Monthly Archives: March 2013

2013 Economic Perspective

Once again fiscal cliff issues are the topic du jour in Washington D.C.  Since President Obama took office in 2009, Congress has not passed a budget.  Instead, a series of continuing resolutions were passed to fund the federal government to avert a government shutdown.  What can we expect in 2013?

Before I answer the question let’s examine recent economic, fiscal, and monetary history.  To properly understand this data it is imperative that you cast aside the narrative espoused by government and the main stream media and look at the facts.

Indicator FY ending Sep 30, 2008 Today (or FY ending Sep 30, 2012)
Outstanding Debt 10.9 trillion 16.5 trillion
2008 budget deficit 459 billion 1.327 trillion (FY ending 2012)
Federal Expenses 2.982 trillion 3.796 trillion (FY ending 2012)
Federal Revenues 2.523 trillion 2.469 trillion (FY ending 2012)
Entitlement Programs + Debt Interest 1.863 trillion 2.569 trillion (FY ending 2012)
Revenue/Expenses as % of GDP 17.7% / 21% 15.8% / 24.3% (FY ending 2012)
Debt to GDP ratio 76.6% 103%
Americans on Food Stamps ~27 million ~48 million
U.S. Household Debt ~13.4 trillion ~12.9 trillion
Labor Participation Rate 65.8% 63.6%
Fed Reserve Balance Sheet ~890 billion ~ 3.1 trillion
Fed Funds Interest Rate 1.81% .15%
10 Year Treasury Yield 3.85% 1.65% (FY ending 2012)
Base Money Supply (M0) ~1.1 trillion ~2.85 trillion
Money Supply (M2) ~7.7 trillion ~10.45 trillion
Total Credit Market Debt Owed ~51.7 trillion ~56.3 trillion
Gold Price ~875 ounce ~1580 ounce
Gasoline Price ~1.85 gallon ~3.73 gallon

Fiscal and Monetary Policy

The $800 billion stimulus passed shortly after President Obama was sworn into office in 2009.  Many consider this a singular event.  However, the stimulus funding was rolled into the baseline expenditures. In effect, there have been five stimulus programs totaling $4 trillion dollars since 2009.

Undoubtedly, $4 trillion of additional spending and nearly $6 trillion of additional debt has achieved absolutely nothing unless the objective is dependency on the federal government.

Fiscal policies created multi-year trillion dollar deficits that result in poor Federal Reserve monetary policies.  The Federal Reserve has been through several quantitative easing periods where the Fed is buying the government’s debt, purchasing mortgage-backed securities, executing repo transactions with the primary dealers, and funding foreign central banks.  The base money supplied has nearly tripled since President Obama took office in 2009.

To minimize interest payments on the debt, the Federal Reserve is pursuing a zero-interest rate policy (ZIRP) which sets interest rates artificially low.  This policy punishes savers and retirees living on fixed income while supposedly stimulating consumerism by expanding credit market debt.  Eventually, the debt buyers will demand higher interest rates to continue buying U.S. Securities.  If interest rates return to historical averages of roughly 5%, then the interest payments on the outstanding debt will increase from $275 billion to nearly $1 trillion per year.

As the money supply expands and the currency is debased the government can pay off the debt with cheaper dollars.  However, the government’s interests are inimical to our interests.  Cheaper dollars means a loss of purchasing power.  In the real world it requires more dollars to purchase the same goods and services.  Moreover, those that are able to save are penalized due to low interest rates.  The real interest rate (interest rate – real inflation) is negative.  By putting excess earnings into a savings account, certificate of deposit, or money market account your principle is eroded due to the Fed’s ZIRP policy.

Tax Policy

As of 2013, tax rates have increased on the so-called wealthy and the payroll tax deduction has reverted back to its historical 6.2%.  In addition, new taxes under the Affordable Care Act take effect this year.  Taxing and spending are the two policy issues that receive the most attention by voters.  This is an area where politicians lie, deceive, cajole, evade, and manipulate on a routine basis.

The simple truth is most of the tax burden is paid by the top 10% of earners.  In fact, the top 3% of earners pay 52% of individual income taxes.  We have a heavily progressive tax system that would make Karl Marx proud.

The Internal Revenue Service published Publication 1304 – Individual Income Tax Returns 2008. The data is summarized below:

AGI Range

# Returns Filed

AGI Total (Thousands)

Total Tax Paid  (Thousands)

Per Filer AGI

Per Filer Tax Paid

Percent of AGI

Percent of Tax Burden

>= 1 million








200K –999.9K








100K – 199.9K








50K – 99.9K








1 – 49.9K








Total 142,450,569



*AGI – Adjusted Gross Income

  • A mere 2/10ths of one percent of tax returns filed had an AGI > $1 million. Yet, 24.1% of the entire tax burden is paid by this group.
  • Those filers with an AGI > $200,000 represent 3% of all tax returns filed.  Yet, 52% of the entire tax burden is paid by the top two groups.
  • Compare the top bracket with the bottom bracket and you’ll find the per filer AGI ratio from the top to bottom bracket is 177 to 1.  A filer in the top bracket has an AGI 177 times that of the lowest bracket.  However, the per filer tax paid ratio between the two brackets is 936 to 1.  A filer in the top brackets pays 936 times that of the lowest bracket.
  • 47% of all income tax returns filed had no tax liability.  That is 67 million income tax returns filed that paid nothing in federal individual income taxes.

Employment, Inflation, and Household Income

In further support of the narrative, the government publishes misleading and inaccurate data regarding employment, inflation, and wages.  Unemployment figures are manipulated by two factors; the magical disappearance of people from the work force, and adjustments performed by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

If we examine the participation rate for the twenty year period of 1989 through 2008 the average participation rate is 66.52%.  From 2009 through 2013 the average participation rate is 64.4%.  As of the latest BLS unemployment report the participation rate is 63.5%.  We would reach full employment once the participation rate drops to 58% though tens of millions more people would be unemployed.  The last time the participation rate was 63.5% was June 1979.

Year Civilian Work Force Not in Labor Force Employed Participation Rate U3 Rate U6 Rate U3 RateUsing 20Year Avg
1989 186,393,000 62,523,000 117,342,000 66.5% 5.3% 5.3%
1994 196,814,000 65,758,000 123,060,000 66.6% 6.1% 10.9% 6.1%
1999 207,753,000 68,385,000 133,488,000 67.1% 4.2% 7.4% 4.25%
2004 223,357,000 75,956,000 139,252,000 66.0% 5.5% 9.6% 6.32%
2009 235,801,000 81,659,000 139,877,000 65.4% 9.3% 16.2% 11.38%
2013 244,828,000 89,304,000 155,524,000 63.5% 7.7% 15.2% 12.45%

Source – Department of Bureau and Labor Statistics, Non-Seasonally Adjusted employment status.  U3 is the publicly released unemployment rate which doesn’t count under-employed workers or workers discouraged from looking for employment.  In 1994, under the Clinton administration the official unemployment rate (u3) no longer included discouraged workers.

The second issue with the unemployment rate is the adjustments made by BLS.  BLS makes two adjustments; the birth/death rate adjustment and seasonal adjustments.  We’ll examine the July 2012 unemployment figures (as this was done during the election cycle for political purposes).  The July report headline number (preliminary) was 163,000 jobs added on expectations of 100,000 jobs.  In addition 155,000 people left the work force as well.  The June 2012 report was revised lower from 88,000 to 64,000 jobs added.   The July report includes the two adjustments I mentioned.  The seasonal adjustment applied by the BLS was +377,000 jobs.  The birth/death rate adjustment was +52,000.  Compared to July of the previous year the birth/death rate adjustment was a mere 5,000.  So, there was a 1000% increase in the birth/death rate adjustment year over year.  The total adjustments by the BLS totaled 429,000 jobs.  If you subtract 429,000 from the 163,000 jobs added it results in a decline of 266,000 jobs.  But this fact isn’t reported by the government, the main stream media, or most of the alternative news sources.

An alternative source for real unemployment and real inflation data is John Williams’ website  According to Williams the real unemployment rate is actually closer to 22%.  His most recent chart is included below:


The other item heavily manipulated by the government is the inflation rate.  We know this as the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  The headline CPI number published is referred to as the CPI-U (Urban Consumer).  The term “core” inflation is often used which excludes changes to both food and energy.  The term core inflation is an illusion because we all need food and energy.  Government bureaucrats invented the term to managed inflation perceptions.

Over the past 30 years the CPI calculation has changed dramatically.  The calculation used during the Carter and Reagan years is more robust and accurate than the calculations used since Clinton took office.  Traditionally, inflation measured the cost of maintaining a certain standard of living.  A fixed basket of goods with stable weighting was used to measure the price differences month over month, and year over year.

In the early 1990s, the CPI calculation was changed because inflation was rising.  One impact of rising inflation was the impact to Social Security payments.  By law, social security increases were tied to inflation rates (known as COLAs or cost of living adjustments).   If SS payments increased according to real inflation rates SS would become bankrupt sooner rather than later (not to mention under Clinton SS payments became taxable income).  In other words, this was a political maneuver to cut Social Security without having to actual say your cutting Social Security.

To address this, the CPI methodology was changed to a cost of satisfaction measurement rather than a cost of living measurement.  The Clinton administration revised the calculation to change the basket of goods and to change the weighting of the basket of goods as well.  The result was a lower CPI rate. Further revisions have occurred since then and the gap between the 1980 CPI calculation and the current CPI calculation has widened significantly.  The aggregate impact of the methodological change is 5.1%[i].  Below is the CPI chart since 1980 using official BLS numbers and using the 1980 calculation.  The most significant divergences between the “old” and the “new” methodology begin in the early 1990s.


I have two final points on inflation.  First, the effects of the Affordable Care Act on inflation are just beginning.  I anticipate the ACA will drive up health care costs and inflation.  Secondly, inflation will occur due to a loss of purchasing power due to currency debasement.

What does all this mean for household income?  Using 2011 constant dollars as the basis of comparison, real wages in 1961 averaged just over $49,000 per person.  By 2011, real wages averaged just over $47,000 per person.  In 2011 constant dollars there has been a $2,000 decline in real wages over a fifty year period.

According to Sentier Research, in January of 2009, the median annual household income was $54,962.  In June of 2012, the median annual household income was, again, $50,945.  The rising cost of food also hits middle-class families directly in the pocketbook.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion’s most recent data (June 2012), for the moderate-cost food plan for a family of four, the average cost per week is $236.60.

From 2009 to 2012 the median annual household income decreased by 7.3%.  The annual food cost is $12,303.  In the average family let’s assume both people work and each drives 20,000 miles per year.  Assuming an average of 20 miles per gallon for both vehicles and the current gas price average of $3.65 per gallon the average family spends $7,300 annually on gasoline.  Combined the family spends $19,603 on food and gas.  That represents 38.5% of the gross household income.

Let’s assume the family has no federal, state, or local tax liability, but they do have Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from their paychecks.  At 7.65% the family pays $3,897 in taxes.  Added to the food and gas costs the family has spent $23,500 on these items.  That is 46% of the family’s gross income[ii].

The graph below (published on but from Sentier Research shows the decline in real household income since 2000.

What to expect in 2013

The two things we can count on from the federal government are; they will continue to assault your rights and your wallet.  Regardless of the Republican and Democrat composition in the House and the Senate an agreement cannot be reached on balancing the federal budget, cutting spending, reforming entitlements, or raising/cutting taxes.  The debt ceiling is raised routinely.  The sequestration process was supposed to reduce future spending by roughly $88 billion per year or 2.37% of federal expenses.  A simple cut in future spending cannot be agreed upon without the typical demagoguery, name calling, and threats.

Congressman Paul Ryan has prepared a 91 page budget that reduces future spending to a 3.4% rate per year, and includes entitlement reform and replacing Obamacare.  The plan balances the budget in ten years.  Ryan’s budget is D.O.A.  The Senate won’t consider it and the President will declare it dead on arrival.  While Obama is in office there is no chance Obamacare will be replaced.  The house recently passed a continuing resolution that included funding for Obamacare.  I suspect any budget passed by the House will not pass the Senate and signed into law by the President.

I will give Congressman Ryan credit for pointing out what should be obvious to anyone with an IQ north of 80.  We have a fundamental spending problem!  Charts in Ryan’s presentation show that federal debt as a percentage of GDP will reach 250% by 2040.  Spending on social security, medicare, health care, and net interest will be 30% of GDP by 2040 on revenues of roughly 18% of GDP.  Moreover, Ryan’s plan calls for a major simplification of the tax code including the elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), two tax brackets, and a lower corporate tax rate amongst other things.  While positive it is a small step in the long journey to reform government.

Given the recent history, I expect 2013 to look eerily similar to 2012.  The federal deficit for FY 2013 will exceed $1 trillion.  The outstanding debt at the end of FY 2013 will exceed $17 trillion.  The participation rate in the employment markets will remain around 63.6% or decline slightly.  The Fed will continue their ZIRP, expand their balance sheet to nearly $4 trillion, expand the money supply, and buy more debt and mortgage-backed securities.  I anticipate real wages will remain stagnate or continue on a downward trajectory.

Sadly, but predictably, the narrative that we are in an economic recovery will continue.  The stock market at all-time highs provides the illusion of a recovery.  While people may feel better because of nominal gains in the stock market, corporations are reaping benefits of cheaper dollars and the Fed’s push for more consumerism through credit market debt to pump up the economy and the stock market.  Consider, Zimbabwe had one of the best total stock market returns over the past ten years, yet with those gains you could barely purchase a dozen eggs.  Most stock market gains are in 401Ks that are untouchable except for retirees.   Stock market gains do not create real wealth and prosperity.  The increase in the production of goods and services creates wage growth and real wealth and prosperity.

In the not too distant future, expect to hear more talk and perhaps congressional action around private 401K accounts.  Eventually, Congress will act to require a certain percentage of 401Ks be invested in U.S. securities.  Today, there is nearly $19 trillion in 401Ks.  I believe it’s only a matter of time before Congress acts to tap into this source of “revenue”.  This notion isn’t all that unrealistic given that the EU, ECB, and other powers in Europe are attempting to tax bank deposits as a means of bailing out to-big-to-fail banks.  Just two weeks ago, there was absolutely no indication of a crisis in Cyprus.  But, given how the EU is handling this situation it is a clear case where they’ll do anything to save the system at the expense of the saver.

Do you think this could happen in the U.S.?  Before you answer, consider there are roughly $8 trillion of deposits in U.S. banks insured by the FDIC.  Now, does FDIC insurance mean your deposits are secure?  The Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) balance as of Dec 31, 2011 was $11.8 billion.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out there isn’t enough FDIC insurance to ensure all these deposits.  By law, the FDIC can borrow up to $30 billion from the U.S. Treasury to cover additional loses.  Anything beyond $30 billion requires an act of Congress.  Moreover, the FDIC Act explicitly states that it is up to the FDIC to decide when you are reimbursed for your deposits.  This could mean weeks, months, years, or decades.  After the EU announced plans to tax deposits bank runs started.  The government immediately shut down all the banks.  They call this a bank holiday.  If any run on banks occurs in the U.S. expect the same reaction.

Most of what will occur in 2013 will be political posturing and preparing for the 2014 elections.  I don’t expect any substantive changes to current policies this year.  In other words, expect more of the status quo from Washington.  I wish I could be more optimistic, but experience has demonstrated Washington is broke and broken.

The global economy and financial condition of certain countries is important to monitor.  Geo-political events are difficult to predict.  The economies of Japan, Italy, Spain, Greece, and France must be watched closely.  The situation in the European Union (EU) is unstable and the future of the Euro and the EU are still unsettled.  Of course, the Middle East remains a powder keg with the situation in Syria and Egypt, and the issues/concerns around a nuclear capable Iran.  A wild-card like North Korea with its recent rhetoric regarding nuclear strikes and the tension between China and Japan is also building.  Needless to say, much is happening on the world stage that could impact us at home.

In closing, we must recognize the U.S. is on an unsustainable path.  By its very definition what is unsustainable must end.   Without any real monetary and fiscal policy changes the only questions are when and how.  Given our experience with the people in Washington the past couple/few decades is it possible for any real change to occur in a timely manner to avoid financial calamity.

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Society is a Blessing so Let us Try Liberty

Society in every State is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.  Thomas Paine penned these eternal words over two hundred years ago.

Man, by his very nature, is a social being.  His wants are greater than his capability to provide for himself without the aid of society.  Beyond the basic need for food, shelter, and clothing a man’s wants are diverse and those wants are present in every man.  Thus, man’s very nature impels him to society where all men interact to satisfy their own self-interests.

Indeed, man is a self-directed, autonomous being with certain desires, interests, needs, and wants.  Just as each man has a diversity of desires, interests, and wants each man also has a diversity of talents and abilities.  In his pursuit of happiness man freely chooses to interact with others to fulfill his interests.  Others in society reciprocate as they pursue their happiness.  Thus, the need to fulfill one’s self-interest acts like a gravitational force resulting in social interaction for the mutual benefit of all.

Consequently, given the diverse interests of man, his talents and abilities, there is a corresponding diversity in outcomes.  Some men are more intelligent than others.  Some men are more capable of producing certain goods or providing certain services.  Some men are more motivated and ambitious.  Some men are more innovative and ingenuous.  The wants and needs of others may also compel man to direct his interests to meet the wants and needs of others.

All these factors create a society where the reciprocity of man towards other men is based upon the self-direction and self-interest of every individual.  What society needs or wants is based upon this bottom-up approach.  This societal interaction amongst men occurs naturally and freely.  One man cannot compel or force another man to produce a good or provide a service, nor can one man compel or force another man to engage in the exchange of goods; whether directly through barter or indirectly using a common medium of exchange.

The free and natural exchange of goods and services forms free markets.  Man’s foremost duty and responsibility is preserving his own life.  Man uses his reason, talent, and ability to ensure his own survival, and by doing so he exercises his unalienable right to liberty.  In society, rightful liberty is the unobstructed action according to your will with limits drawn around the equal rights of others.

Society can function without the imposition of government.  Government is not necessary to ensure society functions, rather government is instituted to better secure our unalienable rights and to provide a minimal number of functions for the whole of society.  For instance, the ability to provide for a common defense or to ensure commerce occurs regularly without obstruction.

The imposition of government on society isn’t to ensure specific outcomes, to benefit one constituency over another, or to forcefully take property from its rightful owner and give it to another that has no rightful claim to it.  Since one individual cannot do this to another individual in society, it follows that the collective rights of society cannot be violated by the very government instituted to better secure those rights.  Therefore, the laws of government are, by extension, the laws of society which themselves are founded upon the laws of nature.  Commerce in free markets occurs naturally due to reciprocal interests and mutual benefits to all parties.

More laws and regulations distorts, interrupts, and even destroys free markets and the natural societal interactions amongst men.   Government laws and regulations are desired by those in society that wish to violate and transmute the foundational basis of free markets to gain advantageous or exclusive benefit over others.  For a variety of reasons, free market participants use government to gain competitive advantage by stifling competition, seeking subsidies, grants, or tax advantages, influencing pricing, or anything else that distorts, interrupts or destroys free markets.

Moreover, government laws and regulations are burdens upon society itself.  When government decides what goods or services you can procure, fines or penalizes you for non-compliance, or otherwise limits your liberty by restricting your actions government creates wrongful liberty.  Wrongful liberty is obstructed action against your will within limits drawn around the superior rights of others.  Government itself is responsible for creating the environment in which your actions are obstructed and others have superior rights over you.  Government centric preferences are creating the haves and the have nots.

Consequently, government has perverted the very basis on which it was founded; to better secure the unalienable rights of man.  The equal rights that all men possess can no longer be exercised because of government laws and regulations.  Thus, the exercise of personal and economic liberty and the pursuit of happiness is obstructed or denied.  The great irony is the belief that government laws and regulations creates more freedom and liberty when if fact it perverts the free markets and imposes the government’s will over individual liberty.

This situation is made possible through the threat of force against you — the individual.  That force is government force.  Volumes of laws and regulations litter society’s landscape.  Government uses force and state sponsored violence to ensure conformity and compliance upon the citizenry.  Paradoxically, a society with free markets functions properly without government interference.  Too often, the very laws enacted by government to prevent misbehavior and transgressions become the cause for disorder and discontent in society.  For a myriad of reasons one or more constituency receives favorable treatment while one or more constituencies are oppressed.

Government’s top-down, autocratic approach is the mirror opposite to a bottom-up society based on free markets.  Government uses the law to plunder property, to oppress the people, divide society along racial and class lines, etc.  Government mandates and directs nearly every aspect of our lives from cradle to grave.  This power is concentrated in the hands of a small cabal of legislators and bureaucrats that believe they known what is best for every individual.  Not only is this belief fallacious it endangers society itself.

Government has strayed off the path of its original intent; to further secure our unalienable rights.  Government is on a path contradictory to and in complete perversion of its stated purposed.  Government is not the protector of unalienable rights; instead government uses law and force to violate the very rights it was supposed to protect.  This is a complete perversion of the law and the reasons why people form political societies.

Frederic Bastiat describes this behavior as legal plunder.  Bastiat says:

Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.

Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.

But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.

Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain — and since labor is pain in itself — it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.

When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor.

It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.

But, generally, the law is made by one man or one class of men. And since law cannot operate without the sanction and support of a dominating force, this force must be entrusted to those who make the laws.

This fact, combined with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the law. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice. It is easy to understand why the law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder. This is done for the benefit of the person who makes the law, and in proportion to the power that he holds.

At this moment in the history of our Union ask yourselves why was government instituted and for what purposes do we need government?  Where these the right purposes?  Does your answer reconcile with what government is today?  Is government a perversion of its original purpose?  Does government use the law to plunder property and inflict injustices?

As Bastait concludes, Let us Now Try Liberty.

God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies. He has provided a social form as well as a human form. And these social organs of persons are so constituted that they will develop themselves harmoniously in the clean air of liberty. Away, then, with quacks and organizers! Away with their rings, chains, hooks, and pincers! Away with their artificial systems! Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations!

And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.


Filed under Constitution, Philosophical