Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Different Take on ObamaCare

As a parent one of the many joys my children bring me is the unbridled exuberance on display Christmas morning.  My wife has a tradition in her family to give each child a new pair of Christmas pajamas the night before.  The family bakes cookies.  The Christmas tree is lit.  The anticipation of Christmas morning is everywhere.  The children argue over who will leave the cookies and milk for Santa.  As we tuck the children in bed, sporting their brand new pajamas, we see their eyes beaming with the anticipation and excitement Christmas morning will bring.

On Thursday, June 28th the country was like all children going to bed on Christmas Eve.  The anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the case known colloquially as Obama Care was due.  The topic dominated news programming.  Talk radio was abuzz. Web sites were flooded with articles and commentary.   Adults were waiting with baited breath for the ruling.

It is truly sad and pathetic.

The fate of a country lies in the hands of nine politically connected lawyers in black robes.  Our unalienable right to contract can be abridged based on a single vote.  A 5-4 ruling to uphold Obama Care and the individual mandate may come down to one person.  The mere thought that our God given unalienable rights endowed upon us by our Creator can be abridged because of one person is unthinkable.  This doesn’t excite me or create unbridled exuberance.

It scares the hell out of me.

The question that everyone should ask is how did the country get to the point where one person, one vote, is sufficient to change the Constitution and abridge unalienable rights?   The premise that the government — instituted to better secure our unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property — can use the force of law to compel an individual into a private contract forever changes the nature of the Constitution and the relationship between individuals and government.  If the individual mandate were upheld government can compel an individual to purchase anything against their will.  The list is indefinite.  Government power is unlimited.

How did the country get to this point in its history where a federal government of limited powers has transformed into a national government with unlimited powers?  I’m sure each of you has an answer to this question.  But, my answer is the combination of judicial activism with citizen non-activism.  In other words, the very ideal of co-equal branches of government has long left the barn.  We have judicial supremacy; a judicial oligarchy if you will.  The other branches of government follow in lock-step with the judicial branch.

The citizens of the United States deserve much of the blame.  To sit idly by taking no personal responsibility to defend and protect your God given unalienable rights is an abdication of your civic duty.  To expect elected officials and appointed bureaucrats to defend your rights and liberties is like asking the fox to guard the hen house.  Yet, that is precisely what millions of Americans have done.  Americans bury their heads in the sand believing the fox will restraint itself.

Moreover, all those that believe in failed strategies like “just get my guy in” or “wait until our party gets control of Congress” should carefully evaluate those strategies.  Justice Roberts was appointed by the second President Bush.  Conservatives and Republicans considered Roberts a constitutional conservative, someone that would rule on their side.  Everyone was worried about how Kennedy may vote.  In the end, it was Roberts that proved to be the swing vote on Obama Care.  The idea that the Supreme Court is reason enough to vote for the Republican or the Democrat has just been obliterated.  Everyone that suggests I must vote for Romney because the balance of the Supreme Court is in jeopardy has egg on their face.  The balance is long gone.

Anyone that delegates their duty and responsibility to defend their rights and liberties to nine lawyers in black robes deserves to live with the outcome.  Washington D.C. is broke and broken.  D.C. will never fix D.C.  This includes the Supreme Court.

The Obama Care ruling eviscerates the very meaning of a government with limited, enumerated powers.  The ruling means government can institute a tax on any economic activity or lack thereof.  Your choice is the lesser of two evils.  Be forced into buying an insurance policy or pay a tax.  Substitute anything in place of insurance policy and see if you like the outcome.  Here are few examples:

1)      Buy a firearm or pay a tax.

2)      Buy U.S. Securities (bonds, notes, etc.) or pay a tax.

3)      Buy solar panels or pay a tax.

4)      Buy an electric car or pay a tax.

5)      Buy vegetables or pay a tax.

Imagine if ten, twenty, or hundreds of these laws are enacted.  Your entire income could be directed to buying a product you may not want or paying a tax.  The government can control every economic decision in your life or confiscate your property if you are disobedient.

By the way I want to point out that the Supreme Court’s ruling cannot be constitutional according to Chief Justice Robert’s opinion.  If the penalty is truly a tax according to Roberts, Obama Care was a bill that originated in the Senate then was passed by the House.  All revenue bills (i.e. taxes) must originate in the House.  How did Roberts and the majority simply miss that part of the Constitution?

On June 28th, 2012 it was like Christmas Eve for many Americans.  A great deal of excitement and anxiety was in the air.  Like Christmas morning some are disappointed and others are exuberant.  What all Americans got was a lump of coal.  Not because of the decision but because most Americans are complacent and apathetic, and do not take any personal responsibility to protect and defend their unalienable rights.  But don’t fret, another big case will come along and most of you will be waiting with baited breath hoping the Supreme Court rules the “right” way.

The outcome today is our fault.  Everyone single one of us.  We tolerated this charade for decades.  Hopefully, today the curtain has been pulled back, the tables and chairs rearranged, and the ruling class has exposed themselves at last.  We allowed ourselves to be sold down the river and we landed squarely on the government plantation.

Is this your line in the sand?  Will you discard the failed strategies of the past?  Will you embrace big ideas?  Ideas like state nullification, an Article V amendments convention, or states leaving the union?

The time has come to choose.  Liberty or oppression.  Freedom or slavery.  If you choose liberty and freedom join a group, become active, run for office.  Do something.  If you choose oppression and slavery then my parting words to you are from a Sam Adams quote; “Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”

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Filed under Economy, Philosophical

The 51st State of the Union

Anyone that has followed politics, money, and the economy long enough will acknowledge that Washington D.C. is broke and broken.  The government will not voluntarily reform itself.  Those in power will continue to usurp power and extend their dominion over the people.  Regardless of your party affiliation or particular ideology that is the simple truth.

Political power bounces back and forth between the two parties like a ping pong ball.  When one side is in power they stick it to the other side.  Once the pendulum of power swings to the other party they return the favor — with vigor.

Meanwhile, government power expands.  New government programs are created by both parties.  The country goes further into debt.  More rights are abridged or denied.  Both welfare and warfare expand.  More criminal laws are enacted and more regulations passed.  The domestic surveillance state expands.  Whether you support tax and spending decreases or tax and spending increases they are merely tweaks to a broken system.  The government leviathan gains steam and power leading everyone over the cliff.  This is obvious to anyone that pays attention to current events.

Sadly most people don’t take the time to understand the depth and breadth of the crisis.

Those people are honorary citizens of the new 51st state of the Union.  The state of Denial!

Ultimately this boils down to two choices.  You support the status quo or you search for alternative solutions.   It is not the government that needs to be saved it is the people that need to be saved form the destructive policies and power of government.   Do you want to live as a free person or remain enslaved on the government plantation?  Undoubtedly, those that want to live free should explore all alternatives to the current problem.  Strategies and tactics that nibble around the edges of the problem are analogous to putting a band aid on a shotgun wound to the torso.

What are some of those alternatives?

1)       Amend the Constitution through an Article V amendments convention.

2)      Break the country into four or five distinct regions that are independent and free countries with a common defense pact.  The states and the people of the states in each region will determine their form of governance.

3)      Establish a new monetary system that is not based on debt and a fiat currency.

4)      Repeal the 16th amendment.  Abolish the IRS.  Institute a flat tax not to exceed 5%.  Eliminate corporate taxes and estate taxes.

5)      Unwind the Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs.  Unwind welfare programs like food stamps and public housing.

6)      Repeal the 17th amendment.  Return power to the states to check the power of the federal government.

7)      Eliminate all subsidies, grants, and other federal involvement in private enterprises, industry, etc.

8)      Return all federal lands to the states with the exception of military bases.

How many of you thought that one or more of these things are impossible?  Why are any of these things impossible?  What is your rationale for reaching such a conclusion?

I strongly suspect your normalcy bias interferes with rational thought.  You’ve known nothing other than a top-down, all powerful, centralized government and banking system your entire life.  If you’ve known nothing else, why can’t these alternatives work?  Why can’t these alternatives be more successful than the status quo?  Why do you resist paradigm changing ideas that will change course, reverse course, and avoid the inevitable downfall of the country?

Citizenship in the new, great state of Denial is easy.  Just bury your head in the sand and hope that everything will fix itself or the government is the answer to your problems.  And, if government is the answer to the problem how stupid was the question?  The qualifications for citizenship in the state of Denial are easy; complacency, apathy, ignorance, and a subservient mindset.

Appropriately, the official bird of the state of Denial is the ostrich and the official state motto was taken from the movie Forrest Gump; stupid is as stupid does.

Let’s explore one of the ideas I mentioned regarding taxes.  Taxes take on many forms.  The two most pervasive taxes are income and property taxes.

Income Taxes

Under the original constitution income taxes were not prohibited, however they were restricted by provisions that required taxes to be laid according to census or enumeration (direct tax) or uniformly throughout the United States (indirect tax).  Federal government operations were funded entirely by indirect taxes.  Direct taxes were laid infrequently and generally for specific purposes.  Direct taxes were levied five times in the history of the United States.  The government was able to operate without any long-term outstanding debt.

So, why not eliminate the 16th amendment and reclaim the power government has to tax our incomes?  The typical response is; how will government get money without taxes?  Well, for the first 124 years the federal government didn’t have an income tax.  After the 16th amendment was ratified income was viewed very differently.  First, income was thought of as gains or profits or net income rather than gross income as it is today.  In 1913, the average American earned between $500 and $1000 a year.  Today that would equate to roughly $12,000 to $24,000 per year.  Also, the intent was to tax investment income not income earned from work.  In free markets the exchange of labor for payment is an even exchange.  There was no profit or gain from the exchange.  In fact, Congress was so concerned about taxing the average American that only incomes over $3,000 were taxed.  In today’s dollars the income would have to exceed roughly $68,000 before any of it would be taxed.

What concerns me more is the typical response from so many Americans that ask, how will government get money without taxes?  This is a cart before the horse, kneejerk, ignorant response.   The paramount question is where do the people get the money?  People have to work and produce goods and services desirable to others.  We don’t all have money tress growing in our back yard where we can go pick off whatever money we need.  We labor for our income, our money, our property.  To the best of my knowledge each household doesn’t have their own personal printing press allowing them to print money at will.  Of course, the government has a printing press they can use at any time to increase the money supply and debase the currency.  Which begs the question, why tax the people, or borrow money for that matter, if the government can simply print money?

Property Taxes

What does it mean to you to own property?  What I mean by property is land or land with a home on it.  To own property means you have the complete right of use and disposal of the land.  It is fee simple title to the land without any encumbrances by the state.

Contrast property ownership with renting.  When you rent property from another person you make regular rent payments in exchange for the right to occupy the property according to the terms of the agreement.  If you do not make your rent payments the landlord has the right to evict you from the property.  You have no legal claim to the property and your rental situation is governed by your lease agreement and contract law.  You don’t pay your rent you are evicted from the property.

Property taxes are used by governments to raise revenues to fund government operations.  Even though you have a piece of property with a title in your name do you truly own your property?  The answer is no.  Even if your house is fully paid for and has no outstanding mortgage you must still pay property taxes.  If you don’t pay your property taxes the state or local government can seize your property and evict you.  How is this situation any different than that of the renter?  Government is the landlord and can evict you from property because you failed to pay tribute to the government.  Are you a landowner or a renter?

Zoning regulations and environmental regulations are two methods government uses to control land use and disposal.  In other words, the government uses the power of the law to control your personal and economic liberty and to decide who can own property, where they can own property, and how they must use that property.  The use of zoning and environmental regulations is pernicious to property rights and ownership.

Income taxes and property taxes are not merely methods for government to fund itself.  Both are methods by which the government can exercise dominion over people.  Moreover, the very concepts of income and property taxes are fundamental planks of Marxist ideology.  These are the ten planks stated in the Communist Manifesto:

  • Abolition of private property and the application of all rents of land to public purposes.
  • A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
  • Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
  • Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
  • Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
  • Centralization of the means of communications and transportation in the hands of the State.
  • Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance to the State plan.
  • Equal liability of all to labor.  Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
  • Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of population over the country.
  • Free education for all children in public schools.  Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form.  Combination of education and industrial production.

The first five items are directly related to property rights and taxation.

The first one is well underway through zoning regulations, environmental regulations, and other prohibitions from all levels of government.

The second one is already in place.

The third one has been partially implemented through estate and inheritance taxes.

The fourth one is enforced through seizures, tax liens, asset forfeiture laws, and confiscation of property without due process.

The fifth one was established in 1913 through the Federal Reserve Act.  The government and the banking cartel control the money supply and the cost of money (interest rates).  The official currency of the United States is a fiat currency.  The people are forced to accept currency as legal tender for all debt public and private because of a Supreme Court ruling in the 1870s (legal tender cases) not through constitutional authority.

Conclusion

There you have it, life in the 51st state – the State of Denial.  Are the ideas posited in the article attainable or too farfetched to wrap your mind around?

If you don’t believe any of these are possible, what would you say to the founding fathers when they contemplated declaring independence from Britain?  Would you have supported them or supported the British Empire?  Or, would you have ignored the situation and merely hope the problem would go away.

What would you say to the framers of the Constitution?  Would you have suggested a progressive income tax?  Would you eschew the absolute right to property?

Would you have supported unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property?  Or, would you have suggested centralized control of the economy, banking, and personal and economic liberty?

Would you be on the side of liberty or oppression?  Would you be on the side of absolute property rights or government control of property?  Would you be on the side of economic liberty or slavery?  Would you be on the side of being secure in your persons, place, and things or government dominion over you, your home, and your things?

Do you choose to be enlightened, informed, and engaged?  Or do you choose ignorance, complacency, and apathy?  Do you want to live freely or live in a State of Denial?

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Filed under Philosophical

Does Legality Establish Morality

Walter E. Williams wrote an article this week titled “Immoral Beyond Redemption”.  In the article he asks, “Does legality establish morality?”  Take a moment and think about this before you answer.

Mr. Williams gives some examples.  Slavery was legal; apartheid was legal; the Nazi’s Nuremberg Laws were legal; and the Stalinist and Maoist purges were legal.  I’ll add some of my own.  Forced abortions are legal; honor killings are legal, stoning is legal, amputation is legal.

Does legality establish morality?  I believe the answer is a resounding no!

How should free people respond if a law is legal yet the law itself is wrong?  How do people judge the law itself?

Let’s start at the beginning.  Prior to government man lived in a state of nature.  There were no government laws only the laws of nature.  Every person possessed certain rights such as the right to life, to property, to association, to contract, to trade, to liberty, etc.  We possess these rights because we exist and they are not granted to us or conferred upon us by other men.  These rights are referred to as negative rights because every person possesses them and requires nothing from any other person except the recognition that everyone has these same rights.

If one man builds his shelter, grows his own food, and produces things he wants and desires; then what he produced is his property.  If another man comes along and takes his property it is wrong.  To paraphrase Bastiat, “life, liberty, and property does not exist because of government.  Rather government exists because man has life, liberty, and property.”  As I watched the Hatfields and the McCoys mini-series the other week it reaffirmed precisely why man enters into civil society.  Neither family was secure in their life, liberty, or property because they were constantly defending these things from attack.  Each family exercised their rights in protecting their lives and property.  Each family violated the others when they sought retribution.

The beginning and the end of government is to better protect and preserve the individual’s right to life, liberty, and property.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Because people institute government the people must protect themselves from government itself.  History is replete with governments exercising dominion and authority over people depriving them of life, liberty, and/or property.  To protect themselves against government tyranny the people devised a set of rules, a rule book if you will, that defines the rules government must follow.  In our case the rule book is called the Constitution and it is what governs government.

When government uses power or enacts laws that are not in the rule book government violates our rights.  Not just one person’s rights, but everybody’s rights.  A particular action may not affect you directly, but indirectly all violations and usurpations of power that violate the rules are seditious acts against the people.  In some cases you may agree with or condone the government acts.  However, by condoning arbitrary acts by the government you implicitly acknowledge arbitrary power which government may use in a future act against you which you may vehemently condemn as a violation of the rules.

When government uses power against some people to take property from them and government then gives that property to another government violates the very purpose for which it was instituted.  If one person steals the property of their neighbor on the left and gives that property to their neighbor on the right it is crime.  Property has been stolen.  It is illegal and immoral, and it is wrong.  When government uses the law to take property from one person and give it to another is it moral?  I believe we answered that question earlier.   Moreover, is it right for government to use the coercion, force, and intimidation to take from one and give to another?  The answer is a resounding no!  Government was instituted to protect life, liberty, and property.  Government was not instituted to turn the laws against the people to plunder their property.

For the most part, civil society is based upon the premise that people are free to chart their course in life, to make their own decision, and be personally responsible for those decisions. Likewise, much of society functions upon the premise that interactions are voluntary.  Interactions in the economy, in personal decisions, in personal relationships are voluntary.  Two people voluntarily choose to engage in the purchase and sale of a good or service.  A personal voluntarily chooses what pants to wear that day.  Two people voluntarily choose to marry.

Government has no business interjecting itself into voluntary decisions.  The entire economy is based upon voluntary interactions.  The government’s role is simply to ensure commerce flows freely amongst the states and with foreign countries.  Adam Smith’s invisible hand is a term used to describe the self-regulating nature of markets.  However, when government enacts tens of thousands of laws, hundreds of thousands of regulations, and controls the money supply and the cost of money (interest rates) there are no free markets.  Government amputates the invisible hand and replaces it with a pernicious claw.

A free society cannot be based upon coercion and intimidation.  A free society must be premised upon voluntary interactions by people personally or economically.  This is what it means to have personal and economic liberty.  Likewise, the absolute right to property must be secure.

If people voluntarily act to enter into civil society and institute government for the sole purpose of better protecting life, liberty, and property are the people committed to the arrangement for perpetuity?  If two people can voluntarily marry they can also voluntarily divorce.  One person cannot force the other to remain in the marriage against the others will.  Likewise I cannot force another person to buy a product I am selling.  Can the very government created by the people use force, coercion, intimidation, and punitive acts to compel people to remain in the arrangement?

Is it beyond your ability to consider that perhaps the parties to the arrangement should part ways and re-form a new government?  Your normalcy bias tells you this makes no sense because all you’ve ever known your entire life is one country.  Perhaps people would be happier to live under a new arrangement.  Even if you don’t agree do you believe you or your government should force people (or states) to remain in an arrangement against their will?  Even if it is within the legal authority of the government to force people (or states) to remain in the arrangement, is it moral?  is it right?

If you truly believe in people living freely you must support the right of self-determination and the right to voluntarily leave the arrangement.

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Filed under Constitution, Philosophical

A Case of Normalcy Bias

Romans did not believe Rome would collapse.  Hundreds of thousands of Jews refused to leave Germany by the mid-1930s.  There are hundreds of others examples throughout history where people were unable to process events and rationally conclude something they’ve never experienced is about to transpire.  This inability is called “normalcy bias” and Americans are infected with it.

For most, it is incomprehensible to believe the United States, the most powerful country on the earth, could self-destruct.  Everyone under the age of seventy has lived a relatively comfortable life.  The poor of this country are wealthier than 80% of the inhabitants on earth.  Most Americans work and provide a decent life for their family.  The modern incarnation of the banking system and the dollar is all they know.  A centralized government growing in size, scope, and power is all anyone has known.

This is what we know and all we know.  Our normalcy bias tells us that government must tax our income because it needs revenue.  Government must pass more criminal laws, statutory laws, rules, and regulations.  Government must use its power to take property from some people to give to others.  Government must borrow money to fund spending or the economy will collapse.  Government must print money to save the banking system.  Government must tell the people what to eat, where to live, what to drive, etc.  The list goes on ad nauseum.

Food, water, and relatively cheap energy are taken for granted.  Most people don’t realize the grocery store has a three day supply of food.  Most people are unprepared for any extended food or water shortages.  If there is any shortage of gasoline, food and water will not be transported to grocery stores.  People will become desperate.  Civil unrest will ensue.

Consider young adults that came of age in the post 9/11 era.  All they’ve known their adult life is the intrusive government surveillance state, the Patriot Act, the TSA, NDAA, Food Safety Modernization Act, Google and the NSA, and CISPA.  A single person having the power to decide whether or not an American citizen can be killed.  This is normal to them.  Sadly, it’s normal to most people.  This is extreme behavior and people have become immune to it.  What the founding generation considered extreme and declared independence against was this very behavior.

The country is faced with a $16 trillion debt, nearly $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities, $70 trillion of outstanding debt (household, state and local govt, etc.) and a banking system based upon a fiat currency and fractional reserve lending.  Various monetary and fiscal policies destroy any semblance of savings, capital formation, or investment.  Growth occurs through monetary and fiscal stimulus rather than an increase in the production of real goods and services.  Producers that are able to save are penalized.  Government propaganda tells us all is well and things are under control.

The truth is the government cannot tax away the debt.  The government cannot borrow to pay off the debt.  Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable.  The criminalization of America and the surveillance state choke the very life and liberty out of what remains. Some say banks and the government are too big to fail.  The truth is they are too big to succeed.

Eventually, the banking system will collapse under a mountain of debt and obligations that can never be met.  Most likely, the government and central bankers will print money until they no longer have any ink left.  All wealth will be destroyed.  Other alternatives are possible, but the entire global monetary system is based on debt.  A complete reset of the entire monetary system is inevitable.  It’s just a question of when, not if.

Does this seem harsh?  Good!  I hope it is “in your face kind of harsh”.

When I explain this to most people they deny it.  They say I’m crazy.  They say there are smarter people that will figure it out.  They point to their lives and the home they bought and the life they had.  They are in denial because of their normalcy bias.

What we are witnessing is government nihilism.  Government is destroying precisely what it was instituted to protect.   Government has metastasized like a cancerous tumor destroying its host.   Those that support the status quo, the “just get my guy in mentality”, the sophomoric change are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

As my colleagues and friends Mark Kreslins and Joshua Lyons say “we can’t be nibbling around the edges”.  They mean we can’t simply cut some spending here, lower taxes there, and believe all is well.  We need mature adults discussing big ideas.

A serious discussion of ALL possible solutions and alternatives is necessary.  We must discard our normalcy bias and recognize the clear and present dangers and act accordingly.  Otherwise, we will suffer the same fate as the Romans and the Jews.

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Filed under Philosophical