By Kristin Tate
Read by Avalon Kingsbury
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Do you really think you’re “free?” #LOL.
D.C. politicians ship our friends and family overseas to fight in wars we shouldn’t be fighting. They monitor our emails, record our phone calls, and peer into our snail mail. They spend our hard-earned cash on things no disciplined family would buy. They tell us who we can marry and what we can put in our bodies. They throw us in overcrowded prisons for smoking pot. They take lavish trips around the world, staying in five-star hotels. . . and it comes straight out of our paychecks.
This isn’t freedom.
Government Gone Wild is a brash, bold ride through the carnival of absurdities that our broken system has become. This isn’t about Democrats vs. Republicans. . . it’s about inspiring hard working Americans to give a damn so we can take our country back. This is your wakeup call. You’re not anywhere near as free as you think you are — but you can be. We’re not as prosperous as we once were — but we can be.
Table of Contents
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We're Screwed… But We Can Get Un-Screwed
"Dude, this is pretty f*cked up right here."
~ Stan Marsh ~
America, we have a weight problem. As our government grows faster than Justin Bieber's criminal record and Kim Kardashian's luscious badonkadonk, the freedoms that our once-great nation was built upon are being suffocated.
It sucks, right? And maybe you've felt some of the pressure. But that's what we get for electing entrenched, out-of-touch blowhards who look out only for their own interests. They ship our friends and families overseas to fight wars we shouldn't be fighting. They send police to break down our doors and haul us away to overcrowded prisons packed with people who never committed a single crime against anyone but themselves. They spend our hard-earned cash on things no disciplined family or company would buy, and manage to rack up millions—no, billions, no, trillions—of dollars in debt. They take lavish jaunts around the world, staying in five-star hotels and eating in Michelin-starred restaurants—and it comes straight out of our paychecks.
And how do they thank us? They spy on us by monitoring our e-mails, recording our phone calls, and peering into our bank statements. They tell us how to run our businesses, whom we're allowed to marry, and what we can put in our own bodies, even if none of this has any impact on other people.
That, my friends, is no way to live. And it certainly isn't the way to run a country.
The liberties established by our Founding Fathers have been defended, time and again, in war and peace, through protest and conflict. These are the paramount values in our society, and they shouldn't be messed with. Our freedoms are sacred—yes, sacred, dammit—and must be above and beyond the reach of any intrusive government, even if that happens to be our own.
Freedom means the ability to live your life as you please, as long as you aren't hurting anyone. Your life is your own damn business! Do whatever you want with it. Make that massive fortune and build a yacht so big that it's visible from space, or live in your parents' basement doing bong hits and watching South Park until your mom and dad are sent off to retirement homes.
"Wait, dude. Did she just mention bong hits?"
Yup, I did. And try to keep up, Smokey. Joints, spliffs, and bongs should be completely legal. If you're over twenty-one and want to smoke up until your eyes roll into the back of your empty skull, who am I to tell you no? And it's certainly not the government's place to tell you that, either. Sure, that wouldn't be the smartest path to take in life. But your path is yours to choose or to ruin if you wish. That's the joy of freedom—sink or swim on your own terms.
Think of the millions of Americans who have drunk themselves to a slow death, and those who are busy doing it right now, at bars and in La-Z-Boys across America. Who cares if it's a case of beer while watching the perils of Prohibition on Boardwalk Empire or a bottle of rotgut tequila in a dive bar or glass after glass of pricey Chardonnay on a Fifth Avenue terrace? We're exercising our right to indulge to our heart's content.
The big game changer here is if you then think you can drive or handle heavy machinery while you're all liquored up. Do that, and I am all for sending your sorry ass to prison, because you've violated someone else's freedom. You can ruin your life however you wish, but mess with others, infringe on their rights and liberties, endanger or harm them, and there will be consequences. Our society should be an open one for sure—but not anarchical.
Consider cigarettes. We all know they're bad as hell for you. The nicotine, the carcinogens—they're killers. But we still sell them, right? And the government rakes in all that dough from the taxes. This is how we should approach the issue of illegal drugs. It's better to have them distributed safely in the open than via some trembling, strung-out, sleazeball dealer who might be selling you Drano instead of heroin (and who is probably armed and could just as easily rob or kill you instead). We're starting to move in that direction when it comes to marijuana, with Colorado and Washington State leading the way.
But the issue is so much more than pot. The illegal narcotics industry as a whole—coke, heroin, meth, you name it—is one of the biggest on earth. The only ones that are bigger are petroleum and porn. And what does it produce? Hmm, let's see: mafias, guerrillas, cartels, thieves, corrupt cops and soldiers, and billions of dollars a year in waste trying to fight them. It's been proven time and again: the War on Drugs doesn't work. As long as people want to get stoned, buzzed, or baked—as long as they seek that needle in the vein and the thrill of the high—nothing will stop other people from growing, harvesting, producing, smuggling, and selling the stuff. It's simple supply and demand, and no amount of policing or lawmaking will change that dynamic.
Got your attention, huh? Good. I've got more about the futile War on Drugs later on (see chapter 1). Just don't get too stoned and miss it.
Hey, you need to open your eyes! You need a wake-up call! Think big picture. You're not anywhere near as free as you think you are—but you can be. We're not as prosperous as we once were—but we can be prosperous again.
Both the Democrats and the Republicans have shown over and over, year in and year out, no matter who controls Congress or the White House, they're not interested in us as individuals or in protecting our rights and freedoms. They prefer to call all the shots in Washington, D.C. They claim to know what's best for us. But for them, it's not about us. Instead it's all about their power, their privilege, and doing just enough to make sure that they're elected to another term. And another, and another…
You'd be amazed at how many of our "representatives" are way over the age the government tells us we can retire and collect Social Security. A congressman's term is two years, and most have been in office for four, five, or even six terms. John Conyers (D, Michigan) is currently serving his twenty-fourth term as congressman. At least John Dingell (D, Michigan—is there something in the water there?) announced that he will not be seeking reelection—for what would be his thirtieth term. Thirty terms! That's sixty years! And let's not forget old Strom Thurmond. He was in office until he was one hundred years old. These people are so entrenched that they care more about their status on various committees, about climbing the greasy pole of power, than doing what's right for the people they were elected to serve.
That's right: They are there to serve us—or at least they're supposed to, if the Constitution is to be taken seriously. I can't emphasize that enough. Don't ever forget this, ever! Politicians are there because we send them there. Without our votes they are nothing. Nada. Big fat zeroes. Send them out to pasture if they don't do what we ask.
Sadly, most of us are apathetic. A pathetic 57 percent of eligible voters turned out in 2012. We shrug our shoulders, crack open a beer, and, frankly, don't care as much as we should. We pay more attention to the comings and goings of big-boobed airheads on reality TV, the dramas of Duck Dynasty, and Charlie Sheen's nighttime antics than we do about the stuff that really matters. I should know. I'm a sucker for Bridalplasty. It's a reality show about bridezillas fighting over nose jobs and boob lifts. (I know, I know, I should be reading a good book…)
So we put up our feet up at the end of the day, then every four years we wish away our problems with the false hope that some candidate—maybe Jeb Bush, maybe Hillary Clinton—will turn it all around this time. "Sure," we think, "it's bad right now. But it could be worse."
The scariest thing about this—and it is scary—is that we are less free because of our apathy. A lot less free. And every day that passes under this status quo makes it worse. We can do better than this, guys. We've got to.
The fact is, our freedoms in the past twenty years have been squeezed harder than a stress ball on Wall Street. After the September 11 attacks, that lovable idiot who ran our country for eight years pushed through some of the most ineffective and expensive legislation since the New Deal, all under the guise of "homeland security." Please. We all know the reasons behind that power grab and the two wars that followed, which, by the way, were colossal failures and are still costing us $10.5 million every hour.
This is nothing new. The big boys in Washington have long been getting away with blowing what you earned on things that don't work. And they're blowing money they don't even have! Right now our federal government is operating with a $19 trillion debt. That's twelve zeroes. And if you really want to blow your mind, punch up http://www.usdebtclock.org. See what I mean? Their rampant spending has resulted in well over $150,000 of debt per U.S. taxpayer, and most of it is from programs and entire departments that we don't even need.
I often wonder what Thomas Jefferson might think if he came back and saw the state of our Union. My guess is he'd be horrified and sick to his stomach. A lot of it makes me sick, too, and as you read on, you may start feeling ill yourself. And angry. Remember, we're the dumbasses who are going to pay for it in the end if we keep rolling over and playing dead, wallowing in our own apathy. We already are paying for it to a degree, thanks to all the tax dollars we send to D.C. But I mean "pay for it" in a much bigger way—and I'll show you why you should be upset and confused and maybe a little paranoid at what they've been up to.
But there is hope! The first step toward recovery and renewal is recognizing that things are bad and that change is still possible. There are ideas we can live by and things we can do to reverse this collapse and to reclaim our civil liberties, as individuals and as a nation. And by "things we can do," I'm not talking about following any party platforms. I'll show you why both the Democrats and the Republicans are screwing us.
I'm here to shake you from your way-too-relaxed slacker slumber so we can all face the music together and actually fix our government. Don't worry, though—I won't lecture you or pile facts on you until your eyes glaze over. If you're like me, with the attention span of a circus monkey, you wouldn't sit through anything too boring anyway. The journey within these pages will be easy to digest, though it may be difficult to stomach at times.
Wait—have I lost you already? Come on. Put down that iPhone. Unplug for a few minutes. Stay with me. You won't regret it, even though you won't like a lot of what I have to tell you.
In the words of Bender from Futurama, "We're boned." But it's not too late to get ourselves out of this mess. We may have short attention spans, but we're innovative as hell—and we're tired of getting kicked around by those in power. It's just a matter of recognizing the problem and then using our strengths to take action and fix them. The time is now to step in, step up, and win our freedoms and our nation back.
You ready? Buckle up, bitches.
Don't Tell Us How to Live Our Lives
"Ain't nothing wrong with being gay; everyone's a little gay."
~ Honey Boo Boo ~
I guess you could say that socially, I was a late bloomer. It didn't help that I grew up in the sticks of New Hampshire, a forty-minute drive to the nearest grocery store or the closest Walmart. We were so isolated that the latest trends and pop culture didn't reach us until about two years after they'd expired everywhere else in the world. My town was too small to have its own high school, so I attended a large regional public school slightly farther away than Walmart. As a student there, I was stuck in that tragic phase of possessing both acne and the social skills of a young adult still watching Nick Jr. I certainly wasn't a loser—most people knew who I was and didn't retch at the sight of me. But my general awkwardness never allowed me to make it anywhere near the top of the social ladder. So for four years, I was basically a dorky rat, scurrying through the halls, trying to avoid situations where I might be forced to interact with members of "the Pit."
The Pit was a coed, off-brand version of the Queen Bees from Mean Girls. Think Regina George but with flannel, less hair product, and the noxious reek of patchouli. So basically the opposite of Regina George—but nonetheless these stoner kids ruled our school.
Our high school had an indoor atrium full of tables where students could hang out, socialize, and (not really) study. It was the place where our status hierarchy was most evident and would have made a great subject for an anthropology dissertation.
The table where the cool kids sat was in an area that was sunk about two feet into the floor. The group was known as the Pit, and it was understood that no one else was allowed at their table. Woe unto the miserable worm who crossed into that forbidden territory! When we B-listers walked by the Pit, we usually followed standard protocol: Look down at your feet like they hold the secrets of life everlasting, avoid all eye contact, and pray they don't notice your brown-bagged egg salad lunch, packed by your mommy.
I avoided speaking at length to any members of the Pit for the first few years of high school. Sure, I had an occasional class with some of them, but there was never much interaction. They mostly left me alone, and I knew to stay out of their way. Senior year, though, I got to know one of them—we'll call him Greg—when we were paired as partners for a project in a history class.
I discovered Greg was pretty funny, and we became friends. A few weeks in, we met up to work on the project during a period when students were allowed to leave campus. We worked for thirty minutes or so at his house and then took a break. It was a sunny day, and Greg led me to his deck. He brought this huge, red bong out with us and fired it right up. I had seen people smoking before, and I knew Greg was a stoner, so I wasn't exactly shocked.
After letting loose a cloud the size of a beach ball, he leaned his head toward me and croaked like the big, snack-happy toad from Pan's Labyrinth, "Wanna take a hit from Big Red?"
In that moment I decided that I wanted to be a badass. Maybe it was because I'd been in a fight with my mom that week, and I knew she wouldn't have approved. Maybe it was seeing Greg, sitting on the deck, wearing aviators and clearly taking this bud like a champ. Maybe it was the allure of doing something illegal. Regardless, I decided to go for it.
After I finished coughing, it was time to drive back to school for my physics class (nothing like weed to prime you for some velocity and vector talk). Greg and I parted ways, and as I walked through the hallway I couldn't help but feel smug; I, Kristin Tate, had just smoked weed with a member of the Pit. Did this make me an official Pit girl? Probably not, but at least it was a start.
I had almost made it to physics when I began feeling uneasy. My mind started racing and I couldn't get it to stop. I couldn't go to class—not now—so I dipped into the closest bathroom. That was when the paranoia set in. What if my mom found out? I would be grounded for months. What if my physics teacher smelled the weed and reported me? I'd get suspended or worse—they'd call the cops and haul me off to jail. Why was I freaking out? This couldn't be normal. The weed must have been laced with something. Maybe Greg did it when I wasn't looking. Maybe it was all an elaborate joke because I wasn't cool enough to be in the Pit and now I was about to die from a heart attack in a high school bathroom before I had the chance to grow up, graduate, and marry Johnny Depp (which seemed more feasible than ever in my stoner's haze).
Everything started spinning. I felt like I couldn't even stand up. There was only one thing I could do.
I hobbled to the school nurse and blurted out what I had done: I had smoked weed, and I was really, really sorry. It was a veritable gold medal performance in the Apology Olympics. I begged her to check everything: my blood pressure, my temperature, and anything else she had an instrument for. After she concluded that I was not, in fact, dying, I felt a wave of relief. Nobody would have to come up with an epitaph for my tombstone yet. (Kristin—too exquisite for this world… but couldn't say no to drugs.) But then it hit me that I had just turned myself in. Was she going to call the police?
Long story short: The cops were not called, but my parents were. I was grounded, and the school punished me by not allowing me to leave campus for a few months. I had disappointed everyone: my mom, the nurse, the principal, and even myself, a little. But at least I hadn't died or been arrested.
I haven't smoked weed since. But looking back, I realize that I probably never would have smoked that day if marijuana had been legal. Hell, maybe the Pit kids wouldn't have either! The fact that it was forbidden gave it this elite, hardcore status. You had to rebel in this manner to be a member of the Pit—to be cool.
Weed was so mysterious to me. I didn't know how it was supposed to make me feel, who Greg bought it from, or why it was so bad. I just knew I wasn't allowed to do it, which made rebellious, teenaged me (and so many others) want to do it. I'd entered some august company when it came to succumbing to the allure of the forbidden: Eve with the apple, Abelard and Heloise, Oscar Wilde and the "Love that dare not speak its name," Winnie the Pooh and that tantalizingly out-of-reach honey pot.
Once I got to college, I became friends with lots of people who smoked weed—it wasn't just the Pit kids anymore. It quickly became obvious that marijuana didn't have a drastically negative effect on my college friends the way alcohol did. After a late night at the bar, my roommates and I would come home sick as hell—we pretty much got our degrees in "pulling trigger" (putting your finger down your throat) when facing a severe hangover, or, the ultimate, actual alcohol poisoning. Suffice it to say, vomiting is no fun, but it is a surefire means of learning your limit.
Our nights of college drinking resulted in plenty of awkward situations, but we always made it home safely. Tragically, I knew other people who died in drunk-driving accidents.
But weed was different. I never saw any of my stoner friends have sloppy nights full of regret. More often than not, they'd end up sleepy and hungry, which was awesome for me because I'm almost always sleepy and hungry (and I'll never turn down a friend who wants to eat Fritos and watch Adventure Time).
While marijuana may have been a contributing factor in some deaths, there is no documented death caused solely by overdosing on pot.1 Weed has triggered underlying heart conditions in a small handful of cases, but the drug itself was not the cause of death. In other incidents, people have done stupid things while under the influence of marijuana; in one case, a man jumped off a balcony and died after eating several pot cookies.2 So, yes, marijuana—like alcohol—can impair judgment and cause users to do dumb things they normally wouldn't. But there's no proof that "overdosing" on the drug can, by itself, cause death.
A marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times the amount of THC in a joint in order to be at risk.3 And study after study has shown that marijuana does not lead to lung cancer.4
But how harmful—or harmless—weed is should be a moot point. An adult should have every right to do whatever they please in the privacy of their own home, so long as nobody else is affected. Eating too much junk food can make you morbidly obese, which we all know leads to heart disease, diabetes, and often death. But if you want to sit on the couch and stuff deep-fried nachos into your face until your heart seizes up, that's your prerogative! No one is going to stop you, and no one should stop you—it's your body. And since you're allowed to contaminate your body with fatty foods, alcohol, or cigarettes, why not with weed? Why not with cocaine or even heroin?
After all, legalizing drugs would allow them to be regulated and sold out in the open. This would make the entire industry safer; consumers would know exactly what they were putting in their bodies. This would eliminate the risk of injecting cleaning fluid or smoking pencil shavings and hence would save many lives.
For many of us, this issue is more than just theoretical. Almost everyone has heard of families who have lost a loved one to laced drugs. I know more than just one: Over the last couple of years, there have been dozens of accidental overdoses near my hometown caused by batches of tainted heroin. Some of those overdoses even ended in death.
Chardonnay Colonese died of an overdose on October 13, 2014. Everyone in the area called her Nay. I was lounging on my couch, spending another quality evening on Facebook (yes, I have quite the exciting social life), and was up to the usual: stalking old boyfriends and creeping on pictures of my frenemies, when I suddenly noticed a flood of "R.I.P." messages in my newsfeed. I remember thinking, "Oh no, not again." There had already been a string of untimely deaths in my hometown that year, mostly drug related and involving kids still attending my old high school in my younger brother's class. I was scared to see who the latest victim was. This time it was Nay. My heart dropped. She was only eighteen years old. I didn't know Nay well, but lots of my friends did. It was clear that they were completely shattered by her death. One of my friends posted a status that night that read, "Seriously, Nay? I'm so hurt by you right now. The last thing you said to me was, 'If we lose another person, I'm going to wake them up and kill them again.' And here we are, you left me. We had plans and you left before we could do them. I'm so heartbroken right now."
The saddest thing about this story? Nay didn't have to die. It's one thing to kill yourself willingly, but it's another thing entirely to kill yourself accidentally. Nay trusted the drug dealer who sold her heroin—he didn't tell her that it was laced with fentanyl, an opioid used as a painkiller in hospitals. She had no clue that it would end her life.
As kids, we all make dumb decisions. But we shouldn't die because of them. Think about this for a second: If heroin had been legal, Nay probably wouldn't be dead today. She could have bought clean heroin produced in a sterilized lab instead of turning to the black market. When people want to take drugs, they're going to find a way to take drugs regardless of whether or not they're illegal. We may as well bring the industry out of the shadows and allow it to operate in a safer and regulated manner.
I know, I know, the thought of hard drugs such as heroin being openly sold on the market doesn't sit well with a lot of people. I get it. But if you don't like something, then you can choose not to associate with it. (You'll notice this theme recurring throughout the book.)
Still not with me? OK. Imagine for a moment what would happen if the feds decided to ban Pepsi. People would find other ways to get the soda, and a black market would be born. Pepsi would be produced in filthy basements and then handed off to dealers who would distribute it to thousands of soda addicts looking to get their fix. It would all work pretty well until someone decided to bulk up their Pepsi supply with a bit of, say, cleaning fluid to make a larger profit. Then some unknowing customers would drop dead the following week, just like that, all because they wanted to get a caffeine buzz and a sugar rush. The people who created this toxic batch would most likely get away with mass murder, since their operation would hardly be out in the open.
People who disagree with me say that drug use would hit harder than the latest iPhone if drugs were legalized. I don't buy that argument. Prohibition rarely works. Back in 1920, alcohol was made illegal to reduce crime, solve social issues, and improve citizens' health. Prohibition was dubbed the "noble experiment." However noble the intentions of this experiment may have been, it was an epic flop. Immediately following the ban, alcohol consumption did drop a small amount, given that it was harder to find—at first. But as Launcelot said in The Merchant of Venice, "in the end truth will out." Two years later, consumption actually increased sharply and then remained higher than it was prior to the ban.5
As a result, the feds funneled immense resources into enforcing Prohibition. Not counting the increased spending of local and state governments, the federal Bureau of Prohibition increased its annual budget from $4.4 million to $13.4 million during the ban.6 Despite this, people kept guzzling booze. A thriving underground industry was created, with production and distribution carried out by an army of entrepreneurs operating in the black market. And just like those laced drugs, alcohol also became more dangerous to consume.
The Iron Law of Prohibition, coined by activist Richard Cowan, states that illegal substances become increasingly potent as law enforcement increases. Rather than producing lighter alcohols like beer, producers operating in the shadows are incentivized to create more concentrated spirits like whiskey and wines. The reasons are simple: More potent alcoholic beverages take up less space in storage, are lighter to transport, and sell at a higher price. Go big or go home! Nobody would risk jail time for crafting the bootleg equivalent of Bud Light.
But it wasn't just the potency of the alcohol that made it more dangerous to drink. Lots of amateurs started producing moonshine during Prohibition, and some of it contained lethal ingredients. The annual death rate from spiked liquor almost quadrupled between 1920 and 1925.7
Crime (and tough guys talking out of the corners of their mouths) also increased during Prohibition. Prisons became overcrowded and filled to capacity with bootleggers. So funds weren't being spent only in an effort to enforce the ban but also to keep thousands of people in prison for violating it. Federal spending on prisons increased almost 1,000 percent during Prohibition!8
Put simply: Prohibition was a bigger failure than Britney Spears's marriage to Kevin Federline. It resulted in a bloated government, astronomical spending, and gangsters in fedoras running speakeasies. If you've ever seen an episode of Boardwalk Empire, you know what I'm talking about.
- GOVERNMENT GONE WILD is a tour de force! Anybody who is looking for what comes next in America should pick up this book right now and read it straight through.—Nick Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Reason.com
- Kristin Tate emerges on the scene as the voice of the millennial generation in GOVERNMENT GONE WILD. Insightful, unexpectedly thought-provoking, and with a heavy dose of humor, this really is a must read for anyone irked by the status quo in Washington.—Carla Gericke, president of the Free State Project
- Kristin Tate exposes the dark underbelly of our government at work through her insight and her passion. This is a must read if you want to help establish a high ethical standard in our government.—James O'Keefe, New York Times bestselling author and president of Project Veritas
- GOVERNMENT GONE WILD is a wake-up call from Kristin Tate. In a lively style, she makes it clear that you're not nearly as free as you think you are. A lot of what she has to say may rub you the wrong way, but it's a message you need to hear.—Scott Rasmussen, New York Times bestselling author, co-founder of ESPN, founder of the Rasmussen Reports
- This book is really special. Kristin is a real firebrand, a tremendous investigative reporter, and this book is a real eye-opener.—Steven K. Bannon, Bretibart News Network Executive Chairman
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- Jun 28, 2016
- Hachette Audio