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Feel Good or Do Good

“Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.” James Madison

“Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.” James Madison

There is so much of a media show of good feelings coming out of Washington now, mostly about how the party in power will deal with all the crises we have that all need immediate solutions. It is true that some do, like the failed distribution of COVID19 vaccinations, but not all problems are a crisis and even at that most are inappropriate for government involvement, let alone intervention. But everything is put in the context of a crisis that needs an immediate solution, even if that solution is not sustainable, is contrary to the Constitution, has long term negative consequences, or even immediate consequences that are counterproductive.

As long as “good intentions” can somehow be spun to justify the most egregious violations of liberty, it’s fine because the greater good is spun out as greater than liberty. Those that question presidential orders, tie-breaking legislation, demands for fair shares, lobbying activities, economic bobbling heads and endless political pundit briefs have been overwhelmed by the tsunami of feel good politics and media right think that such concerns have little if any chance of being heard. Gone are any pretenses at the bi-partisanship collaboration promised by the new administration; now it’s go along or go away.

There should be no surprises here as it’s what duopolists do; the Democrats do it to the Republicans, who then do it to the Democrats, and so on. Well what would we expect, it’s the Potomac Two Step and you can only dance if it’s your party that runs the party. So while the power gorging goes on, at least until the mid-terms, the spite spectacle will rock.

By the way, disregard all these outcries about tie breaking in the Senate. Madison’s Constitutional Dilemma only pertains to the Senate in that a tie is broken with a vote from the Executive Branch, i.e. the Vice President. In the House, the tie-breaker is the Speaker, who comes from among those elected to the legislature, but while they can vote as any other member of the House, they usually reserve the right unless required to either break a tie, or actually effect one in order to kill a proposed bill as ties in the House do that; so there is no issue regarding the separation of powers doctrine in the House. Ties don’t happen often in the House in any event, but in the Senate it now happened 270 times, meaning on that many occasions the executive branch literally legislated. 

This is why it’s called a dilemma, and Madison often said he wished a better way was constructed, such as George Mason’s suggestion that the President of the Senate be chosen and would act the same as the Speaker of the House so as to maintain the separation of powers doctrine. We would be better served had that been the solution chosen; to have the executive branch allowed to legislate is a dangerous flaw in our Constitution and should be addressed with an amendment; for now, we will have to live with Madison’s dilemma.

So on to our current dilemmas and crises. Funny how the Republicans, the self-proclaimed voices of fiscal temperance, created the largest budget overruns and contributions to the debt burden in history over the last four years, now balk because the Democrats will likely break that record; so they now find that old time religion of frugality. Is it an effort for redemption or following a script when you hold the loosing hand? Regardless, don’t be impressed as their ploy to go with a stimulus package for half what the Democrats want is like advocating taking just a little poison, rather than ask why take poison at all. Game over, tie breaker done, the full Monty goes in to play.

If you are concerned as to where all of this feel good money will come from, that’s easy stuff.  You have printing presses at the UST, and a central bank called the Federal Reserve to “create” all the money needed, and spending with one party rule in the White House and Congress will never be easier; that is until you get the bill. Milton Friedman once astutely observed “Keep your eye on one thing and one thing only, and that’s how much government is spending, because that’s the true tax.”

If you are listening to the financial news lately, you may be struck with the mounting concern about inflation due to all this spending. The chorus was started when Lawrence Summers, former Chief Economist for the World Bank and Under Secretary of the UST, questioned the wisdom and long term consequences of the stimulus plans; this from someone who often drank the cool aid of modern monetary theory and financial stimulus. The reaction from many who also drank that stuff was vociferous, as if Summers was guilty of heresy; well maybe he was because as Ron Paul once observed, truth is heresy in a culture of lies. Instead of dismissing those concerns, they had the temerity to tell us inflation doesn’t matter. Really, then explain stagflation which happens often when money and credit expansion in a recession creates such phenomena? 

As an example of how financial stimulus can cause inflation, take the inane debate over setting a minimum wage. If history tells us anything, it is the absurdity of wage and price controls.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, less than 900K Americans could potentially rise from the poverty level with a $15/hr. minimum wage, but the economic effect on businesses, especially small businesses, would be devastating, killing 1.4M jobs. Don’t expect the House to talk much about facts because Representatives have just a two year term, and talking facts can kill votes. Oh, you heard the Republicans say that?  No you didn’t, you heard them say that such a wage increase is too large, something smaller is better. This ignores the obvious by playing a quantitative game.  Common sense should inform us that when the cost of labor goes up, so do prices, and when that happens, those on minimum wage will find a larger paycheck that buys less.

Politicians play the emotional game because sadly it works in a culture that no longer wants to deal with facts. Tell the masses that they are oppressed because those billionaires are stealing from them by providing goods and services that they are told they can’t live without. Oppression makes people feel bad, so propose what makes people feel good; ask them to think and you might as well slit your political throat.

Consider the cries for taxing the rich.  Now first define who the rich are, and we get a statistical reference as those who earn about $400K/yr. or more as of 2018 CBO and OMB statistics. With the swelling ranks of paper money billionaires over the past few years that is projected to rise to $500K/yr. for 2020. This appears to be the defining tipping point for the despised 1%.  So now let’s get ready to at least slit our wrists and consider some facts from the very same CBO, who had the audacity to cross check facts with the good will people at the IRS: the top 1% pay 40% of tax revenues, the top 10% pay 70%, the top 50% pay 97%; so simple arithmetic shows that the bottom 50% pay just 3%. Please note that these are rough and rounded statistics as of 2018; preliminary projections for 2019 and 2020 are even more skewed to the top carrying even greater burdens. As John Adams pointed out, facts are stubborn things.

The feel good stuff seems never ending; consider government guaranteed student loan forgiveness as an example of this free stuff for all mentality. Keep in mind that when you hear the term government guarantees, it’s actually tax payer guarantees. The spin is that the loans present a huge burden on those least able to pay, but that’s simply not the case. According to a study by the Brookings Institute, the highest income group of 40% (top two quintiles) of American households hold 58% of this debt, the middle quintile hold 22%, and the lowest income group of 40% (bottom two quintiles) of American households hold 20%. The total debt of student loans is $1.6T, of which about 15% are in default at any one time. The American tax payer is currently left with approximately $250B of loan defaults already, but the feel good spin is to add another $1.35T to that burden, which is what cancelling that debt means. The banks that make the loans hold the guarantees, and the educational institutions paid from those loans already have the money. Feeling better yet?

So in the feel good spirit we have executive orders, but given all the press about Joe Biden’s Presidential Order mania, his predecessor in just four years managed more than seven times that, but in fairness Joe just got started.  Of course he has a long way to go to match the three presidents that came before him, but he’s off to a good start. It’s doubtful though that he’ll beat Garfield, Wilson and certainly not FDR, but his term is young. One of the orders to note is the closure of all Federal lands to oil and gas exploration and harvesting.  Now consider the fact that almost 28% of the entire US is federal land.  In Alaska, one of the most oil and gas rich states in the US, more than 61% of the state is federal land, and accounts for 20% of all US oil and gas production. So Biden decrees that all federal land will no longer be available for this.

So what happened to the nation of laws and not of men?  Is not a law that says no harvesting oil and gas on federal lands the venue of Congress, the legislative branch, and not the President, the executive branch?  This corruption of the Constitution regarding executive powers has been going on at least and most prominently since Wilson and Roosevelt, but it doesn’t get a free pass; it’s absurd as we do not elect kings.  Why then, when the American economy can at long last look forward to starting up again, and all that means for energy supply and demand, would we have a suppression of availability of 9% of capacity?

Granted, cleaner energy is the way of the future, but by definition, the future is not now.  We are dealing now with a clear and present economic crisis, so why provide a body punch when we are just getting back on our feet? That really doesn’t feel good and certainly does none of us any good. Not to pick on any one issue, but why is it that politicians always seem to prefer policies that feel good over policies that actually do good? The answer is because the former provides power, and the later provides solutions; when you solve a problem, there’s no longer a need for power, and without power, politicians have serious withdrawal symptoms, and so are left with panic mongering that everything, in this case climate change, is a crisis more deserving consideration than economic recovery.

Then you have healthcare. We’re not talkingCOVID19, but the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Consider that with that act health care cost actually rose about 40% from $2.60T/yr. to $3.65T/yr. The intent was to make health care more “affordable”; the actual consequences are anything but. Despite that we hear we will get an expansion of ACA, although we also hear that the Medicare-For-All is supposedly not realistic.  So what then, will we see only another 40% hike because doing more would mean even more than that? Less is not more here, more will mean less care, but you will pay more. But that’s fine because you will feel good about that, right?

As justification, there are those that claim that the Constitution actually provides for the welfare of the country in the General Welfare Clause (Art. 1, Sect. 8). That is an incorrect and self-serving interpretation of the power elite of what the founders, principally Madison, intended as he and others explained in the Federalist Papers. Madison clearly defined that clause as not a means of benevolence but as a means test that a tax must be for funding clearly enumerated powers only, and further that charity is not a legislative power. Again, what feels good does not guarantee what does good, and as the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

On that subject of COVID19, both regarding vaccinations and stimulus aid, we have a constitutional issue in that the administration and Congress, and also some states such as New York, have proposed and in some cases are actually proceeding based on racial profiling. Take a look at the various application forms to schedule a vaccination and you will see questions for racial profiling. Vaccination centers are being located according to the racial composition of a location, and with stimulus aid according to the same criteria. The problem is that this violates the 14th Amendment, specifically The Equal Protection Clause. To spin such practices as “progressive” is an oxymoron if there ever was one as it is patently regressive to act on the basis of race. Trump used the race card and we rightfully railed against that, yet we now have even a more polarizing situation.

Then there’s the power play with another crisis raising the cries for anti-trust actions, mainly against “Big Tech”. Yes, the FANG are in the progressive cross hairs.  The problem is, according to current law, they’ve done nothing wrong, except of course be amazingly successful by providing invaluable technology making life so much easier with benefits our forefathers could not even imagine. To combat such atrocious behavior politicians will simply change the laws so whatever the accusation is will suffice as proof because government should have the power to do that, right?  No, but big corporations will be complacent if not complicit as they play the cronyism game, ushering in the kind of socialism Benito Mussolini taught his most famous pupil, Juan Peron, specifically that “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”  Are we there yet?   

We can only hope that the Supreme Court will be there for us; maybe, but there’s a solution for that too.  Biden has convened a special commission for this crisis “to fix the problem with the Supreme Court”, and such ideas as stacking it, changing tenure, broadening composition via a judicial lottery, and other ideas for “solutions” have been suggested. You see, when an administration is aware that they will have constitutional issues, they need to find a way to control those who rule on constitutional issues, you know, like they do in Russia and China. Don’t think that can’t happen when you already have some in Congress praising China for how it controls free speech, especially on the internet, because “…they got it right.”

A friend of mine said he read somewhere on social media a joke that the government accidentally shut itself down due to the ban on non-essential businesses; on the one hand, it was humorous, but it does evoke the horror of lockdowns. There have been many such draconian actions by governments, but time and again they have done little if any good, and a great deal of harm. To decree someone’s business is “non-essential” is basically putting them out of business.  The pitiful spectacle of having them then put on the public dole condemns them to a slow death; we have a staggering rise in crime, alcohol and drug addiction, depression and in some cases suicides. Indeed, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville wrote during his early 19C tour of the US, “We note that humans, when faced with an imminent danger, rarely remain at their habitual level; they rise far above, or sink far below, but it is more common to see, among men as among nations, extraordinary virtues born of the immediacy of adversity.” So let’s all hope for some extraordinary virtue soon.


Whence then is evil?

To be able to exercise coercion, you need power, and therein we find the source of evil, the power over human beings.

Considering the massive volumes on the nature of good and evil written over the ages the answer to the question posed in the title should be intuitively apparent. However, given so many babbling interpretations of what is evil and where it comes from, much of it theological, we shouldn’t wonder why this is not the case.

What I am proposing is not something new, doesn’t take a leap of faith, or endless dialectic debate. Often human beings make things so overly complicated, even obtuse, when it would serve us better to just listen to a few great minds through history that have, through empirical observation and logic, often building on those who came before them, reached a clarity on the subject that can be comprehended readily.

To understand this on a basic and natural human level we must first put aside theological prejudices that inhibit logical perspective. If you disagree with that premise then answer Epicurus’ riddle, or razor if you prefer, regarding the nature of God and evil: “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?” This razor does not discount the existence of God, only the nature of God and of evil. However, to track evil to its core, we need to keep our minds free from doctrines that are not based on empirical reality.

One of the universally acceptable definitions of early philosophers regarding what evil was basically held that it was suffering, sorrow, and distress resulting from wrongdoing, all of which was morally reprehensible. Such Western ancients like Aristotle, Plato, and Epicurus defined it by the process of elimination of what is not good or beneficial.

In the late Roman Republic we have Cicero, considered by many historians as Rome’s greatest political scholar, who wrote “True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting….” Cicero wrote often about what he considered natural or true law, and while he saw many evils perpetrated by his contemporaries like Cesare, Octavian, et al, he also determined what was evil by an elimination of what was good or beneficial, but more often for the state than for people in general.

The late Roman Era Augustine says that evil was not created by God, that it is an accident of creation that corrupts the human will causing suffering. You have to truly make a leap of faith here because if God created all things, but not evil, then as Epicurus asked, where did that come from.

With Early Renaissance Aquinas we get a break through as he holds that existence and truth are interconnected and are good, and those things that are not a natural part of existence and truth are evil. Although still somewhat a process of elimination, it does maintain that human existence is good, as is freedom, self-preservation, marriage, family, etc. and that which harms it is evil. This is important as Aquinas talks to the concept of natural law for human existence, a precursor to the Enlightenment.

So Augustine and Aquinas proposed that evil could not exist within God, nor be created by God. They rejected the notion that evil exists in itself, proposing instead that it is a corruption of nature, implying that good is man’s nature; some very positive thoughts, but still though we are left with the question as to where evil comes from?

Lao Tzu’s concept of evil is very useful for understanding.  He differentiated between casual and consequential evil, the former created by human will, and the later as a consequence of various natural occurrences. Without going into Taoism, impossible in the confines of a blog post, consider an example: cancer is an evil thing as it causes so much suffering, but it is a biological consequence, unrelated to human will; then consider genocide, purely an act of human will. Let’s leave what Lao Tzu meant with these examples for the purposes of this discussion.

What we have with Taoism is that evil comes from two sources, basically human will and natural occurrences, which can at times be interrelated. Natural occurrences bear no moral responsibility, as that is a human issue. Human will, which means from the minds of men, involves moral responsibility. There is the issue of unintended consequences, which in truth can make critical analysis more difficult, but still needs to be addressed.

There has been more recent research done by psychiatrists that suggests that evil is the intentional infliction of harm on others merely for the pleasure of doing so. I find this insufficient logically because it doesn’t address evil resulting from such human conditions like narcissism, where there is an absence of any consideration of the results of ones actions and therefore devoid of any consideration of others. Also rage, where one loses the ability to control emotions, like empathy, disregarding the consequences on others. Then there are instances where great evil was done with the intention of not doing harm or enjoying the harm done, but in the name of some greater good, but has unintended consequences that are patently evil.

There are current political philosophers who propose that evil represents the antithesis of order and peace. Does that make anarchists evil? Were our founding fathers evil for promoting insurrection? Such a proposition could be mere sophistry to support a state whose policy of order and peace is oppression and coercion, things themselves that are evil. Therefore such a thesis is only valid if the order and peace are beneficial to the natural laws of human existence, seldom the case in history, so not a valid foundation of understanding.

Now back to Aquinas in order to proceed to the Enlightenment.  Here we have the development of the antithesis of evil, meaning what is good, as a way to understand better where evil comes from.  We can go through so many philosophers, sociologists and political scientists of the period, but who stands out paramount of all is John Locke. I didn’t include economists as that discipline of study had yet to exist; contrary to popular belief Adam Smith was not an economist but a philosopher and sociologist, who did contribute invaluably to the Enlightenment, but not in the same sense as what we’re looking for.

Locke gives due credit to Aquinas but it should be noted that he was at first not a proponent of religious tolerance, but gradually came to the conclusion that suppression of such was contrary to natural law by repressing freedom. Locke is rightfully considered the founder of modern natural law and rights, and while he was a religious man himself, did not lean theologically for his thesis. Like Aquinas, he maintained that human existence was good and inexorably tied to truth, meaning that which is essential for self-preservation is the true meaning of existence and therefore good, and that these included life, liberty and property. Please note that the last was always a part of Locke’s natural law whereas it was Jefferson who partially plagiarized it with “….life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness….” in the Declaration of Independence.

Locke based these three prime elements of natural law logically, meaning without life, there are no rights, without liberty there is depravation of life, and importantly for clear understanding, without the ownership of the products of life and liberty, providing for its own industry, human life and liberty are diminished contrary to natural law. Therefore, evil comes from the violation of natural law depriving man of these essential rights.

Further, the violation of natural law and rights is only made possible by coercion, and therefore it is existentially necessary to defend against it.  To be able to exercise coercion, you need power, and therein we find the source of evil, the power over human beings.  If history teaches us anything, it is this insatiable hunger for power which drives men to act with malice toward their fellow human beings. Such power requires human effort, depriving men of liberty, often using that power to deprive others of their life and property.

It is not that the earlier philosophers like Aristotle, Plato, and Augustine didn’t see this as it has been the way of mankind for millennia, as they did recognize it by the empirical process of eliminating such things from those that provided good for people; they just didn’t follow the thread of thinking that led to Aquinas and Locke who logically determined through a spirit of benevolence the goodness of human existence and the natural rights that provide for its self-preservation.

Although Taoism, originating in the 6C BCE, was well known by scholars in the West by the 8C CE, and may have had some influence on Aquinas and Locke who were very learned men, the development to the thesis of natural law and rights for human beings, while having many contributors, is principally to their credit.

It is here though where we come to the conundrum about power in human society; essentially, the question arises as to what is reasonable for humanity to invest in the power of governance. If we are to judge solely on the thesis that power corrupts, then we should eliminate all power, including governance.  Anarchists do use that line of thinking in a compelling way, until you then ask who will stand against evil; anarchy doesn’t address this issue as it takes good men to stand together against the evil of power, which is a logical contradiction to the proposition of anarchy.  Understand that the word anarchy itself is misunderstood and abused; it is derived from Greek meaning without government, not meaning chaos and disorder. The problem is that without some societal level of organization, how are the depravations of power to be avoided?

It is to that question that political science is primarily dedicated; how to construct a governance that will defend society against power, the source of evil itself, without empowering that governance to do so? As evil arises not from any consequence of nature, but as the casual will of the human mind, any governance that can be trusted to respect and defend natural law and rights must address the problem of eliminating, or at least limiting to the best of its ability, the will to power. That is a high standard of benevolence for human achievement, and as sacred a matter of trust for people to place in their leaders as there can be; it is not a “necessary evil”, but a necessity of self-preservation, and therefore if achieved, something good.

What is considered by men of good will to be the best instrument of governance in modern times that respects the natural law and rights of humanity is the US Constitution. It has been flawed with the absence of liberty for all by tolerating slavery, even though later amended, and does allow certain things that enable power to the abuse of natural law and rights, but it was intended to be limited in its provision for power in governance. As its prime author, James Madison said “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” He simply understood the dilemma about power in that providing for it presented the possibility for evil, while not providing against it did the same. It was on this basis that he constructed the many separations and balances of power in the effort to limit the government to only expressed powers, depriving it of any rights, and reserving all rights to the people.

While it has worked comparatively well in that regard, meaning relative to other nations, it is indeed a living document providing for amendments, some good and long past due, some bad and contrary to the intent of the original. What Madison and other Founders could not construct against was the potential for that insidious will for power even in the very leaders we may elect to government. Ultimately, plans only work to the extent they are believed in; the question then has to be asked to what extent Americans believe in their government, meaning do we still trust it?

That is a constant reasonable question because of the very nature of governance being empowered. So then, having found the source of all evil, where does America stand today as a society governed by the laws it created to protect its very existence against the depravations of power? If we consider the fact that we have devolved into polarized power camps, competing “democratically” for who’s in charge, and consequently becoming more and more a nation of men and not of law, we are not standing in a good place.

By law here was always intended to mean one law for all, but it now has become laws that favor one group over others, or against one group at the expense of others. Such laws are therefore immoral as they represent the very abuse of power that is the cause of evil. The great French political philosopher Frédéric Bastiat coined the phrase “cruel alternative” when such laws are created, presenting people a dilemma that “When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.” That was never the intent of our constitution, which was the preservation of liberty for each individual in order to best serve natural law and rights.

Why did we the people fall for the same evil as those that govern us? Why did we lose our faith in our own natural human rights to not only be coerced in to the submission to power, but engage by joining the combating power camps? Consider a question asked by the French political scientist who traveled the early 19C US, Alexis de Tocqueville: “If one admits that a man in his full power might abuse his adversaries, why not admit the same of a majority of men?”

The corruption of our political institutions from the limited government of a Republic to the calls for greater “democracy” manifests again this insatiable will for power, the root of all evil. As Tocqueville points out, it doesn’t matter with power if the abuser is one or is many, it is power itself that is evil. Tocqueville was writing from observation, as was Aquinas and Locke. Are we ignoring the obvious because our eyes are wide shut, or because we are drugged with the intoxication of power? Is it us against “them”, whomever they may be, and if we all act together, we will hold the power over others?

We can’t blame the times we are in as an excuse for the reliance on power and the evil it has brought us.  We have the will found in our minds to either embrace the source of all evil and or deny power over our fellow man. Agreed that these are very trying times, and while I can’t recall where I read the insightful observance of Abraham Lincoln, or if I have his words exactly right, but they are well worth considering: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Bubbles, Bangles and Boondoggles

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”


Since my previous blog “Bubble Economy” on 11/13/19, that bubble has grown even more ominous as we are soon to exceed $30T in our national debt.  Does any rational person believe that the US will ever be able to repay such an egregious debt?

US Bonds, which used to be held in high regard by other sovereign states, principally Japan and China who at one time held 18% of US debt, are selling off by the billions. Fear that they would be holding the bag in the event of default is rising; it is not an irrational fear. To counter that lack of confidence the Federal Reserve bought huge amounts of US bonds with equally huge amounts of newly printed money from the UST; more air in that bubble.

With bonds, as interest rates fall prices rise, so with the lowest rates in history better to dump at a high since the yield is so pathetic.  But then where to go for yield?  Try the stock market, fed by such easy credit its valuations are pushing up prices beyond fundamental levels.  However, given that the easy credit is fed by debt, where will that lead?

Well, we’ve seen that movie before; it will lead to where it did in 1929, 2007 and….well hard to say, but sooner than anyone will want.  It may start on headline news, an algorithm gone wrong (or right), increased defaults and bankruptcies, all the above; inevitably such outsized debt, annually now larger than our GNP, will be called in and that will be ugly.

So why haven’t we as a nation learned from the past? Why do we make the same mistakes over and over again? An interesting comment of such behavior I recently read was from Thomas King, an American Indian writing about failed US policies regarding the native peoples of America, who wrote that “For an individual, one of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again in the same way and expecting different results. For a government, such behavior is called policy.”


Alexis de Tocqueville was a French political philosopher who wrote “On Democracy in America” after touring the country in 1831.  His observations influenced much of written American history and political science in this country, and were comparatively critical of French democracy.  He found that the republican structure and constitution of the US was a reason for its success. However, he was critical of much of its social structure like slavery, religious zealotry, the social suppression of free expression, and the political tendencies to affect the outcome of elections legislatively; on this last item he wrote “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”  

Well it didn’t take long for that to happen; stimulus anyone? Like any bangle or trinket, such as the $24 worth of glass beads that bought Manhattan, it’s meant to allure us into thinking it’s actually something of value that will improve our lives, while actually buying them, defended as a means to protect us from ourselves by waving the pandemic flag in our face. It’s a way for us to willingly sell ourselves out to the very crooks that locked us down for our own good and destroyed our means of livelihood.

Like an opioid, it has dulled common sense to the point that we actually have a situation where the US government now represents 70% of our GNP; but there is no product involved, unless you call debt a product. Yet, that is exactly what is being sold to the American electorate by both presidential candidates.  In fact, despite resistance in his own party, Trump actually supports another stimulus in excess of what Biden proposes. Remember, this is the guy that has lived off other people’s money his whole life so this should not surprise anyone.

What has become obvious is that this election is on the auction block, will go to the highest bidder, and the account will be drawn from the pockets of the American people.


Interesting word, first coined by a boy scout in 1927 to describe a uniform decoration; it later came to mean something of no value.  It was often ascribed to government programs during the New Deal era wasteful or pointless but carried on anyway due to policy or political motivations. We have this today in so many government programs too numerous to cover. Let’s just take something we have all participated in, whether we like it or not; I’m talking about Social Security.

There are many misconceptions about the original law establishing Social Security, like it was initially voluntary; it was discussed as a voluntary annuity, but enacted as mandatory. It is true that benefits were not to be taxed, but that was amended in 1983.  FICA deductions were supposed to be limited to the first $3K of income at 1%, but the limit and rate were constantly increased.

But why should there be a mandatory investment in an annuity that has no guarantee of return on investment like common annuities you can get from any financial institution, which have a guaranteed benefit and fixed rate? Answer is there shouldn’t be, but again this is defended as a means to protect us from ourselves, the panacea of all tyrannies.

Per the Trustees Report of last year, the Social Security Trust would go bankrupt by 2035. However, as it is a legislated entitlement, it must be funded, but with what? I once read an article in Forbes about the Madoff scandal wherein they gave a pretty good idea of exactly what a Ponzi Scheme is: “A Ponzi Scheme is a fraudulent investment operation where the operator, an individual or organization, pays returns to its investors from new capital paid to the operators by new investors, rather than from profit earned through legitimate sources.”

Now consider the plight of those “new investors”; they are anyone who is subject to FICA withholdings and who will not be 62, the earliest age you can claim benefits, by 2035.  Essentially, if you were born after 1973, you are paying into a soon to be bankrupt annuity.  Would you voluntarily do that? The same goes for Medicare and Medicaid, both funded by FICA withholdings and deductions from Social Security benefits.

Again, it is a legislated entitlement, so it must be funded. However, it is no longer a sustainable trust as its liabilities exceed its revenues, so that means more taxes, more debt, or a combination of both.  The Ponzi scheme collapsed and the angel investors to the rescue are….well you.

Now consider the ACA; it too was at first mandatory, but that mandate was deemed illegal, and its survival all together is likely to depend on Supreme Court review. If it were simply a network to provide information to acquire insurance it would at least have a viable legitimacy, but again, as with Social Security, voluntary is not how governments are prone to act. Choice is not an option when seeking the greater good.

End Game

While history has taught us innumerable times that you can’t spend your way out of debt, it is a lesson ignored. The most famous of those who proposed such madness was John Maynard Keynes. When Keynes was confronted with the failure of his ideas of endless spending and consumption as unsustainable in the long run and that they would prevent the markets from functioning properly, especially in recoveries, he cynically quipped that “In the long run, we will all be dead.”

When Trump was given a brief on America’s growing debt crisis in 2017 by the few remaining fiscally responsible members of his own party, his response was “Yeah, but I won’t be here.” The fact that this puts the futures of our children and grandchildren in jeopardy is irrelevant to narcissistic sociopaths like Trump and Keynes. The immediate need of those in power is to keep that power, and the means includes bribing the public with the public’s money.

Welcome to the United States of Debt.

The Welfare State

The indebtedness of a nation is an impoverishment if its people, not a manifestation of justice.

“The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.” Frederic Bastiat, 19th C French economist.

Every new law to create yet another entitlement is the result of some fabricated right at the expense of another’s rights. Rights are not a zero sum game, some transactional exercise, but are those things that define what it means to own oneself.

What is taking all of what someone produces with their own labor called? The answer is slavery. What do you call taking a portion of what someone produces with their own labor? Would that be proportional slavery? If you say no, you have a paradox; at what point is the proportion taken not slavery? Whether legalized by a dictator’s decree or a democratic mandate, taking reduces people to slavery, making them chattel of the state.

While no one overtly proposes slavery as a means to create welfare, there are those that propose taking the fruits of another’s labor in order to provide for the “common good”, an ambiguous term that reduces people to a collective entity that must be protected from, well themselves. This patronizing concept is another example of power lust, a twin to the Warfare State and just as insidious.

It does not matter what altruistic goal is proposed, the eventual outcome has always proven the same as over time the Welfare State will evolve into a dystopia we know as totalitarianism; this is the empirical lesson of history, and cloaking it in terms of invented rights will not prevent the conclusion. Taking under such disingenuous systems like Democratic Socialism is justified under the pretense that you have a say in the matter, which is a delusion and another case of democracy not being a safeguard for liberty.

Consider the popular platitude called “social justice” as a justification for the Welfare State. My concept of justice is that I keep what I earn, and you do the same; if that is not so, then how much of what I earn is yours, and why is that called justice? If taking the fruits of one’s labor without their consent is not theft, then it would follow that all thieves have to do is form a government to legalize it….wait a minute….OK, I get it. 

Often the misconception of such rights evolves from the misunderstanding of opportunity; it is true for example that those born into a rich family have an advantage in opportunities, but that does not represent an injustice any more than a speedier runner in a track meet.  No one who is blessed with an accident of birth in wealth or speed should ever be punished for their good fortune as such is luck in life. Likewise those that have had success in pursuing an opportunity are no less entitled to their rights than those that have failed; opportunity does not guarantee success, only risk.

These are seemingly axiomatic realities, yet they are dismissed by advocates for the Welfare State because they represent obstacles for the “common good”. Should you remind them that liberty includes the right to the pursuit of happiness, they will denounce you as selfish as that’s just another example of capitalist oppression. Should you counter with the argument that it’s the entrepreneur who takes the risk, creates the jobs, bears the costs of failure and if successful creates the wealth that grows the economy, you will be told that you are an outdated reactionary as that economic system is no longer functional because in government we have the means to grow the economy without the risk of failure. Should you point out to them that this has never worked, be prepared to be shouted down as an enemy of progress and equality. What caused this Bizzaro World of a new American culture?

The apparent enemy of this twisted phenomenon is liberty because it’s only a guarantee of equality before the law; in all other things liberty provides for each individual the right to exercise their free will. In truth that can result in a chaotic situation as there is no guarantee that people will choose what we may objectively judge to be the right choice for them, only that they are the only ones who have the right to choose what they judge to be in their own interests.

The alternative is to not allow them liberty and make their choices for them; the fact that this is the essence of slavery is lost in the pursuit of this equality in all things, creating rights for every aspect of life. To do this requires the force of law, and the enemies of liberty are united in that agenda; doing so ignores the fact that if force is required to promote your ideal, then there is an inherent and fatal flaw with that ideal as compulsion is not compassion, it’s authoritarianism.

It has been argued that the constitution mandates welfare based on its stated purpose. The reference made is actually in the preamble, which the Supreme Court correctly made clear is not an independent source of rights, and further that “general welfare” means the good of all citizens, and not an open-ended mandate for Congress, and that the only good that applies to all citizens is freedom, and that government’s proper role is the protection of that freedom.

So how then to fund the government for these protections of freedom without a taking of the fruits of one’s labor? As the Constitution actually forbade direct income taxes (except during crises such as the Civil War, but then suspended) prior to the 16th Amendment, the US utilized tariffs, sales taxes, customs duties, excise taxes, land sales, and fees with which it managed to do so. Except in times of war, the US balanced its budget up to 1901, but ran in the red nearly every year since.  The indebtedness of a nation is an impoverishment if its people, not a manifestation of justice.

The Warfare State

“…to get power you need a crisis…”

“Talk of imminent threat to our national security through the application of external force is pure nonsense. Indeed, it is a part of the general patterns of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear. While such an economy may produce a sense of seeming prosperity for the moment, it rests on an illusionary foundation of complete unreliability and renders among our political leaders almost a greater fear of peace than is their fear of war.”

Can you guess the author of the above quote? While it’s insightful to know who said this, he would agree I’m sure that it’s more important to understand the message; to understand that we need to work backwards, starting with the phrase regarding the fear of peace. Why would anyone fear peace, especially the leaders of our country?

Power is the currency of politicians who are not exactly working to the benefit of their constituents but for their own advancement. For them, crisis is not a problem, it’s an opportunity.  Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s Chief-of-Staff, once advised “Never let a crisis go to waste.”  Can you imagine in the absence of any crisis what such politicians would do? You don’t need imagination, just observation – they would create one.

This phenomenon is not something new; try the Spanish American War, followed soon thereafter by US entry into the Great War, which in effect was the cause of WWII, which led to the Korean War, then the Viet Nam War, then the Iraqi Wars, and the never ending Afghanistan War.  Wars are expensive, so little wonder that Ron Paul once observed that “It is no coincidence that the century of total war coincided with the century of central banking.” If you’re politicians playing this bloody game, you need a big bank, and so the Federal Reserve is there for you.

The author of the opening quote was Five Star General Douglas McArthur, who served in all the above wars through to and including the Korean War. He was one of only five generals to ever rise to the rank of General of the Army, clearly a man we can rely on to know what he’s talking about.

So how did a republic devolve into a statist organism capable of manipulating such a carefully crafted balance of power, designed to prevent the realization of such a distorted vision of purpose from peaceful productivity to a war machine? It was an evolutionary process, so it did take time.  It can be argued that the root of this evil was sown in the immoral neglect allowing slavery to continue despite our revolution against tyranny, eventually leading to the ultimate crisis of the Civil War, out of which ashes emerged a different nation whose political structure was tragically altered toward more centralized power, ironically the key development for statism to repress the very liberty for which the war was fought.

In his famous 1952 article entitled “The Rise of Empire” Garet Garrett, American journalist, outlined what he called the “Hallmarks of Empire”, summarized as the dominance of executive power, subordination of domestic policy to foreign policy, ascendancy of the military, development of foreign satellite or proxy regimes, and vaunting and fear.

While the above have become obvious in our current politics it is the last that illustrates the tragic end game of The Warfare State. It’s about a nation whose leaders spun and sold the illusion of a manifest destiny but now finds itself a victim of its own misguided policy, having become the world’s policeman at the expense of its own liberty, security and economic wellbeing.

While it was not inevitable that our Republic would descend into imperialism, it is obvious that it has. Until Americans realize that Statism thrives on war, whereas a truly free country thrives on peace and prosperity, we are doomed to endless wars. These wars are sold to us like Crusades where sold to Christian Europe to free the Holy Land, when in fact it was all about looting and pillage; now it’s really about things like oil, preservation of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, spreading democracy, throw in an occasional humanitarian cause, nation building, catering to despotic allies…….any interventionist cause and fabricated crisis that provides the opportunity to grab more power.

Interventionism is bred into both of our major political parties although their methods at times differ as some work toward the Welfare State to harvest their power, a topic for another post; regardless of their labels and methods these politicians are the same, so to get power you need a crisis, and if there isn’t one create it, if there is one don’t let it go to waste.

If that sounds like gang talk, well it is; listen to a Polish lawyer, author, and political philosopher who went through the pain of living under such a gang and working for the liberation from one of the biggest imperial powers in Europe known as the USSR.  “What makes the difference between a gang and a state is the belief that there is a difference between a gang and a state.” Jakub Bożydar Wiśniewski