Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Much has been made of the decline of public trust in the government. It is as if our officials and leaders are lamenting the decline of civility and decorum in our society, as though the traditions of the past were noble things which actually meant something. And to a degree, the traditions of the past did mean something, so long as they were compacts of personal behavior between individuals.
We used to follow yes and no with ma’am and sir, and we were conscious of our fellow man or woman. We were aware of our fellow man, because this was proper, and propriety mattered. We knew that five paces behind us, an elderly woman was walking slowly, and so when we reached the door, we did not go through it, we instead pulled it open and held it for our fellow traveler to pass through. We were courteous.
We used to refrain from using profanity so casually as we use it in the current day. Profanity therefore had force and significance. Five dollar words, we called them, and when someone used them, they were really expending something. You knew that some line had been crossed, and while that line was intangible and even imperceptible to the naked eye, the reality of the matter was that we knew the line existed and that it had been transgressed. Beginning in the late 50s, social conventions unraveled.
It should not have been this way. We had codified courtesy into every arena of our society. The wealthy paid a top tax rate of 90%, and companies readily accepted that a portion of the profits generated by the company were due to the pension fund. Courtesy and decorum were almost statutory. Individuals knew that they were to show up on time to work, and that they were to work the full portion of their shifts and leave if and only if the whistle blew. It was near Pavlovian.
We were a homogenized society. Rows and rows of neat little houses, all arrayed with stultifying sameness, poured across the landscapes of suburbs. Boys wore their PF Flyers and Chuck Taylors and played baseball. Girls wore lace and pink and frills, and they played with the surrogate toys in order to prepare for the life ahead, when plastic would become flesh and the cries of a child would be real.
It was a telling fact of the era that the sex surveys of one Dr. Kinsey revealed a licentiousness beneath the comfortable surface, and that a good bit of Kinsey’s data was skewed because it relied on heavy sampling from prison populations and prostitutes. You see, only a certain class of individual would talk about sexuality so freely, would engage sexuality so freely, in defiance of convention and the dominant culture norms of the time. The criminal, or the deviant, was the only sample you could get to admit to such practices. Those who suffer under or derive pleasure from satyriasis and nymphomania are denying the central tenet of civilization, which is that sexuality can be domesticated and tamed like everything else in service of some common standard.
Your father was stoic. He had two ranges of emotion: calm and anger. Men didn’t cry, or have crises. The crisis was entirely a feminine experience. A man’s greatest fear was to be feminized, and therefore, he had to maintain self-control.
In short, everyone existed behind a dam which held their feelings and emotions in check. States actually regulated the sexuality of their citizens by defining which positions and practices were appropriate, even for married couples. In fact, states determined who one could marry by their laws. The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 sought to outlaw miscegenation and prohibit intermarriage and sexual intercourse between individuals of different races in Virginia.
These sorts of statutes existed throughout the United States. Moreover, they were intended, as Lawrence v. Texas noted “to prohibit nonprocreative sexual activity more generally, whether between men and women or men and men.” This sort of statist power went on for centuries. It still exists today. States seek to make of their citizens adherents to an ideal which denies human nature and human experience validity by criminalizing it. Sodomy statutes prohibited not only anal sex, but also oral sex, and they did not distinguish between heterosexual couples and homosexual couples.
The inevitable backlash against such overreach leads to destabilization. It leads, simply and bluntly, to where we are today. Our nation is a stew of polarization, where individuals are no longer American, but are instead every sub-classification of American imaginable. We proliferate in certain key commodities in American culture today: money, weapons, and nomenclatures.
What existed before was not a respect for the institutions of government, but rather a fear of what those institutions could do to you if you stepped outside of their definition of an ideal with your behavior. States are not parents. Parents are parents, and the great danger of our society is that we are on the precipice of seeing parents actually buy into the notion that it does take a village to raise a child. It takes an individual to raise an individual. It takes a mother and father bound together by a common commitment to enter into procreation, and to see the process of upbringing through to completion.
But ultimately, it takes an individual committed to being a model of individuality to demonstrate to a child the way in which he should go. Our children have become weak and cowardly because their models show the same to them. We are a nation of emoters and hand wringers. Nowhere is this more true than our view of government. We see an attitude towards the current tyrants taking root among our citizens, and it is not the appropriate attitude. It is despair and fear. If the government fails, we have failed. Our nation is no more. Our lives are over. I say to you that the greatest thing that could happen to this nation is for its government to expire.
What, exactly, does that government do? It provides nothing in the way of a meaningful national defense. We’ve had not one but two attacks on the World Trade Center, and we have a national defense and intelligence apparatus whose routine failures to detect and ferret out conspiracies against American interests at home and abroad often leads to the deaths of American civilians both at home and abroad. While we are spending trillions abroad in the name of defense to rebuild two countries, one of which sits on large reserves of oil and the other of which traffics billions of dollars in opium each year to the world, our southern and southwestern borders are porous and American citizens who live along those borders are seeing their livestock slaughtered and their property damaged by marauding hordes. Our own infrastructure is corroding.
And yet our government demonstrates the temerity to engage in self-congratulation, for it has kept the threat at bay in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yes, but at what expense? We have exchanged permanent hegemony for temporary safety. The Treasury is bankrupt.
Our government, in the name of propping up a mortgage market where a few trillion dollars in mortgages were at risk of implosion, has managed to expend $23 trillion dollars in order to fix a $3 to $7 trillion problem. The true absurdity of this farce can be seen by noting that the entire sum of U.S. mortgages, residential and commercial, totals some $21 trillion, and the federal government has managed to pay $2 trillion more than that amount to save a quarter to a third of the mortgages in question.
If this is success, why do you fear failure so much? Let the government fail. It is time that we allow our government to slit its own throat, and we must resolve ourselves to take up the mantle of liberty as our cause in the aftermath of its implosion. Let us say for a moment that the United States sinks into depression. Let us say that things become extraordinarily awful from a financial standpoint, that all of the securities are suddenly exposed for what they always were: useless little slips of paper not worth the paper and ink used to print them up.
What, I ask you, is the problem? The entirety of our economy is nothing more than a gigantic illusion at any rate. What we fear is something more harsh and unforgiving than a socialist in the White House: we fear reality itself. We fear the reality, because the reality would reveal our prosperity to be nothing more than a sham.
We’ve had 3.54% annualized inflation on average since 1980, when our GDP was somewhere around $5.2 trillion. Today, our GDP stands at almost $15 trillion. But remember, the metric by which we measure that GDP, the dollar, has been devalued by some 64% since 1980. Therefore, what we have is a GDP in constant 1980 dollars which is just over $5.85 trillion. The only reason we haven’t gone to the poorhouse is a.) the rest of the world has engaged in the same currency manipulation and financial malfeasance as we have, and b.) productivity gains are the true drivers of wealth, and as a result, we can buy a computer today with thousands of time more memory and capability than a computer from 1980 at a tenth of the price.
Not even a government as corrupt, incompetent, and downright inefficient as our own could destroy the fruit of American genius. It is a testament to the strength and power of the American ethos that we have achieved this in spite of the systematic ravaging of the dollar over the last three decades. Instead of advertising that we have the world’s largest economy, and falsely claiming that we have tripled our economic output in 30 years time, we might more accurately acknowledge that American productivity gains across our various industries have sustained us in spite of our government’s ruinous economic policies. Any solution that comes about to sustain us through the current crisis will originate in the industrial sector. The government merely needs to be made to heed this reality and to get out of its way so that it can happen. It is said that you can lead a horse to water, but that you can’t make him drink. Hold his head under long enough, however, and it’s a matter of certainty that he will take a sip. It’s time to hold the head of our government underwater long enough to ensure that it will take a sip from the waters of truth.
The quickest way to this destination is for the American government to implode. I readily encourage their appropriation of the auto industry, because I firmly believe, given the track record of American government, it can accomplish the task which was taking decades for the American auto executives to achieve. Namely, that the unions will be utterly vanquished in the ensuing and undeniable bankruptcy which will occur as these companies continue under government stewardship. This is necessary to achieve a leaner and more competitive model for the domestic automobile industry.
In much the same way, I believe that the continued involvement of the American government in the banking industry can only lead to its total failure. We are now confronted with a situation where the nations of the world must face the reality of American finance and speculation: our banks and our traders are the new face of American militarism, and they are massing at the gates of Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland. What would take years to achieve with tanks and missiles will take a matter of months to achieve with securitized devices and the sort of professional ethics so prevalent in American banking today.
And when all is said and done, we will have that industry swallowed up by its own hubris. Eventually, the nations and unions of the world will have to face the reality of their situation: their survival depends on burning the speculators, either by printing up money on an order previously unimaginable or by closing their markets to speculation and leaving the speculators to hold their bets in hand, with no one to redeem them. Either way, the idea of filleting George Soros has to be appealing to someone.
Those individuals rioting in Greece today would do well to take note: their own prime minister considers cooperating with wolves to be a fine thing. History aches for acts of greatness by men who are positioned to act, and the will on their part to act. George Papandreou is not a man with a will to act for greatness. No internationalist ever is.
One would think that the nations of Europe would have learned what entanglements in alliances had previously wrought, but the elites of our world always dream of cooperations and agreements, and they strive ever for concord, the end result of which is acquiescence in the face of their own demise. At some point, the people of Europe will have to choose between eating and being eaten, and they will have to recognize what centuries of inbreeding can do to an elite. The soft-brained princes of Europe and their consorts must be brought to heel by the rest of the Europeans, who by now must have had enough of their cooperations. Then again, it is Europe, the refuge of the feebleminded and the inviolate.
And here in America, we must recognize the same tendency among our own, the type who appear in peerages and preen before cameras. The fact that they are distant cousins with this potentate and that potentate have no relevance to our circumstance whatsoever. The great problem of America is that we consider inherited wealth to be equivalent to earned wealth, and as a result, we don’t distinguish between those men who actually went out and generated something and those men who merely traded on the cachet of their family name and the attachments thereof.
In America, the great problem, the problem which is corroding our nation from within, is that of nepotism. It has prevented us from a full accounting of the events of 9/11, the Iraq War, and an assignment of accountability for those two instances in our nation’s history. In America, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Perhaps we have invested too much in the three R’s. Maybe we should reorient our class curriculums towards social climbing and primogeniture. In this way, we might make our future generations understand the importance of networking and compromising principles in order to arrive at a result. I can only lament how many of my own former students might have done better in life if only they had perhaps known a judge or a district attorney before they had their unfortunate mishaps.
And we should reorient our civics classes as well. What greater lesson could we impart to our soon to be voting students than the lesson which teaches the reality over the ideal? In America, we have one dollar, one vote, and not one man, one vote. By expending your dollars to instill fear and promote demagoguery, you can manufacture consent.
And let us take our campaign to the pulpits of this country as well, in order that we might correct certain theological errors which have come to a troubling prominence in our society. I mean, really, blessed are the poor? No, no, no! Blessed are the rich, for theirs is the kingdom of this world and the riches thereof! They do not focus on what might be in the world to come, they buy insurance against that risk in the purchase of indulgences and the erection of large ecclesiastical edifices with their names boilerplated to the bricks, and they focus on accruing crowns for this life and the next. No documentary ever comes on television proclaiming the fabulous life of the poor and the indigent. We’ve got to instill in our poor a will to achieve the vacuous standards in life.
The poor need to be taught the sort of mathematics so in vogue in the toniest preparatory schools, the sort of mathematics which enable an economy with just $21 trillion in mortgages to produce $165 trillion securities based on those mortgages. In this way, we might see drug dealers begin engaging in leveraged swaps of, say, methamphetamine for cocaine. They might agree to hold the supply for a defined period of time, and then exchange the supply again after that period of time, and, depending on which of the two had increased more in street value, a substantial gain might be made. And the losing party need have no worry: he merely needs to have a credit default swap on hand to offset his loss underwritten by an insurer who cannot possibly afford to pay out on the insurance policy the swap represents. We might also see securities based on that ever popular piece of real estate, the busy street corner!
The potential for wealth generation is absolutely stunning. We could lift entire ghettos out of poverty on a sea of wealth that existed only on the pieces of paper held by securities investors. However, given that the investors can trade on that wealth, and even generate leverage out of it by claiming it as an asset, the potential for loans to the inner city is self-evident. The securities can serve as the collateral!
We need not have any poor in America. We simply need to initiate them into the esoterica of the upper crust, so that they too can gamble with money that they do not have. Oh, wait, they already do that! It’s called a credit card and a subprime mortgage! Hallelujah! Jesus saves, and bankers damn! They do have the Petrine keys, you know. Acquired at auction some years ago, the Petrine keys give the bankers who share an interest in them to lock in what they achieve on earth in heaven.
This is what we’re worried about salvaging?! I readily encourage those of us with sense to start growing vegetable gardens or at least stocking up on canned goods and ammunition. It will likely get rough, but the reality of the matter is that as long as the accompanying benefit of a new crisis is an imploded American federal government, there is some sunshine to be harvested out of the matter.
We ought not to worry about saving the banks. Truth be told, they exist in a fantasy land, where 40 to 1 leveraging is a sound strategy. And that’s just the Federal Reserve. My, my, my, do tell of that Princeton education and its benefits! I went to Montevallo, so my third eye just doesn’t have the sort of acuity possessed by Ben Bernanke.
What might be erected in the place of this nonsense is not a renewed 1950s existence where individuals are rigidly boxed into place by statutes, unable to love someone legally because of proscriptions against intermarriage and sodomy. I don’t claim to understand the full measure of what attracts a man to a man, but I don’t want the federal government or even the state government telling them what they may and may not do. What happens if social norms change, and the Mormons get into power and bring back polygamy? Will my one man, one wife approach to life render me out of vogue with the state? Believe me, my wife is more than enough woman to fill both ears. I don’t need a second or a third.
What might be erected in the place of our collapsed government is, oh, I don’t know...the Constitution. It’s a fabulous document, when adhered to. I imagine a populace armed to the teeth, where those who want to constitute an army in a time of war might do so, and the rest of us might be required to support that war’s expenditures with a higher tax or a reduced level of service. After all, war is a national sacrifice, literally.
And the only controversial requirement I might have is this: no member of the government can own a gun. They write the laws, and that’s the equivalent of a howitzer, so they’re armed enough. The fact that they have ink and paper and we have rifles and bullets might give them some pause to reflect on the wise and prudent use of their howitzer. After all, if the populace doesn’t approve, their might be an uprising, and all the members of government have to respond with is a fountain pen tube and whatever spitballs they might be able to assemble on short notice.
I personally believe that government serves a useful enough purpose. It’s a kind of municipal toilet, and those of us who covet that sort of power are best deposited into the civic sewers. In that way, we might segregate and quarantine such individuals from the rest of the general population. The great irony of their existence is that they would find their attire laid out for them in the chambers of the Capitol Building: for the gentlemen, a butler’s attire, for the ladies, a maid’s uniform. They might then comprehend the service part of the arrangement. It is my personal opinion that in this future, every possible occasion should be taken to demean politicians in order to prevent them from ever confusing their position with power over us.
It is not the institution we disrespect when we refer in derogatory terms and invidious remarks to those individuals who comprise our government. We speak of them in such low terms precisely because we respect the institution and loathe their misuse of it. Those of us who actually read do know what this Republic is supposed to be, and what the Founders intended. We know that in the event that change occurs, it is supposed to occur through an orderly process of amending the Constitution or establishing a new law if the Constitution does not expressly prohibit the matter being debated.
Despite the condescension of our servants, we do realize what is going on. We know that America is no longer a republic in practice, nor is she even a democracy. In democracy, the only consent that matters is informed consent, and we haven’t had that in years. It is time to treat our dogs like, well, dogs.
When they fail, and they most certainly will if they continue, we must resolve to fight with everything we have against any further “solutions” or “cooperations” these individuals try to foist upon. The world does not need a reserve currency run by the very same individuals and interests who have ruined national currencies. The problem, if there ever was a legitimate and non-manufactured problem, lies with those individuals and interests, and not with the dollar or the euro per se. I propose a solution which involves mutual cooperation: let us resolve to leave bankers to their own self-manufactured demise, rather than allowing that demise to be the impetus for our own demise in the form of more “solutions.”
We might merely strip the Federal Reserve of its monopoly over fiat money and erect a new central bank in its place where the interests of law abiding individuals seeking a restoration of republican ideals to government take precedence over the ichorous avarice of financial vampires whose lust cannot be satiated on the low grade erythrocytes of subprime borrowers. Oh, the lament we would hear about the loss of the Fed’s independence! Let me be perfectly clear: when Jamie Dimon sits on the board of the New York branch of the Federal Reserve, it is not an independent entity. We can just dispense with that myth right away.
We might also resolve to use our power and position in the world to propose an audacious solution to the world’s current problem by acknowledging that lawlessness begets lawlessness; thus, the world’s bankers should be stripped of all equity by national governments who declare amnesty on the world’s debts and go about settling their accounts in this manner rather than even bother expending the time, energy, and political capital to sort through the myriad entanglements set up by bankers who don’t even understand their own securitized devices well enough to explain them in plain English. In this way, we might achieve the fulfillment of prophecy: the first shall indeed be last!
What we must resolve to do, as citizens reduced to agnosticism by the regular and consistent failure of our representative government to represent our interests, is to remain skeptical of any solution put forth by government. We must measure it, we must weigh it, and we must deliberate it in a meaningful manner. We must speak without equivocation to our representatives about our conclusions. And we must demand that they follow through on our wishes. In an era where you can call in and press a code to select the American Idol you want, I fail to see why we cannot have direct and participatory democracy on the basic matters of governance. If the objection is that we lack the expertise on certain issues, then we could say the same thing about our elected officials, given their track record over the past seven decades.
The only way those individuals have ever had any success is by moving the goalposts after the fact. We went into Iraq to destroy WMDs, and when there were no WMDs, we were there to promote democracy and freedom. What no one ever bother explained was this: democracy and freedom were there the entire time for the people of Iraq to take if they wanted it. The fact that they did not is itself a testament to the reality that Iraq was a democracy before we arrived. Iraq’s citizens voted their preference with their inaction against Saddam Hussein.
We went to Afghanistan to get Osama Bin Laden, and who would think that a dialysis patient could be so elusive? Israel can pinpoint the movement of a Hamas leader in another country well enough to assassinate him in his hotel room, with its assassins all making an apparently clean getaway, and they possess only a fraction of our military power and economic reach. It strains credulity to believe that we haven’t killed him yet, especially when we can locate Saddam Hussein, his two sons, and nearly all of his retinue within Iraq when those individuals were trying very hard not to be found.
Today, our military is the construction and security force of Afghanistan. Does anyone seriously think that terrorist organizations will vacate Afghanistan simply because we’ve built playgrounds? And does anyone seriously believe that the Afghan people will rise up in defense of their government in Kabul if and when another force arises after our departure to overthrow that government? And what of the absurdity which says that we must acknowledge Pakistan’s national sovereignty and stop our pursuit of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban at some invisible line? The problem with our military strategy is that it is overseen by individuals with the analytical and reasoning capacity of small children playing war in the wooded areas of their neighborhoods. “Oh, look, there’s an invisible line that I can’t go across, even though Jimmy’s shooting at me from the other side! It’s a double forcefield that is rendered no less impenetrable by its invisibility! Holy smokes, Duke Nukem! Whatever will we do?!”
If this is the record of achievement we’re fighting to preserve and even expand into the future, we need to reassess our own positions and attitudes. The prior decade was an absolute disaster, fiscally speaking. We have a $14 trillion debt, and our current Fearless Leader, profligate though he may be, is only responsible for $2 trillion of that amount. The simpering Saluki sycophant, as I like to refer to him, is a man of few achievements to speak to or of. Oh, there was that tenure at the University of Chicago law school where he didn’t actually teach anything or achieve a professorship, and that time as a law school review editor where he published absolutely nothing, and that Nobel Prize for his “potential,” but much of Obama’s life is remarkable precisely because he has so much unrealized potential, or at least a potential of which the realized part must be kept from the public under lock and key. Obama was a community organizer, which is a nice way of saying that he gave speeches periodically and held a position on the board of the Annenberg Foundation, which would come in handy when the subsidiary of that same foundation, Fact Check.org, put forth two humanities graduates to verify Barack’s birth certificate.
The simple truth of the matter is that we have a duty as citizens, irrespective of our partisan affiliations and ideological persuasions, to be agnostic towards our government. Skepticism is the appropriate attitude, because their prior record does not merit trust. Until we learn this, we will be disappointed and betrayed time and time again.