One of the common misconceptions about the United States is that the federal government is a “limited government,” unlike tyrannical regimes, which are characterized as “omnipotent government” or “unlimited government.”
Limited government means that the government’s powers are limited in nature and scope. Omnipotent or unlimited government means that the government can do whatever it wants.
Limited government certainly was the founding principle of the U.S. government. That’s what the Constitution was all about. By enumerating the powers that the federal government would be permitted to exercise, the Framers were establishing limited government. The first ten amendments to the Constitution further restricted the powers of the federal government.
Yet, how can anyone really say that the United States is still characterized by limited government?
Consider the CIA, which is one of the premier agencies of the U.S. government. It wields the power to kidnap people, incarcerate them in secret prisons anywhere in the world, torture them, rendition them to friendly tyrannical regimes, or assassinate them.
There are no limitations on the exercise of such powers.
How do you get more unlimited than that?
wild freeway chase that came to a tragic end after a police officer’s attempt to deploy a spike strip will apparently cost Houston taxpayers $5 million.
Houston City Council this week will consider paying that amount to settle a lawsuit stemming from the January 2009 accident in which two young men suffered severe brain damage.
Neither of the victims — Dexter Sewell, 20, and Mecole Roques, 19 – were involved in the chase. Their car was struck when they were stuck in a traffic jam created by a Houston police car that had blocked traffic so that an officer could deploy a spike strip.
Both of the young men suffered such severe brain damage, the city attorney’s office said, neither of them will be able to live or work independently and they’ll both require extensive medical treatment for the rest of their lives.
The chase began when a woman who was being arrested by a Harris County constable’s deputy somehow managed to steal the deputy’s car. A couple of Houston police officers deployed themselves ahead of the chase in an attempt to stop it.
One of the officers pulled his car sideways to block two lanes of traffic, trying to create a safe space from which another officer could throw a spike strip. That created a traffic jam, stopping innocent drivers caught in the path of the chase.
A video camera mounted on one of the deputies’ vehicles captured images of the fleeing car speeding toward the traffic jam, then slamming into the rear of an 18-wheeler and the back of the car carrying the two crash victims.
When he filed a lawsuit on behalf of the victims and their children in 2010, attorney Michael Callahan accused the officers of using trapped motorists as “human shields.”
Democracy explained in a way anyone can understand.