State of Mankind

A New Way Of Thinking

Ron Paul’s Farewell Address

Ron Paul, retiring from the U. S. Congress, gave his farewell speech.  My apologies that it is a bit long, but I think it is well worth the read.  There may some point on which I disagree with him, but I can’t seem to find it.  I invite everyone to read and consider his thought-provoking analysis.  The link to this transcript is: http://www.campaignforliberty.org/national-blog/transcript-of-farewell-address/

Farewell to Congress

This may well be the last time I speak on the House Floor.  At the end of the year I’ll leave Congress after 23 years in office over a 36 year period.  My goals in 1976 were the same as they are today:  promote peace and prosperity by a strict adherence to the principles of individual liberty.

It was my opinion, that the course the U.S. embarked on in the latter part of the 20th Century would bring us a major financial crisis and engulf us in a foreign policy that would overextend us and undermine our national security.

To achieve the goals I sought, government would have had to shrink in size and scope, reduce spending, change the monetary system, and reject the unsustainable costs of policing the world and expanding the American Empire.

The problems seemed to be overwhelming and impossible to solve, yet from my view point, just following the constraints placed on the federal government by the Constitution would have been a good place to start.

 

How Much Did I Accomplish?

In many ways, according to conventional wisdom, my off-and-on career in Congress, from 1976 to 2012, accomplished very little.  No named legislation, no named federal buildings or highways—thank goodness.  In spite of my efforts, the government has grown exponentially, taxes remain excessive, and the prolific increase of incomprehensible regulations continues.  Wars are constant and pursued without Congressional declaration, deficits rise to the sky, poverty is rampant and dependency on the federal government is now worse than any time in our history.

All this with minimal concerns for the deficits and unfunded liabilities that common sense tells us cannot go on much longer.  A grand, but never mentioned, bipartisan agreement allows for the well-kept secret that keeps the spending going.  One side doesn’t give up one penny on military spending, the other side doesn’t give up one penny on welfare spending, while both sides support the bailouts and subsidies for the banking and  corporate elite.  And the spending continues as the economy weakens and the downward spiral continues.   As the government continues fiddling around, our liberties and our wealth burn in the flames of a foreign policy that makes us less safe.

The major stumbling block to real change in Washington is the total resistance to admitting that the country is broke. This has made compromising, just to agree to increase spending, inevitable since neither side has any intention of cutting spending.

The country and the Congress will remain divisive since there’s no “loot left to divvy up.”

Without this recognition the spenders in Washington will continue the march toward a fiscal cliff much bigger than the one anticipated this coming January.

I have thought a lot about why those of us who believe in liberty, as a solution, have done so poorly in convincing others of its benefits.  If liberty is what we claim it is- the principle that protects all personal, social and economic decisions necessary for maximum prosperity and the best chance for peace- it should be an easy sell.  Yet, history has shown that the masses have been quite receptive to the promises of authoritarians which are rarely if ever fulfilled.

 

Authoritarianism vs. Liberty

If authoritarianism leads to poverty and war and less freedom for all individuals and is controlled by rich special interests, the people should be begging for liberty.  There certainly was a strong enough sentiment for more freedom at the time of our founding that motivated those who were willing to fight in the revolution against the powerful British government.

During my time in Congress the appetite for liberty has been quite weak; the understanding of its significance negligible.  Yet the good news is that compared to 1976 when I first came to Congress, the desire for more freedom and less government in 2012 is much greater and growing, especially in grassroots America. Tens of thousands of teenagers and college age students are, with great enthusiasm, welcoming the message of liberty.

I have a few thoughts as to why the people of a country like ours, once the freest and most prosperous, allowed the conditions to deteriorate to the degree that they have.

Freedom, private property, and enforceable voluntary contracts, generate wealth.  In our early history we were very much aware of this.  But in the early part of the 20th century our politicians promoted the notion that the tax and monetary systems had to change if we were to involve ourselves in excessive domestic and military spending. That is why Congress gave us the Federal Reserve and the income tax.  The majority of Americans and many government officials agreed that sacrificing some liberty was necessary to carry out what some claimed to be “progressive” ideas. Pure democracy became acceptable.

They failed to recognized that what they were doing was exactly opposite of what the colonists were seeking when they broke away from the British.

Some complain that my arguments makes no sense, since great wealth and the standard of living improved  for many Americans over the last 100 years, even with these new policies.

But the damage to the market economy, and the currency, has been insidious and steady.  It took a long time to consume our wealth, destroy the currency and undermine productivity and get our financial obligations to a point of no return. Confidence sometimes lasts longer than deserved. Most of our wealth today depends on debt.

The wealth that we enjoyed and seemed to be endless, allowed concern for the principle of a free society to be neglected.  As long as most people believed the material abundance would last forever, worrying about protecting a competitive productive economy and individual liberty seemed unnecessary.

 

The Age of Redistribution

This neglect ushered in an age of redistribution of wealth by government kowtowing to any and all special interests, except for those who just wanted to left alone.  That is why today money in politics far surpasses money currently going into research and development and productive entrepreneurial efforts.

The material benefits became more important than the understanding and promoting the principles of liberty and a free market.  It is good that material abundance is a result of liberty but if materialism is all that we care about, problems are guaranteed.

The crisis arrived because the illusion that wealth and prosperity would last forever has ended. Since it was based on debt and a pretense that debt can be papered over by an out-of-control fiat monetary system, it was doomed to fail.  We have ended up with a system that doesn’t produce enough even to finance the debt and no fundamental understanding of why a free society is crucial to reversing these trends.

If this is not recognized, the recovery will linger for a long time.  Bigger government, more spending, more debt, more poverty for the middle class, and a more intense scramble by the elite special interests will continue.

 

We Need an Intellectual Awakening

Without an intellectual awakening, the turning point will be driven by economic law.  A dollar crisis will bring the current out-of-control system to its knees.

If it’s not accepted that big government, fiat money, ignoring liberty, central economic planning, welfarism, and warfarism caused our crisis we can expect a continuous and dangerous march toward corporatism and even fascism with even more loss of our liberties.  Prosperity for a large middle class though will become an abstract dream.

This continuous move is no different than what we have seen in how our financial crisis of 2008 was handled.  Congress first directed, with bipartisan support, bailouts for the wealthy.  Then it was the Federal Reserve with its endless quantitative easing. If at first it doesn’t succeed try again; QE1, QE2, and QE3 and with no results we try QE indefinitely—that is until it too fails.  There’s a cost to all of this and let me assure you delaying the payment is no longer an option.  The rules of the market will extract its pound of flesh and it won’t be pretty.

The current crisis elicits a lot of pessimism.  And the pessimism adds to less confidence in the future.  The two feed on themselves, making our situation worse.

If the underlying cause of the crisis is not understood we cannot solve our problems. The issues of warfare, welfare, deficits, inflationism, corporatism, bailouts and authoritarianism cannot be ignored.  By only expanding these policies we cannot expect good results.

Everyone claims support for freedom.  But too often it’s for one’s own freedom and not for others.  Too many believe that there must be limits on freedom. They argue that freedom must be directed and managed to achieve fairness and equality thus making it acceptable to curtail, through force, certain liberties.

Some decide what and whose freedoms are to be limited.  These are the politicians whose goal in life is power. Their success depends on gaining support from special interests.

 

No More ‘isms’

The great news is the answer is not to be found in more “isms.”  The answers are to be found in more liberty which cost so much less.  Under these circumstances spending goes down, wealth production goes up, and the quality of life improves.

Just this recognition—especially if we move in this direction—increases optimism which in itself is beneficial.  The follow through with sound policies are required which must be understood and supported by the people.

But there is good evidence that the generation coming of age at the present time is supportive of moving in the direction of more liberty and self-reliance. The more this change in direction and the solutions become known, the quicker will be the return of optimism.

Our job, for those of us who believe that a different system than the  one that we have  had for the  last 100 years, has driven us to this unsustainable crisis, is to be more convincing that there is a wonderful, uncomplicated, and moral system that provides the answers.  We had a taste of it in our early history. We need not give up on the notion of advancing this cause.

It worked, but we allowed our leaders to concentrate on the material abundance that freedom generates, while ignoring freedom itself.  Now we have neither, but the door is open, out of necessity, for an answer.  The answer available is based on the Constitution, individual liberty and prohibiting the use of government force to provide privileges and benefits to all special interests.

After over 100 years we face a society quite different from the one that was intended by the Founders.  In many ways their efforts to protect future generations with the Constitution from this danger has failed.  Skeptics, at the time the Constitution was written in 1787, warned us of today’s possible outcome.  The insidious nature of the erosion of our liberties and the reassurance our great abundance gave us, allowed the process to evolve into the dangerous period in which we now live.

 

Dependency on Government Largesse

Today we face a dependency on government largesse for almost every need.  Our liberties are restricted and government operates outside the rule of law, protecting and rewarding those who buy or coerce government into satisfying their demands. Here are a few examples:

  • Undeclared wars are commonplace.
  • Welfare for the rich and poor is considered an entitlement.
  • The economy is overregulated, overtaxed and grossly distorted by a deeply flawed monetary system.
  • Debt is growing exponentially.
  • The Patriot Act and FISA legislation passed without much debate have resulted in a steady erosion of our 4th Amendment rights.
  • Tragically our government engages in preemptive war, otherwise known as aggression, with no complaints from the American people.
  • The drone warfare we are pursuing worldwide is destined to end badly for us as the hatred builds for innocent lives lost and the international laws flaunted. Once we are financially weakened and militarily challenged, there will be a lot resentment thrown our way.
  • It’s now the law of the land that the military can arrest American citizens, hold them indefinitely, without charges or a trial.
  • Rampant hostility toward free trade is supported by a large number in Washington.
  • Supporters of sanctions, currency manipulation and WTO trade retaliation, call the true free traders “isolationists.”
  • Sanctions are used to punish countries that don’t follow our orders.
  • Bailouts and guarantees for all kinds of misbehavior are routine.
  • Central economic planning through monetary policy, regulations and legislative mandates has been an acceptable policy.

 

Questions

Excessive government has created such a mess it prompts many questions:

  • Why are sick people who use medical marijuana put in prison?
  • Why does the federal government restrict the drinking of raw milk?
  • Why can’t Americans manufacturer rope and other products from hemp?
  • Why are Americans not allowed to use gold and silver as legal tender as mandated by the Constitution?
  • Why is Germany concerned enough to consider repatriating their gold held by the FED for her in New York?  Is it that the trust in the U.S. and dollar supremacy beginning to wane?
  • Why do our political leaders believe it’s unnecessary to thoroughly audit our own gold?
  • Why can’t Americans decide which type of light bulbs they can buy?
  • Why is the TSA permitted to abuse the rights of any American traveling by air?
  • Why should there be mandatory sentences—even up to life for crimes without victims—as our drug laws require?
  • Why have we allowed the federal government to regulate commodes in our homes?
  • Why is it political suicide for anyone to criticize AIPAC ?
  • Why haven’t we given up on the drug war since it’s an obvious failure and violates the people’s rights? Has nobody noticed that the authorities can’t even keep drugs out of the prisons? How can making our entire society a prison solve the problem?
  • Why do we sacrifice so much getting needlessly involved in border disputes and civil strife around the world and ignore the root cause of the most deadly border in the world-the one between Mexico and the US?
  • Why does Congress willingly give up its prerogatives to the Executive Branch?
  • Why does changing the party in power never change policy? Could it be that the views of both parties are essentially the same?
  • Why did the big banks, the large corporations, and foreign banks and foreign central banks get bailed out in 2008 and the middle class lost their jobs and their homes?
  • Why do so many in the government and the federal officials believe that creating money out of thin air creates wealth?
  • Why do so many accept the deeply flawed principle that government bureaucrats and politicians can protect us from ourselves without totally destroying the principle of liberty?
  • Why can’t people understand that war always destroys wealth and liberty?
  • Why is there so little concern for the Executive Order that gives the President authority to establish a “kill list,” including American citizens, of those targeted for assassination?
  • Why is patriotism thought to be blind loyalty to the government and the politicians who run it, rather than loyalty to the principles of liberty and support for the people? Real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it’s wrong.
  • Why is it is claimed that if people won’t  or can’t take care of their own needs, that people in government can do it for them?
  • Why did we ever give the government a safe haven for initiating violence against the people?
  • Why do some members defend free markets, but not civil liberties?
  • Why do some members defend civil liberties but not free markets? Aren’t they the same?
  • Why don’t more defend both economic liberty and personal liberty?
  • Why are there not more individuals who seek to intellectually influence others to bring about positive changes than those who seek power to force others to obey their commands?
  • Why does the use of religion to support a social gospel and preemptive wars, both of which requires authoritarians to use violence, or the threat of violence, go unchallenged? Aggression and forced redistribution of wealth has nothing to do with the teachings of the world great religions.
  • Why do we allow the government and the Federal Reserve to disseminate false information dealing with both economic and  foreign policy?
  • Why is democracy held in such high esteem when it’s the enemy of the minority and makes all rights relative to the dictates of the majority?
  • Why should anyone be surprised that Congress has no credibility, since there’s such a disconnect between what politicians say and what they do?
  • Is there any explanation for all the deception, the unhappiness, the fear of the future, the loss of confidence in our leaders, the distrust, the anger and frustration?   Yes there is, and there’s a way to reverse these attitudes.  The negative perceptions are logical and a consequence of bad policies bringing about our problems.  Identification of the problems and recognizing the cause allow the proper changes to come easy.

 

Trust Yourself, Not the Government

Too many people have for too long placed too much confidence and trust in government and not enough in themselves.  Fortunately, many are now becoming aware of the seriousness of the gross mistakes of the past several decades.  The blame is shared by both political parties.  Many Americans now are demanding to hear the plain truth of things and want the demagoguing to stop.  Without this first step, solutions are impossible.

Seeking the truth and finding the answers in liberty and self-reliance promotes the optimism necessary for restoring prosperity.  The task is not that difficult if politics doesn’t get in the way.

We have allowed ourselves to get into such a mess for various reasons.

Politicians deceive themselves as to how wealth is produced.  Excessive confidence is placed in the judgment of politicians and bureaucrats.  This replaces the confidence in a free society.  Too many in high places of authority became convinced that only they,   armed with arbitrary government power, can bring about fairness, while facilitating wealth production.  This always proves to be a utopian dream and destroys wealth and liberty.  It impoverishes the people and rewards the special interests who end up controlling both political parties.

It’s no surprise then that much of what goes on in Washington is driven by aggressive partisanship and power seeking, with philosophic differences being minor.

 

Economic Ignorance

Economic ignorance is commonplace.  Keynesianism continues to thrive, although today it is facing healthy and enthusiastic rebuttals.  Believers in military Keynesianism and domestic Keynesianism continue to desperately promote their failed policies, as the economy languishes in a deep slumber.

Supporters of all government edicts use humanitarian arguments to justify them.

Humanitarian arguments are always used to justify government mandates related to the economy, monetary policy, foreign policy, and personal liberty.  This is on purpose to make it more difficult to challenge.  But, initiating violence for humanitarian reasons is still violence.  Good intentions are no excuse and are just as harmful as when people use force with bad intentions.  The results are always negative.

The immoral use of force is the source of man’s political problems.  Sadly, many religious groups, secular organizations, and psychopathic authoritarians endorse government initiated force to change the world.  Even when the desired goals are well-intentioned—or especially when well-intentioned—the results are dismal.  The good results sought never materialize.  The new problems created require even more government force as a solution.  The net result is institutionalizing government initiated violence and morally justifying it on humanitarian grounds.

This is the same fundamental reason our government  uses force  for invading other countries at will, central economic planning at home, and the regulation of personal liberty and habits of our citizens.

It is rather strange, that unless one has a criminal mind and no respect for other people and their property, no one claims it’s permissible to go into one’s neighbor’s house and tell them how to behave, what they can eat, smoke and drink or how to spend their money.

Yet, rarely is it asked why it is morally acceptable that a stranger with a badge and a gun can do the same thing in the name of law and order.  Any resistance is met with brute force, fines, taxes, arrests, and even imprisonment. This is done more frequently every day without a proper search warrant.

 

No Government Monopoly over Initiating Violence

Restraining aggressive behavior is one thing, but legalizing a government monopoly for initiating aggression can only lead to exhausting liberty associated with chaos, anger and the breakdown of civil society.  Permitting such authority and expecting saintly behavior from the bureaucrats and the politicians is a pipe dream.  We now have a standing army of armed bureaucrats in the TSA, CIA, FBI, Fish and Wildlife, FEMA, IRS, Corp of Engineers, etc. numbering over 100,000.  Citizens are guilty until proven innocent in the unconstitutional administrative courts.

Government in a free society should have no authority to meddle in social activities or the economic transactions of individuals. Nor should government meddle in the affairs of other nations. All things peaceful, even when controversial, should be permitted.

We must reject the notion of prior restraint in economic activity just we do in the area of free speech and religious liberty. But even in these areas government is starting to use a backdoor approach of political correctness to regulate speech-a dangerous trend. Since 9/11 monitoring speech on the internet is now a problem since warrants are no longer required.

 

The Proliferation of Federal Crimes

The Constitution established four federal crimes.  Today the experts can’t even agree on how many federal crimes are now on the books—they number into the thousands.  No one person can comprehend the enormity of the legal system—especially the tax code.  Due to the ill-advised drug war and the endless federal expansion of the criminal code we have over 6 million people under correctional suspension, more than the Soviets ever had, and more than any other nation today, including China.  I don’t understand the complacency of the Congress and the willingness to continue their obsession with passing more Federal laws.  Mandatory sentencing laws associated with drug laws have compounded our prison problems.

The federal register is now 75,000 pages long and the tax code has 72,000 pages, and expands every year.  When will the people start shouting, “enough is enough,” and demand Congress cease and desist.

 

Achieving Liberty

Liberty can only be achieved when government is denied the aggressive use of force.  If one seeks liberty, a precise type of government is needed.  To achieve it, more than lip service is required.

Two choices are available.

  1. A government designed to protect liberty—a natural right—as its sole objective.  The people are expected to care for themselves and reject the use of any force for interfering with another person’s liberty.  Government is given a strictly limited authority to enforce contracts, property ownership, settle disputes, and defend against foreign aggression.
  2. A government that pretends to protect liberty but is granted power to arbitrarily use force over the people and foreign nations.  Though the grant of power many times is meant to be small and limited, it inevitably metastasizes into an omnipotent political cancer.  This is the problem for which the world has suffered throughout the ages.  Though meant to be limited it nevertheless is a 100% sacrifice of a principle that would-be-tyrants find irresistible.  It is used vigorously—though incrementally and insidiously.  Granting power to government officials always proves the adage that:  “power corrupts.”

Once government gets a limited concession for the use of force to mold people habits and plan the economy, it causes a steady move toward tyrannical government.  Only a revolutionary spirit can reverse the process and deny to the government this arbitrary use of aggression.  There’s no in-between.  Sacrificing a little liberty for imaginary safety always ends badly.

Today’s mess is a result of Americans accepting option #2, even though the Founders attempted to give us Option #1.

The results are not good.  As our liberties have been eroded our wealth has been consumed.  The wealth we see today is based on debt and a foolish willingness on the part of foreigners to take our dollars for goods and services. They then loan them back to us to perpetuate our debt system.  It’s amazing that it has worked for this long but the impasse in Washington, in solving our problems indicate that many are starting to understand the seriousness of the world -wide debt crisis and the dangers we face. The longer this process continues the harsher the outcome will be.

 

The Financial Crisis Is a Moral Crisis

Many are now acknowledging that a financial crisis looms but few understand it’s, in reality, a moral crisis.  It’s the moral crisis that has allowed our liberties to be undermined and permits the exponential growth of illegal government power.  Without a clear understanding of the nature of the crisis it will be difficult to prevent a steady march toward tyranny and the poverty that will accompany it.

Ultimately, the people have to decide which form of government they want; option #1 or option #2.  There is no other choice.  Claiming there is a choice of a “little” tyranny is like describing pregnancy as a “touch of pregnancy.”  It is a myth to believe that a mixture of free markets and government central economic planning is a worthy compromise.  What we see today is a result of that type of thinking.  And the results speak for themselves.

 

A Culture of Violence

American now suffers from a culture of violence.  It’s easy to reject the initiation of violence against one’s neighbor but it’s ironic that the people arbitrarily and freely anoint government officials with monopoly power to initiate violence against the American people—practically at will.

Because it’s the government that initiates force, most people accept it as being legitimate.  Those who exert the force have no sense of guilt.  It is believed by too many that governments are morally justified in initiating force supposedly to “do good.”  They incorrectly believe that this authority has come from the “consent of the people.”  The minority, or victims of government violence never consented to suffer the abuse of government mandates, even when dictated by the majority.  Victims of TSA excesses never consented to this abuse.

This attitude has given us a policy of initiating war to “do good,” as well. It is claimed that war, to prevent war for noble purposes, is justified.  This is similar to what we were once told that:  “destroying a village to save a village” was justified.  It was said by a US Secretary of State that the loss of 500,000 Iraqis, mostly children, in the 1990s, as a result of American bombs and sanctions, was “worth it” to achieve the “good” we brought to the Iraqi people.  And look at the mess that Iraq is in today.

Government use of force to mold social and economic behavior at home and abroad has justified individuals using force on their own terms.  The fact that violence by government is seen as morally justified, is the reason why violence will increase when the big financial crisis hits and becomes a political crisis as well.

First, we recognize that individuals shouldn’t initiate violence, then we give the authority to government.   Eventually, the immoral use of government violence, when things goes badly, will be used to justify an individual’s “right” to do the same thing. Neither the government nor individuals have the moral right to initiate violence against another yet we are moving toward the day when both will claim this authority.  If this cycle is not reversed society will break down.

When needs are pressing, conditions deteriorate and rights become relative to the demands and the whims of the majority.  It’s then not a great leap for individuals to take it upon themselves to use violence to get what they claim is theirs.  As the economy deteriorates and the wealth discrepancies increase—as are already occurring— violence increases as those in need take it in their own hands to get what they believe is theirs.  They will not wait for a government rescue program.

When government officials wield power over others to bail out the special interests, even with disastrous results to the average citizen, they feel no guilt for the harm they do. Those who take us into undeclared wars with many casualties resulting, never lose sleep over the death and destruction their bad decisions caused. They are convinced that what they do is morally justified, and the fact that many suffer   just can’t be helped.

When the street criminals do the same thing, they too have no remorse, believing they are only taking what is rightfully theirs.  All moral standards become relative.  Whether it’s bailouts, privileges, government subsidies or benefits for some from inflating a currency, it’s all part of a process justified by a philosophy of forced redistribution of wealth.  Violence, or a threat of such, is the instrument required and unfortunately is of little concern of most members of Congress.

Some argue it’s only a matter of “fairness” that those in need are cared for. There are two problems with this. First, the principle is used to provide a greater amount of benefits to the rich than the poor. Second, no one seems to be concerned about whether or not it’s fair to those who end up paying for the benefits. The costs are usually placed on the backs of the middle class and are hidden from the public eye. Too many people believe government handouts are free, like printing money out of thin air, and there is no cost. That deception is coming to an end. The bills are coming due and that’s what the economic slowdown is all about.

Sadly, we have become accustomed to living with the illegitimate use of force by government.  It is the tool for telling the people how to live, what to eat and drink, what to read and how to spend their money.

To develop a truly free society, the issue of initiating force must be understood and rejected.  Granting to government even a small amount of force is a dangerous concession.

 

Limiting Government Excesses vs. a Virtuous Moral People

Our Constitution, which was intended to limit government power and abuse, has failed.  The Founders warned that a free society depends on a virtuous and moral people.  The current crisis reflects that their concerns were justified.

Most politicians and pundits are aware of the problems we face but spend all their time in trying to reform government.  The sad part is that the suggested reforms almost always lead to less freedom and the importance of a virtuous and moral people is either ignored, or not understood. The new reforms serve only to further undermine liberty.  The compounding effect has given us this steady erosion of liberty and the massive expansion of debt.  The real question is: if it is liberty we seek, should most of the emphasis be placed on government reform or trying to understand what “a virtuous and moral people” means and how to promote it. The Constitution has not prevented the people from demanding handouts for both rich and poor in their efforts to reform the government, while ignoring the principles of a free society. All branches of our government today are controlled by individuals who use their power to undermine liberty and enhance the welfare/warfare state-and frequently their own wealth and power.

If the people are unhappy with the government performance it must be recognized that government is merely a reflection of an immoral society that rejected a moral government of constitutional limitations of power and love of freedom.

If this is the problem all the tinkering with thousands of pages of new laws and regulations will do nothing to solve the problem.

It is self-evident that our freedoms have been severely limited and the apparent prosperity we still have, is nothing more than leftover wealth from a previous time.  This fictitious wealth based on debt and benefits from a false trust in our currency and credit, will play havoc with our society when the bills come due.  This means that the full consequence of our lost liberties is yet to be felt.

But that illusion is now ending.  Reversing a downward spiral depends on accepting a new approach.

Expect the rapidly expanding homeschooling movement to play a significant role in the revolutionary reforms needed to build a free society with Constitutional protections. We cannot expect a Federal government controlled school system to provide the intellectual ammunition to combat the dangerous growth of government that threatens our liberties.

The internet will provide the alternative to the government/media complex that controls the news and most political propaganda. This is why it’s essential that the internet remains free of government regulation.

Many of our religious institutions and secular organizations support greater dependency on the state by supporting war, welfare and corporatism and ignore the need for a virtuous people.

I never believed that the world or our country could be made more free by politicians, if the people had no desire for freedom.

Under the current circumstances the most we can hope to achieve in the political process is to use it as a podium to reach the people to alert them of the nature of the crisis and the importance of their need to assume responsibility for themselves, if it is liberty that they truly seek.  Without this, a constitutionally protected free society is impossible.

If this is true, our individual goal in life ought to be for us to seek virtue and excellence and recognize that self-esteem and happiness only comes from using one’s natural ability, in the most productive manner possible, according to one’s own talents.

Productivity and creativity are the true source of personal satisfaction. Freedom, and not dependency, provides the environment needed to achieve these goals. Government cannot do this for us; it only gets in the way. When the government gets involved, the goal becomes a bailout or a subsidy and these cannot provide a sense of  personal achievement.

Achieving legislative power and political influence should not be our goal. Most of the change, if it is to come, will not come from the politicians, but rather from individuals, family, friends, intellectual leaders and our religious institutions.  The solution can only come from rejecting the use of coercion, compulsion, government commands, and aggressive force, to mold social and economic behavior.  Without accepting these restraints, inevitably the consensus will be to allow the government to mandate economic equality and obedience to the politicians who gain power and promote an environment that smothers the freedoms of everyone. It is then that the responsible individuals who seek excellence and self-esteem by being self-reliance and productive, become the true victims.

 

Conclusion                                                                                                                                                    

What are the greatest dangers that the American people face today and impede the goal of a free society? There are five.

1. The continuous attack on our civil liberties which threatens the rule of law and our ability to resist the onrush of tyranny.               

2. Violent anti-Americanism that has engulfed the world. Because the phenomenon of “blow-back” is not understood or denied, our foreign policy is destined to keep us involved in many wars that we have no business being in. National bankruptcy and a greater threat to our national security will result.                                                         

3. The ease in which we go to war, without a declaration by Congress, but accepting international authority from the UN or NATO even for preemptive wars, otherwise known as aggression.                                        

4. A financial political crisis as a consequence of excessive debt, unfunded liabilities, spending, bailouts, and gross discrepancy in wealth distribution going from the middle class to the rich. The danger of central economic planning, by the Federal Reserve must be understood.                                               

 5. World government taking over  local and US sovereignty by getting involved in the issues of war, welfare, trade, banking,  a world currency, taxes, property ownership, and private ownership of guns.

Happily, there is an answer for these very dangerous trends.                                                     

What a wonderful world it would be if everyone accepted the simple moral premise of rejecting all acts of aggression.  The retort to such a suggestion is always:  it’s too simplistic, too idealistic, impractical, naïve, utopian, dangerous, and unrealistic to strive for such an ideal.

The answer to that is that for thousands of years the acceptance of government force, to rule over the people, at the sacrifice of liberty, was considered moral and the only available option for achieving peace and prosperity.

What could be more utopian than that myth—considering the results especially looking at the state sponsored killing, by nearly every government during the 20th Century, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions.  It’s time to reconsider this grant of authority to the state.

No good has ever come from granting monopoly power to the state to use aggression against the people to arbitrarily mold human behavior.  Such power, when left unchecked, becomes the seed of an ugly tyranny.  This method of governance has been adequately tested, and the results are in: reality dictates we try liberty.

The idealism of non-aggression and rejecting all offensive use of force should be tried.  The idealism of government sanctioned violence has been abused throughout history and is the primary source of poverty and war.  The theory of a society being based on individual freedom has been around for a long time.  It’s time to take a bold step and actually permit it by advancing this cause, rather than taking a step backwards as some would like us to do.

Today the principle of habeas corpus, established when King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215, is under attack. There’s every reason to believe that a renewed effort with the use of the internet that we can instead advance the cause of liberty by spreading an uncensored message that will serve to rein in government authority and challenge the obsession with war and welfare.

What I’m talking about is a system of government guided by the moral principles of peace and tolerance.

The Founders were convinced that a free society could not exist without a moral people.  Just writing rules won’t work if the people choose to ignore them.  Today the rule of law written in the Constitution has little meaning for most Americans, especially those who work in Washington DC.

Benjamin Franklin claimed “only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”  John Adams concurred:  “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

A moral people must reject all violence in an effort to mold people’s beliefs or habits.

A society that boos or ridicules the Golden Rule is not a moral society.  All great religions endorse the Golden Rule.  The same moral standards that individuals are required to follow should apply to all government officials.  They cannot be exempt.

The ultimate solution is not in the hands of the government.

The solution falls on each and every individual, with guidance from family, friends and community.

The #1 responsibility for each of us is to change ourselves with hope that others will follow.  This is of greater importance than working on changing the government; that is secondary to promoting a virtuous society.  If we can achieve this, then the government will change.

It doesn’t mean that political action or holding office has no value. At times it does nudge policy in the right direction. But what is true is that when seeking office is done for personal aggrandizement, money or power, it becomes useless if not harmful. When political action is taken for the right reasons it’s easy to understand why compromise should be avoided. It also becomes clear why progress is best achieved by working with coalitions, which bring people together, without anyone sacrificing his principles.

Political action, to be truly beneficial, must be directed toward changing the hearts and minds of the people, recognizing that it’s the virtue and morality of the people that allow liberty to flourish.

The Constitution or more laws per se, have no value if the people’s attitudes aren’t changed.

To achieve liberty and peace, two powerful human emotions have to be overcome.  Number one is “envy” which leads to hate and class warfare.  Number two is “intolerance” which leads to bigoted and judgmental policies.  These emotions must be replaced with a much better understanding of love, compassion, tolerance and free market economics. Freedom, when understood, brings people together. When tried, freedom is popular.

The problem we have faced over the years has been that economic interventionists are swayed by envy, whereas social interventionists are swayed by intolerance of habits and lifestyles. The misunderstanding that tolerance is an endorsement of certain activities, motivates many to legislate moral standards which should only be set by individuals making their own choices. Both sides use force to deal with these misplaced emotions. Both are authoritarians. Neither endorses voluntarism.  Both views ought to be rejected.

I have come to one firm conviction after these many years of trying to figure out “the plain truth of things.”  The best chance for achieving peace and prosperity, for the maximum number of people world-wide, is to pursue the cause of LIBERTY.

If you find this to be a worthwhile message, spread it throughout the land.

Temporary, Partial Retirement

I’ve decided to take early retirement from the blogosphere.  The $0.00 retirement salary that comes with this is probably the best rate I will get and matches my full current salary.  Joking aside, I started this site because I felt it was important and needed.  At this point in time, I feel that my spare time will be better used on other persuits.  I will still post comments and would be glad to enter dialogue on any subject covered.

That said, I recommend this site to anyone.   The attempt has been to look at what has been taught from the scriptures, modern prophets, world leaders, and many sources from the political left, right, and center to try and distinguish truth and error.  I believe the ideas (in general) found here represent a great picture of principles as they need to be understood to have all of these sources in harmony.  Because error and falsehood are so common in the world today, I invite the reader to thoughtfully consider the points brought up in the posts and other sections before accepting many of the arguments of the day.  Also because human error will always exist, I invite the reader to bring to my attention any oversight that may be found.  Many thanks.

The Gift And The Giver

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift?  Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift. (D&C 88:33)

The story is told of two young men who happened to be walking near the farm of a poor man.  He had removed his shoes to work in a wet area and the young men spotted the shoes.  After discussing possible pranks for a minute, one of them suggested they put a dollar in each shoe, then hide to see his reaction.  The young men did this, and shortly he returned.  Putting on his shoes, he found the money.  Unable to locate anyone, the man fell to his knees and thanked the Lord for the gift given.  Viewing this, the young men were also filled with gratitude and felt they had received the greater gift.

Time to analyze the story a bit in order to decide what are the gifts, and who are the givers.  The poor farmer clearly received a gift, more than one gift may be more accurate.  He received some money which he needed.  Perhaps more important was the gift of knowing that the Lord cared about his situation and loved him.  Being filled with gratitude is a gift.  The young men received a gift in feeling the spirit of the Lord, and realizing that they had been an instrument for him to bless the farmer.  All of them received the gifts offered.  We quickly understand that the Lord was the major giver.  We must also add that the young men made the decision to give the gift that started it all of their own free will, though most likely with a push from above.  Thus we see that earthly blessings are under a joint stewardship.  The Lord and the young men both had to decide to give.  If one of them didn’t want to join in, nothing would have worked.  Because they jointly decided to give a little, the Lord added many other gifts.  All of them rejoiced in the gifts and the giver.

Now we’re past the “feel good” part and about to jump into the deep water, so we’ll need to keep in mind a couple of things.  First, what is being posted is not an attempt to push anything political.  The attempt is to expand understanding of a political idea, which, I believe, looking at most of the religious political comments I see, is not well understood.  Second, we need to keep in mind the ad hominem fallacy.  This is the idea that something is true or false because of who said it.  In writing, we often quote people who are trusted to help the reader trust the idea quoted.  We often don’t quote certain persons because we don’t want the bias associated with the name to get in the way of understanding.  For example, I may quote Einstein as saying, “two plus two equals four.”  This gives a trusted and intelligent atmosphere to help the reader understand the mathematical equation.  I probably wouldn’t quote Adolf Hitler as saying, “two plus two equals four.”  The reader’s mind could well get so caught up in who Hitler was, or what he did, or why he may have said this, that the point of the simple equation could be lost.  Overcoming the ad hominem fallacy requires separating the thing said from who said it and analyzing the truth (or error) of the idea on its own merits.  We will do well to keep this in mind going forward.

With the preliminaries out of the way, we’ll get to the subject of this post–the political ideas of Ezra Taft Benson.  I rarely quote Benson, mainly because of the ad hominem fallacy.  About half the people who read will miss the point because they are generally opposed to what he said and tune out immediately.  The other near-half will miss the point because they pretty much agree with whatever is quoted and are so sure of it that their attention is lost.  What I want to accomplish here (and I won’t quote Benson to do it) is to share some understanding as to why Elder/President Benson was so vocal about his poltical beliefs, and hopefully, open the mind to what he was actually saying.  To do this, the best source I have found came from Gordon B. Hinckley from his talk at Pres. Benson’s funeral.  Pres. Hinckley about Pres. Benson:

Throughout the years of his mature life, when he walked with presidents and kings, he never lost the touch of his boyhood farm days.  He never lost his capacity for work.  He never lost the will to rise at dawn and work into the night.  But there was more than a tremendous habit of work that came out of that boyhood home.  There was a certain strength that comes from the soil.  There was a constant reminder of the dictum given Adam and Eve when they were driven from the garden: ”In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground”  (Gen. 3:19).  A spirit of self-reliance was built into those who worked the soil.  There were no government farm programs then, no subsidies of any kind.  The vagaries of the seasons had to be accepted.  Killing frosts, unseasonal storms, wind, and drought were all accepted as the risks of life against which there was no available insurance.  Storage against a day of want was a necessity, else there would be hunger.  The constant resource against the risks of life was prayer, prayer to our eternal, loving Father, the Almighty God of the universe.

There was much of prayer in that little home in Whitney, Idaho.  There was family prayer, night and morning, in which thanks was expressed for life with its challenges and opportunities, and in which pleas were made for strength to do the work of the day.  Those in need were remembered, and when the family arose from their knees, the mother, who was the ward Relief Society president, would have the buggy loaded to share food with those in need, her eldest son as her driver.  Those lessons were never lost.  Brother Benson, who later served as president of the Boise Idaho Stake, was a pioneer in the great welfare program of the Church.  An overwhelming sense of responsibility for the needy that he carried throughout his life found its roots in his boyhood home, in the prayers of his family, and in the good and generous deeds his mother gladly performed without fanfare or notice.

Brother Monson has spoken of the tremendous work he did when, as a member of the Council of the Twelve, he was sent to Europe to bring succor to our people who were hungry and destitute at the end of the war.  The hand that reached out to those impoverished people was the same hand which many years earlier had helped his mother in assisting the distressed of the little ward in which he grew up.

I was at the Swiss Temple in 1955 when it was dedicated by President David O. McKay.  Brother Benson was there.  President Harold Gregory of the Berlin Mission was able to bring a company of Saints to the temple on that occasion.  I will never forget what I witnessed.  When they saw Brother Benson, they ran to him and they embraced one another, with tears rolling down their cheeks and tears rolling down his cheeks.  Ten years earlier he had come almost as an angel from heaven with food when they were hungy and with hope when they were desperate.

[My note:  This is a really inspiring story, as Elder Benson risked his life with no thought except that he was on the Lord's errand to go to Berlin.]

I am confident that it was out of what he saw of the bitter fruit of dictatorship that he developed his strong feelings, almost hatred, for communism and socialism.  That distaste grew through the years as he witnessed the heavy-handed oppression and suffering of the peoples of eastern Europe under what he repeatedly described as godless communism.

These experiences further strengthened his love for the land of his birth.  He had grown up in big sky country, where there was a spirit of freedom and independence.  He had grown up in the tradition of his forebears, who spoke reverently of those who were raised up by the Almighty to establish this nation and who had pledged “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” to the cause of liberty.  He never got over his boyhood love for freedom.  Rather it grew within him, nurtured by what he saw of oppression in other lands and by what he observed firsthand of a growing dominance of government in this land over the lives of the people.

He was constantly within the glare of the spotlight of public scrutiny.  He was absolutely fearless in speaking out against what he regarded as oppressive programs that shackled the farmer and did injury to him while masquerading as his protector and benefactor.  His picture appeared on the covers of the leading national news magazines.  Editorialists and commentators denounced him.  But without fear or favor, without political or personal consideration, he spoke his mind and won the plaudits of millions across this nation.  Even those who disagreed with his policies were forced to respect his logic, his wisdom, and his convictions.  They came to know that he knew whereof he spoke.  He had once been a dirt-digging, hands-on, sweating farmer.  He spoke out of that experience.  But he spoke also with the skill and refinement of an educated mind, with the skill of a trained debator, and out of a conviction deep and intense that came of a love for freedom to live one’s own life and direct one’s own affairs.

 I believe this speech very simply sums up what Ezra Taft Benson really envisioned.  He grew up in a society where people understood that they depend on God for everything.  It was known that prayer was the most important part of the day.  Because there were no government programs or social insurances, the community worked together in true charity.  While life must have often been a struggle, there is something Zion-like about this community.  It “tastes good” when compared with our day where “good fences make good neighbors” is a common theme.  Who doesn’t want this?

In the media today, I read many things suggesting that those who would have less government programs are hateful or against the poor in one way or another.  On the contrary, I believe that the experience of Brother Benson speaks to the heart of those who desire less government.  In their heart is often true charity and the desire for a loving society.  A society where wealth is shared on the basis of love.  A society that recognizes by experience that everything comes from God.  A society that raises young men and women with a mold from which a Prophet came.  A society that recognizes and loves the gift and the giver.

Idealogical Diversity

I recently read a study which showed how attitudes in the United States have changed over the years.  Overall, our nation is very accepting of diversity in just about every way.  There was one exception, idealogical diversity.  We tend to be tolerant of just about anything except people who think differently than we do.  I believe this holds true, if we look at the political polarization that seems to continually increase.  I would like to propose a couple of ideas regarding this.

First, there is no political agenda that can do so much good that it can counteract the negative effects of anger toward our fellow man.  If I feel anger over anything political, it is time to give it up.  It’s not worth it.

Second, I believe we have rough times coming, regardless of who gets elected.  If we allow political differences or blaming to effect how we treat our neighbor, we could be in real trouble.  Historically, this is the difference between tough times and total meltdown.

I believe there is a place for political dialogue and discussion.  I believe we can talk openly about any idea that exists.  I believe we can disagree without becoming disagreeable or allowing it to destroy our love for our neighbors.  If we can learn to do this, our discussion can be a positive thing toward understanding others and gaining knowledge.  If we can’t learn to do this, we probably need to re-focus on what is really important.  If we truly believe in diversity, I believe this must include idealogical diversity.

The Love Of Money

As we consider the building of a society that can bring us closer to the principles of Zion, money and how it it is properly handled becomes a constant issue.  I believe that the idea of Zion has at its base an equality held in the heart of all the people.  No one feels in his or her heart that they are above or below anyone else in any way.  In thinking this way, I stumbled on an article that gave some interesting points to think on.  I’ll quote a portion of it.

The first pre-requisite of the establishment of a “society” of the rulers and the ruled has always been the same.  The rulers must gain control over the medium of exchange.  For obvious reasons, no nation can ever progress to a state of advanced economic activity until a medium of exchange is established.  Once it is established, there is no going back.  An advanced economy cannot operate by means of barter.  The problem is that once the government or the rulers gain control of money, it progressively ceases to be a medium of exchange and becomes a medium of control.  That impinges on the functioning of markets which in turn impinges on the maintenance of property rights.  Thus, we come full circle from a free society to a command society.  There has never been any shortage of those who want to rule.  The problem has always been with the vast majority who are content to be ruled.  Today’s global outcry for the manufacturing of more and more “money” out of thin air is an eloquent testimony.  It shows that most people have no understanding of freedom, markets or money.  Lacking such understanding–and having no desire to gain it–most people have accepted government as their masters.

As Robert Heinlein stated the problem–it is impossible to free a serf or a slave.  He or she must free themselves and most are much more terrified of that prospect than they are resentful of being ruled. (From The Rulers and the Ruled, by Bill Buckler)

Note a similar story in the Bible, when Joseph saved Egypt from the great famine.  Genesis 47: 15-20, 23.

And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth.

And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail.

And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year.

When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not ought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands:

Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land?  buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh:  and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate.

And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them:  so the land became Pharoh’s.

Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh:  lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land.

I have before discussed how money is used to control people in our society, so I won’t dwell on it too long.  Just consider that when those in power offer something for “free”, that is the rulers telling us that item or action is what society desires.  When something is to be taxed or made expensive, that item is bad or to be shunned.  Over time, this “social engineering” becomes our culture and belief.

It seems, if I follow his ideas well, that we are presented with somewhat of a dilemma.  The real reason for the love of money and the reason it would be described as the root of all evil, would be that it is actually seeking control.  It creates this unequal relationship that needs to be avoided.  However, on the flip side, to fully shun money would be to choose to be the “ruled” which is also an inequality and gets us no closer to where we need to be.  The only answer I can come up with is that the righteous use of money is the only thing that really helps.  Seek first the Kingdom of God and then you may obtain riches, if you seek them, but you will seek them to do good.