A semiretired systems engineer and former Air Force officer with ties to the Conservative Christian Liberty Institute calls for sweeping reductions in the size and scope of the federal government.
Modestly describing himself as “a reasonably well educated citizen,” Hines methodically and adequately details a contemporary conservative case for how the federal government has flagrantly exceeded its explicitly limited constitutional powers. He opens with a well-argued, word-parsing history of the origins and nature of an American social compact in which free citizens have voluntarily but grudgingly assigned a short list of duties to the three branches of the federal government, reserving everything else to the states and, most importantly, to themselves. After thoroughly setting down this baseline, Hines describes a drift away from the constitutional bedrock that gathered force under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s; now, in Hines’ and other conservatives’ estimation, that trespass has reached insurrection-worthy proportions. He reserves his most peevish rebuke for a ruling class composed of what he calls “progressive patricians” who, thinking they know what’s best for everyone, willingly ride roughshod over the Constitution to carry out their welfare-state agendas. Among the course-correcting remedies he offers: the elimination of a long list of federal departments and agencies; scrapping the current mendacious, unintelligible tax code in favor of a flat tax; and privatizing Social Security and Medicare—both of which, as currently structured, are “government-centric welfare immorality.” Progressives will certainly find fault in Hines’ directives, but even a respectful centrist can disagree. Hines, for example, fiercely opposes federal subsidies for green energy programs: “When Americans want wind farms, or photovoltaics, or the like we will indicate that through our purchasing decisions in a free market,” he says. It’s unlikely that the framers of the Constitution would prefer the planet be crisped in the name of free market ideology. As a number of experts would agree, saving the earth—and the United States with it—from catastrophic climate change seems to fit the definition of providing for the general welfare, a power the Constitution grants the federal government. While Hines will have no problem finding bipartisan agreement that the federal bureaucracy is bloated, the wholesale amputation of gradually evolved federal functions would be a rash step with dire, unintended consequences.
An informed, articulate conservative manifesto that will shed light even for those who disagree.