It’s been a couple of years since most of us learned that more than 70 federal agencies have habitually armed themselves, including the EPA, the Department of Education, the Federal Reserve Board, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the IRS, and (at least until 2009) the Library of Congress. You may think of the regulatory octopus as a gentle blob of bureaucratic corpulence that blocks out the sun, but octopi don’t order 174,000 rounds of hollow-point bullets each year the way the Social Security Administration does. Every bureaucrat is, ultimately, backed by lethal force. All that firepower creates an itchy federal trigger finger.
Down in Venezuela they have a nice word for the armed pro-government mobs that render political disputation in Latin America so high-caliber: They’ve “colectivos.” Reuters helpfully explains that these roving armed bands “view themselves as the defenders of revolutionary socialism but are denounced by opponents as thugs.” For those searching for a catchall term for American Rambocrats, check and check.
Unlike their colectivos, though, ours are official government agencies.