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In America, within living memory, all these things were true:
You could sit up in the back of an open convertible and feel the wind in your face without being fined for a seat-belt violation.
Police would never burst into your house at midnight without knocking.
You would never find a police “checkpoint” on an American highway.
You could go to your doctor and not have your medical records automatically made available to federal researchers and investigators.
You could sit in a bar or the smoking section of a restaurant and enjoy a cigarette as you relaxed with friends.
You could get on an airplane carrying a firearm for self-defense.
A peaceable person could order a firearm by mail through a major department store’s catalog.
You could purchase several boxes of cold capsules without the drug store calling police to report you as a “meth suspect.”
You could buy gasoline for 29 cents per gallon and a pound of hamburger for 69 cents. Although salaries were also lower than today, household expenses and taxes were low enough that one parent in most families could stay at home to watch over the children.
You could open a bank account, make deposits, and withdraw money without your activities being reported to a host of federal agencies.
You could get a state drivers license without having to give a federal government ID number.
Your children could explore the realms of chemistry and model rocketry without being considered potential bomb suspects.
You could check books out of the library without fear that investigators would get your records without a warrant.
You could send your child to a government school without him or her automatically being put on a military recruitment list.
You could fill in a low spot on your own property without having to beg for an array of federal and state permits.
And you knew that, in a free country, your home would never be confiscated just so that it the government could give it to a private resort or stadium developer.
That was then, this is now.
Today matters are very different – and getting worse. We’re surrounded by police-state “security” measures that do little to make us safe but a lot to make us feel humiliated, bullied, and spied upon.
Our neighbors, utility workers, bank tellers, and store clerks are encouraged to report anything we do that might be “suspicious” (and “suspicious activities” can include things as innocent as buying “too many” coffee filters, batteries, or cans of lye for opening drains or making soap).
Virtually all our freedoms are being curtailed – from the right to travel or speak freely to the right to have our homes secure against violent invasion by military-style police.
We have -- as Ben Franklin warned us we should never do -- traded away our freedom to get a little security. The result is exactly as Franklin predicted: We are increasingly less free and less secure.
Many of us also become less prosperous every day. Good jobs go overseas, leaving low-paying service jobs in their place. Our money becomes worth less and less every year. (U.S. money has lost about 95 percent of its value since our grandmother’s day.) Children are shoved into institutional care because both parents have to work to support a family. Our debts pile up higher and higher until today, the average American household actually has more debt than income each year.
The debts being run up by the federal government are even worse. In October 2005, the national debt passed $8 trillion. As I write this, in December 2005, the government has run up liabilities of more than $27,000 for every single living American, man, woman, and child. Between January 2001, the debt increased at an average of $14,939.97 per second, or $1.291 billion per day. During the last several months of 2005, the debt has been increasing at $2.83 billion per day. 
(Addition during page update Oct 2011 - compare now the increased deficit growth since the new admin from 2008.)
The numbers are mind boggling, but the basic fact is simple to understand: Government irresponsibility and overreach is stealing your future and your children’s future. Government takes your money, your time, your property, and your freedom and uses your “contributions” to harm you. In short: big government is a form of theft. It steals your life.
We got into this dilemma largely because we lost sight of the importance of putting strict limits on government.
But life doesn’t have to be this way.
The future could be better.
Now, think about a different sort of life you could have:
You deposit $10,000 in your bank account and nobody demands to know where it came from. Nobody reports it to federal investigators. Because unless you do something overtly criminal, unless investigators have justification for getting a search warrant or a subpoena, your finances are considered your private business.
You travel freely without being terrorized by checkpoints, pat-downs, or incessant demands for your government ID.
You know that no government will deny you your right to defend yourself, your family, and your community against violent criminals.
You can freely purchase food supplements or seek alternative health care, knowing that your own educated choices won’t be vetoed in advance by bureaucrats. Everyone knows that your health and nutrition choices are your own business.
Individuals are considered responsible for their behavior. Those who use recreational chemicals (like tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana) responsibly are left alone. Those who are prone to addictions can seek medical help without fear of being arrested. Those who use chemicals recklessly, harming others, are held responsible for their behavior, not the chemical.
You can be confident you won’t be arrested arbitrarily. If you are arrested, you know that the justice system will scrupulously respect your rights. You’ll never be tortured. You’ll never be locked up for years without trial. Your assets will never be confiscated unless you’re convicted of a crime in which the method and degree of asset forfeiture is explicitly spelled out in advance.
You pay fewer personal taxes, which enables you to work fewer hours and provide better for your family. Because the business people you deal with also pay fewer taxes, goods and services are all more affordable.
Businesses are neither subsidized by government nor regulated by unconstitutional agencies. They stand or fall on their own merits – as determined by their customers. Citizen watchdog groups that you choose to support replace government intervention, making sure that bad products or unsafe practices come to the attention of purchasers.
There are still poor people and disabled people in this world. They’re helped by families, neighbors, religious groups, and charities. Because there are more opportunities and fewer economic barriers, poverty decreases over time. Those who have pulled themselves up create opportunities for others. The genuinely unfortunate get assistance. But the few who persist in making stupid, irresponsible choices soon find that nobody is willing go on enabling them. Those who want to game “the system” discover that there is no “system” -- just other people they have to look straight in the eye. Other people to whom they must be accountable if they want help.
You don’t live in Utopia. Human beings never will. Sometimes state and local governments get too big for their britches and attempt to pass laws that limit freedom. But it’s far easier to battle injustice close to home than it ever was to have to fight every injustice, every outrage at the federal level.
There is no constant “war on this or that.” There is no need for such wars and the barrage of media scares and Draconian laws that go with them.
In the world where you live, the federal government is primarily a modest-sized administrative organization without armies of career bureaucrats and regulators. It has a handful of powers delegated to it by the people and the states, but it has no involvement in daily family life, education, medicine, manufacture, agriculture, religion, media, entertainment, or the thousands of other areas in which today’s federal government takes a dominating, “800-pound gorilla” role.
The government has neither the power nor the desire to subsidize, subdue, and control all the other countries of the world.
And each year, the central government gets smaller and smaller – taxing less, taking less, surrendering more and more authority to the states and the people, to whom real power rightly belongs.
You understand the problem. You know it. You feel it. In Part 2, you will encounter the magic of the principles.
 For constantly updated information on the national debt, see the National Debt Clock , a website that monitors the debt and all its sub categories in real time.