Submitted by James E. Miller of the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada,
Last Saturday, it is being reported that U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary John Bryson was involved in two auto accidents that may have been related to a seizure he suffered during the incidents. According to CNN, Bryson is currently under investigation for a felony hit and run. It is unclear at this point if the Commerce Secretary’s health condition played a part in either accident. Police currently don’t believe drugs or alcohol were involved. Whatever the case, Bryson’s insider status will likely help him escape any significant legal trouble that could arise from the episode. That’s just how plutocracies roll.
Perhaps now is a good time to analyze the oxymoronic reasoning behind a government bureaucrat in charge of regulating commerce. According to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution, Congress shall have the authority “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” For those not fooled by the fantasy that government will always abide by the rules set up by its founders, the fact that Congress has used such vague language to regulate anything and everything under the sun comes as no surprise. If the ruling class of the state really wants to ignore previously defined limits to its powers, there is little that will stop them short of full blown domestic revolution. Just look at President Obama’s ongoing killing spree in the Middle East.
The plain truth is the U.S. Constitution, like every government-establishing text, was never meant to shackle Leviathan. As Southern University School of Law professor Butler Shaffer writes in regard to the supposed freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights:
This fact is what conservatives fail to understand when they bleat about wanting “to get back to the Constitution.” The government has never strayed from the Constitution; these words have been in that document from the beginning. They have, however, been interpreted according to the ever-changing preferences of those in power.
From Abraham Lincoln’s whoring out to the railroad industry to Franklin Roosevelt’s fascism-in-disguise New Deal, the commerce clause has always been interpreted to justify the federal government’s intrusion into economic life. Even if we were to accept that the authors of the Constitution really wanted to grant Congress the authority to regulate commerce in such a way as to facilitate it rather than limit it (James Madison is said to have argued that regulate generally means “keep regular”), then such a notion would be counter-intuitive. The state only ever impedes commerce and transactions among free people. Tariffs, taxation, subsidies to politically favored firms, and legally imposed barriers to industry are all products of government dictum.
Rather than promote “job creation, economic growth, sustainable development and improved standards of living for all Americans,” as goes its mission statement, the Department of Commerce is fundamentally anti-commerce. People are perfectly capable of trading with their next door neighbors and with strangers all the way across the globe without being supervised like children. And through every transaction, both parties think of themselves better off or they wouldn’t have conducted business in the first place. This concept is universal irregardless of the arbitrary boundaries imposed on the world by various nation-states.
What the Department of Commerce really serves as is another bureaucracy to be staffed by those who take great pleasure in barking orders at individuals and instructing them in the proper way in which to live their lives. In what is perhaps one of the most accurate descriptions written on the state and its enforcers, famed investor Doug Casey’s recent essay “The Ascendence of Sociopaths in U.S. Governance” gets to the bottom of the type of person drawn to positions of coercive dictation. In addressing the crotch fondlers in the Transportation Security Administration, he writes:
Have you ever wondered where the 50,000 people employed by the TSA to inspect and degrade you came from? Most of them are middle-aged. Did they have jobs before they started doing something that any normal person would consider demeaning? Most did, but they were attracted to – not repelled by – a job where they wear a costume and abuse their fellow citizens all day.
Few of them can imagine that they’re shepherding in a police state as they play their roles in security theater…but the 50,000 newly employed are exactly the same type of people who joined the Gestapo – eager to help in the project of controlling everyone. Nobody was drafted into the Gestapo.
In short, to cite another illuminating phrase from Casey, “Washington draws sociopaths like a pile of dog crap draws flies.” The key difference is that piles of dog excrement don’t steal from your paycheck, sexually assault you before you board a plane, read your electronic communication without your permission, and then pretend to be looking out for your best interests.
As we have seen, Casey’s reasoning applies directly to those in the Department of Commerce. If under no restrictions people will naturally economize and bargain with each other to better their lives, then all government can do is act as a hurdle to trade. And it is precisely those who seek to oversee and squash commerce that will gravitate toward the institution that specializes in the practice. The purpose of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and its equivalent in other countries, is based on Orwellian reasoning and its offices are used to employ busybodies who will dutifully go to the voting booth and put politicians in power that will appropriate more stolen money to its range of agencies.
What ever medical condition Secretary Bryson may have is negligible in comparison to his statist mindset as the head of a regulatory bureaucracy. Those who had their vehicle plowed into by his Lexus are not the only ones who have suffered at the hands of Secretary Bryson. It is the businesses and innovations that will never see the light of day due to the endless amounts of regulatory red tape which permeate from Washington into the economy like a deadly plague.