Archive for the ‘government’ Category

Tricked on the Fourth of July

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Tricked on the Fourth of July

by Gary North

I do not celebrate the fourth of July. This goes back to a term paper I wrote in graduate school. It was on colonial taxation in the British North American colonies in 1775. Not counting local taxation, I discovered that the total burden of British imperial taxation was about 1% of national income. It may have been as high as 2.5% in the southern colonies.

In 2008, Alvin Rabushka’s book of almost 1,000 pages appeared: Taxation in Colonial America (Princeton University Press). In a review published in the Business History Review, the reviewer summarizes the book’s findings.

Rabushka’s most original and impressive contribution is his measurement of tax rates and tax burdens. However, his estimate of comparative trans-Atlantic tax burdens may be a bit of moving target. At one point, he concludes that, in the period from 1764 to 1775, “the nearly two million white colonists in America paid on the order of about 1 percent of the annual taxes levied on the roughly 8.5 million residents of Britain, or one twenty-fifth, in per capita terms, not taking into account the higher average income and consumption in the colonies” (p. 729). Later, he writes that, on the eve of the Revolution, “British tax burdens were ten or more times heavier than those in the colonies” (p. 867). Other scholars may want to refine his estimates, based on other archival sources, different treatment of technical issues such as the adjustment of intercolonial and trans-Atlantic comparisons for exchange rates, or new estimates of comparative income and wealth. Nonetheless, no one is likely to challenge his most important finding: the huge tax gap between the American periphery and the core of the British Empire.

The colonists had a sweet deal in 1775. Great Britain was the second freest nation on earth. Switzerland was probably the most free nation, but I would be hard-pressed to identify any other nation in 1775 that was ahead of Great Britain. And in Great Britain’s Empire, the colonists were by far the freest.

I will say it, loud and clear: the freest society on earth in 1775 was British North America, with the exception of the slave system. Anyone who was not a slave had incomparable freedom.

Jefferson wrote these words in the Declaration of Independence:

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

I can think of no more misleading political assessment uttered by any leader in the history of the United States. No words having such great impact historically in this nation were less true. No political bogeymen invoked by any political sect as “the liar of the century” ever said anything as verifiably false as these words.

The Continental Congress declared independence on July 2, 1776. Some members signed the Declaration on July 4. The public in general believed the leaders at the Continental Congress. They did not understand what they were about to give up. They could not see what price in blood and treasure and debt they would soon pay. And they did not foresee the tax burden in the new nation after 1783.

In an article on taxation in that era, Rabushka gets to the point.

Historians have written that taxes in the new American nation rose and remained considerably higher, perhaps three times higher, than they were under British rule. More money was required for national defense than previously needed to defend the frontier from Indians and the French, and the new nation faced other expenses.

So, as a result of the American Revolution, the tax burden tripled.

The debt burden soared as soon as the Revolution began. Monetary inflation wiped out the currency system. Price controls in 1777 produced the debacle of Valley Forge. Percy Greaves, a disciple of Ludwig von Mises and for 17 years an attendee at his seminar, wrote this in 1972.

Our Continental Congress first authorized the printing of Continental notes in 1775. The Congress was warned against printing more and more of them. In a 1776 pamphlet, Pelatiah Webster, America’s first economist, told his fellow men that Continental currency might soon become worthless unless something was done to curb the further printing and issuance of this paper money.

The people and the Congress refused to listen to his wise advice. With more and more paper money in circulation, consumers kept bidding up prices. Pork rose from 4¢ to 8¢ a pound. Beef soared from about 4¢ to 100 a pound. As one historian tells us, “By November, 1777, commodity prices were 480% above the prewar average.”

The situation became so bad in Pennsylvania that the people and legislature of this state decided to try “a period of price control, limited to domestic commodities essential for the use of the army.” It was thought that this would reduce the cost of feeding and supplying our Continental Army. It was expected to reduce the burden of war.

The prices of uncontrolled, imported goods then went sky high, and it was almost impossible to buy any of the domestic commodities needed for the Army. The controls were quite arbitrary. Many farmers refused to sell their goods at the prescribed prices. Few would take the paper Continentals. Some, with large families to feed and clothe, sold their farm products stealthily to the British in return for gold. For it was only with gold that they could buy the necessities of life which they could not produce for themselves.

On December 5, 1777, the Army’s Quartermaster-General, refusing to pay more than the government-set prices, issued a statement from his Reading, Pennsylvania headquarters saying, “If the farmers do not like the prices allowed them for this produce let them choose men of more learning and understanding the next election.”

This was the winter of Valley Forge, the very nadir of American history. On December 23, 1777, George Washington wrote to the President of the Congress, “that, notwithstanding it is a standing order, and often repeated, that the troops shall always have two days’ provisions by them, that they might be ready at any sudden call; yet an opportunity has scarcely ever offered, of taking an advantage of the enemy, that has not been either totally obstructed, or greatly impeded, on this account…. we have no less than two thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight men now in camp unfit for duty, because they are barefoot and otherwise naked…. I am now convinced beyond a doubt, that, unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place, this army must inevitably be reduced to one or other of these three things: starve, dissolve, or disperse in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner they can.”

Only after the price control law was repealed in 1778 could the army buy goods again. But the hyperinflation of the continentals and state-issued currencies replaced the pre-Revolution system of silver currency: Spanish pieces of eight.

The proponents of independence invoked British tyranny in North America. There was no British tyranny, and surely not in North America.

In 1872, Frederick Engels wrote an article, “On Authority.” He criticized anarchists, whom he called anti-authoritarians. His description of the authoritarian character of all armed revolutions should remind us of the costs of revolution.

A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon – authoritarian means, if such there be at all; and if the victorious party does not want to have fought in vain, it must maintain this rule by means of the terror which its arms inspire in the reactionists.

After the American Revolution, 46,000 American loyalists fled to Canada. They were not willing to swear allegiance to the new colonial governments. The retained their loyalty to the nation that had delivered to them the greatest liberty on earth. They had not committed treason.

The revolutionaries are not remembered as treasonous. John Harrington told us why sometime around 1600. “Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

The victors write the history books.

What would libertarians – even conservatives – give today in order to return to an era in which the central government extracted 1% of the nation’s wealth? Where there was no income tax?

Would they describe such a society as tyrannical?

That the largest signature on the Declaration of Independence was signed by the richest smuggler in North America was no coincidence. He was hopping mad. Parliament in 1773 had cut the tax on tea imported by the British East India Company, so the cost of British tea went lower than the smugglers’ cost on non-British tea. This had cost Hancock a pretty penny. The Tea Party had stopped the unloading of the tea by throwing privately owned tea off a privately owned ship – a ship in competition with Hancock’s ships. The Boston Tea Party was in fact a well-organized protest against lower prices stemming from lower taxes.

So, once again, I shall not celebrate the fourth of July.

Dennis Kucinich – May 31, 2011

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Personal Secession – The Way to Freedom

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Personal Secession – The Way to Freedom

by Michael S. Rozeff

Certain people and groups in California want to ban male circumcision, and they are getting measures placed on local ballots for voting.

In Louisiana, there is some sort of law about the teaching of the creation of man in the public schools that has people who dislike that law all riled up and seeking repeal.

Women in Egypt are bitterly divided between those who favor sharia law for Egypt and those who favor secular law.

The State of Arizona has a law that legalizes medical marijuana. The Governor is suing the State of Arizona against this law because it conflicts with federal law.

President Bush “launched missiles and bombs at targets in Iraq” in March of 2003, an action of which 25 percent of Americans disapproved at the time. That figure rose to 53 percent within 8 months.

What do the above items have in common?

They all involve laws approved of by some and disapproved of by others. In all cases, there are winners and losers. The winners get their favorite laws passed. The losers have to obey.

In all cases, the losers have no choice.

You can’t smoke in a bar. You must use a bicycle helmet. You cannot use an incandescent light bulb. You cannot place phosphates in soap. You must use a front-loading washing machine. Your shower cannot pump at above a specified rate. Your toilet cannot go above a specified number of gallons. You must pay taxes for government programs. You must accept Federal Reserve Notes in payments. A bank must report cash transactions over a specified size. You cannot buy marijuana. You cannot simply buy a gun.

If circumcision is banned in San Francisco, those who want to circumcise their babies will have to go elsewhere. In Louisiana, the public schools, and maybe even private schools who can’t find an exemption on some grounds, will teach what the legislature tells them to teach. In Egypt, either sharia law will be in or it will be out, for everyone. In the individual states, either they will be allowed to pass medical marijuana laws or else the federal law will be the rule. Clinton, Bush, and Obama and the Congress will launch their missiles wherever they please even if large numbers of Americans disapprove, and they will extract the resources to do this in the form of taxes whether you like it or not.

These examples all involve voting and democracies, but the same division between winners and losers occurs in other forms of government such as monarchies and dictatorships.

They all have in common that there are always groups of people who want to impose their views on everyone. They all have in common that every such group aims to use government as the instrument to fulfill their ardent desires.

I feel sorry for the human race. The thinking and emotional makeup of most people are so impoverished that they cannot find a way to live without imposing their views on as many other people as they can. It is not enough for them to preach their views. They feel they have to pass a law or somehow use the government to make everyone else conform to their wishes.

I felt sadness when I read about the woman pushing for a circumcision law. It doesn’t matter what her reasons are. Everyone always comes up with reasons. Bush had his reasons. Obama has his reasons. The Louisiana legislators had their reasons. I’m not debating the reasons or the substance of any of these many debates. I’m not interested in choosing up sides.

I feel sad because the desire to pass a law and impose one’s own views on everyone else is, to my way of thinking, so stupid, so ignorant, so limited in vision, so immoral, so anti-human, so devoid of understanding, so unloving, so distorted, so anti-freedom, so anti-voluntaristic, so anti-individual, so unreasonable, so intolerant, and so against the person.

Government in its present condition is a factory that constantly manufactures new kinds of ropes, manacles, gags, and handcuffs with which it binds everyone. This is what most people accept.

I am amazed, totally amazed, that people do not see or admit the contradiction between the American rhetoric of freedom and what actually goes down, and between that rhetoric and their own attempts to vote in the candidates of their choice and impose their programs on everyone else!

Through the instrument of government, there are countless groups and political parties organized with the sole purpose of making slaves out of everyone. Is this not a self-evident truth? No, it is not, because every such group and party attempts to provide reasons why its program is a good thing. They would bitterly dispute my contention that their aim is to impose slavery on everyone.

One government for all cannot coexist with freedom. They are mutually exclusive.

Let those who wish to build missiles and shoot them into Tripoli do so at their own cost and risk and for themselves only. Let those who wish to form and pay for a military that trains every nation on earth how to interdict drugs do so at their own cost and risk and for themselves only. Let those who wish to form a legislature that enacts their version of religion do so at their own cost and risk and for themselves only. Let those who wish to pass a law that forbids drug use do so for themselves only. Let those who wish to pass a law that forbids circumcision do so for themselves only. Let those who wish to tax themselves and give the proceeds away to those in need do so for themselves only. Let those who wish to guarantee medical care for all those in their group do so at their own cost and risk and for themselves only.

If we actually want freedom and not slavery, we cannot have one government for all. Freedom and one government for all are inconsistent with one another. They contradict one another. To have one government and simultaneously to have freedom is an impossibility.

To arrive at greater freedom, one has to have the freedom to remove the manacles imposed by a government that presumes to be the government for all. One has to be able to opt out of government laws. One has to be able to secede personally from a government.

Personal secession manifests one’s personal freedom to choose a government (or no government) of one’s desires, by oneself or in association with other people.

For further reading on personal secession and secession by groups, one can use a search engine. After writing the above, I searched on secession movements. One site that came up was secession.net. Their statement of principles is well worth reading. They advocate something close to personal secession, namely, community-based secession. The difference between them is trivial.

For example, this site writes

PRIMACY OF THE RIGHT TO SECEDE

The primary political right of the individual and of political communities must be to secede from any larger political entity, whether they were born into it, were forced to join it, or voluntarily joined it. If one denies or relinquishes that right, one is little more than a slave–and no agreement to become a slave can be legally or morally binding.

Secession of individuals and communities does not have to mean war and violence. It should be a natural evolutionary feature of all political entities. Communities can form networks or confederations, since secession is accepted by both in principle. However, communities will not form “federations” which by definition do not allow secession. We will suggest practical and nonviolent means by which such separation can occur and the kinds of networks and confederations that could be created to replace oppressive nation states.

COMMUNITY-BASED SECESSION:

In the name of nationalism, religion, ideology, tradition or “the common good,” the governments of the world suppress individual liberty and individuals’ control of their own communities. Special interest- corporate- state- bureaucratic- military elites worldwide tax, regulate, bully, beat, prosecute, jail and execute citizens into submission. They discriminate against, rob, ethnically cleanse and genocide members of oppressed racial/ethnic/religious/regional groups. Without government control, these elites would have little real power over individuals and communities.

The concept of individual liberty is simple: individuals should be free to do whatever they please as long as they don’t harm others by using force or fraud. This is the basic ethical tenet or “golden rule” of all religions, one corrupted by layers of theology and ritual and centuries of kowtowing to political authority. Individual consent–not some nationalist, racial, religious, tribal or, ideological construct or “social contract”–is the only legitimate basis of any social, economic and political organization. However, supporting the idea and value of individual liberty is not enough to obtain liberty. We must support institutional structures that make it impossible for public or private entities to crush individual liberty.

Contrast personal secession with the U.S. government’s notions of “security” and “democracy” and “welfare” for all of America. The U.S. vision is actually a highly limited vision that pretends to be a universal vision. Its thrust is to the common and general. It is certainly a monopolistic vision. Ultimately, it is a static and one-sided totalitarian vision. A totalitarian vision within the United States is continually being enacted and made real. It is not that of Orwell or Huxley although some of their elements are present. At present it is a suffocating and deadening vision in which political correctness holds sway and in which government makes countless rules that control many aspects of life, while allowing outlets in certain directions that vent the pressures. The government’s vision is of oneness, sameness, monotony, regularity, perfect safety and security, regimentation, and boredom. It crushes the personal and the individual.

The U.S. government is even making strenuous efforts to promote this vision in foreign governments.

Democracy is not freedom. It is the suppression of freedom. This takes different forms in different countries. In America, the current obsession is with security and safety in every aspect of life. The government intrudes everywhere with these as its rationales. This is the American totalitarianism.

Personal secession allows for multiple visions of life and living. It allows for dynamism, creativity, personal development along new lines, invention, discovery, and adventure. It allows for variation and newness. It allows for development along unexpected lines. It allows for mistakes and learning from mistakes, new and untried ventures, new ways, new customs, and new ideas. It allows for personal risk-taking. It emphasizes the personal and individual. It is pluralistic. It is voluntaristic.

Personal secession means freedom and all that freedom entails.

June 6, 2011

Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book The U.S. Constitution and Money: Corruption and Decline.

Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

The Last Nail

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Beware, Citizen! Here Are Ron Paul’s 15 Most ‘Extreme’ Positions

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Superman to Renounce US Citizenship

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Superman to Renounce US Citizenship

Hypocrites Galore!

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

I am so sick of this world!

It consists of nothing but hypocrites! Every relationship is built on a lie.

What have they all turned out to be? Hypocrites!

Hypocrites is the name one applies to those who practice hypocrisy.

So what is hypocrisy?

Wikipedia has the best definition and here it is.

“Hypocrisy is an unconscious self-contradiction: a state of incongruence between one’s professed beliefs and feelings and one’s actual beliefs and feelings, or an application of a criticism to others that one does not apply to oneself.”

How about them so-called Christians? A sorry lot if there was ever was a sorry lot of so-called human beings! How about them bastard children? “Oh, we are followers of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior who sacrificed his life to save us from sin.”

And the incongruent part? “Never mind that we worship Satan Himself by our actions of supporting the Son of Satan, the United State Federal Government and its respective progenitors, the so-called state governments who have also prostrated themselves before Satan Himself in all of their war-like behavior!”

This I promise! There will be a moment before you pass into everlasting bliss provided to you by God our Father in His infinite mercy and grace that you will fathom the utter sickness of your sorry condition and you will realize just how unworthy you are to see the face of our Lord. Then and only then will you realize the depth of his love to those who least deserve it!

You and your kind have brought hell on to this earth. Damn good thing your silly ass beliefs will not rule in heaven!

Ron McKinney
4-21-2011

Visit to the Memorial?

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

My dear wife went to a “memorial” presented by the Jehovah Witnesses this evening. In fact, she is there now. I am not even sure what it is? Maybe someone with a certain amount of Jehovah Witness enlightenment could turn me on to what a “memorial” is.

I suppose it is something similar to a Baptist version of the Lord’s Supper. Or in layman’s terms a little drinking of grape juice and crackers simulating the taking of the body and blood of Christ in some sort of symbolism that the Jehovah’s are one in spirit with Christ our Lord? Not in this life without I have heard, the grape juice and the crackers.

How do you explain the spirit of Christ? In many respects it is similar to the vision of the Christians both Baptist and Jehovah Witnesses and other denominations express for some future date. However, what most Christian fail to understand is that this is NOT a reality brought about by Jesus Christ over the objections of his brothers. It is a reality brought about by the change of mind of Jesus’ brothers in Christ. In simple terms, and you Christians need simplicity, Jesus Christ is not going to bring it about. If it is to be brought into your reality then it will be brought into your reality by you!

In other words, if you do not make it happen it will not happen! Simple isn’t it? It is you who must change. Jesus will not do it for you! That would be objectionable to all the laws of the universe and that is not going to happen!

Dreaming of a world without the federal government and state governments and Christ as King? Christ will not force it on you. It must come from you. Reject the governments from hell and acknowledge Christ as King. NOW! And so it will be. Think that Jesus will come sometimes in the future to save your sorry ass and it will never occur. Dream on!

This is the real problem all you so-called Christians have. You have not the spiritual fortitude to bring about real spiritual change in your own life. You act like a victim and put it off on Jesus to save your sorry ass when your own salvation lies in your own decisions!

Put away satan in whatever form it takes and I guarantee you it takes the form of federal and state governments first and foremost!!!!

“7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” 1st Samuel Chapter 8.

Come on Jehovah’s, tell me how this squares with Paul’s bullshit of “God anointed government” horse manure? It does not. Paul (or whoever wrote that crap in Romans 13 was a fucking Nazi just like you are!)

For the simpleton in our midst what is God our Father saying?

Give the jackasses their damned in hell king (or government), it is what they want. It is I they have rejected! Want God? Then reject government! You cannot have both! They are mutually exclusive? Have problems understanding English? Do a Google search for “mutually exclusive.”

Ron McKinney
4-17-2011

Jesus was murdered.

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

This really should be entitled how dumb are Christians?

I would like to know who the dumb ass was who thought up the silly idea that Jesus sacrificed himself to save our skinny asses (OK we are in America so I must say) our fat asses from an eternity in hell?

I have read the account in all four gospels many times. My favorite rendition is the Jefferson Bible. I do not see any “sacrifice.” All I see is murder by government and the people behind those governments! Actually by two governments, not a whole lot different than say the state governments and the federal government you have built for yourselves.

I mean really what did the man do? He taught, he healed. He was anti-government as they come. He was kind and gentle. He was also rebellious to everything earthly. He enjoyed walking into a bank and overturning their tables. He had a temper. He taught that there is but One we should hold fast to and that is our Father in heaven. Of course, government’s just can’t have that. They want you to think they are appointed by God and anyone that teaches otherwise is by definition an enemy of the state and therefore by definition, to the government mind, (your mind) an enemy of God.

The punishment for this “sin” is death. Was then, is now.

One thing is certain. Jesus is most certainly an enemy of the “god” you Christians worship just like he was the enemy of the god of the Jews and the gods of the Romans. This is why you hate him so today.

Jesus was murdered because of the sin of worshiping the fucking government! There is not a dime’s worth of difference between the so-called Christian of today and the people of Jesus’ day. You all think you are doing God’s will as you bow to Satan himself.

Shame on you!

What a disgusting lot you are. “Well, Jesus told me to pay my taxes and Paul of “I’ve have seen the light fame” told me that government was appointed by God.” And Bill Clinton did not have sex with that woman.

If you damn Christians had any idea of just what traitors to liberty you have become you would be so disgusted with yourself that you would spew yourself out as vomit and not leave it up to Jesus to do.

“I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Oh btw, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are not as patient as Jesus. They spit you Americans up as vomit a long time ago!

Ron McKinney
4-15-2011

P.S. Where else but satan land would a pentagon, the heart of a pentagram, the blazing symbol of the unholy one find a home?

P.S.S. How dumb are Christians? Christians are so dumb they do not know the difference between murder and sacrifice.

In all Fairness!

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

My dear wayward minded wife, chided me for mocking and name calling the poor benighted Jehovah Witnesses. The reasons for this, one, is because it happens to be her parents and two, because she once fell into the clutches of the devil’s hand makers thus leading her to all kinds of bizarre and ridiculous decisions even to this very day!

Yet, how else is one to respond to utter spiritual stupidity? How else should one respond to the ridiculous if not with ridicule? It is what they are asking for, isn’t it?

Yea, right the world is going to come to an end in 1975. Yes, I was dumb enough to marry one who actually bought in to that pile of crap. So I really shouldn’t be surprised about what is going on in my life now! You really had to see her at 30! She was hot and still is! All of us Son’s have at least one weakness!

Ok, in all fairness she does have one point that is well taken. It isn’t just the Jehovah Witnesses who are full of crap, the entire expanse of so-called Christianity has its mangy head crammed so far of its proverbial ass, it’s mind has become completely lost in 26 feet of intestine!

Ok time to lay it on the other Christians? To all you dumb fucks who have the audacity to call yourselves the followers of the Prince of Peace here is a question for you. Why exactly, being peaceful and all, do you spend half of your sorry fucking life working for war? Cause Jesus told you too? Or was it Paul of “I saw the light” fame?

And like the Jehovah Witnesses, your support of the money changers in the guise of the Federal Reserve will not go unpunished. Your sins will indeed be visited on your children and grandchildren if you do not cast those god-forsaken, horn bearing, devil worshiping, sons of satan out of God’s House!

Are you Son’s or subjects? You are acting like subjects worthy of ridicule and name calling. Certainly not Son’s worthy of a place in heaven.

God has but one Son and He is all of us!

There, are you happy, wife? What criticism shall I have to bear over these thoughts? If only I could walk on water like that daughter of yours!

Ron McKinney
4-13-2001

The U.S. Government Must Go!

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

The U.S. Government Must Go!

by Michael S. Rozeff

Recently by Michael S. Rozeff: Observations and Opinions on the Libyan War

A chorus of U.S. and international officials keeps chanting that “Gaddafi must go” because, they keep repeating, he has lost legitimacy.

Let’s turn the tables. How legitimate is the U.S. government? I’m not talking about the popularity of particular persons like Obama, Bush I, Bush II, or Clinton. Changing faces, political parties, and administrations in Washington is a lost cause. I’m talking about national government itself. Should Washington be dismantled? Has Washington lost legitimacy as a government? If so, as a remedy, as a guide to action, as an objective to work toward, the U.S. government must go!

There are many valid ways to criticize the U.S. government. Any small government or anarchist perspective gives rise to a critique. Any adherent of constitutionality has another critique. For example, Lysander Spooner’s critique is devastating. Anyone who looks to the government’s effectiveness in serving the public will have yet another perspective. Anyone who restricts attention to economic and monetary matters will find plenty to criticize. Anyone who focuses on rights and liberties will be able to make important criticisms.

Here my perspective is to question the legitimacy of the U.S. government. Legitimacy is the perspective being used loudly by many world leaders against Gaddafi. I wonder, can we camp on their grounds and turn their own ideas against them?

World heads of state do not usually shine the light of legitimacy on one another, much less on themselves. Oh no, they are very quiet and reserved in that area. They don’t want people questioning their legitimacy, so they don’t raise the idea. Libya is atypical. Some leaders are using the rhetoric of legitimacy against Gaddafi. They believe that they can confine its use to him. They believe that they can restrict illegitimacy to instances of outright violence and ignore hidden violence. This serves their purposes.

In the post-Soviet era, criticisms by world leaders of the U.S. tend to be restrained, muted and timid. The world’s states are essentially in cahoots with one another. Many are beholden to the U.S. or tied in via relations of one kind and another. They cannot be too critical. Many have their own domestic problems and don’t want to stir up nests of hornets.

We are not so confined. If we use Obama’s criterion that violence against one’s people is a sign of government illegitimacy, then how many world governments are themselves legitimate? They all use violence and the threat of violence to maintain themselves. The fact that the threats of violence are effective and prevent outright blood on the streets doesn’t remove the presence of violence as the government’s means of controlling its citizens. Once we look under the hood at the motor of government, we find violence. At what point does such violence mean that the government’s leaders or the government itself – its very form – have lost legitimacy?

We Americans have a strong basis for questioning the legitimacy of the U.S. government. It is our right. We live here. It is de facto our government. We have to bear the consequences of what it does to us. We are the ones who, in many theories of government, supposedly give our consent. We experience the threat of violence if we disobey the government’s laws. We have a tradition of freedom and self-government that supports questioning our government’s legitimacy. Most of this applies to other peoples throughout the world.

So, to begin with, what do Americans think of their national government? Let’s look at those polls that ask Americans whether or not the country is going in the right direction or the wrong direction. I am assuming that Americans make a connection between their government and the country’s direction. This assumption is warranted because the national government is the largest single factor in the economy and on the economy. The most important media focus is Washington and politics. We constantly hear about the economic and other policies coming out of Washington.

Let’s look first at the polls with the longest histories. The Pew Research Center poll dates from January 1997. The very first poll found that 58% of the people were dissatisfied with the way things were going. Today, that reads 73%. The average over all of its 85 polls for the percent satisfied is 34.35%, for those dissatisfied is 59.12%, and for those unsure is 6.49%. (These do not add to 100% precisely due to rounding error.) This high level of dissatisfaction is not due to a few outliers. Americans are consistently dissatisfied in poll after poll.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll goes back to early December of 1995. This has four possible answers: satisfied, dissatisfied, mixed, and unsure. Over its 122 polls, the averages are 37.06%, 48.98%, 10.86%, and 3.09%. These results are like those in the Pew poll. The satisfied contingent is in the 34-37% range.

The Gallup Poll goes back to 1994. There are 179 polls. Those satisfied with the way things are going average 39.78%. The dissatisfied average 57.70%.

There are numerous other polls with shorter track records. They show the same thing. For example, in the Time Poll of August, 2010, 57% said the country was on the wrong track and 34% said it was on the right track. From 2004 to the present, the satisfied number got to 51% once. That was its maximum. The rest of the time it stayed between 28% and 46%. The CBS News Poll is another example of a poll that shows the same thing. Those who think the country is seriously off on the wrong track have ranged from 48% to 89% since 2006. The average is 66.4%.

In a macro sense, these polls tell much of the story. We have a period of almost 20 years in which things are not going right and a large majority says they are not going right. This does not by itself prove that the national government is illegitimate or should be scrapped, but it is a building block in my argument. Why? The government uses violence to collect revenues and spend. It uses violence to control the economy. People are unhappy, generally speaking, with the results.

Let’s look more deeply into a few specific areas that illustrate the lack of legitimacy of the U.S. government.

One of the criteria of an illegitimate government is that it acts violently against its own people. Obama used this criterion against Gaddafi. One measure of this is the number of people or the percentage of the population in prison. The statistics on this from 2006 show that the U.S. has imprisoned over 1 percent of its adult population. It has the largest number of inmates (2.5 million) in the world. Although the U.S. has only 5% of the world’s population, it has 25% of the world’s prisoners in its jails and penitentiaries. The U.S. has 739 people per 100,000 of population “serving time, awaiting trial or otherwise detained.”

Jailing Americans is a high growth industry. In the year 1880 in America, there were about 61 persons in jail per 100,000 (see Table 3-3 here). This had grown to 133 as of 1980, and then it shot up sharply when the War on Drugs and fixed prison terms for drug offenses were instituted. The incarceration rate and the number of persons incarcerated has grown very steeply since 1980:

It is implausible that Americans commit more violent crimes than any other people. It is implausible that American policing is that much more efficient at catching criminals and convicting them. It’s far more plausible that the War on Drugs and sentencing play a huge role in creating crimes and criminals that then fill the jails.

This is evidence that U.S. government violence against Americans is a real phenomenon of large and extremely serious scope. It is doubtful that Gaddafi’s violence has been more serious or pervasive.

Another criterion of an illegitimate government is that it debauches the currency. There is absolutely no question that the U.S. government has instituted an unconstitutional currency of fiat dollars in place of gold and silver money. There is no question that it has done this through an unconstitutional central bank, and there is no question that this central bank has debauched the currency. There is also no question that the government has violently seized a monopoly on currency issue and prevented its own citizens from using monetary alternatives. The seizure by the U.S. government of the people’s gold in 1933 exemplifies this violence.

For much of its history, 1,000 U.S. dollars were convertible into just over 48 ounces of gold (at a rate of $20.67 per ounce). Today, 1,000 U.S. dollars can buy about 0.71 ounces of gold (at $1,400 per ounce.) This is not because anything special has happened to gold to make its price rise as compared with other goods and services. It is because the government has printed paper dollars in tremendous amounts, creating an excess supply that has driven the value of each paper unit down from 48 ounces of gold to 0.71 ounces of gold.

World leaders challenged Robert Mugabe’s legitimacy in 2008 due to election thuggery. They did not link his legitimacy to his hyperinflation, despite the fact that it impoverished the nation. That is because they too use inflation and think of it as a legitimate tool of government. But Mugabe does lack legitimacy for having wrecked Zimbabwe’s economy with inflation, and, by the same token, the U.S. government should be held to like account for creating Great Depressions, for stealing the savings of those on fixed incomes, and for expropriating and redistributing wealth through the insidious but nonetheless violent means of inflation.

I am aware that a few low-level ignorant economists in the Federal Reserve have taken to sniping at Ron Paul. One of them argued that inflation is neutral, or that it raises all prices, including wages and rents. This argument is shallow and false. It misses the Austrian point entirely. But if inflation is neutral, why then does hyperinflation ruin an economy? And if inflation is neutral, why does anyone, including the Federal Reserve, even pay attention to inflation or to money supplies? Why would some of the Fed’s governors be worried about reversing its latest inflation (quantitative easing)? Why would Bernanke be crowing over the success of this round of inflation?

Accompanying inflation has been another sign of government illegitimacy, namely, a monstrously excessive government debt. This signifies both a tremendous amount of past wasted expenditures and future hardship. Every issue of government debt signifies that taxes in the future must be raised to service that debt. This increases the hidden economic violence imposed on the population. There is no good reason to distinguish between the outright clubbing of people physically and the ill effects on people’s lives of taxation.

Another source of illegitimacy of the U.S. government is its vast expansion of power. This has simultaneously violated the Constitution and extinguished the rights of Americans. It has got to the point where a President who is sworn to uphold the Constitution refers to it as a scrap of paper.

Another President, Barack Obama, has enunciated his right to assassinate American citizens without due process of law. Furthermore, a federal judge dismissed a case brought by the ACLU to prevent such assassinations. At present, we have a situation in which due processes of law that go back to the time of Jesus and before cannot be maintained by legal means in the courts of the United States! A government that claims the right to assassinate has, by Obama’s own criterion of legitimacy, relinquished its own claim to legitimacy.

U.S. government acts that have undermined its claim to legitimacy are particularly prominent in military forays and in going to war. There is no good reason having anything to do with the public safety, security, or welfare of Americans why the U.S. government invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, why it bombed Yugoslavia, why it is now bombing Libya, why it went to war over Kuwait, why it sends bombs into Pakistan, and why it sent military forces into Haiti for years on end during the Clinton administration. None of these countries threatened America or attacked it.

The U.S. government has repeatedly betrayed the public trust. Candidates have repeatedly made promises that they dramatically reversed once in office. They have lied and covered up. They have fabricated international incidents. They have used the fog of the U.N. and NATO to cover their actions. Presidents have gone to war without obtaining Congressional declarations. Of course, Congress has participated by funding these wars. One administration after another has honed the fine art of propaganda and misinformation.

The U.S. government is acting in numerous other ways to curtail domestic freedoms, and these actions can only be construed as violence of the U.S. government against its own people. Travel within the U.S. and across its borders has become an exercise in assault, delay, intimidation, and stupidity, with wholesale use of unreasonable searches and seizures. The invasions of privacy, financial and other, are worthy of any police state. The U.S. has resorted to renditions, kidnappings, torture, and indefinite detentions. The FBI has resorted to creating conspiracies and crimes.

My point is not to document all the ways in which the U.S. government uses violence against Americans. It is not to document all the sources of illegitimacy. It is to point out that every libertarian critique of the U.S. government, that may have been couched in terms of its going against the Constitution or suppressing freedoms or employing aggression, is also a critique of the legitimacy of the U.S. government. We can use the same grounds of illegitimacy that world leaders occasionally use to criticize certain behaviors of other world leaders like Gaddafi and Mugabe. We can use those grounds to criticize governments like the U.S. government that portray themselves as legitimate. They portray themselves as paragons of democracy or freedom, but beneath this surface, the signs of their illegitimacy are everywhere.

Why has a largely dissatisfied public not changed the government’s policies in 20 years? Why, in fact, have things gone even more wrong and led to even more dissatisfaction? There are many reasons and they go back many years. What’s important for our purpose is not these reasons, which have to do with the institutionalized structures that are set firmly in place, but the fact that the people at large no longer control the government, even when they vote.

The fact is that the government is now a corporativist institution that is largely unaccountable and that has insulated itself from accountability by means of payoffs, wealth transfers, political party duopoly, redistricting, the income tax, lobbies, and by control of education, media, science, and intellectuals. The very fact that government lies beyond popular control and reform explains why people have become cynical about reform or have given up hope of reform. But what is far more important is that it shows once again that the government lacks legitimacy. A legitimate government should depend on consent. It should be under control by the public. It should be responsive to them, not in the hands of special interests. And the fact that the government cannot be reformed without an almost unimaginable degree of change in American thought and society is the reason why this illegitimacy means that the entire government structure must go. Changing faces and parties in Washington is ineffective.

The U.S. government must go. We the People have a genuine right to say this and make it happen. In my opinion, the U.S. government is so profusely and deeply illegitimate in so many institutionalized ways and the people are so tied up with it that meaningful reform of a gradual nature is impossible. I think we need to make serious and deep change happen. It is my very firm belief that it must be done non-violently if it is to produce a long-lasting free country. We should not spurn or discourage important actions that genuinely reduce the size and scope of the national government, both now and in the future, and do not plant the seeds of its future expansion. Actions that significantly reduce government violence against its citizens are worthy. But if the goal of serious, broad, and deep change is kept in mind, then success at one or more of such actions should stimulate even further efforts, not cause them to abate.

One change that needs to occur is in the hearts and minds of Americans. From that will flow peaceful changes in government. At present, most Americans are wedded to conflict, violence, and political means. They are wedded to power struggles and to wealth appropriations and transfers via government. However, the use of violent means to achieve a reduction in government violence is not going to succeed. It perpetuates the game of violence.

We know that about 60 percent of Americans are dissatisfied and think that the country is going in the wrong direction. They are not anti-state, they are not anti-war, and they are not pro-market. That is, they don’t yet see what the solutions are. They do not see that the militarism must be brought to a close, that the Empire must be terminated, that State powers must be drastically shrunk, that the State is the problem, not the answer. They do not appreciate the virtues of liberty. The anti-federalist and libertarian heritage is unknown to them and buried under centuries of mis-education in the “virtues” of government and big government. They are bombarded with violent solutions from Left and Right.

The amount of re-education and awakening that must be done is very large. We need free speech to accomplish it. No one should fear using free speech to the maximum. Fear no evil. Fear no Goliath. Do not fear telling others openly “The U.S. government must go!” It must go using peaceful means, not the bombs and rockets that the U.S., Britain, and France are using in Libya, but it must go. It must go because it is doing violence to the American people at an increasing rate, with prospects for enhancing such violence. It must go because this violence de-legitimizes the government. The government’s violence is a major source of the dissatisfaction in the country, since people cannot get ahead in such an environment. The national government must be taken apart and dismantled because this is what is right. Anything less than this as a goal will not succeed. Anything less will saddle the U.S. indefinitely with a government like some of those in Europe. Worse, it poses a substantial threat of turning into a totalitarian nightmare. We will simply drag on at far less than our potential as human beings. Many of us will leave. Anything less will relegate the American dream of self-governing peoples living in liberty to a quaint fairy tale.

The new frontier and the great society were not bad slogans as such slogans go, but in the hands of the government they were dreams made reality by government service, taxation, wars, and government solutions to social problems. These involve violence and slavery in disguised and not-so-disguised forms. They involve illegitimate government, using the very criteria of those in government who are its strongest advocates. If we are to have big social dreams, let these dreams be made reality by and in freedom and peace, not in slavery and violence.

April 4, 2011

Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book The U.S. Constitution and Money: Corruption and Decline.

Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

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