Archive for the ‘#governmentoverreach’ Tag

We Should Have Destroyed This Brute   2 comments

The United States recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson’s speech to Congress seeking a declaration of war against Germany. That seems appropriate to a nation where the president inherited a half dozen conflicts and the Democrats are clamoring for war with Russia, but let’s take a moment to review World War 1’s goals and consequences.

Image result for image of woodrow wilson

In 1916, Woodrow Wilson was narrowly re-elected using the campaign slogan, “He kept us out of war.” This was a lie. Wilson had massively violated neutrality by providing armaments and funding to the Allied powers that had been fighting Germany since 1914. In his war speech to Congress, Wilson hailed the U.S. government as “one of the champions of the rights of mankind” and proclaimed that “the world must be made safe for democracy.”

American soldiers helped turn the tide on the Western Front in late 1918, but the cost was much higher than Americans anticipated. More than 100,000 American soldiers died in the third bloodiest war in U.S. history, which another half million Americans perished from the Spanish flu epidemic spread by the war.

In his speech to Congress, Wilson declared, “We have no quarrel with the German people” and feel “sympathy and friendship” towards them. Americans of German descent was the largest ethnic group in the country at the time, so he had to be careful in what he said, but his administration speedily commenced demonizing the “Huns.” One Army recruiting poster portrayed German troops as an ape ravaging a half-naked damsel beneath an appeal to “Destroy this mad brute.”

Wilson treated the congressional declaration of war against Germany as authority to suspend the US Constitution. Harvard professor Irving Babbitt commented in 1924: “Wilson, in the pursuit of his scheme for world service, was led to make light of the constitutional checks on his authority and to reach out almost automatically for unlimited power.” Wilson even urged Congress to set up detention camps to quarantine “alien enemies.

Image result for image of us ad destroy this bruteWilson unleashed ruthless censorship of any criticism. Anyone who spoke publicly against military conscription was subject to arrest and incarceration on federal espionage or sedition charges. Possessing a pamphlet entitled Long Live the Constitution of the United States earned six months in jail for a Pennsylvania malcontent. Censorship was buttressed by fanatic propaganda campaigns led by the Committee on Public Information, a federal agency whose shameless motto was “faith in democracy… faith in fact.”

The war enabled the American equivalent of the Taliban to triumph on the home front. Prohibition advocates “indignantly insisted that… any kind of opposition to prohibition was sinister and subversively pro-German,” (William Ross, World War 1 and the American Constitution). Even before the 18th Amendment banning alcohol consumption was ratified, Wilson banned beer sales as a wartime measure.

To punish lawbreakers, the federal government added poisons to industrial alcohol that was often converted into a type of moonshine; ten thousand people were killed as a result. Professor Deborah Blum, the author of The Poisoner’s Handbook, noted that “an official sense of higher purpose kept the poisoning program in place.”

History records that Prohibition was a public health disaster; the rate of alcoholism tripled during the 1920s.

The war also provided the pretext for unprecedented federal domination of the economy. Washington DC insisted that “food will win the war” and farmers vastly increased their plantings. Price supports and government credits for foreign buyers overstimulated crop and land prices. When the credits ended in 1920, prices and land values plunged, spurring massive bankruptcies across rural America. This spurred perennial political discontent that helped lead to a federal takeover of agriculture by the Roosevelt administration in the 1930s.

World War 1 was ended by the Treaty of Versailles, which redrew European borders without much thought to nations and imposed ruinous reparations on Germany. Henry White, one of Wilson’s top aides at the peace talks, lamented: “We had such high hopes of this adventure; we believed God called us and now we are doing hell’s dirtiest work.”

Wilson intensely disliked Vladimir Lenin because “he felt the Bolshevik leader had stolen his ideas for world peace.”  Wilson had proclaimed 14 points to guide peace talks; instead, there were 14 separate small wars in Europe after peace had been proclaimed. Millions of Irish Americans were outraged when Britain brutally repressed Ireland during and after the war. The League of Nations was worded so that it might have obliged the U.S. to send troops to help Britain crush the burgeoning Irish independence movement.

The chaos and economic depression sowed by the war and the Treaty of Versailles helped open the door to some of the worst dictators in modern times, including Germany’s Adolf Hitler, Italy’s Benito Mussolini, and Vladimir Lenin–whom Wilson intensely disliked because “he felt the Bolshevik leader had stolen his ideas for world peace,” (Thomas Fleming, The Illusion of VictoryAmerica in World War 1, 2003).

Despite winning the war, Wilson’s Democratic Party was crushed at the polls in both 1918 and 1920. H.L. Mencken wrote on the eve of the 1920 election that Americans were sickened of Wilsonian “idealism that is oblique, confusing, dishonest, and ferocious.”

Apparently, today’s policymakers have learned nothing from this century-old debacle. Wilson continues to be invoked by politicians who believe America can achieve great things by warring abroad. Both Republican and Democratic leaders echo Wilson’s desire to “make the world safe for democracy,” but never seem to have considered that their version of democracy may not be safe for the world.

Everytime this subject comes up, I consider expressing my thoughts on the subject and therefore, I entitled this blog post “We should have destroyed this brute.” Woodrow Wilson and his fellow intellectual travelers should be shouted down by saner voices and certainly not elected to public office. That includes every Congress person currently who wants to march American troops into Syria or go to war against Russia.

STOP! Wake up! We’ve been here before and it didn’t work out so well.

Question 1: Is It Constitutional?   1 comment

In President Trump’s not-State of the State address, he made a lot of promises. Some of them I agreed with and hope he accomplishes, but his “trillion dollar infrastructure bill” is a bad idea. Did we learn nothing from Obama’s multiple trillion-dollar stimuli bills that kept the economy dragging along at a blistering 1% growth every year of his eight years of ruin?

Nowadays, when a Congressional bill hits the modern president’s desk for an up-or-down vote, he typically asks, “How will this help my party gain votes?” and “What interest groups will this bring to my side?” There have been a couple of modern presidents who maybe paused to ask themselves, “Will this spending help the economy, or advance the nation’s interests?”

It probably surprises some, if not most people, to know that our first presidents approached spending bills very differently. The first question they usually asked was, “Is this spending constitutional?” If the answer was “yes,” they would then ask “Is it wise, will it benefit the nation, or will it gain votes?”

The early presidents viewed the Constitution as a binding document that separated the powers of government for a purpose. They argued (rightly) that tyranny, high taxes and government oppression can only be avoided if governmental power is decentralized. Thus Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution restricted the power of Congress to spend taxpayer dollars to a limited number of items, mainly national defense.

Not surprisingly, then, early presidents adhered to the Constitution, even when it would have been politically expedient to do otherwise, James Madison was President in 1817 when Congress decided it was a good idea to spend fedral funds for internal improvements, such as the building and improving roads, canals, and waterways in the new nation. You can read the Constitution to discover that it does not grant Congress the authority to appropriate funds for roads and canals. If you read their extra-Constitutional writings, you will learn that the Founders recognized that improving highways was essential for economic development, but they believed that states or private companies should do the work. They didn’t think it was good government or just results when the people in Georgia could be taxed to build a canal in New York.

New York’s congressmen argued that federal funds could be used profitably in the national interest to build the Erie Canal. Since votes in the large state of New York were pivotal in many presidential elections, our early presidents had to decide whether to chase votes or follow the Constitution. Sometimes our presidents failed the test. I’m a great admirer of Thomas Jefferson, but as President he supported the construction of the National Road from Maryland to Illinois.

James Madison, who followed Jefferson as president, seemed to have supported the National Road, but he learned from the experience. He directly confronted the issue of federal aid for internal improvements in his next-to-last day as president. Congress passed what was labeled the Bonus Bill of 1817, which would have used federal funds to build roads and canals across the nation. Madison responded with a thundering veto:

“I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution.”

Madison admitted the bill would probably help the country, but then he observed that “such a power is not expressly given by the Constitution . . . and can not be deduced from any part of it without an inadmissible latitude of construction and a reliance on insufficient precedents.”

The bill’s Congressional promoters argued that building roads and improving rivers at federal expense would “render more easy and less expensive the means and provisions for the common defense” to which Madison replied: “To refer the power in question to the clause ‘to provide for the common defense and general welfare would be contrary to the established and consistent rules of interpretation.” He added:

Such a view of the Constitution would have the effect of giving to Congress a general power of legislation instead of the defined and limited one hitherto understood to belong to them, the terms ‘common defense and general welfare’ embracing every object and act within the purview of a legislative trust.

Madison concluded that twisting the General Welfare clause in this way “would have the effect of subjecting both the Constitution and the laws of the several States in all cases not specifically exempted to be superseded by laws of Congress.”

Remember, Madison was a chief architect of the U.S. Constitution. At the convention in Philadelphia in 1787, Madison sat in front of the presiding officer. He never missed an important speech, and he took copious notes on the proceedings. When he said that the General Welfare clause cannot be used to give Congress “a general power of legislation instead of the defined and limited one,” he was echoing the original intent of the Founders.

Congress might still have been surprised by Madison’s veto because earlier he had conceded that “establishing throughout our country the roads and canals . . . can best be executed under the national authority. No objects within the circle of political economy so richly repay the expense bestowed upon them.” Despite saying that, Madison’s veto response here shows he believed that the country was better off following the Constitution rather than twisting its meaning to secure more rapid economic growth. If we want federal road-building, the Constitution provides a means to amend it so as to permit such activities.

Madison’s principled veto of the Bonus Bill of 1817 set a precedent that lasted for generations. The Erie Canal never received federal funds, though it was still built by commercial interests and the State of New York. Despite this precedent, Congress tested the resolve of President Andrew Jackson with the Maysville Road Bill in 1830, which would have used federal funds to build a turnpike in Kentucky.

Jackson scrupulously followed Madison’s lead and vetoed the bill, arguing that the proposed turnpike might be economically sound, but if the country used federal funds to build a turnpike in Kentucky, “there can be no local interest that may not with equal propriety be denominated national.” He echoed Madison by adding, “A disregard of this distinction would of necessity lead to the subversion of the federal system.”

Madison and Jackson were also following George Washington’s advice in his Farewell Address. “[Avoid] the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen which we ourselves ought to bear.”

It took the United States government until Jackson’s presidency to fulfill Washington’s request and retire all its national debt. Jackson argued the new annual surpluses reflected the frugality exemplified by refusing to use federal funds for internal improvements. The government raised a small amount of revenue each year through tariffs, the sale of land, and excise taxes, especially on whiskey, but following the Constitution, the nation had limited spending, mainly for national defense—two wars with Britain and occasional frontier skirmish with Indians.

Explaining his veto of the Maysville Road, Jackson observed that on “the national debt we may look with confidence to its entire extinguishment in the short period of four years.” We were a nation “free from debt and with all her immense resources unfettered! What a salutary influence would not such an exhibition [of restraint] exercise upon the cause of liberal principles and free government throughout the world!”

James Madison, who lived to see the national debt retired, could point to his veto of the Bonus Bill as crucial in this achievement.

So here we are with $21 trillion in debt (each citizen owes more than $60,000) and our President wants to add another ONE TRILLION in debt. And it will be debt, because the economy is not producing enough to generate that sort of funding. It President Trump truly wants to different from other modern presidents, he should look back at the Founding generation presidents and commit to reducing the debt and freeing the market economy so that it can improve infrastructure. Government is the problem, not the solution. Get out of the economy’s way and the economy will handle it … just as it did back when the need was the Erie Canal.

Another Week, Another 65 New Regulations | Ryan Young   Leave a comment

Found on FEE – Ryan Young Wednesday December 7, 2016

Image result for image of red tapeAs the Federal Register climbed above 87,000 pages for the first time in its 81-year history, agencies issued new rules ranging from landfills to movie theaters.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 65 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 85 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 35 minutes.
  • With 3,454 final regulations published so far in 2016, the federal government is on pace to issue 3,722 regulations in 2016. Last year’s total was 3,406 regulations.
  • Last week, 2,006 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 2,292 pages the previous week.
  • Currently at 87,297 pages, the 2016 Federal Register is on pace for 94,071 pages. This would exceed the 2010 Federal Register’s previous all-time record adjusted page count of 81,405.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. 30 such rules have been published so far in 2016, one in the last week.
  • The running compliance cost tally for 2016’s economically significant regulations ranges from $23.5 billion to $36.2 billion.
  • 277 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published this year.
  • So far in 2016, 580 new rules affect small businesses; 99 of them are classified as significant.

Highlights from selected final rules published last week:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

Source: Another Week, Another 65 New Regulations | Ryan Young

How Government Encourages Food Waste | Baylen Linnekin   Leave a comment

Dumped cherriesCountries around the world are enacting new legislation to combat food waste. Hidden behind many of these government campaigns to reduce food waste is the frequent cause of that food waste: other government regulations.

Source: How Government Encourages Food Waste | Baylen Linnekin

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