Archive for the ‘Political Philosophy’ Tag

Trump Isn’t Important   8 comments

I know there are a lot of people who believe that Trump is going to end the world as we know it, while there are also a lot of people who believe he’s going to make everything better.
Image result for image of a crisis tsunamiI don’t. Trump is irrelevant.
I said last year during the run up to the election that I didn’t think it would matter who won the election because we were headed for rough times regardless. Hillary couldn’t fix it. Trump can’t fix it. Gary Johnson couldn’t have fixed it. The United States is headed into a series of problems from which there is no avoidance.
The government is $20 trillion in debt, but the American people are also deeply in debt on a personal and corporate level. The population is aging. There are all sorts of stresses on the social contract. The political elite no longer represent the people.
Those are just a few examples of the stresses that are forming successive tidal waves aimed right at the country. It really doesn’t matter who the president is. We’re going to go through rough times because the structural deficits of our current society are starting to reach a critical point.
The government(s) at all level of American society made promises during economic good times, back when debt was modest, energy was cheap and abundant and the work force greatly outnumbered the dependent classes. Unfortunately, as the work force shrinks and the dependent class grows, those promises cannot no longer be sustained. Ronald Reagan warned us about this the year I turned 21. It’s now 36 years later and we’ve not really addressed that crisis. We’ve just added more to it.
For the last 10 years, the economy has been producing tepid growth, warning us that the underlying structure is become fragile. Timothy Geithner of all people conceded this in a recent Foreign Affairs article. The central banks and governments have employed all their resources toward propping up shaky markets, borrowing extraordinary sums to prop up government spending and have now stretched themselves to the point where they cannot address the next crisis.
You could have an actual miracle worker in the White House and he/she would be unable to forestall the next crisis with the resources left to them. They could try to lower expectations and prepare people for the inevitable crash while also trying to bolster hope that their sacrifices in this generation will be for the good of the future, which is what leaders in the past have done. Historically, great leaders who have dealt with successive crisis trains have not overcome the crises. They managed the edges of them and called upon citizens to make sacrifices for a better future.
Franklin D. Roosevelt did not lead the country out of Depression. Eight years into his presidency (11 years after it started), the country was still deeply mired in the Depression in 1940. It took the wartime rationing and government spending on an unimaginable level combined with a post-war economic boom to return the nation to prosperity.
So focusing on President Trump’s admirable qualities or his major deficits is really a distraction. The economic crises that are coming our way cannot be won like a war might be. All the policy tweaks and grand pronouncements in the world won’t avoid the inevitable. There’s a reckoning coming that no leader can reverse. No one president can extinguish $20 trillion in debt, exacerbated by imperial overreach and political disunity. He or she could make a dent, but the real “solution” is to let it play out and hope there are pieces to be salvaged when the meatgrinder gets done with us.
In the meantime, you can do a lot for yourselves by eliminating personal debt, stocking up on food and learning employment skills that don’t rely so much on a global market and government licensing. Maybe things will be better for our kids, but $20 trillion in debt means it’s more likely things will be better for our grandkids … if we and our children are willing to make the necessary sacrifices over the next several decades.

Who Trained the Dallas Shooter?   4 comments

Last night, Brad and I visited with our friend PW, who is a retired soldier, who couldn’t get over that a soldier shot police in Dallas. I went home and couldn’t sleep. It might be because I am at a point in writing Objects in View where Shane has shown me (and eventually, you) exactly how far he’ll go when pushed, but I couldn’t sleep. Meanwhile, Brad wrote a blog post because he was pissed off and he can’t tell PW what was on his mind. I refused to run it as it was, but he allowed me to temper his message. This is written in first-person, but it is a multiple-author post. Lela

 

Who trained the Dallas shooter? Let me ask that question again: WHO trained the Dallas shooter?

WHO trained the Dallas shooter?

Let me be absolutely clear before I go forward. What he did was morally reprehensible — as morally reprehensible as the cop that shot the motorist multiple times in the chest because he obeyed the law and reported that he was lawfully armed. Neither of them was right. Now, back to the subject at hand.

WHO trained the Dallas shooter?

The government. Following my standard practice, I will not give this mass murderer the dignity of a name. This man was a combat veteran. The government trained this man to kill. Those of us who live in large military towns know (or should know) that you cannot teach violence as a solution to any problem and then expect that lesson won’t eventually re-appear on your own doorstep. I’m sure there are people who will insist the government just trained the wrong guy. That’s obvious since he went and killed people the government didn’t order him to kill.

That’s not my experience and I live in a town where 25% of the population is military or former military. Yes, we have violence that is not connected with the military here, but if there’s a guy waving a gun in a bar parking lot, it’s almost a given that he’s back from the Box within the last six months. You can investigate that in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner if you like. You’ll also notice, if you trace these stories from beginning to end, that the soldiers do not face any sort of civilian trial or punishment. They are diverted into the military “justice” system and usually just released back out into the population as a “punishment”. Yeah, the government is seeding the civilian population with unacknowledged time bombs.

Good show! I feel sooooo safe!

So this guy killed people the government did not order him to kill. Conspiracy theorists may argue about that, but let’s leave them aside for the moment. Why would this guy do what he did? One reason might be that when you justify the killing of other people based on the “they are other” philosophy, that’s the belief system people will take home and that will later reappear in your society. The military is told it’s okay to kill Afghanis because they are not “us” and they bring that home … they teach that to their kids … they present that in our society. It is also taught in the police academies around the nation. The “blue” tribe is given a special dispensation to use violence and the threat of violence to impose its will (euphemistically called “law and order”) on the rest of us. We the people are “the other”. Killing people is a powerful way to force other people to obey your commands.

I believe that the only justifiable reason for killing another human being is immediate self-defense. It’s taken me time to get there. I grew up around a lot of soldiers. Fairbanks has four military bases nearby, the men in my family served in World War 2 and Vietnam, and I do firmly believe sometimes war is unavoidable because the aggression of another country. However, killing people forces other people to do things they refused to do when you told them to do it by other means. That is what our wars in the Middle East are. There is no way a thinking person can justify the continued wars there as protecting the homeland, so the mindset that violence is an answer to force compliance comes home with the soldier. So why are we surprised when that lesson blows up in our collective faces?

The elites of our country and those who bow before them want to blame the firearm. It is so much easier to blame an inanimate object than to admit that the government is teaching violence as a means of control and that mentality has infested government agents from the military to the local police department to the private guard working for an elite security firm. Rather than address the real issue, let’s disarm the people so that the government’s jackboots may shoot them without any fear of retaliation.

Carl von Clausewitz famously explained that “war is diplomacy by other means”. While not condoning or excusing the violence in any way, let me point out that some of these mass murderers are likely demanding social change by other means. The guy in  Dallas seems to be saying “stop shooting civilians who aren’t directly threatening you, cops, because there are consequences your employers won’t give you.” I’ll let you decide what the guy in Orlando was trying to say or the couple in San Bernardino. We’ll leave aside the obvious crazy people.

 

I am not excusing this violence. Violence is wrong no matter who does it. Those cops were killed not because they were themselves abusing citizens, but because they were white cops. We can’t ignore the racism involved in this mass shooting, but we have to realize that it is not the central issue. In condemning the violence,  we shouldn’t fail to recognize that this violence is manifesting in our society because the government does it to “other people” overseas. That bird of prey has come home to roost.

Just to reiterate because people don’t want to hear what I think they need to hear. This mass murderer was taught his skills by the United States government. What happened in Dallas has been  happening in Afghanistan for 15 years now. We didn’t care for most of that time. I will admit, I don’t waste sleep over it myself. Last night, PW was so sad and angry over it, but why? He excused U.S. military members getting away with destroying a hospital in Afghanistan and killing a bunch of innocent people. If they’d been prosecuted, he and all his fellow “brothers” and many “patriots” would have screamed bloody murder that we were jailing “heroes” for doing their jobs”.

They were doing the same job the Dallas shooter was trained to do. Yes, they’ll say this guy doesn’t represent all former soldiers. You know they’ll say that. We don’t apply that same rule to “others” in “other” countries. If we kill a hundred innocent people to nail one “bad guy” in Yemen, well that’s unfortunately, but it doesn’t justify “them” retaliating. Of course not. When violence happens here, we act like we don’t know how this could possibly happen to us. Gosh, US sniper soldiers, you weren’t supposed to do that here! No, you’re only supposed to kill “the other” over “there”, where you’re supposed to.

Power Corrupts   2 comments

As a writer, I think a lot about human nature. As a writer working on a book series about the destruction of society, I think a lot about how human nature and government interact.

So here I am living in this world and thinking about it, trying to find useful parallels for my fiction. In the last few days, I’ve seen a lot of reasons that explain why my apocalyptic is my bestseller. Cops are shooting civilians who seemingly did not earn such treatment. In the meantime, a lot of my friends (and truth to tell, myself) are appalled that the Director of the FBI has chosen not to charge Hillary Clinton with mishandling classified documents.

Yes, videos can be doctored and there is information presented to the jury that the public will never see. Also, yes, she knew these were classified documents because some of them were marked “classified” and there was a rule against using unsecured email servers in place for nearly two years before she became Secretary of State. I want to see her charged not because I hate Hillary (though I admit I have zero use for her), but because if you or I had done this thing, we would be jailed pending trial and probably not allowed bail.

The events of police brutality and the news that Hillary Clinton is not like the rest of us may appear unrelated, but at bottom, they concern the same fundamental problem: impunity.

Impunity is power which, Lord Acton observed, tends to corrupt. What is power? It’s not simply the capacity to exert unjust force or the ability to impress your will on the flesh or belongings of someone else. We fail to think critically when we don’t see that it is more than that.

Pretty much anyone can wield unjust force. Bullies do it all the time as do muggers and wife-beaters. Isolated incidents of aggression do not constitute power. The strong-armed thug tends to have a short reign until the community recognizes him as the menace to society that he is and neutralizes him.

Power is not so much about the exertion of unjust force as what follows the exertion. Some perpetrators go to jail and others do not. Systematically avoiding punishment for aggression ( impunity) is where power truly lies, which is what makes agents of the government different from other bullies. State agents can violate rights with reliable impunity because a critical mass of the public considers the aggression of state agents to be legitimate exceptions to the rule of law that says you may not abuse or kill another human being without consequence.

Impunity is power and power corrupts.

State impunity is the root of police violence. The police are seen as knights of safety and order. I like living in a safe community as much as the next gal, but the populace grants cops a dispensation to commit violence that would be considered criminal if perpetrated by anyone else. Most of us have heard of the doctrine of “qualified immunity,” but we don’t really know what it means. In a 1967 case (Pierson v. Ray), the Supreme Court created a special right for cops. If they were sued for constitutional violations, they could raise the defense of “qualified immunity” and escape paying for their violation of a person’s constitutional rights. When victims of police violence or their heirs seek redress and are awarded monetary payments, it is taxpayers rather than cops who pick up the tab. Additionally, police officers are rarely criminally prosecuted for violence inflicted while they’re on the clock. Occasionally one will offend so egregiously and publicly that he will be fired, but he will more likely be suspended with pay, which looks more like a vacation as a reward for bad behavior than a discipline.

Thus insulated from responsibility, officer treatment of ordinary people has grown predictably irresponsible. Confident in being sheltered from consequences by their “blue privilege,” officers are far more prone to indulge in violence and place “officer safety” so far above civilian rights that they are willing to gun down a stranger at the slightest whiff of potential danger. This week’s events are a prime example of this. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were exercising their natural right to carry a gun. Alton Sterling was a felon, but felons are also human beings and fellow citizens who deserve rights and due process. The neighborhood he lived in sounds like a place where a man might legitimately need a gun to protect himself. Philando Castile had a license for his gun. Neither threatened the officers with his weapon. There was no brandishment. In both cases, becoming aware of the guns sent a cop into a murderous panic that resulted in these men both being fatally shot multiple times in the chest.

Before you try to justify the cops’ actions – just hit PAUSE for a second. I know people who are armed at all times. I live in Fairbanks Alaska where every 10th person is concealed carry. I am sometimes armed myself. On Saturday, we were coming back from the woods (where the bears live) and the guy in front of me at the coffee shop reached for his wallet and I happened to see he had a gun in a back holster under his shirt. I don’t know what he was armed. Maybe he’d been out hiking too. It didn’t matter. He wasn’t doing anything violent so I didn’t pull my 45 and shoot him dead. He would have had to start shooting before I would have reacted to him with deadly force. Presumably, I am less well-trained in violent encounters than a cop, but I don’t have any impunity to exercise, so my gun stayed in my holster as did my fellow customer’s. We all got our coffee and nobody died.

State impunity applies to elite policy makers too and they are as corrupt as the regime’s low-level enforcers. The FBI let Hillary Clinton off the hook for secrecy violations she committed as Secretary of State, even though these were much more egregious than violations that have earned lower-level personnel decades in prison. She used technology that was more open to being compromised by spies and hackers in order to avoid legal and public scrutiny of activities that have caused untold death and misery around the world, including to Americans. Just because they let her off doesn’t mean she’s not guilty of what she was accused of. It just means there’s one system of justice for you and me (and Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden) and another system of “justice” for people running for president who are in same political party as the sitting president. Ooops, did I state a truth? I most certainly did.

Sovereign immunity has made Hillary Clinton reckless and cavalier about the havoc she has wreaked around the world. If she had even a thought she might be held accountable for upending entire countries, it’s likely she would have been far less warlike in her policies. She’s actually shocked that anyone cares that she put state secrets out on an unsecured email server that may have been hacked by Wikileaks. I don’t think that’s because she didn’t know it was against the rules. She was told multiple times by multiple staff members that there were rules against what she was doing. She did it anyway. My brother who can’t even text knows that an unsecured email server can be hacked. You can bet that a woman as sophicated as Hillary Clinton knew the risks of what she was doing. I’m willing to bet that someone told her about the risks while they were telling her about the rules against what she was doing. But it doesn’t matter. Thanks to her connections and her position in the government power structure, she faces no consequences for her crimes, and remains free to acquire even more immunity and power (impunity) as President of the United States.

Impunity corrupts and absolute impunity corrupts absolutely. This is true in police work, foreign policy, environmental regulation, the BLM … the list goes on and on. When outrages like this happen, the temptation is to address the wrong-doing (violation of State Department rules or police brutality), but in reality, that is just treating a symptom. The disease is impunity and you must treat that underlying condition if you ever hope to stop the abuse of authority. Make government agents subject to the same laws the rest of us are and cops will pause before they pump four bullets into a non-aggressive citizen’s chest and politicians like Hillary Clinton will have to run for President from a jail cell.

The Great Stagnation   Leave a comment

Government Caused the “Great Stagnation”

Peter J. Boettke

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tyler Cowen caused quite a stir with his e-book, The Great Stagnation. In properly assessing his work it is important to state explicitly what his argument actually is. Median real income has stagnated since 1980, and the reason is that the rate of technological advance has slowed. Moreover, the technological advances that have taken place with such rapidity in recent history have improved well-being, but not in ways that are easily measured in real income statistics.

Found on FEE: https://fee.org/articles/the-great-stagnation-started-with-too-much-government/

Critics of Cowen more often than not miss the mark when they focus on the wild improvements in our real income due to quality improvements (e.g., cars that routinely go over 100,000 miles) and lower real prices (e.g., the amount of time required to acquire the inferior version of yesterday’s similar commodities).

Cowen does not deny this. Nor does Cowen deny that millions of people were made better off with the collapse of communism, the relative freeing of the economies in China and India, and the integration into the global economy of the peoples of Africa and Latin America. Readers of The Great Stagnation should be continually reminded that they are reading the author of In Praise of Commercial Culture and Creative Destruction. Cowen is a cultural optimist, a champion of the free trade in ideas, goods, services and all artifacts of mankind. But he is also an economic realist in the age of economic illusion.

What do I mean by the economics of illusion? Government policies since WWII have created an illusion that irresponsible fiscal policy, the manipulation of money and credit, and expansion of the regulation of the economy is consistent with rising standards of living. This was made possible because of the “low hanging” technological fruit that Cowen identifies as being plucked in the 19th and early 20th centuries in the US, and in spite of the policies government pursued.

An accumulated economic surplus was created by the age of innovation, which the age of economic illusion spent down. We are now coming to the end of that accumulated surplus and thus the full weight of government inefficiencies are starting to be felt throughout the economy. Our politicians promised too much, our government spends too much, in an apparent chase after the promises made, and our population has become too accustomed to both government guarantees and government largess.

Adam Smith long ago argued that the power of self-interest expressed in the market was so strong that it could overcome hundreds of impertinent restrictions that government puts in the way. But there is some tipping point at which that ability to overcome will be thwarted, and the power of the market will be overcome by the tyranny of politics. Milton Friedman used that language to talk about the 1970s; we would do well to resurrect that language to talk about today.

Cowen’s work is a subversive track in radical libertarianism because he identifies that government growth (both measured in terms of scale and scope) was possible only because of the rate of technological improvements made in the late 19th and early 20th century.

We realized the gains from trade (Smithian growth), we realized the gains from innovation (Schumpeterian growth), and we fought off (in the West, at least) totalitarian government (Stupidity). As long as Smithian growth and Schumpeterian growth outpace Stupidity, tomorrow’s trough will still be higher than today’s peak. It will appear that we can afford more Stupidity than we can actually can because the power of self-interest expressed through the market offsets its negative consequences.

But if and when Stupidity is allowed to outpace the Smithian gains from trade and the Schumpeterian gains from innovation, then we will first stagnate and then enter a period of economic backwardness — unless we curtail Stupidity, explore new trading opportunities, or discover new and better technologies.

In Cowen’s narrative, the rate of discovery had slowed, all the new trading opportunities had been exploited, and yet government continued to grow both in terms of scale and scope. And when he examines the 3 sectors in the US economy — government services, education, and health care — he finds little improvement since 1980 in the production and distribution of the services. In fact, there is evidence that performance has gotten worse over time, especially as government’s role in health care and education has expanded.

The Great Stagnation is a condemnation of government growth over the 20th century. It was made possible only by the amazing technological progress of the late 19th and early 20th century. But as the rate of technological innovation slowed, the costs of government growth became more evident. The problem, however, is that so many have gotten used to the economics of illusion that they cannot stand the reality staring them in the face.

This is where we stand in our current debt ceiling debate. Government is too big, too bloated. Washington faces a spending problem, not a revenue problem. But too many within the economy depend on the government transfers to live and to work. Yet the economy is not growing at a rate that can afford the illusion. Where are we to go from here?

Cowen’s work makes us think seriously about that question. How can the economic realist confront the economics of illusion? And Cowen has presented the basic dilemma in a way that the central message of economic realism is not only available for libertarians to see (if they would just look, or listen carefully to his podcast at EconTalk), but for anyone who is willing to read and think critically about our current political and economic situation.

The Great Stagnation signals the end of the economics of illusion and — let’s hope — paves the way for a new age of economic realism.

This post first appeared at Coordination Problem.

 

I have to say that I believe the reduction in taxes and regulation in the 1980s and 90s gave us a couple more decades of the illusion. It looked enough like market solutions that people believed the economy into better place for a few years. I don’t see any way to get around becoming realists in the next few years. Twenty trillion in debt is not going away no matter how much government raises taxes on the “rich”. Our entitlement programs are in the red (Medicaid & Medicare already are, Social Security will be by the end of the decade) and the economy appears to be stuck in the ice. Innovation and growth are nil and will remain so until stupidity is shown the door. Tell kids my children’s age that there will be no more entitlements, that they have to go to work to satisfy their needs and wants and that they will have to provide for their own retirements. Quit taking their money and let them use it as they see fit and, you know what, I think they’ll be fine. In fact, I’m much more comfortable with my son being my retirement plan than I am with Social Security. He’s more reliable at 17 than the government has ever been. Lela

Is a Freedom Revolution Even Possible?   Leave a comment

Is a Freedom Revolution Possible?

Source: Is a Freedom Revolution Even Possible?

 

NOTE: I am not voting for Trump, but otherwise, I agree with this article. Lela

The Law Perverted   Leave a comment

Frederic Bastiat (1850)

The law perverted! The law—and, in its wake, all the collective forces of the nation—the law, I say, not only diverted from its proper direction but made to pursue one entirely contrary! The law become the tool of every kind of avarice, instead of being its check! The law guilty of that very iniquity which it was its mission to punish! Truly, this is a serious fact, if it exists, and one to which I feel bound to call the attention of my
fellow citizens.

We hold from God the gift that, as far as we are concerned, contains all others, Life—physical, intellectual, and moral life.

But life cannot support itself. He who has bestowed it has entrusted us with the care of supporting it, of developing it, and of perfecting it. To that end, He has provided
us with a collection of wonderful faculties; He has plunged us into the midst of a variety of elements. It is by the application of our faculties to these elements that the phenomena of assimilation and of appropriation, by which life pursues the circle that has been assigned to it are realized.

Existence, faculties, assimilation—in other words, personality, liberty, property—this is man. It is of these three things that it may be said, apart from all demagogic subtlety, that they are anterior and superior to all human legislation. It is not because men have made laws, that personality, liberty, and property exist. On the contrary, it is because personality, liberty, and property exist beforehand, that men make laws. What, then, is law? As I have said elsewhere, it is the collective organization of the individual
right to lawful defense. Nature, or rather God, has bestowed upon every one
of us the right to defend his person, his liberty, and his property, since these are the three constituent or preserving elements of life; elements, each of which is rendered
complete by the others, and that cannot be understood without them. For what are our faculties, but the extension of our personality? and what is property, but an
extension of our faculties?

If every man has the right of defending, even by force, his person, his liberty, and his property, a number of men have the right to combine together to extend, to organize
a common force to provide regularly for this defense. Collective right, then, has its principle, its reason for existing, its lawfulness, in individual right; and the common
force cannot rationally have any other end, or any other mission, than that of the isolated forces for which it is substituted. Thus, as the force of an individual cannot lawfully touch the person, the liberty, or the property of another individual—for the same reason, the common force cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, the liberty, or the property of individuals or of classes.

For this perversion of force would be, in one case as in the other, in contradiction to our premises. For who will dare to say that force has been given to us, not to defend our rights, but to annihilate the equal rights of our brethren? And if this be not true of every individual force, acting independently, how can it be true of the collective force, which is only the organized union of isolated forces?

Nothing, therefore, can be more evident than this:

The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense; it is the substitution of collective for individual forces, for the purpose of acting in the sphere in which they have a right to act, of doing what they have a right to do, to secure persons, liberties, and properties, and to maintain each in its right, so as to cause justice to reign over all.

And if a people established upon this basis were to exist, it seems to me that order would prevail among them in their acts as well as in their ideas. It seems to me that such a people would have the most simple, the most economical, the least oppressive, the least to be felt, the most restrained, the most just, and, consequently, the most stable Government that could be imagined, whatever its political form might be.
For under such an administration, everyone would feel that he possessed all the fullness, as well as all the responsibility of his existence. So long as personal safety was ensured, so long as labor was free, and the fruits of labor secured against all unjust attacks, no one would have any difficulties to contend with in the State. When prosperous, we should not, it is true, have to thank the State for our success; but when unfortunate, we should no more think of taxing it with our disasters than our peasants think of attributing to it the arrival of hail or of frost.We should know it only by the inestimable blessing of
Safety. It may further be affirmed, that, thanks to the

It may further be affirmed, that, thanks to the nonintervention of the State in private affairs, our wants and their satisfactions would develop themselves in their natural
order. We should not see poor families seeking for literary instruction before they were supplied with bread.We should not see towns peopled at the expense of rural
districts, nor rural districts at the expense of towns. We should not see those great displacements of capital, of labor, and of population, that legislative measures occasion;
displacements that render so uncertain and precarious the very sources of existence, and thus enlarge to such an extent the responsibility of Governments.

Unhappily, law is by no means confined to its own sphere. Nor is it merely in some ambiguous and debatable views that it has left its proper sphere. It has done more
than this. It has acted in direct opposition to its proper end; it has destroyed its own object; it has been employed in annihilating that justice which it ought to have established, in effacing amongst Rights, that limit which it was its true mission to respect; it has placed the collective force in the service of those who wish to traffic, without risk, and without scruple, in the persons, the liberty, and the property of others; it has converted plunder into a right, that it may protect it, and lawful defense into a crime, that it may punish it.

How has this perversion of law been accomplished?

And what has resulted from it?


We’ll come back to this another time. It is important to note that Bastiat was contemporary with Karl Marx. They both observed the Paris socialist-communist movement. Marx embraced it. Bastiat deplored it. Twenty years later, France would explode in a civil war reflecting just the same issues that Bastiat brings forward in The Law.

America Goes Away   1 comment

I don’t necessarily agree with everything in this article, but it sums up a sentiment that explains why I live in Alaska and want Alaska to secede from the United States. My favorite line is “the federal government was mostly somewhere else and you really didn’t notice.”

America Goes Away: Fred Left Behind in Mexico

Mail arrives in my inbox all the time, telling me that by going to Mexico I have sold out, fled, abandoned the United States. I’m a coward and a traitor, just like Lord Haw Haw, and Kim Philby, and probably hate America more than Barack Obama does. It is is irrational. They think that just because I went to Mexico, I left the US. They don’t understand. I didn’t leave the United States. It left me. It was a bait-and-switch operation. I signed on to one country, and they slipped another in under me. I want my money back.

Source: America Goes Away

Is American Really Free?   17 comments

I ran across these questions and thought, hey, that’s some food for thought.

 

Do Americans live in a free society when they need to get a permit to have a garage sale?

(This one – I can honestly say that Alaska has no such rule)

Do Americans live in a free society when the government listens to their phone calls?

Do Americans live in a free society when police issue tickets to motorists for not wearing seatbelts?

(I wear a seatbelt, but I resent that I am forced to wear a seatbelt. Wearing a seatbelt should be a personal choice, not a government requirement.)

Do Americans live in a free society when they need a salt-water fishing license?

(Everyone needs a fishing license in Alaska, regardless of what water the fish are swimming in.)

Do Americans live in a free society when the United States is the only developed country in the world with a drinking age of 21?

Do Americans live in a free society when they can go to jail for purchasing too much Sudafed to relieve their stuffy nose?

(I had to show ID to buy barbecue lighter fluid the other day. I take it this means that my 17-year-old — who regularly carries the shotgun while we hike in forests we KNOW there are bears in) is not allowed to host a barbecue without parental oversight).

Do Americans live in a free society when they have to be scanned, groped, and forced to throw out tubes of toothpaste over 3.4 ounces before they can board an airplane?

(I believe I’m engaged to a TSA agent here in Fairbanks, she has felt me up so often in the last few years.)

Do Americans live in a free society when police can break down your door in the middle of the night and drag you out of bed if you are suspected of having illegal drugs in your home?

Do Americans live in a free society when beer brewed at home cannot be sold and the amount of beer one can brew is restricted?

Do Americans live in a free society when the government regulates the size of the holes in Swiss cheese?

Do Americans live in a free society when it is illegal to resell a concert ticket?

Do Americans live in a free society when the government reads their e-mails?

Do Americans live in a free society when they are limited to six withdrawals from their savings accounts per month?

(This isn’t true … or my bank ignores this rule. Since the Target mess, I’ve been keeping my money in my savings account and transferring what I need whenever I go shopping, so that if my POS card is hacked, there won’t be much there to get. My bank has never sent me a letter of warning and I regularly go over four withdrawals in a month.)

Do Americans live in a free society when police drive around in unmarked older vehicles to ensnare unsuspecting motorists?

Do Americans live in a free society when in many states, no alcoholic beverages of any kind can be sold before a certain time on Sunday?

Do Americans live in a free society when the government regulates the amount of water that toilets are allowed to flush?

(How many of us these days need to flush twice to get the toilet paper to go down or three times to get some more earthy to go down?)

Do Americans live in a free society when the United States has one of the highest per-capita prison populations in the world?

(25% of the population has a criminal record now).

Do Americans live in a free society when the Supreme Court has said that police can “strip-search individuals who have been arrested for any crime before admitting the individuals to jail, even if there is no reason to suspect that the individual is carrying contraband.”

Do Americans live in a free society when in many states it is illegal for car dealers to be open on Sunday?

Do Americans live in a free society when police can perform forcible DNA, urine, and blood extractions?

Do Americans live in a free society when there are a myriad of federal and state laws that restrict, regulate, or prohibit gambling?

Do Americans live in a free society when they need a license to cut someone’s hair?

Do Americans live in a free society when the government seizes more assets from Americans than the amount of money taken in burglaries?

Do Americans live in a free society when they collectively spend more in taxes than they do on food, clothing, and housing combined?

Do Americans live in a free society when they can be locked in a cage for possessing too much of a plant the government doesn’t approve of?

On Killing A Society   2 comments

Writers spend a lot of time thinking about how to bump people off. Writers of dystopian fiction place that on a grander scale — figuring out how to kill the world as we know it.

Murder of individuals comes in many varieties. There’s the proverbial blunt object, a push off a cliff, the brake line “malfunction”. Murder of societies comes in varieties as well – nuclear holocaust, alien invasion, economic collapse. There are many ways to murder because depravity comes in many designs.

I remember reading a novel where a trusted spouse slowly poisoned her previously hale husband. Nobody suspected poison as the victim slowly withered and when eventually consumed, an unsuspecting coroner closed the case, listing the official cause of death as a long illness. The story in the book surrounded his niece asking questions and exposing the homicide.

In Life As We Knew It, I described the mortal wounding of America by nuclear terrorism. I don’t actually believe and therefore would not find it believable that there are foreign terrorists just planning to destroy the country for no reason. My brain keeps circling that central fact. Why would this happen? And I settled in part on poison because I see evidence for that in the world in which we live. You always wrap fiction round a grain of reality.

Fact. In its prime, the United States of America met every challenge. The Civil War devastated large parts of the nation and sucked the national soul dry, but America rebuilt into the world’s most prosperous economy, providing opportunities and better lives for millions. It was the sort of place where my great-grandpa Elmer could come from Ireland flat-broke, dodge the Civil War draft, and build a small fortune as a businessman afterward. It was a place where my husband’s great-grandfather Leo could also come from Ireland, get turned away from Ellis Island, go into Nova Scotia and enter the United States more or less illegally through the St. Lawrence smuggler’s boat and 20 years later be mayor of a New England town and a prosperous farmer. Full of ambition and energy, America became an industrial powerhouse powered by innovation that coined the terms “work ethic” and its derivatives “consumer,” and “middle class.”

Like the husband above, we drank deeply from life and enjoyed it immensely.

Then a generation arose that saw exuberance and activity as a negative. Theodore Roosevelt claimed that peace and prosperity were actually signs of incapacitation. We really needed to be involved in world affairs to be a truly grownup nation. JP Morgan and a host of well-bred businessmen insisted that America needed a central bank, elastic money, and an income tax in order to be fiscal sound. Woodrow Wilson said that the people shouldn’t have to worry our pretty little heads about governance. We could just let the “experts” handle it and go enjoy our lives. The administrative state could handle it all and Congress need not even be bothered by the mundane tasks of oversight. And while he was at it, we needed to involve ourselves in a European war. If someone disagreed with his diagnosis that the country needed these things, he threw them in jail.

The government refused to accept that the world’s healthiest and most robust economy could recover from the Depression of 1929 on its own, so Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt imposed higher taxes, deficit spending, unprecedented expansion of the regulatory state and crony capitalism, creating the Great Depression. Nowhere else in the industrialized world (Germany excepted) did the Depression of 1929 last longer than 18 months, because — for the most part — other countries allowed the economy to recover on its own, but the United States swallowed the elixir of Keynesian economic quackery, so suffered for 12 years.

World War 2 required still higher taxes, more debt and the government’s centralized control of the economy. In the 1950s and forward, every economic hiccup had to be tended to by our care-giving government, now grown to preeminent empire following the deadliest war in history. People called for a return of peace and prosperity, but the Military Industrial Complex and the intelligence-gathering arm of the government couldn’t allow that. We were told we needed continuous intervention around the globe and growing surveillance at home to keep us safe and “healthy.”

The vitality, risk-taking, ingenuity, individuality, integrity, and innovation that powered American greatness has been replaced with a desire for comfort, safety, and security without effort. There is no longer a connection between what we produce and what we receive. The dwindling few who work are duty-bound to support the rest of us. Coerced altruism is the requirement of the day according to the government, media, and academia.

Freedom is now seen as a danger to our society. More taxes, more regulation, more intrusion are seen as signs of health. We’re expected to give up our notions of honor and decency, control of our lives, our children’s educations, and anything else we cherish. We should care more about what we stare at on electronic screens than what we believe in our hearts to be true. Just do what the government says and everything will be great.

It’s hard to know when that last dose of poison will be administered. The country was already staggering when George W. Bush was president. President Obama may represent the fatal dose. Maybe the current election cycle madness is a symptom of collective insanity brought on by a century of political poison. It appears the patient realizes what is about to befall us, but do we have the strength to push the dram away?

With every election, government promises to change the dose of our poison by some degree or another, perhaps to prolong our death a little longer. And every time for decades now, we have fallen for that promise, never seeming to realize that we are ingesting poison.

This nation was born from a revolution for its freedom that initiated a dramatic experiment in representative and limited government, the protection of individual rights, and equality before the law. Yes, it took us a while to eliminate slavery and give women a voice, and for the economy to reach a point where the Industrial Revolution’s explosion of innovation and progress could free people from the drudgery of poverty, but the fact is we overcame those obstacles on our own, without the government’s all-caring, all-powerful strength. The government was small and incapable back when America was healthy and strong. In fact, those long ago Americans would have found such a government as we have today to be malignant and loathsome.

In my book, Americans don’t wake up soon enough, but here in the real world, it may not be too late. There are obvious stirrings against our oppressors. The Tea Party was a recognition by some of us that the government is poisoning us. Occupy Wallstreet was a glimmering that our economy is controlled by someone other than ourselves. Most people in the United States don’t realize we’re being poisoned and they certainly would be amazed to discover that the government is the poisoner, but we’re not dead yet either.

Some of us are waking up earlier than the rest and are sounding the alarm. Maybe it’s not too late. Waking up means realizing there is a big job ahead of us to clean up the mess we created, but it’s not beyond our powers to correct course … if we’re willing.

 

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