Let me run by you a brief list of items that are "the law" in
America today. As you read, consider what all these have in common.
1. A national database of employed people.
2. 100 pages of new "health care crimes," for which the penalty is
(among other things) seizure of assets from both doctors and patients.
3. Confiscation of assets from any American who establishes foreign
4. The largest gun confiscation act in U.S. history-which is also an
unconstitutional ex post facto law and the first law ever to remove people's
constitutional rights for committing a misdemeanor.
5. A law banning guns in ill-defined school zones; random roadblocks may be
used for enforcement; gun-bearing residents could become federal criminals just
by stepping outside their doors or getting into vehicles.
6. Increased funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, an
agency infamous for its brutality, dishonesty and ineptitude.
7. A law enabling the executive branch to declare various groups
"Terrorists"- without stating any reason and without the possibility
of appeal. Once a group has been so declared, its mailing and membership lists
must be turned over to the government.
8. A law authorizing secret trials with secret evidence for certain classes
9. A law requiring that all states begin issuing drivers licenses carrying
Social Security numbers and "security features" (such as magnetically
coded fingerprints and personal records) by October 1, 2000. By October 1, 2006,
"Neither the Social Security Administration or the Passport Office or any
other Federal agency or any State or local government agency may accept for any
evidentiary purpose a State driver's license or identification document in a
form other than [one issued with a verified Social Security number and 'security
10. And my personal favorite-a national database, now being constructed, that
will contain every exchange and observation that takes place in your doctor's
office. This includes records of your prescriptions, your hemorrhoids and your
mental illness. It also includes-by law-any statements you make ("Doc, I'm
worried my kid may be on drugs.... Doc, I've been so stressed out lately I feel
about ready to go postal.") and any observations your doctor makes about
your mental or physical condition, whether accurate or not, whether made with
your knowledge or not. For the time being, there will be zero (count 'em, zero)
privacy safeguards on this data. But don't worry, your government will protect
you with some undefined "privacy standards" in a few years.
All of the above items are the law of the land. Federal law. What else do
they have in common?
Well, when I ask this question to audiences, I usually get the answer,
"They're all unconstitutional."
My favorite answer came from an eloquent college student who blurted,
"They all SUUUCK!" Also true.
But the saddest and most telling answer is: They were all the product of the
104th Congress. Every one of the horrors above was imposed upon you by the
Congress of the Republican- Revolution-the Congress that pledged to "get
government off your back."
BURYING TIME BOMBS
All of the above became law by being buried in larger bills. In many cases,
they are hidden sneak attacks upon individual liberties that were neither
debated on the floor of Congress nor reported in the media. For instance, three
of the most horrific items (the health care database, asset confiscation for
foreign residency and the 100 pages of health care crimes) were hidden in the
Kennedy-Kassebaum Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996
You didn't hear about them at the time because the media was too busy
celebrating this moderate, compromise bill that "simply" ensured that
no American would ever lose insurance coverage due to a job change or a
Your legislator may not have heard about them, either. Because he or she
didn't care enough to do so. The fact is, most legislators don't even read the
laws they inflict upon the public. They read the title of the bill (which may be
something like "The Save the Sweet Widdle Babies from Gun Violence by
Drooling Drug Fiends Act of 1984"). They read summaries, which are often
prepared by the very agencies or groups pushing the bill. And they vote
according to various deals or pressures.
It also sometimes happens that the most horrible provisions are sneaked into
bills during conference committee negotiations, after both House and Senate have
voted on their separate versions of the bills. The conference committee process
is supposed simply to reconcile differences between two versions of a bill. But
power brokers use it for purposes of their own, adding what they wish. Then
members of the House and Senate vote on the final, unified version of the bill,
often in a great rush, and often without even having the amended text available
I have even heard (though I cannot verify) that stealth provisions were
written into some bills after all the voting has taken place. Someone with a
hidden agenda simply edits them in to suit his or her own purposes. So these
time bombs become "law" without ever having been voted on by anybody.
And who's to know? If congress people don't even read legislation before they
vote on it, why would they bother reading it afterward? Are power brokers
capable of such chicanery? Do we even need to ask? Is the computer system in
which bills are stored vulnerable to tampering by people within or outside of
Congress? We certainly should ask. Whether your legislators were ignorant of the
infamy they were perpetrating, or whether they knew, one thing is absolutely
The Constitution, your legislator's oath to it, and your inalienable rights
(which precede the Constitution) never entered into anyone's consideration.
Ironically, you may recall that one of the early pledges of Newt Gingrich and
Company was to stop these stealth attacks. Very early in the 104th Congress, the
Republican leadership declared that, henceforth, all bills would deal only with
the Subject: matter named in the title of the bill. When, at the beginning of
the first session of the 104th, pro-gun Republicans attempted to attach a repeal
of the "assault weapons" ban to another bill, House leaders dismissed
their amendment as not being "germane." After that self-righteous and
successful attempt to prevent pro-freedom stealth legislation, Congress people
turned right around and got back to the dirty old business of practicing all the
anti-freedom stealth they were capable of.
STEALTH ATTACKS IN BROAD DAYLIGHT
Three other items on my list (ATF funding, gun confiscation and school zone
roadblocks) were also buried in a big bill-HR 3610, the budget appropriation
passed near the end of the second session of the 104th Congress. No legislator
can claim to have been unaware of these three because they were brought to
public attention by gun-rights groups and hotly debated in both Congress and the
media. Yet some 90 percent of all congress people voted for them including many
who claim to be ardent protectors of the rights guaranteed by the Second
Well, in the case of my wrapped-in-the-flag, allegedly pro- gun, Republican
congressperson: "Bill Clinton made me do it!"
Okay, I paraphrase. What she actually said was more like, "It was part
of a budget appropriations package. The public got mad at us for shutting the
government down in 1994. If we hadn't voted for this budget bill, they might
have elected a Democratic legislature in 1996-and you wouldn't want THAT, would
you?" Oh heavens, no I'd much rather be enslaved by people who spell their
name with an R than people who spell their name with a D. Makes all the
difference in the world!
HOW SNEAK ATTACKS ARE JUSTIFIED
The Republicans are fond of claiming that Bill Clinton "forced"
them to pass certain legislation by threatening to veto anything they sent to
the White House that didn't meet his specs. In other cases (as with the Kennedy-Kassebaum
bill), they proudly proclaim their misdeeds in the name of bipartisanship-while
carefully forgetting to mention the true nature of what they're doing. In still
others, they trumpet their triumph over the evil Democrats and claim the mantle
of limited government while sticking it to us and to the Constitution. The
national database of workers was in the welfare reform bill they
"forced" Clinton to accept. The requirement for SS numbers and ominous
"security" devices on drivers licenses originated in their very own
Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1996, HR 2202. Another
common trick, called to my attention by Redmon Barbry, publisher of the
electronic magazine Fratricide, is to hide duplicate or near-duplicate
provisions in several bills. Then, when the Supreme Court declares Section A of
Law Z to be -unconstitutional, its kissing cousin, Section B of Law Y, remains
to rule us.
Sometimes this particular form of trickery is done even more brazenly; when
the Supreme Court, in its Lopez decision, declared federal-level school zone gun
bans unconstitutional because Congress demonstrated no jurisdiction, Congress
brassily changed a few words. They claimed that school zones fell under the
heading of "interstate commerce." Then they sneaked the provision into
HR 3610, where it became "law" once again. When angry voters upbraid
congress people about some Big Brotherish horror they've inflicted upon the
country by stealth, they claim lack of knowledge, lack of time, party pressure,
public pressure, or they justify themselves by claiming that the rest of the
bill was "good".
The simple fact is that, regardless of what reasons legislators may claim,
the U.S. Congress has passed more Big Brother legislation in the last two
years-more laws to enable tracking, spying and controlling-than any Democratic
congress ever passed. And they have done it, in large part, in secret. Redmon
Barbry put it best: "We the people have the right to expect our elected
representatives to read, comprehend and master the bills they vote on. If this
means Congress passes only 50 bills per session instead of 5,000, so be it. As
far as I am concerned, whoever subverts this process is committing
treason." By whatever means the deed is done, there is no acceptable excuse
for voting against the Constitution, voting for tyranny. And I would add to
Redmon's comments: Those who do read the bills, then knowingly vote to ravage
our liberties, are doubly guilty. But when do the treason trials begin?
BILLS AS WINDOW DRESSING FOR AN UGLY AGENDA
The truth is that these tiny, buried provisions are often the real intent of
the law, and that the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pages that surround them
are sometimes nothing more than elaborate window dressing. These tiny time bombs
are placed there at the behest of federal police agencies or other power groups
whose agenda is not clearly visible to us. And their impact is felt long after
the outward intent of the bill has been forgotten.
Civil forfeiture-now one of the plagues of the nation was first introduced in
the 1970s as one of those buried, almost unnoticed provisions of a larger law.
One wonders why on earth a "health care bill" carried a provision to
confiscate the assets of people who become frightened or discouraged enough to
leave the country. (In fact, the entire bill was an amendment to the Internal
Revenue Code. Go figure.)
I think we all realize by now that that database of employed people will
still be around enabling government to track our locations (and heaven knows
what else. about us, as the database is enhanced and expanded) long after the
touted benefits of "welfare reform" have failed to materialize.
And most grimly of all, our drivers licenses will be our de facto national ID
card long after immigrants have ceased to want to come to this Land of the Once
It matters not one whit whether the people controlling you call themselves
R's or D's, liberals or conservatives, socialists or even (I hate to admit it)
libertarians. It doesn't matter whether they vote for these horrors because
they're not paying attention or because they actually like such things.
What matters is that the pace of totalitarianism is increasing. And it is
coming closer to our daily lives all the time. Once your state passes the
enabling legislation (under threat of losing "federal welfare
dollars"), it is YOUR name and Social Security number that will be entered
in that employee database the moment you go to work for a new employer. It is
YOU who will be unable to cash a check, board an airplane, get a passport or be
allowed any dealings with any government agency if you refuse to give your SS
number to the drivers license bureau. It is YOU who will be endangered by
driving "illegally" if you refuse to submit to Big Brother's
procedures. It is YOU whose psoriasis, manic depression or prostate troubles
will soon be the reading matter of any bureaucrat with a computer. It is YOU who
could be declared a member of a "foreign terrorist" organization just
because you bought a book or concert tickets from some group the government
doesn't like. It is YOU who could lose your home, bank account and reputation
because you made a mistake on a health insurance form. Finally, when you become
truly desperate for freedom, it is YOU whose assets will be seized if you try to
flee this increasingly insane country.
As Ayn Rand said in Atlas Shrugged, "There's no way to rule innocent
men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals.
Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many
things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking
It's time to drop any pretense: We are no longer law-abiding citizens. We
have lost our law-abiding status. There are simply too many laws to abide. And
because of increasingly draconian penalties and electronic tracking mechanisms,
our "lawbreaking" places us and our families in greater jeopardy every
STOPPING RUNAWAY GOVERNMENT
The question is: What are we going to do about it? Write a. nice, polite
letter to your congressperson? Hey, if you think that'll help, I've got a bridge
you might be interested in buying. (And it isn't your "bridge to the
Vote "better people, into office? Oh yeah, that's what we thought we
were doing in 1994. Work to fight one bad bill or another? Okay. What will you
do about the 10 or 20 or 100 equally horrible bills that will be passed behind
your back while you were fighting that little battle? And let's say you defeat a
nightmare bill this year. What, are you going to do when they sneak it back in,
at the very last minute, in some "omnibus legislation" next year? And
what about the horrors you don't even learn about until two or three years after
they become law? Should you try fighting these laws in the courts? Where do you
find the resources? Where do you find a judge who doesn't have a vested interest
in bigger, more powerful government? And again, for every one case decided in
favor of freedom, what do you do about the 10, 20 or 100 in which the courts
decide against the Bill of Rights?
Perhaps you'd consider trying to stop the onrush of these horrors with a
constitutional amendment-maybe one that bans "omnibus" bills, requires
that every law meet a constitutional test or requires all congress people to
sign statements that they've read and understood every aspect of every bill on
which they vote. Good luck! Good luck, first, on getting such an amendment
passed. Then good luck getting our Constitution-scorning "leaders" to
obey it. It is true that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and part of
that vigilance has been, traditionally, keeping a watchful eye on laws and on
But given the current pace of law spewing and unconstitutional
regulation-writing, you could watch, plead and struggle "within the
system" 24 hours a day for your entire life and end up infinitely less free
than when you begin. Why throw your life away on a futile effort?
Face it. If "working within the system" could halt tyranny, the
tyrants would outlaw it. Why do you think they encourage you to vote, to write
letters, to talk to them in public forums? It's to divert your energies. To keep
you tame. "The system" as it presently exists is nothing but a rat
maze. You run around thinking you're getting somewhere. Your masters
occasionally reward you with a little pellet that encourages you to believe
you're accomplishing something. And in the meantime, you are as much their
property and their pawn as if you were a slave. In the effort of fighting them
on their terms and with their authorized and approved tools, you have given your
life's energy to them as surely as if you were toiling in their cotton fields,
under the lash of their overseer. The only way we're going to get off this road
to Hell is if we jump off. If we, personally, as individuals, refuse to
cooperate with evil. How we do that is up to each of us. I can't decide for you,
nor you for me.
(Unlike congress people, who think they can decide for everybody.) But this
totalitarian runaway truck is never going to stop unless we stop it, in any way
we can. Stopping it might include any number of things: tax resistance; public
civil disobedience; wide-scale, silent non-cooperation; highly noisy
non-cooperation; boycotts; secession efforts; monkey wrenching; computer
hacking; dirty tricks against government agents; public shunning of employees of
abusive government agencies; alternative, self-sufficient communities that
provide their own medical care and utilities.
There are thousands of avenues to take, and this is something most of us
still need to give more thought to before we can build an effective resistance.
We will each choose the courses that are right for our own circumstances,
personalities and beliefs.
Whatever we do, though, we must remember that we are all, already, outlaws.
Not one of us can be certain of going through a single day without violating
some law or regulation we've never even heard of. We are all guilty in the eyes
of today's law. If someone in power chooses to target us, we can all, already,
be prosecuted for something. And I'm sure you know that your claims of
"good intentions" won't protect you, as the similar claims of
politicians protect them. Politicians are above the law. YOU are under it.
Crushed under it. When you look at it that way, we have little left to lose by
breaking laws creatively and purposefully. Yes, some of us will suffer horrible
consequences for our lawbreaking. It is very risky to actively resist unbridled
power. It is especially risky to go public with resistance (unless hundreds of
thousands publicly join us), and it becomes riskier the closer we get to
tyranny. For that reason, among many others, I would never recommend any
particular course of action to anyone-and I hope you'll think twice before
taking "advice" from anybody about things that could jeopardize your
life or well-being. But if we don't resist in the best ways we know how and if a
good number of us don't resist loudly and publicly-all of us will suffer the
much worse consequences of living under total oppression. And whatever courses
of action we choose, we must remember that this legislative
"revolution" against We the People will not be stopped by politeness.
It will not be stopped by requests. It will not be stopped by "working
within a system" governed by those who regard us as nothing but cattle. It
will not be stopped by pleading for justice from those who will resort to any
degree of trickery or violence to rule us.
It will not be stopped unless we are willing to risk our lives, our fortunes
and our sacred honors to stop it. I think of the words of Winston Churchill:
"If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without
bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not so
costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds
against you and only a precarious chance for survival. There may be a worse
case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is
better to perish than to live as slaves."
NOTES on the laws listed above:
1. (employee database) Welfare Reform Bill, HR 3734; became public law
104-193 on 8/22196; see section 453A.
2. (health care crimes) Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
of 1996, HR 3103; became public law 104-191 on 8/21/96.
3. (asset confiscation for citizenship change) Same law as #2; see; sections
4., 5., and 6. (anti-gun laws) Omnibus Appropriations Act, HR 3610; became
public law 104-208 on 9/30/96.
7. and 8. (terrorism & secret trials) Antiterrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act of 1996; S 735; became public law 104-132 on 4/24/96; see all of
Title III, specifically sections 302 and 219; also see all of Tide IV,
specifically sections 401, 501, 502 and 503.
9. (de facto national ID card) Began life in the Immigration Control and
Financial Responsibility Act of 1996, sections III, II 8, 119, 127 and 133; was
eventually folded into the Omnibus Appropriations Act, HR 3610 (which was itself
formerly called the Defense Appropriations Act-but we wouldn't want to confuse
anyone, here, would we?); became public law 104-208 on 9/30/96; see sections 656
and 657 among others.
10. (health care database) Health Insurance Portability and Accountability
Act of 1996, HR 3103; became public law 104-191 on 8/21/96; see sections 262,
263 and 264, among others. The various provisions that make up the full horror
of this database are scattered throughout the bill and may take hours to track
down; this one is stealth legislation at its utmost sneakiest.
And one final, final note: Although I spent aggravating hours verifying the
specifics of these bills (a task I swear I will never waste my life on again!),
the original list of bills at the top of this article was NOT the result of
extensive research. It was simply what came off the top of my head when I
thought of Big Brotherish bills from the 104th Congress. For all I know,
Congress has passed 10 times more of that sort of thing. In fact, the worst
"law" in the list-#9, the de facto national ID card-just came to my
attention as I was writing this essay, thanks to the enormous efforts of Jackie
Juntti and Ed Lyon and others, who researched the law. Think of it: Thanks to
congressional stealth tactics, we had the long-dreaded national ID card
legislation for five months, without a whisper of discussion, before freedom
activists began to find out about it. Makes you wonder what else might be
lurking out there, doesn't it? And on that cheery note-
© Copyrighted by Claire Wolfe. Permission to reprint freely granted,
provided the article is reprinted in full and that any reprint is accompanied by
this copyright statement.
Claire Wolfe is the author of the aphorism "It's too late to work within
the system, and too early to shoot the bastards." which