Article Archives by Subject:  Government

07-19-2013
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A Country In Distress
A Country In Distress
Subject: Coup d'Etat?

In a July 13th article titled Coup d-etat, Paul Craig Roberts, the chairman of the Institute for Political Economy, wrote:

The American people have suffered a coup d'etat, but they are hesitant to acknowledge it. The regime ruling in Washington today lacks constitutional and legal legitimacy. Americans are ruled by usurpers who claim that the executive branch is above the law and that the US Constitution is a mere "scrap of paper."
....
The basis of the regime in Washington is nothing but usurped power.

Well, if this is a coup, then paraphrasing Ayn Rand's comments about the supposed "rape" scene in The Fountainhead, it is a coup by engraved invitation, seeing as there is so little real opposition being mounted to many of the issues that Roberts raises in his piece.

For generations, the American people have been indoctrinated by government-run education, to forget that, as the Declaration of Independence so clearly states:

Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government"

It is only a coup so long as the citizens of this country — meaning you, me and others — stand by and allow our sovereignty and our rights to be trampled by this group of smooth talking, totalitarian-bent, street thugs.

It is time for every person that understands what is at stake to withdraw their consent from this illegitimate government that is no longer bound by Constitutional restraints and neither represents our interests nor protects our sovereignty. It is time to assert our right to alter or abolish this creeping tyranny and replace it with government that explicitly acknowledges the meaning of the term individual rights, and serves to respect and protect them.

Roberts concludes his piece with the observation:

If Americans acquiesce to the coup d'etat, they will have placed themselves firmly in the grip of tyranny.

He is correct. There is no magic savior coming to rescue us from this pending fate. It is up to us to act—and to act now—if we wish to retain the vestiges of freedom we still possess and to restore the full meaning of personal liberty represented by America's founding principles.

We must each make pushing back agains tyranny a part of our daily lives. We cannot remain quiet in response to our disgust and opposition to what is happening, but should instead become very loud, forceful, and public in expressing our awareness of how our rights are being violated, letting others know, in no uncertain terms, that we refuse to sit back quietly and submit. We must become activists for freedom by, for example, writing frequent letters to the editors of local papers, or by organizing protest marches and rallies against specific government officials who commit abuses, or by establishing groups within your community where you and others lecture to educate more people as to what is happening all around us.

To achieve values in our life requires energy and commitment. Ask yourself what your personal freedom is worth to you and then make sure that you have a plan and are investing an appropriate amount of time, effort and resources to give yourself a reasonable chance of achieving your goal. If enough people are willing to fight for their freedom, then it can be realized. Place yourself on the right side in this battle.

05-09-2013
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Loyalty Day
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Subject: Loyalty Day

According to Wikipedia, Loyalty Day was first observed on May 1st, 1921, as a counter to the growing influences of communism and anarchism on the American labor movement. In 1958 during the second Red Scare, Congress passed Public Law 85-529 declaring this to be a legal holiday — although one which is rarely observed. Wikipedia states:

With the exception of Eisenhower in 1959 and 1960, Loyalty Day has been recognized with an official proclamation every year by every president since its inception as a legal holiday in 1958.

In keeping with that tradition, on April 30, 2013, President Obama issued his own proclamation, once again declaring May 1st to be "Loyalty Day." Here is what he had to say:

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

In the centuries since America broke from an empire and claimed independence, our people have come together again and again to meet the challenges of a changing world. We have reinvented our cities with advances in science and reformed our markets with new understanding of the forces that guide them. We have fought for freedom in the theater of war and expanded its reach during times of peace. We have revamped and recovered and remade ourselves anew, mindful that when times change, so must we. But with every step forward, we have reaffirmed our faith in the ideals that inspired our founding. We have held fast to the principles at our country's core: service and citizenship; courage and the common good; liberty, equality, and justice for all.

This is our Nation's heritage, and it is what we remember on Loyalty Day. It is an occasion that asks something of us as a people: to rediscover those ageless truths our Founders held to be self-evident, and to renew them in our own time. We look back to Americans who did the same, from generation to generation — citizens who strengthened our democracy, organizers who made it broader, service members who gave everything to protect it. These patriots and pioneers remind us that while our path to a more perfect Union is unending, with hope and hard work, we can move forward together.

Today, we rededicate ourselves to that enduring task. We do so knowing our journey is not complete until the promises of our founding documents are made real for every American, regardless of their station in life or the circumstances of their birth. Progress may come slow; the road may be long. But as loyal citizens of these United States, we have the power to set our country's course. Let us mark this day by pressing on in the march toward lasting freedom and true equality, grateful for the precious rights and responsibilities entrusted to each of us by our forebears.

In order to recognize the American spirit of loyalty and the sacrifices that so many have made for our Nation, the Congress, by Public Law 85-529 as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as "Loyalty Day." On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America, our Constitution, and our founding values.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2013, as Loyalty Day. This Loyalty Day, I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance, whether by displaying the flag of the United States or pledging allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

BARACK OBAMA

But of course, as with all things Obama, there are interesting passages contained here that, in the name of this country's founding principles, turn those very principles upon their head. For example, Obama states:

But with every step forward, we have reaffirmed our faith in the ideals that inspired our founding. We have held fast to the principles at our country's core: service and citizenship; courage and the common good; liberty, equality, and justice for all.

Ignoring for the moment his appeal to faith rather than a conscious understanding and explicit agreement with our founding principles, what are some of those core ideas that he identifies?

"liberty, equality, and justice for all."

Contrast this with the Pledge of Allegiance which speaks of "liberty and justice for all. Where did "equality" come from and what does Obama mean by that?

When the founding fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them ... that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."   [Emphasis Added]

it is perfectly clear that they are speaking of individuals who are separate from one another, but all of whom possess equal rights as an inherent aspect of their human nature—rights pertaining to their freedom and independence; rights which grant them the power to direct and control the course of their own lives.

But this is not at all what Barack ("I do think at a certain point you've made enough money.") Obama means by equality. He is not promoting equality of opportunity to pursue one's desires in the manner of one's choosing. No, he is speaking of egalitarianism — of guaranteeing equality of outcomes. It is his intention to "level the playing field" by chopping off the legs of those that rise too high and using those severed limbs as a platform upon which others will be allowed to stand. And it the government, with him at the helm, that will be doing the chopping and deciding just how much to amputate.

As is the case with all smart totalitarians throughout history, he doesn't plan to go to war with the population in order to extract his pound of flesh. Instead, he navigates the much easier course of simply issuing a call to sacrifice oneself on the altar of altruism, and then stands back as a majority of the sheep lead themselves to slaughter. When Obama speaks here of "our country's core: service and citizenship," or declares that Loyalty Day is "an occasion that asks something of us as a people," he is laying the groundwork to help confuse the latent positive feelings that people retain for the greatness of what remains of this country, and getting them to transpose those feelings towards the act of serving the needs of others at their own expense.

And this is not some one-time occurrence, but a concerted effort and core goal of Obama's administration. Already he has declared both 9/11 and Martin Luther King Day to be National Days of Service. His never-ending call to serve can be found buried within most of his speeches, while more and more children of all ages are being forced to perform mandatory community service in our government-run schools as part of the federal Service-Learning initiative. And as I pointed out in my original article on National Service, the annual spending on the Corporation for National and Community Service has been drastically increased during The past five years, with an underlying goal of ultimately making National Service become a mandatory requirement imposed upon all citizens.

When Obama declares:

It is an occasion that asks something of us as a people: to rediscover those ageless truths our Founders held to be self-evident, and to renew them in our own time.

he is counting on most people not being aware of the fundamental Enlightenment principles of individualism upon which our American history rests, and an uncritical acceptance of his replacement of our rights to autonomy and self-directedness with his collectivist notion of egalitarianism. Unfortunately, after many generations of a populace indoctrinated in government schools, he can now apparently get his wish.

01-19-2013

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"To Serve Man"
Subject: Gee, Is It That Time Again Already?

Repeating what I wrote in my last article on this subject, if you are a long-time reader of this blog, then you know that fighting against the imposition of a program of mandatory National Service in the United States by the Obama Administration is the issue that originally propelled me to create the John Galt Pledge site and then begin writing publically concerning a broader range of political issues. For those interested in reviewing past articles on this subject, here is the link to everything on the subject of Service.

Well, here we are, facing yet another Obama-mandated National Day of Service. It seems like it wasn't that long ago that we "celebrated" this. Oh, that's right, it was actually just last September 11th that the Day of Remembrance was magically transformed, by edict, into a call for service. And now, only a few short months later, Martin Luther King Day is reconstructed as well.

And what a convenience this year, having it coincide with the presidential coronation—oh sorry, I meant inauguration. I can think of nothing more appropriately symbolic to represent what another four years of this man's leadership means, and apparently neither can Team Obama, since they have gone to the trouble and expense of creating an official logo.

Now doesn't that makes you think that they just might have bigger plans in store?

Obama is strongly suggesting that you give up your holiday and instead devote your time, energy and money to the service of others. Why? Well, as Barack says, because:

    "This is really what America is about, ... we're all in this together, and we've got to look out for each other, and we've got to work hard on behalf of each other."

And Michelle adds:
    "[T]he goal is that as you make your way through life, who are you pulling up behind you? And as long as you're pulling somebody up behind you you're doing the right thing."

Again, why? Apparently because they say so—case closed. In long standing Obama tradition, assertions are made, never with a need to justify them with reasons, or to back them up with facts.

Confronted by the January 19th call to service, someone on Facebook wondered why more "service" was required, given just how much the average person was already forced to work in order to maintain the current system? Now that's a good question.

According to the Tax Foundation, in 2012, the average worker had to toil a total of 107 days, from January 1st through April 17th, in order to cover their federal, state and local tax bills, a total which amounted to about 30% of all earnings. This year taxes are increasing dramatically and the period of involuntary servitude will extend even further.

So given the fact that the government already is the judge, jury and executioner when it comes to deciding just how much of your productive earnings will be confiscated, why make such a big deal about one more day of service here or there? The answer comes straight out of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

As far as the government is concerned, all of those hours spent working in order to pay taxes is your duty! Remember, "we're all in this together," and you are chained to someone—on second thought, why limit it just one!—who must be "pulled up behind you." As with all duties, you have no choice in the matter. And the government is here to insure that you meet your obligations—exactly as they choose to define them. The fact that your earnings are taken from you by force and used for purposes over which you have no say and for which you may not approve is of no importance. What matters is that you are effectively enslaved.

But, as Orwell pointed out so clearly in his book, totalitarians are not satisfied with owning and controlling our physical bodies and our material wealth. No, what they truly want is control over our souls—which means control of our minds. And this explains the importance of the "voluntary" day of service. They are not looking to extract additional resources from us. If that were the case, they would take the easy route and simply raise our taxes. Instead, the goal here is to shame people into freely accepting their slave status by choice, and in doing so, blur in their minds the distinction between the freely chosen and the state enforced. Once trained to accept that sacrificing their life to the needs of others is morally good, their soul has been disarmed and rendered as defenseless as their body, once guns have been confiscated.

The end goal of Obama and his ilk is to disarm the populace, both physically and spiritually, so that it can offer no resistance against its masters. It is no coincidence that gun control and calls for national service emanate from the same source and at the same time. They are merely two components of one unifying strategy.

Whenever I hear Obama, or any other government official, speak about the importance of service to others, I am instantly reminded of the famous Twilight Zone episode titled, To Serve Man, based upon a story by Damon Knight. A group of space aliens arrive on Earth and make efforts to calm the wary humans, informing them that they are there only to offer knowledge, aid, and assistance in dealing with mankinds problems. Over time, as the aliens share their advanced technology and help resolve the problems of hunger, energy and war, the humans slowly begin to trust and consider them as friends. These feelings of benevolence are further reinforced when one of the alien's books is stolen and the title is translated as, To Serve Man. Although difficult, translation of the book's content continues, and at the end of the film it is revealed that instead of being a humanitarian treatise, it is actually a cookbook!

Be extremely watchful of the person—or the government—who vows to hold your interests above their own. Chances are that they do not see you as a friend, but as their next meal!

And don't simply sit on your hands watching as the dinner table is being set. This government call to service is not benign, but one of the greatest evils being perpetrated by this administration (which is really saying something), and must be loudly denounced and actively thwarted by every means possible. Study your history in order to fully appreciate the dangers here, and don't fall into the trap that Obama is bating with references to "benevolence", "charity" or "volunteerism". Those are actions reserved to individuals and private organizations. Government is force, and the explicit or implicit use of force lies behind every aspect of this initiative. The chains are being dangled before all of us. Recognize them, and then help others to see them for what they are.

06-15-2012

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Peter Schiff
Subject: Sign the Petition

Peter Schiff is an investment broker and one of the small number people who very vocally spoke out against the American government's unsound economic policies, accurately predicting the 2007 financial crash.

On June 7th, Schiff was invited, for a second time, to attend congressional subcommittee hearings in which a proposal was being discussed to extend loan guarantees to the multi-family housing market. This would be similar to what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been doing for single family mortgages — actions which were responsible for creating the housing bubble in the first place!

Watch the 34 minute video below to see excerpts from these hearings where Schiff warns the committee members of the foolishness of these actions, informs them that it is precisely this type of government intervention that is interfering with the housing industry's ability to find appropriate solutions to the problems being discussed, and that what is needed is for the government to get out of the way and allow the free market to successfully operate.

Schiff's remarks are a breath of fresh air in Washington. Unfortunately, as the video makes abundantly clear, no one on the government panel is paying even the slightest attention to the wisdom that Schiff imparts, and that the entire hearing is packed with representatives from the housing and building industry who are there to argue for more federal subsidies, which means forced wealth transfers by the government from the unrepresented taxpayers into the pockets of these special interest groups.

Since it was clear that no one on the panel was listening, Schiff has decided to create a petition which he intends to have placed into the Congressional Record, expressing the taxpayers' position on these matters. Here is the text:

    To the Insurance, Housing, and Community Opportunity Congressional Subcommittee:

      Judy Biggert, R-IL, Chairman
      Robert Hurt, R-VA, Vice Chairman
      Gary G. Miller, R-CA
      Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV
      Scott Garrett, R-NJ
      Patrick T. McHenry, R-NC
      Lynn A. Westmoreland, R-GA
      Sean P. Duffy, R-WI
      Robert J. Dold, R-IL
      Steve Stivers, R-OH
      Luis V. Gutierrez, D-IL, Ranking Member
      Maxine Waters, D-CA
      Nydia M. Velazquez, D-NY
      Emanuel Cleaver, II, D-MO
      Mel Watt, D-NC
      Brad Sherman, D-CA
      Michael E. Capuano, D-MA

    Thank you for inviting Peter Schiff to testify on Thursday June 7th, 2012 before your sub-committee in the hearing titled, "Oversight of Federal Housing Administration's Multi-family Insurance Programs."

    We believe Peter Schiff represented the American taxpayers' interests when he argued for free-market solutions to the housing crisis.

    We, the taxpayers, are upset and we're watching the votes of our Representatives more closely than ever.

    We urge you, the sub-committee, and the entire Congress to listen to Peter Schiff and act on his advice. We urge Congress to understand that we do not need another government program to fix our current problems. The government is the problem; slashing programs, departments, agencies, etc. is the solution.

    Reducing government interference frees up capital and, most importantly, it frees up behavior. With time, new enterprises will spring up to provide the same services as government — but cheaper and better.

    We urge you to understand that the "free market" is not a unified entity that you can manipulate at will. As the philosopher that was mentioned during the hearing, Ayn Rand, once said, "You can evade reality but you cannot evade the consequences of reality."

    Enough is enough! The free market is us. We believe that we are better at solving problems when we are free to do so.

    We urge Congress to keep inviting honest speakers like Peter Schiff to testify and to implement their recommendations. We urge Congress to restore America to being the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    Sincerely,

    The Undersigned

Schiff is asking all Americans that agree with this, to sign the petition, and add your own comments as well. All names and comments submitted by July 4th will become part of the document placed into the Congressional Record.

Take a few minutes and do your part to further the cause of liberty. Stand up for your right to control your own destiny and push back against these special interest groups that continue to use government as a tool to pick your pocket.

Click Here to Sign the Petition


06-02-2012

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Not So Fast, Bud!
Subject: Statism: Part I – The Growth of the Regulatory State

    Come gather 'round people, wherever you roam
    And admit that the waters around you have grown
    And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone
    If your time to you is worth savin'
    Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone
    For the times they are a-changin'.

    Bob Dylan

Well I doubt that when Dylan penned these lyrics back in 1963 he had the same thought in mind as I, but yes, today the times certainly are still a-changin'! More recently, our president had promised us "Hope and Change," but hope for what sort of change exactly?

From the founding of the United States and through most of the 19th century, with the very notable exception of slavery, Americans were generally free to pursue their lives and interests without intervention by the state. For example, according to Wikipedia, "For most of Western history, marriage was a private contract between two families" and licenses did not begin to be required until after the Civil War. People were allowed to train for and pursue their chosen work as they best saw fit, with very few professions being licensed. Immigration was generally unrestricted and citizens were free to acquire open land and improve it as their own property—a policy codified into law with the Homestead Act of 1862. Taxes were generally low and consisted predominantly of tariffs imposed upon imported goods. Although a temporary income tax was levied during the Civil War, it was rescinded shortly thereafter. And of course, slavery was eventually abolished.

This unprecedented level of freedom allowed the rise of self-made businessmen such as Rockefeller, Carnegie, Schwab, Hill, Vanderbilt, Stanford, Edison, Ford, and many others who transformed the industries of Oil, Steel, Transportation, Finance, Energy, Textiles and Agriculture, and in the process, dramatically increasing the average standard of living. In America, between 1850-1910, life expectancy rose 40%, from 38 to 53 years. And during the period from 1820-1913, the GDP per capita surged by 422% (in constant dollars), allowing the US economy to grow to well over twice the strength of any other country!

Despite these extraordinary results, starting in the latter part of the 19th century and then accelerating in the 20th, the United States began significantly tacking away from freedom and towards statism, replacing the sovereign autonomy of the individual with the collectivist notion of an all powerful authoritarian government ruling over and controlling its citizens.

By statism, I mean:
    Statism:   [via dictionary.com]

    1) the principle or policy of concentrating extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state at the cost of individual liberty.

The rise of statism in America has advanced in a series of spurts, but the overall trend has been one of an expanding government asserting control over an ever widening array of activities in which individuals were once free to engage without intervention.

In this article, we will take a brief historical survey of the major pieces of regulatory legislation that have been imposed upon the American people, investigate some of the reasons for their adoption, and then conclude with a review of the impact that all this has had on the erosion of our liberty over the past 100 years.

Note: There are many links provided in this document which you may follow when desired, in order to explore these issues in greater detail.

The Magical Mystery Tour is Coming to Take You Away – The Beatles

It requires a bit of prestidigitation coupled with a great deal of misdirection in order to get people to sit back and quietly accept that their rights are being stripped away.

The majority of the 19th century was dominated by Classical Liberalism, a philosophy grounded in the principles of individual liberty and constitutionally-constrained government. And it was understood that the idea of liberty extended fully into the economic realm. Quoting from Wikipedia:
    Freedom was maximized when the government took a "hands off" attitude toward industrial development and supported the value of the currency by freely exchanging paper money for gold.

Unconstrained freedom is what allowed personal ambition to be translated into advancement and success, and it produced the spectacular results previously noted.

Yet, despite these achievements, there were those who feared liberty, believing instead that society's problems could only be solved through "modern", "efficient", "scientific", centralized government planning and control. And thus was born Progressivism. Consider the following two quotes. First, from educator George M. Forbes:
    [W]e are now intensely occupied in forging the tools of democracy, the direct primary, the initiative, the referendum, the recall, the short ballot, commission government. But in our enthusiasm we do not seem to be aware that these tools will be worthless unless they are used by those who are aflame with the sense of brotherhood...The idea [of the social centers movement is] to establish in each community an institution having a direct and vital relation to the welfare of the neighborhood, ward, or district, and also to the city as a whole.

And this from historian William Leuchtenburg:
    The Progressives believed in the Hamiltonian concept of positive government, of a national government directing the destinies of the nation at home and abroad. They had little but contempt for the strict construction of the Constitution by conservative judges, who would restrict the power of the national government to act against social evils and to extend the blessings of democracy to less favored lands. The real enemy was particularism, state rights, limited government.

And there you have it—the rejection of both fundamental pillars of classical liberalism.

As Forbes makes crystal clear, concern for the rights of the individual are nowhere to be seen. What matters is the welfare of the group—any group—whether it be the neighborhood, ward, district, or city. It is communal brotherhood that is the moral ideal, not self-directedness and personal responsibility.

And as Leuchtenburg informs us, the progressive has nothing but contempt for the constitution and the idea of limited government. The goal was to reverse the classical liberal model. Rather than a world consisting of a constrained government and unconstrained citizenry, they sought to establish an unconstrained, all-powerful government which would then impose any manner of constraints upon the subservient individual, all done in the name of social justice.

What we have here is the reemergence of the age old battle between individualism and collectivism.

Individualism holds that every person is an end in themselves, possessing the inalienable right to their own life, which grants them sole authority to set their purpose and direct the course of their existence.

Collectivism, a species of statism, declares one or another group as sovereign, with individual members then forced to submit to the group's collective will. Each person's existence is contingent upon their usefulness and service to the group.

By the early 20th century the battle was engaged as the collectivists began to chip away at liberty. Unfortunately, 120 years after its ratification, the general populace was no longer prepared to mount a proper defense of the ideals of freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Woodrow Wilson Beginning in 1913, the Woodrow Wilson (1913-20) administration earned dubious distinction for politically kicking off the progressive era through a series of legislative acts which included:
  • Enacting the sixteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, permanently cementing in place the progressive Income Tax and establishing, in law, that the product of your efforts now belonged to society, not you.

  • Instituting the Federal Reserve System (FED) which effectively nationalized the money supply and banking system.

  • Creating the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to track and regulate business and industry practices.

  • Passing the Clayton Antitrust Act to further curtail business independence and freedom of action.

  • Passing the Federal Farm Loan Act, the precedent for the 2,238+ programs currently listed in Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance [CFDA].

  • Regulating the labor markets through passage of the Adamson Act and the later-to-be-determined-unconstitutional, Keating-Owen Act.

  • Reinstituting the military draft during World War I, making it explicit that your life belonged to society, not you.

  • In response to WWI, agricultural markets were regulated and certain prices fixed through the creation of the U.S. Food Administration. Subsequently, Wilson issued a proclamation calling for the public to voluntarily observe "wheatless Mondays and Wednesdays", "meatless Tuesdays" and "porkless and sweetless Saturdays", while mandatory food restrictions were imposed on the baking industry.

  • Energy markets were also regulated through the creation of the Federal Fuel Administration, which took complete control over coal, and to a lesser degree the oil and natural gas industries. Here, the public was urged to observe "heatless Mondays", "gasless Sundays" and "lightless nights". The government determined what were classified as "nonessential factories", which were then order closed.

Herbert Hoover As Hans Sennholz has reported, during the next fifteen years many of these Wilsonian agencies and policies interfered with normal self-correcting market mechanisms, while the manipulation of the money supply under the aegis of the newly created FED, were together ultimately responsible for the massive credit expansion and resulting stock market crash in 1929. Faced with a recession, the Herbert Hoover (1929-32) administration responded as follows:
  • Increased the top personal tax bracket from 25% to 63%. Well, it had already been made clear that the government did not consider it to be your money.

  • Increased corporate taxes. Same principle for businesses.

  • Instituted the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, raising tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to near record levels and triggering retaliatory tariffs from other countries. The results? U.S. imports decreased by 66% and exports decreased by 61% during the four years of the Hoover administration.

During 1930, the economy had been showing signs of slow recovery. However, each of Hoover's actions was like a shock to the economic system, creating uncertainty, discouraging investment, and severely disrupting international trade. Adding this on top of the Wilsonian interventions which remained in place, and the result was to induce a full fledged heart attack in the recovering patient, plunging the U.S. into the throws of the Great Depression.

Franklin D. Roosevelt In 1933, happy days were here again, with the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) (1933-45) to the presidency. Despite having campaigned on a platform opposing Hoover's deficits, and calling for "drastic reductions of all public expenditures", "abolishing useless commissions and offices", and for a "sound currency", immediately upon his inauguration he turned his back on his promises and launched into his explicitly anti-capitalist New Deal programs, saddling us with:
  • The Glass-Steagall Act which regulated financial speculation (i.e., business risk-taking), while also creating ...

  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which nationalized future banking system failures while producing the unintended consequence of training depositors to no longer worry about or investigate the credit-worthiness of their financial institutions.

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which began regulating the stock exchanges and all other financial markets.

  • The Social Security Ponzi scheme, and its FICA Payroll Witholding Tax which hid from view the full impact of the tax burden being born by the typical worker.

  • An increased standard marginal tax rates, up to 91%—and with Executive Order 9250, the creation of a 100% marginal rate on salaries over $25,000. Wake up folks, it's simply not your money!

  • The Thomas Amendment, which authorized currency expansion (i.e., inflating the money supply) at the whim of the president.

  • Currency devaluation through Executive Order 6102. Private ownership of gold was declared illegal, and once confiscated from all citizens it was then repriced from $20.67 to $35.00 an ounce—an inflation of just under 70%—profiting government at the expense of everyone else left holding significantly devalued paper dollars.

  • The creation of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), to enforce tax compliance.

  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the U.S. Housing Authority, which nationalized the construction of low-cost public housing and provided mortgage and insurance subsidies.

  • The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), which granted the president the power to regulate industry and authorize monopolies as desired, bypassing the newly minted anti-trust laws on a whim. NIRA is a poster child for the method of handing off regulatory law-making from the legislative to the administrative branch of government. According to Wikipedia:

    NIRA, as implemented by the [National Recovery Administration], became notorious for generating large numbers of regulations. The agency approved 557 basic and 189 supplemental industry codes in two years. Between 4,000 and 5,000 business practices were prohibited, some 3,000 administrative orders running to over 10,000 pages promulgated, and thousands of opinions and guides from national, regional, and local code boards interpreted and enforced the Act.

    In 1935, the Supreme Court unanimously held the NIRA to be unconstitutional.

  • Despite his 1940 campaign promises to keep America out of the war, Roosevelt reinstituted military conscription during that same year—the first peacetime draft in U.S. history. The Selective Service System which mandated draft registration was also recreated.

  • The National Labor Relations Act, granting the government the power to regulate interactions between unions and employers, imposing constraints on what actions would be permitted to either group, and thereby extinguishing the right to freedom of association.

  • The Fair Labor Standards Act, which regulated pay levels and instituted the Minimum Wage.

  • The Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 which nationalized electric power generation. The federal government forced divestiture of private energy holding companies and regulated the industry, including pricing. The government also went into electrical production with the acquisition of private companies and the creation of public utilities, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, then the largest federally-owned corporation in America.

  • Numerous government make-work programs through agencies such as the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). At one point, over three million civilian workers were being directly subsidized, accounting for just under 7% of the entire GDP—assuming of course that you are willing to classify much of these agencies make-work programs as actual domestic product!

  • The Reconstruction Finance Corporation, used to pick winners and losers by making targeted loans to state and local governments, banks, railroads, mortgage lenders and other businesses.

  • The Agricultural Adjustment Administration, which taxed producers of farm products and then paid subsidies directly to farmers to kill their livestock and to not grow crops on their land, forcing food prices up for everyone else. Never will you find a clearer example of the "fallacy of the broken window!"

  • The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) which securitized mortgages in the secondary market with the intent of increasing home ownership.

Does any of this sound familiar?

It is generally acknowledged that despite the New Deal's Keynesian program of massive tax increases, large-scale injection of funds into the economy through deficit spending, and the replacement of free market mechanisms with central planning, the overall impact on improving the economic health of the country was minimal. By 1939, although federal spending was then three times greater than it had been in 1929, private sector unemployment remained above 17% (Lebergott) and the GDP was still only 90% of what it had been a decade earlier.

Is this starting to ring a bell?

While each of the above programs constituted a massive expansion of the federal government's intrusion into personal and business affairs, the most significant shift in the relationship between citizen and government was made explicit in FDR's 1941 State of the Union address in which he outlined the four fundamental freedoms (i.e., rights) that all people should be accorded:
  1. Freedom of speech and expression

  2. Freedom of worship

  3. Freedom from want

  4. Freedom from fear

While the first two items were merely a restatement of inherent rights acknowledged by the First Amendment, the remaining items turned the concept on its head. Whereas rights had previously pertained exclusively to the arena of freedom of action in service of one's own life, this declaration of a "freedom from want" and a "freedom from fear" inverted the meaning of a right, changing it into an entitlement—a guarantee of economic and physical security that was not to be earned through one's own efforts, but was owed to all, apparently as a simple matter of one's existence. And who would be responsible for supplying these goods and services? Well, somebody else!

Here we witness the philosophical birth of the full blown American entitlement state. By 1944, FDR had expanded the principles into his Second Bill of Rights in which he called on Congress to guarantee:
  • Full Employment

  • A Living Wage

  • A Market for One's Goods and Services

  • Freedom from Unfair Competition

  • Decent Housing

  • Medical Care and Good Health

  • Economic Protection from Accidents

  • Retirement Security

  • Quality Education

As each of these "entitlement rights" required a good or service be provided to some at the expense of others, the net result was the transformation of government from the role of equal protector of the inherent rights of all, into an agent of forcible wealth transfer from the productive members of society to the needy. What went unacknowledged was the fact that the fulfillment of each "entitlement right" required the erosion of the very rights of life, liberty and property that the Constitution had empowered the government to protect.

In the span of a short 30 years (1913-1943), despite supposed Constitutional protections, the fundamental nature of American government had been completely reversed, and a once free and independent populace had been transformed into classes of serfs and wards of the omnipresent state. Any expectation of retaining and practicing one's constitutionally guaranteed rights was now nothing more than a fiction—a fading illusion.

After FDR's death, the Truman administration made it its goal to cement in place the programs of the New Deal by expanding public works projects, increasing subsidies and entitlements, and further interfering into the affairs of business, labor and employment. Eisenhower and Kennedy generally continued to support these policies throughout their respective administrations.

Lyndon B. Johnson Channeling the New Deal from thirty years earlier, Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-68) instituted his Great Society program, including his War on Poverty, once again dramatically expanding the size and role of the federal government while adding a new array of regulations and entitlements through the creation of:

By 1969, along with the cost of the Vietnam War, all of the new federal spending required by the War on Poverty produced an inflation rate of 4.7% and resulted in spiraling deficit spending that rose 525% during Johnson's six year term, increasing the national debt by over 16%. Interest rates had also increased to their highest level in a century.

Richard Nixon Being a Republican, one might expect Richard Nixon (1969-74) to stand up for free-market principles. One would be wrong. In addition to his well known ethical failings, during his tenure he managed to commit the following acts:

As any Austrian economist would have predicted, the combination of Johnson's excessive spending spree, coupled with Nixon's counterproductive actions, resulted in a severe recession that lasted through the Ford and Carter administrations. Other cyclical recessions were to follow as a consequence of maintaining these and other government interventions in the market.

The period during the Ford (1974-76), Carter (1977-80), Reagan (1981-88), Bush Sr. (1989-92), Clinton (1993-2000) and Bush Jr. (2001-08) administrations was mixed. There were various instances of deregulation and periodic tax reductions, later followed by tax increases and new legislation. The scope of federal social and economic regulations seesawed up and down, but on average, continued to steadily increase. For example, during this period the country was treated to the following:
  • Creation of the Department of Energy (DOE), which established a federally mandated energy conservation policy for the entire country, backed up by a new regulatory bureaucracy. (Carter)

  • The establishment of the Department of Education, which began the process of centralizing the administration of education policies across the nation. (Carter)

  • The Job Training Partnership Act, which significantly expanded training subsidies for youth and unskilled adults. (Reagan)

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which imposed a complex new set of rules affecting employment, transportation, telecommunications, and all publically accessible existing and new construction, enforced through public lawsuits. (Bush Sr.)

  • The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which extended health coverage to the children of families that had incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid. (Clinton)

  • The No Child Left Behind Act, which imposed significant new education standards on state schools as a contingency for receiving federal funds. (Bush Jr.)

  • Faith-Based Initiatives: Legislation designed to make it easier to transfer increased federal funds to religious organizations. (Bush Jr.)

  • The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, an overhaul to Medicare which provided new prescription drug entitlements to seniors, at a projected cost of an additional $549 billion over a ten year period. (Bush Jr.)

  • The initial $700 billion Troubles Asset Relief Program (TARP), used to directly bailout various financial institutions while nationalizing the financial and automotive sectors through the purchase of shares in AIG, Citigroup, General Motors, Chrysler, and other companies. (Bush Jr.)

As a measure of the growth of government over this period, the federal debt rose from $484 billion in 1974 to $10 trillion by 2008—a 20x increase. As a percentage of GDP, the debt went from 33.6% to 69.7%, an increase of over 100%.


    (Click on image for larger view)

Another measure of the growth in annual new regulations can be gauged by the size of the Federal Register, which almost doubled from 45,422 pages in 1974 to 80,700 pages by 2008. And remember, this is the annual regulatory output. During the Bush Jr. years alone, there were 614,293 new pages of regulations issued. So much for the complaint about deregulation during that administration!

Barack Obama All of which brings us to Barack Obama (2009-12). In less than one term the current administration has disregarded the Constitution, invalidated the rule of law, and been responsible for one of the greatest increases in the size and scope of the regulatory state through a series of acts, including:
  • Record Deficits: During the period from 2009 through 2012 (est.), the total deficit spending will be greater than $5.3 trillion, increasing the federal debt to more than $16.3 trillion, which represents over $52,100 of debt for every man, woman and child in the U.S, or more realistically, $208,400 for a typical household of four. The total debt is equal to 105% of GDP, as compared to the debt-to-GDP ratios of: Spain: 69%, Ireland: 104%, Portugal: 107%, Italy: 120%, Greece: 161%—good company, one and all!

    Of course, the above figures are made possible through the use of government accounting practices that would put any private citizen behind bars were they to use them. According to this USA Today story, where the federal government reports a deficit of $1.3 trillion for the previous year, standard accounting practices would properly show that figure to be $5 trillion! That is an underreporting by 260%. Today, in order to cover the total cost of all federal liabilities, each American household is now on the hook for over $561,000. Good luck with that!

  • The nationalization of the medical and insurance industries through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare), a 2,409 page bill rammed, substantially unread ("we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it", Pelosi), through Congress using the budgetary trick of reconciliation. It is now conceded by its supporters that rather than reduce medical costs, it will increase the average insurance premium by 20-30% by 2016. And like every other bureaucratized social medical scheme ever tried, it will produce untold inefficiencies and inevitably lead to health care rationing by impersonal panels of government administrators more concerned with cost than care. The constitutionality of the act, including its mandate to purchase insurance, is currently under review by the Supreme Court.

  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), an additional $831 billion in Keynesian economic "stimulus", over and above the previous $700 billion in TARP funds ($1.53 trillion total), with the primary purpose of creating jobs. The administration indicated that unemployment was expected to rise to 9%, but that with this stimulus it would remain under 8% and fall to less than 6% by mid-2012. Instead, despite the massive spending, unemployment increased to 10.1% (Oct. 2009) and remains at well above 8% today. Based upon the Congressional Budget Office's own figures, the average cost of each job created was between $228,056 and $631,538, although one report puts the figure as high as $4.1 million! Your mortgaged future at work—or more accurately, not at work!

  • The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which imposed massive new regulatory requirements on an already heavily regulated financial services industry. This included creation of the:


    With the government dictating much of the day-to-day operating parameters and reporting requirements for everything from banks to hedge funds to debt collectors, the freedom to react to market forces and innovate is significantly curtailed. As John Allison has commented:

    Dodd-Frank is a dramatic move toward statism as government bureaucrats can practically decide which industries, companies and consumers have available credit. Dodd-Frank encourages more consolidation in the banking industry and instead of eliminating "too big to fail," makes this practice a permanent public policy.

  • Expanding the size and powers of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by tasking it with the administration of the health care insurance mandate. Obama requested a budged increase of roughly $1 billion in order to hire thousands of additional agents.

  • The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, part of which fully nationalized the federally-insured student loan industry, curtailing competition and restricting student options while further driving up the cost of higher education.

  • The nationalization of the financial industry through the Public-Private Investment Program for Legacy Assets, intended to purchase "toxic assets" from failing financial institutions, thereby moving liability from the private sector onto the backs of American taxpayers.

  • The nationalization of the automotive industry through the government's acquisition of a majority stake in General Motors and Chrysler. After the takeover, the Obama administration then exerted fiat dictatorial control over these organisations, replacing the CEO at GM, invalidating contract law by simply tossing existing bondholders under the bus, awarding the UAW with an unlawful 40% stake in the restructured company, and selling off Chrysler to the Italian company, Fiat SpA. The Wall Street Journal indicates that there has been a $28.8 billion taxpayer loss on the GM and Chrysler bailouts.

  • The Car Allowance Rebate System (Cash for Clunkers), a $3 billion boondoggle where taxpayers were forced to subsidize new car purchases for reasonably wealthy Americans (those who could afford to purchase a new car) if they would trade in their older, less fuel efficient vehicles which were subsequently crushed! The net result was that: 1) total costs exceeded total benefits by $1.4 billion, 2) average fuel economy for all purchased vehicles increased by only 0.6 to 0.7 MPG, and 3) the destruction of all the trade-in vehicles caused a reduction in supply and corresponding price increases in the used car market, seriously harming low-income drivers.

  • A $7,500 taxpayer subsidy (read wealth transfer payment) for the purchase of each plug-in electric vehicle. In addition, there are huge subsidies for the installation of electric charging stations for these vehicles.

  • Despite a failing economy, continuing to push the discredited Global Warming (i.e., Climate Change) agenda to the tune of $70 billion, and investing public funds in failed "green" initiatives such as the following examples: Solyndra ($535 million loss and bankruptcy), Evergreen Solar ($5.3 million federal, $50 million state loss and bankruptcy), SpectraWatt ($500,000 loss and bankruptcy), Mountain Plaza Inc. ($424,000 loss and bankruptcy), Fisker Automotive ($193 million loss, on verge of bankruptcy), Tesla Motors ($465 million loan, posting losses and falling sales), and many others.

  • Extending the regulatory powers of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to impose new user fees on drug and medical device makers, while expanding the agency's power to control raw materials used in manufacturing.

  • Extending unemployment benefits multiple times up to a total of 99 weeks.

  • The enactment of 21 new or increased taxes, many embedded within the health care legislation. In addition, President ("I do think at a certain point you've made enough money") Obama has called for increased marginal tax rates and minimum payments (Buffett Rule) on the wealthy.

  • Despite rising oil prices, by edict, Obama suspended new oil exploration and drilling, including the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic Ocean, and along the Atlantic Coast. He blocked construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and imposed federal regulation of the development of Natural Gas resources, and the process of Fracking. Consequently, automotive gasoline prices have more than doubled during his administration, increasing from $1.84/gal. (01-26-09) to $3.79/gal. (05-07-12).

  • In keeping with his campaign promise that his energy policies would ensure that "electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket", mission accomplished. Recent reports reveal massive increases in utilities—850% in some markets—in less than three years.

  • Legislating through regulatory department fiat and executive order:

Well, Obama did tell us that it was his plan to fundamentally transform the United States of America!

And during his inaugural address, when he spoke of America being "bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions", he made it clear where, in his view, the individual stands in relation to the collective state.

What A Long Strange Trip It's Been. – Jerry Garcia

What we observe from the above is a century of steadily expanding government, inserting its tentacles into every crevice of our existence and eroding the control we onced possessed to set the course and then proceed with our lives, unimpeded.

Your Education:

    Freedom of choice in the realm of education first went out the window in America when the Massachusetts Bay Colony made it compulsory back in 1642. However, after the Revolutionary War, it wasn't until 1849 when Connecticut became the first state to reintroduce mandatory school attendance—something that is nationwide today, notwithstanding the 13th Amendment's prohibition against involuntary servitude.

    Despite constant calls for increased funding and new initiatives, government education is a massive failure. A study by the Broad Foundation shows that the value of public schooling is perceived to be so low that 1.2 million students drop out each year. The study also indicates that 70% of 8th grader are unable to read proficiently, and that out of the top 30 industrialized nations, American students rank 21st in science and 25th in math. This despite many reports showing that government expenditures per student greatly exceeds those of private schools, while producing inferior results.

    Rather than address any of these facts pertaining to the abysmal results in the traditional subject areas of reading, composition, history, math, science and logic, the Obama administration has instead made a huge investment in the implementation of Service Learning—now active in roughly half of all government school. This new program requires that all students engage in mandatory community service work for a specified number of hours each year in order to be allowed to advance to the next grade. What types of work? Here are some examples:
    • Preparing and serving meals to homeless
    • Working in shelters
    • Clothing/food/book/toy drives
    • Participating in community clean-up projects
    • Supervising toddler recreation time
    • Campaigning for a political candidate   [Emphasis added]

    The time required for these activities can accrue to 200 hours or more (depending upon the school) of enforced labor in order for a student to be allowed to graduate. The idea is to indoctrinate the school children into a view of Service As A Social Norm. This is nothing less than a back-door effort in support of the administration's larger goal of instituting a mandatory program of universal National Service for all Americans, where up to two years of your life are taken over by government masters.

    As the above facts make clear, quality education of youth is not the primary goal of our government-run school system. Were that the case, then changes of a completely different nature would be instituted, allowing market-based competition among private schools, with parents able to to freely determine how to best spend their dollars in order to successfully train their children.

    Instead, what the evidence shows is that government seeks to control the educational system as a means of being able to indoctrinate one generation after another in its propaganda. Whether it is forcing very young children to parrot praise for our glorious supreme leader, creating an eco-Nazi police force, asking students to report family secrets, or being fed either the progressive viewpoint on diversity, climate change, and social justice, or the evangelical viewpoint on creationism, intelligent design, and abstinence-only sex education, the end goal is the creation of a culture of uniform, pliable minds that can be more easily mobilized into service by a centralized authority—something I previously discussed in my article Building Obama's Army.

Your Career:

    Once upon a time it was you who decided whether you had a skill of value to offer, and it was others who decided whether they agreed and were willing to trade with you for your services. But today, that's pretty much a fairy tale. Slowly, the various states began to arbitrarily declare that one profession after another was no longer yours to practice by right, but only by privilege. They started with the licensing of the medical, legal and teaching professions, and by 1920 had expanded into architecture, engineering, accounting, insurance, pharmacy, real estate, the building trades and even hair cutting. And although the common fiction was that these professions were being regulated in order to protect the public "health, safety and welfare", the truth was that in almost every case the restrictions were the result of heavy lobbying by business and trade associations for the express purpose of creating barriers to entry in the profession that would restrict competition and raise prices for its existing members. The onerous licensing requirement significantly increased the educational time and expense—including costly examination fees that can run into the thousands of dollars for certain professions—thereby excluding many qualified people from an otherwise viable career path. One unintended consequence of this was to actually lower rather than raise the overall level of professionalism.

    While the politicians may not themselves have been initially interested in the true intent of professional licensing, they soon came to see two major benefits. First, there were the ongoing annual licensing fees that could be imposed upon an ever expanding segment of the population—and new sources of taxes are always a top priority. But more importantly, the politicians quickly realized that with the power to extend the right to work within a profession, also came the power to revoke that privilege. This placed the state in the position of being able to directly control the very livelihood of citizens—a new and powerful lever that could be used to exact compliance from an important segment of the voting public. With these incentives awaiting, the gold rush was on, and the number of licenses exploded. Today, pest control operator, locksmith, animal trainer, travel guide, log scaler and shampooer are among the more than 1,100 distinct professions requiring a license in one or more states. Here is a site listing 10,385 licensed occupations among the 50 states, while this link provides a comprehensive list of 194 occupations requiring a license in the state of North Carolina alone. During the 1950s, only 5% of American workers were licensed. By 2008 that number had grown to 23% of the workforce and is certainly higher today.

Your Business:

    As our little stroll down memory lane has shown, the 20th and 21st century attack on free-market business practices has been an unrelenting one. Every new regulation has created a government bureaucracy that has hobbled entrepreneurs' ability to respond to ever changing market forces, while burying them under a mountain of record keeping and reporting that diverts crucial resources away from productive activity.

    In 2010 and 2011, the size of the Federal Register exceeded 82,000 pages—each year! This provides some indication of the magnitude of the legislative burden being placed upon business. And as the Wall Street Journal reported, in 2008, the annual cost of complying with all federal regulations was greater than $1.75 trillion!

    Consider how many jobs are being destroyed by this direct government intervention. In 2010, the average national wage was $41,600. If we assume a generous 75% markup to cover non-salary expenses, this raises the business cost per employee to $72,800. If that $1.75 trillion were not being diverted to unproductive tasks, it could represent more than 24 million potential jobs, while the current unemployment rate is estimated to be 12.5 million!

    That same WSJ article indicates that the cost of these regulations is born disproportionately by smaller businesses:

    As a consequence, small businesses—those with fewer than 20 employees—incur regulatory costs 42% greater than firms with between 20 and 499 employees, and 36% greater than firms with more than 500 employees. The regulatory cost per employee for small businesses was $10,585, compared to $7,454 for medium firms and $7,755 for large firms.

    Since small business is the center for new job creation, if Obama were truly serious about increasing employment, then he should actively work to reduce the regulatory burden on all enterprise. Instead, his approach is exactly the opposite, so it's no mystery why economic recovery has not occurred.

    But the question still remains, if this level of misery is the result, then why are progressives so committed to impeding the golden goose that is business? And the simple answer is their fear of freedom. The mere idea of an unregulated business left to operate under its own direction is, in itself, so abhorrent, that they are more willing to suffer the consequential pain of applying the fetters.

Your Choices:

    Telling us that monopolies were bad, the government created antitrust legislation which it has then used to prosecute honest businesses from Standard Oil and Alcoa to IBM, Microsoft and Google. Of course, it is only bad when it is anyone other than the politicians doing the monopolizing.

    The U.S. Postal Service is a "good" monopoly, because .... well, because the government says it is. Between 2006–2011 the Post Office lost over $25 billion and is scheduled to lose another $14 billion during 2012. Despite these facts, profitable private companies such as DHL, FedEx and UPS are still prohibited from offering us their services in this area of standard mail delivery.

    Gambling is bad for you—unless it is the government that is raking in the proceeds, at which point it is actively encouraged. State governments maintain a monopoly on lotteries and spend millions each year advertising them with the intent of extracting billions of additional dollars ( $53.8 billion in 2006) from their residents. Go ahead and purchase your government tickets. Just don't you try this at home! When it comes to government, what's good for me is prohibited for thee.

    Where individuals once dealt directly with businesses vying with one another to provide us with various goods and services, over time the politicians stepped in and created government-sponsored monopolies that eliminating all competition. An early example was the building of roads, followed later by the control or outright takeover of one utility after another. The net result? Not happy with your electric rates, your trash collection or your cable service and would like to look elsewhere for something better? Well tough noogies. You options have been eliminated because there's now only one government-mandated game in town. Your right to choose has been replaced by expanded controls which force you to accept someone elses decisions. And despite the example of AT&T, where the end of the government-enforced monopoly led to rapid innovation, increased consumer choice and dramatically lower prices in the telecommunications industry, there is no will to repeat that success.

Your Property:

    "Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own."

    James Madison   [Emphasis by Madison]

    A free people have the right to dispose of their property as they see fit. While this was generally true in the 19th and early 20th century, it is no longer the case.

    When it comes to your land, you are now regulated by zoning boards which limit not only what type of structures you will be allowed to build, but their placement, lot coverage, height, shape, permeability, construction materials, signage, lighting, landscaping, and often even the allowable colors will be dictated. For some projects, you may also be required to make "social concessions" such as paying for public amenities, turning over a portion of your land as a park, or building a certain number of subsidized units, in exchange (i.e., as a bribe) for obtaining zoning approval. Then there are the building inspectors, backed by many thousands of pages of codes and regulations, who will demand you make detailed submissions for their review, outlining every change or improvement intended for your property. This submission must typically be accompanied by a very large fee (tax) before the review will be conducted. The Fire Marshall or Army Corps of Engineers may also weigh in, along with many others officiating bodies, depending upon the nature of your project. Should you meet all of the requirement and finally receive building approval, then the inspectors will supervise all work to insure that you perform to their requirements. The concept of private property no longer exists. Government has asserted authority over all usage, and while you bear the financial liability for the construction and maintenance, you are really only a tenant of the land. And each year you will receive a property tax bill from the real owners to remind you of your leasehold status.

    Or consider another example. Do farmers have a right to the use of their own cattle? Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge Patrick J. Fiedler emphatically declared that they do not! In a case where the judge proclaimed that the farm families "do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow," he went even further, stating that Americans "do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice."

    Then there are federal asset seizures which have risen over the years to epidemic proportions. This is where regulatory and enforcement agencies are given the power to confiscate property without Fifth Amendment protection of due process. As the Wall Street Journal reports, in 2010 alone:

      "forfeiture programs confiscated homes, cars, boats and cash in more than 15,000 cases. The total take topped $2.5 billion"

    In the meantime, innocent people are being caught in this unrestrained fishing net. Ostensibly, these seizures of ill-gotten goods are supposed to be returned to victims, but a 1984 federal law allows state and local agencies to retain up to 80% of what is taken, creating what Scott Bullock of the Institute for Justice points out is an "improper profit incentive."

    So much for your property rights.

Your Income:

    Your income is the product of your thought and labor. In a free society it should be recognized as your property by right, to save, invest, spend or give away as you—and only you—wish. But this is not the view of contemporary government. They see your earnings as their property, to be disposed of in a manner of their choosing. By their grace, politicians leave you with a percentage of what you make, but then confiscate the remainder to fund their programs, schemes, junkets and wars. We have already examined the case where FDR imposed a 100% marginal tax rate on income above a certain level, stating in unequivocal terms that should anyone in that position choose to work, they were fully slaves of the state. The following two recent events reinforce this point:

    In April, Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced Senate bill S.1813 reauthorizing federal highway funding. But hidden within that bill was a provision to revoke the passport of anyone owing more than $50,000 to the IRS. By restricting citizens from leaving the country, this would effectively erect a virtual "Berlin Wall" around America, caging its citizens, who may only depart if and when granted permission.

    Then, in May, in response to Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin's decision to renounce his citizenship and reside in Singapore, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Bob Casey (D-PA) proposed the Ex-PATRIOT Act (S. 3205), which would impose a 30% tax on the investments of any person renouncing their American citizenship. In addition, these people would be barred from reentering the U.S., permanently walling them out.

    The vitriol exhibited by both Schumer and Casey made crystal clear their belief that Saverin was "stealing" from both them and the U.S. government the millions of tax dollars to which they had a rightful claim but would now be denied, due to Saverin's actions.

    Some might argue that the typical progressive is motivated by their radical egalitarianism to work for equality among all people. Not the "equality under the law" that the Founding Fathers recognized, but "equality of outcomes" that promotes uniformity across the entire social spectrum. However, this view crumbles under close examination. Given a choice of proposals, where one promotes that the less well off apply themselves and raise their standard of living towards a more equal stature, while another relies upon the confiscation of property and the restraining of ability of those better off so as to bring them down, the progressive will inevitably select the latter. They do so because it is not empathy and love for the less fortunate that motivates them, but envy and hatred for their betters that fuels their passion. Refer to the actions of Boxer, Schumer and Casey for a case in point.

Your Purchases:

    Once the government had exacted its pound of flesh through taxes, it would be nice if you were then left to spend the remainder of your earnings as you liked. But no, the politicians are not through with you just yet. They have an opinion as to just how you should use that money. They know what's best for you.

    For example, they think it would be great if you owned a house instead of renting. And it would be swell if you would donate some of your income to charities rather than spend it on yourself. Of course, they have a vested interest in seeing you improve your job skills, since they get more tax revenue as your pay-level increases. So they nudge you in their direction by offering tax deductions for these and other desirable activities.

    Or maybe these benevolent fairy god mothers who watch over us all have decided that our behavior should conform to their more "socially desirable" ideals. For example, maybe they would like to see you be more environmentally conscious by weatherizing your home or purchasing an electric car. They accomplish these objectives by taking money from someone else and offering it to you as a bribe.

    An when it looks like gentle economic persuasion may not be sufficient to accomplish their goals, then they invent a new trick and simply tell you that you will be forced to make a certain purchase as in the case of the Obamacare health insurance mandate.

Your Family:

    For centuries two people freely decided to marry and then did so. But at some point the government simply asserted that individuals no longer possessed that right and would henceforth be required to seek permission from the state, with the state determining exactly who may or may not wed, and under what conditions. Of course there was also the matter of the ever present fee (i.e., tax). And was the imposition of the marriage license done to better secure the union? No. Its purpose was to prevent interracial marriages, just as today it remains a tool to control or prevent same-sex marriages. The marriage license is nothing more than one more instrument used to control personal behavior and restrict choice.

Your Personal Life:


Is there anything at all that I can still do on my own?

    Now, that is a very good question!

    Channeling Marvin Gaye, today's politicians would say:

      There ain't no mountain high enough
      Ain't no valley low enough
      Ain't no behavior small enough
      To keep me from regulating you

So, what's the point?

    The point of this historical overview is to expose what is normally hidden from view. The corrosion of our rights has been occurring for decades. Each generation has faced its own smaller set of issues, and at each juncture a tiny percentage of the populace has fought back against the intrusions, with a few battles being won and many more lost. Then society as a whole settles back into abject complacency and learns to accept the new shackles that have been imposed upon it ... at which point the process is ready to repeat, ratcheting yet another notch closer to total enslavement.

    The point is to take in the larger picture as a whole and to be horrified by the sight!

    For every abridgement of freedom proposed throughout human history, there are an untold number of rationalizations that have been offered up to justify its necessity. At one point a little finesse was required in order to convince people to accept being reamed with the sharp end of the stick, but after a century's worth of abuse—not to mention indoctrination through government schools—the best that today's leader could muster was:

      "I had to abandon free market principles in order to save the free market system." – Bush Jr.

    and apparently that was good enough for most!

    But the rationalizations simply don't cut it. When you add everything up, it soon becomes clear that our liberty has not been cashed in to save our country. It was not used as a down payment on maintaining our "way of life". It wasn't sacrificed in service of our fellow man. It was not traded for universal fairness and equality. It's loss has not resulted in brighter, happier people, or the elimination of business failure, or made the trains run on time.

    We've exchanged our freedom for the promise of safety and security, and yet we remain unprotected from the Madoffs and Enrons of the world. We find our government-mandated health and retirement systems bankrupt, leaving us exposed and vulnerable. Our entire economy is on the verge of collapse and we are mired in an undeclared and undefined perpetual state of war that cannot be quantified and therefore will never end. We have taken a once productive and self-sufficient people and imbued in a sizable percentage, learned helplessness, creating a class that is no longer capable of taking responsibility for themselves.

    For any contract to be valid, each party must gain something of value. In the case of this so called "social contract" that has been rammed down our throats by force, we have paid the very steep price of our liberty. What have we received in return?
      Absolutely nothing of value!

    I declare this contract null and void.

    The point is that we now have a government that no longer honors the limits imposed upon it by the U.S. Constitution, and has come to see citizens as members of three fundamental classes: wards, slaves and rulers.

    The point is that we started out with a magnificent proclamation that all men were equal, possessing unalienable rights, and that among these were life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yet, three hundred years later, we have arrived at a point where your life is no longer your own.

    The point is that the rationalizations given by our politicians for their acts are just part of the magic and misdirection use to cloud people's minds in order to keep them from identifying the simple and obvious truth: rulers are in it to rule! Today's politicians are small-minded opportunists who enjoy wielding power for power's sake and will pragmatically tell a lie as soon a truth if they deem it will further their ends. These people do not view you as an equal, but see you as a ready mark to be manipulated.

    The point is that at the birth of this country men were prepared to take up arms and fight to defend their right to exist on their own terms—not be dictated to by some external controlling force. Today you are not just being taxed and regulated into oblivion, you are being told how to salt you food!

    The point is, how much are you willing to take?

    The point is, what are you prepared to do about it?



Freedom's Just Another Word – Kristofferson/Foster

    The people are sick'ningly funny---
    They want more freedom and growth
    And more of somebody's money.
    Comedians promise them both.

    Brian Royce Faulkner


For some of us, it's not a laughing matter.

What is freedom?
    Freedom:   [via dictionary.com]

    3) the power to determine action without restraint.
    5) personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery.

Political freedom is the absence of force. This is the fundamental social requirement necessary in order to allow individuals to pursue their own definition of happiness and flourish in life as a consequence of their own efforts. And this is why Ayn Rand states that a "right" is "a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context." It is every person's right to act in service of their own interests, without restraint, so long as they extend the same right to all others.

The United States was founded on a recognition of this principle, and the purpose of the Constitution was to create a government that would respect and protect every individual's right to their freedom of action by banning the initiation of force between all people. Furthermore, the constitutional framework for the federal government was designed with the intent of strictly limiting its scope so that it would not itself transform into a tyrannical oppressor.

As Thomas Jefferson expressed it:
    "The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits."

           and

    "A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned — this is the sum of good government."

           and

    "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

Unfortunately, as our little tour above has shown, these preventive measures have failed.

Today, we suffer under a government that has lost all respect for the rights of the individual. Instead, it wields its power in order to compel citizens to do its bidding in any area it chooses. This is the exact opposite of freedom. It is nothing less than slavery, no better illustrated than by the recent story of a Texas honor student being jailed for truancy.

The idea of personal autonomy has all but been abandoned. While our politically-correct society focuses on group and class distinctions such as race, color or sex, there is no recognition of the truly singular differences that exist between individual people. That we each vary in our capabilities, knowledge, skills, outlooks, desires, aspirations, psychologies, personalities, values, goals, and basic approaches towards life is of no concern to our government masters. We are treated as interchangeable cogs in the social machinery. Whether it pertains to bike helmets, marriage, energy, education or health care, to name but a few, when the government becomes involved, everyone is forced onto a single track with a single process and a single result. When the state asserts control, individualism inevitably yields to collectivism.

You are unique. Whether it is the government bureaucrats or your nosy neighbors down the street, none of them know or care what personal circumstances you face, or the inner life that defines who you are as a person. And therefore, none of them is in a position to know what choices are best for you. Only you can make that determination. And that is what freedom is all about. It is a social framework that allows individuals to take responsibility for their own lives—both the decisions and the consequences.

In America, we have arrived at a critical crossroad. The question is whether we will continue our transformation towards statism, relinquishing the tattered remnants of individual freedoms that still remain, or do we instead push back against those forces that seek to subjugate us, reasserting the sovereign right to our own lives, and restoring government to its proper, strictly limited role as the defender of the principle of individualism?

For those who choose to engage in the struggle to redeem our lost liberty, success requires that we pursue that goal with consistency. To demand the freedom to act on behalf of our own life, we must be willing to extend that same freedom to others. Just as free speech requires us to accept that others may occasionally say things that we find distasteful, liberty demands that we tolerate behavior by others that we would personally shun. Mutual toleration of differences is the the cornerstone for rebuilding a society free from the use of force, and that is a down payment I gladly make in the cause of restoring liberty.

To be continued ....

P.S.: I would like to extend a big thanks to Garret Seinen, who reviewed a first draft of this article and contributed many very good ideas for improvements, most of which I have shamelessly incorporated into this final version.



External links to reprints of this article:
02-18-2012

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The Hammock
Subject: Wealth Redistribution, By Any Other Name, Is Still Slavery

Recently, Florida's Republican Representative, Allen West, gave a speech in Congress where he stated:
    Our party firmly believes in the safety net. We reject the idea of the safety net becoming a hammock.

    [T]he Democratic appetite for ever-increasing redistributionary handouts is in fact the most insidious form of slavery remaining in the world today, and it does not promote economic freedom.

Michael J. Hurd has written an excellent piece on West's statements titled, The Self-Imposed Slavery of the Redistribution State, and I highly recommend that everyone first listen to West's short speech and then read Hurd's article in full. Rather than duplicate his analysis, I will just quote a few passages:
    Becoming a hammock? Rep. West, that ship has sailed.

    A majority of Americans now depend on some form of government handouts. This includes rich whites as much as anyone else. These handouts include mortgage subsidies, farm subsidies, essentially permanent unemployment benefits, corporate bailouts, union favors, medical care, Medicare, Social Security, ObamaCare and a host of other goodies as far as the eye can see.

    West is fatally wrong when he makes a distinction between the government "safety net" rather than a hammock. Whether government provides a "safety net" or a "hammock," in either case it's at the expense of people who are forced to provide it.

    America, once the land of the free and the home of the ruggedly individualistic, is now a middle class, government-benefit entitlement society. America is the land of Big Babies.

    Unfortunately, Republicans like Allen West enable the problem by engaging in the pretense that there's any difference between a government "safety net" or "hammock."

    Government can force us to make hammocks or nets for others deemed deserving. But either way, it's still slavery.

In fact, West gets his analogy completely wrong. Redistributive entitlements are neither a safety net, protecting us in times of emergency, nor are they a hammock, affording us with a life of leisure. They are more akin to a fishing net, which indiscriminately sweep us all into its trap, robbing every person of their freedom and independence. Those on the receiving end of the distribution become dependent beggars (Hurd's "Big Babies") whose survival rests in the hands of a government that supports them in exchange for their compliance and their vote. Those on the supply end of the chain are forcibly relieved of the product of their efforts while their actions are severely restricted through regulations. The concept of the autonomous individual with the liberty to pursue their own definition of happiness, while accepting responsibility for their own life, is nowhere to be found. The American dream is dead.

On January 22, 2010, Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute informed us that the Federal government's "Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance" (CFDA) had reached the milestone of 2,000 different subsidy programs for individuals, businesses, or state and local governments. I have previously reported on this a number of time, here, here, and here. However, taking another look today reveals that the number of programs now stands at 2,199. This means that during the past two years, 100 new programs continued to be added each year — more than eight new programs every month!

This is the means by which your wealth is being redistributed to others. And remember, we elected a Republican majority in the House in 2010 — the place where all spending bills originate. Yet, there has been no decrease in government spending, no reduction in taxes, and no slowdown in the creation of these programs. Because, as Hurd points out in his article, the GOP is every bit as committed to the philosophy of the welfare state as are the Democrats — which means that Republicans are every bit as committed to our subjugation.

We know all too well where President ("I do think at a certain point you've made enough money") Obama stands on wealth redistribution and entitlements. Now listen to the other GOP candidates. With the exception of Ron Paul who advocates the phase-out and eventual elimination of these programs, Romney, Gingrich and Santorum are all staunch advocates of entitlements. They may pay lip service during their campaigning to "restructuring" or "reducing" these programs, but they are in no way advocating that they are wrong in principle. And this means that they do not believe, in principle, that your life is your own, to do with as you see fit.

So every time you hear a politician speak about welfare, or entitlements, or bailouts, or financial assistance, or the needs of others, just stop and substitute in the word "slavery". Because that is the unstated implication that they hope you will never recognize. And freeing yourself from this slavery is the most important reason for engaging in today's battle for serious government reform.

11-30-2011

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The Moon is a
Harsh Mistress
Subject: Independence — If You Can Keep It!

[Note: The following article was written for Brad Harrington's Cheyenne, WY newspaper, Liberty's Torch, and is scheduled for publication as part of the January 6th, 2012 edition.]

    "Under what circumstances is it moral for a group to do that which is not moral for a member of that group to do alone? It is the key question — a radical question that strikes at the root of the whole dilemma of government. Anyone who answers honestly and abides by all consequences knows where he stands — and what he will die for."

    Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

We are living in possibly the most politically polarized period in the United States since the Civil War. The President's overall job approval rating has fallen to 43%, while Congress has attained a new historic low of just 13%. Republicans seek spending cuts while Democrats hold out for mandatory tax increases and further wealth redistribution. Tea Party groups advocate for smaller, constitutionally-constrained government, while the Occupy movement clamors for an end to capitalism, replacing it with what they call "socialism", but is more accurately a fascist, state-controlled economy. There is an ongoing battle between those who argue for maintaining a secular form of government while others wish to see their personal religious values enacted into law. On any given issue from war to immigration, education, guns, unions, health care, energy, environment, abortion, drugs, entitlements, national service, jobs, or climate change, there are diametrically opposing factions, with many demanding that government force be used in order to impose their views upon everyone else.

In a recent web posting, someone wrote, "Way too many Americans seem to be losing all sense of what is right and what is wrong; what it means to treat others with dignity and respect," and when reading the daily news, it seems hard to argue with that assessment. For example, when the Tea Party is charged first and foremost as being racist, then concern for truth, tolerance and understanding have already been tossed out the window. When the Occupy Wall Street movement states on its website that "the only solution is World Revolution" and engages in illegal seizure of property, vandalism, and sexual assaults, then you know that the rule of law has been abandoned. Civility, reasoned discourse and consensus are all early casualties in such an environment.

How then do we sift through all the emotions and the rhetoric on these many issues and come to a rational and consistent political position? This is only possible by first answering the question: What is the proper role of government?

Throughout most of history men have been treated as mere components, owing their fealty to some larger and more important social entity, whether that be a tribe, theocracy, monarchy, community, society or the state. All of these collectivist systems regarded each person as an expendable resource to be used as necessary in service of some "higher good", and the purpose of government was to define the nature of that good, and be the mechanism which determined how to then best preserve and utilize its human capital.

The United States was the first country to stake out a radically different position. Building upon the ideas of Classical Liberalism, each individual was recognized as being autonomous and free, in possession of legal rights equal to all other men, with the rational pursuit of their own happiness being an end in itself. Within this framework government was seen not as the master and director of human life, but simply as a necessary tool to protect those rights, thereby allowing every person the opportunity to determine their own destiny and pursue it to the best of their ability.

At its most fundamental level, the American Revolution was a battle waged between two different ideologies: individualism versus collectivism. Two hundred thirty-five years ago, individualism triumphed and the greatness that America has achieved is a direct result of those hard won liberties. But during the past century this country has slowly abandoned its roots, moving back towards a communal collectivism where the government once again exerts its power to dictate goals, control behavior in most areas of our lives, and treat us once more as uniform and interchangeable cogs in the social machinery. Today's great fiction of serving the "general welfare" has now all but replaced our once cherished independence, binding each of our fates together for better or worse — and usually for the worse!

We currently face numerous economic and social problems. Yet, despite all of the daily attention these issues are receiving, there seem to be few workable solutions. This is because the wrong questions are being asked. Instead of wondering why students are doing so poorly in schools and universities, the better question would be, "Should the government be in the education business?". Rather than asking how the government could create more jobs, it would be more productive to consider, "Should the government be involved with job creation in the first place?" Should the government have an energy, environment or trade policy? Should it redistribute wealth? Should it have the power to print money?

    So, what exactly IS the proper role of government?

This is the truly important question. Are governments instituted for the purpose of managing our lives, or, as the Declaration of Independence states, are they "instituted among men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed," in order to secure the individual rights of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?" Anyone who asks and answers this honestly, and is prepared to abide by all consequences of that answer, will then have the key to understanding what are the appropriate actions that a government should take in every circumstance.




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10-17-2011

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When you Wish
Upon a Star
Subject: The Primacy of Consciousness in Action

    The Weirding Way:  From the science fiction novel Dune, by Frank Herbert

    The basic principle behind the weirding way is that, as Farad'n Corrino says, "My mind affects my reality." A user of the weirding way has to know that the action he or she "wants" to perform has already been performed. For example, to imagine oneself behind an opponent at the current moment in time; when trained well, this knowledge will place you at the spot desired.

    From Wikipedia

    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

    Science Fiction Author, Philip K. Dick

Whether held consciously or implicitly, everyone operates from an underlying set of ideas — a philosophy — that has practical consequences. Each person's philosophic system rests upon a foundation which presumes a position about the fundamental nature of reality, and throughout human history there have been two dominant and opposing schools of thought:
    The Primacy of Existence: This holds that reality is an absolute, existing independent of conscious thought, and therefore it is the function of the human mind to acquire knowledge by discovering and identifying the nature of this external reality in order to be able to then manipulate it towards productive ends — or as Francis Bacon put it, "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."† Here, existence precedes consciousness.

    The Primacy of Consciousness: This is the belief that the "reality" that is perceived with one's senses is not external and independent, but is instead actually the creation of consciousness. This view implies that knowledge is acquired through introspection and that the nature of existence can be shaped by thoughts and beliefs, or as John Lennon put it, "Reality leaves a lot to the imagination." Here, consciousness precedes existence.

Many people live their lives, failing to reflect upon this issue and stake out an explicit metaphysical stance on the nature of reality. Nevertheless, the daily choices that they make are dependent upon one or the other of these positions. Often people compartmentalize various aspects of their lives, allowing themselves to inconsistently apply one methodology to certain areas while adopting the opposite method for others. However, every choice to act still rests upon some implicit belief in reality's fundamental nature.

Those who consistently subscribe to the primacy of existence hold the scientific method inviolable, recognizing it as one of the principal tools for the exploration of the world and a means of ascertaining truth, while those who adopt a primacy of consciousness viewpoint believe that by altering the content of their mind, they can alter (or avoid) the nature of reality. For them, the scientific method is not merely useless, but utterly wrong in its approach.

Now, consider the following two examples:

The Citicorp Center Tower Crisis:
The renowned engineer, William J. LeMessurier, was hired to provide an innovative structural design for the NYC Citicorp Center building which was completed in 1977. In 1978, prompted by a student's inquiry pertaining to aspects of the design, LeMessurier took another look at his calculations and at that time a new thought came to him to check a unique wind loading pattern that had not been required by the applicable codes. To his surprise, he discover that under these new conditions the structure was underdesigned! Now this, in itself, did not pose a serious problem as structural components are typically designed with a 2:1 safety factor which would have dealt with this new condition. But LeMessurier had also recently learned that, without his knowledge at the time, the steel subcontractor, in order to reduce costs, had redesigned the frame using bolts rather than welds, and these two factors now placed the building in danger. He immediately began further investigations which resulted in the discovery that his design team had also treated certain critical components not as columns, but as trusses which did not require the normal safety factor. Taken together, he realized that the building faced a very real risk of collapse in a high wind condition.

Despite his reputation being on the line, LeMessurier immediately contacted the architect, a consulting engineer, and the building owners, fully informed them of the situation, and set into motion a plan to rectify the crisis. The story of how this was accomplished is a fascinating tale that can be read in detail at the link above. But what is most interesting is that all parties recognized the serious nature of what needed to be done and worked cooperatively, without recrimination, in order to insure a positive outcome. And as the article's author commented, "The crisis at Citicorp Center was noteworthy in another respect. It produced heroes, but no villains; everyone connected with the repairs behaved in exemplary fashion ."

This is an example of the primacy of existence in action, where reality is recognizes as an absolute, to be faced head on, not avoided. Each party maintained a clear focus on the facts as they were uncovered, and as new knowledge was ascertained, actively acknowledged and pursued the consequences. Emotions of fear or anger were suppressed as being unproductive to the goal of averting a disaster and saving lives. Without a doubt, this is a story about heros.

The Challenger Shuttle Disaster:
On January 28, 1986 the Challenger Space Shuttle was launched and a little over a minute later, exploded. Subsequently, the Rogers Commission was formed by President Reagan, and charged with investigating the circumstances of this disaster. Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, was one of the commission members, and the tale of his involvement in determining the cause of the accident is recounted in the fascinating story, "Mr. Feynman Goes to Washington: Investigating the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster."

As Feynman describes it, while the other commission members were being led around as a herd and presented with information that NASA management wished them to see and hear, he was off conducting his own independent investigation and acquiring a unique perspective on what had occurred. When it came time for the commission to submit a final report, Feynman refused to sign off on it unless his own findings were included, which subsequently made it in as a ten page appendix.

It was Feynman who discovered that the direct cause of the explosion was due to joint rotation in the rocket booster sections that were deforming the O-ring seals and allowing hot gas to escape, coupled with a seal resiliency failure due to improper launch under abnormally cold conditions. However, of greater importance was the revelation that the joint and seal problems had been identified early during the Shuttle's design, and yet had never been adequately addressed. Forensic studies conducted after each mission had revealed many cases of charred O-rings, where partial failure of the seals had occurred, and yet the missions continued. As Feynman determined, NASA management treated each case of partial O-ring failure which did not end up compromising the mission as evidence that the problem was of less concern than design specs. indicated, and therefore, "certification criteria used in Flight Readiness Reviews often develop a gradually decreasing strictness." When O-ring erosion was observed one-third the radius, NASA management determined that this indicated the rings had "a safety factor of three." But as Feynman so obviously pointed out, "The O-rings of the Solid Rocket Boosters were not designed to erode. Erosion was a clue that something was wrong. Erosion was not something from which safety can be inferred."

When asked to estimate the Shuttle's probability of vehicle failure and loss of life, engineers responded with values in the neighborhood of 1 in 100, while management reported 1 in 100,000. Feynman asked: "Since 1 part in 100,000 would imply that one could put a Shuttle up each day for 300 years expecting to lose only one, we could properly ask 'What is the cause of management's fantastic faith in the machinery?'" As Feynman pointed out in his book, the answer was that while the engineers were applying standard statistical metrics to arrive at their estimates, NASA management was working backwards in their models to arrive at the predetermined number required by political necessity to appease Congress and keep funding flowing.

This highlights only some of the fantastic rationalizing that was being done by NASA management, demonstrating a clear case of the primacy of consciousness in action. While the engineers were grounded in science and had a clear grasp of the nature of the problems and the risks they were dealing with, program managers were completely disconnected from reality, having replaced respect for facts with their internal wishes for desired outcomes — an approach which inevitably led to truly disastrous results.


The Age of Aquarius:

These two examples dramatize the consequences of adopting different philosophies with respect to reality which is, in fact, independent of our hope, dreams, wishes, desires, or intentions. Comprehend and incorporate the laws of nature, along with the relevant facts, into one's actions, and goals are achievable. Ignore them at your peril. And while most of our personal day-to-day decisions do not rise to the level of life or death, the success or failure of the outcomes remains very much a product of those underlying premises.

The sad truth is that the primacy of consciousness world view has been adopted by a majority of people and drives actions in many areas towards sub-optimal, and sometimes extremely harmful outcomes. In the conduct of their lives, many individuals mindlessly adopt all sorts of misguided fantasies that, to any thinking person, are obviously disconnected from reality. Some read horoscopes based upon the alignment of planets at the moment of their birth and then adjust their daily activity to avoid hinted-at pitfalls or to achieve a hazily-defined positive outcome. Some pay fortune tellers to advise them about life-altering decisions that should be adopted based upon the creases in their hand, the position of tea leaves in a cup, the order of a set of playing cards, the orientation of falling wooden sticks, and by many other methods. Beliefs of this type, when applied consistently, result in a holistic approach towards life as embodied in the New Age movement, resting squarely upon a foundation of astrology (the Aquarian Age), and incorporating mystical aspects from many cultures. Consider the following quote:

    There is no objective morality in the New Age philosophy. We should have tolerance for all systems of truth, meaning and purpose. We should create a world of pure relativism, where morality and religion are strictly relative to each person's individual notion of reality itself.

    All About Spirituality

There could be no clearer and more explicit statement demonstrating the primacy of consciousness in action. But wait, where have we heard this before? Moral Relativism? Arguments for tolerance of all systems of belief, regardless of their content? These are the very bedrock principles of "political correctness" that drive the policies of the far-left, progressive collectivists.

Now, when an individual decides to diverge from reality, they primarily harm themselves, and possibly those with whom they directly interact. But when the government, which implements and imposes its actions by force upon all of its citizens, evades reality, then the collateral damage becomes massive. So do we see evidence of the primacy of consciousness in play on the political scene? In spades!

A Confidence Game:

Consider the devastating economic crisis that we currently face. Are these problems existential, being the inevitable consequence of specific actions that have been taken, or are our difficulties social, being merely the byproduct of our thinking? In the first case, a solution would clearly call for the abandonment of those policies causing the harm and their replacement with others based upon an awareness of the actual facts of the situation. In the latter case, all that would be required to turn the economy around is a change in our collective mental attitude. Which view guides our politicians? Let's see.

    From an article in the New York Times, by Robert Pear

    "Republicans blame Mr. Obama for the slump, saying he has issued a blizzard of regulations and promised future tax increases that have hurt business and consumer confidence."

    From an article in Bloomberg, by Steven Matthews

    "Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said last week the U.S. is facing "a national crisis" with the jobless rate at around 9 percent since April 2009. The European debt crisis, political haggling in the U.S. and a plunge in stock prices have prompted a drop in consumer and business confidence that may hurt spending and hiring. "

    From President Obama's October 6, 2011 Press Conference Transcript

    "[T]here is no doubt that the economy is weaker now than it was at the beginning of the year. And every independent economist who has looked at this question carefully believes that for us to make sure that we are taking out an insurance policy against a possible double-dip recession, it is important for us to make sure that we are boosting consumer confidence, putting money into their pockets, cutting taxes where we can for small businesses, and that it makes sense for us to put people back to work doing the work that needs to be done.""

    [All emphasis added]

That's quite a preoccupation with people's confidence! In fact, it is so important to the decision-making of our government officials that we have an entire organization, The Conference Board, devoted to producing the Consumer Confidence Index, a major indicator used by the Federal Reserve when setting interest rates. According to Wikipedia, "The Index is calculated each month on the basis of a household survey of consumers' opinions on current conditions and future expectations of the economy."

Over and over we hear from the media, as well as from Republicans, to Bernanke, to Obama, just how important "confidence" is, and how it is the "lack of confidence" that is keeping the economy down. The problem is not that past economic policies have failed. They all believe that it has nothing to do with business regulations that destroy the ability to plan, compete and innovate. It's not the burden of increased taxes and expanding liabilities promised by the full implementation of Obamacare that throttles business growth, nor is it the legislation that instigates overbuilding, spending and lending in the housing market. And it's not vast entitlement incentives that encourage people to freeload rather than work. These are merely concrete issues which have no important economic impact.

Instead, they know that the real problem is that people don't believe that everything is just fine. If the public would just change its stinkin' thinkin' and stop worrying about underwater mortgages, outstanding debt, lack of savings, evaporating retirement funds, and future job prospects, then they could get back to the business of carefree spending and the economy would be back on the tracks! Why? Because our politicians know exactly what the New Agers know, that reality is nothing more than the notion that we each hold of it. If we can only come to believe that good times are just around the corner, then reality will conform to those desires and there will be no need for government to back down from any of it's wonderful totalitarian programs and policies. So look no further in an attempt to understand why, after two failed rounds of stimulus, Obama doesn't hesitate to propose a third. What's important is that he wants you to know that he's got your back, so cheer up. Please!

Yes, people and businesses are indeed very uncertain about the future, and that uncertainty is having a profound effect upon their actions. However, it is not their "state of mind" that is creating the woes we all face — just the opposite. It is an awareness of the very real problems we face that is justifiably creating our uncertainty. Our economic and social problems are the direct result of very specific actions which have, and continue to be implemented by interventionist politicians in their attempt to centrally plan not only our economy, but every other aspect of our lives. And until those policies are reversed, no manipulation of the public's mind is going to have any effect on the predictable and inevitable consequences of those policies. There's no escaping it. Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed, and Greece is the poster child for this inescapable fact.

Tell Me a Bedtime Story:

If there is one thing that our politicians do accurately understand, it is that after generations of indoctrination in our public school system, the ability for critical thinking has been significantly eroded in a large percentage of the population. As a consequence, they do not worry that their own lack of knowledge, their own inability to reason critically, or their many contradictions, failed promises and the bad consequences resulting from their acts will have much lasting impact on a culture possessing an extremely short attention span. The public can effectively be treated as though it were a child.

Today, most voters are unable or unwilling to parse what politicians say in order to tease apart the salient facts from the fluff — a task requiring far too much time and energy. And the general level of illiteracy in history, geography, science, logic and current events insures that most people are incapable of assembling for themselves an accurate understanding of any reasonably complex issue, leaving them open to having that void filled with prepackaged conclusions supplied by others.

Politicians and the media also know that most people react badly if they feel that they are being brainwashed or forced to accept someone elses opinions or analysis. However, the public does like to be entertained, and this has led to a transformation away from what was once the simple presentation of facts and positions (news), to the telling of stories which contain an implied conclusion that is received more through osmosis than by conscious thought. Obama clearly understands the power of this approach.
    From an article in the Wall Street Journal, by Peggy Noonan

    "Throughout the [Suskind] interview the president seems preoccupied with 'shaping a story for the American people.' He says: 'The irony is, the reason I was in this office is because I told a story to the American people.' But, he confesses, 'that narrative thread we just lost' in his first years.

    "Then [Suskind] asks, 'What's the particular requirement of the president that no one else can do?' [Obama] answers: 'What the president can do, that nobody else can do, is tell a story to the American people' about where we are as a nation and should be."

    Noonan then comments:

    "Tell a story to the American people? That's your job? Not adopting good policies? Not defending the nation? Storytelling?"

    [Emphasis added]

But not everyone is as disturbed by this as Noonan. Take, for example this comment by Ezra Klein while discussing Obama's State of the Union speech:
    From an article in the Washington Post, by Ezra Klein

    "All in all, it was a good speech. But it was a good speech because it told the story of a good presidency and an able president."

    [Emphasis added]

For Klein, what makes Obama's speech a success has nothing to do with it's actual content, which must be depreciated to the level of pointless facts. What is important is its storytelling, and the emotional impressions that it conveys to the public. Is Obama actually a good and able president based upon the record of his administration? Irrelevant. What's important is that he make the public feel that he is. And here we have another example of the primacy of consciousness in action. There is no objective truth regarding anything, including the very nature of of the man himself! All that matters for Obama is what his perception is in the eyes of others. When Obama faces an adoring crowd, he basks in the glory and radiates a sense of content condescension as he senses his own greatness. But as has been reported on numerous occasions, when challenged, his self-image evaporates, revealing the nasty reality that lies within.

Others on the left understand how critically important the story is for maintaining their particular notion of reality. If the public forms another image in their head, then the jig is up. Here is Maureen Dowd expressing those concerns:
    From an article in the New York Times, by Maureen Dowd

    "It's not a good narrative arc: The man who walked on water is now ensnared by a crisis under water.

    "But unless he wants his story to be marred ... he'd better seize control of the story line of his White House years. Woe-is-me is not an attractive narrative."

    [Emphasis added]

And here is Jason Horowitz, discussing the Obama administration's handling of the BP oil spill, and pointing out that the emperor really is missing his clothes:
    Excerpts from an article in the Washington Post, by Jason Horowitz

    "The Obama 'narrative' is overshadowing this presidency's real stories."

    "Sing to me of the Obama narrative, Muse, the narrative of twists and turns driven time and again off course."

    "Journalists and politicians know that voters, like everyone else, are hard-wired to understand the world through stories."

    "But now his narrative has taken on a life of its own."

    "'So much of the coverage and commentary has to do with the narrative, stagecraft, the political implications of what he [Obama] is doing,' said David Axelrod, Obama's special adviser for narrative, stagecraft and the political implications of what the president is doing. 'When you are president of the United States, the most important thing is that you cope with the disaster.'"

    To which, Jason Horowitz adds:

    "Not, that is, the story line of the disaster."

    [Emphasis added]

Despite their best intentions to the contrary, that pesky old reality continues to rear its head, dashing the ship of consciousness on the shoals of the primacy of existence.

It's All About the Narrative:

Today's politics is just one good story after another, and when you wrap them all together with a pretty bow, what you end up with is the narrative that Dowd mentioned above. Here is what one reporter has to say about the Obama narrative:
    From an article in the Huffington Post, by Dan Carol

    "This is not to give Team Obama an A-plus across the board on communications or implementation, but the notion that the President doesn't have a core philosophy is simply ridiculous. The problem is Obama's governing narrative does not fit neatly into traditional boxes."

    [Emphasis added]

Now that's funny! Much like the health care bill that Nancy Pelosi informed us we would have to pass before we could find out what was in it, Carol is just sure that Obama has a core philosophy, but his narrative is unfortunately too complex to let us discover exactly what it might be. Wait, I though that the whole purpose of the narrative was to feed simplified stories to the public in place of the complicated facts that are beyond our comprehension. Instead, this once domesticated narrative has broken free from its corral and returned to the wild. Giddy up!

The concept of the narrative has now trickled down to the masses — a tool to be used by even self anointed "working-class" Wall Street protesters such as Jesse LaGreca, who was recently interviews on the Sunday panel discussion show, Roundtable.
    From an article in the Wall Street Journal, by James Taranto

    "At one point, [panel member Peggy] Noonan posed a question: 'What is your plan? You going to spend the next six months blocking the Brooklyn Bridge? Or are you going to harness a movement into political action?'

    "LaGreca's response: 'What I find amusing is that now people are looking to us to solve the political problems, and they should. But I'm not going to support one party or the other. I'm not going to tell you who to vote for. But I will encourage you to be a voter. I think we have succeeded tremendously in pushing the narrative."

    To which Taranto remarks:

    "And we all know what backbreaking work it is to push narratives!"

    [Emphasis added]

But seriously, exactly what narrative? LaGreca doesn't have the faintest idea. So, let's turn to the man in the street and see what sort of story he has to tell:

And here we have reached the end of the line, to witness the narrative of the primacy of consciousness in all its glory. Fully detached from the last vestiges of reality, the mind soars towards new heights and new possibilities, fueled only by those two magic phrases, "It's what I want" and "That's what I think."

Reality, I command thee to bend to my will!
After all, if it's good enough for my president, then it's good enough for me!


The Choice:

Today, on many fronts we are engaged in an epic battle for our future. At the most fundamental level, it is a fight for the metaphysical underpinning of our most precious resource — our minds. The outcome of this struggle will determine whether we survive as a civilized culture to pursue the glory represented by the Citicorp Tower, or are relegated to suffering the Challenger's fate. Choose you side and then fight for your future as if your life depends upon it — because it does!

You know, wishing won't make it so

Hoping won't do it, praying won't do it

Religion won't do it, philosophy won't do it

The supreme court won't do it,

the president and the congress won't do it

The UN won't do it, the H-bomb won't do it,

the sun and the moon won't do it

And God won't do it,

and I certainly won't do it

That leaves you, you'll have to do it

Todd Rundgren, "Fair Warning"


† Note: In the original version of this article I misattributed the quote, "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed", to Ayn Rand, who often quoted it herself, rather than to Francis Bacon. My thanks to Garret Seinen for pointing out my error.

05-14-2011

Permalink



Growth Of The
National Debt
Subject: Balancing The Federal Budget: A Simple Proposal

Take a look at the following chart:

See any possible problems there? From 1940 and for thirty years thereafter, although the the national debt was increasing, it did so at a fairly slow rate. However, by the 1970s the rate of increase starts to accelerate as indicated by the steepening curve, until the rate begins to go asymptotic around 2007, indicating that the the factors controlling the debt have gotten completely out of control.

Now, examing the annual level of federal spending in constant, inflation-adjusted dollars.

Here we see a fairly constant year-after-year increase in federal spending, indicating the steady growth in the overall size of government. Let's break this down by decade.

Decade Average Annual Spending
in Constant 2005 Dollars
(Billions)
Spending Increase
From Previous Decade
(Percent)
Ratio of 2011
Govmt. Spending
to Decade Average
1940s $502.4 7.6x
1950s $569.7 13.4% 6.7x
1960s $788.4 38.4% 4.8x
1970s $1,115.2 41.5% 3.4x
1980s $1,549.9 40.0% 2.5x
1990s $1,893.1 22.1% 2.0x
2000s* $2,597.6 37.2% 1.5x
 * 12 year average: 2000-2011

Even if we assume that the 2011 expenditures is an anomaly and consider decade averages only, these figures show that government size in the 2000s is over five times larger than it was during the 1940s. And if we average the expenditures for the thirty year period from 1940-1969, our current federal government has still increased more than four times over that historical level.

Now, let's take a look at the revenue side of the picture.

As with expenditures, we observe a steady increase in revenue, every penny of which comes from American citizens, either directly or indirectly. Breaking this data down by decade reveals the following:

Decade Average Annual Revenues
in Constant 2005 Dollars
(Billions)
Revenue Increase
From Previous Decade
(Percent)
Ratio of 2011
Govmt. Revenue
to Decade Average
1940s $313.2 6.9x
1950s $556.5 77.7% 3.9x
1960s $754.2 35.5% 2.9x
1970s $999.3 32.5% 2.2x
1980s $1,275.9 27.7% 1.7x
1990s $1,711.3 34.1% 1.3x
2000s* $2,139.4 25.0% 1.0x
 * 12 year average: 2000-2011

Note the steady and very substantial decade-after-decade increase in the amount of wealth extracted from productive individuals and businesses. Examining just the period from 2000-2011, the total revenue (in 2005 dollars) was $25.7 trillion. If government spending had been held to the 1980s average of $1.55 trillion/year for a total expenditure of $18.6 trillion over the same 12 year period, then there would have been a net surplus of $7.1 trillion, which would have allowed for the complete elimination of the $5.6 trillion debt that existed in 2000, with a $1.5 trillion cushion remaining.

Stop and think about that. With a steadily increasing revenue stream that not only could meet all existing expenses, but would have allowed the entire national debt to be retired in just over a decade, what happened? And how instead, did the debt almost triple in such a short period of time?

This chart tells the story:

The national debt continues to rise, because, no matter how much revenue is at their disposal, and no matter how significantly it increases, the Congress and the President work diligently to spend every available nickel, and then go into debt in order to spend even more — lots more! As this chart shows, the government has run a deficit 28 out of the last 32 years, or 88% of the time. And a review of the historical data reveals that since 1940, there have been deficits 60 out of the past 72 years!

During that 72 year period, while both the Republican and the Democratic parties have held the presidency in equal measure (36 years each), together, they have managed to balance the budget less than 17% of the time (five times under Republicans and seven times under Democrats). And of those 12 budget surpluses, only six were used to slightly reduce the debt, the last time being 42 years ago in 1969. During the past seven decades, the current $14.3 trillion debt has been ratcheted back by just $25.5 billion, or less than 0.2% of the current total!

For 2011, our $3.82 trillion budget includes an estimated $1.65 trillion deficit, which pushes total federal debt well beyond the current $14.3 trillion spending cap. At currently projected spending levels, the debt is estimated to be rapidly approaching $20 trillion by 2015.

In 2010 alone, the United States paid $414 billion simply to finance the debt burden. And since 2000, interest payments exceed $4.4 trillion. That is money that has been removed from productive use by individuals and businesses in the U.S. economy and sent primarily to foreign creditors, including: China, Japan, UK, Brazil, Taiwan, Russia, and so on.

While a number of intellectuals in the political and financial spheres have, for many years, been sounding alarm bells about the pending disaster being created by a ballooning debt, rising interest payments, and the unfunded liabilities resulting from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, it wasn't until early in 2009 that a large segment of the general public awoke to the imminent economic danger presented by unsustainable government expansion, coupled with the the rise of a totalitarian political class, leveraging America's cultural shift away from self-reliance and personal responsibility and towards a helpless entitlement mentality. The rise of the Tea Party movement was the political response to these new realizations.

In the 2010 elections, the clear message sent was that past political behavior was no longer going to be tolerated by the public. The budget was to be balanced, the debt paid down, earmarks eliminated, taxes reduced, federal spending slashed, and the size and regulatory burden of government was to be significantly decreased. In general, Democrats ignored this outcry and were resoundingly defeated by Republicans who at least paid lip service to these demands. However, after returning to D.C. following the elections, the overall performance by the new congressional members has been extremely disappointing. Republicans who once spoke of slashing spending, balancing the budget, repealing Obamacare, significantly reducing the size of government, and returning to a rule of law in strictly proscribed areas, as dictated by the Constitution, have failed to even take a firm stand on these issues, let alone deliver meaningful results on their promises.

For example, prior to the 2011 budget negotiations, Republicans promised a rather anemic $100 billion (2.6%) reduction against Obama's huge $3.82 trillion budget and $1.65 trillion deficit. However, by the time the budget was finalized in April, they had capitulated to a mere $38.5 billion (1%) reduction, which then turned out to actually be a true savings of only $352 million (0.01%), leaving the Democrats laughing all the way to the printing presses.

Or consider Paul Ryan's much touted "Path to Prosperity", which the Republicans offer as their alternative for addressing entitlement liabilities while cutting spending by $6.2 trillion over the next 10 years. Well that sounds pretty good until you look a bit closer. Did you think that current spending levels were going to be reduced by $6.2 trillion? Well fuggedaboutit. This is just the Republicans using the standard political trick of misdirection, as the following chart reveals:

Ryan's plan has no intention of balancing the budget in the foreseeable future. He has government spending increasing year by year, just not quite as fast as Obama's own proposal. His $6.2 trillion is not a real savings, but just some imaginary gap between his fantasy projection for the future and that of the current administration, both of which are unrealistic because, as with almost every past budget, they significantly overestimate future revenue while underestimating future outlays, giving us an 88% change of continuing deficits and an ever growing debt.

It is all a form of political theater and wish fulfillment that runs through every thread of government, best illustrated by the recently released Changes in CBO's Baseline Projections Since January 2001, which reports:

    Each year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issues baseline projections of federal spending and revenues for the following 10 years. Those projections are not intended as a forecast of future outcomes; rather, they are estimates of spending and revenues under the laws that are in effect at that time and are designed to provide a benchmark against which to measure future policy changes.

    In January 2001, CBO's baseline projections showed a cumulative surplus of $5.6 trillion for the 2002-2011 period. The actual results have differed from those projections because of subsequent policy changes, economic developments that differed from CBO's forecast, and other factors. As a result, the federal government actually ran deficits from 2002 through 2010 and will incur a deficit in 2011 as well. The cumulative deficit over the 10-year period will amount to $6.2 trillion, CBO estimates—a swing of $11.8 trillion from the January 2001 projections.

How many times do you think the CBO has been off $11.8 trillion dollars in the other direction?


My simple (and unrealistic) proposal:

Having observer the new Congress unsuccessfully tackle issues such as the 2011 budget, it seems clear that, as things stand, nothing of real substance can be expected to be accomplished. So long as Congress retains the ability to both set the level of spending as well as determine where that spending is to be allocated, there remains little hope that they will ever exercise any real fiscal restraint and make the difficult choices that are required. And we taxpayers are the ones left on the hook for the tab they continue to accumulate.

The unrealistic part of my proposal — something that would require a change to the Constitution — is that the ability to set the overall annual spending level must be removed from the hands of government completely. In the long run, there are a number of ways that these levels could be determined, but I believe that the best would be to simply establish some very reasonable but fixed dollar amount that would be the sum total available for all normal government operations, with a provision for automatic adjustment to account for inflation/deflation. This would then be coupled with a balanced budget amendment that would require that the government maintain its spending strictly within this limit. Emergency situations such as declared wars, would be precisely defined, and funding for these activities would be handled by other means, but the overall size and nominal cost of government functions would be strictly proscribed and fully understood by all citizens.

Given a known annual budget, it would then be up to Congress to determine how to allocate these dollars. They could fund government payroll, pensions and insurance. They would be responsible for facility rent, new construction and maintenance. They would apportion funds between agencies such as the CIA, FBI, the Armed Services and others. They could fund entitlement programs, or promote initiatives like cash-for-clunkers or home window replacement for energy conservation. They could send aid to foreign countries, support the UN or invest in promising new technologies. Money could be spent on pure research or used to build and launch rockets. Some funds might go to help the poor obtain health insurance or purchase prescription drugs, while others could be used to build bridges to nowhere or monuments to past presidents or fight the "war" on drugs. The sky's the limit. The only condition would be that should they wish to allocate some funds to one area, for example, to set up a presidential cell phone emergency alert system, then these dollars would have to come from or at the expense of something else. Citizens would elect representatives that promised to promote things of agreed importance, and then it would be up to those representatives to work with other congressional member to devise the best allocation strategy — just an families and businesses routinely do every day as a matter of course. One huge consequence of this approach is that it would very quickly be determined what the real priorities were for all of the possible expenditures. It would soon become evident how entitlements for the needy weighed in relation to immigration reform, illegal drug use, energy policy, and so on.

To implement this plan would also require addressing the problem of getting from here to there. Right now our deficit is $1.65 trillion in relation to a budget of $3.82 trillion, making the deficit a whopping 43% of the total! My proposal would be to immediately start cutting the existing budget across the board by 10%, or $382 billion for each of the next five years: 2012-2016. By declaring that these cuts apply equally to all areas of government — from the military to entitlement programs to salaries to regulatory agencies — it eliminates the grid lock we currently see where each party jockeys to fund their pet programs while defunding those of the opposition. Since they are unable to do it themselves, we will make all of the hard decisions for them.

This would reduce the 2016 budget down to $1.9 trillion, or about the same level of spending as in 1989 (in equivalent dollars), while fully eliminating the deficit and yielding a small surplus. From 2017 onward, continue to reduce the budget by 5% each year, applying all surplus to retiring the outstanding debt. Maintain this process until the desired spending target level is reached and then freeze it. Once the deficit is eliminated, begin reducing or restructuring taxes to produce an ongoing revenue with a slight surplus, which is banked strictly for use against future revenue short falls and nothing else. As the budget reductions went into effect, it would be left to Congress to start reallocating the remaining funds to support areas of greater importance while defunding those of less utility. This would require that every aspect of current government operation be brought up for discussion and a detailed review, a process which, as previously discussed, does wonders to focus the mind on one's priorities.

If something along these lines is not enacted, and if we simply continue along our present course, spending our way into oblivion while maintaining a regulatory environment that is crippling the economy with uncertainty, then it will not be too long before the U.S. reached it's own tipping point, and then, like Greece, Portugal, Ireland and others, we will no longer possess the ability to recover on our own. And no one is waiting in the wings to bail us out.

A few brave Tea Party-backed candidates have made it to Washington with the resolve to fight the system and work to effect real change. However, there are as yet too few of them to wield real clout. Over the course of the next few election cycles, I believe that there is an opportunity to replace many more of these liberal Democrats and RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) with true fiscal conservatives who could work together to accomplish the goals that have been promised, but which are being evaded by the current Congress. Let us hope that they arrive in time, and when they do, that they will be prepared to take bold action, similar to what I outline here, allowing the necessary corrections to occur as quickly as possible, so that our economy can begin to expand and thrive, once again, assuming its rightful leadership position in the world.

04-26-2011

Permalink



I'm Entitled To It!
Subject: TANSTAAFL

"There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."  —  Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

When Heinlein wrote these words, he was simply referring to the obvious fact that you cannot get something for nothing. Everything consumed must first be produced and everything bought must be paid for. For previous generations, this was a common-sense observation with which all reasonable people agreed. However, these days, that is far from the case, and whether the adage is applicable or not depends upon just exactly what type of person you happen to be.

Back in December, I wrote an article titled, Money for Nothin' and Your Chicks For Free, where I briefly examined the history of the ever expanding welfare state and the subsequent erosion of the American work ethic, all of which ultimately led to the creation of a population substantially trapped in the morass of a new found learned helplessness. And what are the practical consequences of this? For that, I refer you to the following story, released earlier today:

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Reliance on Uncle Sam hits a record; 2010 income was 18.3% entitlements

    Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY

    Americans depended more on government assistance in 2010 than at any other time in the nation's history, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds. The trend shows few signs of easing, even though the economic recovery is nearly 2 years old.

    A record 18.3% of the nation's total personal income was a payment from the government for Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits and other programs in 2010. Wages accounted for the lowest share of income — 51.0% — since the government began keeping track in 1929.

    The income data show how fragile and government-dependent the recovery is after a recession that officially ended in June 2009.

    The wage decline has continued this year. Wages slipped to another historic low of 50.5% of personal income in February. Another government effort — the Social Security payroll tax cut — has lifted income in 2011. The temporary tax cut puts more money in workers' pockets and counts as an income boost, even when wages stay the same.

    From 1980 to 2000, government aid was roughly constant at 12.5%. The sharp increase since then — especially since the start of 2008 — reflects several changes: the expansion of health care and federal programs generally, the aging population and lingering economic problems.

    Total benefit payments are holding steady so far this year at a $2.3 trillion annual rate. A drop in unemployment benefits has been offset by rises in retirement and health care programs.

    Americans got an average of $7,427 in benefits each in 2010, up from an inflation-adjusted $4,763 in 2000 and $3,686 in 1990. The federal government pays about 90% of the benefits.

    "What's frightening is the Baby Boomers haven't really started to retire," says University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes of the 77 million people born from 1946 through 1964 whose oldest wave turns 65 this year. "That's when the cost of Medicare will start to explode."

    Accounting for 80% of safety-net spending in 2010: Social Security, Medicare (health insurance for seniors), Medicaid (health insurance for the poor) and unemployment insurance.

That's right, just under one fifth of all personal income (and remember, that's 2.3 trillion dollars per year) now flows from the hands of government into the pockets of your fellow citizens, while only one half is actually earned by way of traditional work. So, if you are on the receiving end of this 21st century, automated bread line, then it certainly appears that Heinlein was seriously mistaken and the free lunch is actually an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord — so take your fill! And exactly how does this money get administered? Why, through various federal domestic assistance programs of course. And as I reported in my previous piece, at the end of 2010, there were 2,094 of them, each making sure that all deserving recipients were being hansomly serviced.

Now, since we are in the depths of a severe multi-year recession, with a sluggish economy, an underemployment rate hovering around 20%, rising inflation somewhere between 7-9%, a federal government running an annual $1.65 trillion budget deficit, many state governments nearing bankruptcy, and a robust discussion throughout the country about the need for significant spending reductions, you might reasonably expect that government programs would at least be frozen, awaiting development of a plan designed to address these concerns. No such luck. Returning to the the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance website now reveals that there are currently 2,133 programs in existence, for an increase of thirty-nine new programs just since the start of this year, including such additions as:

  • Pre-existing Condition Insurance Program
  • Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration
  • Program for Early Detection of Certain Medical Conditions Related to Environmental Health Hazards
  • Community National Dissemination and Support for Community Transformation Grants
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program
  • Livestock Forage Disaster Program
  • Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program
  • Durum Wheat Quality Program
  • Aquaculture Grant Program
  • Poultry Loss Contract Grant Assistance Program
  • Distance Education Grants for Institutions of Higher Education in Insular Areas
  • ORA Grants to Meet Food, Nutrition and Health Needs of Program Eligible Participants
  • Export Guarantee Program
  • Repowering Assistance
  • Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels
  • Electronic Absentee Systems for Elections
  • Community Economic Adjustment
  • National Wetlands Inventory
  • Endangered Species Conservation-Wolf Livestock Loss Compensation and Prevention
  • Coastal Impact Assistance Program
  • National Heritage Area Federal Financial Assistance
  • Mississippi National River and Recreation Area State and Local Assistance
  • New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park Cooperative Management
  • Overseas Schools Program
  • EUR/ACE Humanitarian Assistance Program
  • EUR/ACE National Endowment for Democracy Small Grants
  • Weapons Removal and Abatement
  • Export Control and Related Border Security
  • Small Business Teaming Pilot Program
  • State Trade and Export Promotion Pilot Grant Program
  • International Compliance and Enforcement Projects
  • Postal Model for Medical Countermeasures Delivery and Distribution

It's no wonder we need to raise the $15 trillion debt limit ceiling, with 2,133 programs like these, all in desperate need of funds.

You really cannot blame the citizens in our entitlement culture who think that they can have their lunch and eat it too. After all, look at the example that their legislators are setting as they coast along on their own free-lunch wagon, creating whatever programs they desire, and then printing paper dollars out of thin air to back them up, with no foreseeable source of revenue in sight — and all the while ignoring the looming debt, the unsustainable deficits, the unresponsive economy, and the rising outcry of protest from the remaining minority of citizens who do understand that there is indeed no free lunch and that the coming catastrophe is going to ultimately be borne on the backs of their productivity.

It's enough to make a grown person shrug.

Update:
  • As of 06-06-13, the number of programs currently listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance has now grown to 2,233. That's one hundred additional entitlements that have been implemented without the general public even being aware that this activity was occurring. That's one hundred additional programs that are being funded through taxation, inflation and debt, on the backs of an already overburdened citizenry.


External links to reprints of this article:
01-18-2011

Permalink



Silencio!
Subject: The Rhetoric of Anger

What Burning

What burning, tight'ning anger do I feel

Against these petty leaders of mankind.

If anger was itself a thing of steel

How sharp would fly the bullets from my mind.

Blast them for their pity-playing ways;

Blast them for their calls to sacrifice;

Blast the smiling lying of their days,

The hate of reason---their man-denying vice.

Yea, blast, and sharply blast, obliterate!

Return them to the darkness of their fate!

Let truth come quick and stick them in the dust

(They haven't earned one light above the ground),

Then let them gum the dregs of powder-lust

And mouth their mothy nothings of no sound.

Brian Royce Faulkner

In spite of their being no established causal connection between the political right and the actions of such people as Jared Loughner (the Tucson, AZ shooter of Congresswomen Giffords), or James Jay Lee (the Discovery Communications headquarter hostage taker in Silver Springs, MD), or Andrew Joseph Stack (who flew his small plane into an Austin, TX IRS building), this has not quieted the call from the left for "swearing off the rhetoric of violence", stopping the "climate of hate", eliminating the "vitriol ... about tearing down the government", and "toning down the partisan rhetoric" while "promot[ing] centrism and moderation".

It has also been pointed out that the left constantly uses language or tactics that imply violence, such as calling for the targeting of Democrats who are insufficiently progressive, while placing "bulls eyes" on Gabrielle Giffords herself, as well as various Republicans. Or calling for Nuremberg-style trials for the "bastards" who deny climate change. Or graphically depicting the blowing up of any school child who chooses to think for him or herself. Or Barack Obama famously stating his position with regard to Republican campaign attacks: "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." None of this seems to matter in mitigating the left's outrage.

Of course it is perfectly clear to anyone engaged in or observing the rough-and-tumble of political discourse, that all of these references to "targeting the enemy", "keeping the opposition in one's crosshairs", "mounting a battle plan", "taking aim", "fighting an uphill battle", "setting off a powder keg of dissent", "dropping a bombshell" and so forth are nothing more than combat metaphors emphasizing the struggle between two opposing (i.e., "warring") groups, and in no way reflect a call for the literal use of knives, guns or bombs, or the actual killing of any person. So why all the disingenuous accusations by the left in demanding a revision in tone and language used by the right? Because it serves their purpose:

    To curtail free speech and silence their opposition — by whatever means necessary.

Now it is true that those on the progressive left are very much afraid of what they perceive to be happening among those to their political right. But it is not a violent uprising or attacks on their person that they fear. What the left is accurately observing, and what is generating such angst, is the rising passion among Republicans, Libertarians and Independents. It is the awakening of an honest and justified anger concerning what has, and is currently being done to this country and its citizens — and what is being done to them! The left correctly senses that the jig may well be up for their programs of theft and subjugation if the victims stop accepting the unearned guilt and duty they have been told they must bear, and instead, begin pushing back.

The left knows that they cannot win on the battlefield of ideas, because in most matters, the powerful weapon of truth is on the side of their foes. So they resort to a time-tested tactic: they attempt to guilt others into abandoning their intellectual ammunition—their truth—and voluntarily surrendering their winning stance.

For years, one strategy has been to cast the accusation of "racism" and watch their opponents immediately back down. This tactic had been successful because, being unable to mount a proper philosophical defense against this insult, many people had wrongly accepted an unearned guilt and allowed themselves to be held accountable for the past actions of others, thereby handing the left a leverage point which they could exploit to their benefit. However, since the election of Barack Obama, we have entered a post-racial era, and the left is no longer finding this to be the effective ploy it once was — although they keep trying!

With racism effectively off the table, the left has now switched to charges of "violence". And as they are so accustomed to doing, without the need for any actual evidence, they merely proclaim that the rhetoric of the right is responsible for inciting violence in other impressionable people and then hope that those accused will fail to understand the principles involved and swiftly retreat, wishing to distance themselves from the warrantless invective. Fortunately, what they are discovering is that this tactic is also achieving very little traction. In fighting back against these baseless indictments, the right is learning how to not let the left get away with writing the political narrative.

Responding to a decade of unprecedented statist abuses during both the Bush and the Obama administrations, a sleeping giant has now been awakened. Where once federal political power went substantially unchallenged by a complacent populace that was focused primarily on their day-to-day lives, many of these same people have now been transformed into political activists, operating either individually, or as members of a grassroots Tea Party organization, to challenge the status quo and assert a newfound commitment to the fundamental principles of constitutionally constrained government, fiscal responsibility, free markets, and individual rights. What this nascent movement lacks by way of an incomplete formulation and understanding of these principles, it compensates for with energy, fervor and dedication. And it is this new spirit of participation and the willingness to fight for self-preservation that so terrifies the left.

When the left seeks to "promote centrism and moderation", they are asking the right to compromise their principles. Here is what Ayn Rand had to say concerning the act of compromise:

    A compromise is an adjustment of conflicting claims by mutual concessions. This means that both parties to a compromise have some valid claim and some value to offer each other. And this means that both parties agree upon some fundamental principle which serves as a base for their deal.

    It is only in regard to concretes or particulars, implementing a mutually accepted basic principle, that one may compromise. For instance, one may bargain with a buyer over the price one wants to receive for one's product, and agree on a sum somewhere between one's demand and his offer. The mutually accepted basic principle, in such case, is the principle of trade, namely: that the buyer must pay the seller for his product. But if one wanted to be paid and the alleged buyer wanted to obtain one's product for nothing, no compromise, agreement or discussion would be possible, only the total surrender of one or the other.

    There can be no compromise between a property owner and a burglar; offering the burglar a single teaspoon of one's silverware would not be a compromise, but a total surrender—the recognition of his right to one's property.

    "Doesn't Life Require Compromise?"  from  The Virtue of Selfishness

This is a profoundly important observation. Compromise is not possible on matters of fundamental principles, for any attempt to do so utterly destroys that principle in the process. And this is precisely what the left is counting on. If they cannot guilt us into surrender, then they merely ask that we negotiate a compromise of such things as our lives, our liberty, our property and our privacy. And the moment we concede even the smallest breach of our individual rights, then those rights have been effectively extinguished and all that remains are insubstantial words to which some may cling in delusion, but which will provide no protection, ultimately resulting in our being conscripted into national service; or being told what type of medical treatments will be permitted and which will be denied; or having half, or three quarters, or all of one's wealth confiscated; or being subject to warrantless wiretaps and strip searches at the airport. This art of compromise is a game of gotcha that the left fully understands and applies against the unwary. Fortunately, the defense is easy: simply say "No!" and stand firm.

A more sophisticated version of this game can be seen when the left demands that the right "tone down the partisan rhetoric." What they are actually saying is, "stop being passionate about your cause," because they understand full well that passion is infectious and can ignite similar feelings and commitment in others. If they can convince us to give up the anger we feel in response to their actions, they know we will have been defused and no longer pose a threat. So they manufacture criticism designed to make us question the legitimacy of our feelings and hope that the resulting guilt will lead us to internally sabotage our values; to compromise our principles without a fight. It is a strategy that has often worked, but is ineffective when seen for what it is.

Today we are engaged in a serious battle of competing ideologies, with the future of this country—and our personal freedom—hanging in the balance. The progressives have seized an opportunity to advance their totalitarian agenda, consolidating an unprecedented level of arbitrary power in the hands of the President, while eroding the rights of every citizen. If, in the modern era, there was ever an appropriate time to be provoked by political events, this is certainly it, and the displeasure exhibited through the outpouring of articles, speeches, rallies, protests, and letters to Congress, are all fully justified, as are the use of combat metaphors which effectively punctuate the seriousness of our concerns and accurately convey the level of our outrage. At this point, the citizens of this country are not advocating the use of violence, but instead are engaged in the rhetoric of anger, which will continue to be dialed up until they are finally acknowledged.

However, it must be pointed out that while the protests of the citizenry have remained generally peaceful as they attempt to address their concerns through the expression of ideas and via the electoral process, the same cannot be said of the actions of government. By its very nature, government operates by means of coercion. Every initiative it takes is imposed upon the citizens with the explicit threat that failure to comply will be met with physical force. As the regulations which restrict our freedom of speech, expression, movement and choice grow, and the theft of our property increases, all at the point of a gun, the country is being moved closer and closer towards a dangerous tipping point. If our supposedly representative government continues to ignore the message being communicated by a large segment of the populace, and persists in further destroying the rights of the individual, Then all bets are off.

Our politicians, many of whom just now appear to be getting their first education into the meaning and purpose of the U.S. Constitution, should also reacquaint themselves with the Declaration of Independence, which states in part:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

    [Emphasis added]

There was a time when those in America had had enough. Pushed beyond their limits, they declared their independence from an oppressive government — and when that government attempted to enforce its despotic control, these people fought back in the cause of their freedom. Today we find ourselves on the cusp of a Second American Revolution, with the parallels to 1776 clearly seen in the excerpt above. However, we have at our disposal a significant advantage that was unavailable to our forefathers — the remnants of constitutional protections that they bequeathed to us. While the First Amendment is currently under concerted attack by the Obama administration, we still enjoy a reasonably unfettered ability to voice our opposition and work to educate more and more people as to the true nature of the progressive's totalitarian agenda, without the need to resort to actual bullets. And we are making visible progress! But the path back towards a proper society based upon inviolable individual rights and strictly limited government is long and arduous, and will require real passion in order to fuel our ongoing commitment to the cause of liberty. Do not allow the enemy to wear you down or convince you to relinquish your justified anger. Reason must always be one's guide to action, but respect your inner flame and let it inspire and drive you forward to do what is necessary in order to win this battle and vanquish, once and for all, the philosophical ideology dedicated to human destruction.

Please reread Brian Faulkner's poem at the opening of this article, as it expresses my deepest feelings concerning the current state of the world. I pledge myself to the rhetoric of anger, so long as it shall be required — and not a moment longer.

    If anger was itself a thing of steel
    How sharp would fly the bullets from my mind.

To victory!

12-31-2010

Permalink



Wyatt Emmerich
Subject: Working Is For Suckers

This is a follow up to my previous article Money For Nothin' and Your Chicks For Free, where, among other things, I discussed the erosion of the American work ethic as a consequence of government welfare programs.

Wyatt Emmerich, the editor of the Weekly Mississippi publications, the Northside Sun and The Cleveland Current, recently published an interesting article titled, With welfare it makes sense to work less, in which he wondered why new manufacturing plants were no longer opening in his state. Here is what he learned:
    "If you ask business leaders, the problem is a lack of skilled labor. People don't want to work. Especially in the Delta, people just won't show up on time and often fail drug tests."

    "'How can this be?' you may ask. You have to work to eat. Well, that's really not true anymore. In fact, our welfare state rewards not working. You can do as well working one week a month at minimum wage as you can working a $60,000-a-year, full-time, high-stress job."

Emmerich then produced the following chart, using public data available from government websites, to illustrate his point. These numbers are based upon a one-parent family with two children under 12 years of age, living in Mississippi.

The second column shows the taxes taken and welfare benefits received by someone earning minimum wage ($14,500/year), while the forth column shows the taxes/benefits for a family working a job which earns $60,000/year. The minimum wage earner actually ends up with $3,411 in additional disposable income!

Even more shocking is the first column, which shows what happens if one were to work the minimum wage job only one week each month rather than full time. While the earned income would be cut by 75%, taxes would fall by $8,763 while benefits would increase by $4,035, for a net gain of $12,798. This means that working only 25% of the time at a minimum wage job, will yield 92% of the disposable income available to the full time worker earning $60,000, leaving three weeks each month to either lounge around, or possibly work an illegal black-market job that would put you far ahead of the full-time worker.

What's the message: Only chumps work for a living.

This relatively simple example demonstrates everything that is wrong with the U.S. economy. Each time the government interferes with natural market forces, they incentivize parasitic behavior while penalizing productivity, further impeding the economic engine. There is only one solution: eliminate all of these government programs and return to a system of private charity and investment to aid those truly in need. No one who was responsible for spending their own funds would ever consider freely participating in a system as corrupt as this. It is only when an impersonal government is allowed to become a third party in wealth redistribution, that results of this type becomes possible. The time has come to just say no to public welfare of every type. If you agree, let your voice be heard.

Addendum: (From the newsgroup rec.humor.funny)

    Jesus recently walked into a bar somewhere in the Western World. He approached three sad-faced gentlemen at a table, and greeted the first one: "What's troubling you, brother?" he said.

    "My eyes. I keep getting stronger and stronger glasses, and I still can't see."

    Jesus touched the man, who ran outside to tell the world about his now 20-20 vision.

    The next gentleman couldn't hear Jesus' questions, so The Lord just touched his ears, restoring his hearing to perfection. This man, too, ran out the door, probably on his way to the audiologist to get a hearing-aid refund.

    The third man leapt from his chair and backed up against the wall, even before Jesus could greet him.

    "Don't you come near me, man! Don't touch me!" he screamed. "I'm on disability!"
12-22-2010

Permalink



Coming Home
To Roost
Subject: Money For Nothin' and Your Chicks For Free

"For many, immaturity is an ideal, not a defect." — Mason Cooley

Since the founding of this country, each generation has faced its own unique set of difficulties and struggles, whether those happened to be droughts, floods, fires, tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, wars, abolition, suffrage, civil rights, economic depression, or any number of other natural or man-made challenges. The economic, social and environmental problems that confront us today have their own unique character, but are actually no worse than many of those of the past.

However, there is a fundamental change that has occurred in our society that does not bode well for our future. Where once the majority of people understood that they must face their problems with the will and strength of character to perform the work necessary to overcome obstacles, this is no longer the case. Today, we now find ourselves in a society where a sizable segment of the populace has been trained to abdicate this responsibility and simply rely upon government management and its financial assistance to mitigate any hardships needing to be faces. Effectively, we now have a class of perpetually dependent, aging adolescents who have never been required to "grow up" and assume the mantle of responsible adulthood. How did we arrive at this state?

The Erosion of the American Work Ethic:

America was colonized by people who understood the value of hard work and perseverance. Traveling across the Atlantic with few possessions, effectively cut off from European aid or assistance, the early settlers knew that their survival depended upon their ability to address whatever circumstances presented themselves. So important were these characteristics, that they became codified as religious virtues, handed down from generation to generation in what sociologist Max Weber would later come to classify as the Protestant work ethic. The great accomplishments and economic growth achieved throughout the history of this country are the result of this spirit of productiveness and personal drive exhibited by so many people in pursuit of their dream of creating a better life for themselves.

Another principle shaping the founding character of this country was the virtue of independence or self-reliance, best seen embodied in the concept of individual rights as delineated in the Declaration of Independence. The recognition that each person was master of their own life, with the unfettered liberty to guide themselves in a manner of their own choosing, implied an acceptance of the responsibility for dealing with their personal survival and happiness. In this country, the future was in one's own control, to be principally determined by the consequences of one's actions.

From the 17th through the early 20th centuries, the causal relationship between the application of effort, perseverance and self-reliance could be clearly seen resulting in a steadily increasing prosperity, which conveyed an extremely important lesson to each subsequent generation. In general, the American culture was acknowledged as having an optimistic view of the future with a "can-do" spirit, where, with hard work, anything was possible. Opportunities were limitless, while resignation and defeat were not treated as viable options. Still, there were counter-forces at work destined to undermine this positive American psyche.

Of course, there was the ever-present call for self-sacrifice which has permeated every society on earth. The philosophy of altruism was the antithesis to the value-based culture of the United States. Whereas individualism preached productiveness and pride in one's achievements, altruism demanded the relinquishing of all that was valuable, and a sense of shame in one's abilities. While the goal of individualism was personal happiness, the end result of altruism was the embrace of pain and suffering as noble. In practice, Americans rejected the worst aspects of altruism, but at the same time, lacking a proper philosophical defense against its teachings, accepted the psychological burden of guilt for having repeatedly failed to live up (actually down) to its anti-life requirements.

However, the greater damage to American culture began in earnest with the inception of the welfare system. The existential roots of welfare in the United States extend back to 1642 with the creation of the first compulsory public school in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Here, the acquisition of an education was declared to no longer be the responsibility or each individual, but a "right". And at the same time, it was also dictated that these individuals no longer retained their free choice in deciding if, when, and by what means, they would pursue that education. Instead, authorities would compel them to attend school at the prescribed place and time, for the mandated duration, studying predetermined subjects and material. In addition, other working member of society would then be forced to bear the cost for providing this newly created "right".

And so it began. Whenever a so called "positive right" to a good or service is introduced, it carries with it two direct consequences: the undermining of one or more inherent natural rights (in this case, life and liberty), and the forced enslavement of those who are required to provide the good or service to others. Furthermore, the creation of two opposing groups — the providers and the consumers — leads to indirect psychological consequences: resentment on the part of providers, and a demanding expectation on the part of the consumers for what they have been told is their entitlement.

The imposition of the modern welfare state began in earnest with Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression of the 1930s, was dramatically expanded by Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s, and has been continually growing ever since. And assistance is no longer limited to individuals in need, but now encompass groups, businesses and entire industries. We are all familiar with the ubiquitous Public Education, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, but that only scratches the surface of the many assistance programs that our legislators have created over time. A quick review of a few news articles revealed the following currently active programs:

Industries
  • Agricultural Subsidies
  • Art Subsidies and Grants (NEA)
  • Biomass Subsidies
  • Education
  • Energy Subsidies
  • Export-Import Bank Loans
  • Fisheries Subsidies
  • Import/Export Controls
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEP)
  • Mining Subsidies
  • News Subsidies (NPR, PBS, PRI, etc.)
  • Tariffs
  • Technology Subsidies

    Ethnic, Religious and Trade Groups
  • Affirmative Action Programs
  • Faith-Based Services Funding
  • Minority Business Subsidies
  • Indian Casinos, Land, Resources, etc.
  • Special Privileges for Ethnic Groups
  • Religious Tax Exemptions
  • Union-Specific Legislation

    Corporations and Businesses
  • Bailouts (TARP, etc.)
  • Government Contracts
  • Overseas Private Investment Corp. Loans
  • Publically Funded Infrastructure
  • Research Grants
  • Small Business Administration (SBA)
  • Tax Abatements and Deferrals
  • Families and Individuals
  • Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)
  • At-Risk Child Care
  • Automobile Tax Credits
  • Child Care and Development Fund
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program
  • Community Development Block Grants
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Education
  • Elderly Nutrition Program
  • Energy Investment Tax Credits
  • Food Stamps
  • Foster Care
  • General Assistance (General Relief)
  • General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC)
  • Head Start
  • Home Mortgage Financing
  • Housing Assistance for Low Income Households
  • Insurance Programs (FDIC, Medical, Catastrophe)
  • Interest Reduction Housing Payments
  • Job Corps
  • Library Subsidies
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance
  • Low Rent Public Housing (HUD)
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • Pell Grants
  • Pensions for Needy Veterans
  • Rural Housing Loans and Mortgages (USDA)
  • School Breakfast and Lunch
  • Social Security
  • Social Services (Title 20)
  • Stafford Loans
  • Summer Youth Employment
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Training for Disadvantaged Youth and Adults
  • Transportation Subsidies
  • Women, Infants & Children Food Supplements
  • Workforce Investment Program (WIN)
  • That's sixty-six different programs or categories of aid currently available from the federal government. Some of these you have certainly heard of, while others may be unfamiliar. However, it turns out that this list is incomplete and there are actually more federal programs out there. How many would you guess?
      80?
      100?
      150?

    Early in 2010, Chris Edwards reported the following interesting fact on the CATO Website:
      "January 22, 2010 is a day that should live in infamy, at least among believers in limited government. On that day, the federal government added its 2,000th subsidy program for individuals, businesses, or state and local governments."

    2,000 Assistance Programs!

    This I had to see for myself. So on December 3rd I went to the website for the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance and discovered that the CATO report was incorrect. There were now actually 2,088 program! As I was researching this article, I returned to this site every few days, and upon each visit discovered additional aid programs had been created in my absence. Just between December 3rd and the 20th, six new programs were established. for a current total of 2,094. This means that during 2010, Obama and the Congress were creating new programs at a rate of two per week. And how many of these did the administration inform us of in the name of its pledge for openness and transparency?

    The Department of Health and Human Services alone administers 410 different programs while the Department of Agriculture has 226. And the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation has not one, but four separate programs available. Here is a breakdown of the different categories of available aid:
      Advisory Services and Counseling
      Direct Loan
      Direct Payments for a Specified Use
      Direct Payments with Unrestricted Use
      Dissemination of Technical Information
      Federal Employment
      Formula Grants
      Guaranteed/Insured Loans
      Guaranteed/Insured Loans
      Insurance
      Investigation of Complaints
      Project Grants
      Provision of Specialized Services
      Sale, Exchange or Donation of Property or Goods
      Training
      Use of Property, Facilities or Equipment

    Something free for everyone! Well, not everyone. Because, as noted above, somebody has to actually pay for all this stuff.

    Personal Welfare:

    Where once people understood that it was their responsibility to work to feed themselves, starting in 1933 the federal government stepped in with the Civilian Conservation Corps to create emergency make-work projects for the unemployed. By 1935, at its peak, the CCC engaged roughly 506,000, and after it's nine year run, a total of three million men had passed through its ranks. Seventy-five years later, facing another economic downturn, work is no longer actually required, as unemployment benefits have been cemented into our culture, not as an emergency response which you are expected to earn through hard labor, but as an entitlement to be demanded by right. As of December 4th, the four-week rolling average showed an active enrollment of 4,232,750 people, with Congress and the Administration negotiating to extend these benefits, yet again, to a total of 155 weeks, or three years, with no indication that there is any fixed end in sight.

    During the 1960s, with the intent of helping people living in poverty, numerous state and federal entitlement (welfare) programs were instituted in response to perceived needs. Yet, after decades of tinkering with these policies, study after study revealed that the long term impact on the recipients was an increase in the creation of unlivable slums, the further destruction of the two-parent family, elevated teen and unwed pregnancies, a disincentive to seek out work, rising school dropout rates, and a corresponding reduction in a child's IQ. In addition, children of welfare recipients were shown to be much more likely to be dependent upon these programs once becoming adults. By 1995, the number of people on on the welfare rolls had risen to a staggering fourteen million. And why not. After all, they're entitled to these benefits aren't they? Today, due to subsequent program reforms, that number on direct government assistance now hovers around five million.

    For many, an important aspect of the American Dream is the acquisition of a house of one's own. For generations, the possibility of home ownership has been a powerful motivator, causing individuals and families to work hard and save diligently so that one day they could realize their dream. The recognition that years of work and savings were involved in order to make such a large purchase, clearly conveyed the enormous value that a home represented. And everyone understood this—until the federal government got involved. In 1938, as part of the New Deal, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) was established to broaden the secondary home mortgage market by funneling federal funds into banks, to be converted into affordable housing loans. In 1970, a second Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) was established by Congress for essentially the same purpose. With the belief that everyone was entitled to the American Dream, politicians, throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, put more and more pressure of these two institutions, demanding that they significantly expand the number of families able to purchase their own homes. The result was a significant lowering in the standards required to qualify for a mortgage, with millions of families taking on a debt liability which they could not afford to repay, and acquiring property, the value of which was not properly appreciated. When the inevitable foreclosures came, these same people were indignant at having been "cheated" out of their homes, which they had been repeatedly told were theirs by "right".

    The message is clear: Your future is insured. Should you struggle and fail—or simply not struggle at all—the government will step in and manage your life, providing for you not simply the basic necessities, but the luxuries as well. Personal responsibility and self-reliance are no longer the coin of the realm. It is your need that matter, and we are here to take care of you, because that is your birthright as an American. Sit back and take it easy. You're entitled!

    Corporate Welfare:

    The 20th century was the heyday of private corporate research, with businesses reinvesting a sizable percentage of their profits back into R&D intended to yield future business innovations. These companies often employed scientists in a variety of field, allowing them the freedom to explore areas of pure research which often resulted in startling discoveries leading to a large number of Nobel Prizes. Some of the more notable corporate research facilities included:
    • AT&T's Bell Labs, which was responsible for inventing radio astronomy, the transistor, the laser, the UNIX operating system, the C and C++ programming languages, information theory, large-scale integrated circuits, CCD sensors, and the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

    • Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), the birthing place of the modern personal computer, including invention of the bitmapped display, the graphical user interface (GUI), mouse, laser printing, ethernet, what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) text editing, object-oriented programming, along with the liquid crystal display (LCD), the optical disc, IPv6 protocol and the Smalltalk programming language.

    • IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center, in conjunction with numerous other worldwide research facilities, created magnetic storage systems, the FORTRAN programming language, invented the relational database, speech recognition, the token-ring network, the Blue Gene super-computer, the scanning tunneling microscope, wrote the SABRE commercial airline scheduling system, and discovered high-temperature superconductivity and fractal geometry.

    • GE's Global Research Centers which were responsible for the vacuum tube as well as the fluorescent and halogen lamps, the first television broadcast, the jet engine, non-reflecting glass, silicone chemistry, the seeding or clouds, the auto-pilot, Lexan polycarbonate resin, artificial diamond production, solid-state lasers, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

    Of course this merely scratches the surface in the history of the innovations created through efforts of private enterprise. Yet, despite this stellar historical track record of rapid advancement, government has found a need to intervene, undermining the foundation of private research through the public funding of agricultural, scientific, technology and industrial research, either through public universities, or by grants and other subsidies given directly to businesses. According to a CATO report, the direct and indirect subsidy to private businesses in 2006 was $92 billion. Today, with the TARP bailouts, stimulus bills, pork buried in trillion dollar budgets, and the FED's inability to keep track of $9 trillion(!), the size of the corporate welfare system is difficult to estimate accurately. However, a few things are clear:
    • First, as CATO puts it, this public-private partnership clearly breeds an "incestuous relationship" where businesses lobby government for special favors, and government officials extract kickbacks (also known as "campaign contributions") in exchange for back-room promises to wield influence on behalf of the paying business.

    • Secondly, government influence ultimately ends up directing research away from promising avenues of investigation as identified by smart, creative individuals, and towards areas which supports a predetermined political agenda — perverting the scientific method in the process. There are numerous examples of this, but none so clear as the abomination concerning the public funding of climate science research, turning it into the corrupt handmaiden of political interests.

    • And third, when one business can fund its research and development programs at the taxpayer's expense, this frees up those previously allocated funds to be directed towards other areas, including supporting the businesses bottom line. Competitors, still responsible for their own development costs, are now placed at a significant disadvantage and either learn to also feed at the public trough, or eventually close their doors.

    Public funding of research, as well as all other forms of business subsidies, are like a cancer. Once introduced into the free-enterprise system they slowly advance, killing the thriving private organisms, and leaving a malignant form of corrupt Fascism in their place.

    Learned Helplessness:

    From Wikipedia:
      "Learned helplessness, as a technical term in ... human psychology, means a condition of a human being ... in which it has learned to behave helplessly, even when the opportunity is restored for it to help itself by avoiding an unpleasant or harmful circumstance to which it has been subjected. Learned helplessness theory is the view that clinical depression and related mental illnesses result from a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation."

      "One of the most intriguing aspects is "vicarious learning (or modelling
      [sic])": that people can learn to be helpless through observing another person encountering uncontrollable events."

    This description of learned helplessness gets to the essence of what is most damaging in all government programs of assistance and regulation. Each time the government acts to intervene, it sends a clear and powerful two-pronged message:
    • You are not responsible
    • You are not in control

    Accepting responsibility is the essence of adulthood. Approaching our life rationally, we gather experience and knowledge in order to prepare ourselves for the challenges that the we may encounter. As we acquire more skills and understanding, we gain confidence in our abilities and take pride in our willingness to face the future, whatever it may hold. And because of this, our life becomes an exciting adventure to be embraced, rather than an exercise in fearful caution. But all of this may be undermined if one believes that they have no control over their destiny and no responsibility to choose and guide their future course. Yet this is exactly what the government does to so many.

    While professing to help people in need, every government action does more harm than good, by stripping the recipient of the dignity of their adulthood and forcing them to accept the role of helpless child. When this is repeated over and over, the message is reinforced and the "helplessness" simply becomes the norm. Seen in this light, it is no wonder that so many on welfare rarely demonstrate the initiative to pull themselves out of their impoverished conditions, when every incentive to do so has been destroyed by the government's oh so unhelpful hand.

    Fortunately, the culture of entrepreneurship still thrives in this country, providing an outlet for those motivated by the thrill of a challenge and the opportunity to test one's abilities to the fullest. Start-ups and small businesses have generally flown under the government's radar and been relatively free of its strong-arm regulatory controls. But as a business becomes more and more successful, it draws the government's attention and the game changes. Where once a business leader's judgment was his or her ultimate guide, and the responsibility for success or failure rested squarely upon their shoulders, the encroachment of rules and regulations imposed from the outside destroys that simple calculation. When it begins to be more important to address the requirement of the bureaucrats than those of the market; when pleasing some politician rather than the customer becomes the standard of business success; when the majority of your profits flow in from Washington D.C. with strings attached; then you are playing a child's game of appeasement, and no self-respecting adult would agree to submit to those terms. So the adults are systematically driven from the ranks of big business, leaving their operations to those of undeveloped character, lacking independence, integrity and pride.

    In this country, there have now been four generations raised under the ever increasing presumption that the government is Big Daddy, here to protect his children from the consequences of a complex, unpredictable and painful world. Not everyone has succumbed to the message, but enough have that it brings into question whether there remains a sufficient number of people still possessing the character required to address the difficult choices we now face. Will this country react like the petulant children we see demonstrating and rioting in Greece, France and Britain when faced with reality, or will it stand tall, as a proud adult, and act to preserve its future? We shall soon see.


    External links to reprints of this article:
    11-21-2010

    Permalink



    Michael Wolfensohn
    Subject: We've Got a Social Disease


    "Civilization is the process of setting man free from men." — Ayn Rand


    We hear the message from every quarter:   "Help thy neighbor",   "You are your brother's keeper",   "It takes a village". These are all expressions of the philosophy of altruism, which prohibits a self-interested and therefore a self-responsible concern for one's own wellbeing, substituting in its place an external focus on the welfare of others.

    In the personal arena, a constant exposure to this message results in a society where people are trained to pay very close attention to the actions of their friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers. Since they have been instructed to be responsible for the safety and wellbeing of others, it often becomes necessary to intervene in their lives in order to advise against mistakes or actions that are judged to be foolhardy or dangerous. And this leads to the establishment of the busybody as an accepted social norm. Do you choose not to wear a bike helmet, or recycle, or shop at the local organic grocery store? The busybody has no hesitation in informing you of your error — and feeling great about it — regardless of whether or not you desire and have invited their input. After all, it's only for your own good, and they have been told that this "selfless" intrusion into your life is the essence of the morally good.

    However, there can be a problem. Sometimes the other person — the object of these good intentions — simply will not listen to and adopt the recommendations that are being offered, so generously, in their own best interest. It can be frustrating when someone else doesn't see, understand and accept what is so clearly the proper way to think and act. Maybe their problem stems from a poor upbringing and exposure to the wrong influences. Or possibly they are distracted by other concerns, leaving them with a dangerous blind spot. Or, as is often judged to be the case, they may simply not be smart enough to work out out the optimal course of action on their own. Whatever the reason, the busybody, looking for other ways to help, turns to government — the repository of force — in order to make sure that these misguided people are made to do the right thing. Here are a couple of examples:

      Well neighbor, you didn't listen to me when I warned you about the importance of wearing you seatbelt during that trip to the corner grocery, so I decided to help you anyway by voting for a legislature willing to enact a mandatory seatbelt law. Maybe that $200 fine will get your attention and help you to start thinking straight. Oh, and you're welcome!

      Hello there my Samoan brother. Can't you see that you are being exploited by the capitalist oppressors runing the tuna industry? They offer you jobs in their canning factories at wages that I would not allow them to pay to my dog! Why do you not rise up and demand to be treated fairly? Well, if you will not stand up for yourself, being the busybody and savior that I am, I will do it for you by making sure that the U.S. Congress raises the minimum wage to acceptable levels. What? Starkist and Chicken of the Sea just moved their operations to other countries and now you are unemployed with no other jobs available? Well, at least you should be happy that you are no longer being oppressed! And have no fear my friend, for my love and concern for you is boundless and I will not let you starve. Please accept this can of dog food, complements of the compassionate American welfare system. My mission here is accomplished. Onward and upwards.

    Busybodies in private life are annoying, but when these same people move into government where they can impose their views upon others, not through persuasion, but by force, they then become a very real danger. This country was founded on Enlightenment principles which held the sovereign individual, in possession of inherent rights, as the fundamental unit from which more complex social organizations were then formed through mutual voluntary association. However, the influence of altruism has slowly transformed our culture towards a collectivist view, where many people now see "society" as the preeminent social unit, with the individual citizens as subservient components, each owing a moral duty to the group. And where political leaders were once seen as representatives, entrusted with the task of protecting the rights of all citizens so that they might determine their own course through life in pursuit of their own definition of happiness, the collective shift has created fertile political ground, allowing the busybodies to acquire positions of power, transforming them into totalitarian masters intent upon ruling over the lives of their subjects.

    Over the years, like a Chinese water torture, the transformation from freedom to oppression has occurred slowly, drip by drip, so that each incremental change was never large enough to cause the American people to rise up in rebellion. Starting out with a limited mandate to manage the post office and post roads, governments, without any express constitutional authority, simply started to assume control over all manner of transportation from cabs to buses, to trains to subways and air travel. Aviation and shipping ports, along with most utilities and communication mediums were nationalized. Total control over the money supply was achieved through the creation of a fiat currency coupled with regulation of the banking system, after which they began branching out to regulate industry after industry, until they had accumulated the power to effectively intercede across the entire economy.

    Not satisfied with that, the autocrats also wished to control even the most minute details of our personal lives. Under the guise of "public safety", they began to regulate and license one occupation after another. Starting with medicine, profession after profession fell under government control, granting to these political rulers the power to decide if, and under what conditions, we would be allowed to practice our trade. And once the licensing system was firmly established, the fiction of public safety was dropped, and controls on up to 500 occupations including manicurists, flower arrangers and fortune tellers were implemented. And while they were cementing their ability to dictate our means of earning a living, these politicians also created legislation giving them the power to manage our education, retirement and medical care while redistributing wealth to control the housing and feeding of some, at the expense of others.

    Today, they instruct us on how we may transport our children. They tell us what we can eat, drink and smoke. They determine how and what we may build on our property, and require us to seek supervised permission should we wish to remodel a bathroom. We must submit to being groped at an airport, and our computer can be confiscated and searched at will without a warrant. School children are forced to perform mandatory community service, and two years of mandatory national service is currently being proposed for all adults. And on and on it goes. Every step in this abusive accumulation of power and exercise of control, has resulted in the loss of each citizen's individual rights, while always being justified by the altruistic claim that it is done with only the best interest of others as the goal. Could that be so? Even if we disagree with the results, are the politicians truly well-meaning in their intentions, having only our best interest at heart?

    Every once in a while an opportunity presents itself to strips away the facade, allowing us to see the true nature of those politicians who claim to be our benefactors. Such an event recently took place in New Castle, NY, as reported here and here.

    Four thirteen year old boys had a dream of becoming entrepreneurs by buying a hot dog cart and starting a small business venture. In order to purchase the cart, they would need to save a fair amount of money, and so, with their parent's approval, they decided to spend their weekends making cupcakes, cookies and other baked goods and selling them at a nearby park. During their first outing, the boys had great success, earning $120 in sales. On the following Sunday, two of the boys returned to the park and set up their table. A man with his wife and two children was passing by. He stopped to ask the boys what they were doing, and they eagerly explained. He then walked away to make a telephone call. The boys assumed that he was calling his friends to come down and support their cause, but instead he had phoned the police who arrived a short time later and told the boys that they were breaking the law and must stop. It turns out that in order to sell cupcakes, they would have to obtain a two-hour vendors permit from the city at a cost of $175, as well as provide a certificate of insurance for $1 million. So much for the entrepreneurial plans of four enterprising youth. And who was the individual who ratted them out? None other than New Castle Councilman Michael Wolfensohn.

    Did Mr. Wolfensohn care enough about the boy's dreams and the lessons they would learn from their hard work to simply let the matter slide and instead help them by purchasing a few of their goods? NO. Did Mr. Wolfensohn make an effort to explain the need to obtain a permit and then help the boys navigate the bureaucratic system and find a way to continue without breaking the law? NO. Did Mr. Wolfensohn have the simple decency to talk directly with the boys, explain his concerns, and ask them to please halt their sales activity? NO. With all of these possibilities available to him, what Mr. Wolfensohn did was treat these innocent children like common criminals and, like a snitch, turn them in to the cops. And now, Mr. Wolfensohn is puzzled, because, of course, he only did it for the public good!

    Wolfensohn is your typical busybody, who, by being elected to even the modest post of town councilman, has been transformed into a petty tyrant, able to inflict great harm within his domain. He see it as his mission to monitor the actions of those around him and make sure that they never step outside of the straitjacket of rules and regulation he so cherishes. Only a person who thrives on power and control over others could act as Wolfensohn did in this circumstance. But the important lesson here is to recognize that Wolfensohn is merely showing us the honest soul of a great many politicians, including that of our current President. Remember this the next time you hear some politician tell you that the seatbelt law or the health care legislation is something that they support because it is in your best interests. The truth is that while they speak, they are actually dropping the noose around your neck and in a moment or two, they will be yanking on the other end of the cord.

    Yes, we have a serious social disease, and if we do not inoculate against it very soon, it is going to kill us.

    Here is a copy of the letter I sent to Mr. Wolfensohn and published on various public sites.

      Of Cupcakes and Kings

      An Open Letter to Michael Wolfensohn of the Town of New Castle, NY

      Dear Mr. Wolfensohn:

      I side with many other people in finding the actions you have taken against Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff, halting their sale of homemade cupcakes and treats, to be an arrogant and reprehensible abuse of power. Like a great many other politicians from the township level on up to our President, each of you see yourselves as superior to your fellow men and women and wish to rule over us, restricting our free choice to act independently in the pursuit and realizations of our individual dreams. You believe that your position grants you the ability to regulate every aspect of our existence, while reducing the rest of us to the role of beggars who must come, hat in hand, asking you to grant us your beatific permission, whether it is to practice our chosen profession or to sell a measly cupcake — always of course, accompanied by the necessary bribe, oops, I mean requisite administrative or licensing fee.

      Often, people are confused by the actions of politicians when they shroud their oppressive and unconstitutional acts in misdirecting altruistic rhetoric such as the "public good" or the "general welfare". But here we have a situation where the naked truth is exposed for anyone to see. So Mr. Wolfensohn, thank you for stepping out from behind the curtain and allowing the average citizen to observe the exact nature of your intentions. You have sent a clear message to two thirteen year old boys, wiping away any naive innocence they may have held, and replacing it with a clear understanding of the exact nature of the oppressive society in which they live. It is a lesson I am sure they will never forget -- nor will I. The truth is that through your actions, you have made me ashamed to be both an adult and an American.

      And to everyone else, whether you are a cab driver, hairdresser, automotive mechanic, realtor, veterinarian, accountant, lawyer, teacher, nurse, dentist, doctor, architect, engineer, therapist, florist, librarian, beekeeper, fortune teller, or any of the hundreds of other licensed and regulated professions, please remember that you are receiving exactly the same treatment as Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff. And where a child should properly be confused and upset at their first exposure to this sort of treatment, we adults know better and should be outraged by it! It is time to put a stop to this abuse. We elected Mr. Wolfensohn, and all of the other politicians, in order to protect our individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — not for them to become our masters, granted the power to direct and control our lives. Let each of them know that you are a competent adult, capable of managing your own affairs and making your own decisions, and in the name of freedom, you are reasserting your independence and autonomy and will no longer allow them to tell you what you may and may not do with your life.

      Regards,

      C. Jeffery Small

    You can share your own thoughts with Mr. Wolfensohn by sending him an email message at: mbwolf@town.new-castle.ny.us

    And if you have a comment for one of your Senators or Representatives, you can find their contact information at: Congress Merge


    External links to reprints of this article:
    11-15-2010

    Permalink



    Taxpayers
    Against Earmarks
    Subject: Activism in Action: The Tea Party Movement Racks Up Its First Win of The Season!

    NOTE: This is a follow-up to my earlier article:
               So You Want to Hang On to Those Earmarks? We'll See About That!



    Earlier today, many news outlets, including The Christian Science Monitor, The Hill, and Investors Business Daily, reported that GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had bent to the will of the American public and changed his position regarding the Republican party's upcoming proposal for a two-year ban on attaching pork-barrel earmarks to legislation.

    Only one week earlier, Politico was reporting that McConnell was:
      maneuvering behind the scenes to defeat a conservative plan aimed at restricting earmarks, setting up a high-stakes showdown that pits the GOP leader and his "Old Bull" allies against Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and a new breed of conservative senators.
    Outraged that the entrenched Republican politicians were ignoring the clear message that had been sent to them on November 2nd, citizens across the country contacted McConnell and his cohorts, letting them know, in no uncertain terms, exactly what they should expect if they continued to play the same political games to which they had grown accustomed. Here is a copy of the letter I sent to Mitch McConnell (KY), James Inhofe (OK), Lamar Alexander (TN) and Lindsey Graham(NC):
      Dear Congressman:

      Truly unbelievable! You Republicans haven't let the ink dry on the election when you are already jockeying to override the message that the people sent to you just one short week ago. You have learned absolutely nothing!

      So you want to hang on to your precious pork, regardless of the harm that this fiasco has inflicted upon the country by inflating the budget year after year with hidden perks for favored members of Congress, and paying off special interests—or those who have made campaign contributions—by concealing these thefts of taxpayer dollars from open scrutiny, honest debate and a public justification.

      WAKE UP!. The citizens of this country have had enough of this political corruption, and we are not going to allow you to get away with it any longer. We are through with all of you—both Republican and Democrat—treating us as though we were simply a natural resource to be mined for whatever purpose strikes your fancy. We are finished with letting you push us around. The jig is up.

      The American people have sent you a clear message demanding that, as our representatives, you restore our individual rights by removing onerous regulations and legislation that interfere with our freely being able to pursue our own definition of personal happiness. On that front, you can start with the repeal of Obamacare. We also want you to balance the budget and start whittling away at the national debt, not by increasing taxes, but by drastically cutting government programs and expenditures. To perform the job delegated to you by the Constitution, you will have no need for a single pork-barrel project.

      If you continue to oppose measures to eliminate earmarks and other governmental reforms, and instead support business as usual, then you are painting a big red bull's-eye on your head, and we will be gunning for you and your like-minded associated in the next, and the next, and the next election, until you have all been sent out to pasture, and replaced with those who understand the proper role of government and are prepared to stand up and defend the principles upon which this country was founded.

      It's time to choose your side, for we are engaged in a revolutionary war to take back our rights to life, liberty and property from those who wish to rule as our masters. Are you with us or against us? Please write back and let me know where you stand.

      Sincerely,

      C. Jeffery Small

      P.S. We are not the idiots you take us for -- and we have long memories. I'm watching

    Of course, McConnell hasn't actually seen the bright light of liberty. As one Senate staffers reported, "It was just a matter of McConnell being able to count [the caucus] votes", and realize that he would not win his challenge, thereby turning this into just another pragmatic political calculation rather than adopting a principled position. Oh well, if we can't make them see the light, let's at least lead them down the proper path.

    The organization, Taxpayers Against Earmarks, is tracking this resolution which is coming up for vote at the Republican Conference tomorrow, Tuesday November 16th. You can see where the votes currently stand by going to this page. As of this writing, the Following Senators and Senators-Elect have indicated that they intend to vote "No":
    • Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
    • Thad Cochran (R-MS)
    • John Hoeven (R-ND)
    • James Inhofe (R-OK)
    • Richard Shelby (R-AL)
    • Roger Wicker (R-MS)

    While the positions of the following are unknown:
    • Roy Blunt (R-MO)
    • John Boozman (R-AR)
    • Scott Brown (R-MA)
    • Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
    • Susan Collins (R-ME)
    • Mike Crapo (R-ID)
    • Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
    • Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
    • Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
    • Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
    • Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
    • Dick Lugar (R-IN)
    • Jerry Moran (R-KS)
    • Rob Portman
    • James Risch (R-ID)
    • Pat Roberts (R-KS)
    • Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
    • John Thune (R-SD)
    • David Vitter (R-LA)

    If you go to the link above, you will find telephone numbers and email addresses for each of these individuals. I urge you to contact them in one manner or another and let each one know exactly what you are expecting of them. While a vote on an earmark ban may be one of the smaller things needing to be accomplished during the next two years, it is extremely symbolic and sets the tone for what will follow. If we all step up to the plate on this issue, making our Congressmen and women understand that we are watching their every action, and demand that they start acting as our representatives instead of as our masters, we will begin to fulfill the mission began during the campaign season.

    I extend my thanks to all of you warriors for liberty.
    11-09-2010

    Permalink



    Mitch McConnell
    Subject: So You Want to Hang On to Those Earmarks?   We'll See About That!

    Earlier today the online news site, Politico, reported that Jim DeMint was marshaling Republicans to get behind a plan to restrict earmarks from future congressional legislation.

    You know what we're talking about here; things like the $300 million Louisiana Purchase, or the $100 million Cornhusker Kickback, or Chris Dodd's $100 million "grant" for construction of an unspecified Connecticut university hospital, or the grandaddy of them all, the $60 billion Cadillac Tax for the benefit of the Unions, all of which were, at one point, included as part of the recently passed health care (i.e., Obamacare) legislation.

    Of course, these follow in the proud tradition of Alaskian Ted Steven's $230 million Bridge To Nowhere, or Virginia Foxx and Richard Burr's $500,000 to build a Teapot Museum in Sparta, NC, or then Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill's $14.6 billion for a 3.5 mile long Massachusetts Big Dig highway project, or $3.4 million to build a Turtle Tunnel in Florida, or $19 million to study the environmental effects of Cow Flatulence. And the list goes on, and on, and on... According to Wikipedia, in 2005, federal legislation contained an estimated 16,000 earmarks totaling roughly $48 billion, and CBS News, reports that the 2010 Federal budget alone contained 5,000 earmarks which totaled roughly $14 billion, which is on top of the 2009 stimulus allocation of $787 billion.

    So, considering the mood of the country as was recently exhibited in the mid-term elections, with the voters rejecting sixty-six congressional tax-and-spend progressives and replacing them with fiscal conservative, it would seem like a no-brainer to support DeMint's proposal to reign in the abuse of earmarks. Right? Well, that's apparently not how many of the long-standing congressional Republicans see it.
      Politico reports:

      Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is maneuvering behind the scenes to defeat a conservative plan aimed at restricting earmarks, setting up a high-stakes showdown that pits the GOP leader and his "Old Bull" allies against Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and a new breed of conservative senators.

      McConnell's heightened activity signals what Senate insiders say is real fear among senior members — that the DeMint plan actually stands a serious chance of passing. And that could have uncomfortable implications for a bloc of GOP senators — like McConnell, a member of the Appropriations Committee — who annually send hundreds of millions of dollars for projects in their home states.

      Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, one of the most conservative senators and an unabashed earmarker, plans a blitz on conservative talk radio to make the case that critics have demagogued the earmark issue in order to make their political points that they're out to reform the excesses of Congress.

      [A] number of senators who voted for the DeMint plan in March are likely "no" votes now, including McConnell, Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and DeMint's fellow South Carolina senator, Lindsey Graham.

    And there you have it. RINOs at work, saying something to the voters out of one side of their mouth, while having absolutely no intention of standing up for our rights, or the principles of liberty. Politics is just a game to these bozos and they have a vested interest in the status quo which allows them to rob the citizens of 49 other states and send the bacon back home to their special interests and campaign contributors.

    The election is over and it's time for us to get back to work, continuing to communicate our expectations, and doing what we can to pressure every one of these two-faced congressional cowards to do the right thing when it comes to specific legislative actions. Here is a letter that I just sent to Mitch McConnell, James Inhofe, Lamar Alexander and Lindsey Graham:
      So You Want to Keep Your Earmarks?

      Dear Congressman:

      Truly unbelievable! You Republicans haven't let the ink dry on the election when you are already jockeying to override the message that the people sent to you just one short week ago. You have learned absolutely nothing!

      So you want to hang on to your precious pork, regardless of the harm that this fiasco has inflicted upon the country by inflating the budget year after year with hidden perks for favored members of Congress, and paying off special interests — or those who have made campaign contributions — by concealing these thefts of taxpayer dollars from open scrutiny, honest debate and a public justification.

      WAKE UP! The citizens of this country have had enough of this political corruption, and we are not going to allow you to get away with it any longer. We are through with all of you — both Republican and Democrat — treating us as though we were simply a natural resource to be mined for whatever purpose strikes your fancy. We are finished with letting you push us around. The jig is up.

      The American people have sent you a clear message demanding that, as our representatives, you restore our individual rights by removing onerous regulations and legislation that interfere with our freely being able to pursue our own definition of personal happiness. On that front, you can start with the repeal of
      Obamacare. We also want you to balance the budget and start whittling away at the national debt, not by increasing taxes, but by drastically cutting government programs and expenditures. To perform the job delegated to you by the Constitution, you will have no need for a single pork-barrel project.

      If you continue to oppose measures to eliminate earmarks and other governmental reforms, and instead support business-as-usual, then you are painting a big red bull's-eye on your head, and we will be gunning for you and your like-minded associated in the next, and the next, and the next election, until you have all been sent out to pasture, and replaced with those who understand the proper role of government and are prepared to stand up and defend the principles upon which this country was founded.

      It's time to choose your side, for we are engaged in a revolutionary war to take back our rights to life, liberty and property from those who wish to rule as our masters. Are you with us or against us? Please write back and let me know where you stand.

      Sincerely,

      C. Jeffery Small

      P.S. We are not the idiots you take us for — and we have long memories. I'm watching.

    I would encourage each of you reading this to jot down your own thoughts on the issue and send them to any member of Congress needing a little help in understanding what it means to be a proper representative of we the people! You can use the Congress Merge site to obtain the contact information for any Senator or Representative. Thanks for continuing to do your part in the battle to restore Liberty.

    [Addendum – 11-10-10: In the National Review Online, Senator Tom Coburn has written an excellent article titled Earmark Myths and Realities which makes a number of good points about what is so wrong with earmarks, and why they should be eliminated. Besides denouncing those who oppose the reforming of corrupt government practices, we need to show our support for those who are prepared to fight for what is right, so let people like Senator Coburn (OK), and Senator DeMint (SC) know that we stand behind them.]
    09-13-2010

    Permalink



    Pruitt-Igoe
    Subject: Your Property and Property Rights Are Being Dynamited!

    "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." — George Santayana

    Urban Planning

      From Wikipedia:

      In 1947, Saint Louis planners proposed replacement of DeSoto-Carr, a run-down black neighborhood, with new two- and three-story residential blocks and a public park. The plan did not materialize; instead, Democratic mayor Joseph Darst, elected in 1949, and Republican state leaders favored total clearing of the slums and replacing them with high-rise, high-density public housing. They reasoned that the new projects would create a net positive result to the city through increased revenues, new parks, playgrounds and shopping space.

      In 1948 voters rejected the proposal for a municipal loan to finance the change, but soon the situation was changed with the Housing Act of 1949 and Missouri state laws that provided co-financing of public housing projects. The approach taken by Darst, urban renewal, was shared by Harry S. Truman administration [sic] and fellow mayors of other cities overwhelmed by industrial workers recruited during the war. Specifically, Saint Louis Land Clearance and Redevelopment Authority was authorized to acquire and demolish the slums of the inner ring and then sell the land at reduced prices to private developers, fostering middle-class return and business growth. Another agency, Saint Louis Housing Authority, had to clear land to construct public housing for the former slum dwellers.

      Pruitt-Igoe was a large urban housing project first occupied in 1954 and completed in 1955 in the U.S. city of St. Louis, Missouri. Shortly after its completion, living conditions in Pruitt-Igoe began to decay; by the late 1960s, the extreme poverty, crime, and segregation brought the complex a great deal of infamy as it was covered extensively by the international press. The complex was designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed the World Trade Center towers.

      At 3 PM on March 16, 1972 — 16 years after construction was finished — the first of the complex's 33 buildings was demolished by the federal government. The other 32 buildings were destroyed over the next four years. The high-profile failure of Pruitt-Igoe has become an emblematic icon often evoked by all sides in public housing policy debate.

      Does anything above sound familiar? Government urban planners, with big ideas and only the best interests of the "general public" at heart, use the power of the state to seize huge tracts of private land, raze everything in sight, hand over that land to private developers, and proceed to create a new social and economic Shangri-La. Except things, for some unexpected reason, don't really turn out as anticipated! Oh well, don't worry. We'll get it right next time.

      From Wikipedia:

      During the 1950s and 60s, New Haven [Connecticut] received more urban renewal funding per capita than any city in the United States. New Haven became the de facto showcase of the new modern redeveloped city and plans for its downtown development were chronicled in publications like Time and Harper's magazines throughout the 1950s and 60s. Robert C. Weaver, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Lyndon Johnson Administration, once said that New Haven during this time was the closest America has ever been to having a "slumless" city.

      Since 2000, downtown has seen an increasing concentration of new restaurants, nightlife, and small retail stores. The area has experienced an influx of hundreds of new and renovated apartment and condominium units, and a significant number of up-scale restaurants and nightclubs have opened.

      Well, that certainly sounds more promising! However, as an architect and a resident of New Haven from 1978-1988, I recall a slightly different picture. Through the 60s, 70s and early 80s, despite being the home to Yale University, New Haven was an economically depressed area. All of that urban renewal money had been spent purchasing low-rent buildings within the downtown core, knocking them down, and creating temporarily gravel parking lots while wondrous new structures were planned. However, by the early 1980s, after 25 years of "planning", most of these areas remained open gravel lots, giving much of the city the appearance of a bombed war zone rather than a thriving community.

      But what about the claims of being a "slumless" city? Well, that might well be true. Every building within New Haven that offered inexpensive storefront rents and provided affordable housing on the upper floors were demolished. All of these self-sufficient business owners were displaced, as were their clientele, the low-income tenants who had previously occupied these buildings. With no place left to live or work, these people moved on to other cities or became new clients of the state-run subsidized housing developments springing up everywhere.

      While private development was being encouraged in the mid-to-late 80s when I left the state, I think the article's reference to economic expansion beginning to take real hold after 2000 — a 45-50 year period of economic stagnation — is the ultimate indictment against urban renewal. Strike two.

      From Wikipedia:

      Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005) was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States involving the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another to further economic development. The case arose from the condemnation by New London, Connecticut, of privately owned real property so that it could be used as part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan which promised 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues. The Court held in a 5-4 decision that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified such redevelopment plans as a permissible "public use" under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

      Following the decision, many of the plaintiffs expressed an intent to find other means by which they could continue contesting the seizure of their homes. Soon after the decision, city officials announced plans to charge the residents of the homes for back rent for the five years since condemnation procedures began. The city contended that the residents have been on city property for those five years and owe tens of thousands of dollars of rent. The case was finally resolved when the City agreed to move Kelo's house to a new location. The controversy was eventually settled when the city paid substantial additional compensation to the homeowners.

      In spite of repeated efforts, the redeveloper (who stood to get a 91-acre waterfront tract of land for $1 per year) was unable to obtain financing, and the redevelopment project was abandoned. As of the beginning of 2010, the original Kelo property was a vacant lot, generating no tax revenue for the city.

      In addition, in September 2009, Pfizer, whose upscale employees were supposed to be the clientele of the Fort Trumbull redevelopment project, completed its merger with Wyeth, resulting in a consolidation of research facilities of the two companies. Shortly after the merger closed, Pfizer decided to close its New London facility in favor of one across the Thames River in nearby Groton by 2011; this move coincides with the expiration of tax breaks on the New London campus that also expire by 2011, when Pfizer's tax bill on the property would have increased almost fivefold. [As reported in the papers] "Pfizer Inc. announced that it is closing the $350 million research center in New London that was the anchor for the New London redevelopment plan, and will be relocating some 1,500 jobs."

      Remember, these are the people who believe that they can run automobile plants, manage the entire US economy, and will soon be in charge of your life-and-death health care decisions.

      In each of the three cases cited above, who knows just how many houses, businesses, and millions of tax dollars were taken from productive people who would have furthered their lives and made sensible investments with their money, only to instead have it squandered by these bureaucrats? Then, realize that it is not three, but hundreds of similarly failed experiments taking place across the country each year, and the mind boggles at the lost wealth, in the billions and trillions, that has been pumped into these rat holes of disastrous attempts at social engineering by the central planners. They failed in the 1950s, and again and again in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, right up through the destruction of the town of New London, CT in 2009, and still no lesson has been learned — other than we can have our property confiscated from us at any time, so long as the magical incantation "for the public good" is first proclaimed.

    Zoning

      But until they come along and take your property for some urban planning scheme, it's yours to do with as you see fit, right? Not a chance. So called Euclidean Zoning laws, instituted in the early part of the 20th century have long placed a complex set of restrictions on what any individual could do with their land and buildings. These regulations specify what types of uses are allowed (residential, commercial, religious, etc.), the location where any structure may be placed on the lot, overall land coverage, total usable building area, height, allowable exterior pavement, types of landscaping required, restrictions on signage, lighting, grading, drainage, and on and on.

      After more than one hundred years of imposing these guidelines and restrictions all across the country, we must, by now, certainly be living in a designer's paradise. Well, according to a July 8th article in Architect magazine titled Brave New Codes, the result has been as follows:

      The separation of uses written into Euclidean zoning codes made sense to the lawyers who wrote them, but they have the effect of creating bland and inefficient places, Plater-Zyberk says.

      Great places weren't being produced under Euclidean zoning, according to Plater-Zyberk. "It became evident that this regulatory framework was really what was driving suburbia, sprawl, and the things that were being criticized as being inefficient and unsustainable," Plater-Zyberk says. "It wasn't that people wanted it to be that way—the codes were just written that way."

      So, the ill effects were not produced because "people wanted it to be that way", they were forced upon us all because "the codes were just written that way". Then the solution is obvious! Remove the zoning codes and let people achieve those better results that they desire. But no, freedom and choice is never a solution that crosses the mind of the totalitarian planner. Just as we saw in the case of urban planning, the zoning advocates believe that they now have all the answers and can create nirvana with a different set of regulations. So coming soon to a city near you is Form-based Zoning, the cure for what ails you.

      From Wikipedia:

      Form-based zoning relies on rules applied to development sites according to both prescriptive and potentially discretionary criteria.

      Design-based codes offer considerably more flexibility in building uses than do Euclidean codes, but, as they are comparatively new, may be more challenging to create. [...] When form-based codes do not contain appropriate illustrations and diagrams, they have been criticized as being difficult to interpret.

      One example of a recently adopted code with design-based features [...] creates "form districts"

      One version of form-based or "form integrated" zoning utilizes [...] three district components - a use component, a site component and an architectural component. The use component is similar in nature to the use districts of euclidian zoning. However, with an emphasis on form standards, use components are typically more inclusive and broader in scope. The site components define a variety of site conditions from low intensity to high intensity such as size and scale of buildings and parking, accessory structures, drive-through commercial lanes, landscaping, outdoor storage and display, vehicle fueling and washing, overhead commercial service doors, etc. The architectural components address architectural elements and materials.

      As a home or business owner, you have really got to love that "potentially discretionary criteria". It can really add some excitement to your life! And as an architect, it has got to be a relief that the form, elements and material design choices will now be made for you by a government agency rather than being a decision formulated between you and your client — much as medical decisions under nationalized health care will now be dictated by a bureaucrat rather than resulting from a consultation between patient and doctor.

      Here are some additional comments from the Brave New Codes article:

      "A lot of times, [the zoning codes are] just telling you what you can't do." [Peter] Park says Denver's form-based code tries harder to guide developers and designers toward what they can do, mainly by being a very visual document.    [Emphasis added]

      So instead of being left free to do anything other than what is specifically restricted, the new codes turn western culture upon its head by actively prohibiting everything except that which is explicitly allowed. Your right to use your property is now being placed in a straitjacket where a few subjective, discretionary strings are then loosened to allow you some very restricted range of motion, based not upon what you desire, but upon what others deem is best.

      "If the architects could understand that they're part of a larger effort of placemaking, and it's not just a restriction like any old code, I think that they would have a good time working with form-based codes."

      "Often 'design freedom' becomes another term for 'anything goes' solutions that contribute little, if any, to the collective enterprise," Jiménez adds. "Limits are not the curtailing of freedom, but rather opportunities to transcend them."

      Translated, this means that, as an architect, I will learn to enjoy my new role as an implementor of their rules, as soon as I come to accept my proper place as a comrade in the collective enterprise of state-mandated placemaking. These people have covered all the bases and their actions would bring a smile to Ellsworth Toohey's face.

      This collective premise is so pervasive in our society that many people are not even aware of the extent of its effect upon them. For example, in another article in Architect magazine titled If a Tree Falls, the author, Lance Hosey, discussing the ecological benefits to using regional construction materials, makes the following offhand statement:

      How would the construction industry change if builders were limited to what's in their own backyards?

      Notice that he didn't say "if builder's limited themselves", but "if builders were limited", ignoring the possibility of using persuasion and immediately assuming that external force should be applied against all builders in order to achieve his desired results — a result which apparently is to be taken as self-evidently correct and proper. For the collectivist, individual choice and personal freedom are nonexistent concepts, and all that matters here is an economic calculation concerning the use of raw materials. Trees and water are precious. Humans are beneath consideration.

    National Social Engineering

      Which brings us to the real purpose of this piece. From an article written by Bob Livingston, it came to my attention that back on August 6, 2009, Christopher Dodd submitted to the Senate S.1619, a bill titled the Livable Communities Act of 2009, which was followed on February 25, 2010 by the companion House resolution H.R.4690, the Livable Communities Act of 2010. On August 3rd, 2010, S.1619 was released from committee and sent to the Senate and is currently awaiting a vote. Let's examine the major provisions of this legislation.

      • Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities
        This establishes another huge federal bureaucracy with broad powers applied at the state, regional and local levels, to promote planning and construction meeting federal guidelines for sustainability, energy conservation, affordability, and mass-transportation.

      • Implementation of Grant Programs
        This sets up a huge sub-bureaucracy for various grant programs used for the distribution of federal tax dollars to state, regional and local governmental organizations, as well as to private consultancy groups. This is the carrot used to induce participation and the hammer which elicits cooperation, and ultimately submission, to federal authority.

      • Interagency Council on Sustainable Communities
        This establishes an executive-branch council that coordinates and oversees the operations of the entire program. Of course, there would be one or more new czars installed to oversee the overseerers.

      • Funding
        The initial appropriation through 2013 is in excess of $3.7 billion.

      As has been the case with all recent congressional legislation, the bill deals with the establishment of a large and complex bureaucratic framework intended to implement goals which are merely hinted at within the text. At this point there is no direct way to gage the intentions of, or the specific actions that might be taken, by those ultimately chosen to staff this operation. In this way these bills can be made to appear as all things to all people, while being immune to meaningful criticism. Nevertheless, I think we can draw a few broad generalities based upon the goals of those sponsoring this initiative.

      • The creation of a federal planning and development agency would be a new and significantly greater infringement upon the remaining property rights of individuals and businesses.

      • The additional bureaucracy and costs imposed by this bill would create a substantial new impediment to economic recovery and future economic growth.

      • A large segment of the grant funding can be predicted to go to eco-groups who will be eager to finally be able to impose their "green" policies upon everyone else.

      • The sustainability and energy conservation goals of this legislation would significantly increase the cost of construction and energy in an effort to drive development in a different direction.

      • The mass-transportation goals of the bill would result in strictly controlled development corridors of high-density housing, serviced by rail. Gasoline prices would be forced significantly higher to discourage the freedom of automobile usage.

      • The affordability goals of the bill would be used as another tool for the redistribution of wealth in the country.

      • A long term goal might be the elimination of all suburban or rural homes, with these citizens being forced into cities. This could easily be accomplished by a congressional act condemning these properties and then razing the structures, just as we have seen demonstrated repeatedly by urban planners of the past.

      If central planners of the past were able to create such devastation in the wake of their grand schemes, imagine the magnitude of harm that could be unleashed by placing this much power in federal hands.

    Global Social Engineering

      Dodd's bill is the first significant piece of legislation introduced in the United States which attempts to implement the goals of Agenda 21, described by the UN's Division for Sustainable Development (A division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs) as follows:

      Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment.

      Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the Statement of principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests were adopted by more than 178 Governments at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, 3 to 14 June 1992.

      During that conference, Agenda 21 was signed by President George H.W. Bush.

      A review of this document reveals the following goals:

      • Unite all nations in a common effort for sustainable development, with the UN ultimately acting as a super-government having authority over the remainder of the world's national governments.

      • National governments are required to "strengthen institutional structures to allow the full integration of environmental and developmental issues, at all levels of decision-making".

      • A massive redistribution of wealth from the rich (developed) countries to the poor (undeveloped) ones under the guise of creating "a more efficient and equitable world economy". In other words, eliminate world poverty in the name of promoting sustainable livelihoods and reduce the standard of living in developed countries as a necessity for reducing environmental stress.

      • Developed countries are to provide health care for undeveloped countries.

      • Global financial institutions are to be funded by rich countries in order to implement the environmental policies dictated by the UN.

      • By recognizing the "increasing interdependence of the community of nations", and working to "overcome confrontation", "foster a climate of genuine cooperation and solidarity", "strengthen national and international policies", and by adapting "to the new realities", strong countries are to be subjugated to the weak.

      • Use the UN's now discredited IPCC report as justification for throttling the economies of developed countries.

      • Adjust all land-use and resource policies to mitigate changes to the atmosphere, promote bio-diversity, conserve resources, minimize pollution, promote sustainability, provide shelter for all, promote sustainable construction, energy distribution, and transportation.

      • "Transfer" environmentally sound technology from the developers to those with a need. (Steal it.)

      • Promote education, public awareness and training. In other words, an active propaganda campaign.

      Agenda 21 is nothing more than a capitulation of the good to the bad, the rich to the poor, the strong to the weak, the productive to the unproductive, the creative to the uncreative, and the free to the unfree, all under the pretense of a global warming disaster which has been thoroughly debunked as one of the worlds biggest lies.

    Conclusion

      As was the case with Health Care, the Disclose Act and Finance Reform, the Livable Communities Act is likely to be another piece of legislation that will be attempted to be pushed through the Democratic Congress with little regard for the impact upon the constitutional rights of the citizens of this country, or upon the fragile state of our economy. This is an administration focused upon one goal only — that being the consolidation of power — and this bill would expand federal power into devastating new areas. I encourage everyone to spread the word about this bill, and to contact your Senators and Representatives and tell them to vote NO when this Act comes up for consideration.
    04-15-2010

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    Barry Goldwater
    Subject: A Tax Day Tea Party Reminder Of Our Mission

      I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is "needed" before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents' "interests," I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.
      --
      Barry Goldwater (The Conscience of a Conservative, 1960)

    This is the litmus test for every acceptable candidate for any political office, whether local, state or federal. Copy this quote, reread it often, commit it to memory, and then use it as your measuring stick when evaluating your potential representatives. Do they demonstrate this clarity of understanding of the true purpose in job they seek? And do they exhibit the character and the conscience required to stand proudly and firmly in service of these constitutional principles? Let us settle for nothing less from them, for the restoration of our lost liberty hangs in the balance and demands our full allegiance to this cause.
    04-08-2010

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    Conscription
    Subject: Will the Conservatives Defend your Rights?   Don't Count On It.

    Leading the way for the rest of the unfree world, today, the UK's Telegraph reports that Conservatives plan civilian 'national service' scheme. That's right, not wanting to allow Gordon Brown and the democratic socialist Labor party to get the glory by getting there first, David Cameron and the British Conservatives are "Sowing The Seeds of the Big Society" by proposing plans for a National Citizen Service, where 16 year old children will be offered:
      "two-month summer social action activities such as looking after the elderly as a cure for the 'national scandal of all this wasted promise'.

      He originally proposed a compulsory scheme until voluntary sector bosses persuaded him that would not work - but will pledge to get all teenagers involved 'over time'.

      Money for the first two years of the programme ... will come from the Government's "community cohesion programme".

    So, it was clear that the desire to make this proposal mandatory on all youth would not immediately fly, but once the program is in place, then the Conservatives will "get all teenagers involved over time" which is Orwellian doublespeak for "they will be forced to participate".

    Sound familiar? It should. This is similar to what is happening in this country, where, through the Corporation for National and Community Service, the United We Serve website, and programs like "Service-Learning", Barack Obama is slowly transforming what is initially called "voluntarism" into a mandatory requirement, creating a youth army indoctrinated in the fundamental idea that we all owe a duty to the state, which the state has the right to collect upon as, and when it deems appropriate.

    And don't think that the conservative Republicans are really any different from their British counterparts. The Republicans have been playing a game of me-tooism, dancing to the Democrats ideological themes for decades, simply arguing about which nuts and sugar coating to sprinkle on the statist policies of an ever expanding government intrusion into the economy, the personal lives, and decisions of every citizen. Both Bush Jr. and Sr., along with many other entrenched Republicans, were strong advocates for promoting a citizen's duty to the state through government funded "volunteerism" programs, and it was by way of that support that we have arrived at this point. This species of Republican would have no problem with mandatory labor requirements being imposed upon every citizen, so do not look to them to rescue you from this fate.

    In the coming elections it is critical that every candidate be vetted on the issue of their actual commitment to personal liberty and individual rights for every citizen. And not just on what they say is their position, but on the specific action that they intend to take in order to uphold these principles. If we fail to toss out the old guard Democrats and Republicans and replace them with an entirely new breed of politician, dedicated to strictly upholding the original intent of the U.S. Constitution, then there will no longer be any hope for freedom left in America.
    03-31-2010

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    A Republic,
    If You Can Keep It
    Subject: The American Form of Government

    This video discusses the differences between Dictatorship, Oligarchy, Democracy, Republic and Anarchy, making the important point that a Republic is denoted by an adherence to the "Rule of Law", as opposed to a Democracy which is simply the unrestricted "Rule of the Majority". Pass this link along to anyone you think needs a little history lesson.



    [Thanks to Joe Zoch for bringing this to my attention.]
    03-26-2010

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    Shut Up!
    Subject: Obama's Full Frontal Attack on Free Speech

    Today, in the Wall Street Journal, two articles discuss the immediate effect of the new health care legislation. In ObamaCare Day One, we hear about companies like Caterpillar, which is reporting a first year cost of $100 million or more in order to comply with the new regulations. In another article titled The ObamaCare Writedowns, it is reported that government-mandated accounting rules require corporations to immediately restate earning to reflect the present value of their long-term health care liabilities and taxes. In response to that requirement, today AT&T took a one billion dollar writedown. Other companies reporting health care related losses include: Deere & Co, ($150 million); 3M Corporation ($90 million); AK Steel ($31 million); Valero Energy ($20 million). The consulting firm Towers Watson is estimating that the total for all businesses may reach as high as $14 billion.

    What does this mean? It means that the U.S. economy just lost another 14 billion dollars. That's $14 billion that will not be available for capital investment or research. $14 billion that is now unavailable for business expansion and new jobs creation. $14 billion that will never make it into the wallets of workers. That's $14 billion real dollars, created through productive work — not paper money simply run off the government's printing presses.

    However, if that were not bad enough, just like kangaroo*, the President and his congressional cohorts are "hopping mad at this sort of talk!" How dare anyone say a bad word about their amazing technicolor gift to us all? Gary Locke, the Commerce Secretary, said that companies having the gaul to report such gigantic costs were being "irresponsible". And Representative Henry Waxman announced that in response, the Democrats are going to haul the heads of these businesses before a House panel and grill them on their statements. This is nothing more than a blatant attempt to silence the CEOs through intimidation. In other words, its an all out attack on their free speech. And it's getting to be routine.

    We saw Ken Lewis, CEO of Bank of America, silenced after being made the scapegoat for the Merrill Lynch fiasco. We've seen the automotive executives hauled before Congress, making it clear that they were to quietly comply with the government's nationalization of their industry—or else. Medical and insurance companies where threatened with punishment and placated with bribes to silence their opposition to the health care legislation. And when the medical device makers refused to go along, Congress slapped huge new taxes on them to make sure that everybody else got the point. Just another "teachable moment" for the Obama administration.

    The main stream media has become nothing more than a propaganda tool for the administration, self-censoring any troublesome story including Climategate, ACORN, Anita Dunn's Mao comments, Van Jones, to name a few. Then there is Cass Sunstein, Obama's regulatory czar, who, in his book On Rumors, has proposed making internet blogs and hosting sites responsible for the remarks of posters, allowing the government and others to censor and demand deletion of objectionable "false rumors", or else be sued. Congress has threatened the reimposition of the "fairness doctrine" as a means of muting the voice of conservative commentators. And Representative Linda T. Sanchez introduced bill H.R.1966 in the House stating:
      Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

    Chilling open ended language like this could be used to silence anyone. Who is to say what qualifies as "substantial emotional distress"? And there is S.733, the Cybersecurity Act, sponsored by John Rockefeller, which anoints the President with the authority to shutdown the entire internet in the event of a "cybersecurity emergency", the definition of which is left entirely to his discretion. Legislation such as this empowers the President with the ability to stop all citizens from effectively communicating with one another with the wave of a hand.

    The assault on our free speech is a clear and present danger, with this administration constantly testing the water to determine just what they can get away with. And given how the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act was just snuck through as a rider on the health care legislation, don't put it past this administration to try something similar with other controversial legislation that threatens your other rights.

    Stay alert. No one else is looking out for your interests.


    * "Kangaroo were hopping mad at this sort of talk. She thought herself far superior in intelligence to the others. She was their leader; their guru. She had the answer."   [Remind you of anyone?]
    --
    The Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles, by Jethro Tull
    03-24-2010

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    Investors.com
    Subject: 20 Ways ObamaCare Will Take Away Our Freedoms

    To get a quick overview of how pervasively the new health care legislation will reach into your pockets and exercise control over your life, read the article, 20 Ways ObamaCare Will Take Away Our Freedoms by David Hogberg.

    Then get out your wallets and onto your feet and do what you can to fight back against those, whether in Washington or living next door, who have demonstrated a total lack of respect for your constitutional rights and wish to enslave you in service of their desires. These people are not your friends, and they are only just getting started.
    03-20-2010

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    Democracy Denied
    Subject: Barack Obama's Legislative Game Plan

    Thanks to the Left Coast Rebel for bringing this chart from Americans for Prosperity, to my attention. 'Nuff said.

    03-09-2010

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    Gangster
    Government
    Subject: We Now Have A Total Gangster Government

    The real State of the Union. As Michael Barone put it a year ago, we now have a "Gangster Government" operating in place of what should be a free market.

    02-22-2010

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    Medically Incorrect
    Subject: It's Not "Health Care Reform", It's "Government Reform

    In a Medically Incorrect video clip at PJTV, Dr. Peter Weiss demonstrates why the average conservative cannot be entrusted to man the battle stations in defense of our individual rights when it comes to most issues, including health care.

    Dr. Weiss argues for an alternative to the Democrat's health care legislation by proposing the following:
    • Limiting the Direct-To-Consumer advertising that drug companies are allowed, thereby overriding their First Amendment rights, immediately on the heals of the recent Supreme Court ruling that just reaffirmed them.

    • Force drug companies to sell product directly to the government rather than having it buy on the open market. (It's unclear exactly what this would entail.)

    • Since government is funding the majority of drug research, price controls on resulting drug products is justified in order to eliminate "price gouging" of the taxpayer.

    • Force drug re-importation to be allowed, overriding the drug companies right to conduct business as they see fit.

    • Promote (how?) private, free-market drug research - but only with "safeguards", "limitations" and "rewards".

    So, as is often the case in the give-and-take between progressives and conservatives, the battle is not government control vs. free-markets and rights, but simply an argument over exactly what form the government controls will take, with your freedom flushed down the toilet in either case.

    I think it is important to get our priorities straight on the health care issue. We need to be telling the conservative Republicans who are opposing the Democrat's health care legislation that we don't expect or want them to propose their own alternative version of health care reform. Government has no business being involved in the health care business at all. What we need and want from the Republicans is "Government Reform". They should be doing one thing, and one thing only, and that is working to repeal every piece of existing legislation that regulates, or otherwise interferes with the free market operation of the insurance, medical and drug industries. By continuing to call this "health care reform", we implicitly cede to the government our consent that it is all right for them to be thinking about health care at all. It's not, and this video clip demonstrates exactly why.

    The bills we require do not involve 2,000+ pages of exposition. They only requires a single sentence which identifies an existing piece of offending legislation and retires it. The solution to the problem of excessive medical costs is to get the government completely out of the picture. Stop the government from funding medical research completely, and private industry will perform that function, just as it once did. Eliminate regulations on these industries and free-market competition will expand choices and reduce medical costs, just as it does in every other unregulated industry.

    Contact your legislators and let them know we demand "Government Reform". Period.
    02-14-2010

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    Craig Mundie
    Subject: Government Takeover of the Internet

    On April 1, 2009, Senators John Rockefeller [D-WV] and Olympia Snowe [R-ME] introduced the still pending S.773: Cybersecurity Act of 2009, which empowered the President to shutdown the internet for undefined "critical infrastructure information system or network" in the event of a further undefined "cybersecurity emergency". From the text of the bill:
      The President--(2) may declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal Government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network

    On December 22, 2009, President Obama appointed former Microsoft security executive and Ebay CIO, Howard Schmidt, as the new "Cyber-Security Czar", with broad responsibilities to "secure government networks and critical U.S. infrastructures."

    This followed the March 11, 2009 appointment of Microsoft's chief trustworthy infrastructure strategist, Philip Reitinger, to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where he was charged with "protection of the government's computer networks and [to] work with the private sector to help secure critical infrastructures."

    Of course, when you think of computer security, Microsoft is the name that first comes to mind! Now, we have Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, Craig Mundie, proposing that access to the web should require government registration — something equivalent to a "driver's license" — that would eliminate anonymity and allow everyone's activity to be tracked by the government. As others have pointed out, this is similar to a scheme recently tried and abandoned by the Chinese government as too repressive. But that hasn't stopped the United Nations from expressing interest is something along these lines as well.

    So there you have it. Microsoft, a company which has demonstrated that it is unable to solve the technical problems relating to computer security, is now in charge of our technology infrastructure and proposing that instead, every citizen be registered, regulated and fully monitored as the best solution to achieving security.

    The current administration's march towards a totalitarian state continues, one bill, one czar, and one regulation at a time, with their relentless advance for the repeal of individual rights, starting with the right to free speech. And remember Rahm Emanuel's dictum:
      "Never let a serious crisis go to waste."

    I believe that J. R. Dieckmann summed it up best when he wrote about Obama's appointment of a cyber-czar:
      Here is the problem that I see with this whole plan. We have seen the tactic used by this administration over and over again: find or create a crisis, then violate the people's liberties to deal with it. We saw it with the banking industry. We saw it with the mortgage industry. We're seeing it with the auto industry and the energy industry, the global warming hoax, and many others. This is a president who wants the federal government to control everything of any significance. Controlling the Internet would be most helpful to him in forcing his Marxist agenda down the throats of the American citizens.
      [...]
      Just like with the banking, energy, and auto industries, once Obama gets his foot inside the door he uses that foot to kick the door wide open and take over the industry. First come the government demands, then the regulations and finally the control. If we allow him to do this with the Internet then we can be assured that our first amendment rights to free speech will be seriously curtailed and the Democrat Socialists will gain a clear advantage in all future elections.

    'Nuff said.

    02-06-2010

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    Bloomberg
    Subject: So, Was Joe Wilson Wrong When He Called Obama a Liar?

    In an article by Jonathan Weil titled, Obama's $6.3 Trillion Scam Is America's Shame, he reports that the President's latest $3.8+ trillion federal budget leaves out a few minor items that might have a little bit of impact upon the country. For example, this budget does not include:
    • The Liabilities of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

    • $1.6 Trillion of Corporate Debt

    • $4.7 Trillion of Mortgage Obligations

    Last year, the federal government lifted the $400 billion liability debt ceiling for Fannie and Freddie, pledging to cover unlimited losses through 2012! I guess this was necessary because at the same time they eased restrictions on the size of their investment portfolios, allowing them to accumulate more and more bad debt.

    As Weil comments,
      "[I]t seems Obama and his budget wizards decided that including the liabilities at Fannie and Freddie would be too much reality for the world to handle. So they left the companies out, in a trick worthy of Enron's playbook, except not quite so hidden."

    So much for openness and transparency. I agree with Joe Wilson, "Mr President, You Lie!"

    [Thanks to Mark Kalinowski for bringing this article to my attention and to Pamela Geller for breaking the story.]
    02-02-2010

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    Federal Jobs
    Subject: Solving the Unemployment Problem — One Federal Job at a Time

    In his State of the Union address, Barack Obama stated that he was going to focus on solving America's unemployment problem. A few days later he released details for his $3.8 trillion 2011 budget, indicating his intention to continue with his, so far, spectacularly failing plan to spend his way out of our economic woes.

    Today in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), there is a report entitled Uncle Sam Wants You, which highlights just exactly how and where all of this "economic stimulus" is actually paying off. And the answer is: in the ranks of federal employees. As the WSJ reports, "civilian full-time equivalent employees" within the government's ranks has increased 14.5% in just the past two years, bringing 20 2.148 million, the number of federal employees in 2010.

    Unlike workers in private industry, federal employees neither produce nor contribute to the production of tangible goods and services that form the basis of our economy. Where as a worker in the private sector acts to generate wealth which pays for their own employment, government is simply a net consumers of wealth, and every new federal employee place an additional burden on the remainder of the economy to carry them.

    So, as usual, Obama is merely shuffling papers, moving names from the list of the "unemployed" to a new list of "federal workers". But the net effect is zero, because the funds for the salary of a government worker must be extracted from the surplus economic efforts of productive private-sector employees, just as the funds for an individual who receives an unemployment check must first be produced by others. It is all a game of smoke and mirrors, with no actual economic gain.

    But there is a terrible economic cost to all of this. For the billions and trillions of dollars that the government removes from the economy, directly through taxes, or indirectly through inflation, are funds no longer available for capital investment by businesses actually engaging in processes of true wealth creation. This retards the recovery and expansion of the economy, which means new productive jobs are not created, which means that real unemployment remains high.
    01-31-2010

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    Atlas Shrugs
    Subject: Obama Continues to Organize his Youth Army!


    This is important folks, so pay attention!


    Pamela Geller is reporting on her website, Atlas Shrugs, that the group, Organizing for America (OFA), which you find at the tellingly named website www.barackobama.com, has been sending out internship application packets, to be distributed to school children across the country, enlisting their support:
      "OFA is launching a national internship program connecting students all over the country with our organization on the ground — working to make the change we fought so hard for in 2008 a reality in 2010 and beyond"

    Got that! Obama is using the public school system as a means to recruit an army of youth organizers specifically focused on the upcoming 2010 elections. And he is proposing that the schools extend classroom credit to the students for their participation!

    This "internship" is nothing more than a ten-week, socialist, youth army, propaganda, indoctrination program. Let's look at some of the highlights:
      Week 1: Introductory Training
        Training includes: "Mobilizing to Win On the Issues (issue advocacy)", "OFA Health Care Campaign Overview", and "Health Care Service Project"

        Suggested Reading: "Rules for Radicals" by Saul Alinsky, and "The New Organizers" by Zack Exley

      Week 2: What is Organizing?: Building Relationships and Organization
        Purpose: "To understand basic voter contact tactics and the importance of confirming calls"

        Suggested Reading: "Dreams of my Father" by Barack Obama

      Week 3: What is Organizing?: The Power of Good Data and Reporting
        Potential Actions: "Use reporting to track follow-up actions around the health care campaign"

      Week 4: Strategizing for Effective Change
        "Intern program concentrates on developing an effective strategy to influence change. Effective community organizing is strategic, and requires a clear analysis of power structures, community assets, and opportunities for influence."

        Suggested Reading: "Stir It UP: Lessons in Community Organizing and Advocacy" by Rinku Sen, and "Politics the Wellstone Way: How to Elect Candidates and Win on the Issues" by Wellstone Action

      Week 5: Developing Leadership
        Potential Action: "Help train new Community Organizers / Neighborhood Team Leaders or Help Identify and Test"

      Week 6: Managing Events
        Discussion: "You just found out that Vice President Biden is coming to your turf in one week to do a healthcare-focused town hall event. What role would the following departments play and what actions would they need to take in order to fulfill their responsibilities, keeping in mind all three components of a successful event (pre, during, and post)"

      Week 7: Building Coalitions
        Purpose: "What coalitions in your community exist that are working for health care, energy and education reform"

        Suggested Reading: "A Strategic Approach to Collective Action: Looking for Agencies in Socialist-Movement Choices" by James M. Jasper

      Week 8: Working with the Media
        "Program will introduce participants to effective strategies in dealing with the media. Sharing OFA's message — both in general and around health care specifically — is key to our success. By sharing our message with the larger community, we can influence public opinion and move legislators in support of our policies."

      Week 9: Utilizing New Media
        Recommended Reading: "Obama Field Organizers Plot a Miracle" by Zack Exley

      Week 10: Celebration, Evaluation & the Long Haul of Change
        Purpose: "Many of these Interns will be considering a future career in organizing and we also want them to leave the program encouraged to continue as organizers."

        Potential Action: "Have Intern agree to participate in a December conference call with OFA headquarters (and ideally a special guest). During the call, we can unveil our larger strategy for student and youth strategy [sic] in the states. After the call, we will follow up with specific contacts for each participant so that they can get immediately get [sic] plugged in to OFA's efforts within their communities."

    See Pamela Geller's website for photocopies of the entire document which she obtained from a concerned parent whose son had received it in his government class.

    As the agenda outline makes clear, the purpose of this "training" is to create a student army that continues the President's push for passage of his health care, energy and education reform legislation. And if you believe that this would only affect students who have already developed a deep commitment to political activism, then you haven't been paying attention. As I have reported here in depth, through its Service-Learning program, the government is imposing mandatory community service requirements upon students of all ages, making this a necessity for them to graduate each year. Faced with meeting this onerous new obligation, every student must waste their time looking for some form of labor that is acceptable to their school. Then their teachers dangle this "opportunity" in their faces, telling them it will not only fulfill their community service requirement, but will earn them class credit as well. Just another masterful example of the government employing the carrot-and-stick approach in order to force people to do its bidding.

    And who pays for all of this? Why you, the taxpayer. As I reported here and here, for their 2010 budget, the Obama administration has handed over $1.149 billion dollars to the Corporation for National & Community Service, which then uses that money in the form of grants, to entice school districts to impose Service-Learning programs upon their students. So, once again, the government is using your own money against you, to undermine your liberty.

    Another interesting thing to notice in the OFA Internship document is the proposed reading list, which is nothing less than primer for the progressive left. And notice that, despite a year's worth of serious criticism on this point from many commentators, Obama is still proudly reading from the play book of Saul Alinsky, the radical who wrote, in typical Marxist class-warfare fashion:
      "The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away."

    Well, there you have it. For Obama, this is nothing less than an all out war for power and control — not just over your health care, or the economy — but control over your very life. With the push for mandatory national service for all Americans currently winding its way through Congress in the form of H.R. 1444, we are rapidly moving towards the fulfillment of Rahm Emanuel's dream of having the government impose its idea of "basic training and understanding" upon each of us, making sure that we learn the "universal sense of service" that will "give Americans, once again, a sense of what they are to be American". Translated: "If you don't agree with Barack, then your simply not an American ... and we plan to fix that!"

    The final thing to be learned from this document is just how organized these "community organizers" actually are. They have developed a well thought out, highly structured program to implement their agenda and they are following through with their plans. And with Obama in the White House, they now have access to considerable funds — your funds — which they can use to achieve significant results. If they are not stopped, in the long run they will certainly achieve their purpose. Therefore, it is imperative that we act in opposition to end this nightmare. We must continue to attack on every new front, chopping off each tentacle until they have no more to extend. And then we will lop off the head and put an end to this nightmare.

    The chickens are all coming home to roost. Everyone who cares about the future of this country, whether you have children in school or not, needs to take action agains this abomination. Get in touch with your local schools and find out where they stand on the matter of Service-Learning programs and determine whether they have received these OFA Internship forms, and if so, whether they passing them out to the students. If you are a parent in the PTA, raise these issues with other parents and organize protests over the transformation of our government schools from nominal places of education into socialist indoctrination camps. And everyone should be loudly protesting against Obama's totalitarian tactics of attempting to create a youth brigade to serve his overt political agenda. If this doesn't qualify as clearly illegal activity, and if people don't rise up in a storm of protest, then I truly fear for the future of this country.

    [Thanks to Jackie Smith for bringing this article to my attention and to Pamela Geller for breaking the story.]
    01-29-2010

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    WorldNetDaily
    Subject: Being a Senator is Hard Work!

    Bob Unruh of the WorldNetDaily, reports that over the past two years, Nancy Pelosi has billed the U.S. taxpayers over $101,000 just for in-flight food and liquor! That's roughly $1,000 per week! And just how often does she fly? Well, enough to rack up a total exceeding $2.1 million in expenses for her use of Air Force One jets, which amounts to about $20,200 per week.

    Quoting Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch:
      "Speaker Pelosi has a history of wasting taxpayer funds with her boorish demands for military travel. And these documents suggest the Speaker's congressional delegations are more about partying than anything else."

    Well, when you're one of the Ruling Elite, having to bear the responsibility of micro-managing the lives of over 308 million people, it can make you hungry — and thirsty!

    And remember when the heads of the automotive companies flew to Washington on their private jets and were roundly criticized by Congress? Well, this is different, because those executives were running failing businesses, while Pelosi is the head of a thriving enterprise that has a mere $12 trillion debt (soon to be over $14 trillion) and an unfunded liability of well over $100 trillion.

    So, for having done such a swell job, I think we can all agree that she's earned her perks. And if she's a teensy bit sanctimonious, well, who can blame her? 'Cause being a senator is hard work!
    01-20-2010

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    Scott Brown
    Subject: My Direct Letter to Scott Brown

    I just sent Senator-Elect Scott Brown the following letter.
      Dear Mr. Brown:

      Congratulations on your win last night. I was one of the many from outside MA that provided financial support for your campaign leading to this great day for both you and the entire country. But Mr. Brown, please do not let us down. You have been sent to Congress for one purpose: to do everything you can to stop the socialist juggernaut from crushing the spirit of America. Your job is to defend the rights of every individual and to cut the scope of government back wherever possible, doing what you can to return it to its singular function of protecting our rights, and nothing more. So once you have cast your vote against the health care legislation as you have promised, remain true to the principles of the people who elected you and continue the valiant fight to uphold the U.S. Constitution. If you do that, you will stand at the forefront of the Second American Revolution and earn yourself a place in history.

      Do not be seduced by the congressional seat and decide, as so many others have, that being elected has somehow granted you the wisdom and the powers to assume the role of making decisions for and manipulating the lives of the citizens of this country. Always remember that we are each sovereign individuals with the constitutionally guaranteed right to our own lives. We are not wards of the state. This means that we each get to make the decisions for ourselves as we best see fit, and that right is not limited to health care, but to every aspect of how we pursue our lives and every decision we make in disposing of our earnings. As the Constitution states:

      "No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;"
      Fifth Amendment

      "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
      Ninth Amendment

      "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people"
      Tenth Amendment

      The United States government was not granted the powers to make health care decisions for the citizens, and therefore, it remains a right of each individual. And that same reasoning holds true whether it pertains to deciding whether to invest in an energy efficient appliance, a fuel efficient car, determining whether and what type of mortgage to obtain, and whether we wish to provide financial help to a poor individual, a failing company or a foreign country in the aftermath of an earthquake. Always remember that the products of each person's efforts are their property, to dispose of as they - and only they - see fit. And the choices that they make are their means of pursuing their own happiness.

      The single proper role of federal government is to be a protector of the rights of the citizens. Every time the government steps outside that role and passes legislation to regulate business or personal actions, it has transformed from a protector into a violator of those rights. The majority of the text of the U.S. Constitution was written with the express purpose of constraining government so that it would not violate its mandate and become an agent of oppression. As you can clearly see, those protective measures were long ago breached and this country has been on a rapidly accelerating slide towards totalitarianism. Please make it your single-minded purpose to go to Washington D.C. to put the governmental genie back in its bottle and restore the right of every citizen to determine their own future.

      So again, I send you my best wishes for your victory and am excited to see you head to Washington and help us all in the struggle to recover our lost liberty.

      Sincerely,

      C. Jeffery Small

    The election of Scott Brown is a watershed event with many positive consequences. But Brown has demonstrated with his actions before the election, and comments made afterwards, that he is not a person who sees the relationship between a government and its people as it was intended by the framers of the Constitution. I suggest that everyone who supported his election write their own letter to Scott Brown, letting him know that he is representing all citizens of this country, not just those of his home state, and explain to him your views and expectations for his term in Congress. Let's make sure that as he heads off to Washington D.C., he goes with a clear understanding of his proper role.

    01-20-2010

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    Scott Brown
    Subject: An Open Letter To Scott Brown And His Supporters

    Let me extend a huge thank you to all of the people in Massachusetts who turned out yesterday and voted for Scott Brown. You have each contributed to a political event that will have untold repercussions, both in the short and the long term. In casting your votes, you have spoken loudly, sending a clear message to President Obama and the Congress that the majority of the citizens in this country are opposed to the nationalization of the medical profession as well as the other socialist policies that these career politicians are doing their best to force upon us against our will. And I am also grateful to all of the other people across this country who spoke out in support of Brown's election and contributed their money, time, effort and commitment to seeing that this result could be achieved. It was an organized team effort, and we have achieved a rewarding result.

    There has already been much discussion in the press about various dirty tactics that the state of MA might attempt in order to block Brown from being certified and confirmed, until after the congressional vote on the health care bill. There are also reports of maneuvers that the House and Senate are cooking up to try to ram a bill through before Brown, a duly elected representative of the people, can cast his vote. It is difficult to predict what specific actions may actually be taken, but the MA state legislature and this Congress have each already demonstrated their contempt for the will of the people, for due process, and for allowing us to observe their underhanded, back room deal-making. President Obama was nothing other than a bold faced liar when he promised openness and transparency for his administration. Should the politicians resort to any of these underhanded measures, then we must act again and let our protest, in voice and action, become a wave that washes over them, drowning any hope for a political future. Let them know that Brown's election has only been a warning shot.

    And Mr. Brown, please do not let us down! You have been sent to Congress for one purpose: to do everything you can to stop the socialist juggernaut from crushing the spirit of America. Your job is to defend the rights of every individual and to cut the scope of government back wherever possible, doing what you can to return it to its singular function of protecting our rights, and nothing more. So once you have cast your vote against the health care legislation as you have promised, remain true to the principles of the people who elected you and continue the valiant fight to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

    Now everyone get out there and celebrate. You've earned it!

    01-17-2010

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    The Christian
    Science Monitor
    Subject: Too Fat To Fail!

    An article by Paul Hsieh in The Christian Science Monitor titled Universal healthcare and the waistline police starts out:
      Imagine a country where the government regularly checks the waistlines of citizens over age 40. Anyone deemed too fat would be required to undergo diet counseling. Those who fail to lose sufficient weight could face further "reeducation" and their communities subject to stiff fines.

      Is this some nightmarish dystopia?

      No, this is contemporary Japan.

      The Japanese government argues that it must regulate citizens' lifestyles because it is paying their health costs.

    This is the fate in store for all Americans if we fail to stop the current health care legislation from passing, for if it does, the government will finally have a very powerful tools at its disposal, allowing it to reach into the personal lives of each citizen and control our actions as it sees fit.

    Paul concludes:
      Just as universal healthcare will further fuel the nanny state, the nanny state mind-set helps fuel the drive toward universal healthcare. Individuals aren't regarded as competent to decide how to manage their lives and their health. So the government provides "cradle to grave" coverage of their healthcare.

      Nanny state regulations and universal healthcare thus feed a vicious cycle of increasing government control over individuals. Both undermine individual responsibility and habituate citizens to ever-worsening erosions of their individual rights. Both promote dependence on government. Both undermine the virtues of independence and rationality. Both jeopardize the very foundations of a free society.

      The American Founding Fathers who fought and died for our freedoms would be appalled to know their descendants were allowing the government to dictate what they could eat and drink. The Founders correctly understood that the proper role of government is to protect individual rights and otherwise leave men free to live — not tell us how many eggs we should eat.

      If we still value our freedoms, we must reject both the nanny state and universal healthcare. Otherwise, it won't be long before the "Waistline Police" come knocking on our doors.

    Read the entire article.

    Paul has it exactly right, except that I would challenge him on one important point. By categorizing our government as a "nanny state", he makes the common error of giving the benefit of the doubt to the government by assuming that its motives are all directed in our best interest. Nothing could be further from the truth!

    Our president and members of Congress know nothing at all about you and your unique circumstances, and could care less about your personal wellbeing. They have no interest in being you caregiver. That is simply a convenient fiction to conceal their true intent, which is to gain control over your actions and direct your life in service of their agenda. And their agenda is nothing more than raw, naked power. To them, you are merely a natural resource to be mined until your productive vein runs dry. Look at all recent actions taken or proposed by the government and identify the common denominator as it pertains to the American public:
      Warrantless Wiretaps? Control!
      Declaration of Carbon Dioxide as a Pollutant? Control!
      Outlawing Student Loans from Private Institutions? Control!
      TARP Bailouts - with Strings Attached? Control!
      Nationalization of the Housing Loan Industry? Control!
      Nationalization of the Automotive Industry? Control!
      Nationalization of the Financial Industry? Control!
      Nationalization of the Insurance Industry? Control!
      Nationalization of the Medical Industry? Control!
      Nationalization of the Energy Industry? Control!
      Mandatory Community Service for All School Children? Control!
      Proposed Mandatory National Service for All Citizens? Control!

    And the list goes on. This is on top of the government having already nationalized the education, utilities and transportation industries, and heavily regulating the agriculture, manufacturing and pharmaceutical sectors, to name but a few. Where once we were a free people in a free country, able to pursue our lives in whatever manner we chose, so long as we didn't violate the rights of others, today our lives are so managed that it is extremely difficult to find some area where an individual may act without first seeking permission, paying a tax, or worrying that some agency might come behind and judge those actions to have been in violation of one of the unfathomable number of regulations that have been enacted.

    Don't oppose health care reform because it is bad medicine. Fight it for all you are worth because it is you personal freedom — and the freedom of all of your family members — that is at stake. And that is something worth fighting for!
    Barack Obama Barney Frank Nancy Pelosi Christopher Dodd
    Do These People Really Have Your Best Interests at Heart?



    [Thanks to Cloud Downy for bringing this article to my attention.]
    02-30-2009

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    Brad Harrington
    Subject: The Hugest Heist in History

    Bradley Harrington writes another excellent open letter regarding the problems that we face in light of the Obama administration's spending over just one short year.
      THE HUGEST HEIST IN HISTORY

      By Bradley Harrington

      "What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom." — Adam Smith, "The Wealth Of Nations," 1776–


      In a commentary I wrote shortly after the 2008 presidential election, in discussing the upcoming fiscal policies of the soon-to-be Obama administration, I said: "You are about to witness a government spending spree that is going to make the meddling of FDR's 'New Deal' or LBJ's 'Great Society' look like penny-ante poker in comparison."

      I was chastised, at that time, by many for my "alarmist" prediction. Now, over a year later, let's look at the facts:

      (1) Previous spending: in our rear-view mirror, we see nothing but bailouts—AIG, GM, Chrysler, "stimulus" spending, etc. Price tag: well over $1 trillion.

      (2) Current/projected spending: "jobs" bill just passed by House; price tag of $154 billion; "omnibus" spending bill just signed into law by President Obama; price tag of $447 billion; health care "reform" proposals; price tag of $1 trillion.

      "'The New Deal by today's standards involved a miniscule amount of spending,' said Allan J. Lichtman, a professor of political history at American University." ("Analysis: Obama plans eclipsing New Deal spending," Tom Raum, Associated Press, Feb. 20.)

      And more:

      (3) Federal budget: fiscal year ending in 2009, $3.1 trillion; fiscal year 2010, $3.55 trillion, an increase of nearly half a trillion.

      (4) Federal budget deficits: fiscal year 2009, $1.42 trillion; projected federal budget deficit for fiscal year 2010, $1.2 trillion. Projected federal budget deficits over the next decade, $9.1 trillion.

      (5) National debt: this stood at $9.9 trillion in 2008, and was lifted to $12.1 trillion in February of this year. And, in just the last few days, Congress and President Obama lifted that ceiling again by another $290 billion (barely enough to fund the federal government's ocean of red ink for another piddling two months), and both intend to raise that ceiling again come February, when it is expected to be boosted to $14 trillion. In fiscal year 2010, this will equal 98.1% of our GDP.

      Translation: Our national debt will soon equal the entire amount of production of the entire United States for an entire year.

      So, who pays for it all? Who provides the blank check? The producers, who else? Money does not grow on trees, despite what our "leaders" seem to think—if they think at all. And don't kid yourself about how it's only the "rich" who will pay for this: there simply aren't enough "rich" people in this country to fund a $14 trillion bill. With a current population of 308 million, the national debt now exceeds $40,000 per capita; when the debt ceiling gets raised again in the next couple of months, that figure will jump to over $45,000 for every man, woman and child in America.

      This, I submit, is an absolute looting spree, happening right before our eyes, and, as such, constitutes the hugest heist in all of human history. It is nothing less than an irrational, amoral, legalized, politically-promoted plundering of the productive assets of the United States, with no thought or reason given to the consequences, of which there can only be one: total, terminal economic dissolution and disintegration.

      And what can we expect from such a collapse? Social catastrophe, martial law and the final destruction of the American Republic. What did Rome get when she fell, devastated by taxes and control? The barbarians and the Dark Ages. What did Germany's Weimar Republic get when she was shattered by hyperinflation? Adolph Hitler and the Nazis.

      That is the future that awaits us, should we continue our present course: and not in some far-off, distant time, but in the next few years. Is that the "American Dream" you'd like to experience for yourself and your children?

      And, if not, what do you intend to do about it? Sitting on your butt, collecting a "welfare" check and voting for more of the same is no longer an acceptable answer.

      If you think it is, you might choose to ponder the words of one of America's Founding Fathers who had a much better grasp of the issue:  "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!" (Samuel Adams, Philadelphia State House Speech, 1776.)

      As for the rest of us, isn't it about time we rolled up our sleeves?

      Bradley Harrington is a former United States Marine and a free-lance writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

    As Brad asks, "what do you intend to do about it?"

    In addition to the usual actions of writing and speaking out against the policies that are leading to the decline and fall of America, here are some activist-oriented organizations to investigate. If you find one that meets your requirement, join in and add your efforts to the cause of restoring liberty to America.

    If you know of other good activist organizations or actions that you would like to recommend, please sent them to me and I will include them on this list.
    12-24-2009

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    Merry Christmas
    Subject: Happy Holidays

    Dear Readers:

    Have a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!

    12-20-2009

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    The Declaration
    of Independence
    Subject: The Second American Revolution: It's Time To Make Your Stand

    Today, Ben Nelson, the senator from Nebraska, declared that he is going to support the Senate's health care bill as the 60th member of a Democratic coalition that has no Republican support. As reported in The Huffington Post:
      "The Nevada Democrat [Harry Reid] agreed to a series of concessions on abortion and other issues demanded by Nelson"

    Other concessions? What could those be?
      "The Nebraskan [Nelson] also won increased federal funds to cover his state's cost of covering an expanded Medicaid population at a cost that one Democratic official put at $45 million over a decade"

    So taxpayers in other states will now also pick up the cost of expanded health care for Nebraska's residents similar to provisions that Harry Reid managed to write into the bill for Nevada citizens. Well, why not? It's all in keeping with the Obama administration's master plan for wealth redistribution. You still have some wealth left, and therefore it obviously needs to be redistributed to others. But is that the only last minute piece of pork added to the bill? Of course not.
      "Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., claimed credit for a last-minute, $10 billion increase in funding for community health centers nationwide"

      "Another provision in Reid's changes provides additional federal funding for hospitals in Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming and the Dakotas, although no cost estimate was available."

      "The revised bill also calls for a .9 percent increase in the Medicare payroll tax on incomes over $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples. Reid's earlier bill had a smaller hike, .5 percent."

      "The bill also taxes high-cost insurance plans"

    Read Robert Tracinski's article, You Will Lose Your Private Health Insurance for a concise summary of the true implications and impact of the final legislation that will soon be voted on once the House and Senate bills are reconciled.

    With the imminent passage of the health care legislation, it is finally time to take a firm and uncompromising stand. As was stated over 233 years ago in The Declaration of Independence:
      "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security, ..."

      [Emphasis added]

    Unlike the TARP bailouts, and other incursions into the US economy, which, with stretched-to-the-limit incredulity, might charitably be credited as horribly misguided efforts with underlying good intent, no such claim could possibly be made for the Congressional health care bills. These are nothing more than a naked power-grab, granting to the government a significant increase in the direct control over the personal lives and decisions of every in America, intentionally destroying individual liberty.

    It is time to choose a side of the single greatest issue facing America, and declare your allegiance either to tyranny or to freedom.

    The time for the Second American Revolution is now at hand. It is up to every freedom-loving person to commit all of their intellectual, physical and financial resources to the cause of liberty. We must retake control of a government which no longer represents us - or else, we must abolish it. As we have seen demonstrated time after time over the past year, the opportunity for reasoned debate with the opposition has long since passed and the moment has arrived to pull out all of the stops and take forceful action on every possible front.

    Remember Ayn Rand's observation:
      "Evil is impotent and has no power but that which we let it extort from us"

    Those committed to destroying the US Constitution and enslaving all of us into serving their tyrannical ends will only succeed if we stand by and allow them to do so. Recognizing this fact, it is up to us to mount counter efforts. While new opportunities for action are being organized and put into effect all across the country, there are many things that can be done immediately. Here are some suggestions:
    • Step up your efforts to write and phone the White House and all members of Congress. Commit a certain amount of time each week to write new letters and make repeated calls to the most deserving politicians. Don't tell them that you disagree with their policies — tell them that you're mad as hell and you're not going to take it any longer! Let them know in no uncertain terms that the gloves are coming off and that you are going to do everything in your power to dismantle the corrupt machinery of government and take back your constitutionally guaranteed rights to your life, liberty and property. When they are receiving this message from thousands of people all across the country, they are going to get very nervous. Make it your personal mission to make Nancy Pelosi cry. And don't stop with her! Contact information for all congressional members can be found at Congress Merge.

    • Write articles and letters-to-the-editor of your local paper expressing your outrage over the constitutional transgressions being exercised by Congress and the President. Help transition the political dialog in country away from less important issues of specific tax or legislative proposals to the critical issues of constitutional rights. As Nancy Pelosi and other politicians have demonstrated, they are completely unprepared to defend themselves on constitutional grounds. This makes them very vulnerable to attack from this quarter.

    • Get involved with your local Tea Party chapter and help organize local and state protests. Generate as much noise and publicity as possible. Again, the message should now become not one of simple disagreement, but a vocalization of honest outrage and a principled unwillingness to voluntarily comply with the intent of Congress and the President. Become conscientious objectors - unwilling to participate in your own enslavement.

    • Start planning your strategy for the 2010 Tax Day Tea Party on April 15th. Organize family and friends and come up with a creative idea that will generate publicity and convey your personal message to as many people as possible.

    • Make plans to go to Washington DC when the next Tea Party march gets scheduled in 2010. If the press thought that 1.2 million protesters was "a few thousand", let's see what they have to say when we make it 3 million or more!

    • Show your commitment and make a symbolic statement with a Personal Declaration of Independence, by adding your name to the John Galt Pledge, if you have not done so already.

    • Link to this article on your personal blogs and help spread the word that the time for action is upon us.

    Working together, we will form an irresistible force that will beat back the destroyers of freedom.

    In Liberty,

    C. Jeffery Small
    12-14-2009

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    Michael Ramirez
    Subject: Speaking of Service-Learning....

      [Sorry. Cartoon has gone missing!]

    11-20-2009

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    The Hill
    Subject: Obama Accused of Doing Favors for Ally

    From the website The Hill, we have the story, "Obama accused of doing favors for ally" which tells us something about the operations of the Obama administration, which pledged us "openness" and "transparency", but instead is conducting politics as usual by shielding its agencies from any form of serious scrutiny.
      A GOP congressional report accuses the White House of doing favors for Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star and prominent ally of President Barack Obama.
      [...]
      The investigation also found evidence that D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee handled "damage control" after allegations surfaced of sexual misconduct against Johnson, her now-fiancé.

      The probe was launched after an AmeriCorps inspector general, Gerald Walpin, was abruptly fired in June by White House lawyer Norm Eisen. Walpin, who was appointed to his position during the Bush administration, was pursuing allegations that Johnson misused some of the $800,000 in federal AmeriCorps money provided to St. Hope Academy, a nonprofit school he headed for several years.

      Among the accusations: AmeriCorps-paid volunteers ran personal errands for Johnson, washed his car and engaged in political activities.

      Walpin's firing caused an uproar, with his defenders arguing that his removal was politically motivated and that Walpin was an effective watchdog who blew the whistle on the president's friends and pet causes.

      The U.S. attorney for the area, Lawrence Brown, a Bush appointee, did not pursue charges against Johnson, instead filing an ethics complaint against Walpin for overstepping his authority in his investigation of Johnson.

      "He sought to act as the investigator, advocate, judge, jury and town crier," Brown wrote in an April 29 letter.

      As a result, the federal Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency opened a review of Walpin's actions. In early June, Obama said in a letter to Congress that he was firing Walpin because he had lost confidence in him.

    Hope and Change you can count on.
    10-15-2009

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    Congressional
    Health Care
    Subject: Will Members of Congress Use the Health Care Plan That They Vote For?

    Members of Congress currently have a gold-plated health care plan for which they pay very little. Louisiana Congressman and physician John Fleming thinks that it is only right that Congress be subject to the same plan that it believes is best for the rest of us. Or as he puts it, he wants to give: "Congress an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is."

    In service of that goal, he had put forward House Resolution 615 where:
      "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that Members who vote in favor of the establishment of a public, federal government run health insurance option are urged to forgo their right to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and agree to enroll under that public option."

    Click here to see a list of Representatives who currently support this resolution. If your Representative is not on the list, write to them and ask why, telling them you expect their participation. You might also write letters to the editor of your local paper, letting others in your area know that some or all of your State Representatives have not signed up to receive the same health care they promote as good enough for the rest of us.

    Let your Senators know that you expect the same from them as well!

    You can also visit John Fleming's Website and add your name to a list of citizens that support this resolution.
    10-08-2009

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    NSLP
    Subject: Be It Resolved ...

    Ace Parsi, the Policy Director for the National Service-Learning Partnership, issued an Important Policy Update in which he states:
      I write you because we need your help in nurturing key relationships in Congress. These relationships are very important as we promote policies that give more youth in this country meaningful opportunities to engage in service-learning.
           [...]
      It's a critical time for service-learning and it is so important to let Congress know that service-learning works and we care.

    I wonder what those "key relationships in Congress" are that need to be nurtured? Could it have anything to do with taking more money from the pockets of the taxpayers and giving it to these people?

    On October 7th, various Senators introduced the following resolution:
      S.CON. RES. 46: CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

      Recognizing the benefits of service-learning and expressing support for the goals of the National Learn and Serve Challenge.

      Whereas service-learning is a teaching method that enhances academic learning by integrating classroom content with relevant activities aimed at addressing identified needs in a community or school;

      Whereas service-learning has been used both in school and community-based settings as a teaching strategy to enhance learning by building on youth experiences, granting youth a voice in learning, and making instructional goals and objectives more relevant to youth;

      Whereas service-learning addresses the dropout epidemic in the United States by making education more `hands-on' and relevant, and has been especially effective in addressing the dropout epidemic with respect to disadvantaged youth;

      Whereas service-learning is proven to provide the greatest benefits to disadvantaged and at-risk youth by building self-confidence, which often translates into overall academic and personal success;

      Whereas service-learning provides not only meaningful experiences, but improves the quantity and quality of interactions between youth and potential mentors in the community;

      Whereas service-learning empowers youth as actively engaged learners, citizens, and contributors to the community;

      Whereas youth engaged in service-learning provide critical service to the community by addressing a variety of needs in towns, cities, and States, including needs such as tutoring young children, care of the elderly, community nutrition, disaster relief, environmental stewardship, financial education, and public safety;

      Whereas far-reaching and diverse research shows that service-learning enhances the academic, career, cognitive, and civic development of students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and students at institutions of higher education;

      Whereas service-learning strengthens and increases the number of partnerships among institutions of higher education, local schools, and communities, which strengthens communities and improves academic learning;

      Whereas service-learning programs allow a multitude of skilled and enthusiastic college students to serve in the communities surrounding their colleges;

      Whereas service-learning programs engage students in actively addressing and solving pressing community issues and strengthen the ability of nonprofit organizations to meet community needs;

      Whereas Learn and Serve America, a program established under subtitle B of title I of the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12521 et seq.), is the only federally funded program dedicated to service-learning and engages more than 1,100,000 youth in service-learning each year;

      Whereas Learn and Serve America is a highly cost-effective program, with an average cost of approximately $25 per participant and leverage of $1 for every Federal dollar invested;

      Whereas the National Learn and Serve Challenge is an annual event that, in 2009, will take place October 5 through October 11; and

      Whereas the National Learn and Serve Challenge spotlights the value of service-learning to young people, schools, college campuses, and communities, encourages others to launch service-learning activities, and increases recognition of Learn and Serve America: Now, therefore, be it
        Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That Congress—

          (1) recognizes the benefits of service-learning, which include—

            (A) enriching and enhancing academic outcomes for youth;

            (B) engaging youth in positive experiences in the community; and

            (C) encouraging youth to make more constructive choices with regards to their lives;

          (2) encourages schools, school districts, college campuses, community-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, and faith-based organizations to provide youth with more service-learning opportunities; and

          (3) expresses support for the goals of the National Learn and Serve Challenge.

    I had a few questions about this resolution, and as the primary sponsor, I wrote to my Senator, Patty Murray, asking the following:
      Dear Senator Murray:

      I am reading the text of S.CON RES. 46, and I am trying to get a better understanding of the exact nature of service-learning. There are a great many claims made in this resolution regarding social and cognitive benefits to be realized by youth from their participation in this program. Specifically, the resolution states:
        "Whereas far-reaching and diverse research shows that service-learning enhances the academic, career, cognitive, and civic development of students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and students at institutions of higher education;"

      I have scoured the NSLP website looking for just this type of research, but have not been able to locate it. As the primary sponsor of the legislation, I would greatly appreciate it if you could send me a copy of the research that you used when crafting these statements. Alternately, you could just point me to a location on the internet where I could review the research.

      The resolution also states:
        "Whereas Learn and Serve America is a highly cost-effective program, with an average cost of approximately $25 per participant and leverage of $1 for every Federal dollar invested;"

      I was confused by this passage. Could you please explain to me just how this leveraging works? What is the $25 cost/participant and what is the time unit associated with this $25 cost (per student/year, per student/event or something else?) Can you then explain why this is cost effective? In relation to what exactly?

      Finally, I must plead serious ignorance when it comes to the day-to-day workings of Congress, but I am trying to understand exactly what is the purpose of a resolution such as this? There does not seem to be any legislative component here, and I cannot determine what action or impact this resolution is supposed to produce. Could you please enlighten me.

      Thank you for your time and help in improving my understanding in this area.

      Sincerely,
      --
      C. Jeffery Small

    I will report here if I receive any clarification from the Senator.
    10-08-2009

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    China
    Subject: Too Good To Pass Up ....

    OK, this doesn't have anything to do national service, but it was just too good to let slip by unnoticed. Do you have any idea where your tax dollars go? Well here is where $2.6 million of them went!

    Maybe if we keep their prostitutes happy, the Chinese government won't try to cash in the roughly one trillion dollars of U.S. Treasury Bonds (over 10% of the total US debt) that it is currently holding!

    [Thanks to Fred Bartlett for the reference.]
    10-07-2009

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    Dana Loesch
    Subject: Chipping Away at Big Brother

    Here is an interesting tidbit from Andrew Breitbart's Big Government website.

    According to poster Dana Loesch, the United We Serve website serve.gov has apparently removed all references to the ACORN organization. So it seems as though the actions of the investigators, blog reporters and activist protesters had some direct and measurable effect upon our government. In itself, this is a small victory, but more and more we seem to have the politicians adopting a defensive posture rather than the smug, dismissive, offensive that they were leading with just a few short months ago.

    Now this is a freedom-loving community service that I can support!
    10-05-2009

    Permalink
    Subject: Recommending A Couple of Good Articles

    Although not related to the topic of mandatory service, I would like to recommend the following articles. This is from the Wall street Journal, and is titled, Clunkers in Practice. This short piece asks and answers the question of just how effective the government's "Cash for Clunkers" stimulus program was. At a total cost of roughly $3 billion, studies have shown that once the program stopped, GM and Chrysler car sales fell 42-45% below the abysmal sales figures from one year ago. On the environmental front, the the total program resulted in reducing oil consumption by only 0.2%, and that the country as a whole is now $1.4 billion poorer. Is that change you can believe in?


    On a more related subject, the second article, by Gen LaGreca, was published in the OC Register and is titled Orange Grove: Which end of the leash do we prefer? The author explains why, unlike dogs, people do not appreciate being lead around on a leash. It may seem obvious, but people commenting on the article who are obviously missing the point, seem to have less brains than most dogs.

    [Thanks to Cynthia Gillis for bring the second article to my attention.]
    10-04-2009

    Permalink
    Subject: Update on the National Service Budget

    Just to keep you informed about where some of your tax dollars are going, here is an Update on the national service budget from the Corporation for National & Community Service, released on October 1, 2009:
      "Dear National Service Colleagues,

      Today marks the beginning of a new federal fiscal year, and I want to update you on recent actions on the Corporation's budget.

      Earlier today, President Obama signed a continuing resolution which will fund federal agencies and programs at Fiscal 2009 levels through October 31. The continuing resolution, which was attached to the legislative branch appropriations bill, was needed to keep government programs operating after the official end of the fiscal year.

      As in prior fiscal years, our operations under a continuing resolution are limited and we will be following our normal annual practices for the time we are receiving this interim funding. Also, the continuing resolution will affect the timeline for implementing some of the new program activities authorized by the Serve America Act and proposed in the President's FY 2010 budget. While we cannot allocate funds for new Serve America Act initiatives until we receive our full FY 2010 appropriation, we are laying the groundwork to carry out these exciting new initiatives by developing rules, writing guidelines, issuing funding notices, and taking other steps that don't require final enactment of our appropriation.

      As you recall, the FY 2010 budget process began last May, when President Obama submitted a budget request of $1.149 billion for the Corporation and its programs, a $259 million or 29 percent increase over the FY 2009 enacted level. The House of Representatives included $1.059 billion for the Corporation in the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill passed on July 24, followed a week later by the Senate Appropriations Committee providing $1.157 billion in its version of the bill.

      The actions taken by Congress so far reflect strong support for national service during this tough budget year, and we are hopeful the final measure will fully fund the President's request. As community needs continue to grow, and as Americans look for ways to give back, national service is a critical, cost-effective investment that engages citizens in tackling our most serious challenges.

      Please visit our budget page for more information on the President's request and Congressional actions. We will keep you posted on further developments.
      "    [Emphasis added]

    In the midst of the worst recession in 65 years, with many companies struggling simply to survive while at the same time, facing massive proposed tax increases, this government agency is receiving a 29-31% increase in its budget! This is over $1.1 billion taxpayer dollars being used to promote the activities I have been describing in the previous series of articles.

    "Government: The Only Growth Industry You Can Count On!"

    How about writing your Senators, Representative or the local paper and let them know exactly what you think of this.
    10-04-2009

    Permalink
    Subject: Volunteerism is not legal unless it is done under the watchful eye of the government

    Here is a story by Gregory S. Hession, J.D., posted on the New American website:
      It takes a village to raise a child, except when the government gets involved. In a small rural Michigan township southeast of Grand Rapids, Lisa Snyder volunteered to do a favor for a few neighborhood mothers, and watch their children for an hour before school so the mothers could get to work on time. She helps them get to the bus safely, and does not take money for it.

      A neighbor reported this activity to the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS), and in a spasm of regulatory over-kill, the agency sent a cease-and-desist letter to Snyder right after the school year started. In it, the DHS demanded that she stop helping her neighbors by providing an "illegal daycare operation," because she was not a licensed day-care center.

      A Michigan law prohibits persons from caring for unrelated children in their home for more than four weeks each calendar year unless they are licensed day-care providers. Violation of the law is a criminal misdemeanor and can result in fines and jail time.

      After getting the letter, Snyder, a stay-at-home mother, contacted the Department of Human Services, but she "got nowhere."

      Somehow this situation came to the attention of higher-ups in the government, and this week the Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, publicly weighed in on the matter. She instructed the agency Director, Ismael Ahmedm, to work with the State Legislature to try to change the law.

      Yesterday, Michigan State Rep. Brian Calley (R-Portland) said he was working to draft legislation that would exempt situations like Snyder's from coverage under Michigan's current day-care regulations. "The bill will make it clear that people who aren't in business as day care providers don't need to be licensed," Calley said.

      Ironically, Snyder was threatened with jail for providing a service to her community, a "crime" for which another tax-funded state agency may bestow an award to her. The State of Michigan funds the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC), whose mission is to "build a culture of service by providing vision and resources to strengthen communities through volunteerism," and "to help individuals get involved in their local communities." Outstanding volunteers are even given special service awards by the Governor.

      Apparently, volunteerism is not legal unless it is done under the watchful eye of the government.

    Just as is occurring with health care and student loans — to name just two examples — governments at all levels work relentlessly to eliminate private enterprise in every field of endeavor, including voluntary ones. They remove these active areas of competition so that they may then wield total regulatory control over that aspect of our lives. And as this totalitarian creep marches forward, it eats away, more and more, at our freedom and the ability to pursue our own happiness.