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To Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, the state was everything.
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When the government makes a mess of things, eliciting complaints and protests, as it has for example in every area related to health care, it responds by making "reforms" that heap new laws, regulations, and government bureaus atop the existing mountain of counterproductive laws, regulations, and government bureaus. Thus, each new "reform" makes the government larger and more destructive than before.
The areas of life that remain outside the government's participation, regulation, surveillance, or manipulation by means of taxes and subsidies have become so few and so trivial they scarcely merit mention.
We verge ever closer on the condition in which everything that is not prohibited is required. Yet the average American will declare loudly that he is a free man and that the United States is the freest country in the world.
As the state seeks to control virtually everything and crushes all real opposition, Americans now inhabit a country that would be completely unrecognizable to its founders. Indeed, it bears only faint resemblance to the country it was just 50 years ago.
More and more, "Land of the Free" is becoming nothing but an empty, pathetic boast.
Robert Higgs is senior fellow