Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More evidence that Goldman Sachs owns the Federal Government

The Feds are now a subsidiary of Goldman-Sachs. Check out this video. Yeah, I know. Glenn Beck again -- but this time it's not about secession. Watch the video and draw your own conclusions. And remember, you saw it here first.

Virtual buckeye to Rob Williams at Vermont Commons

Why I oppose the Columbus income tax increase

Update 8/7: The income tax levy passed 52%-48%. Again, I suspect that the scare tactics worked. However, a headline in the Aug. 6 Columbus Dispatch almost suggests that the city is looking for ways to spend the money: "City starting on wishlist of services." *sigh*.

If you're not a Columbus resident, don't tune me out. What I am writing has to do with tax increases of all kinds, not just those for the city in which I live and work.

A little background: Columbus, like many large cities, has trouble balancing its budget; but like the State, it is legally obligated to do so. Mayor Coleman and the City Council have determined that the problem is now so severe that they see the need to increase the city tax rate from 2% to 2½% of income from wages and rents. The issue is coming up for a vote next Tuesday, August 4.

First, let me make clear that I am not a strict libertarian. I acknowledge that the public safety and general welfare require some government; albeit considerably less than what we now have. I also understand that the proponents are fearful of catastrophic cuts in public safety, public services, economic development, and/or parks and recreation if this tax increase fails.

The proponents also want to impress on us the fact that this is the first rate increase Columbus has requested in 27 years. I, for one, am not impressed.

Let's take a moment and see where this kind of logic is taking us. For the sake of argument, let's say that the city, the State, and the Feds each add 1% to their income/sales tax rates each year (in reality, the State will ask for less, so we'll include the county and special sales taxes, such as COTA, as part of the State share). So, the three levels of government, each getting a 1% higher tax rate*, will be adding 3% to the overall percentage collected for Federal, State, and local taxes. Most middle-class taxpayers are currently paying 35-40% of their income in taxes. Let's split the difference and say 37%. In eleven years, government will consume half of our income. In 32 years, government will consume all of it.** Somewhere along the way, government will have destroyed any incentive we would have for bettering ourselves. There clearly would be no reward for doing so -- the government is taking that reward away from us.

As to the predictions of doom if it fails -- proponents of the income tax are using exactly the same technique that school districts use to hike up the property tax (you don't want to deny your children a good education, do you? -- but that's a post for another time) .

Belt tightening is painful, no matter who does it; but sometimes we have to. Governments that increase taxes in hard times are taking money away from investment in the private sector, which is precisely what we need to end this recession.

Yes, I know, tightening the belt will cost government jobs, something to which I am personally sensitive; but you know what, the private sector is losing jobs, too. Even with 11% unemployment, there are jobs to be had -- maybe not the nicest ones, but something that will put bread on the table. I was laid off at the age of 38, having had a master's degree from a prestigious Eastern school. For 2½ years, I worked as an office temp. Did I make as much as I would have liked? No. Did I get depressed about my self-worth? Yes. But you know what? I eventually did find a better job, and am a stronger person for the experience. If I lose my job again at the age of 59, I will get through it again.

The real problem is that we have added so many luxuries to the basic necessities of government (and public education), that we have lost sight of just what those necessities are. City government is in the business of providing police and fire protection, and maintaining streets. If the city does nothing else for its tax dollars, it is doing enough. The city can charge for refuse collection -- most cities do. Even better, the city could let private enterprise compete for residential refuse collection, just as is done for commercial. The city can charge for using its recreational facilities. The city can lengthen its maintenance schedule for vehicles and parks for a year or two until the emergency is over. The city can put off some capital improvements for a year or two. Such decisions are not politically expedient, but they do reflect leadership and an understanding of reality. In the unlikely event that the city is run so efficiently that it cannot "do more with less" (as Gov. Voinovich famously said to State employees in his 1991 inaugural address), then it needs to do less with less.

Columbus, let's face reality, and set an example for our elected officials. Vote no on Tuesday.

* I am calling a "rate increase of 1%" a change in rate from say, 5% to 6%, which will increase the taxes themselves by a different percentage. Just in case you were beginning to think I was trying to lie with statistics. For the sake of illustration, I am also ignoring the impact of steadily rising property taxes.

** Is this a reduction to the absurd? Perhaps, to make a point. I cannot envision government taking all of our income, but I suggest to you that the point it illustrates is still valid. Factoring in property taxes will reduce the number of years it would take for government to seize all of our income.

State Sovereignty Resolution Update - 7/28

Summer is usually a slow season for State legislatures, once the budget has been adopted. Many States limit the length of the legislative session, so that their legislatures will be adjourned until the following year (Ohio is not so fortunate). For this reason, updates are likely to be infrequent for the rest of the year.

However, the resolution has been prefiled for the next session of the Nebraska Senate. Nebraska is unique in having a unicameral (one house) and nonpartisan legislature. The Omaha World-Herald quotes State Sen. Tony Fulton (NP-Lincoln) in his introduction statement: “My goal here is to shine light on the fact that the federal government is overstepping its bounds. We would be making a statement on behalf of Nebraska.”

As we have experienced with our SCR13, critics have wasted no time branding the resolution as racist, in an attempt to link it with the Southern States' Rights movement prior to 1964. Nebraska State Sen. Bill Avery (NP-Lincoln) echoed the concern of Ohio State Sen. Ray Miller when he said, “The history of this movement is rife with racism in the name of states' rights. I'm not saying that the people making the case now are racist, but I don't think Nebraska needs to be getting in bed with these kinds of resolutions.”

The comments to the World-Herald article are revealing. Opponents to the resolution advanced very few points in support of their position (though scarborough's comment was well written), but were quick to attack the introducers as a Republican lackeys, neo-Confederates, racists (because of President Obama), subservient to radio talk-show hosts, hypocrites (because the legislature has accepted Federal money), and beholden to contributors who support the resolution. Attacking the proponents rather than the resolution's substance seems to be a standard leftist procedure for defending Federal power.

I shall address only one of those attacks here. The movement has been around since 1995, during both Democratic and Republican administrations. The present round of resolutions began last year, when Oklahoma State Rep. Charles Key, a Republican, introduced the resolution that has been a model for most of the States this year. Last year, George Bush, another Republican, was President (Oklahoma's resolution was defeated by a tie vote in the Senate last year, but was adopted this year). Arizona, another heavily Republican State, introduced such a resolution in 2002, also during the Bush Administration -- and at a time when President Bush's popularity was quite high.

Therefore, it is incorrect to state that the principal purpose of the resolutions is to attack the Obama Administration.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Global warming, eh?

Jesse Farrell at the AccuWeather blog presents some interesting statistics about our unusually cool July in Ohio and the Eastern United States. While he is careful not to tie his analysis to the global warming argument and acknowledges that he is professionally neutral on the subject, the stats provide skeptics with some useful ammunition against those who want to go into panic mode. The link is well illustrated with tables and maps.

A few of the items:
1. There have been more than 3,000 record lows set this July, an unusually high number of records.
2. A map of the United States north and east of Memphis shows no place that had July temperatures above average, and one spot that appears to be near Somerset, Pennsylvania, that averaged 10° below normal (which Mr. Farrell considers to be "rare"). Most areas in Ohio showed a variance of 3-5° below normal.
3. Low temperatures for July in Ohio ranged from 47° to 59°. Supposedly, this is summer.
4. There is a beautiful map that shows the number of days above 85° this July. Only St. Louis, Washington, DC, and Roanoke VA showed more than one day that warm this month.

Back in December 2007, I expressed frustration at the difficulty we were experiencing knowing the truth about global warming. While I am not prepared to declare it a hoax, the findings above support others from Columbus meteorologist Jym Ganahl and the scientists cited in the December 2007 article, that cast doubt on the validity of assertions that temperatures are rising globally.*

* Which is not to discount areas, such as the Arctic, where rising temperatures are melting glaciers and endangering habitat for polar bears.

Update 7/27: A commenter in The Ohio Republic's Facebook mirror makes a telling point: "The establishment is one step ahead of you Harold as they have already changed their terms and now use 'global climate change' as their pretext for more taxation and regulation." More smoke and mirrors.

Virtual buckeye to Gordon Gekko at taxmanblog.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Why it's dangerous to have the best government money can buy

I have been reading Frederick Grimke*, Considerations upon the Nature and Tendency of Free Institutions, when I came across this interesting passage:

"It is a great objection to a high property qualification [or in our day, the necessity for raising large amounts of campaign money] that it confines the competition for office to the rich exclusively. The rich only can afford to practice bribery, and hence the English elections [this was written in 1856] have been corrupt to a degree utterly unknown in the United States... In those countries where the eligibility to office as well as the electoral franchise have been most restricted, the greatest corruption and licentiousness have prevailed; and where both have been thrown open to nearly the whole population the elections are the most orderly and the most free of sinister influence."

* Frederick Grimke (1791-1863), a resident of Chillicothe, was a judge in the Ohio Supreme Court before retiring to write political philosophy. Considerations upon the Nature and Tendency of Free Institutions was his most important work. The 1968 and 2006 editions of his work are available online. The 1968 edition includes editorial notes that help the modern reader to understand references that would otherwise seem obscure.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Who is getting bailed out?

Silly me. I thought the purpose of the Federal bailout funds was to rescue banks and corporations that were "too big to fail." I (and I suggest, most Americans with me) assumed that meant domestic banks and corporations.

Fortunately, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson is smarter than I am. He asked Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke how much of the $500 billion bank bailout went to foreign banks? Mr. Bernanke's answer: "I don't know."

Virtual buckeye to Patrick at Ohio Freedom Alliance.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What do we need to resist the Feds?

Community and education, says Russell Means, of the Republic of Lakota. The Native American expresses unusual wisdom in explaining why we need to strengthen our communities and educate the people for resistance. "While they destroyed our communities through consumption... we lost the will to resist through corporate consumption, because we did not have our communities anymore."

"Wake up! Take control of your children! Get back to your communities. When you get back to your communities, guess what happens. You can eat better, you can sleep better, you relate better, and have more interest in your children. And then you can resist!"

Is everything commerce?

The Tenth Amendment Center doesn't think so. Their newsletter, published over the weekend, produces strong legal arguments that the framers of the Constitution meant commerce to have a very narrow meaning -- essentially, trade. However, the Supreme Court and some "living Constitution" legal scholars have expanded the concept to the point that (they argue) the Feds can control anything by calling it commerce.

A test will be coming, however. Tennessee gun shop owners received this letter from Carson W. Carroll, deputy director for enforcement activities of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. asserting that Federal law supersedes Tennessee's HB 1796, 106th Legislature; which states that exempts from Federal law personal firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition that is both manufactured and sold within Tennessee (making it intrastate commerce). Mr. Carroll, naturally, takes exception to that.

Mr. Carroll needs to be reminded that Federal firearms law is itself subject to Article I, Section 8, Clause 3, of the United States Constitution. I hope a gutsy Tennessee county sheriff will enforce the State law against any Federal agents that try regulations contrary to the Tennessee act.

Virtual buckeye to Gabe McGranahan.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Puzzle Pic

What in the blazes is the sheriff of Fairfield County (pop. 142,000) doing with this?

Virtual buckeye to Geoffrey S. Shough at Ohio Freedom Alliance.

Council on Foreign Relations: Fact, not theory

For nearly 50 years, we have heard that the Council on Foreign Relations is a shadowy organization that actually controls US foreign policy. We have also heard this statement dismissed as a crackpot conspiracy theory.

This speech, by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, delivered to the CFR in Washington on Wednesday, should remove all doubt. It opens with these lines:

"Thank you very much, Richard, and I am delighted to be here in these new headquarters. I have been often to, I guess, the mother ship in New York City, but it’s good to have an outpost of the Council right here down the street from the State Department. We get a lot of advice from the Council, so this will mean I won’t have as far to go to be told what we should be doing and how we should think about the future. (Emphasis added)"

If you think she is kidding, or that I am quoting her out of context, please read the rest of her speech or view the video linked to it. You will find that interdependence is strongly emphasized. On the surface, this appears to be an admirable idea ("Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me..."); but upon closer inspection, it appears to be a way for our diplomats to ignore our real national interests in favor of some other agenda.

The interests of nations will sometimes get into conflict -- that is human nature -- and there should always be ways to peacefully resolve them. However, there can never be peace if those interests are ignored. This, I believe, is the real danger that lurks behind the Council on Foreign Relations' agenda. It sacrifices our interests (and those of other nations) to the idea of a global government; an experiment that, if implemented, will surely fail even more spectacularly than those of empires past and present -- and for the same reasons.

Virtual buckeye to Frank at the Ohio Freedom Alliance.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The “How” of Independence

We Ohioans are a practical people. We have little patience for abstract theories and pie-in-the-sky speculation. With this in mind, readers of The Ohio Republic have patiently waited through 445 postings discussing why we should become independent, with a few postings going over some of the risks – but with nary a mention of how.

The purpose of this post is to provide a starting point for discussion of how Ohio might achieve independence within the next few years. It lacks sufficient detail to be a plan. It assumes that that the economy will continue to go downhill for at least another year, that attempts to consolidate power in the Federal government and to establish a single world currency will continue, and that people will become more discontented with the situation as time goes on. It also assumes that a peaceful resolution is possible. As I wrote yesterday, peaceful resolution may prove to be impossible. An angry mob may attack the Goldman Sachs offices, or the Federal Government might try to manufacture a Kristallnacht in an attempt to silence freedom-loving Americans. However, we have to make our assumptions on the basis of what we know; and right now, I shall assume that the right of peaceful dissent will continue, at least for the next year. I present this as an approach that can work for the people of Ohio. I leave to the peoples of Vermont, Texas, etc., to determine their own approaches.

The first step to independence is absolutely fundamental. A few later steps can be taken; but no effort will succeed without it. From the beginning, we must start thinking like an independent nation. We must think about how Federal policy impacts us, and how we would solve the same problems on our own, given the freedom to do so. We must remember that “Federal Funds” are taxes taken from our own pockets; and that, as I also wrote yesterday, Wall Street has profited at the expense of our retirement plans, college funds, and in too many cases, homes. We can publicly display our willingness to think this way by flying the Ohio flag alone. We can insist on defending our liberties on the basis of the Ohio Constitution, instead of the U.S. Constitution (a right that has been supported by U.S. Supreme Court decisions).

Secondly, we must raise the awareness of our neighbors that Ohio can protect itself from Federal encroachment on our liberties. This can be done by publishing articles that document how the Federal government has expanded its powers far beyond those specified for it in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, to which the Federal Government was limited by the Tenth Amendment. We must ensure that a State Sovereignty Resolution passes the Ohio General Assembly. We also need to publish articles to document how individual rights have been encroached upon by the Federal government in violation of the U.S. Constitution (Every post in The Ohio Republic with the label “Attacks on Constitutional rights” except those relating to Manna Storehouse, cites unconsitutional Federal actions).

Thirdly, we need to clearly define what it is we do believe. How would we strengthen our Constitutional guarantees of liberty, given the experience of the last 222 years? We need to define a philosophy that can easily explain how personal freedom can be maintained in our time.

All of these steps will have to be completed before we can even think about a mass movement or political party! If we do not have public awareness of what we need to do, they will remain content to live with their misconceptions about freedom in the United States.

Once political action becomes a reasonable option, we can talk about petitions, mass demonstrations, amendments to the Ohio Constitution to enable us to assume the powers reserved for independent nations, and the modalities of negotiating (or forcing) independence from the United States. But that is a subject for another day.

In the meantime, we have work to do.

Is empire worth it?

Stephen Walt at Foreign Policy isn't so sure. He reviews Piers Brendon's The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997 by drawing ten (actually eleven) lessons that Americans can learn from the British experience. They are all common-sense observations to anyone who has read much history. But then, we Americans don't think history is important, do we?

His ten lessons are (follow the Foreign Policy link to read his explanations):
1. There is no such thing as a "benevolent" Empire.
2. All Empires depend on self-justifying ideology and rhetoric that is often at odds with reality.
3. Successful empires require ample "hard power" [that is, a robust economy].
4. As Empires decline, they become more opulent, and they obsess about their own glory.
5. Great Empires are heterogeneous.
6. When building an empire, it's hard to know where to stop.
7. It takes a lot of incompetent people to run an empire.
8. Great Powers defend perceived interests with any means at their disposal.
9. Nationalism and other forms of local identity remain a potent obstacle to long-term imperial control. [Prof. Walt cites the U.S. experience in Iraq and Central Asis, but I suggest that domestic secessionism may also prove to be such an obstacle.]
10. "Imperial Prestige" is both an asset and a trap.

That eleventh lesson is: There is life after empire. After being braced for a disaster when the British Empire finally fell, the British discovered that they had a better standard of living, better health care, and more national security than they did when they were carrying "the white man's burden." These may prove to be comforting words for us a few years hence.

Virtual buckeye to the learned Mike Tuggle at Rebellion.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Judge Napolitano to speak at the Ohio Liber-Tea Party August 1

It's official now. Judge Andrew Napolitano, author of The Constitution in Exile, A Nation of Sheep, and other books describing how the Feds have violated our Constitutional liberties, will be the featured speaker at the Ohio Liber-Tea Party, Saturday, August 1, beginning at 2 pm on the Ohio Statehouse grounds in Columbus.

Here is a flyer you can use to promote the occasion.

Listen up, people. This is how revolutions start!

Today marks the 220th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille in Paris, which set off the bloody French Revolution. The painting is Liberty Guiding the People by Eugène Delacroix (1830).

Update: The New York Times reports today that Goldman Sachs earned second-quarter profits of $3.44 billion ($4.93 per share). This follows first-quarter profits of $1.66 billion ($3.39 a share). Since the beginning of the year, its stock has increased in value 77%, but remains below its record high of $250.70 per share, set in 2007.

Thus proving Mr. Kunstler correct:

James Howard Kunstler on Goldman Sachs:

"The cat coming out of the bag this week -- a frazzled, flaming, rabid, death-dealing cat -- is the news that Goldman Sachs will announce impressive second-quarter profits, and set aside $18 billion or so for employee bonuses averaging $600,000 per head (though, of course, not evenly distributed among them). There probably are not fifty-three people in the USA who can explain how this development figures in with last fall's bailout gift from the US treasury, or the $13 billion GS received on the backside of US gift payments to the failed AIG insurance company, plus the reams of necrotic securitized debt paper rotting in the back of the GS vaults. This is a company playing with the fire of world history.

"It brings back the question, which has loomed dimly at the margins of America's collective consciousness, as to whether we can get through the long emergency ahead without going through a wringer of domestic political convulsion. At this rate, sooner or later, anything identified with wealth could become a target for the wrath of the unemployed and foreclosed. The first rock that flies through an East Hampton window, or the first firebomb tossed into the lobby of Goldman Sachs Manhattan headquarters could ignite a chain of events that shoves all economic policy out of the political arena and quickly divides everyone at the center of power into armies out for blood. "

It brings back visions of Marie Antoinette telling the people, if they didn't have bread, to eat cake; or of the Russian nobility enjoying a lavish midnight meal while the masses were demonstrating. Egregious displays of wealth in New York's Financial District, while the rest of us lose jobs, homes, and retirement savings. The truth is, we are literally being robbed, and the Federal Government is a co-conspirator.

Can violence be avoided? Perhaps, but the time is growing short. Very short; however, there is an alternative, suggested by this Independence Day parade in Vermont:

Virtual buckeye to Vermont Commons, for both the Kunstler article and the picture.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Public service redefined

This exchange comes from Motley Fool by way of Rebellion:

Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts was being interviewed by Max Keiser on "On the Edge" (Press TV):

Max Keiser: Quick question. What should the Treasury Secretary be doing?

Craig Roberts: He should be trying to save the dollar as the world's reserve currency which means stopping the wars, reducing the bailout money, and trying to reduce the trade and budget deficits in order to save the dollar. That's what he should be doing.

Max Keiser: Does the treasury secretary work for the people or does he work for the banking system on Wall Street?

Craig Roberts: He works for Goldman Sachs.

A generation ago, such an answer would have caused a major scandal. Now, it's business as usual as the greatest robbery in world history (that of our savings) continues unabated.

State Sovereignty Resolution Update - 7/13

Alaska's soon-to-be ex-Governor Sarah Palin signed their HJR 27, officially making Alaska the 7th State to formally enact a State sovereignty resolution.

A resolution has been introduced in Florida, HM 19, on July 1.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Yes, the States can make it on their own

I found a new secessionist blog, DumpDC, which has linked to an interesting map displaying nations of the world which have economies comparable in size to those of each of the States.
California's economy is comparable in size to France, Texas to Canada, and some of the smaller or poorer States to third-world countries. Ohio, according to this map, is comparable to Australia.

I could live with that.

I like my idea better

Mike Norman Economics reports from the San Diego Union that California has a bill in its Assembly to make its IOUs legal tender for the payment of State taxes, thus creating its own fiat currency. It will be interesting to see how this plays out legally. I suspect that it will be found unconstitutional because of Article I, Section 10, which prohibits States from emitting Bills of Credit or making anything except gold and silver coin a legal tender for the payment of debts.

What scares me is that the courts will allow it, and Ohio starts to get the same idea, instead of the sounder approach I suggested yesterday.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I have a better idea

According to Bloomberg, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was showing off a coin that he called a sample of a new world currency, which he strongly favors. Recent economic developments should make clear that the solution to our difficulty is not to replace one fiat currency (the U.S. dollar, backed by nothing) with another.

Here is my alternative, a certificate backed by gold:
The portrait is of the late James A. Rhodes, Governor of Ohio 1963-1971 and 1975-1983.

Gutless wonder?

A reliable Statehouse source told me that one of the reasons HCR 11 (Ohio's State Sovereignty resolution) is languishing in committee is a directive by House Speaker Armond Budish (D-Beachwood) not to consider any resolution that challenges the authority of the Federal Government. This also would affect HCR 25 (against cap-and-trade) and the proposed Honest Money initiative.

Speaker Budish is an attorney who needs to review his Constitutional law. States are a necessary bulwark to protect the freedom of the people from Federal encroachment. But I suppose he would rather be loyal to his party than to his State.

Friday, July 10, 2009

(Mild) Apology to commenters

Commenters to The Ohio Republic are a civilized lot. I have had to delete only one comment in nearly two years as the result of offensive content; but have found it necessary to delete more and more spam. Since most of my spam attaches itself to older posts, I am instituting a new policy that requires moderation of comments to posts more than 90 days old. This should help me censor the spam, while sparing you the need to do word verification. However, if the problem significantly worsens, I may add that in the future.

Your comments are always welcome, and generally add to our discussion and understanding of the issues.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

American "justice" Soviet-style

Federal prosecutors like to play a game after hours: they pick a celebrity -- any celebrity -- and find a way they could prosecute that celebrity in a way that fits their character, by applying odd provisions of Federal law.

That's one story William L. Anderson (in LewRockwell.com) tells in his review of Harvey A. Silverglate's book Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds target the innocent:

"If you want to understand the federal assault on the law and upon our rights, read this book, for it will provide an education for those who believe that federal prosecutors have long been overstepping their constitutional boundaries and are railroading thousands of innocent people into prison.

"This is more, much more, than a book full of anecdotes, although the anecdotes themselves tell a depressingly familiar story of the decline of law in the United States. This book also lays out the chilling facts of how the federal system of what Candice E. Jackson and I have called 'derivative crimes' is patterned not after anything that Americans inherited from Great Britain and its great body of common law, but from the former Soviet Union.

"That is correct. Federal criminal law closely mirrors the Soviet code and its 'crimes of analogy.' Silverglate writes that under the old Soviet law, 'any citizen was in constant danger of being prosecuted for virtually any action if it could be analogized to or derived from something in the criminal code' (emphasis his). As Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin’s head of the dreaded secret police said proudly, 'Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.' ...

"[F]ederal law itself also permits prosecutors to fashion acts that are legal into crimes that carry serious time. Furthermore, prosecutors can take one action and then pile multiple acts upon it. For example, when jurors declared [Enron CEO Kenneth] Lay guilty of 'fraud,' they also convicted him of 'money laundering, 'wire fraud,' and other such acts that by themselves carry draconian prison penalties.

"What makes these other 'crimes' so insidious is that they cannot be instituted without an underlying act, which means they cannot stand alone. If I mail a letter with a fraudulent tax return, then not only am I guilty of 'tax evasion,' but I also can be charged with 'mail fraud' for the simple act of mailing a letter. If I put some of my alleged ill-gotten gains in a bank, or purchase any goods with that money, I have
committed 'money laundering,' for which the penalty is a maximum of 20 years in prison.

"The combination of these 'crimes' gives prosecutors enormous leverage against defendants, for if they choose to go to trial and falter on just one criminal count, they are sent to prison for many years. Thus, many people – even people who maintain their innocence – will plead to something because the alternative is much worse.

"As Silverglate says, that is not justice; it is tyranny. He writes:
'If I am right, we must foster the realization that the Justice Department’s tactics too often are employed not to protect, but to attack law-abiding society (emphasis Anderson's). While it is true…that sometimes creative criminal 'miscreants' cleverly get around the letter of the law (especially laws that have become obsolete) and therefore tempt equally creative prosecutors to stretch the law, it is also true that too many ordinary, well-meaning, and innocent people get caught in the maw of the
Department of Justice’s prosecutorial machinery.'

Meanwhile, the masses pledge allegiance to the flag of a nation that
supposedly has "liberty and justice for all."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Uncelebrating the Fourth

I'm not sure that it is necessary to "uncelebrate" the Fourth, as long as we focus on what the Founding Fathers did, and the reasons why they did it. We should remember the Fourth and motivate ourselves to replicate their achievement in our time.

Remember to fly your Ohio flag (alone) on the Fourth.

That said, this piece by the late Harry Browne in the Tenth Amendment Center website is well worth reproducing here:

Originally published July 4, 2003

"Unfortunately, July 4th has become a day of deceit.

"On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress formally declared its independence from Great Britain. Thirteen years later, after a difficult war to secure that independence, the new country was open for business.

"It was truly unique — the first nation in all of history in which the individual was considered more important than the government, and the government was tied down by a written Constitution.

"It was the one nation where you could live your life secure in the knowledge that no one would ask for your papers, where you weren’t identified by a number, and where the government wouldn’t extort a percentage of your income as the price of holding a job.

"And so each year July 4th has been a commemoration of the freest country in history.

False Celebration

"But the America that’s celebrated no longer exists.

"The holiday oratory deceitfully describes America as though it were the unique land of liberty that once was. Politicians thank the Almighty for conferring the blessings of liberty on a country that no longer enjoys those blessings. The original freedom and security have disappeared — even though the oratory lingers on.

"What made America unique is now gone, and we are much the same as Germany, France, England, or Spain, with:
- confiscatory taxes,
- a Constitution and Bill of Rights that are symbolic only — merely documents used to justify governmental actions that are in fact prohibited by those documents,
- business regulated by the state in the most minute detail,
- no limits on what Congress or the President might decide to do.

"Yes, there are some freedoms left, but nothing like the America that was — and nothing that you can’t find in a few dozen other countries.

The Empire

"Gone, too, is the sense of peace and security that once reigned throughout the land. America — bound by two huge oceans and two friendly neighbors — was subject to none of the never-ending wars and destruction that plagued Europe and Asia.

"Now, however, everyone’s business is America’s business. Our Presidents consider themselves the rulers of the world — deciding who may govern any country on earth and sending Americans to die enforcing those decisions.

"Whereas America was once an inspiration to the entire world — its very existence was proof that peace and liberty really were possible — Americans now live in fear of the rest of the world and the rest of the world lives in fear of America.

The Future

"Because the education of our children was turned over to government in the 19th century, generations of Americans have been taught that freedom means taxes, regulations, civic duty, and responsibility for the whole world. They have no conception of the better life that could exist in a society in which government doesn’t manage health care, education, welfare, and business — and in which individuals are free to plot their own destinies.

"Human beings are born with the desire to make their own decisions and control their own lives. But in most countries government and social pressures work to teach people to expect very little autonomy.

"Fortunately, in America a remnant has kept alive the ideas of liberty, peace, and self-respect — passing the concepts on from generation to generation. And so today millions of Americans know that the present system isn’t the right system — that human beings aren’t born to serve the state and police the world.

"Millions more would be receptive upon being shown that it’s possible to have better lives than what they’re living now.

"Both groups need encouragement to quit supporting those who are taking freedom away from them.

"You and I may not have the money and influence to change America by ourselves, but we can keep spreading the word — describing a better society in which individuals are truly free and government is in chains (instead of the opposite).

"And someday we may reach the people who do have the money and influence to persuade tens of millions of Americans to change our country for the better.

"I don’t know that it’s going to happen, but I do know it’s possible. I know that the urge to live one’s own life is as basic in human beings as the will to live and the desire to procreate. If we keep plugging away, we may eventually tap into that urge and rally the forces necessary to restore the real America.

"And then the 4th of July will be worth celebrating again."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Liberty and Union?

Dan Woodard at Fort Worth Business Press doesn’t think much of secession:

“I can think of no more un-American act or deed than for a governor to utter the word ‘secession.’ I would urge any Governor or any citizen with secession on his/her mind to read Daniel Webster’s stirring speech to the United States Senate on March 7, 1850. That’s when orators made great speeches – and without teleprompters.”

Now, I respect Daniel Webster as a great Senator and great orator. When I was in high school, I entered speech contests reciting his Second Reply to Hayne (1830), which ends with the famous words, “Liberty and Union, now and forevermore, one and inseparable! I have great respect for the lessons of history; but lessons are meant to be applied to the present reality. When Sen. Webster delivered this speech, the United States was in its golden age. Except for the slaves in the South, the people were free. The Federal Government generally did not interfere in the government of the States. Enterprise was truly free – if you had a good idea, there were few barriers to carrying it out. The year after Sen. Webster’s speech, Ohio adopted its second, and present, Constitution, which contains a bill of rights far superior even to that of the United States Constitution.

Let’s take a look at part of the speech Mr. Woodard quotes:

“Why, Sir, our ancestors, our fathers and our grandfathers would rebuke and reproach us; and our children and our grandchildren would cry out shame upon us, if we of this generation should dishonor these ensigns of the power of the government and the harmony of that Union which is every day felt among us with
so much joy and gratitude…”

Why, Mr. Woodard, our ancestors would rebuke and reproach us; and our children and grandchildren would cry out shame upon us, if we of this generation persisted in honoring an ensign of the power of a government that has forgotten its principal purpose -- the preservation of our liberties! Surely, Thomas Jefferson would not approve of a Federal Government that continues to expand its control over every State and every individual! Perhaps Mr. Woodard should re-read the Declaration of Independence and compare the grievances the American colonists had with King George III with those we have against the Federal Government today.

“No monarchical throne presses these States together, no iron chain of military power encircles them; they live and stand under a government popular in its form, representative in its character, founded upon principles of equality, and so constructed, we hope, as to last for ever. In all its history it has been beneficent; it has trodden down no man’s liberty; it has crushed no State. Its daily respiration is liberty and patriotism.”

What presses these States together is not a monarchical throne, but an imperial Presidency. A chain of military power does encircle us (ever hear of the Northern Command?). The Federal Government may remain “popular in its form,” but it represents only those who can afford to buy their elected officials with campaign donations. In recent history, it has ceased to benefit those who support it (or agree to be robbed) with their taxes; since 9/11 it is systematically trodding down every man’s liberty. It is crushing the States with unfunded mandates and false promises of “stimulus” funds.

If we can again join Liberty with Union, I will cheerfully put down my secessionist mantle. I support the State sovereignty resolutions in the faint hope that an awakened public will restore that which we have lost; but with each new pronouncement of the President and each new Act of Congress, I lose confidence that this can occur.

How can we invoke Sen. Webster’s memory at a time when liberty and union are turning into contradictory notions? This Saturday, we honor the secession of the thirteen United States from the British Empire. Now, pray tell me, how would we honor our Founding Fathers if we insist on maintaining the American Empire at the expense of the liberty they fought for?

Hawai'i: Restoration, not secession

I have not posted much on Hawai'i, in part because easily readable information has been difficult to find. Hawai'i's situation is unique. While other States were independent prior to admission to the Union, Hawai'i is the only State to be independent prior to acquisition as a territory. The record shows that the legality of that State's addition is highly questionable. The annexation of Hawai'i to the United States was not a cession because it occurred without the consent of the Hawai'ian government and people, therefore Hawai'i technically cannot secede.

The legal argument is that Hawai'i's is a Republic (or arguably, still a Kingdom) that has been under a 111-year occupation by the United States. Further information is available from the Hawaiian Independence Blog.