Joseph Stack, frustrated American, flew his airplane
into an Austin, Texas, office building. He was one of
the 79 percent of Americans who have given up on
The latest Rasmussen Poll indicates that the vast
majority of Americans are convinced that
government is totally unresponsive to them, their
concerns, and their needs. Rasmussen found that only 21
percent of the American population agrees that the U.S.
government has the consent of the governed, and that 21
percent is comprised of the political class itself and
liberals. Rasmussen concludes that the gap between the
American population and the politicians who rule them
"may be as big today as the gap between the colonies and
England during the 18th century."
Indications are that Joseph Stack was sane. Like
Palestinians faced with Israeli jet fighters, helicopter
gunships, tanks, missiles and poison gas, Stack realized
that he was powerless. A suicide attack was the only
weapon left to him.
Stack targeted the IRS, the federal agency that had
gratuitously ruined him. He flew his airplane into an
office building occupied by 200 members of the IRS. This
deliberate plan and the written explanation he left
behind segregate him from deranged people who randomly
shoot up a Post Office or university campus.
The government and its propaganda ministry do not want
to call Stack a terrorist.
is a term the government reserves for Muslims who do not
like what Israel does to Palestinians and the U.S.
government does to Muslim countries.
But Stack experienced the same frustrations and emotions
as Muslims who can`t take it any longer and strap on a
Stack wrote, "not only is the answer, it is the only answer." Stack concluded
that nothing short of violence will get the attention of
a government that has turned its back on the American
Anger is building up. People are beginning to do unusual
Terry Hoskins bulldozed his house rather than allow
a bank to foreclose on it. The local TV station
conducted an online survey and found that 79 percent of
respondents agreed with Hoskins` action.
Perhaps the turning point was the federal government`s
bailout of the investment banks whose reckless
misbehavior diminished Americans` retirement savings for
the second time in eight years. Now a former head of the
most culpable bank is campaigning to cut Social
Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits in order to
pay for the bailout. President Obama has obliged him by
commission" will be used to gut Social Security,
just as the private insurance health plan is paid for by
cutting $500 billion out of Medicare.
It could not be more clear that government represents
the interest groups that finance the election campaigns.
Conservatives used to say that Washington`s power should
be curtailed in behalf of state and local governments
that are "closer
to the people." But of course state and local
governments are also controlled by interest groups.
Consider Florida, for example. In 2004 the storm surge
from Hurricane Ivan did considerable damage to the Gulf
Coast of the Florida panhandle. At Inlet Beach in Walton
County, the surge claimed two beachfront homes and
washed away enough of the high ground as to leave other
homes vulnerable to the next storm.
People wanted to armor their homes with some form of sea
wall. When the county gave the go ahead, two houses on
the West end hired engineers who constructed a barrier
made of rows of tubes 60 feet long filled with sand,
each weighing about 70 tons. The sand-colored tubes were
buried under many tons of white sand trucked in, and sea
oats were planted. It was a perfect solution, and an
Just East of the two homes, Ivan washed away a section
of beachfront road and left three houses built on
pilings sitting on the beach. Last year government with
FEMA money rebuilt the section of washed away beachfront
road and armored it and two adjacent houses. The
government used interlocking iron or steel panels that
it drove down into the sand, leaving six to seven feet
of the rusty metal above ground. Hundreds of truckloads
of sand were brought in to cover the unsightly sea wall.
It didn`t require a storm to wash away the loose sand
and leave the ugly rusty metal exposed on the beach. The
first high tide did the trick. Residents and vacationers
are left with an eyesore on a beach ranked as the third
most beautiful in the world.
The ugly rusty barrier built by government is still
there. But the intelligent approach taken by the private
homeowners has been condemned to death. As I write heavy
equipment is on the beach slashing open the tubes and
piling up the sand to be carried away. The homes will be
left standing on the edge and will be undermined by the
Why did this happen? The official reason given by
Florida`s Department of Environmental Policy is that the
county could only issue a temporary permit. Only DEP can
issue a permanent permit, and as the homeowners don`t
have DEP`s permanent permit, out goes the expensive,
carefully engineered and unobtrusive sea wall.
This is the way government
ordinary citizens. For the vast majority of people,
government exists as a persecution mechanism that takes
great pleasure in ruining their lives and pocketbooks.
The DEP has inflicted heavy stress on the homeowners,
now elderly, and could bring on a heart attack or
The real explanation for DEP`s merciless treatment of
citizens is that the agency is powerless against
developers. It cannot stop them from destroying the
Everglades, from destroying wetlands, from polluting
rivers, or from building in front of the coastal setback
line. As the state politicians protect developers from
the DEP, the only people against whom the DEP can use
its authority are unrepresented citizens. Frustrated
itself, the DEP lashes out at powerless citizens.
In the small settlement of Inlet Beach, there are
numerous examples of developers getting what they want.
Over the years hurricanes have eaten away the beach and
the dunes. As this occurs the setback line for
construction moves inland. Back when the real estate
bubble was being created by Alan Greenspan`s
irresponsibly low interest rate policy, small beach
front lots were going for one million dollars. In the
midst of this frenzy, a well-connected developer bought
a beachfront lot for $30,000.
The lot was not recognizable as such. It sits on flat
land on the beach. Decades ago it was a lot, but as the
Gulf ate away the coast, the lot is now positioned in
front of the setback line. The developer got the lot for
the low price, because no one had been able to get a
building permit for years.
But the developer got a permit. According to the head of
the neighborhood association at the time, the developer
went to a DEP official, whose jurisdiction was another
part of the state and who was a former employee of the
developer, and was issued a permit. Because of its
exposure, during the real estate boom the house sat
unsold for years. The community, which had opposed the
project, concluded that the developer just wanted to
show that he was more powerful than the law.
Currently, on six acres next to a state park on the East
end of Inlet Beach another well connected developer has
obtained DEP permission to compromise Walton County`s
highest and last remaining sand dunes held in place with
native vegetation in order to build 20 houses. To
protect the houses, DEP has issued a permit for the
construction of a 15-foot high man-made sand wall, a
marketing device that will offer little protection.
According to information sent to me, nine of the houses
will be seaward of the Coastal Construction Control
line. Apparently this was a result of the developer
being represented by a former county attorney, who
convinced the commissioners to allow the developer to
plan on the basis of the 1996 FEMA flood plain maps
instead of using the current 2007 maps. Since 1996 there
have been a number of hurricanes, such as Dennis and
Ivan, and the set back line has moved inward.
When state and local governments allow developers to set
aside the rules governing flood-plain development, they
create insurance losses that drive up the insurance
premiums for everyone in the community. The disturbance
of the natural dunes could result in a breach through
which storm surge can damage nearby properties. Instead
of protecting people, government is allowing a developer
to impose costs of his project on others.
Joseph Stack, Terry Hoskins, and 79 percent of the
American population came to the realization that
government does not represent them. Government
represents moneyed interests for whom it bends the rules
designed to protect the public, thus creating a legally
In contrast, as at the West end of Inlet Beach, ordinary
citizens are being driven into the ground.
This is what we call
Paul Craig Roberts [email
him] was Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan`s
first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall
Street Journal. He has held numerous academic
appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair,
Center for Strategic and International Studies,
Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow,
Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded
the Legion of Honor by French President Francois
Mitterrand. He is the author of
Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider`s Account of
Policymaking in Washington;
and the Soviet Economy and
Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy,
and is the co-author
with Lawrence M. Stratton of
The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice. Click
here for Peter
Brimelow`s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts
about the epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.
His latest book, How The Economy Was Lost,
has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press.