Let me start off by sharing a story. On Sunday, two days before the election, I was in line at the grocery store and overheard the cashier talking to the customer in front of me. She said “well I hope things work out the right way on Tuesday”. Now, I don’t know what the right way meant, but I did offer these words. No matter who wins the election on Tuesday, one half of the country will be happy and the other half will be disappointed. She agreed. Most people will agree with that statement.
For those that believe the country is lost or we are well on the path to socialism you are wrong. The country isn’t lost now. We lost the country a long time ago. Today is the time to recognize and acknowledge the system is broke and broken. Today is the time to recognize the system is dysfunctional. Today is a time for reflection and introspection. This article summarizes my thoughts, my reflection on what transpired and where we stand as a society today.
In a recent article by Charles Hugh-Smith he wrote, ‘the system we have is an imperial presidency”. In Arthur Schlesinger’s 1973 book the Imperial Presidency the term is defined as:
A presidency becomes imperial when it relies on powers beyond those allowed by the Constitution. The Constitution established three separate branches of government not for efficiency but to avoid the arbitrary exercise of power.
There has not been a congressional declaration of war since WWII. Every war has been waged without congressional approval thus every war has been unconstitutional. Schlesinger goes on to say:
The Constitution and its authors determined that the power to initiate a war belonged to the Congress. The President had the responsibility to conduct ongoing wars and ongoing foreign relations and respond to sudden attacks if the Congress was not in session. As the United States of America became a great world power, and then a superpower, the Presidency acquired more war powers despite the Constitution. This reduced the Congress’ powers and the separation of powers, which is necessary to avoid the arbitrary use of power.
Through various means, Presidents subsequently acquired powers beyond the limits of the Constitution. The daily accountability of the President to the Congress, the courts, the press and the people has been replaced by an accountability of once each four years during an election. These changes have occurred slowly over the centuries so that that which appears normal differs greatly from what was the original state of America.
I cannot emphasize enough Schlesinger’s last sentence. He said, “These changes have occurred slowly over the centuries so that which appears normal differs greatly from what was the original state of America”. [Emphasis added.] He is saying the Constitution established a constitutional republic not an imperial presidency. He is saying the role of government and the authority of government has fundamental changed to a government without limits and a government that acts arbitrarily and capriciously.
Smith continued on to the expanded powers of executive orders. Smith wrote, “Events since then (such as the invasion of Iraq in 2003) have revealed how far an Imperial President could go with broadly granted war powers, “presidential immunity,” “signing statements” (declaring which congressionally approved statutes he would ignore or refuse to enforce) and the increasingly popular “executive orders” which enable everything from imprisoning entire ethnic populations (E.O. 9066) to claiming extra-legal powers over the entire U.S. economy.
Presidents before G.W. Bush and Obama managed to perform their duties with a handful of Executive Orders–five per term seemed about average. President Bush issued 160 in his first term while President Obama has so far issued 139. Both of our most recent presidents also made heavy use of Executive privileges such as “signing statements” and other “work-arounds” to feeble limits on presidential powers.”
I have said before we need to choose between uncomfortable truths or comforting lies. The latter is the rationalizations people go through to avoid uncomfortable truths; about themselves, our government, or society in general. In some cases these rationalizations amount to mental gymnastics to somehow, anyhow, maintain some semblance of reason and understanding today. The result is a normalcy bias where people simply cannot digest or understand what is happening around them, thus the need for mental gymnastics to catapult their minds back to a place they understand. Those are the comforting lies people tell themselves to cope with the unknown and unchartered territory we are headed into.
The problem is exacerbated by rhetoric and fear. We are headed into unknown and unchartered waters. At least for us they are unknown waters. But these waters have been traversed before. History is replete with examples of great societies rising and falling. But do not believe for a minute that we are doomed. Contrast where we stand today with those that voyaged to America on the Mayflower. Undoubtedly, they truly entered unchartered waters. The risks they took were orders of magnitude greater than what we have to deal with after the 2012 election. That doesn’t mean things won’t be difficult as we all try to figure out how to navigate the choppy waters ahead and charter our own futures.
The perspective needs to be on the uncomfortable truths of what we have become as individuals, a society, and a system of governance. In addition to the imperial presidency there are numerous other uncomfortable truths we must face without performing all the mental gymnastics to rationalize away reality. As Ayn Rand said, “you can ignore reality but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.”
Regardless of who won the 2012 election we are faced with these truths:
Government debt will grow and deficit spending will continue. The simple truth is both Romney and Obama would continue government’s profligate spending and run annual deficits which increase the national debt. Albeit the amounts may vary slightly, but nevertheless, the path of fiscal insanity will continue. Today, government revenues are less than the total expenses for Social Security, Medicare, and the interest on the debt. All discretionary (non-military) and non-discretionary (military) spending is funded through borrowing. By the next presidential election I expect the national debt to be between $20 trillion on the low end and $23 trillion on the high end.
To fund their deficits, government will continue to borrow money and print money. Government will continue to debase the currency. I’ve written on this extensively and won’t cover it again here, but it is sufficient to say that the purchasing power of a dollar (spent now or savings spent later) will decline. Government securities that cannot be sold to foreign central banks, foreign governments, or the primary dealers will be bought outright by the Federal Reserve. Expect prices to rise and your stored purchasing power (i.e. your savings) to diminish.
An interventionist foreign policy will continue. In addition to the unconstitutional wars U.S. involvement in other countries’ affairs will continue unabated. In some cases the U.S. will prop up foreign governments whether they are dictatorships or not. In some cases the U.S. will supply and arm insurgents to combat foreign governments because it’s in our national security interests. All will be justified under the guise of “national security” or our “national interests”.
The entitlement state would continue unabated. Neither Romney nor Obama has any plans to reduce or eliminate entitlement programs. This is how I describe the system to people. The government confiscates your earnings through a tax and places into a “trust fund” with the Treasury Department. The trust fund is raided so the current government can spend it and is replaced with an I.O.U. The money is spent on wasteful and unconstitutional government programs. Eventually it is replaced by borrowed funds which the government says you have to repay and with interest. This is referred to as a Ponzi scheme. The system is unsustainable and government uses its enforcement arm – the IRS – to ensure you comply and participate in the scheme whether you consent or not.
The welfare state is a source of votes for politicians. In a quid-pro-quo the agreement is we will provide a “government benefit” such as EBT cards, housing, etc. and in return you vote and keep us in power. In other words, the people are voting themselves largesse out of the treasury. But that largesse comes from a source other than government. It comes from taxes or borrowing. In one case the rightful property of one person is taken by government and provided to another that has absolutely no rightful claim to it. In the case of borrowing, this is more of the same problem where the debt is increased and you are expected to repay the principle and interest out of your future earnings.
Unalienable rights, liberties, and civil rights will continue to be abridged or denied. Decade after decade the erosion of our rights and liberties continues unabated. Asset forfeiture laws, traveling on airplanes, parts of the Patriot Act, parts of the National Defense Authorization Act, and unlawful violations of the 1st, 4th, and 5th amendments continue unabated. Usurpation of power by Congress, the executive, and the judiciary is considered normal behavior where it was once considered treasonous. States no longer exercise their constitutional authority by checking the powers of the federal government. States have been reduced to mere satellites, mere corporations, to the leviathan occupying the ten square miles known as Washington D.C. with its tentacles reaching out to every state, county, municipality, community, neighborhood, and home across our great Union. All will be done under the guise of “keeping us safe” or “we are doing it for the kids”.
The unfunded liabilities of the federal, state, and local governments combined exceed $200 trillion.
We haven’t had a free market economy in generations. Today we have a centrally planned economy where the state controls the money supply, the cost of money (interest rates), and forces people to use fiat currency through unconstitutional legal tender laws. The state redirects capital towards government centric preferences. Supply and demand is distorted. Price signals are manipulated through government intervention. Scarce resources are misallocated primarily for political purposes. Economic figures and statistics are adjusted and manipulated by government bureaucracies for political purposes. GDP, CPI, unemployment and other figures are routinely manipulated for political purposes.
Taxes are primarily paid by the top 25% of earners. The bottom 50% of earners pay no federal income tax. Estate taxes prohibit family owned businesses from passing on from one generation to another. Corporate taxes are a farce. Corporations don’t pay taxes, people pay taxes. Income taxes are another expense item for a corporation which they pass on to the consumer in the price of the good or service provided. There are hundreds of other taxes and fees paid at the federal, state, and local levels.
These are the uncomfortable truths. These things would continue regardless of who occupied the White House. What is important is what to do next? As the size, scope, and authority of the federal government expands, and the debt continues to grow, and the currency continues to be debased what should we do next? What can you do to insulate yourself and better secure your unalienable rights from the leviathan’s tentacles?
The answer is to build a firewall between your family and the federal government. What I mean by a firewall is a way to insulate the federal government as much as possible while strengthening things around you. The things that are around you are:
1) Your family.
2) Your neighborhood and community.
3) Your local government.
4) Your state government.
5) Your county sheriff.
6) Your network of like-minded people.
Recently, Hurricane Sandy hit the mid-Atlantic coastline and there are still many people without food and water, shelter, or electricity. The government is ineffective in these situations. People suffer. People die. People that look to and depend upon government to rescue them, to support them through so-called government programs, to provide for their retirement or medical care, and many other things must face some uncomfortable truths.
The government can’t rescue or save you. The government cannot be the answer for your everyday needs in life. The government cannot provide a cradle-to-grave life for you. The government cannot provide spiritual guidance. This is nothing more than a comforting lie which allows you to ignore reality; to ignore the uncomfortable truth that there are risks and rewards in life. That failure is an option. Success is an option. Your choices are yours and yours alone to make. And, you live with the consequences of your choices.
To live in a government imposed and controlled society where choice and individuality is limited, where success is punished, and failure is rewarded is to ensure a constant, pleasant Prozac-like state of mediocrity. It ensures that no individual is unique or different. Rather, nobody is special and we are all mere cogs in government’s machinery. It is to live in peaceful slavery as you and your fellow man battle with others in society for the crumbs tossed your way by government masters. This is wrongful liberty and certainly not how free people live.
The answers must come from us. We must build a firewall between ourselves and the federal government through local and state solutions. We must reclaim responsibility for our lives, our liberty, and our property. We must reclaim our virtues and not allow government to dictate what is or isn’t virtuous. We must recognize the smallest minority in the country is the individual. Each individual must exercise rightful liberty to unobstructed action within their own will drawn around the equal rights of others. Not to exercise superior rights over others or to have others exercise superior rights over you. Not to have a government use the brute force of institutionalized state violence to exercise superior rights over you and obstruct your actions. Not to decide winners and losers in life or in the economy. Not to create a dependent society demanding, by right or precedent, free things from government. Rather to create an environment, a condition of rightful liberty where each person’s choice of unobstructed action allows them to obtain goods and services they want or need.
Changes indeed have occurred slowly over the generations and have reached a point where America is no longer recognizable. I encourage each of you to take some time after this election and genuinely reflect about these things. Cast aside political parties and propaganda, rhetoric and fear, and free your minds to consider your future and the future for your posterity. God Bless.