Friday, February 27, 2009

N.H. Representative explains State Sovereignty movement

In this video from Fox and Friends, New Hampshire State Rep. Dan Itse, who introduced the now-famous HCR6 with the secession trigger, explains why the States are developing these resolutions. It's a good introduction for people who are new to the subject. Note that, while I write that HCR6 has a secession trigger, the movement is not about secession, but about returning the Federal government to its limits under the Constitution.

State Sovereignty Update - 2/27

A commenter to MRStep points to a resolution (HR61) introduced yesterday in the Virginia House of Delegates by Christopher K. Peace (R), which is shorter and milder than Oklahoma's.

The Tenth Amendment Center reports that the South Carolina House passed its State Sovereignty resolution yesterday, which contains the same secession trigger as New Hampshire’s. The measure now faces a vote in the State Senate.

The same source has also reported that a second resolution (HCR 172) has been introduced in the Kentucky House of Representatives by Rep. David Floyd (R). It is mostly similar to HCR 168 introduced by Rep. Stacy on Feb. 25, but adds an interesting line about Federal mandates violating the Bill of Rights in the Kentucky Constitution.

I have learned from the Mental Militia Forums (link from a link…) that the Montana resolution, which provides for the nullification of Federal gun statutes, passed its House Feb. 11 by a 60-40 vote.

MRStep has learned that the Utah Legislature adopted a sovereignty resolution similar to Oklahoma’s in 1995.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Idaho protests Federal gun legislation

Not a State sovereignty resolution, but worth noting. The State Affairs Committee of the Idaho House of Representatives has placed on the floor HJM3, a memorial to Congress in opposition to the Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Sale Act of 2009 (HR45), which they rightly view as a gross violation of the Second Amendment.

State Sovereignty Update - 2/26

MRStep, another blog that is tracking State Sovereignty, has added Colorado, Louisiana, and Massachusetts to the list of States adding declarations of sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment. I have included Colorado because of the 1994 resolution, but not the other two because they are provisions within their State Constitutions. The 15-year-old California and Colorado resolutions are similar in wording to Oklahoma's. In my view, the Resolutions have value only to the extent that they address the current problems in State-Federal relations. MRStep also includes in their count eight States (including Ohio) in their "planning" category and Florida on their "watch list." I prefer not to count the chickens until they hatch have been given a proper introduction.

I mention this to help explain why The Ohio Republic recognizes only 19 States with Tenth Amendment declarations of sovereignty, while MRStep claims 30.

I do appreciate the MRStep research, which has been most helpful to me (but is not my only source), but want to note our differences in methodology.

Might does not make right

Scott McPherson in has some issues with the Nashua Telegraph's opposition to New Hampshire's State Sovereignty Resolution (HCR6):

"One fact that seems particularly inconvenient to the editors of New Hampshire's Nashua Telegraph is that the government of the United States is a limited government. Their specific complaint is against 'HCR6,' a resolution introduced in the New Hampshire House of Representatives re-affirming the principles laid out in the Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution, namely, that the federal government exists to exercise delegated powers only, and that all other powers are retained by the states and the people...

"The people, in their sovereign capacity, established the governments of the states, and in turn, the people of the several states ratified the Constitution, creating the federal government. The states are equal agents in this compact, with relation to each other and the entity they created. HCR6 is an attempt to remind folks of this historic fact.

"'Resolutions such as this,' write the Telegraph's editors, 'exploit the democracy of the Legislature to pursue an ideological agenda with no practical impact on public policy.' Resolutions stating broad principles or making grand declarations are far from unheard of, and are always used to 'pursue an ideological agenda.' That's the whole point. But whether it has any chance of making a 'practical impact on public policy' cannot be known unless and until the resolution is properly discussed and debated. What the Telegraph really means is that they just don't like HCR6, so ipso facto it is a waste of time. What arrogance.

"Worse, the editors betray an incredible ignorance, not just of history, but of the rules of basic decency. They write, 'The notion that the Republic is a creation of the states and can be dissolved by the states may have been viable – until 1865...the Civil War settled the debate at the cost of more than 600,000 American lives.' What the Telegraph is ultimately saying is that because the North won the war, the history of our government was automatically re-written and the deaths of 600,000 people – not to mention the jailing of state legislators, congressmen and newspaper editors(!) – are therefore justified. Like the main character in Orwell's 1984, just burn that
inconvenient little scrap of paper and a new truth is unveiled. The problem is, the little scrap of paper they wish us to burn is the Constitution.

"Joseph Stalin oversaw the murder of millions in the name of protecting the Soviet Union. If body count is a measure of righteousness, he was an ideal leader. To quote Will Smith from the recent film Hancock, 'Are you boys sure you want to ride that train?'

"The Telegraph claims that 'The Supreme Court of the United States gets to decide if the federal government has exceeded the authority granted by the Constitution, not the state of New Hampshire or any other state.' As the Southern statesman and Senator – and Vice-President – John C. Calhoun consistently argued in the first half of the nineteenth century, the Supreme Court is an agent of the federal government; if the federal government gets to determine its own limits, then any idea of a limited government must logically be abandoned. No doubt this would suit the editors of the Nashua Telegraph right down to the ground. Or would it? New Hampshire governor
John Lynch is the only governor in the Union who has said that he will not implement federal "Real ID" provisions under any circumstances. Maybe the editors would re-consider their position if federal troops marched up the Merrimack River Valley to tell him otherwise.

"Endless accolades to "Honest Abe" cannot change the nature of our institutions. The Constitution, ratified by the people of the states, created the federal government. The people of the several states, operating in their sovereign capacity, are the final judges of the extent of federal power. The blood of 600,000 dead Americans only proves the lengths some political leaders will go to in their lust for power. Like it or not, HCR6 re-affirms the principles our entire system of government is founded on. "

I've said similar things before, but perhaps not as well.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

State Sovereignty Update 2/25

The Liberty Tribune (near Kansas City, Missouri) notes in its Capitol Comments blog that the Real ID and Personal Privacy Committee of the Missouri House of Representatives has reported out their State Sovereignty Resolution HR212 with a recommendation of "Do pass".

The resolution, while generally based on Oklahoma's, also includes a call for the Congress to reject a Federal "Freedom of Choice Act" prohibiting restrictions on abortion.

Two additional States have introduced resolutions, both modeled on Oklahoma's:
Kansas: SCR1609, by Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R)
Kentucky: HCR168, by John Will Stacy (D).

A case expected to be taken to the U.S. Supreme Court will determine the sovereignty of Hawai’i. Independence activists there have argued that Hawai'i's annexation to the United States in 1898 was illegal, and that the kingdom should be restored. Two recent Governors of Hawaii, one from each party, appear to support the case.

The movement has begun to attract the notice of the mainstream media, as last Friday's article in the Washington Times indicates.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nursery Rhyme, updated

Humpty Dumpty

In twenty hundred and zero-eight
When America suffered from Real Estate
The Banksters lay siege to Wall Street Town
and the Congress men lay prostate to the ground
There one-minded Greenspan stood on the mall
An economist of deadliest philosophy of all
From the federal tower his canon he proclaimed
The greedy economy was its name
The greedy economy was an air-ball
The greedy economy had a great fall
All the president's advisors and all of his men
Couldn't put the economy back together again.

Adapted from the original (Wikipedia):

In Sixteen Hundred and Forty-Eight
When England suffered the pains of state
The Roundheads lay siege to Colchester town
Where the king's men still fought for the crown
There One-Eyed Thompson stood on the wall
A gunner of deadliest aim of all
From St. Mary's Tower his cannon he fired
Humpty-Dumpty was its name
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

Virtual buckeye to Gary Flomenhoft at Vermont Commons.

Monday, February 23, 2009

State Sovereignty Resolution Update 2/23

Three additional States have filed sovereignty resolutions:
Indiana SCR0037, modeled on Oklahoma, by Sen. Greg Walker (R).
Iowa SCR1, modeled on Oklahoma, by Sen. Paul McKinley (R).
South Carolina S424, uniquely their own, by Lee Bright (R).

A box score will show the current status of the resolutions above the list of States in which they have been introduced.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

State Sovereignty Resolution Update 2/21

Washington: HJM4009 was assigned to the State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee. The committee chairman informed the sponsor, Rep. Matt Shea, that the bill will not receive a hearing, effectively killing the bill.

Arkansas: Rep. Debra Hobbs, R-Rogers, filed HCR1011 in the Arkansas House of Representatives. The resolution is modeled on Oklahoma’s, but includes this additional paragraph:

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that it is the position of the State of Arkansas that all compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.”

Minnesota: HF997, also modeled on Oklahoma, was introduced in the House State and Local Government Operations, Reform, Technology, and Elections Committee.

According to BC Politics, Maine has proposed a resolution, but its legislative process will delay it by several months. A petition drive is being started in Florida.

In Massachusetts, citizens can request that a bill be entered on their behalf. Ron Bokleman is trying to get a version of the New Hampshire bill submitted, but has encountered resistance from the House Council, which stated that “They believe that the Resolution is asking for Federal relief and indicated that we have no control over other states or states’ rights. They felt that this was a matter for a Congressional office to handle.” Mr. Bokleman and the Massachusetts House are still corresponding, so the effort is not dead.

By our count, the number of States with resolutions in house is 13.

Virtual buckeye to BC Politics, which has greatly added to our knowledge of the progress of State sovereignty resolutions (for that matter, take the whole box!)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Managing the Revolution

Reaction from some of my commenters and a number of bloggers to the State sovereignty resolutions suggests to me that many observers still have a Lincolnesque fixation on the idea that secession, or even asserting State sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment is somehow tantamount to civil war.

In my post February 1 ("The center cannot hold"), I explained why I believe that the current economic situation will foreshadow the collapse of the United States of America. This is, of course, a radical thought that goes against everything we were raised to believe. It is also a disturbing thought, and for that reason alone, it is understandable that many Americans are living in denial.

One of the reasons The Ohio Republic favors secessionism is to help us all prepare for the collapse we see coming. In a way, "secession" is a misnomer. If the United States collapses, no State, in declaring its independence is really "seceding", in the sense of making a conscious action to break away. Instead, independence becomes a rational response to maintaining freedom under law for our own people when the larger nation ceases to exist. In other words, preparing for independence is a sensible way to manage a revolution. The alternative is chaos (think Somalia, but don't think it couldn't happen here).

While I question the long-term effectiveness of the State sovereignty resolutions, I strongly support them as one last effort to preserve the Union, by returning it to the Constitutional principles that kept us free for over 200 years. What we are doing today is not siding with Jeff Davis against The Union -- that was a different time with different issues. What we are doing has more in common with the first secession -- that of thirteen colonies against an Empire that rejected the traditional rights of Englishmen where its colonies were concerned, and did so with a haughty arrogance that tested the courage of every patriot. A challenge very similar to the one we face today.

If the State sovereignty resolutions succeed in their object, we will again feel truly blessed to be part of the United States of America; but if they fail, we have a responsibility to ourselves and our descendants to preserve our peace and our liberty the best way we can.

In the way of denial lies death, destruction, and despair. In the way that we are advocating lies freedom, and even more importantly, hope. For myself, I would rather have liberty than death.

Quotation of the Day

Found on Barracuda Babes, a Sarah Palin fan club site:

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."
– Mahatma Gandhi

Right now, judging from my comments and some blogger reaction to New Hampshire's resolution, we are beginning to transition from "ignore" to "ridicule".

State Sovereignty Resolution Update 2/20

Tennessee: On Wednesday, State Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) introduced HJR 108, modeled on Oklahoma's.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Rep. Samuel Rohrer (R-Berks County) has announced plans to introduce a similar resolution to the Pennsylvania House.

New Hampshire: Despite that "inexpedient to legislate" tag, New Hampshire's HCR0006 is not dead yet. Several blogs (including the New Hampshire Campaign4Liberty) have announced a rally at the State House in Concord March 4, 8-9 am in support of the resolution.

One Ohio legislative staffer has indicated that there is movement here in Columbus to introduce an Oklahoma-style resolution here. The staffer indicated that the New Hampshire resolution was read, but was "too flowery." (More like it, the resolution was too scary -- it contains a secession trigger).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Small is beautiful

The Native American has always had a way of explaining reality in the simplest, common-sense terms. In this video, Russell Means, of the Republic of Lakotah, explains the current financial crisis in terms of simple mathematics and natural law. His speech (13 minutes) is so elegant it is beautiful, as he explains why small is beautiful -- and shows us the rugged beauty of the times to come.

Oklahoma State sovereignty resolution passes in House

Oklahoma's HJR1003, the model for most of the other State sovereignty resolutions, passed its House of Representatives yesterday 83-13 on the third reading.

(The link to the House vote is on page 6 of the listing linked above).

Texas joins the State Sovereignty movement

HCR 50 was introduced in the Texas legislature on Tuesday.

We are still working on a strategy for introducing Ohio's resolution and expect to make an announcement within the next two weeks. In the meantime, please circulate the petition!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ohio Sovereignty Resolution Petition

The Ohio Sovereignty resolution that is being circulated by petition is off to a strong start. The Web site has been open only six days, and it already has received 278 online signatures, which is increasing by an estimated 50 per day. In addition, paper petitions are being circulated, in some areas door-to-door, with an undetermined number of signatures to date.

We'll keep you posted on its progress.

Virtual buckeye to PathIveMade at Ohio Freedom Alliance.

Sean Hannity Web poll: 73% for secession

According to an admittedly unscientific poll on Sean Hannity's website:

Yes- I would support a States right to secede and possibly move there: 72.83%
No – I would not support it but would let them go peacefully: 8.30%
No – I would call for Civil War to stop it: 18.87%

265 voters.

I am very surprised that such a large majority favor secession, even in this kind of a poll, even on a conservative talk-radio website. Opinion appears to be changing very rapidly.

Montana House approves sovereignty bill

Montana's News Station (actually a chain of CBS television stations in that State) reports that the Montana House of Representatives has voted in favor of their sovereignty resolution in a second reading. Strictly speaking, Montana's HB 246 is a bill to nullify Federal firearms statutes within the State of Montana, something that to my knowledge has not been attempted since before the War between the States. The bill still faces a third reading in the House and votes in the State Senate.

Virtual buckeye to an anonymous commenter.
The above post reflects corrections made 2/18/2009.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Update on New Hampshire and our own Sovereignty Resolutions

On Saturday, I reported that the New Hampshire House State and Federal Relations Committee reported out its sovereignty resolution (HCR0006) with the status of "ITL", which I have learned means "Inexpedient to Legislate." I still wonder what drew them to that conclusion. Conspiracy theorists could have a field day with that.

On a related note, talk show host Glenn Beck, who has been fond of satirizing secessionism, may be finally getting it. He interviewed Rep. Dan Itse, the sponsor of the New Hampshire resolution, which is in a YouTube video.

Here in Ohio, most of the comments on the Ohio resolution have been encouraging, but I have to answer one hostile comment in this space. The writer ("Anonymous", of course) asks, "so what's their strategy? wait for stimulus money and then give the finger to the .gov?"

This question is off base for two reasons. First, neither The Ohio Republic nor the great majority of proponents of this resolution are in favor of the stimulus package. In fact most of us call it "porkulus", because it does a better job of sending money to favored projects than it does directing funds toward real economic stimulus. As we noted earlier, a Federal tax holiday would be cheaper, and would be far more effective, because it would let us save or spend our own money as we see fit.

The other reason the question is off base is that the Federal Government has no money of its own. Never did. "Federal funds" consist, either directly (through the personal income and excise taxes) or indirectly (through corporate taxes) of money taken from our pockets as the result of our work. The fact that the Feds can take our money and place all kinds of restrictions on it before the State can use it should be an outrage to all of us! Even worse, the mandates that accompany so-called "Federal funds" are now bankrupting the States, since they often require "matching funds" for their projects that are taken from our State tax dollars! It has been estimated that 46 of the 50 States are facing budget shortages this year. The fact that the problem is so universal should point to the real culprit -- the District of Coercion.

The truth about Abraham Lincoln

Keith Lehman and Mark Alexander at the Lighthouse Patriot Journal give a chapter-and-verse exposé of Abraham Lincoln. I could not have said it better myself. Lincoln's "preservation of the Union" was accomplished by ignoring the Constitution (to put it charitably). The War between the States was unnecessary (Britain and France freed their slaves in 1848 and 1852, respectively, without bloodshed; as did Brazil in 1889); and the war as conducted, was unnecessarily brutal. "Jim Crow" was as much as anything a reaction to Northern brutality and the imposition of racial integration by force.

In any event, the War between the States was not about slavery -- it was about New York bankers wresting control of the American economy by imposing tariffs that crippled Southern exporters. Those bankers are still in control -- and look where it's getting us.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ohio's State Sovereignty Resolution -- still under construction

A commenter to yesterday's post on Ohio's State sovereignty resolution expressed some confusion about what is going on.

There are two proposals for a State sovereignty resolution afoot at the moment. The one I linked on the Internet as part of a petition campaign is essentially the same as Oklahoma's, a simple assertion that the States are sovereign under the Tenth Amendment; and serving a "Notice and Demand" to the Federal Government that its unconstitutional excesses need to come to a stop. The other proposal is one I am taking to a committee this week. At the moment, it happens to have the same text, but I shall be recommending some changes.

Any resolution for State sovereignty is better than none, but I think Oklahoma's is toothless. We can send the District of Coercion as many Notices and Demands as there are Federal Reserve Notes; but the best we can expect from the Feds is a polite thank you note from the clerks of the House and Senate and a low-level special assistant in the White House, before they are thrown in the trash. A resolution like New Hampshire's would be more effective, but as the post below indicates, is politically risky; particularly in Ohio, which has a Democratic majority in the House that is presumably happy with its counterparts in Washington. I doubt that such resolutions will have any effect on Washington until at least 35-40 state legislatures, representing three-quarters of the electorate have submitted them.

So the question that I hope to resolve this week is: how can we write an effective resolution that we can sell to the Ohio House? Your comments and suggestions are welcome. I shall report the outcome of my meeting as soon as it has been presented to a willing sponsor in the Ohio House or Senate.

New Hampshire resolution derailed?

New Hampshire's HCR 0006 state sovereignty resolution has become disabled under mysterious circumstances. The resolution's fate was not included in any mainstream media source, including New Hampshire's. The public hearing in the State and Federal Relations Committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives on February 5 was posted to YouTube. In that hearing, not one Representative spoke against the resolution. One of the Representatives held up a fat sheaf of papers which he said represented e-mails from people throughout the State -- in support of the resolution. That Representative said "I have never got so many e-mails as from those who would like this bill to pass... We have to rein in the Federal Government and make them stick to their Constitutional duties."

The words spoken in committee were passionately in favor of the Resolution:

"We need to send a message to the Federal Government -- enough is enough. We need to put a stop to a Federal Government that is basically out of control and send a message that the people of New Hampshire have spoken."

If this resolution does not pass, said one Representative on the committee, we might as well say we are prostitutes to the Federal Government [in return for "Federal funds"]. "We don't want to be prostitutes any more." Federal funds "have so many strings attached. We as a State would like you [the Feds] to understand that we support our State Constitution."

Yet, following such a public show of support for HCR0006, the bill was sent into executive session last Thursday, in which the vote was overwhelmingly in favor to "send it to ITL," which I understand is to report it back to the House with a recommendation that it not be enacted.

This may or may not be fatal to the resolution. According to KBCraig in the N.H. Underground forum, "A committee vote of ITL is not the same as killing a bill. Every bill in NH gets voted on on the floor, most of them on the "consent calendar", where the full house votes to accept the committees' recommendations of ITL or OTP. But, any rep can demand a particular bill be pulled off the consent calendar and voted on directly. Many ITL bills have passed this way, and many OTP bills have failed."

It would be very interesting to know what happened in that meeting. Unfortunately, even in New Hampshire, the media have not made the connection between the Feds and the fact that virtually every State is struggling to meet its budget -- including New Hampshire, as reported by the Manchester Union-Leader.

Virtual buckeye to Sebastian Ronin at Novacadia Alliance.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ohio is building a movement for State sovereignty!

A new group has posted a State sovereignty resolution on the Internet at Known as Ohio Liberty and Sovereignty, the site has adapted Oklahoma's resolution and is attaching to it an Internet petition for its adoption. The site also includes a downloadable paper petition.

I have signed it, and strongly encourage my fellow Ohioans to sign it also.

Another group has scheduled a rally to demand accountability from the Federal, State, and local governments, to be held at the Statehouse 7 am-noon on Wednesday, April 15. Further details will be posted here when available. While the stress seems to be on Second Amendment rights, the rally will not limit itself to that issue. The contact person is Virginia Brooks.

The Religion of Patriotism

"I am not against loyalty to a system that shows loyalty to its members by respecting every individual's personal freedom of choice. But blind patriotism is yet another form of religion that often enslaves the people for the benefit of the master. Do we not understand by now that blind patriotism is not always good for the health of the people -- the stirring, patriotic rhetoric, the flags unfurling, the bands marching, the people charging off to war? Do we not understand by now that the message of patriotism is often an invitation for the people to serve the system rather than for the system to serve the people?

"All 'isms' become religions. The Nazi party, the Communist party, the notion of the sacredness of capitalism, indeed, of any 'ism,' any economic theory, any government that demands the submission of the individual to the interests of the state, is an invitation to slavery."

-- Gerry Spence, Seven Simple Steps to Personal Freedom (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2001)

I prefer the term idolatry to religion, but the essential point holds. When we honor a State that oppresses its people, we are encouraging it to continue that oppression. Of course, it takes courage not to follow the crowd; but no great change has ever been accomplished without people who were willing to resist the opposition of the timid.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sen. Voinovich gets it right

... by voting against what Weapons of Mass Discussion calls the "porkulus" package.

Sen. Voinovich has an established reputation as a deficit hawk, which I am glad he has maintained with his "no" vote here.

"I voted against this bill because it is weighed down by too much spending that is not stimulative and will not provide the jump-start our economy so desperately needs. Instead of funding federal responsibilities that are shovel-ready, like highways, sewers and housing, which would put people back to work quickly and the results of which would contribute to our nation’s economic growth, this bill is filled with items that should be funded through the regular appropriations process and compete with other federal priorities in President Obama’s budget request. Our nation is facing a catastrophic debt and this bill simply adds to that debt without fulfilling the well-accepted stimulus criteria that the funds be timely, targeted and temporary. It is irresponsible for us to attempt to save the present by mortgaging the future. It is my hope that my colleagues on the conference committee will get back to basics and do the work the American people are asking them to do: ensure that each and every dollar in this bill is focused on creating jobs, jump-starting the economy and responding to the human needs brought about by the deep recession our country is

Amen! Preach on, Senator!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Do Americans cherish freedom anymore?

Chuck Baldwin doesn't think so, and I think he has a strong point.

Those who don't understand what freedom is about will have difficulty understanding why The Ohio Republic is raising such a fuss.

Virtual buckeye to Liberty in Law at the Ohio Freedom Alliance.

Friday, February 6, 2009

State Sovereignty Resolutions Introduced

Legislators in at least nine States have had it with Federal meddling! They have therefore introduced resolutions asserting the sovereignty of their States in the current session, which began last month. Those States are Washington, New Hampshire, Arizona, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, California, and Georgia. Twelve additional States reportedly are considering the introduction of such resolutions: Colorado, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Alaska, Kansas, Alabama, Nevada, Maine, and Illinois (!).

These States are claiming their rights under the Tenth Amendment, which reserves all powers to the States or to the people, that are not specifically delegated to the Federal Government under Article I, Sections 8-10 of the Constitution.

Since events are moving rapidly, I have added a link list to the right column after the RSS links, so you may access the text of each State's resolution and check its status.

I am working behind the scenes to get such a resolution introduced here in Ohio.

Virtual buckeyes to and Stephen Hopkins at the Ohio Freedom Alliance.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Gov. Strickland's Budget

Say what you will about our Governor. He lacks neither vision nor courage, and right now, the economic situation in our State desperately needs both. In his State of the State address, and in the SFY 2010-2011 budget, he is trying to satisfy three mutually exclusive priorities: maintain existing services as much as possible, prepare Ohio's educational system to become a world leader within eight years, and still not increase taxes in a state that has the 7th highest tax burden in the United States.

Even on a conceptual level, this is hard to do. Most of the criticism I have heard of the budget basically states that Ohio needs to put off one of the three. Republicans are saying that the budget is unsustainable because it depends on one-time revenue. And they're right, it is not a wise practice to begin ongoing programs on the basis of a temporary revenue stream.

The State employee unions are naturally upset that part of the Governor's balancing strategy is to expect State employees to cut their own salaries up to 6%. As a State employee, I'm not wild about the idea myself, but I'd rather be paid something than be put out of work; or see massive layoffs of my fellow State employees.

Finally, to increase taxes only makes Ohio even less attractive to new business than it is now. Raising taxes will only lengthen the recession our State has been experiencing. Likewise, a massive upgrading of our schools into a seamless "P-16" (pre-school through college) system is an essential component of any strategy that will keep Ohio in line for future growth. We are paying now for our past disregard of education, especially higher education.

The choices in this budget are tough ones. We should be thankful for a Governor who can have the vision to make them; and we should demand the same of our legislators.

Confused by the bailout?

Maybe this will help. Sarah Grillo at Vermont Commons explains it to us in plain English.

Here are the essential points:

Letting us spend the money ourselves (through tax cuts) makes more sense than providing lump sums, because we are more likely to spend them when they are added to our paycheck, than when we get a larger check to take to the bank.

However, if we take a short term view of economic recovery, we will lose sight of the deeply entrenched issues that led to our current plight:

"The problems with our economy, in actuality," Ms. Grillo writes, "are not limited just to bad decisions by investors, or the collapse of short term bubbles in the housing market or dot-coms. The problems are foundational, and run far deeper than most people can possibly imagine."


* More than 50 years of U.S. Government manipulation of statistics to mask the reality. Her example of "hedonic pricing" for the Consumer Price Index is particularly interesting.

* As I have mentioned several times in this space, the Federal Reserve has been creating money out of thin air -- or if you insist, backed by debt, which in essence is the same thing:

"Our debt-based money system must continually expand, as new money must be printed to cover the interest payments on the government's outstanding debt; it is an exponential system by its very design. And exponential systems always reach a point of peaking, which is simply a rule of living on a finite planet that many people seem to think we can avoid... As strong and as popular as it may be, it is manufactured in an unsustainable process, and moreover, with our country in debt in the tens of trillions, and our money losing value exponentially via inflation, it only seems realistic that the dollar may, some day, become worthless."

She urges us to check out Jim Kunstler's take on this phenomena, known as “peak money”:

* Finally, she says our biggest problem is our "aversion to sustainability." To understand how our monetary system is, in fact, unsustainable, she points us to The Crash Course at, an online PowerPoint presentation that does an excellent job of breaking down our economic crisis step by step and tying it into other problems like the peaking of our energy resources.

"So will Obama's plan work? It may mean a few extra dollars in my pocket, for sure, but I think it is a band-aid on a dying patient. Realistically, I think the best bet for anyone now is to buy gold, learn a trade, and invest in local resources. Which, as I see it, isn't such a bad alternative at all."

The spiritual benefits of community may well cause us to decide one day that the adjustment was well worth the pain.

The New Hampshire Resolution

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison memorably wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1797-1798 as a protest against the Alien & Sedition Acts. The Resolutions, however, state clearly the Founders' original understanding of the sovereignty of the States, and their right to secede in the event that the Federal Government failed to respect the Constitution of the United States.

The House of Representatives of the General Court of New Hampshire has introduced in the current session House Concurrent Resolution 6, which reads very much like the resolutions Messrs. Jefferson and Madison wrote over 200 years ago.

We'll keep you posted on its progress.

Virtual buckeye to Benja Sariwata at the Ohio Freedom Alliance.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The center cannot hold

Most people with whom I discuss secession think the idea is flaky. We fought the War Between the States almost 150 years ago, the North won, and that settles it. Fair enough, for a time when the people had confidence that their Federal government would take into account the interests of all of the people, not just some of them; in a manner consistent with our Constitution and our heritage.

Hardly anyone thinks that way anymore. President Obama and the Congress have been working on an “economic stimulus” package to throw another trillion or so at the problem; about one-third of which is nothing but old-fashioned pork, and the rest of it of unknown validity for addressing the problems we are facing. We are told that if we rely on tax cuts, people will just save the money. While saving helps us as individuals, our failure to spend, we are told, will hurt the economy. This is not true. Even if we all do save any tax breaks or just use them to repay our mortgages, it may slow recovery a bit, but will produce better results on the long run. Savings now will increase the supply of money that banks can use to lend to corporations to build new plants, create new technologies, and enhance their competitiveness. Smaller loans can help entrepreneurs get into business. This is not just some wild-eyed dreaming – it is basic economics – assuming that the banks are operating rationally in their own interest. And just as importantly, it gives us the freedom to manage our own money as we see fit.

The problem is, tax cuts will not ensure that the money will flow to the governmental and corporate interests that have bought out the Congress, and perhaps the Presidency as well. Congress has not asked for, let alone received, an accounting for the first $800 billion. Banks that received the first round of TARP* funds are rebuffing efforts to determine how it was spent.

The system is broken beyond repair. We have centralized our financial system to a point that all of our banks and brokers are dependent upon what goes on in New York and foreign financial centers. We have centralized our government to a point where it is inconceivable that any agency other than the Federal Government can solve a problem; despite 200 years of American experience to the contrary.

The choice in our elections is like one between strawberry and lemon-lime Kool-Aid. If both flavors are laced with cyanide, what difference does it make?

I am uncomfortable with the idea of class warfare – to me it reeks of Communism; but the truth is, we are seeing a war waged against the middle class. Government has bought out the poor, and is funneling money to the rich through defense contracts, bank bailouts, and, too often, favorable regulation. But how is government financed?

By taxes. And who pays those taxes? We do. Our work, our productivity is being sacrificed to support a corrupt system. So why is it still holding? So far, the taxpayers have been in denial. We are so engrossed with our private lives (or with television), that we cannot see the bigger picture.

We either cannot, or do not want to see that Peak Oil will put an end to the cheap transportation of goods over long distances. It will increase the cost and decrease the availability of electricity. It will force us to change the way we do everything, from farming to manufacturing to government. We will soon discover the long-hidden truth that all economics is local. We will have to buy food from the local farmer (or grow our own) to survive. We will have to buy from the corner grocer or local haberdashery to survive. The glut of Chinese goods will end, because it will become too costly to send them here.

In the meantime, we are printing trillions of dollars as casually as we only recently printed billions of them. One day, our economy will be flooded with dollars, and hyperinflation will set in. Heaven help the unprepared on that day! We speak now of burdening our children and grandchildren with debt. That will not happen, because at some point the debt will be repudiated; but we will be saddling them with generations of much harder work than we are used to. Making things, growing things, building things, just as our great-grandparents used to do. Social Security, Medicare, and social welfare programs will be memories of the past. The sudden end of these programs will cause suffering for millions of people.

The poor people won’t be hurt at first – they’re on the dole. The rich people won’t be hurt, either. Those that aren’t on the dole have the resources to weather the storm. The middle class (the center of our society) will be devastated. When the middle class collapses, so does the nation. If our Federal policy of throwing trillions of dollars in “bailout” money is not soon reversed, our nation will collapse. My guess is that collapse will occur within the next four years.

When the nation collapses, we will have three choices:
- We can decide that we need control, and accept a totalitarian dictatorship or a world government (which may have the same effect);
- We can allow ourselves to descend into chaos, like Somalia and Afghanistan; or
- We can prepare ourselves, as individuals and as State and local governments, for the inevitable, and apply the “Right of the People to alter or abolish it [the Federal Government] and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to [us] shall seem most likely to effect [our] Safety and Happiness.” **

I am a secessionist because the third option makes the most sense to me. It is the only one that will continue our historic freedoms under the rule of law. I hope and pray that this is the option that makes the most sense to you.

* Troubled Assets Relief Program
** Declaration of Independence.