Tuesday, September 29, 2009

2. Grievances; our Duty and our various options.

Our founding fathers envisioned a nation where citizens would live free of government intrusion into their daily lives. Men were supposed to be able to engage in commerce without interference from the state, with the court system resolving matters that could not be worked out between citizens. Government was not supposed to get involved with contracts between private citizens. Today, the federal government regulates the size of the toilets we install in our houses, and mandates that we use a certain kind of light bulb (the incandescent bulb will be illegal beginning in 2014). I think we can all agree that there are areas where regulation is necessary, but we’ve been beyond that reasonable level of government involvement for a long time.

Now our federal government is designing a plan they call health care “reform” that will result in government control over citizens’ access to health insurance, and by extension, to health care. Our representatives insist on passing some form of this legislation, even though a majority of the citizenry is opposed to it. Somewhere along the line, our political class decided that they don’t answer to “we the people” any more; in fact, many of them think they know what’s best for us (and that we don’t know what is best for ourselves). This is tyranny—make no mistake about it.

The current administration is making radical policy proposals, but our government is already redistributing wealth at levels that will be difficult to sustain. Obama’s policies, if enacted, will push us over the brink.

From the nonprofit, nonpartisan Tax Foundation:

In Fiscal Year 2010, before Obama's major policies on taxes, health care and climate change are enacted:

Collectively, families in the bottom 60 percent of the income scale (those with market income below $86,000) will receive more back in government spending during the upcoming fiscal year than they pay in taxes. The top 40 percent of families will collectively pay more in taxes than they receive in spending.

Overall, federal tax and spending policies will redistribute $826 billion from the top 40 percent of families to the bottom 60 percent. In other words, the majority of American families currently receive more in federal spending than they pay in taxes.

More than 70 percent (or $592 billion) of the total amount redistributed is paid by the roughly 5 million families comprising the top 5 percent, those with market incomes above $280,000. At the other end of the income scale, more than half of redistributed benefits flow to the nearly 34 million families in the bottom two income groups—those with market incomes below roughly $23,500. Fully 80 percent of the redistributed benefits flows to families earning under $50,000, a total of 66 million families overall.

In 2012, after all of Obama's policies are in place, the amount redistributed from the top 5 percent of families will grow in real terms to $770 billion, a 34 percent increase over current levels. Every other income group will benefit from the increased amount taken from the top 5 percent of families and the group of families who, on average, get more back in spending than they pay in taxes will jump to 70 percent of all families.

(More in-depth explanation, including charts and graphs, can be found here.)

We cannot continue along this path. What happens when the highest income earners, who already shoulder so much of the load, decide to leave—or, like John Galt, just cease to be productive? The whole house of cards will come crashing down.

We cannot abide the continued arrogance of our elected officials, and we must put a stop to this growth of government, which—like a malignant tumor—continues to spread into every aspect of our lives.

Our own Declaration of Independence certifies our right—indeed, our duty—to revolt when government becomes oppressive.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…But when a long train of abuses and usurpations…evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

What is our current station, if not Despotism? What, then, are we to do?

I do not know if it is possible to save our Republic. I do believe we have three basic options:

I. Overthrow our federal government via armed revolution.

II. Eliminate ALL elected officials at the federal level, and implement term limits via a Constitutional amendment.

III. Secession and reorganization of the states into regional governments.

I will examine each of these options, and their viability (or lack thereof), in my next post.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1. The Monster; its Origins and Effects

I am quite concerned about the state of our Union. We have drifted so far away from what our founding fathers intended that I fear we may not be able to right the ship. What I mean is that our federal government has grown into a monster that is almost completely beyond the control of the people it purports to represent.

I believe it all began with Lincoln’s use of federal force to conquer the states that seceded in 1860. Each state had decided to join the Union because it believed that its interests would be better served as part of the Union rather than standing alone. Many states believed that, just as they had entered the Union of their own volition, they were free to leave it if circumstances warranted. While Lincoln made his decision because he truly believed otherwise, he nevertheless set a precedent for what has become a very powerful central government. Not the least of his precedents was the income tax, which was later declared unconstitutional before the 16th amendment made it permanent.

Franklin Roosevelt made things worse with the sweeping changes of his “New Deal.” His programs drastically expanded government to the point where it reached into the private lives of citizens for the first time. It’s hard to figure the worst thing FDR did, but establishing mandatory tax withholding has to rank among them. (Before 1943, citizens had to actually pay the government every year—so they knew exactly how much they were paying. By withholding tax from workers’ paychecks, the taxpayer never sees it—and so many people have no idea how much they actually pay in taxes. With taxes “out of sight and out of mind,” most people are less inclined to pay attention to how their tax dollars are being spent.

Lyndon Johnson added to the federal behemoth with his “Great Society,” which included the creation of Medicare and Medicaid—the two biggest entitlement programs (both of which are insolvent, just like Social Security). Now Barack Obama’s administration is attempting to further increase the size and scope of government at an almost unprecedented pace. In just eight months, he has passed massive “bailout” spending, and the other proposals he is pushing (cap-and-trade legislation and health care “reform”) will not only cost trillions of additional dollars, but they are also radical changes to our society that will move us closer and closer to becoming a European-style socialist democracy. (Contrary to popular belief, we are not a democracy; we are a constitutional republic. But I digress.)

Further complicating our situation is the fact that our Congress is filled with career politicians. Some of these people have served for decades. (Of the 535 senators and representatives, 82 have served at least 20 years; 24 have served 30 years; and three have been there for 40 years or more. 131 have served at least two terms.) Many of these people are corrupt, and nearly all of them are drunk on the power and prestige that come with their position. They have no incentive to reduce the reach of government (or even to stop its growth), because that would jeopardize their positions of power. Their priorities are severely misplaced, and they have lost touch with the people they are supposed to serve. Our founding fathers never intended for government service to be a career; it was supposed to be a sacrifice. How far we have fallen from their ideal!

The combined effects of this expansion of government have been deleterious to the American people. Unfortunately, many citizens are unaware of the erosion of their liberty because the process has been incremental. Like a beaver (or perhaps termites?), our ever-growing government gnaws away at the tree of liberty.

The recent acceleration of government growth (since the latter part of the George W. Bush administration) has seen the federal government take over significant portions of the American economy. From the automotive industry to the mortgage business, the Obama administration is sticking its fingers into as many pies as it can. The health care industry is next on their list. If it continues to grow, this government interference in the market will inevitably lead to the collapse of our economy. The result will be either a socialist state (where the government owns the means of production outright) or a fascist state (where the means of production are privately owned, but controlled by the government).

What would be the result of such an economic collapse? Would the United States be in danger of being conquered by a foreign power? Or would we just have to suffer through a prolonged depression?

Friday, September 18, 2009

On federalism, the health care debate, and its implications for our Union

I've been thinking a lot lately about the state of our Union. For over half a century, our federal government has been growing almost constantly. As its size and scope increase, it reaches farther and farther into our lives. We are a long way from what I believe our founding fathers intended when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. As Patrick Henry said, "the Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government--lest it come to dominate our lives and interests."

Over my next few posts, I plan to examine the idea that the federal government has grown beyond any semblance of controllability by the people. I'll look at the causes of this growth, and its effects on our nation and our society. I'll propose some possible solutions to the problem, and discuss their viability. After that, I'll talk about how the current debate over health care factors into the equation.