Friday, February 19, 2010

The Battle for Coherence in an Incoherent World, or, Truth Among the Savages


The following is a thread of comments on an article (http://www.campaignforliberty.com/article.php?view=622) entitled "Slandering Secession" by a man named Jack Hunter. Mr. Hunter goes by the nom de plume "Southern Avenger" and believes secession to be a viable solution to our nation's current state of dysfunction.

Key points of his article are as follows:

A. Secession is a viable solution to the nation's current dysfunction.
B. The recent growth of the secessionist movement has nothing to do with racism and everything to do with concern over the sprawling size of the federal government.
C. Those who say otherwise are guilty of slander.

I dissented, mainly because dissenting is what I do. Those of you who know me often lament my tenacity in this area. I have included the comment thread because I believe it highlights a key issue in our national dialogue over the issues at hand: incoherence. In the thread below, you'll see the comments of the secessionists and the fans over at the Campaign for Liberty. This group is some 27,508 strong on Facebook. I eviscerated several of the individuals who engaged me to no end.

I encourage you to read through the comments so that you can see what it is that this country is coming to. In general, I was appalled at the illogical and downright insipid dialogue taking place on this thread. These individuals are seriously entertaining the notion that our current President means to throw us into gulags and prisons if we dissent. I personally would love to see him try, but I don't think he will, and even if he did attempt such an outrageous task, I think he would find that we aren't amendable to such overreach in the United States of America. I pointed out inconsistencies in the original article, bolstered my arguments with facts, and what followed is, well, you'll see below:

Jonathan Gruner A really, really great article! Yesterday at 8:37am · Report 
Justin Kapacinskas I guess Jack Hunter hasn't watched the film "Camp FEMA". Yesterday at 8:40am · Report 
James Pruitt that's not entirely true. The Patriot Act can be used against Americans too. Yesterday at 8:50am · Report 
Chris Mueller I cannot in good conscientious believe that obama and his cronies do not mean ill for American citizens with all that they have done to hurt us in the past year. Yesterday at 8:53am · Report  Firip Onitzuka Prove it!!! (kidding) Yesterday at 8:54am · Report 
Ben Vincent Good, but a tad modest imo Yesterday at 8:58am · Report 
Stephen Dest You don't think that "Obama and the Democrats desire to grow government means they will soon begin throwing Americans in Soviet-style gulags?" I disagree. The key word here being "soon." If you don't think that this is where all this stuff will ultimately wind up then you should join them because then nothing they are doing is really wrong. Of course it ultimately leads to gulags, where else could it? In the end, central planning must be enFORCED and when what do you do with those who refuse to be "enforced" upon? Yesterday at 9:34am · Report 
Tim Smith But what if they are planning to throw us in Soviet-style gulags? And to the original point, it is impossible for a true individualist to be a racist. Yesterday at 9:34am · Report 
Jay Bates Right. It's all about the size of government. So, during the 80s, when Reagan and Congress quadrupled the deficit and raised taxes six times over eight years (I know, those were revenue enhancements, not hikes) there was a serious aboveground effort by small government Republicans to secede. No. When George H.W. Bush raised taxes and supported NAFTA, these same types mounted an effort for nullification with broad support. No. When Bill Clinton attempted to mount a huge expansion of the federal government through health reform, secession gained traction. No again. When George W. Bush trampled the Constitution with the two Patriot Acts; presided over the expansion of the federal government with No Child Left Behind, a Medicare prescription drug benefit, and the Department of Homeland Security, these people were in the streets. No, not even when judges asserted sovereign immunity for his administration that is found nowhere in our laws or the Constitution. Not even when John Yoo said the President had the power to crush the testicles of the infant child of a mere suspect did these individuals rise up in outrage. And W. had record deficits to boot! Name one damn thing Obama has done that equals or exceeds the litany of federal abuse I 've listed above. The only difference is that he's black. It is about race. I've been to the rallies, I know people who agitate for secession, and when you boil it down, they are really pissed that a black Democrat is their President. Period. Yesterday at 9:43am ·  Vicky Petroelje Nothing is impossible. Think about it. Yesterday at 9:44am · Report 
Jay Bates And I'm not saying everyone on the side of secession is racist, I'm just saying your newfound broad appeal has a great deal to do with racism on a deeper level. Yesterday at 9:49am · 
Wylie McMillin Don't use the language that is loaded with "racist" subtext unless you mean it. Those of you that hate Obama.... it is a huge stretch from disagreeing with him to Soviet Styled Gulags. It was Bush that found a loop hole around the constitution. It seems that both sides are drinking the Kool Aid Yesterday at 9:49am · Report 
Bryan McMillan Well, put, Jack Hunter! Yesterday at 9:54am · Report 
Greg Kelly Secession and racist are completely unrelated, not sure how you can concoct a intrinsic connection between the two...the desire to separate from this bloated parasitic kleptocracy has nothing to do with your perspective on relations with your fellow human - I don't really agree that secession is the best course, but I can certainly appreciate the appeal it has to a lot of folks... Yesterday at 10:26am · Report 
Tina Fay Nilges Thibodeau Wylie, It's not a matter of "hating" Barry, it's a matter of disagreeing with his policies. If you think he is not leading this country on a hard left turn. ... . into socialism and he doesn't support Muslim's then you my friend need to open your eye's before it is too late. Take a look at any of Barry's campaign promises on youtube video's, you ... See More Yesterday at 10:29am · Report 
Jay Bates I don't excuse the man, Stephen. I merely draw upon those examples to dispute the central thesis Hunter pushes. The fact that you couldn't or wouldn't comprehend that tells us plenty about you. Either you intentionally misrepresented what I was saying, in which case you're an intellectually disingenuous liar; or you just didn't get what I was saying because you were too incompetent to understand what you were reading. There you have it: willfully deceitful and dishonest, or illiterate and stupid insofar as you do not understand what you read. Yesterday at 10:35am · 
Jay Bates But in case you'd like to try again, Stephen, here's the blog I write with my personal outlook on matters. Yesterday at 10:39am · 
Jay Bates http://screedofmomus.blogs pot.com/2010/02/terrified- of-capitalism-cronyism.htm l Yesterday at 10:40am · 
Stephen Dest "Name one damn thing Obama has done that equals or exceeds the litany of federal abuse I 've listed above. The only difference is that he's black. It is about race." How Obama matches up to past abuses and idiotos is no way excuses what he is doing right now and RIGHT NOW he is president. To excuse Obama in this way just rationalizes his incompetency by comparing him to the incompetencies of past presidents. One has nothing to do with the other. And, to argue that those who point out Obama's incompetency simply do so because of race is a prejudice all in itself. Yesterday at 10:43am · Report 
Jay Bates Stephen, are you there? Still reading? Hmmm? Yesterday at 10:47am · 
Jay Bates They aren't pointing out his incompetence out of honest concern. These are the same yokels who ride around with W stickers and I Miss Reagan stickers. They excoriate Obama while venerating those two. If criticism of Obama made one racist, I'd be a Grand Dragon, you simpleton. Yesterday at 10:54am ·  Jay Bates The point is that the size of government isn't driving the concerns and passions of the secessionists; otherwise they'd have been screaming since the 80s at the latest and the early 20th century at the earliest. Yesterday at 10:57am · 
Paula Perry I can see why they would want to throw SOME Americans into gulags.! OB--- avoids NOW any type of conference where he will have to answer LIVE. I respect him and his office. But, the majority of Americans are very concerned about this President and his policies. Some of us can see beyond the bend in the road, which gives us great cause for concern. Listen to both sides, I should say all sides, and make a conscious , educated decision. Yesterday at 11:01am · Report 
Dan Roveto Jay - I hated Bush's policies too, and Clinton's and Reagan's, etc... Your notion that everyone who doesn't agree with you is racist is annoying at best. Yesterday at 11:09am · Report 
Stephen Dest Jay, I think you are wrong about why people weren't screaming before. They're screaming now because they are pearing over the edge of the cliff that yes, the preceeding idiot politicians helped push us towards. But, now they see Obama giving us what appears to be one BIG final shove over the edge and it scares them. I don't believe it has anything to do with anything else, even race, it's simply his poliltics is the culmination of everything bad that has preceeded him. Remember, as Obama even said, he was black before he was elected. Yesterday at 11:21am · Report 
Maurice Porcelain Obama is a Dual Citizen freedomwatch.uservoice.com Obama is a Dual Citizen: Leo C. Donofrio is a lawyer fully licensed to practice in the State of New Jersey and the federal... Yesterday at 11:23am · Report 
Josh Hicks Like Dan said, there have been many who were against Bush's policies, and Clinton's, and Reagan's, etc. A lot of the clamor suddenly occurring has to do with Republican voters upset that there's a Democrat in office-- a lot of these people will probably go back to sleep once Republicans are back in power. Case in point: Republican voters clamored against Clinton because he was a Democrat (that may not have been their reasoning, but in reality, that was their reasoning), resulting in the "Republican Revolution"...and then turned around and blindly supported Bush when he was elected. You also have to take into consideration all the people who were awakened by Ron Paul's presidential campaign. A very minuscule percentage of people out there may be against Obama because he's black, but for the majority, what I said above holds true. Yesterday at 11:35am · Report 
David A Stollsteimer @Stephen- You hit the nail right on the head!! Yesterday at 11:39am · Report 
Jay Bates Let me simplify it for the Philistines in the room: I never said anyone who disagreed with me was racist. Seriously. Read what I wrote. What I said was that this newfound fervor for secession is, on some level, driven by the racism of a select group who have taken up secession as their banner in order to escape an electoral result they hate in part... See More Yesterday at 11:44am · 
Jay Bates Stephen, quadrupling the annual deficit in the 80s from 50 billion to 200 billion wasn't a big shove?! That's in 1980 era dollars, so we're looking at deficit which would be 64% higher at its peak once a 3.54% annualized inflation was factored in if we restated it in today's dollars. Reagan did this over an eight year presidency. What's more, actual deficits were higher than reported because Reagan started the grand tradition of hiding deficits under Social Security surpluses. This little gimmick enabled Clinton to produce his pseudo surpluses later on. And yet, no one on the right wanted to split the Union over it, did they? Yesterday at 12:03pm · 
Joseph Kaleb Edmondson Jay Bates: While I understand the points you're making, and agree with them, I also believe that the "Ron Paul Revolution" opened many eyes to the fact that the government is out of control and, quite frankly, has been for some time. People are worried and not only about a black president. Between the Fed, the Congress, corporations and foreign interventions, there's reason to be scared. I never gave a damn about any of this until I started hearing this crazy old doctor talking about it. I used to just judge politicians based on whether I liked them or not. Now, I only look for ones I like and there are far too few. Yesterday at 12:26pm · Report 
Robert Floyd I dont really see how one one can blame just the president alone. Congress gets the majority of the blame. That is where the problems lies more than with whom ever is President. Yesterday at 12:27pm · Report
 Jay Bates Joe, again...the point the article was establishing was that secession isn't driven by racism. Two years ago, that may have been true. Today, most of the energy comes from a new influx of individuals who are pissed off about having a black President. When you distill it down its essence, their objection isn't Big Government. They loved Reagan and W. A few even liked Clinton. Those Presidents each expanded government. So the idea that we've got a bunch of small government ideologues driving secession is asinine. That is my point. Yesterday at 12:45pm · 
Nicholas Haskins Love the Southern Avenger. Tell it like it is Jack! Here's a link to this article on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/wat ch?v=xWKksxm__TI Yesterday at 1:15pm · Report  Jay Bates Yes, it's silly to call liberals socialist (as he juxtaposes Obama's head next to that of mass murdering psychotic Joseph Stalin), just SILLY! Yesterday at 1:41pm · 
Gabe Hall What a Busch League article... TO Jay Bates, wonderfully put on all levels. Some people on here just love having the blinders on and cherry picking what works for them. Reminds me of the Birthers, tea baggers and Palinites, but hey I heard Palin loves CofL maybe she will be their new candidate! Yesterday at 2:34pm · Report 
Gabe Hall A good read.... http://www.bloomberg.com/a pps/news?pid=20601088&sid= a.SdDcVdEh2k Yesterday at 2:43pm · Report 
Stephen Dest Obama's defenders and his apoligists almost always hide behind either his race or George Bush. What Obama is doing is worse than any ONE that preceeded him. This is true whether or not I like Bush 1, Bush 2, Reagan, Clinton, FDR, George Washington, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Limbaugh, Tea Parties or I'm a racist or not. As long as this fact, and we know this is a fact, is denied, people will continue to use rationalizations to defend the worst president of all time. Calling people names like "tea baggers" and "birthers" is just ad hominem. Yesterday at 3:29pm · Report 
Jay Bates I appreciate the compliment, but the Fed has to go. Full employment has not existed since the Garden of Eden, and an organization founded to defend the value of the dollar should not lose 97% of the dollar's value through its efforts if it wishes to survive. Therefore, the dollar must go. The example presented in the article (that of gold being dumped in San Francisco) is easily avoided of you merely outlaw foreign bank transfers of gold beyond certain amounts, or altogether. True wealth comes from productivity gains, a fact easily seen when you factor inflation into our GDP and compare it to 1980's GDP. Instead of $15 trillion, you have $5.85 trillion, which is $650 billion in growth over 29 years. Impressive, isn't it? Yesterday at 3:53pm · 
Jay Bates Stephen, you ignorant slut. I'm not defending him! He's indefensible! So read what I wrote if you're capable, and maybe you'll get it. Yesterday at 3:55pm · 
Barry Hess I agree. ALL options should always be on the table when it comes to the protection of the rights of the individual. I, of course, prefer to lead the nation as opposed to secede from this nation. That's why I'm willing to offer myself up for the office of Arizona Governor. Yesterday at 3:55pm · Report Jay Bates How noble of you, Barry. What are your positions? Yesterday at 3:57pm · 
Jay Bates The post should read the Fed must go. I regret the error. Yesterday at 4:01pm · 
Gabe Hall Summarized from http://www.globalresearch. ca/index.php?context=va&ai d=16463 ___Contrary to the beliefs of Ron Paul and Austrian economists, the lack of a national bank does not end the boom-bust cycle inherent in a market-economy. ___Recessions/depressions do not happen because of bad monetary policy, which can accentuate them. Instead, recessions occur naturally under capitalism, which produces a nearly unlimited amount of goods and services for a very limited market. As wages are driven down by the demands of profit-seeking corporations, the ability for the market to consume the produced goods shrinks (of course). ___As wages continue their downward spiral, the demand for credit rises, as workers look to compensate for their lowered standard of living. But banks will issue only so much credit, and will shut off the money-valve when their loans come back unpaid (the “credit crunch”). When this happens, a recession begins. Austrian economics looks at the last stage of the economic cycle — the credit crunch —as its cause. Thus, the money lenders receive all the blame, while the other corporate culprits — functioning according to the “rules of the market” — are left unblemished. Bankers are blamed for what is ultimately the natural processes of capitalism: too many goods are produced to be consumed within the confines of the market. ___Every major economic goal of Ron Paul would fail to alter the above dynamic. For example, if the U.S. were to return to the gold standard would giant corporations cease to dominate social life? Would the undemocratic power of the super-rich be somehow restricted? Would workers wages increase, enabling them to consume all the goods produced? Paul never asks such questions, but the answers are obvious — mega-corporations and the billionaires who own them will continue to wield more than votes to steer society in their favor, at the continued expense of workers’ wages. ___Austrian economics is simply one of the many variations of free-market capitalism. The goal being an un-regulated market economy, where there would be no limit to the mega-employers greed for profits, no minimum wage, no social security, no workplace protections, no social safety net, etc. The super-rich, however, would be “free” to do whatever they liked with their money, since the “free market” doesn’t levy income taxes. Yesterday at 4:57pm · Report  Moe Kinney Outright secession isn't the answer. A return of the proper, Constitutional balance between state power and federal power is what's necessary. The feds seek to dehumanize the citizens by forcing their one size fits all approaches to a vastly diverse population. They will always alienate large numbers of people with this approach, and their solution is to push conformity with threat of force and blackmail. This movement is growing not because there's a black president. It's growing because people see big central government as a failed institution. Since 1993, we've seen both of the main political parties have their chance at control of both houses of Congress and the presidency. They've promised us all sorts of things, but the only result is an expansion of federal power in all spheres, and a long string of policies which serve a politically well connected few to the detriment of the vast majority of U.S. citizens. Folks are realizing that no matter who they vote for, Washington D.C. is unwilling or unable to govern in a manner that will serve the best interests of the people. Our state governments are our last and best hope. Yesterday at 6:58pm · Report 
Barry Hess please make sure you distinguish between "Barry"s. I consider myself to be "The GOOD Barry". At least put an "O" after the Barry to distinguish. My positions can be found at www.HessforGovernor.com Yesterday at 8:31pm · Report 
Jay Bates Gabe, you don’t know the first thing about economics. From the top: there is no inherent boom-bust cycle that occurs as a result of capitalism. Corporations do not produce unlimited or a nearly unlimited amount of goods for a limited market. This is because they will go bankrupt if they do. In business, inventory control is extremely important. Moreover, corporations do seek to limit the amount that they pay workers. Common sense will tell you to lower costs (wages fit into this category) if you’re a businessman. However, there is a medium between the corporation which seeks to maximize profits and the worker who wants to maximize his wage. That medium usually depends on how much demand there is for a given product. If a corporation can sell X number of widgets, they will do everything they can to sell that number, including raising wages to attract the right workers, or at least the right number of workers to ensure that X number of widgets make it to market in order to meet demand. If they fail to do so, enthusiasm for the widgets among consumers might wane. The demand for credit does not merely occur out of a desire to make up for reduced wages. Without some entity to extend the credit, demand is irrelevant. This is where your central banks comes in. It floods the market with liquidity by printing up more money, thereby making it cheap for banks to borrow, which in turn makes it cheaper and therefore more likely that consumers will borrow in one form or another. Very often, this isn’t connected to any real demand per se, but is instead the tool of a central bank trying to kickstart demand in a down economy. Without the central bank, retail and investment banks wouldn’t lend in excess of actual demand. Market forces would decree their lending rates and make them cautious about taking on leveraged risk. At the end of the day, the fact is that every economic cycle we’ve seen (and we’ve seen 21 recessionary cycles in the past 107 years) coincides almost exactly with monetary supply manipulation. It’s artificial. It creates the bubbles, then it attempts to prick them, and then it attempts to reinflate them again. The argument that the Bloomberg article made about recessions occurring naturally before the reinstitution of the central bank ignores the role of government regulation in stimulating or deflating an economy. Let us review those recessionary cycles in order to explain. In 1802, the U.S. entered a recessionary cycle largely due to the fall off in demand after the Peace of Amiens ended a war between the England and France. Wars tend to kickstart demand, and, as we all know, who prints up extra money to pay for those wars? Why, a central bank does! The Embargo Act of 1807 led to a precipitous drop in trade between England and the United States. This started a three year recession which ultimately ended in 1810 with, guess what, a repeal of the embargo by Macon’s Bill Number 2! Of course, combined with the fact that we had a central bank going into the War of 1812, and the reality that this central bank printed up lots of money to pay for the war, led us to a depression in 1815 at the war’s end. Of course, the fact that the government also failed to redeem money notes for gold and silver in 1814 and again in 1819 coincided with the rise of new banks which issued new notes. Again, the monetary supply was inflated, and therefore you had an explosion of investment unconnected to real demand but driven by the fact that the market was flooded with bank notes and/or excess liquidity and credit. The failure to redeem notes issued by the central bank in 1819 continued on into 1821. This led directly to the continuing of matters from 1815 up into 1823. The reality is that the depression of 1815 never really ended in 1821 as advertised. The systemic issues weren’t addressed (i.e. suspension of specie payments and the rise of external banknotes from new banks seeking to fill the void). At or around this time, the Bank of England issued liquidity for investments in Latin America. To give you an idea of how off the wall the investments were, one of the investment opportunities was in an imaginary country by the name of Poyais! After the veil had been lifted, all of the banks exposed to said investments began failing. After all, when you invest in a country that doesn’t even exist, you might lose a few pounds or dollars. After the Bank of France funneled some gold into the Bank of England to bail it out, the situation stabilized. And then we move on to 1828, when England prohibited its colonies from trading with the United States. The United States reciprocated. This led to a recession, as a significant chunk of commerce was closed off. In 1833, more credit driven speculation in real estate led to another recession. In 1836, the Second Bank ended. This is where we move beyond central banking. Yesterday at 9:29pm ·  Jay Bates Now, to understand the problem, you must understand what money is. Money is merely a note for something of value (usually gold or silver, known as specie). By itself, money is merely paper and ink. It’s worthless. Enter the banks, who proceeded to engage in fraud. They issued money beyond their ability to redeem said money in gold or silver. In doing so, they flooded the market with easy money, thereby spurring a rash of speculation, the end result of which would be the failure of 343 banks out of the 850 banks in the U.S. at the time. You see, when people tried to redeem their notes for actual gold or bullion, the banks couldn’t deliver because they had printed up a money supply that far exceeded the bullion on hand. This is the exact same thing that happened to the Second Bank in 1814 and from 1819-1821. This crisis lasted from 1837-38 officially, but I’ll put myself out there to contend that it actually lasted well into the mid 1840s, when it briefly picked up around the time of the Mexican American War (during which time the American government also began selling revenue bonds to finance the war), only to run into another central bank crisis generated in 1846 by the Bank of England. The 1853-54 recession wasn’t a recession. The only thing that receded was business investment. Period. Everything else grew, including that all important metric, production, which leads me to believe that demand was present. This brings us to 1857, when a case of major embezzlement over at the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company shook the markets and investor confidence. Furthermore, government interference compounded matters. Dred Scott vs. Sandford led to the prospect of slavery becoming legal throughout the American West. Railroad bonds fell sharply in value as a result. Furthermore, government regulation in the form of tariffs also contributed to the stifling of trade during the 1840s and 50s, and tellingly enough, in 1857, tariffs were reduced to 17% because the government recognized it had to do something to stimulate trade. This brings us to the 1860s, during which the first real recessionary downturn was in 1865 after the country had ended the Civil War. The fact of the matter was a good deal of this recession was due to international crises, most or all of which originated in central banking fiascos abroad. What a shock. Then we come to the Long Depression, which began in 1873 and wouldn’t end until 1879. Our government did something spectacularly wonderful when it passed The Coinage Act and decimated the price of silver. Not surprisingly, investors weren’t thrilled. Again, this was government interference. Market forces didn’t cause it. Furthermore, Jay Cooke & Company, at that time the largest bank, simply overshot the mark on some railroad investments. The company didn’t exactly work within the limitations of its capital reserves. As a result, it imploded. That’s what happens in those situations. On top of that, its namesake had been involved in Canadian bubbles and financial scandals at or around the time. This wasn’t capitalism. Capitalism doesn’t posit for overleveraging; it instead calls such practices what they are: fraud. You’re gambling with money you don’t have. It’s the same with embezzlement or any other financial crime. The problem in each of the examples I’ve present above and each of the ones that follow right up until the Federal Reserve was instituted usually centered on one or more of three key areas: Central bank malfeasance or overextension in the form of expanded credit/liquidity. Private sector fraud or criminal activity Government regulation that either obstructed or killed commerce and thus shocked the market. Guess what? Capitalism stands against all three items. Read The Wealth of Nations. The lack of a central bank here didn’t necessarily mean that our market was exempted from the effects of central banking. It merely meant that we didn’t have a central bank. That’s it. Our economy wasn’t in a vacuum. We transacted commerce abroad in markets where central banks had an effect, and as a result, we were exposed. To portray the central bank as a success on any level is to ignore the fact that in every country where a central bank has existed, there has been massive currency devaluation and massive economic upheaval. In every country that transacted business with countries where a central bank held sway over the currency supply, the problems were exported to their domestic markets like a virus. Gabe, you simply don’t know what you’re talking about. You Googled an article, put it up, and yet you don’t understand the underlying forces at work because you haven’t investigated the recessions in any detail on your own. I have. I’m not saying that Austrian economics is perfect. No system or theory is. And furthermore, trying to perfectly implement capitalism in a pluralistic society such as a ours is a near impossible task. It’s never been done. We don’t have dictators. However, we know what the effects of lowered tariffs have been: mutual benefits for all parties involved in the form of increased commerce and lower prices. We also know that we don’t live in an entirely rational world. A central bank exists as a weapon of economics, a tool of national defense, if you will. In the event that another country tries to screw our economy, we’ve got to have a means of firing back. That’s reality. Austrians are pacifists at heart. They believe that commerce discourages military aggression. It does, to a point. However, you occasionally encounter a jerk who just wants to fight. He doesn’t care about the economic repercussions. Kaiser, anyone? Remember the movie The Big Lebowski? Remember the scene where the Dude tells Walter that Smokey is a pacifist and has problems? Remember Walter’s response? “You mean beyond pacifism?” Exactly. Yesterday at 9:29pm · 
Gabe Hall But what about corruption and greed then... How do those factor into the "Super Wealthy" of Corporate America and the world beyond? What system of checks and balances do you propose and is it even possible to enforce anything without it being seen as socialistic take over? You say I don't know much but I do know absolute power controls absolutely, and the shady corporate power people report to no one but board members and stock holders. Yesterday at 11:33pm · Report 
Jay Bates So your answer is to invest absolute power in a central bank? 4 hours ago · 
Jay Bates Moreover, what you need to understand is the history of corporate power in this country. Corporations were quite limited in their power at the beginning. They were given a charter outlining the specific task they were to complete or carry out, and they were limited to that task alone. Enter Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad, an 1886 case which has been used as a precedent to establish that a corporation is a person under the 14th Amendment, and therefore entitled to the protections of the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, the actual opinion of the case contains no such statement. The clerk made a note of a purported statement to this effect by Chief Justice Morrison C. Waite. Justice Waite apparently made the statement before opening arguments began. Court reporter J.C. Bancroft Davis included the statement in his head notes, or his case summary. He then corresponded with Morrison C. Waite in order to ensure that his quote was an accurate representation of what was said. Here is the response given by Waite: "I think your mem. in the California Railroad Tax cases expresses with sufficient accuracy what was said before the argument began. I leave it with you to determine whether anything need be said about it in the report inasmuch as we avoided meeting the constitutional question in the decision." In other words, the court avoided the constitutional question in its decision as to whether or not a corporation was a legal person. This is important because the decision alone (the majority opinion) is legally binding. The headnotes are not legally binding as precedent. In other words, though the case has been cited time and time again as precedent to bolster the idea that a corporation is a person, the Chief Justice of the Court at that time specifically said the court never addressed the issue in its opinion. He says they AVOIDED it. Santa Clara cannot be used as precedent, and stare decisis should not apply. However, owing to the uniquely corrupt way our justice system works, and the fact that most individuals are utterly ignorant of the facts involved in such cases, you've had some 124 years of corporate overreach. Today corporations have virtually unlimited rights as a direct result of this. The men who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights never intended or envisioned a corporation being covered under its dictates as an individual person. Period. Moreover, everything about the case was extraordinary. The corporations used the Jurisidiction and Removal Act of 1875 in order to get around the state courts of California, which had ruled against them. The Act in question was written to cover slaves seeking legal redress in Southern state courts. It was never intended to apply to corporations. Therefore, its appropriation for this purpose was abusive and incorrect. The law does not exist for the convenience of those who would pervert it to suit their purposes. It is crafted for specific purposes which may be gleaned both by the explicit content of the law and by the body of correspondence surrounding the law (such as the letter written by Chief Justice Waite). You have no ability to challenge this with any efficacy because all you can do is google a site and post it. You don't research it, don't bother to look at matters in any depth, and you don't know what you are talking about as a result. You have an inkling that something is wrong or unjust, and you talking about generalities and employ platitudes to express your feelings. Feelings. Whoa, whoa, whoa! God save us from the feelings of the intellectually lazy. It's all they have, for they lack the diligence to attain anything like facts in order to construct a foundation for their feelings. Gabe, you may not like the way I've presented this. I can guarantee you that you think I'm a jerk right now for the last two paragraphs. But the truth of the matter is that you know I'm right. I don't blame corporations for the state of our country, and I don't blame the wealthy either. I blame people like you. You don't do the legwork necessary to put up a strong check or balance against such abuses. And you're representative of damn near every other individual who has a general inkling that something is wrong but no specifics to back up your inklings. Democracy and representative government are participatory. Participation is not a privilege, it's an obligation. It requires work. You have to go out and find the facts and do the work. If you want to reclaim your government, and your country, read a book. Go chase down some information. And when you get on to a site like this, know what the hell it is you're talking about.


And that is that. I am tired of the inaction, folks. I've tried various methods, and I've gotten the point. I realize that you simply don't care. Your idea of civic action and sedition is watching Fox News and asking others if they like Glenn Beck. I rue that the conservative movement has descended to a point where one's love of Glenn Beck could be a form of validation, or one's dislike could be a form of disqualification, but it is what it is. I will no longer be writing notes on this site. I will not contact you for political purposes or encourage you towards activism. Do what you want, it's what you were going to do regardless. If you want to follow what I write, I'll be over at blogspot. The address is in my info section. I will continue to tilt at windmills and incoherence, but as far as believing that my countrymen are capable of sustained resistance or comprehension, I'm done. So many of the conversations I've had over the past eight years have manifested to me time and time again that my country and its residents are hopelessly condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past because they are too intellectually lazy and slothful to be bothered to know anything about that past. I am a Libertarian, I believe in small government economically and socially, and I know why I believe what I believe. It isn't hard to form beliefs based on facts. Read a book, and challenge yourself to independently verify and research its contents so that you can glean the truths and the deceits contained within the book. My enthusiasm for change is undiminished. I believe that it is necessary and vital for our country to survive and to thrive. I believe that there is a right course to take, and that we are going in the opposite direction. I contend because I care a great deal, and I invest the time, effort, and energy towards the end of change. It is nowhere written that participation in democracy should be easy, or that you have a legitimate option of opting out of your country if you don't like where it's going. On the contrary, you should redouble your efforts and try even harder. We are losing our belief in ourselves, our national identity, and our sense that America matters and is uniquely relevant in the world. When you look to Europe, or to Asia, ask yourself if you believe those societies are so open and so tolerant that a black man could sit in the highest elected office. When you come up with the answer to that, then you'll know that our country, with all of its flaws and all of its imperfections, is the best hope for the world at large. We stand as an example of what is possible to the rest of the world. We are the best. We should not stand ashamed of our achievements, our difference, and our uniqueness. It is what makes us special. We should not stand indifferent to the threats that emerge from within our own borders in the form of ideologues who would seek to tear that difference down in order to erect a stultifying sameness or uniformity in its place. We are not the former Soviet republics, or the nation of Yugoslavia. Secession is blasphemy against the difference that is the United States. It is treachery of the highest order, and treason. We are Americans, and we don't settle our differences by quitting our country. I go to ensure that there is never a day where our country comes to resemble any of those other countries whose populations lacked the fortitude and the decency to work together in common towards a better and more perfect union. I will not stand for secession. I resist the notion that America is not redeemable, or salvageable. I don't accept that other countries have a better model. In the sense that America has been unique and different, it has succeeded wildly. But when we lowered ourselves to the depths of others in order to emulate our lessers for whatever reason, we have receded in our greatness. This patchwork of regulatory tariffs, these anti-trust exemptions which enable corporations and oligarchies to function without competition, these distributorships, these laws which attempt to strive against natural order itself by claiming that a corporation can own our DNA and our genes, that individuals should be equal not only before the law but in outcomes regardless of their effort and the merit thereof, these are treasonous and heretical ideas to be stamped out at every turn. There is no compromise. There is no middle ground. You will decide, and if you abstain, you have decided to stand with those men whose lives are existences in the shadows of others bolder than they dared to be. You will have bolstered mediocrity by failing to contend for superior ideas and the prevalence of merit in our culture and our nation. Seventy years we have stood in the throes of socialism, and we have massive public debt, corruption, and demographics and constituencies who perpetually come before the state with hands outstretched and mouths open demanding the sustenance and advancement that they are too indolent and shameful to go and get by their own honest effort. We tolerate the hoary headed geriatric tyranny of our elders as they bankrupt our nation's treasury with their incessant demands for more, more, more, on the backs of those who work for a living. We tolerate those who refuse to work, we give them sustenance and a passable life, and we incentivize their bad behavior. We provide the wealthy of our nation with incentive after incentive to behave crassly, to indulge their every whim, to bankrupt their companies in order to fund their every desire, and we say nothing and do nothing substantive to prevent recurrences in the future. We allow for an aristocracy of wealth to emerge and promote primogeniture, where the heirs of those who worked and accomplished can emerge at birth through no labor of their own with the assurance that they will come to adulthood with greater political influence than someone who has worked his or her entire life! Tell me what benefit there is to having a Paris Hilton or a Nicole Richie holding the ability to contribute vast sums of money to a candidate? What could possibly emerge from this other than a corrupt and bastardized result? Money is not speech! It is influence! You know this. You have the capacity to see that the current arrangement is gravely wrong, unsustainable, and downright corrupt. And yet you do nothing of substance to combat it. If and when this country collapses, it will not be an indictment of its wealthy or its indolent. It will stand as a conviction of those who stood in the middle, quaking fearfully or standing with indifference, as the last best hope for the world crashed around them while they did nothing to stop it. I confess in tongues of fire a love of God and my country, and a sense that duty to the former compels me to contend for the fate of the latter, and I will not quit my country though I turn with disgust away from its people. If you will not fight, you deserve whatever is forced upon you, be it liberty or tyranny.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Re: Bob Ludke, Everything's up but Social Security

Mr. Ludke's complaints about the lack of a COLA increase highlight the problem facing our nation. The fact remains that his age group has the lowest rate of poverty among all demographics in our nation. Their lives are financed by a gigantic wealth transfer from current workers to retirees, many of whom came of age in the days of pensions as opposed to 401k plans.

Social Security is a pay as you go plan. No one has ever paid into an account in their name that was then tapped into in order to fund their retirement. In order to collect, you must take the earnings of a working family. At a time when our nation faces 10% official unemployment (the actual number is more likely around 17%),

Mr. Ludke should realize he is fortunate to have anything at all, given that the currently employed shoulder the burden of paying his way at a time when many of us aren't making enough to get by. The fact that Mr. Ludke's bellicose attitude wasn't turned towards Wahington in his youth is telling: had he been effective, perhaps he could have kept his Social Security withholding in order to invest it as he saw fit. However, it likely never crossed his mind to consider opposing Social Security on the grounds that it was nothing more than a gigantic wealth transfer scheme whereby the property (yes, earnings are property) of one party (the worker) is plundered to fund the lifestyle of another party (the retiree). No, Mr. Ludke was fine with the notion of being robbed in his youth so long as he could rob in his old age.

Nearly all of our deficit spending comes from such wealth transfer schemes, be it the foreign aid which Mr. Ludke so opposes, or Medicare and its prescription drug benefit. I say we cut it all out. I'm sure Mr. Ludke's children will be more than happy to have his entitled attitude as their burden. Mr. Ludke should realize one thing about government aid of any sort: what the government gives, it can either reduce or take away.