In my experience, the smaller the pond the more arbitrary the rules. HOA’s are a prime example. Rules that state things like “Homeowners shall keep their front yards neat and well trimmed,” are interpreted by some OCD sufferer that makes it to the Board as “All grass shall be kept kept between 1.25 and 1.5 inches in length and any litter that is not picked up within 2 hours of first being noted shall result in a fine of not less than $300.” Soon the OCD sufferer and friends are roaming the neighborhood measuring grass and taking pictures of gum wrappers. Fine levies start flying around faster than the litter, and things turn very ugly, very fast.
It’s petty stuff, common in HOA’s, church boards, university committees, and small towns. But I never dreamed I would see it from the federal government. And yet, the Wall Street Journal notes this morning that, “President Obama announced in his New Year’s weekend address that because Congress hasn’t followed his orders, he plans to issue new unilateral regulations on guns.” They go on to note:
His Administration is also in a class by itself in issuing de facto rules as “notices” or “guidance” that are ignored by businesses at their peril. Many of these ukases from Washington never even make it into the Federal Register, so Mr. Obama’s record-breaking official totals understate the depth and breadth of his regulating.
A recent report from the National Federation of Independent Business calls this “underground regulation” and notes that the Supreme Court has only encouraged Obama-era abuse by affirming that federal agencies have wide latitude to issue “interpretations” of federal laws and even to change these interpretations without going through a formal rule-making.
This is scary stuff, and very real. I have actually been in administrative action settlement negotiations with regulators where I have ended up pounding the table demanding documentation of any sort of the interpretation of the rule my client was charged with violating. And we are not talking $300 HOA fines here either.
Either the President Obama thinks he is still running something in some university somewhere, or his belief in his own infallibility is so thoroughgoing that law, due process, and the desire of the American people are immaterial. Either way there is a hint of delusion about how the man governs. That’s the frightening thing about too much self-regard, at some point it becomes delusion because none of us are, in reality, that good.
Christianity is unique in its precept that, “all…fall short of the glory of God.” This precept creates humility in the governing as well as the governed, and is therefore one of the primary ideas that makes a nation like ours work. As we are seeing, without that humility it is just as easy for our government to become tyrannical as it was for the monarchies to become so.
Way back in the second paragraph I said this rule by fiat was common in church boards. It did not used to be, or when it did rear its ugly head it was quickly and quietly dispatched. But no more. Nowadays we are so worried about hurting someone’s feeling that such behavior goes unchallenged. And therein lies the heart of the problem. It is not just that Christianity has been driven out of public discourse – it is that Christianity no longer holds to its own fundamental precepts.
The nation needs what Christianity has to offer. Problem is, so does Christianity.