Issues & Insights

America Moving From A Permission Society To A Repressive Regime

A few years ago, a book titled “​​The Permission Society” explained how the country’s ruling class had turned our God-given liberties into privileges granted by government. Is it possible that the U.S. has gone even beyond and become a nation of the ruled? There’s more evidence to support that proposition than there is to refute it.

We’re reminded of this by a set of new rules to live by proposed by the Biden White House. Last month, the Energy Department announced it was taking public comments on efficiency standards for residential air conditioners and pool heaters that are intended to “to help consumers save on their utility bills.”

The “savings” angle, though, feels more like cover for the department’s deeper agenda, which is its “commitment to reaching net zero carbon emissions.”

The Democrats who for now dominate policy making in Washington believe there is nothing so private that they cannot regulate, nothing so personal that it can’t be intruded upon. The only question is the pace of the arrogation of our freedoms. They have to be taken down in increments, so that the country won’t notice the slippery slope toward tyranny. In many cases, often regarding energy and conservation policies, restrictions are even celebrated by the loudest factions to help numb the public to the constant attacks on liberty.

Timothy Sandefur, author of “​​The Permission Society,” and a vice president of the Goldwater Institute, has said one of the fundamental problems with living in a permission society “is that it violates the principle of equality.”

“Who,” he says, “has to ask permission?”

The answer, of course, is “an inferior has to ask permission of a superior.”

That certainly describes the country we live in. But more and more, our “superiors” are closing our options before we can even ask for approval. What requires a government permit or certificate, or some other consent today will tomorrow by verboten.

Think of firearms. Of building codes that block development. Of the prohibitions of employing oneself as an independent contractor. Of our freedom to speak freely. Of conformity forced by social media acting as an agent for the state. Especially think of vaccine mandates, and the rise of the executive over the legislative in the blue states.

There is a reason America’s ruling class, made up primarily of Democrats with a few RINOs on the fringes, is aptly labeled. It has no interest in protecting and promoting a free society – its objective is to control the country in a way that increases and consolidates its power. Small steps such as dishwasher guidelines and pool heater rules don’t do much damage on their own.

But combined with decades of directives, mandates, and restrictions that affect personal choices, manufacturing processes, and even expression, and they become a bulwark of fascism. Small offenses add up. We’ve come to live under a tyranny of regulation that grows without rest, a regime of repressive laws, a bureaucracy that inflates itself while making life harder for the supervised masses. The government has become a blob that ate American liberty.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Well summarized. As the old adage goes: Boil the frog slowly enough, and the frog won’t notice until too late. We must be getting past midpoint in the repression game, as a few editorial frogs are noticing the simmering heat of the repression being ratcheted up slowly notch by notch.

  • President Biden delegated his administration’s domestic policies and budget largely to the Sanders – Warren – Pelosi cabal. This group of social theoreticians, advised by cognoscenti from The Squad, attempted to wrangle wholesale changes in domestic life but came a cropper when two Democratic senators, Manchin and Sinema, barred their experimentation. Disappointed that this mini-Marxist plan failed, our president initiated Plan B and used the dictatorship of the Executive Order to bypass the democratic legislative process where he could, cheers from the left smothering sane observers. The autocratic woke wing of the Democratic Party, sensing that a political debacle is a-coming in the mid-terms, will spare no effort to persuade challenged executives in the White House to sign on to their repressive boondoggles of social engineering. All of us should beware.

  • I can see it where the deep state takes credit for, “efficiency standards for residential air conditioners and pool heaters that are intended to ‘to help consumers save on their utility bills,”‘ by in the future regulating the temperature at which we can set those devices. Through the internet of things, a central regulator could set the temperature in your home and or the amount of energy you will be permitted to consume.

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