California and its governor are in the news again, this time about Oracle's no-bid deal with the state that could cost
taxpayers over $40 million more than expected. It looks bad for Governor Davis, who took $25,000 from the computer company
to help his re-election. 
Oracle's CEO, you will recall, volunteered to design a national ID card system for us, so we'd be safe from everyone except
the government. The government, of course, would administer the system without abuse, excessive costs, or foul-ups.
This is the same government that routinely demands tributes from lobbyists in exchange for deals like Oracle's. The
same government that has made air travel safer by frisking Al Gore and random grandmothers, while prohibiting pilots from
exercising their Second Amendment rights. The very government that couldn't protect us on a $2.1 trillion budget and
still can't today, by their own admission. A government with an agency that continues to issue visas to dead terrorists,
that conducts war without declaring it, that has killed a lot of people since 9-11 except the ones who masterminded it, that
rewards itself for failure by giving us more of what caused it.
Every election government asks if we want more of the same, and we tell it yes. What we get is by design, not by
accident. Big Government is an expression of popular will, not the subterfuge of low-lifes. Even now, with soaring
government incompetence, 80 percent of the people are eager to swap freedom for perceived security, according to a recent
USA Today Gallup Poll. 
In his book, "Crisis and Leviathan," Robert Higgs says crisis and the proper "ideological climate" ratchet the growth of
government.  The right climate has been guaranteed by our government-controlled education system. When a crisis
strikes, the people expect the government to "do something." The something it does is grab power. It smothers us with
new or enlarged bureaucracies, redefines the Constitution, issues statutory constraints on economic activities, conscripts,
raises taxes, seizes property, nationalizes industries, and praises citizens who agree with its policies as "patriots," while
sometimes imprisoning without trial suspects or outspoken dissenters. It keeps doing this until the crisis passes, then it
surrenders the power it seized -- but only part of it. Government never retrenches to the precrisis state.
Historian Jeffrey Rogers Hummel cites the Civil War as the great turning point for federal growth. "In the years
[following the Civil War], coercive authority would wax and wane with year-to-year circumstances, but the long-term trend
would be unmistakable. Henceforth there would be no more major victories of Liberty over Power." 
Government at all levels had been decreasing in power up until the 1850s. "The United States, already one of the most prosperous
and influential countries on the face of the earth, had practically the smallest, weakest State apparatus," Hummel writes.
 Lincoln and his assault on the South changed all that.
During and following the war, the federal government corrupted business entrepreneurship through subsidies, tariffs, land
grants, and special privileges to business cronies. We can see this clearly in the building of the transcontinental
railroads. By giving the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads free land and cash loans for each mile of track
they completed, the government created incentives for shoddy construction. "The two lines spent little time choosing
routes; they just laid track and cashed in," Burton Folsom notes.  To get more cash, they often built circuitous
roads. They even laid track in winter on ice and snow, that had to be rebuilt in spring.
The UP and CP received 44 million acres of free land and over $61 million in cash loans. When they completed the
transcontinental railroad in 1869, both were almost bankrupt. Because of their poor construction and wasteful routes,
both roads had high fixed costs that customers had to bear.
By contrast, James J. Hill built the Great Northern railroad without any government aid and ran it at a profit. He
built slowly and helped develop the areas where he was laying track. For instance, he imported 7,000 cattle and gave
them free of charge to settlers near his line. He used durable materials and chose his routes carefully, seeking short
distances, low grades, and minimum curvatures.
In 1893, the UP and CP went bankrupt, while Hill cut his costs another 13 percent from 1894 - 1895. 
In short, government aid attracted predators; predators bred inefficiency; inefficiency created consumer wrath; consumer
wrath led to government regulation.  But government regulation applied to all railroads, Hill's included.
Government meddling in other industries produced similar results. The guilt of some spread to all, and most people
failed to distinguish between wealth-builders and crooks. The myth was established: Big Business was corrupt.
The demand for government regulation of the economy peaked in the era known as "Progressive."
We pay a price by not studying history more critically. Enron, Oracle, and 9-11 itself could have been avoided.
1. GOP Lawmaker accuses Oracle of payoffs, 2. The dangers of physical safety, Alan Keyes
3. Higgs, Robert, Crisis and Leviathan: critical episodes in the growth of American government, Oxford University
4. Hummel, Jeffrey Rogers, Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A history of the American Civil War, Open Court,
1996, p. 359.
5. Ibid, p. 350
6. Folsom, Burton, The Myth of the Robber Barons: A new look at the rise of big business in America, Young America's
Foundation, Herdon, VA, 1996, p. 18.
7. Ibid, p. 29
8. Ibid, p. 22