Bathrooms to broadband: Government control is out of control

By Jim Waters - Bluegrass Beacon

Are Washington’s policies these days regarding everything from bathrooms to broadband intentionally designed to systematically trash the constitutionally protected power of states, local governments and even the people themselves?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Intentions aside, those are the results.

Where, for example, does the U.S. Constitution even remotely allow a president enthroned in Washington to dictate the bathroom policies for transgender students in a school district 800 miles away in McCracken County, Kentucky?

That issue is at the crux of Gov. Matt Bevin’s decision that Kentucky should become the 12th state to join a federal lawsuit against Obama’s bathroom guidelines, which include threats to withhold federal funding from school districts that prohibit transgender students from using the bathrooms, locker rooms and other facilities of the biologically opposite sex, and which fail to address transgender students by their preferred names and pronouns.

Whatever your personal beliefs regarding specific issues, you should think long and hard about supporting this kind of federal intrusion into policies best decided by school boards or, at the very least, by individual states.

Such federal overreach blatantly ignores the Tenth Amendment, which clearly places power for most decisions in the hands of states and their individual citizens, not the federal government and its bureaucracy.

Today it’s transgender bathroom policy; tomorrow could bring an unwelcome intrusion by Washington into an area for which you’re on the other side of the field.

Today, you may be giddy about withholding funding for school officials who don’t address transgender students by their preferred names or pronouns.

But what happens in January if a newly inaugurated Trump administration hands down “Guidelines for Protecting American Business” threatening to withhold federal financial aid for any student caught speaking against corporations while sipping his favorite white chocolate mocha Frappuccino in the local coffee house?

Will you then still be supportive of Washington and its growing brand of intrusion?

One’s goose is another’s gander, and the sauce poured over all is the same.

Washington’s sauce these days is mostly about control and ideology.

For instance, instead of proposing a compromise that protects females in vulnerable environments while also ensuring access to bathroom facilities for all kids, why didn’t the administration guide school districts to construct single occupancy bathrooms allowing transgender students to lock the door and use?

Because it’s not really about civil rights or protecting a minority—a very minority—group of people from discrimination while trampling almost everyone else’s rights to privacy and expectations of simple decency and safety.

It’s about advancing a goose-stepping ideology that controls as much of American life as possible.

It’s also a clue as to why the federal government is becoming obsessed with cutting into the private sector’s marketplace when it comes to policies regarding Internet access.

Some enterprising reporter should ask Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler when he’s in Pikeville next week to justify his agency’s recent attempts to overturn state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina limiting the intrusion and failure of costly government-owned broadband networks?

Where does the U.S. Constitution even remotely allow an unelected FCC bureaucrat enthroned in Washington to overturn laws passed by elected legislators while mandating those same states must allow projects like the already colossal failure known as KentuckyWired?

Such projects have gone bankrupt in other states while placing private Internet providers at huge competitive disadvantages. They also cannot be properly maintained in light of government’s slowness and technology’s speed.

Applying this same principle at the state level, when Frankfort’s politicians were offered less than $30 million in federal funding to barely subsidize KentuckyWired, a duplicative and costly proposal that purports to build a statewide 3,400-mile broadband network that would cost at least 10 times that amount, how much thought did they give to whether the project is something government at any level should be doing?

Apparently not nearly enough.

By Jim Waters

Bluegrass Beacon

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at Read previously published columns at

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at Read previously published columns at

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