that mentions milk, swimming pools, asthma inhalers or even the regulation of ditches.

We can safely assume that none of the founders envisioned any of this as part of a more perfect union. The truth is, it is all smoke and mirrors aimed at deflecting attention away from the central fact that the federal government takes more of our money than ever and fails to perform the simplest of key tasks.

This week’s Boca Beacon, the local paper, reported that after considerable outcry the island’s beloved post office would be spared from the chopping block. Meanwhile, the billions in debts and losses continue to mount and the government offers no solution for fixing any of it.

If only we could throw them all in with the Silver King and let the hammerhead sharks sort them out.

Charles Hurt can be reached at charleshurt@live.com.

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