The Feds now control my backyard—in direct defiance of the Ninth and Tenth amendments. I have heard and read many stories over the years about imperial intrusions into private affairs, but I recently learned about these firsthand when I tried to refinance my mortgage to take advantage of lower interest rates. I immediately ran up against the benevolent wall of FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) —you know, those nice folks who take care of you when disaster strikes. (I wonder how folks got along before we had all these nice agencies to take care of us.) There is a tiny creek at the back of my property that has occasionally overflowed slightly into my back lot, which is quite large. The slight flooding has just about been eliminated since the county did some work up the line a few years ago. Flooding has never offered the slightest threat to my house, and all surveys have shown no reasonable possibility of it doing so. Neither I nor my neighbors have ever felt the need for flood insurance.

But it appears that the benevolent boys from FEMA made maps picturing my house potentially under water—a preposterous error. (What does this have to do with emergency management, by the way? And what were they doing in my back yard without permission?) As a result, the mortgage lender is now required to require me to take out flood insurance—or no loan. This requires a new survey and a “federal elevation certificate.” So, profits for the surveyor, the lender, and the insurance company. For me, delay—nearly annihilating the benefits of low interest rates. (I find that several of my neighbors decided that the quest was not worth it.)

Will FEMA ever do anything for me? No. Do I want them ever to do anything for me? No. I will be grateful if heavily armed imperial storm troopers don’t descend upon my house, as documented in the August Chronicles (“Desert Storm Troopers“). I am reminded of what happened in the aftermath of the major disaster we had here in South Carolina with Hurricane Hugo a few years ago. With great fanfare, Congress passed a $100 million relief bill, pushed by our two powerful senators. (The vote was 100-0 in the Senate, as I recall.) A while later we learned—in the small print—that we got almost none of the “victims’ relief” It all went to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where nobody had any insurance.

It does no good to talk about “conservatives” and “liberals” in the context of such outrages, much less to complain endlessly about the evils of Clinton. (Does anyone really believe that the government terrorist/bureaucrats would have behaved differently at Waco if it had occurred on George Bush’s watch?) The Republican “conservatives” have been promising to reduce government for a generation now. They lie. Two decades ago, I stood not far from candidate Ronald Reagan on the steps of our state capitol and heard him promise to reduce fraud, waste, expenditures, and regulation in every government agency. He lied. But we have a much deeper problem here than mere politicians’ lies. The Republican Party, in its very origins and raison d’être, was a vehicle for activist government. It was devoted to regulation and subsidy for the benefit of railroads, bankers, industrialists, and for suppression of “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion” (i.e., the behavior of Southerners and Catholics). The “conservative” Bob Dole was completely in character and tradition when he sponsored a Disabilities Act that regulates every parking lot and building in every town and city in the land (including rural churches). He began his public career, after all, as the New Deal poster boy for “rehabilitation,” part of the p.r. campaign to softsoap the public about the sufferings of those citizens who were mangled in the “Good War.”

The problem is more than one of efficient “public policy.” It is a problem of national character. We cannot hope for any relief from the imperial state until enough people resume the habits of self-government, if that is possible.

I have just learned from a surveyor, by the way, that FEMA based its maps on an aerial survey, which has a large margin of error. What was FEMA doing flying over my back yard?