The Era of Unlimited Government Is Here
Democrats are minding their own business . . . and everyone else's.


Deroy Murdock

‘Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business,” Pres. Calvin Coolidge told journalists in March 1929.

If Coolidge suddenly sprang to life today, he would look around and drop dead.

Washington Democrats are minding their own business . . . and everyone else’s. In this Era of Unlimited Government, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats stick their snouts anywhere they will fit, without the guidance of common sense, frugality, or any sense of priorities. For today’s federal government, it’s everything, all the time.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) has moved to cap ATM fees at 50 cents per transaction. Between 1999 and 2009, the number of money machines has exploded from about 227,000 to 425,000 nationwide, reports Independent operators spend $9,000 to $50,000 to purchase each ATM and $12,000 to $15,000 annually to operate it. If Congress slaps price controls on ATM transactions, these businesses will shrivel — perhaps fatally. And then who will install and maintain ATMs?

Harkin should ask himself this: Do ATM owners put pistols to consumers’ heads so they will withdraw cash? Nope. May consumers use their own banks’ ATMs for free or cheap, shop with credit cards, or pay with checks? Yup. So, would Tom Harkin kindly keep his nostrils to himself?

The Federal Communications Commission is pushing so-called “net neutrality.” Although the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on April 6 that this agency has no jurisdiction over the Internet, FCCniks want to regulate cyberspace via the Communications Act of 1934, which was adopted to oversee telephones. The Internet does not pollute. It does not keep ten-year-olds busy making shoes or force people to transmit e-mails, purchase plane tickets online, or locate lovers with a mouse click. So, why can’t the FCC back off and enjoy some Internet pornography, as did 28 on-duty Securities and Exchange Commission staffers? (None was fired.) Instead, Democrats want to eclipse one of this economy’s few glimmers of sunlight. This is net brutality.

In a February 2001 interview with Chicago public-radio station WBEZ, law professor Cass Sunstein prophesied how such e-rules could go beyond technical issues like bandwidth. Sunstein suggested that “if you are reading a conservative magazine, they would provide a link to a liberal site and vice versa, just to make it easy for people to get access to competing views.”

Sunstein also proposed that websites include randomly selected links to one or more of the Internet’s top 25 websites.

“The best would be for this to be done voluntarily,” Sunstein added. “But the word ‘voluntary’ is a little complicated. Sometimes people don’t do what’s best for our society unless Congress holds hearings or unless the public demands it. And the idea would be to have a legal mandate as the last resort . . . but to have that as an ultimate weapon designed to encourage people to do better.”
Sunstein is on leave from Harvard Law School. This frees him to wield his ultimate weapon as President Obama’s “regulatory czar.”