On voting

Yes another piece from my commentary at Hot Air, and it is pretty well self-contained as part of a Quotes of the Day thread, which can meander hither and yon on topics this one post-debate on Biden and Ryan.  I’m good at that hithering and yonning stuff and this time I wandered back to voting.  Again, as with all my commentary, it is in the ‘as-is’ format:

Just remember all the triumphalism on the Left is because of Joe Biden.

They are happy about Joe Biden, the least serious man in politics, who was sent out to rile them up.

No matter how happy the Left is, remember they are happy about Joe Biden… it is all they have left to show for their support of Obama and ideals that are bankrupting the Nation not just fiscally but morally and spiritually as well.

As Eastwood said – Biden the man who is a smile with a body behind it.

And the best part is that as people begin to see that Obama & Co. are tanking, the economy will improve. Remember what happened in OCT 2008? Gun sales went through the roof and small businesses began to pull back expansion plans, curtail future investments and set down to weather the storm.

The Left will attempt to claim vindication. Yet it is the course of events that the PEOPLE are doing that will change the course of the Nation. Not our freaking government. This the Left will never, ever understand, and they will attack you for the very idea that people should be free, actually CAN be free to lead a better life without the interference of government. Once this course begins to change this time, with the memory of what happened by not backing it fully under Reagan, this time it will start to sweep away all our notions of politics, education, energy, and production like no other time in history. The PEOPLE are about to declare the 20th century over and the 19th century ideas of the Left as done with. The Left wants Americans to be ordinary plebes, yet we hold the eternal truths as self-evident and we will be extra-ordinary citizens creating a better Nation so that all mankind will have a beacon to look up to and a standard to flock to.

That means holding ALL your elected officials to account: from dog catcher to President. We slacked off as a people and let our parties try to run things. That era not only can end but it must end and it is ending NOW. A Romney win is not something to then walk away from, but a reason to hold to your ideals and to keep on pushing at all levels of government to recognize your rights and liberties to be free FROM government and that we, the people, will take care of the rest of the stuff that we specifically do NOT hand over to government: caring for the poor, the sick, the elderly, the young, and our society. That is my job, your job and the job of all our fellow citizens, and we dare not let government even try to do them.

Why? Look where we are NOW that we HAVE let government even try to do them. This is the result.

An election is not an end goal but a statement from you of re-dedication to the cause of liberty and accountable government. It is the start of the process, not the end of it, which means it re-starts with each and every election.

Remember Joe Biden is all the Left has: the laughing spirit of derision against you, against liberty, against freedom, and meant to belittle our fellow citizens and our Nation to say that we are too stupid to lead our own lives freely. The man is an insult to us all.

You can’t get rid of stupid as it is one of the two infinites of the natural universe that Einstein coupled with space, and he wasn’t too sure about space.

But you can, assuredly, vote stupid out of office.

That task STARTS with an election.

And re-starts with each and every election at each and every level thereafter.

I am happy to vote in every election. It is my way to help safeguard freedom and liberty and it is my duty and job to do so. That doesn’t mean I have a light mood at each election and it is usually just the opposite: I keep my eye on the target through all the maelstrom so the deed that must be done is accomplished. Elections are too serious to get emotionally involved in. A duty, a job, and your means to safeguard freedom and liberty… a happy task but an earnest job not taken lightly.

ajacksonian on October 13, 2012 at 9:47 AM

I can remember the few times that I didn’t vote, even in an off-year non-federal election, and those times revolved around a few topics.

First is too sick to vote.  I didn’t have ‘good health’ at any point in my adult life and an upper respiratory tract infection could spiral from swollen glands to the awful green things from inner space in about two days and then leave me laid up for weeks recovering under antibiotics.  Other than that, with the onset of my catalepsy I couldn’t really claim to track reality all that well, so that gets a hit.

Second is out looking for work.  When you spend the better part of a couple of years not at home, not in your home voting district and way before the Internet and world wide web, there was no way to keep up with what the local issues actually were.  To vote responsibly one must keep up with at least the basics, and distance killed that for me.  Also in my working life, I was in a major project that had so much time spent outside of town that I also lost track of local events as the project consumed my attention and spent my energy.  I was happy to do that project and it was worthwhile.

Third was still learning the political landscape for a couple of years out of High School.  That also was coupled with the first problem, too, and those were not happy years. 

Thus with 30 opportunities to cast my ballot, I have missed 8 of them and for only 2 of those instances can I say I was actually too unfamiliar with the topics to vote, which perhaps isn’t good but there it is.

There have been times when I absolutely had no one to vote for by my own criteria, yet I voted on purely local issues and left a blank ballot for those races where nothing was satisfactory and I knew of no one, even myself, who would fit the job to write-in.  If memory serves I have written names in twice on local elections when the ballot system is set up for those things.

On the flip-side there are races when I had no clear idea of which candidate would serve better, because they would both serve about equally in my opinion and I let inspiration guide my hand.  And in one race, only, did I cast a vote that I could not in conscience give to either candidate, but knew that a third-party candidate would harm one candidate over another, and there is no long-form for explaining votes, so the short ballot must serve as a reminder to both parties to get their act together. 

After that I have generally voted down or against local spending of all sorts, save for sewer and water main upgrades: we need those as a civil society and those deserve backing to keep things running.  I’ve voted against school Olympic sized swimming pools, firehouses where there is already adequate coverage, parks where they aren’t demanded by anyone, light rail, and other bits of crony spending that I don’t see as gaining anything for the community.  Roads, bridges, sewers, water mains, electrical distribution stations… all of those get approval due to necessity.  New schools due to passing demographics, do not and I’ve been in schools run out of trailers that have been on-site for decades and see no suffering in the ability to teach in such places.

I am a member of a one-person party, who encourages each individual to be a one-person party and to reach out to all other parties (one and multi-person) so as to build a better way to run our republic by going across party lines.  If we must have parties, then it is best to have a fickle, non-partisan population willing to infest parties and then leave them when the louses show up, all the time stripping party structures of upper level power and prestige and putting power back down to the local and individual level.  Partisanship based on party will be the death of us yet.  I am devoted to my Nation and the liberty and freedom that we require our government to respect at all levels so that man can be free.  Good government has few things to do, short funding and is required to do the very, very few things it does in an exemplary way while staying within its budget which is what the taxpayers can afford… not what our government demands as tribute.  Government is the Punisher, that is its role, and only when that role is delimited to only that, can we keep government accountable to the people.  Anything else waters that down and is the basis for corruption giving the fertile ground of tyranny when it continues too long.

I am always happy to vote.

Yet, somehow, I never have a smile on my face when doing it.

It is a duty and an honor that my fellow citizens entrust this to me and I treat it with the solemnity it deserves because you have asked it of me via the means of Caesar.  If this is the form of which our Caesar takes, this republic with representative democracy to guide it, then I must render my judgment upon it to comply.  It is right and it is asked of me, and that rendering must take place.

I apologize for the times I didn’t vote, I am not the best of all people to be sure.

I work hard to retain the recognition that we must self-govern and that your trust in me is not misplaced, even when I do not agree with you on the issues or candidates.

What happens inside that booth is between you and that which is all around us at all times.  Who and what you cast your vote for is only amenable to your conscience and, when all else fails, to inspiration in that solitude and let that be your guide.  You might be surprised that this does, actually, work if you but take the opportunity to listen to how you are spoken to alone with such a decision.

I urge everyone who is eligible to vote.

I ask it of you as a Citizen of the Republic of the United States of America.

Getting out of the fiscal hole

Our Nation has plied blithely past $16 trillion in debt, equal to our entire GDP, and barely rattled as it did so.  In truth the whole world is rattling and a bit more on our part isn’t going to be quickly identified, although its longer term consequences will have a drastic impact on events at home and globally.  If the state of the federal level of government is unsustainable, a number of our States are as bad off if not worse off than the federal government.  CA is seeing an exodus of businesses and jobs as the tax rate, crony kick-backs to politicians, and bureaucracy seep into every area of life in an attempt to control it from the governmental level.  Like IL there is a huge debt problem of what is ‘owed’ to civil servants who have been lucky enough to get unionized and then enrich politicians via their unions so that they can have a say on both sides of the negotiating table.  Other States like NY, MA, PA, NJ and WI are not immune to this problem, as well, and each have similar problems of too much government promising and too little forethought as to what those promises actually mean.  WI is digging itself out the century-long hole of Leftist policies by simply cutting spending, requiring workers to put more into their own care and freeing up local counties and districts to be able to chart their own courses on fiscal needs.

The simple removal of bureaucratic overhead, spending mandates, and requirements to adhere to contracts that were done to reward the minority with the wealth of the majority in an unsustainable system are critical.  Sovereign governments are the source of contractual authority and, being that source, cannot be bound to the same laws that they pass for everyone else at all times.  That is a perilous thing to have sovereign government do, but it is essential to have a system of regular laws that are upheld for the benefit of all to the detriment of none, and that is part and parcel of the sovereign power, as well.  A sovereign government can, thusly, break promises and contracts for the survival of the sovereign entity.  Just as at the National level a sovereign government can break treaties with foreign Nations when they put the sovereign of the Nation at peril so, too, can lesser sovereigns exercise such authority in their domains of power.  Throughout history this is exercised only by the most corrupt of regimes or when a government is in dire peril of being liquidated for past problems it has caused: better to break the contracts, reform government and pursue the goals of the people as a whole than to be dissolved by that whole and start over.  Yet, as sovereign governments are the representation of the people who create the Nation, they can change or abolish the State (the government) when it no longer meets their needs and imposes unjustly upon them outrageous costs that no people should ever bear.

This part of the debt burden held by States is, then, amenable to State sovereign power which is recognized as distinct from the federal Nation State sovereign power.  The reason we have no laws for bankruptcy of States is that it is expected that this sovereign power will be used to address the localized problems and allow the people of a State to reform, amend, change, or abolish and create anew their government.  It is perilous to renounce debt as those depending on debt servicing get the shaft.  Russia learned this, to its dismay, when it renounced Czarist debt, Nationalized companies and then found that skilled management at home was absent and that no one abroad would invest in such a place that could not recognize its debt obligations.  When the USSR began to finally honor the Czarist debt and pay it off in the early 1980’s, the end for their system was written in the need for outside help.  Socialist and Communist regimes are always born in debt and find it hard to do much of anything because they will not recognize this debt payment obligation. 

For the US, our States in the most dire of need will have to recognize the error of their ways, re-organize debt and stop accumulating new debt, which means breaking promises on retirement amounts (or even having any funds dedicated to such from government) so that the government can down-size and do its few basic functions and continue to pay its debt off.  Such debt can be re-negotiated, however, and offer pennies on the dollar but for those pennies it is expected that the debtor (the State) reform its ways and walk the straight and narrow and actually pay that amount.  If you want an example of what happens when that falls through, look at Greece, Italy, Spain and the rest of the EU that has huge debt and getting even pennies on the dollar is a pipedream.

To bring around States to the realization they can’t finance their promises requires that those purchasing such debt recognize that it can’t be reasonably repaid and stop purchasing it.  This has already happened at the Nation State level with the Federal Reserve now holding a massive portion of US debt.  That is to say that the ones running the printing presses get to call the shots in the very near term.  The flip side of easy lending to a government by a central bank is that the government becomes beholden to that central bank when spendthrift ideas are backed and paid for with debt obligation.  Once the Federal Reserve just acted as a for-profit pass-through of US debt (we paid for that service) but as our creditors have started to dump debt (read: China and Russia) the Federal Reserve holds such debt and can only balance it by creating new funds to pay in inflated dollars.  There are only two things the Federal Reserve knows how to do to deal with fiscal problems: inflate currency by printing more money or increase the interest rate to burn more money.  For all the window dressing on the Federal Reserve, that is what they do.

Total debt obligation for the US government and all the States is in the range of $70 trillion with some estimates putting it over $80 trillion, and none of that can be paid off with the current economy.  Even a booming economy for a decade can’t do it.  Or two.  Why?  The spending doesn’t stop and always outstrips tax revenue.  I’ve gone over the so-called ‘entitlements’ (basically taxes paid in to pay to current beneficiaries with IOUs from the Treasury for future payment now coming due) and would be remiss to point out that the next largest growing portion of the federal budget is debt servicing.  At some point in the near future the question will be: you can have ‘entitlements’ with debt servicing and NO other government, or you can have government’s necessary functions with debt servicing and NO entitlements.  That choice will be yours.  The folly of the USSR points out what happens when you reneg on debt and it isn’t pretty.

If the theme of the 2010 Tea Party election was ‘Stop The Spending’ then this message must be reinforced in this election to put it as ‘Stop The Spending Now Damn It’.  Politicians, generally lacking in spine, find saying ‘no’ to goody giveaways very hard.  These politicians must be replaced, and if their replacements fail then they must be replaced and so on in a process I call ‘Fire Until Competence Is Found’.  It is what President Lincoln did with Union Generals, and it works quite well and is eminently suited to the electoral process at all levels.  As citizens our duty is to get this message across AT all levels of government, and I heartily endorse taking part in any election at the local, county, State and federal level to drive this message home.  If we can get just a few more States beyond TX and VA into solvency, then a real path out for the spendthrifts can be pointed out as good examples to follow.

Stopping the spending is the most important part of this equation, and can (indeed must) act in concert with other portions of it to bring home the true bankruptcy of the ‘entitlement’ system.  Most citizens when they hear of the insolvency of, say, Social Security will point to ‘guarantees’, which were made by politicians.  Remind them that believing in a politician is the surest way to get in the hole and that these politicians must be held to account for their ill-actions.  No matter how ‘good’ the cause, the actions, themselves, are ill and need to be rethought.  With that said there now needs to be trust garnered by the federal government (and the States as well) that they understand that things not given to them to do in the small realm must be lopped off to show that government understands dire fiscal times.  At the federal level this means antiquated departments like the EPA, Education, Energy, Agriculture, Labor and choice portions of Interior that is holding land in States that the State legislatures have not signed off on the federal government having to control per parcel.  Perks must go, including large Secret Service details, flying first class and huge staff sizes at all levels of government. 

Structural reforms to get the federal government out of the home lending market ENTIRELY and to remove the ability of commercial banks to operate in that realm are necessary: a local banking system offers depth and flexibility that a larger system cannot achieve while remaining profitable and requiring local judgment on who is worthy of getting a loan.  The only requirement is that loans are given out based on fiscal background, type of loan, and if said loan actually is not at risk for being lost or devalued for the customer once given all of which are local decisions and can be handed to different officers in a company to judge just those factors shorn of all other outside factors completely.  This entire concept goes for student loans, as well, as we are moving out of the 13th century bricks and mortar schooling realm and into a 21st century realm with on-demand courses and self-paced systems now coming out to allow the bright to excel as fast as they can and the less bright to realize just what their limits are quickly so as to adapt to a better suite of skills to meet their individual talents.  For we all have talents in different proportion and they are least well served by diploma mill physical education institutions with a ‘One Size Fits All, Fits None Well’ approach.  And this is at the Primary, Secondary and Post-Secondary levels of education, not delimited to Colleges and Universities, although the loan part is aimed at them.  As a society we will adapt to the changing understanding that education is life-long, that touchstones are what one can do not how many classes one has attended, and that the greatest drive for education is self-education.  This will mean that what we consider ‘vocational’ systems will revive as those not suited to book learning but can learning engineering, physics, and chemistry by hands-on application will require these venues to expand, not diminish and they do require physical structures as they deal directly with our physical reality.

Trust building is a two-way street and government is ill-served by seeking power to control those things it is not designed to do.  Reduction in federal regulation and putting that burden on the States means adaptable responsiveness to local and regional problems as States can work with each other without the requirement of federal oversight.  So long as they do not put bias in the internal trade system of the US, States can work together to solve regional problems via State to State agreements run by the States and held accountable by the people in them.  Handing back control of natural resources (i.e. having lands held by the federal government go back to State control) means that these localized system which are adaptable to local concerns can be put into play without a straightjacket of having to put in tropical screening in facilities above the arctic circle.  As ND has shown with some spillover to MT and SD is that State and regional resource exploitation can be done competently, within reasonable accommodation to the environment and still get one heck of a return.  CA has so much oil off its coast that it comes out in seeps, but because of regulations the pressure can’t be relieved by drilling because of environmental fears… which are being realized by not drilling the oil pockets.  Not everyone will succeed equally and some States may never get a clue, but that should not be for lack of good examples by other States.  As the States have demonstrated good and responsible capability for near-shore drilling and exploration, they have a track record of success and the federal government should withdraw its regulatory schema for economic zone drilling and put that in the hands of the coastal States as well.  Pipelines that cross international borders only need Nation to Nation agreement on the crossing and the internal apparatus of each Nation in Provinces and States be allowed to find the best routing solution for them.  As the Nation needs refining capacity (we are now exporting crude oil for refining) the States should serve as the focus for this local concern, as well, and perhaps provide federal land that is too contaminated to be used for much of anything to the project.  In short the federal government really can demonstrate trust by removing regulations and supporting States and the people to figure it out for themselves.

In short removal of regulations for labor, environment and agriculture, along with a host of others for education, energy and land use, puts the most capable and local of government in control of their own destiny.  Yes there will be those who don’t do so well, better a few fail and we garner good examples from others, than to fail everyone by doing nothing or doing a little poorly or not well by fiat from the federal government.  Getting prosperity back requires these things and a comprehensible tax code.  As I pointed out previously to this article, exemptions must be eliminated as tax rates are lowered to get a net tax rate that is lower than the purported rate, but is closer to the rate already paid with exemptions and other write-offs.  The entire set of write-offs can be eliminated to get a flat tax, payable by all who earn income of any sort, with only some lowering of rates below the poverty line so as to lessen the impact on the poor so that their amount steps up towards the norm for those above the poverty line as they make more.  This is equality of the tax code and puts citizens into the drivers seat by not collecting taxes by having businesses do it, but by those who vote understanding the direct cost of what they vote for once per year.  This would also mean rolling in separate taxation for ‘entitlements’ (like FICA for Social Security) and removing them as separate line items, which simplifies the tax code.  Former Soviet States like Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Albania, Russia and others have all concentrated on this as it eliminates tax avoidance and puts a stronger assurance on compliance and a better feel for revenue over time.  An assured revenue stream is mandatory for paying down debt obligations.

Now as I am not a set-size pie person, the way to remove debt is to make more in hard currency: produce more wealth.  Remove the wealth reducers in regulation, tax policy and other bureaucratic overhead is necessary and often results in economic expansion with diminished boom and bust cycle depth as artificial causes of bubbles from government disappear.  You still get such cycles, but that is because of increased technical capability removing older industries and that takes a hard change-over as expectations for existing industries go down and new ones arise.  Creative destruction is for the betterment of all mankind, to produce more worthwhile goods at a lower cost so that more people can afford them to lead better lives.  Luckily, this is a very profitable endeavor and can’t be done without the profit motive to do more and gain more for any given produced unit of an item or service.  Thus the future must be examined for what it brings.

Until we get to quantum computing we will see an expansion and filling-in of the now old cyber structure of the digital age.  With hard physical limits for silicon and reduction in circuit size now being reached the realms of nanotech, quantum tech and biotech will all serve as future platforms for expansion and they are in their most nascent stages of development at this time.  Even awaiting those areas (and the new companies and industries that will make them) the older technology for personalizing computing and laboratories will create labs on a chip for home medical diagnostics when, coupled with expert systems, will expand and reduce the cost of everyday medical care.  Put robotics in with that and you get Larry Niven’s autodoc, where you step into a booth or lay down on a bed with automatic scanners and medical tools to do everything from examine your daily health to stabilizing the condition of someone who has been in a horrific accident, perhaps with some surgical needs addressed immediately and specialists on-line to deal with the worst that can happen to an individual.  This will remove Medicare, Medicaid, and even medical insurance once done and the technology is starting to be integrated today to put scanners together with expert system software.  Autonomous robotics is also advancing and when applied to medicine and surgery, the cost of everyday care and even minor surgical procedures will drop as they become mass-customizable by technology.

I have already addressed schooling and the manual arts, and these, too, will be augmented by low cost computing platforms that are autonomous or semi-autonomous.  Because our structures are not designed for automated maintenance, there will always be a requirement for manual labor to repair existing infrastructure until we can adapt technology to it or supersede it with better ways of doing things.  If you do construction in New York City you must deal not only with modern pipes, power cables, conduit, etc. but those left by previous utilities dating back to the 1840’s if not earlier, and that is not something that robotics or autonomous systems will handle well for some decades yet.

Returning to space for commercial activity is already on the drawing board, and going back to the moon to exploit its resources (mostly for space use and for those items that can only be made in micro or zero gravity) may start out with remotely operated vehicles or semi-autonomous vehicles, but will require some amount of direct human oversight at some point in time.  A minor asteroid brought into Earth orbit (or Lunar orbit come to that) can be easily rendered into separate elements by the process of solar mirror melting.  Put a bore hole into the interior, deploy a few square kilometers of thin film reflector to concentrate sunlight into the center of an asteroid and perhaps a thin film enclosure to capture escaping gasses and just let nature take its course.  When thoroughly melted the micro gravity will separate out the elements and then when it cools you get concentric shells of denser and denser elements presorted by atomic mass.  Other methods can be used to remove hot melt by layer and re-melt layers so that they are more easily dealt with when solid removal can’t be done quickly or efficiently.  An asteroid of just a few hundred tons might yield a ton of gold or silver, and many more tons of iron, cobalt, nickel and copper.  Essentially the same can be done on the moon, as well.  In all, expansion of an economy when done on this scale is no longer that of a Nation State as we now know it, yet the basic economics never changes and no matter how much money comes into a government, it always seems to expand to absorb more and more of it.

For all the good news to come about, it is up to the citizen to put government on the strictest of diets and boil our social questions out for open and frank discussion.  The morality of taxing the unborn to pay for the current elderly and sick is one that does need to be in the open as the deceitful discussion led over the prior century has attempted to sugar coat something that no one in their right mind would agree to.  It is up to each of us to learn how to deal with the things life hands us for good and ill.  I’ve made no plans based on: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or any other ‘entitlement’.  They will not last forever no matter HOW MUCH MONEY the government gets because any government that sees fit to remove liberty for this cause will do so for ANYTHING and then use its removal as a club against free men.  That money is gone and overspent many-fold, and isn’t coming back, isn’t in a ‘lockbox’ and treats our children and grandchildren as our ATMs.  We have garnered much material wealth and a bit of better health with that, and if we must do without we now have that as a cushion to fall back on when we realize that government is not a guarantor of retirement, health care or any other thing. 

We are.

As individuals and in our cooperation with each other to create accountable systems that meet our needs outside of government.

That is why we seek to have a just government that can uphold contracts amongst us, and understand that it must guarantee that system while we understand that often our best impulses come to the worst ends via government.  Our essential duty is to learn this and teach it to our children: free men take their lives into their own hands for good and ill and we also must create the means to catch those who fail in this.  That is not the task nor role of our government, to be positive to us, but to simply uphold the just means so that we can achieve the good things that create a strong society and a free population.  When we do wrong, even for the best of reasons, we admit to it, mend our ways and pay off our debts and NEVER burden others with this especially those who have NO SAY IN IT.  Which is our children and grand-children.  If we are far on the side of lax morals now, we can always straighten up, take our lumps, admit our humility and uphold our duty and right to pay off our debts and stop doing the asinine things we currently do with such good words that belie such ill outcomes.

We are can create that future and get out of this fiscal hole by forcing our government to stop trying to provide an easy life that none can afford.

Life isn’t worth living because it is easy.  No it is death, death is equal to all and easily found at all times across all classes of society and respects none.

No, life is hard to fight for, hard to keep, hard to maintain and must be all those things so that we can create a better world for all mankind to enjoy the fruits of their life.  And not have it picked from them by government to go begging for the rind of the fruit while government sucks the succulent flesh from it.

It is for these reasons I vote.

I am happy to vote, but it is too important a task to not take as an earnest duty and obligation to my fellow citizens so we may all be free from government’s tender mercies.

The clothes have no emperor

In watching the first Presidential debate I came away with a few basic ideas and wrote those up at Hot Air, which appears to be my initial post point for ideas.  I slept on the ideas, and posted them the day after and will now put that out with all my standard provisos on WYSIWYG, no corrections for anything, just simple copy and past and then concentrate on one area:

So much good from last night it is hard to know where to begin.

Just in overview I noticed that Romney was transitioning between topics to keep up with the debate outlines, so that when Lehrer had to go to the next area it had been softened up by Romney ahead of time. Giving Obama the lead position meant a lot in that Romney could get the last word in which shifted Obama from offense to defense at a few points throughout the night. Together this effect was devastating.

On the major plus side Romney put out how an executive deals with problems in government: you lay out a policy and then have to adapt it to the legislative branch and what it is willing to do. This is what an executive DOES – lay out policy which then drives the argument and direction of legislation. You don’t need miniscule, point by point things to do if you give the overall direction and theme of what you want to accomplish. Those were laid out quite well in multiple instances.

Taxes would go down but exemptions would be eliminated meaning that the end marginal rate is a goal and it is a rate with few exemptions to it. This reduces overhead and makes understanding the code easier, not harder. It also is an aim to remove all the loopholes put in by the letter street cronies that the Left used to complain about. In the end more people pay taxes, but the rate is lower so that there is less taken out of the paycheck, meaning more take home pay. This was not lost on me and seems like a good way to start repealing the crony tax system to get to a flatter tax. A good start.

Thematically Romney laid out that all government expenditures must be balanced by asking: ‘Do we want to pay China for this by having them bankroll our deficit spending that our children and grandchildren MUST pay off for us?’ This is killer. If he really and for true means this, then the morality of spending has just been put into play in a big, big way and everyone wanting ‘entitlements’ is now on the defensive having to justify putting future generations in debt for current spending. That is a game changer if pressed home and to the hilt. Putting the spenders in the position of immorality (instead of the cloak of doing good) is killer: put the red letter D for DEBT around their necks and point out how wicked their spending is to future generations and how lacking we are in wanting to do that.

Just so many good points… Mitt Romney did the startling thing of knowing Obamacare AND Dodd-Frank better than Obama, inside and out, which is no mean feat. Dancing through the problems of the legislation and making it sensible was stunning as NO ONE on the Left or Right has done that to-date in such a thorough way going point-by-point. And that point-by-point way of addressing concerns is yet another executive trait, meaning that problems are assessed and prioritized before-hand. Just amazing.

In one night Mitt Romney has demonstrated that he at least gets the fundamentals of the Constitution and Declaration and why they are intertwined and what that means for policy. Giving an overview of the 10th Amendment, while short, means that he has another area to flesh out beyond just block granting stuff to the States. Combined with the morality, or lack thereof, of spending, he has a potent arsenal that can only be utilized if it is backed as POLICY. Not programmatics but that thing that drives programmatics. If done as POLICY then this is the beginning of a sea-change in politics.

His job would not be one of reaching across the aisle, however, as the Tea Party begins to dominate the Republican Party… if 1/3 or more of Congress is held by Tea Party members, then they become the drivers of legislation because of the two parties and the fights become one of the establishment against the Tea Party which is a whole other fight and unlike anything seen for over a century in America. If we put in the hard work, then we will give Romney a very, very hard job to do and require him to live up to what he has laid out for us tonight. It isn’t about an election, but changing the course of the Nation away from its current disastrous path. I do disagree with some programmatics from Romney, yes, but it is up to him to show that he really does understand his policy direction… and if he doesn’t live up to those themes, I will have no problem in 4 years voting for someone else. As of last night, however, it can be said that the direction of not just this race but the entire dialogue of what is moral and just in government has been put into play. Fairness is in the eye of the beholder and that loses out to equality for all and upholding a moral standard and good so that our children will have the chance to prosper without our debt loading them down.

Prepare for weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Left over this as the basis for politics is now changing beneath their feet.

ajacksonian on October 4, 2012 at 6:19 AM

Here I would like to concentrate not on the morality of debt or spending, although morality does come into play, but of taxes.  I know the morality of taxes is a dry subject that the Left figures it won somewhere around President Wilson, but lets start with the can opener and look at taxes, deductions and marginal tax rates.

For this exercise I will use totally made up numbers for a highly simplified tax system with some embedded carrots to get you, the taxpayer, to do what the government wants you to do.

In this case there will be two families, they will have definite similarities in that they will be a 4 person household with two parents and two children.  In this tax code they will each get ‘benefits’ of deducting $100 per person and an additional $500 per child per year.  Each family gets a 15% write-off on their home mortgage interest payments and a general write-off on all income of 5% which I’m tagging for medical expenses.

Family 1 has an aggregate income of $30,000 per year, a 25% tax rate, a home mortgage payment of $1000 per month and 95 percent of that is interest as they haven’t been in the home long.

Family 2 has an aggregate income of $55,000 per year, a 30% tax rate, a home mortgage payment of $1500 per month and 90 percent of that is interest as they have been in a somewhat better home for just a bit longer.

Now let me break down the numbers a bit so you can get an idea of how this ‘removing deductions and lowering rates’ works.  These numbers just reflect this made-up tax code system with just a few simple parts to it, so no griping about how they don’t reflect ‘reality’ or real numbers – they are just math.

  Family 1 Family 2
Federal Taxes $7,500 $16,500
Standard deductions -$400 -$400
Child tax credit -$1,000 -$1,000
Mortgage interest deduction -$1,710 -$2,754
Standard medical deduction -$1,500 -$2,750
Net Taxes $2,890 $9,596
Net tax rate 9.6% 17.4%


When it is pointed out that NO ONE pays the tax rate for their bracket, this is a truism as NO ONE  actually pays that load due to the loopholes, give-aways and write-offs in the tax code.

Is a tax code that rewards behavior by the power of government a moral one?

On the positive sides it does things that government in the form of Congress and bureaucrats want to see happen in the economy.  It is, in other words an enticement to you to do certain things even if they don’t make any sense at all for you to do them.

Taking the deductions line by line:

1) Why should you have a deduction for being yourself?  And why do those who live with you who depend on you get a deduction?  You are a citizen, after all, and so (with a bit of luck) are the members of your family.  What is the earthly reason that you should be able to deduct anything on taxes for these people just as citizens?  And, really, isn’t that a bit denigrating to say that you ‘deserve’ to write-off such individuals who are, after all, part of the whole of the people?  Why not lower the tax rate and just do away with that? If this is meant for ‘the poor’ then set a point of minimal, subsistence living under which no taxes can be paid and be done with it.  Be generous and peg that at 4x this deduction and you now have the ability of a family of 4 to earn just enough to feed themselves.  Putting this loophole in is condescending from government and treats you as a dependent of government… yet YOU are the one earning the income which government is trying to take away from you.

2) The child tax credit is a simple loophole to make children more ‘affordable’, sort of like that new home you wanted to buy at inflated prices, but with a higher cost of consumables over time.  This is treating children as a ‘burden’ to adults, not as new life to be cherished. It is also a very recent addition to the tax code (with the income tax, itself, being only 100 years old in the US) and much fought over for a few years until it got inserted due to ‘family values’… of which are included kick-backs from the US government, apparently.  Isn’t that a lovely ‘conservative family value’?  Call it what it is, not what it is sold as, and that changes the entire view of the deductions and their purpose.  Plus it is small ball, stuff, meaning that you can be easily bribed to have a larger family.  Yet another ‘family value’ apparently.  Even better if you make so little in taxes that your marginal rate drops below zero, you get a bonus gift from the US government: a pay-off.  Kick-backs, pay-offs and bribes: all ‘family values’ via the tax code.  Just what you want children to learn about growing up, isn’t it?  How to become a nice, subservient crony to the system taught right there at home with the tax code.  With the tax code as it is, why do we need a Dept. of Education?

3) Next up is the vaunted, much lusted after mortgage interest deduction, one of the two main ways to reduce your tax obligation!  Yes, say that you want to touch that and you get roasted over an open flame.  Yet what, exactly, is it?  You take out a mortgage based on a few things: you need a home, you seek to limit tax liability, you believe that you will make more in the future, you think the home will appreciate in value.   These are not the traditional things that people have thought about prior to Ginnie Mae and the ‘securitizing’ of debt vehicles in the home mortgage market by the federal government (done under the Nixon Administration at the suggestion of the Dept. of Labor, of all places), at least some of the latter – the need for a home and reducing tax liability were key before that era starting in 1970, and prior to the 1930’s only the ability to actually pay for a home mattered due to lack of write-offs before then and the FHA.

What is this yet another side of kick-backs, pay-offs and bribes by the US federal government via the tax code?  Unfortunately, yes.

When the banks were left to their own devices they required some things of people purchasing a home: 20% down, a work history, a known business you worked for or (as an owner) a steady ownership record, and the ability to actually afford maintenance on your home (about 1% of its cost per year).  Back in that era the bank was local, the person who managed mortgages knew the area and neighborhoods, and your mortgage was kept locally as a part of a portfolio held by the bank.  You, as the lendee, were known and probably had a working relationship with that bank to start with, meaning they knew your family’s situation and could give some leeway on paying back during hard times.  To achieve all of that you had to demonstrate the ability to work, to save, lead a thrifty life, manage your household expenses, be reliable and understand just what the burden of owning a home was.

Today we have the enticement to banks to lend to NINJAs, people with No Income, No Job or Assets.  Your mortgage interest deduction started as a way to ‘ease the burden’ of home ownership and to entice more people to purchase homes.  All well and good if you still had to place 20% down, I suppose, but it is a kick-back just the same.  Still the larger banks saw that there was an ‘opportunity’ in the mortgage market if only the pesky regulations could be changed to stop them from entering it and if they could get some assurance on the value of the debts in far off parts of the country.  Aren’t you glad the US federal government got that done to destroy the Savings & Loan industry and press local banks out of the market and out of business?  Because of the S&L crash the opportunity to change regulations further to open up the spigots for the larger commercial banks was done through the crisis of that crash: never let a good crisis go to waste.  Through activists at the bottom, local banks were pressed into giving loans in bad neighborhoods where home values were at threat from local conditions, and then made to give loans to those with lesser work histories and less down on the mortgage.  Home values, with the entry of the commercial banks, started to rise far faster than their 1-2% appreciation that was historical to the late 1960’s, and the idea of a home being an ‘investment’ safe from most of the problems of normal affairs took root.  Once a final safe haven of IRA’s were put in, then homes just became another investment vehicle with an expectation of appreciation over much shorter periods of time.

That was achieved by the home mortgage interest deduction, the lowering of lending standards for commercial banks, and the forcing of loans into areas that were marginal and required some civic renewal (read: redevelopment and investment) to be worthy of having loans floated to them.  These conditions created a bubble in the home mortgage sector of the economy and it popped circa 2007-2008.  The regulations pushing all of this are still, to this day, in place.  Including the vaunted home mortgage interest deduction which makes it ‘affordable’ to own far too much home for a given income (because those restrictions were ‘loosened’ as part of all of this, too).

Doesn’t that ‘old fashioned’, local and largely unregulated but highly protected banking system with stable neighborhoods and firms sound nice today?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have people who actually were thrifty, were able to understand the value of a home as a place to live, and who didn’t look for kick-backs and bribes (if not outright coercion) to banks to give loans?  The large commercial banks are only a part of this problem, albeit a large one with enormous long-term impact and structural degradation to local communities. Every individual who bought more than they could afford, purchased without income or assets, or who could only swing purchasing a home with the deduction or because of the deduction is part of the  problem.

Is this deduction a moral one?

Are the regulations that followed on to it, that inflated expectations, reduced valuations and were in search of more money flowing through the system to cause a large-scale systemic collapse moral?  For these regulations are the problem, not the solution.  In this imaginary system this line item accounts for 1/5 to 1/7 of the reduction in liability, but in the actual world people searching the quick flips, the quick turnarounds, the easy sale, the inflated home value up to as much as 10% per year allows for the exploitation of this write-off to reduce liability even further.  It was a tax dodge put in by cronyism with the willing assent of the bought off citizen who purchased a home.  It is the money-grubbing that was exploited by government and banks to utilize the home owner via pay-offs to inflate the system artificially to cause temporary ‘prosperity’ that then crashed hard and deep, and has a major crater still lingering  in the financial structure of the Nation that neither Democrats nor Republicans want to remove.

Are these the values you want to teach to your children: that pay-offs and kick-backs, cronyism and the expectation of getting ripped off are the norm for government regulations and that one should take part to make a quick buck while they can?  Is that the basis for a moral family arrangement when your children see YOU in that light?  And when you happily slap that bumper sticker on your RV that you are spending your children’s inheritance then what, exactly, is the message that you are sending?  That you got yours?  Hurray for me and fuck you?  Because that is the message we get from such regulations and they do not bring about a stable nor just society, but just the opposite.

4) A standard deduction for medical expenses.  This, in various formulations, is currently in the modern tax code and became embedded in it during WWII as part of the enticement to get retirees, the unfit and those who were marginal in the workforce to join in the industrial war effort.  Women, midgets, the blind, those stricken with polio, the elderly… all of these people had to be enticed to work and the one easy way to do that was via what had been for decades, an executive ‘perk’: health care ‘insurance’.  Prior to the war effort the idea of having health care ‘insurance’ was limited to the very upper class of society.  Why?  Because it is uneconomical to provide it, save as an enticement to a high experience, highly capable executive as part of a package of goodies to get them to work for a company.  To put it bluntly, that sort of coverage is too expensive to afford.  In fact companies couldn’t afford it for their workers prior to WWII.  Luckily the crisis of necessary wartime production meant that businesses lobbied Congress to get a tax write-off put into the tax code so that a percentage of the cost wouldn’t be taxed, which was about 40% if memory serves.  Why is this uneconomical?  And is it moral to have this in the tax code at all?

Health ‘insurance’ isn’t real insurance where you are betting you will get sick and the insurance company is betting you won’t.  The expansion to regular health visits, check-ups, tests, hospitalization and all of that has many features that are recurring on an annual basis, and often more frequently.  Covering medications also has a recurring and regular cost to it, and this is not a feature of any other type of ‘insurance’.   Prior to this write-off individuals could get true insurance for forms of catastrophic care, accidental death and dismemberment, and even such things as investing in long-term care while young by having a stable family.  Thus this form of ‘insurance’ must have a high premium to it, because it is covering so many expenses for so many people that there is an overhead cost to it that is far beyond any other insurance around.  Instead of a secretary and a couple of actuarial people, these companies must employ a raft of experts, forms processors and other individuals that has grown larger over time.  Further they have taken on negotiating with hospitals, physicians and groups of same for reduced prices for the insurance members.  What used to be something that you paid directly and negotiated with the physician or hospital now had an intermediary involved, and whenever you get a middle-man, you get the cost of the middle-man as part of the system.  Without a write-off businesses could never afford that additional overhead cost for their workforce.  Period.  It costs too much.

When insurance companies put the screws on providers, by promising volume to make up for lower cost, any shortfall is passed on to other customers.  All well and good until you get to the Johnson Administration and the start of Medicare and Medicaid.  When the US federal government starts to tell what it will pay for procedures, and they are not the going market rates but below them, then the cost differential must be made up by physicians and hospitals to stay in business.  That is cost shifted to other patients, which means that insurance companies both inside and outside the M&Ms see the cost of care rising, which they must pass along via higher premiums only a portion of which can get a write-off.  Your cost of care rises.  The federal government only exacerbated a pre-existing problem that it caused in the first place, and neither Democrats nor Republicans removed the uneconomical tax write-off after WWII.  The very vocal minority that told of the problems of the ‘Great Society’ medical programs proved not only prescient but having too limited a vision of the actual rate of increase of costs involved.

Why is overhead cost important?

Overhead cost is a burden to whatever the transaction is that is going on: stores have square footage, personnel, record keeping, liability insurance, lighting, heating, janitorial work all of which are just part of overhead cost.  Insurance companies have this, as well, so that when a transaction takes place the cost of their negotiations is added into the fray, as well as the cost of making sure that charges passing through the system are not fraudulent: it is their money they are handing out, dues and such are only payments to them to do this job.  Thus whatever the actual cost of an item is, it must have the burden of overhead added on to it and medical care is no different from any other transactional service be it getting served dinner at a restaurant or purchasing a computer from an online store.  To put it simply, the cost of the system is increased with middle-men and their burden added to the system as a whole and YOU pay for it either directly or via cost shifting to others.  As with all other transactional systems, the fewer intermediaries that there are, the lower the end-user cost will be in the aggregate and often for each individual summed up for their entire usage of the system in their lives.

Today the system is so rigged, so encrusted with tax changes, with so many kick-backs at the federal and State level, with so many cronies and lobbyists seeking line items in the budget for themselves that NO ONE knows the true cost of medical care in America save that without all of this burdened overhead it would cost FAR LESS than it does now.  Coming from the federal government and seeing industrial and governmental non-productive time and generic overhead cost burdening that delta could be as small as 15% and as high as 65%: what you pay, overall, for all medical treatment and medications in your lifetime could drop by 15% to 65% overall, in aggregate without trying to make the damned system ‘fair’ to treat ‘special cases’ with high cost and even higher overhead differently from everyone else.  That delta is picked up by this thing known as ‘charity’ run by religious institutions, citizens dedicated to the cause of helping others, and special interest charities dedicated to single diseases and their medical costs.  By depending on insurance and government this charitable system is on the rocks and slowly being eroded away in its entirety as it doesn’t have the lobbyists or the capability to write-off as much as larger institutions because they lack the scale to do so.  Once they are gone the lowest cost anchor of the system will go with it and the costs that had been merely way too expensive will go to impossible to pay because there is no way for charity to compete in a crony system dedicated to undercutting charity to the benefit of the cronies and politicians.

That is not only immoral it is reprehensible.  Yet you sustain it via tax write-offs for yourself in the tax code.

And all in search of the objective: lower taxes.

5) That bottom line is what we are all seeking via this system, and yet we achieve it in the very worst of all possible ways.  The income tax was promised as never going beyond 7% and that only for the fat cats, yet in 7 years its highest rate was 70%.  One of the interesting drivers for the tax code, beyond ‘soaking the rich’ was in the quest to get the US federal government another source of revenue beyond its main one: liquor taxes.  The hard drinking US had problems, which first brought about individual organizations seeking to reform drunkards (like the Washington Society) so that the familial problems of drinking could be alleviated by reforming those who drank too much liquor.  Yet most of the US government’s income was on liquor and it sustained the Nation up to the Progressive era.  Temperance, sobriety and using government to enforce these things was a Progressive agenda item, backed by powerful lobbying organizations like the Anti-Saloon League.  Getting dry counties and dry States was not enough as people could go elsewhere to bring drink back home.  The idea was that if the US Constitution represented the moral fabric of the Nation, then amending the Constitution would change the people to a more sober and moral people.  Yet the only way to do this was to find an alternate revenue stream as liquor was very much the life-blood of government.  Thus the income tax, warned against and written against in the Constitution, had to be put into place before the political power of the Temperance Movement could come into play.  With an alternative revenue stream, Prohibition quickly passed and proved that human nature is stronger than the US Constitution.

We are left with the artifacts of a directly elected Senate system and an income tax system, both prohibited by the original Constitution of the Framers.  That system had everyone being assessed equally for the cost of the US government and then apportioning that to the States for getting the revenue.  The States figured out how to get the revenue: sales taxes, property taxes, direct levies, bake sales, it was left up to the more local to figure this out, not the National system.  That is both a moral system and a ‘fair’ system in that it adapts to local situations as dictated by the people at a much easier level to control.  Everyone gets a stake in the system.

Today the idea is to avoid taxes, have the rich pay the way of the poor and do everything in one’s power to pay as little as possible to a government that must stand for all of the people.  Instead of passing the burden to States, we now have the problems of the States at the federal level and we are left with only the people as the means to address the ills of this system.  The failure of our government, our businesses and ourselves via human nature have now put us into a desperate situation.  To gain earthly goods we have accepted pay-offs to avoid questioning the moral cost of them.  For the pursuit of having someone else pay, we now pay in the dearest coin of all: our own self worth.

When Gov. Romney puts forward the morality test in spending, it must be something that is far beyond spending because spending requires a source of that revenue, and that can only be taken from the people of the Nation or borrowed from others.  We put ourselves and our future in the hands of others when we do that, and it matters not if it is other Nations or ‘the rich’: you dance to the tune of the piper and when you pay nothing you are obligated to dance to their tune.  It isn’t immoral to hand our children and grandchildren our debt, it is immoral of us to incur it in the first place and shows our own lack of self worth and valuation to accept that cheating pays, that avoidance of paying taxes pays, and that instead of expecting all citizens to take up our common burden, we seek to shift it only in one direction: ever upwards to others.  To be a free people we must all pay our way, even the destitute as I am sure that we, as moral people, will form charities to help them pay for some small citizen so they can learn the value of being a citizen.  That is also an obligation to actually be productive, of course, and to care for not just oneself but one’s fellow man.  If we do not expect it of ourselves, the non-rich but not destitute, either, then how can we expect it either of the rich or the destitute?

Once morality of government in its size, scope, power and cost are all brought into question, the very tax code we have then comes in for scrutiny.  In my fictional one for people of moderate means I get something between 10 and 17% as a net tax rate.  If we shear out the immorality of the system, get a flat tax of a given amount, and then say ‘we must live within that’, then we are on the path of being moral and righteous in our actions because we sustain ourselves and our society by swearing to pick up the burden for those who fare less well and to pay our own way to sustain us all.  No matter how much you may like the special treatment, the kick-backs, the pay-offs… they get you the cronyism, the complexity and the resulting immorality of treating people differently when we are all citizens and created equal.  To claim ownership of yourself you must be able to deny government the right to control you via economics and its own petite tyranny, which soon grows fat and becomes a true tyrant in its own right.  The tyrant of the bureaucrat.  The tyrant of the rules.  The tyrant of the cronies who seek to escape scrutiny by buying off government to get paid-off by you.

I am sure Gov. Romney hasn’t gotten down this far in his thinking.  But that he has taken a step in this direction is not just unexpected but refreshing.  Because once you start to question the morality of borrowing and expecting your children to pay it off for you, then you must begin to question the taxation and just what it is you are seeking from it in the long run.  A Nation of free men must be able to admit the burden they bring, carry their own and help others less able and to do so openly, honestly, and not via subterfuge of collection via the shopkeeper or the ease of the transaction stealthily burdened by the politicians in the back room.  Force it into the open, force it to be discussed, and then come to an agreement in common and cement that baby down and make it toxic for any power hungry ideologue to even think of touching it.  You don’t win your freedom and keep it by paying stealth taxes, but by putting the tax man out in front of all to see and saying: do your damn job and stop trying to steal us blind behind our backs.  For what they rob is far dearer than mere coin, and far harder to win back once lost.

Liberty, security and those giving both away

“Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security”

– Benjamin Franklin (via Thinkexist)

The rights secured against government are particular and many, especially with regard to the US federal government and by incorporation to the States.  Additionally those powers not granted to the federal government are retained by the States and the people.  These are not new securities, by any means, and many go back not just to the Magna Carta and the pre-existing contracts between the people and their sovereigns, but also through the works of the post-Westphalian West that helped to delineate the differences between Moral Law, Natural Law and Civil Law.  As Natural rights and liberty are granted to us because we are part of the natural universe, there is no way that those rights can be severed from people as individuals and we can only agree to not exercise certain rights and liberties when we create government at the personal level and then at every level thereafter.  Of all governments it is self-government that is the strongest since it starts with each individual.  All other governments must utilize exterior power to enforce any larger agreements upon individuals as governments.  As Tom Paine puts it, government is the Punisher and all governments are created from the bowers of the ruins of paradise.

Freedom of speech is one of the prime rights secured against government as it is the way we communicate our inner-most feelings and ideas with each other as people.  As a people we are guaranteed that communication via the freedom of the press so that all means to communicate with each other are open to us.  With these two is the freedom of religion, the right to communicate our inner-most feelings to the Creator.  Together these are all descriptive of freedom of thought, the freedom to be oneself to oneself as you are.  Individuals who secure these rights are known as citizens, others that do not secure them properly are subjects as they allow their interior self to be defined by exterior forces.  Yet, within the heart of every subject is a free man, a citizen, if they would but allow themselves the freedom to think as they will unfettered by exterior forces.  This is the most powerful of rights as it allows self-direction, self-creation and the ability to reshape the very world by daring to find a way to do the impossible.

In our world there are those threatened by citizens, by free men, who dare to express their own ideas freely.  This is not the mischievous negative liberty to scare others (the yelling fire in a crowded theater paradigm) which is an attempt to subjugate others to fear of physical pain so as to cause pain.  In that same category is the incitement to riot which is a calling on the fear and hatred of others of some object, person, people, race, religion, or other demonized other of the moment.  Nor is there a thing known as ‘hate speech’ as there are only hateful people, and such people deserve the right and liberty to espouse their inner-most self so others can see just how small and hateful such people are.  Such speech is not applauded, but is counter-acted by various means, including just pointing out how hateful and baseless it is.  Thus even the worst, most vile of speech is not remedied by censorship on the outside, but through reasoning of individuals to understand just what the impacts of such speech are and why it is not good for individuals to do it.  Either that or learn to cope with the effects of such speech, that choice is up to individuals, not governments.

Current events always bring forward Franklin and his wisdom is one to be heeded as he helped to bring so much common sense to our Nation and because it is common sense and easy to understand it accords within free people to abide by it.  Events are within a time frame or period, and yet how we decide to deal with them help to chart the course of ourselves, our Nation and all humanity.  Thus your decision on how to deal with speech you do not agree with is up to you.  Sadly, there are those who want to vest that into bureaucracy we call government.  Take Eric Posner, at Slate, in has article of 25 SEP 2012 The World Doesn’t Love the First Amendment:

The universal response in the United States to the uproar over the anti-Muslim video is that the Muslim world will just have to get used to freedom of expression. President Obama said so himself in a speech at the United Nations today, which included both a strong defense of the First Amendment and (“in the alternative,” as lawyers say) and a plea that the United States is helpless anyway when it comes to controlling information. In a world linked by YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, countless videos attacking people’s religions, produced by provocateurs, rabble-rousers, and lunatics, will spread to every corner of the world, as fast as the Internet can blast them, and beyond the power of governments to stop them. Muslims need to grow a thick skin, the thinking goes, as believers in the West have done over the centuries. Perhaps they will even learn what it means to live in a free society, and adopt something like the First Amendment in their own countries.

But there is another possible response. This is that Americans need to learn that the rest of the world—and not just Muslims—see no sense in the First Amendment. Even other Western nations take a more circumspect position on freedom of expression than we do, realizing that often free speech must yield to other values and the need for order. Our own history suggests that they might have a point.

Note that first part I put into boldface, about the means of communication and what is said: that is the power of free speech and the press, both.   I will repeat it as it is a complete logic construct in its own right:

In a world linked by YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, countless videos attacking people’s religions, produced by provocateurs, rabble-rousers, and lunatics, will spread to every corner of the world, as fast as the Internet can blast them, and beyond the power of governments to stop them.

Without a free press the ability to disseminate ideas to point out tyrannical moves to punish people to think freely is then put into the very hands of those who seek more power via government.  Indeed, if government has not the power to stop such speech, as Mr. Posner implies, then there is no governmental remedy for such speech.  That is pure and absolute logic and proposing to make law of any sort that intrudes into this realm is backward, not by my logic but by that proposed by Mr. Posner.

The second part I highlighted is a call for self-censorship in appeasement of those who cannot or will not handle other people’s freedoms well.  That is, individuals must censor themselves so as not to arouse the hatreds of those who will find any reason or rationale to express rage.  If it is not a video it is cartoons.  If not cartoons it is a book.  If not a book, then a poem.  The point is that it isn’t the medium of expression that is at fault, nor those doing the speaking, but those doing the listening or receiving of such information that they cannot stand you not thinking and believing as they do.  To censor oneself in the face of such barbaric rage that seeks to impose its beliefs on others by silencing it is to give up that most especial of freedom: the freedom to be oneself.

That is not a ‘response’ but appeasement in the face of barbarism.

This is inviting more barbaric activity by becoming silent and passive.

It is acquiescing to barbaric actions by silencing oneself about them.

And no free man would ever consent to doing that.

This is not an ‘alternative’: it is inviting the death of civilization via the veto of the violent and intolerant.

To ask people to give away such rights and the liberty to use them, after going through the vagaries of the Left and Right, Mr. Posner puts this up as a reason to become silent in the face of barbarism:

We have to remember that our First Amendment values are not universal; they emerged contingently from our own political history, a set of cobbled-together compromises among political and ideological factions responding to localized events. As often happens, what starts out as a grudging political settlement has become, when challenged from abroad, a dogmatic principle to be imposed universally. Suddenly, the disparagement of other people and their beliefs is not an unfortunate fact but a positive good. It contributes to the “marketplace of ideas,” as though we would seriously admit that Nazis or terrorist fanatics might turn out to be right after all. Salman Rushdie recently claimed that bad ideas, “like vampires … die in the sunlight” rather than persist in a glamorized underground existence. But bad ideas never die: They are zombies, not vampires. Bad ideas like fascism, Communism, and white supremacy have roamed the countryside of many an open society.

The First Amendment is a securing of our Natural right of freedom of self, which is independent of the US Constitution.  The so-called ‘contingency’ misses the fact that this right had become an established one under the common law, with roots dating back not just to the Magna Carta but to the earliest law frameworks worked out in the House of Wessex.  In fact the concept that is embodied in this framework of law is that known as a ‘contract’ between the people and their government.  Contracts have varied over time, yes, and the extent of the limits of government start with these very first contracts that stipulate a concept of there being no taxation without representation by the governed to agree to such taxes.  The changes in these contracts and the limits of government are not ones on paper as those only come after countless changes of government, kings, and virtual despots.  These agreements are written after the blood has been spilled, victors found, and then limits on victory also found.  This Anglo-Saxon concept of limiting government and getting representation into it can be dated back to the 9th Century AD.  Where other peoples were having their laws and taxes dictated to them by government, the Anglo-Saxons were putting government on notice that it is by the consent of the governed.  As a Swedish King acknowledges that the Crown cannot go where the people do not want it to go and that the head wearing the Crown is liable to the same laws as the governed.

The Universality of Natural rights only came after 1648 and the Great Peace of Westphalia that got government out of using religion to gain more power and prestige for the rulers via religion.  This post-Westphalian European concept marries up with the English Common Law very well, as the latter is based on low-level contractual assurance, checks, balances and agreement, not sovereign dictates from the ruler.  With the Enlightenment the Natural Law is seen as universal and, thusly, the rights and liberty that they endow go to every man at every time, if they have but the wisdom to see them for what they are.  This is not a dogma but a piece of knowledge that put to an end the Divine Right Monarchy concept and helped to install a concept of sovereign power being accountable to the governed.  It is not universal because of dogma, the dogma comes from the understanding of the self-evident universality of these rights.  Clawing out positive rights from the negative power of government has been a fight going on for nearly two millennia, not since 1787 or 1776 or 1648.

In seeking censorship, Mr. Posner puts forward that ‘bad ideas never die’.  That is correct.  And censorship only makes them more attractive, not less, if the Banned in Boston booklist is any measure of such things.  Bad ideas need to be countered, discussed, and the reason they are bad refreshed on a continual basis so that people know why they are bad ideas.  Not doing so, not speaking out against the atrocities of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and lesser tyrannical systems like the Ba’athists that grew from Nazism, ensures that you get lovely artifacts like a President having a Mao Christmas tree ornament in the White House, or children wearing apparel festooned with Che the torturer and killer on them.  You can’t stop a bad idea by not talking about them, by not calling attention to how bad they are, by not seeking to show how bad they are by the fact that those you seek to talk to will call you racist, phobic or any of a million other names to distract from the fact they are unwilling to talk about how bad their ideas actually are.  Not talking about them allows them to spread because they are malignant and when not countered by simple logic their interior emotional venom allows people to justify all sorts of activities.

Like invading the grounds of Embassies.

Like killing Ambassadors and other protected individuals, which is an Act of War.

Like mass murder.

Like subjugation of the meek by tyrants.

In the end Mr. Posner puts this out:

The final irony is that while the White House did no more than timidly plead with Google to check if the anti-Muslim video violates its policies (appeasement! shout the critics), Google itself approached the controversy in the spirit of prudence. The company declined to remove the video from YouTube because the video did not attack a group (Muslims) but only attacked a religion (Islam). Yet it also cut off access to the video in countries such as Libya and Egypt where it caused violence or violated domestic law. This may have been a sensible middle ground, or perhaps Google should have done more. What is peculiar it that while reasonable people can disagree about whether a government should be able to curtail speech in order to safeguard its relations with foreign countries, the Google compromise is not one that the U.S. government could have directed. That’s because the First Amendment protects verbal attacks on groups as well as speech that causes violence (except direct incitement: the old cry of “Fire!” in a crowded theater). And so combining the liberal view that government should not interfere with political discourse, and the conservative view that government should not interfere with commerce, we end up with the bizarre principle that U.S. foreign policy interests cannot justify any restrictions on speech whatsoever. Instead, only the profit-maximizing interests of a private American corporation can. Try explaining that to the protesters in Cairo or Islamabad.

Again, note the bolded part of this.  Google, as a corporate entity (which is to say an incorporated person) exercised judgment and did what it thought was best.  This is a very exercise of the First Amendment right of Google which is a positive exercise of that right.  Of course this isn’t what the government we currently have would have wanted, but so what?  Our rights do not come from government, we only ask that it protect those rights.  And the ability to exercise prudence, caution and adapt circumspection to individual actions is fully and completely within the realm of individuals.

But Mr. Posner decries that very ‘profit making entity’, which means that if Google were a charitable outfit, that its decisions would be OK?  Those are incorporated entities, as well, yet they do not seek a profit.  The implication is that the US government should impose laws on corporations to make them abide by the will of government policy.  Yet that is not a power handed to the federal government via the contract we call the US Constitution.  If the US government wishes to restrict all civil communications with certain governments then it can do so, of course, but that isn’t what Mr. Posner is seeking via his construction of the equation.  He is posing that corporations should become an arm of government policy.  That means every religious organization, every charity, every small business, every thing that we do when we agree to work together and incorporate an entity comes under the control of the US government for speech and, by implication, all foreign policy.  Yet it has not the power to do so because we do not grant such powers to the government.  Nor to any government.

What you hear is the beg for totalitarianism under the guise of anti-capitalism.  Even worse it is a begging to destroy the meaning of our contracts writ small, between individuals, and writ large, between the people and their government.  Mr. Posner doesn’t seek a trade in liberty for security, but a trade in liberty for tyranny with no interceding points.

The return of 1979

In one of my very first posts I wrote was about the concept of Jus ad Bellum or ‘Just War’, which are the instances laid out in Law of Nations by de Vattel (1758) of when a Nation State may go to war.  This I expanded upon in Where Angels fear to tread, because in our modern age we have glossed over and completely excised the differences between Public and Private war and what responses are appropriate to each.  Law of Nations is descriptive law that attempts to encapsulate unwritten law which was differentiate by Bracton on the Laws and Customs of England (circa 1250) as the law leges, as opposed to the jus scriptum or written law.  In fact Bracton describes Law of Nations as jus gentium:

What the jus gentium is.

[017] 33The jus gentium is the law which men of all nations use, which falls short of
[018] natural law since that is common to all animate things born on the earth in the
[019] sea or in the air. From it comes the union of man and woman, entered into by the
[020] mutual consent of both, which is called marriage. Mere physical union is [in the
[021] realm] of fact and cannot properly be called jus since it is corporeal and may be
[022] seen;
34 all jura are incorporeal and cannot be seen. From that same law there
[023] also
35 comes the procreation and rearing of children. The jus gentium is common
[024] to men alone, as religion observed toward God, the duty of submission to parents
[025] and country, or the right to repel violence and injuria. For it is by virtue of this
[026] law that whatever a man does in defence of his own person he is held to do lawfully;
[027] since nature makes us all in a sense akin to one another it follows that for one to
[028] attack another is forbidden.

The Law of Nations, then, is universal to thinking beings  capable of having families and of defense of self and Nation, as Nation arrives from the union of thinking man and woman in families.  As the presence of families seeking to protect themselves and working with other families is universal in mankind, so are Nations, and yet the jus gentium does not come from Natural Law but from the application of reason and self-governance to our natural liberties and rights.  Thus law of nations is usually spoken of in the lower case, encompassing the entire unwritten part of mankind’s activities that fall into it, and in the larger case when citing an individual work within it.  As de Vattel had worked with Blackstone prior to the colonies separating from the Great Britain, that work is predominant and guiding not just in the thought of those Founding the Nation and Framing the Constitution, but actually has direct, upper case citation in the latter.

What Law of Nations describes is the outcome of what many civilizations have formed in the way of rules between Nations and while it concentrates on mostly European Nations, the form of interaction described is one that can be seen globally between all Nations and the States running them.  It doesn’t matter what period of history you search (ancient to modern) or where you look geographically (from Southern Africa to Northern Siberia to the Great Plains to the high coastal regions of South America, all of mankind works under law of nations.  de Vattel devotes an entire book (Book III) to warfare, which shows itself as a major part of the activities of mankind, but for the actions seen in Tehran in 1979 and today in Cairo and Benghazi, one must look to the norms and standards of diplomacy between Nations which comes in another book (Book IV).  Ideas presented in both books receive references earlier in the work, but their full fleshing out happens in them as these are major components of Nations.  To get an idea of how this works, here is paragraph 1 from Book IV:

§ l. What peace is.

PEACE is the reverse of war: it is that desirable state in which every one quietly enjoys his rights, or, if controverted, amicably discusses them by force of argument. Hobbes has had the boldness to assert, that war is the natural state of man. But if, by “the natural state of man,” we understand (as reason requires that we should) that state to which he is destined and called by his nature, peace should rather be termed his natural state. For, it is the part of a rational being to terminate his differences by rational methods; whereas, it is the characteristic of the brute creation to decide theirs by force.1 Man, as we have already observed (Prelim. § 10), alone and destitute of succours, would necessarily be a very wretched creature. He stands in need of the intercourse and assistance of his species, in order to enjoy the sweets of life, to develop his faculties, and live in a manner suitable to his nature. Now, it is in peace alone that all these advantages are to be found: it is in peace that men respect, assist, and love each other: nor would they ever depart from that happy state, if they were not hurried on by the impetuosity of their passions, and blinded by the gross deceptions of self-love. What little we have said of the effects will be sufficient to give some idea of its various calamities; and it is an unfortunate circumstance for the human race, that the injustice of unprincipled men should so often render it inevitable.

Peace, then, is amongst the civilized of the Earth and those Nations that wish to practice peace should have intercourse and discourse between them so as to iron out differences.  The brute man, the savage man, wishes no discourse and only force to be the way to settle things, to impose his will upon others without their consent.

You are, perhaps, seeing where this is going, no?  How discussions really weren’t present in1979 or today?  Is what we are seeing and did see the actions of peaceful, rational man in his Nations, or irrational, brutish man that is uncivilized?  If one cannot distinguish between these things, then one cannot properly distinguish between war and peace as peace is not just the absence of war.  It is not with emotional fervor that I call these actions barbarous, brutish, savage and wholly contrary to civilized intercourse amongst Nations for that is exactly what these actions are stripped of all emotional content but with the ability to judge what is civil discourse and what is attack to get one’s way and enforce one’s will.

Now what is the source of these actions?  Not the immediate ‘this anti-Islamic film inflamed individuals’ for it is possible to have heated passion without running riot, without damaging property of another Nation and without inflicting physical and lethal harm to others.  Thus comes the second paragraph of Book IV and the object is still Peace:

§ 2. Obligation of cultivating it.

Nations who are really impressed with sentiments of humanity, — who seriously attend to their duty, and are acquainted with their true and substantial interests, — will never seek to promote their own advantage at the expense and detriment of other nations: however intent they may be on their own happiness, they will ever be careful to combine it with that of others, and with justice and equity. Thus disposed, they will necessarily cultivate peace. If they do not live together in peace, how can they perform those mutual and sacred duties which nature enjoins them? And this state is found to be no less necessary to their happiness than to the discharge of their duties. Thus, the law of nature every way obliges them to seek and cultivate peace. That divine law has no other end in view than the welfare of mankind: to that object all its rules and all its precepts lend: they are alt deducible from this principle, that men should seek their own felicity; and morality is no more than the art of acquiring happiness. As this is true of individuals, it is equally so of nations, as must appear evident to any one who will but take the trouble of reflecting on what we have said of their common and reciprocal duties, in the first chapter of the second book.

Note the last part I put in boldface, and that the individual and nation are part of a scale-free phenomena called ‘peace’.  A moral people, seeking happiness, would criticize those who detract from their religion, perhaps seek to have some understanding of how such a thing could come to be made with it being so hurtful to them.  That is the realm of discourse, where passion can and must still play a part, but it also recognizes the rights of others to have their say and put such matters publicly for the benefit of all to hear and understand.  For such morality to be present it must, actually, manifest in peaceful activities that respect other individuals and nations.  Thus it can be said the activities taken in Tehran in 1979, Cairo and Benghazi in the last two days were not ones that were moral nor ones that respected the rights of other individuals or nations.

Of course as Nations have States to support them, those States fall under the sovereign power of the Nation.  There are responsibilities for those who are vested with such sovereign power and their activities are the ones in which nations interact with each other.  Responsibilities beget obligations and the sovereign has obligations as a manifestation of the power of the nation:

§ 3. The sovereign’s obligation to it.

This obligation of cultivating peace binds the sovereign by a double tie. He owes this attention to his people, on whom war would pour a torrent of evils; and he owes it in the most strict and indispensable manner, since it is solely for the advantage and welfare of the nation that he is intrusted with the government. (Book I. § 39.) He owes the same attention to foreign nations, whose happiness likewise is disturbed by war. The nation’s duty in this respect has been shown in the preceding chapter; and the sovereign, being invested with the public authority, is at the same time charged with all the duties of the society, or body of the nation. (Book I. § 41.)

If government is to have peace it must seek it not just for its people but for those nations it interacts with.  The obligation to peace is put in trust to a Nation’s government, and it is a grant of responsibility, obligation and power (although that will vary from Nation to Nation, the Nation as a sovereign power is said to have the whole power) by those in the Nation to that government.  It may not be a grant by consent, and thusly any government that takes up the sovereign power without consent is doubly responsible for its activities.

In the case of 1979 that was (and remains) the government of Iran, in Cairo it is the government of Egypt, and for Benghazi it is the government of Libya.  The outcomes of such activities are the responsibilities of the governments of each nation and what happens determines the course of that nation: are they to put forward the rule of law and diplomatic discourse or are they to endorse such activities?  And what are the outcomes of these courses of action?  Depending on which course is taken, the destination is set, and that is not by emotions but by the actions of the sovereigns involved.  In Iran and Egypt the governments did not decry such activities, nor did they offer up to have a rule of law applied to the individuals doing such actions.  In Libya, as far as can be discerned, there is a willingness to seek out the miscreants involved in murder of the US Ambassador and bring the proper laws involved into play (whatever they are).

Taking the last case first, as it is the closest we have come to expect from responsible actors as nations, even though the activities are horrific.  Much later, starting in paragraph 80, are how Ambassadors are to be treated, and this is important in the Libyan case:

§ 82. Particular protection due to them.(197)

This safety is particularly due to the minister, from the sovereign to whom he is sent. To admit a minister, to acknowledge him in such character, is engaging to grant him the most particular protection, and that he shall enjoy all possible safety. It is true, indeed, that the sovereign is bound to protect every person within his dominions, whether native or foreigner, and to shelter him from violence: but this attention is in a higher degree due to a foreign minister. An act of violence done to a private person is an ordinary transgression, which, according to circumstances, the prince may pardon: but if done to a public minister, it is a crime of state, an offence against the law of nations; and the power of pardoning, in such case, does not rest with the prince in whose dominions the crime has been committed, but with him who has been offended in the person of his representative. However, if the minister has been insulted by persons who were ignorant of his character, the offence is wholly unconnected with the law of nations, and falls within the class of ordinary transgressions. A company of young rakes, in a town of Switzerland, having, in the night-time, insulted the British minister’s house, without knowing who lived in it, the magistracy sent a message to the minister to know what satisfaction he required. He prudently answered, that it was the magistrates’ concern to provide for the public safety by such means as they thought best; but that, as to his own part, he required nothing, not thinking himself affronted by persons who could have had no design against him, as not knowing his house. Another particular circumstance, in the protection due to foreign ministers, is this: — according to the destructive maxims introduced by a false point of honour, a sovereign is under a necessity of showing indulgence to a person wearing a sword, who instantly revenges an affront done to him by a private individual: but violent proceedings against a public minister can never be allowed or excused, unless where the latter has himself been the aggressor, and, by using violence in the first instance, has reduced his opponent to the necessity of self-defence.

Libya can try such people, but the place they can, nay must, reach trial is in the domain of the sovereign offended.  If you kill the US Ambassador clemency, guilt or innocence cannot be determined in Libya but only by the US.  That is the normal, ordinary course of affairs between nations that have regularized diplomatic intercourse via the exchange of diplomats.  If the US recognizes such a government then that government has the obligation to seek out those who do such crimes and hand them over.  There can be initial trial in Libya, yes, but any sentence is held in abeyance until they can be tried in the US.

No matter how piss-poor the current Libyan government is, they at least are acting by civilized norms and must be worked with and supported in their actions to bring those individuals in for trial.  If they act in bad faith, seek to shield such miscreants or otherwise dissemble their intentions by their activities, then there are other means to go through to ensure compliance with the responsibilities and obligations of the sovereign power in Libya.

That now leaves the similar cases of Tehran 1979 and Cairo, in which the US Embassy grounds were invaded (twice in Tehran, once in Cairo to-date).  This requires a look at the Embassy, which are part of where the Ambassador does his work:

§ 110. The ambassador is exempt from the civil jurisdiction of the country where he resides.

SOME authors will have an ambassador to be subject, in civil cases, to the jurisdiction of the country where he resides. — at least in such cases as have arisen during the time of his embassy; and, in support of their opinion, they allege that this subjection is by no means derogatory to the ambassadorial character: “for,” say they, “however sacred a person may be, his inviolability is not affected by suing him in a civil action.” But it is not on account of the sacredness of their person that ambassadors cannot be sued: it is because they are independent of the jurisdiction of the country to which they are sent; and the substantial reasons on which that independency is grounded may be seen in a preceding part of this work (§ 92). Let us here add, that it is in every respect highly proper, and even necessary, that an ambassador should be exempt from judicial prosecution even in civil causes, in order that he may be free from molestation in the exercise of his functions. For a similar reason, it was not allowed, among the Romans, to summon a priest while he was employed in his sacred offices:1 but at other times he was open to the law. The reason which we have here alleged for the exemption is also assigned in the Roman law: “Ideo enim non datur actio (adversus legatum) ne ab officio suscepto legationis avocetur,2 ne impediatur legatio.”3 But there was an exception as to those transactions which had taken place during the embassy. This was reasonable with regard to those legati, or ministers, of whom the Roman law here speaks, who, being sent only by nations subject to the empire, could not lay claim to the independency enjoyed by a foreign minister. As they were subjects of the state, the legislature was at liberty to establish whatever regulations it thought most proper respecting them: but a sovereign has not the like power of obliging the minister of another sovereign to submit to his jurisdiction: and even if such power was vested in him by convention, or otherwise, the exercise of it would be highly improper: because, under that pretext, the ambassador might be often molested in his ministry, and the state involved in very disagreeable quarrels, for the trifling concerns of some private individuals, who might and ought to have taken better precautions for their own security. It is therefore, only in conformity to the mutual duties which states owe to each other, and in accordance with the grand principles of the law of nations, that an ambassador or public minister is at present, by the universal custom and consent of nations, independent of all jurisdiction in the country where he resides, either in civil or criminal cases. I know there have occurred some instances to the contrary: but a few facts do not establish a custom: on the contrary, those to which I allude, only contribute, by the censure passed on them, to prove the custom such as I have asserted it to be. In the year 1668, the Portuguese resident at the Hague was, by an order of the court of justice, arrested and imprisoned for debt. But an illustrious member of the same court4 very justly thinks that the procedure was unjustifiable, and contrary to the law of nations. In the year 1657, a resident of the elector of Brandenburg was also arrested for debt in England. But he was set at liberty, as having been illegally arrested; and even the creditors and officers of justice who had offered him that insult were punished.5

This is later reinforced in paragraph 113 and elsewhere in Law of Nations.  When the Embassy of another nation is broken into, that is not an act of civil invasions but one of law of nations contravention.  When it is private individuals doing such invasion, it is not civil trespass but a violation of the treaties between the nations involved which gives rise to an escalated tensions between the nations involved.  The government of those people doing the invasion is responsible for a response: is it the course of civil process by the course of law, or is it upholding the law breakers?  When it is the latter case it is giving backing to the action that then moves it from the realm of civil dispute to one of dispute between nations.  In other words it transforms from mere civil trespass, to be sorted out by diplomacy and civil proceedings, to one where an actual invasion is given backing which is a casus belli, a cause for war.

When the sacrosanct nature of agreements between Nations, in exchanging ambassadors or other public ministers in search of peace requires this as it is the civil, rational and natural movement of men to seek peace amongst themselves.  When that is transgressed and backed by the sovereign power of a Nation, peace can no longer be said to be the object of its desire.  There is always an opportunity for diplomacy, of course, but that must be taken by that nation backing the transgressors, not by those being invaded.

Those doing the invasion, not being in uniform, not adhering to the standards of law of nations or the rules of war, are now conducting a military operation outside of both.  This moves us back to Book III, the one on warfare and who gets to make it:

§ 4. It belongs only to the sovereign power.(137)

As nature has given men no right to employ force, unless when it becomes necessary for self defence and the preservation of their rights (Book II. § 49, &c.), the inference is manifest, that, since the establishment of political societies, a right, so dangerous in its exercise, no longer remains with private persons except in those encounters where society cannot protect or defend them. In the bosom of society, the public authority decides all the disputes of the citizens, represses violence, and checks every attempt to do ourselves justice with our own hands. If a private person intends to prosecute his right against the subject of a foreign power, he may apply to the sovereign of his adversary, or to the magistrates invested with the public authority: and if he is denied justice by them, he must have recourse to his own sovereign, who is obliged to protect him. It would be too dangerous to allow every citizen the liberty of doing himself justice against foreigners; as, in that case, there would not be a single member of the state who might not involve it in war. And how could peace be preserved between nations, if it were in the power of every private individual to disturb it? A right of so momentous a nature, — the right of judging whether the nation has real grounds of complaint, whether she is authorized to employ force, and justifiable in taking up arms, whether prudence will admit of such a step, and whether the welfare of the state requires it, — that right, I say, can belong only to the body of the nation, or to the sovereign, her representative. It is doubtless one of those rights, without which there can be no salutary government, and which are therefore called rights of majesty (Book I. § 45).

Thus the sovereign power alone is possessed of authority to make war. But, as the different rights which constitute this power, originally resident in the body of the nation, may be separated or limited according to the will of the nation (Book I. § 31 and 45), it is from the particular constitution of each state, that we are to learn where the power resides, that is authorized to make war in the name of the society at large. The kings of England, whose power is in other respects so limited, have the right of making war and peace.1 Those of Sweden have lost it. The brilliant but ruinous exploits of Charles XII. sufficiently warranted the states of that kingdom to reserve to themselves a right of such importance to their safety.

That step of saying that the citizens have acted in accordance with the sovereign power is one that changes the activities of those citizens and gives them military legitimacy.  They are not legitimate military actors, however, by any standard and any future actions by such non-military actors is one that comes under law of nations as well:

§ 34. Na-

Nations that are always ready to take up arms on any prospect of advantage, are lawless robbers: but those who seem to delight in the ravages of war, who spread it on all sides, without reasons or pretexts, and even without any other motive than their own ferocity, are monsters, unworthy the name of men. They should be considered as enemies to the human race, in the same manner as, in civil society, professed assassins and incendiaries are guilty, not only towards the particular victims of their nefarious deeds, but also towards the state, which therefore proclaims them public enemies. All nations have a right to join in a confederacy for the purpose of punishing and even exterminating those savage nations. Such were several German tribes mentioned by Tacitus — such those barbarians who destroyed the Roman empire: nor was it till long after their conversion to Christianity that this ferocity wore off. Such have been the Turks and other Tartars — Genghis Khan, Timur Bec or Tamerlane, who, like Attila, were scourges employed by the wrath of Heaven, and who made war only for the pleasure of making it. Such are, in polished ages and among the most civilized nations, those supposed heroes, whose supreme delight is a battle, and who make war from inclination purely, and not from love to their country.

That is what such nations are, are they not?  The ones that incite their people to kill not to protect society, not to protect territory or property, not to any sane reason and without justification.  These are so-called ‘rogue nations’, although getting modern man to understand that civilization is at threat from such nations has been difficult, if not impossible to do.  When private individuals take to war with no sovereign grant or oversight, no sovereign accountability, that is unlawful war:

§ 67. It is to be distinguished from informal and unlawful war.

Legitimate and formal warfare must be carefully distinguished from those illegitimate and informal wars, or rather predatory expeditions, undertaken either without lawful authority or without apparent cause, as likewise without the usual formalities, and solely with a view to plunder. Grotius relates several instances of the latter.5 Such were the enterprises of the grandes compagnies which had assembled in France during the wars with the English, — armies of banditti, who ranged about Europe, purely for spoil and plunder: such were the cruises of the buccaneers, without commission, and in time of peace; and such in general are the depredations of pirates. To the same class belong almost all the expeditions of the Barbary corsairs: though authorized by a sovereign, they are undertaken without any apparent cause, and from no other motive than the lust of plunder. These two species of war, I say, — the lawful and the illegitimate, — are to be carefully distinguished, as the effects and the rights arising from each are very different.

§ 68. Grounds of this distinction.

In order fully to conceive the grounds of this distinction, it is necessary to recollect the nature and object of lawful war. It is only as the last remedy against obstinate injustice that the law of nature allows of war. Hence arise the rights which it gives, as we shall explain in the sequel: hence, likewise, the rules to be observed in it. Since it is equally possible that either of the parties may have right on his side, — and since, in consequence of the independence of nations, that point is not to be decided by others (§ 40), — the condition of the two enemies is the same, while the war lasts. Thus, when a nation, or a sovereign, has declared war against another sovereign on account of a difference arisen between them, their war is what among nations is called a lawful and formal war; and its effects are, by the voluntary law of nations, the same on both sides, independently of the justice of the cause, as we shall more fully show in the sequel.6 Nothing of this kind is the case in an informal and illegitimate war, which is more properly called depredation. Undertaken without any right, without even an apparent cause, it can be productive of no lawful effect, nor give any right to the author of it. A nation attacked by such sort of enemies is not under any obligation to observe towards them the rules prescribed in formal warfare. She may treat them as robbers,(146a) The inhabitants of Geneva, after defeating the famous attempt to take their city by escalade,7 caused all the prisoners whom they took from the Savoyards on that occasion to be hanged up as robbers, who had come to attack them without cause and without a declaration of war. Nor were the Genevese censured for this proceeding, which would have been detested in a formal war.

We call these modern day actors: terrorists.  They are in the same class as pirates as the objective of war when done by private individuals without sovereign grant is not material: power, lust, greed, or just wanting to see the world burn are all one and the same in Private War which is illegitimate in all circumstances.  A Nation condoning and sponsoring such is an enemy of all mankind.

Unfortunately the State of Iran and Egypt are now in that category and are abusing their sovereign power meant to protect their people and using that power to inspire the activity of war to no lawful effect and no good end for mankind.

I have no hatred for the people of Iran or Egypt.

Their governments are monsters as their actions now tell you that.

It is civilized to wish that the people of these Nations had governments worthy of them to seek peace for them amongst their fellow nations of the Earth.  Such is not the case and the remedy has already been stated, if one can but read and reason.

One Step Out

You are prepared for the worst of times, now, or you will find yourself in a rush over the next 2 months to get prepared.

I’ve gone over the basics before and it comes down to survival level preparation, not the ‘do I have a few days of food around the house?’ sort of preparation, although that is a necessary precondition it is not sufficient to longer-term survival.  This longer-term stuff deals with preparation of food, water, fuel, sanitary supplies, medicines, weapons, ammunition, and necessary rugged clothing to get through the worst your local climate can hand you.  I am in the last stages of energy preparation and getting in efficient refrigerator and freezer space to run off of solar units.  I am lacking in one or two ‘nice to have’ things (an end of civilization vehicle capable of getting through an EMP) but otherwise will be set for whatever the future brings in one month.

That is worst case scenario planning.

I will not go into a ‘best case’ scenario, but the moderate road to the long slog out of our dire circumstances is finally appearing.  It will be a long slog, make no mistake about it, and there will be a change in our short-term outlook due to necessity at the National, State, local and personal level.  The National level is the easiest to encompass and has the most number of ‘knowns’ to it, which means that examination of probabilities are based on where we are at, what we know of the situations involved, and what can be done to ameliorate them.  What won’t be happening on a fast scale, although over 20 years it is a more than faint possibility, is a federal government ‘reset button’ being hit to make each and every department and each and every law with its regulations tie directly back to the US Constitution.  Getting back to Constitutionally limited government is a goal, not a destination, in that it can never be fully reached, there will always be more to cut and there will be constant vigilance necessary to stop backsliding.  With that said, the easy stuff is also the ‘hard stuff’ to enumerate.

– Social spending – This is Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (M&Ms), welfare (under multiple programs), unemployment benefits, and any other program that is meant to redistribute wealth from taxpayers to the poor, needy and those who generally don’t pay income tax.  Yeah, they pay FICA, so?  It is a tax, not necessarily income tax (although the distinction is fine) and the program it funds is in the red and will go completely insolvent in the near future.  That is true of all the ‘entitlements’ that no one is actually entitled to, and they are all taxing and spending programs when all the feel good veneer is rubbed away.  The worst are the M&Ms as they have been one of the prime causes for raising the cost of medical care through the ‘help’ of government being unwilling to pay the full cost of care for those in the programs thus raising the price for everyone else.  Add in the subsidization of medical ‘insurance’ via the tax code, and no one knows exactly what medical care costs any longer as no one is willing to pay an unburdened price for it and the burdened cost is already built into the system.

Solutions to social spending are various, but they all include keeping those ‘in the system’ in it, and restructuring to abolishing the rest of the system.  One of the reasons I caution to get stocked up months or a year in advance of necessary, daily medical supplies is that something is going to have to give and you don’t know what will come out the other side.  Moving to a user-choice based system is necessary and mandatory as the various governments have demonstrated a stark incapacity in actually knowing what they are doing in the health care arena.  You own your body, and caring for it is your problem, and as your property that keeps you tied to this world you might want to stop letting other people decide your fate for you.  When government controls your health care in any way, shape or form, it controls you.  Retirement is something that you must consider for yourself, sans government, so that no matter what government tells you that you must do, you are prepared to thumb your nose and say to it ‘go away, my life is my own’.  The idea of retirement may come to be obsolete within two decades if, and only if, we survive past this time of trouble.  That is a ray of hope, for those of you looking, and it goes beyond retirement to medicine, more on that in a bit.

– Industry, energy, natural resource utilization – Federal restrictions based on feel-good ideals and bad science are leading to a catastrophe in the US for energy use.  That for a Nation that just might have the greatest reserves of coal, natural gas and, yes, oil on the planet.  A cynic in the 1980’s pointed out that we are exhausting the rest of the world’s supply, first, so that ours will be the only one left once the rest of the world can no longer get to the easy stuff.  There is a glimmer of truth in that, sad to say, but never has it been taken to such immediately destructive ends as we are in today.  Basically the idea that the federal government has purview over these areas of the economy flies in the face of limited government power distribution, in which the States and the people get those things that are few we hand to the federal government.  Regulation, politics at the National level, and a religious fervor based on junk science and bad faith are now putting the US in extreme peril of a catastrophic energy increase.

The basics of getting out are clear and simple: hand these things back to the States and those few cross-State concerns that do not tread upon federal domains can be worked on by the States in the plural.  Federalism is the number one answer to these and many other problems, and by shifting the scale to the more local States there is an overhead burden removed from it as local economics will dictate results.  Did it take an EPA to clean up the Cuyahoga River?  Yes.  The Ohio EPA did that, and beat the federal government by years by seeing this as a problem long before the leftist song singers arrived as that burning of the river had been a frequent event.  A pro-active State government utilized its powers (which are many) to deal with a problem tailored to local conditions.  Worked, too.  The States have demonstrated that for off-shore oil exploration that their record is superb for near coastal waters and stringent as well.  Perhaps they can apply that to ‘economic zone’ waters off their coasts as well, and tailor local solutions and enforcement to their needs.  Alaska doesn’t have the same problems as Louisiana or Florida, so why have the same straight-jacket of regulations applied there or anywhere?  The States can serve as a hotbed on getting their lands back by asking the federal government, per parcel, to show where the State legislature actually allowed the federal government to hold that land.  Or, in a lovely twist, just declare ’eminent domain’ on those lands and take them out of federal control.  As on land, private drilling is now yielding great returns on investment, perhaps it is time for the States to remember that they OWN that land and that grants to the federal government can be rescinded.

– The weeds of regulation – There are numerous departments and agencies within the federal government that have little useful purpose.  Energy, Education, Labor, HUD, choice parts of Interior… plus quasi-government organizations that do things out of the reach of Congress like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Sallie Mae, Ginnie Mac, Federal Reserve.  When the Federal Reserve tells Congress it won’t print money to cover new debt, and then prints money to cover new debt, you have a purely rogue institution that is opaque to outside scrutiny dictating the health of the economy to the citizens.  These and a host of other organizations for the Arts, Humanities, and other educational venues all need to be cut, the quasi-governmental agencies turned into stock based companies and the Federal Reserve slowly relieved of its power of diluting the dollar.

Some of these can come quickly, just by cutting cash off to them in the budgetary cycle.  Others, like the Federal Reserve, that have proved to be openly hostile to the American public and our currency, need to be ground down and if not out of existence all together then given competition by establishing other banks to take over similar duties and making them all accountable to stock and bond holders that must be US citizens.  Removing the power of government to put quasi-governmental agencies in charge of home mortgages is a long-term losing proposition and a drain on the federal budget.  So must student loans.  And the entire subsidy system that increases the cost of food to line the pockets of large agricultural concerns.  The States can regulate agriculture and screw it up small scale so the Nation is not put at peril by our own government at the large scale.

These are moderate and intermediate transfers and changes that must happen for the Nation to survive and it involves the disentanglement of the US federal government from assumed powers and puts it back on the course of having to do its few duties.  That is a goal, not a destination.

In the very short term, there is the distinct and growing possibility that the current regime in DC will not get re-elected.  They will try, of course, via voter fraud and through compliant Secretaries of State or whichever State level official is in charge of counting the ballots, but if it isn’t close, the cheating disappears as a factor.  All is not sweetness and light thereafter, however, although minimal and bare prospects do improve.

There may be a wholesale repudiation of the policies of the last four years (Rep. King from IA, I believe it is, has put a bill like that forward this session and one might expect the same in early JAN 2013).  Even that as a GIVEN the problems of the M&Ms, SSA, and federal intrusion into the loan and banking industry IS STILL THERE.  It is a problem, a major problem, and a structural problem that requires removing, altering or swapping out large parts of the structure set up by the federal government.  The nausea of Fannie, Freddie, Ginnie and their friends at HUD and the Federal Reserve may, finally, put in place something to get these groups disassociated, abolished or made into stock held companies by US citizens and put the federal treasury beyond their reach for good and all.  That is EASY compared to the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth over the M&Ms, SSA and ‘entitlements’, and yet they, too, must be altered, changed and parts of them abolished as well.  Be prepared to put in good people in 2014 to continue the work, and then in 2016 because it won’t even have really started by then.  This easy stuff, whacking the weeds out of the way and getting entire departments abolished or turned into temporary block grant accounting groups is easy in comparison.

All of this happens against the slowly building backdrop of One Step Out.

I expect radical Islam to come to power and consolidate and then begin bickering with each other almost endlessly: it is what Caliphates do until they become decadent and collapse.

China has a dustbowl, a demographics collapse, inflation, jobs fleeing to places like Vietnam, a crony banking and industrial system that makes our problems look tiny in comparison… that won’t last as it can’t go on forever and it can’t even go on much longer.  Islam in the far west provinces, Maoism returning just a bit closer and a tiny town able to bring the government to its terms all point to a major set of problems in China.  In a century it may not look anything like modern China in size or scope, although it may be able to keep more coastal ethnic enclaves together.

Japan is at the point of either removing most of its government or disappearing as a people and Nation.  Simple survival choices over the next few years.

India grew fast, economically, but without depth to it and now the faltering steps forward are seeing great problems, internally.

A wheat rust has spread from Africa to the Middle East and now is heading into central Asia which is bad news for all involved.  Russia still has a demographic problem, an Islamic problem, multiple ethnic problems, organized crime as part of the government, and still suffers from lack of infrastructure advancement.

Europe is on the ropes and poverty is about to return there.  Unilever, the large corporation, is now marketing to Greece as it does to places like Indonesia with individual packets of shampoo and a new meal in single serve packs of potato and mayonnaise.  This is where Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France are headed, as well.  Germany is chucking the ‘Green’ stuff to build 23 new coal fired power plants as it can’t depend on foreign sources of energy and solar power just isn’t all that dependable.

Gloomy, huh?

The good news?

First, modern medicine is joining the nanotech revolution.  Just like biotech, before it, that means new drugs, new cures, a lower long-term cost, and an extended life span.  Really, if you can lead a healthy and vigorous life up to, say, 100 years old, then why should anyone think about ‘retirement’ in their 60’s?  Or 70’s? Or 80’s? Or 90’s?  Do you see where this is headed?  This is about the demographics of ageing and how it has changed over the 20th century.  Ray Kurzweil pointed this out in the 1990’s, I think it was, and that the rate of adding 1 year to life span had been decreasing throughout the 20th century going from nearly 10 years to 4 years at the end of it.  Which is to say that for every 4 years you age, you get an added on average 1 year of life expectancy (not a guarantee by any sort, but it is demographics and averages).  This was an accelerating trend throughout the 20th century starting with good public sanitation, boosted by antibiotics and mass immunization, and then going after some of the harder diseases that were ending lives early.  Nanotech and new approaches to bacteria and viruses, plus the full working of the human genome and its part in chronic diseases now show the promise of eradicating things like cancer, influenza and, possibly, even ageing itself.  When life expectancy goes up 1 year for each 1 year you live, you essentially have a lifespan limited to one where accidents becomes a major killer (not septicemia or heart disease).

To get to there from here requires a hard disentangling of government control over medicine.  Want a brighter, longer lived and healthier, plus lower medical cost future?  Get government out of it.

Want to see M&Ms, SSA and a number of other programs in serious trouble because they are horse and buggy style laws in the equivalent of the jet age, then continue asking the current set of questions and not look towards our future.  If you mortgage that future, now, you are dooming billions to early death, disease, and continued misery.  As I said earlier, surviving the next 20 years generally intact is a major concern.  Prepare.  Now.

– Final Frontier – Forget the oceans, although they will serve as a source of lovely raw materials for stuff on Earth for at least a century.  The next great bonanza is in space, and we aren’t talking automated probes, either.  There are now a number of players stepping in to the one policy that Obama has that I can endorse: get the federal government out of providing space transport.  It was meant to HURT the US, yes, but it is, instead, making NASA a mere contract agency to get stuff into space from the private sector.  The current crop of companies are start-ups and now competing to get material, supplies and people to the ISS.  These start-ups are relatively low-key and using relatively old technology that is on a slow trend towards moving the cost per pound to orbit down.  It gets economical at about $1,000/lb. and that is very doable with old technology.  To get the next quantum leap down ($100/lb.) will also require old technology but with new materials to get stuff to the edge of the atmosphere and then go on from there.  At that cost point getting an individual, with space suit, consumables, etc. drops from the cost of a new house to that of a new car.  There is already a consortium of computer age billionaires (the tech boom moguls) who are starting to invest in getting to space in a big way as they see industry being cheaper and easier in space than on Earth.  Pull one good sized asteroid into orbit and you have more gold, platinum, and other precious metals than are currently in the global economy… and it is all accessible.  Lunar material offers the same sort of promise.  Both have the building blocks of industry in silica, iron, copper, tin…

Want to pay off the US debt?  Asteroid in orbit does that in short order.  Be nice if we had a country worth being in that rewarded such stuff, huh?

– Sidelined Cash – To survive the Quantative Easings by the Federal Reserve a lot of investor money has sat out the Obama years.  The last time the Federal Reserve acted like this, it had to jack interest rates up to 20% for a couple of years to get that money out of the system.  Any investor who sees the regulatory lid taken off of the investing and wealth producing class, you know the people who create jobs, will have an opportunity to invest in the recovery.  That can be done directly, through investing in start-ups (space, nanotech, medical) or through the expedient of becoming a private lender without the overhead of public lending institutions.  These are contracts and if making less than the Federal Reserve rate looks half-way decent, it also means getting some of that cash that is headed towards destruction into your pockets for further investment elsewhere.

Tech cash is one place that will be the source of this, as well as a few other places like the energy sector (where a lot of cash will be flowing into it).  An entire energy production, refining and transportation industry for fuels and even electricity will create a boom in the economy.  Some of that will go into other venues (space transport, infrastructure construction) that offer a good amount through doing nothing more than just lending money becoming a bondholder in most cases when its not a direct loan.  A strange time when the Federal Reserve is trying to get money out of the economy and private investors are trying to get it into the economy.

– Rise of the new education paradigm – The current educational system, designed in the 13th century, is about to come to an end.  The Khan Academy, free online content from Universities, and the idea that education goes beyond learning the basics but that you do have to learn the basics, means that our world moves out of the brick and mortar buildings and putting children into holding pens to be lectured, to something that becomes interactive, self-paced and unlimited.  And cheap.  You can’t afford an education with the overhead of the old system, but the new system means that you will no longer be tied to a place for your education, but wanting to learn as something you do.  If your lifespan goes on way past 80 and you are still active and fit, then why not?  You will also change careers multiple times or see the idea of a ‘career’ disappear completely.

This fundamentally alters what we call ‘poverty’ as only the very least capable of people will be those unable to apply themselves to leading a good life: the permanently infirm, those bereft of mental faculties, and not much else.  Depending on just how long fertility is extended, the idea of ‘prime childbearing years’ and a ‘biological clock’ disappear entirely.  If you are getting the idea that simple changes in our understanding of biology, technology and its availability changes our perspective on government and its actual necessity, then you are catching on.  The programs, governmental organizations, taxes and all else that became part of the ‘safety net’ of the mid-20th century are dependent upon a set of circumstances that are about to be altered in ways that are beyond easy comprehension, but the possibility of you living to see those days are very, very good.

If you survive the next few years.

This is a fight for freedom, liberty and the unleashing of the human capability for the good of oneself and all mankind.  Socialism, that closed border system of limited capability and resources, isn’t the future of mankind and the socialistic and progressive ideals are ones that depend on scarcity and rationing for very limited lives.  When your life gets longer, the ideals fall apart as they are ‘overtaken by events’, or OBE.  That old system that was built on good feelings and feel good because you foisted caring for others onto government is about to be OBE.  The crashing of economies that will happen, the grasp for temporal power is coming straight up against human liberty and freedom where the utilization of your positive liberties will make the last century’s stupidity something that we will only scratch our heads about in 50 years.  If you are able to spend any time for that doing your new job in orbit, on the moon or in space, or even just down the hall but teaching about the world and skills necessary on a global and perhaps solar system basis.  Thomas Jefferson thought that the US would expand to the west was, perhaps, something that would be done in hundreds of years, not decades.  Once the pressure valve to get away from asinine and misguided government is opened, just how large will the flood to the future be?

I have no idea.  All you have to do is keep the course, remind everyone including the politicians that your liberty is supreme in your life and that you give very, very few things for government to do and that government is now in the way of the good of yourself and your fellow man.  There is a lot to do in these years, a lot of heartache, a lot of battles, a lot of screaming, and yelling and denial of what is coming because it looks like nothing we have ever seen before.  I welcome that future and the work involved.

Present through the lens of the past

Watching Dinesh D’Souza’z presentation of Obama’s America 2016 was an exploration of the themes that have showed up in the immigrant experience in America as seen through the prism of not only Barack Obama but that of Mr. D’Souza.  Simple, factual presentation of his own background allows D’souza to present a contemporaneous view of Barack Obama’s life that is not something that native born Americans experience.  This matters due to the roots of D’Souza coming from India and Barack Obama’s parents coming from the US and Kenya.  More directly, Barack Obama Sr. would marry a woman of the US left, the far left, in the era of the Cold War.  It is to be remembered that the far left of the US picked up on 3rd World Anti-Colonialism that was fostered by the USSR.

The historical record of Barack Obama’s life is what it is: one can disagree with ideologies, viewpoints and even simple analysis (to a degree), but the facts are what they are.  Barack Obama was brought up with his father, a 3rd World Anti-Colonialist, having bad traits washed from him by Obama’s mother, particularly in respects to her second husband.  As her husband moved to embrace capitalism, she sent Barack back to her parents (who were also of the US left) so as to protect him from the shifting ideals and ideology of her new husband.  Gaining Frank Marshal Davis as a mentor that was a close friend of Barack Obama’s maternal grandfather, put a hard basis for a pro-Communist viewpoint in Obama’s early life.  The recounting of Obama’s life, thereafter, is following his own footsteps and talking to the people who knew Obama and, most importantly, Barack Obama, Sr.

I grew up in the Dragon Year cohort, which is separated my a handful of years from both Obama and D’Souza and thus did not have their direct experience of the US left and its influences from the 3rd World Anti-Colonialist movement.  Those few years are enough to take that movement from a vital one (bolstered by the numbers of the Baby Boomer generation) to one of intellectual exhaustion.  Unlike these men I also grew up in a more crunchy form of socialist household, one that adhered closer to First International views and criticized later ones and those of Progressives.  Thus by the time I hit my time at University, I had a grounding in the rhetoric and intellectual methodology of the US left, although I had serious problems with its basic underpinnings.    With that said, those students that were on the left appeared to be losing interest in the actual underpinnings of their own ideology.

There is a fundamental  problem with 3rd World Anti-Colonialism as it was propagated in the US upper educational system: it couldn’t explain why Western   Colonialism (or Imperialism via support of 3rd World regimes) was bad, while that of Communist expansion were either good or just not to be mentioned or glossed over.  If the imposition of economic exploitation is bad when done, then it is the activity that is bad, not the economic system of which power is doing it.  Yet at every turn capitalism was bad and communism good when attached to the same activity.  The disparity of wealth happened under both types of economic system, and there was no way that native regimes could pay for finished goods without regard if it came from East or West.  This is hypocrisy of the highest order, and yet is constantly whitewashed by those holding it whenever it was pointed out to them.  If the activity is one that is exploitative, then how can it be sanctified or whitewashed by any who support it?  And if there is a difference, then what is it and why can the same activity be good when done under different auspices if the activity, itself, is bad under any condition?

Without underpinnings in understanding ideology and sociology, or even just the basic rhetoric of socialism, there is no case that can be made and, worse still, it can only be a negative case when it is made as socialism has not uplifted any people to prosperity as a society, but only a select few apparatchiks who run the system.  Like capitalism.  3rd World Anti-Colonialism as a form of communism  puts a blame on capitalism for exploiting countries when those countries, on their own, did not have the basis for utilization of their resources.  That is due to a lack of skill sets amongst the general populace necessary to perform the tasks of creating and running an industrialized economy. 

As D’Souza points out, the colonial experience of India was one in which education was spread but upward mobility was sharply and precisely limited by the British.  After moving out from being a colony, India attempted 3rd World Socialism as helped by the USSR.  Which didn’t work.  Yet the basis for creating a capitalist society had been left by the British in the form of an educational system and a bolstering of a merchant class (one of the areas somewhat available in India for advancement).  Socialist attempts did not bring about an economic base with prosperity and a general uplifting of the human condition, while capitalism did.  In talking to Obama’s half-brother about his book, we find that he points out that the way Kenya went with 3rd World Anti-Colonialism actually retarded the growth of the Kenyan economy in comparison to other countries that were at the same or lower economic level in comparison.  Indeed, South Africa lasted longest under the colonial banner of the UK, and came out the best prepared to advance economically which led him to the argument that Kenya would have done better to have remained as a colony for another few decades.

In other words: colonialism isn’t all bad.

India was able to actually leverage its education system and the higher general education of its population as compared to pre-colonial times to finally step away from socialism and start letting its people become productive and build the industrial infrastructure to support a modernizing Nation.  South Korea, that had been far more backward than Kenya and war ravaged has turned itself around into a modern, industrialized Nation even though Kenya had a head start on it at the time of Kenyan independence.

Yet the talking points from the US left that has imbibed in 3rd World Anti-Colonialism tell that colonialism and imperialism (as witnessed by the 19th century global land grab by colonialist powers) are only negatives and have no positive artifacts to them.  Yet there are examples of just the opposite of where colonial rulers have actually established educational systems, a relatively orderly bureaucratic system and even the nucleus of what could become a middle class.  If the caste system could not be wiped out in India, the excesses of it, particularly towards women at the death of her husband, could be stopped as well as death cults that struck fear into the population at large.  These are no minor tasks as they weren’t being addressed under any prior ruling regime and continued as artifacts of Indian culture for centuries and longer prior to British rule.  On the flip side the Belgian Congo is an example of actual and deep exploitation and impoverishment of natives by a colonial power.  The counter to that are places like Indonesia, Malaya, S. Africa and (up to just recently) Egypt.  Where anti-colonial forces and revolutions have prospered, the systems put in by the colonialist powers have been diminished, repudiated, attacked or just abandoned to the detriment of the general population wherever that has happened.  Land redistribution does very little good if those on the receiving end don’t know how to use it and, even worse, since 1970’s era ‘green revolution’ methods require relatively large scale farms the efficiencies of such large scale agriculture are not only dismantled but can not come about until smaller land holders agglomerate back under a larger, incorporated farm system.

The glossing over of the benefits of capitalism, industrialization, private ownership of land, and actual job creation that necessitates an educated population are, at best, glossed over and receive head shaking from modern leftists to, at worst, questioning if having a good education system, modern economy and jobs is actually a good end goal for these societies.  What had started as a semi-rigorous religious outlook by Marx had, by the 1980’s, lost all attempts at intellectual rigor and just wanted the patina of intellectualism by spouting good-feeling slogans without actually thinking what the preconditions for them actually are.  A utopian vision of society that has no realistic and well thought out anchor points to reality, that have the faults of its linkages unaddressed and those that do the criticizing attacked, is a recipe for not just disaster but slaughter on a scale unimaginable to the modern mind.  A modern mind that has, within its knowledge scope, two World Wars and the use of WMDs.

What had once been a relatively civilized, if authoritarian, economics viewpoint had morphed, by the mid-1980’s, into a system that was now equating those who fought under no flag, for themselves and whatever grandiose slogans they offered, and did so without benefit of a uniform, accountability structure or even popular support as being the direct, exact equivalent of those who were held accountable, did have support, fought by rules of warfare, and had a civilized infrastructure around them.  Yet those at the beginning of the socialist project would have called those fighting without even the barest attempt at civilized behavior barbarians and, more importantly, destructive to industrialized society and the prospects of ever getting to socialism.  By embracing the USSR communist vision and talking points before the collapse of the USSR, by embracing sloganeering over methodology and rigor, and by ignoring the lack of cohesion between grand feel-good visions and the actual state of human nature, the modern left that joined with the 3rd World Anti-Colonialist movement had become not anti-colonial but anti-West and anti-civilization as they excused any and all deviations from civilized behavior as ‘necessary to the cause’ which is said in various ways.

The surest way to leaving modern leftism behind is to deploy the methodology and rigor of the old ‘crunchy’ socialists of the First International to these latter-day leftists inspired by socialism and communism, but who are unable to apply any rigor to their ideals and ideas.  By simply pointing out that private property capitalism is a necessary part of the creation of the pre-conditions for socialism because it must create a broad-based system of education to better exploit the working class is a key part of socialism that the modern Left can’t even address nor understand as an intellectual concept.  You don’t have to be a dyed in the wool socialist to find the intellectual vacuity of modern leftism (and its anti-colonialist cohorts) but just point out that under the dogma they are seeking and its end goals, that it makes no sense at all.  You don’t even have to believe the underlying premises of old line socialism to do that, just point out that the end result of abolishing private capital and putting the State in control before the preconditions of Marx are met (and those do, by golly, vary greatly even in Marx’s own works) is the worst of all systems that has no need to uplift and educate the poor that the private capitalist has, and just exploit the workers to the end of the State: State Capitalism.  The concept of State Capitalism didn’t start with the Right but with the Left and was the exacting criticism applied to the USSR, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, Communist China and any place where the industrial preconditions laid out by Marx were not present.  I found that vacuity just by pointing out that rigor to those who were in University attempting to figure out their own leftism and the lack of any actual intellectual knowledge about the underpinnings of their belief system were astounding, then and now.  One can appreciate the intellectual rigor of the old left and that the basis for it is misplaced, but the new left preferred slogans to rigor, feeling good about being smart rather than applying mental capacity to actually understanding what it was they were saying, and hand waving that all of this would come about in a peaceful way when all evidence from the past of their own movement had demonstrated just the opposite, not to speak of the broader history of mankind as a whole.  There is a high degree of resonance with Mr. D’Souza as he recounts his early time in the US and trying to talk sense to those on the left who approached the overseas students and had no clue about what the actual conditions were overseas in their Nations of origin.  That was true throughout the left a decade later and to see that it had already been present a decade earlier was not surprising at all.

Dinesh D’Souza by being conservative in the late 1970’s didn’t get to see the decay of the modern left in the US from the inside and only recognizes the artifacts of it as a social commentator and conservative from the outside.  From the inside his recounting of how Barack Obama came to his beliefs, indeed took up the dreams from his father which were anti-colonial/pro-communist makes a lot of sense.  The disjointed life that Barack had with missing father in Hawaii, going overseas, his mother re-marrying, his step-father doing well in life and his mother sending young Barry back to her leftist parents, his time in Columbia University, Harvard, his Chicago mentors, traveling to Kenya after his father’s death, associating with Bill Ayers… all of that leads to a form of US leftism that is anti-colonialist, pro-communist and wholly destructive to society as it cannot reconcile itself to the fact that the high ideals only impoverish people.  Keeping his father’s dream alive is keeping a toxic viewpoint going and embracing it, thoroughly.  This meant a move away from intellectual rigor, and shifting the focus of the anti-colonialist prism to the American experience and utilizing the leftist structure in the US to rise to power.

If the US had shame still left from the era of Jim Crow racism, then electing Barack Obama as a ‘uniter’ meant that those doing the electing had never bothered to ask: just what was it that needed uniting?  If the goal is to create one America, isn’t that contrary to the espoused values of multiculturalism and giving hosannas  to the differences in cultures within the US?  When one speaks about what they wish to achieve, and those goals are high, then one must ask ‘what have you achieved that makes you think you can get this done?’  None of the lofty and intellectual rigor that used to be in the Old Left, that examination of methodology and seeing if those means were to any ends that were part of the long term goal, are present in Barack Obama, because he has flat-out been unable to state what the means to the end goals are and what they mean to each and every citizen of the United States.  And if his vision is that of anti-colonialism, then when he talks about the need to bring down the 1% then he isn’t talking about the rich in America, but all Americans as even the lowliest beggar in the US, the homeless in the US, those gone without a job and having lost their wealth due to the housing market, that all of these people are still much, much richer than any average citizen in a 3rd World Nation.  As pointed out by those D’Souza interviews (and I do paraphrase to get past some of the intervening steps of loss of productivity and sovereignty), the way to redistribute wealth globally is to diminish the rich and make everyone poor and turn the clock back not just to the pre-colonial period but, by and large, to a pre-industrialized one as well with only a very few Nations having any productive capacity at all… and they will have nuclear weapons.  America, you see, under the leftist goal of ‘no nukes’, means no nuclear devices for America and a severely crippled industrial base unable to recover past productivity due to crushing debt and the welfare state.

I’ve read about those lofty goals during the 1980’s and the US Left is stuck in the 1980’s when it isn’t stuck in the 1960’s, and there is a disjointedness to the slogans, to the goals, and to the rhetoric and lack of logical rigor that is breath-taking.  Unwilling to study history, save through a PC lens that has pre-determined outcomes and results and must ignore anything that contradicts those results, a fantasy ideology is fostered about the past and what a great place the pre-colonial, pre-industrial era was.  Anyone who wishes to read about those pre-colonial, pre-industrialized times without the rose colored PC glasses should do so and then add in the every so often WMD and applying that set of scenarios to the modern world may experience a certain horror that awaits the US.

In Barack Obama’s vision of 2016.


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