“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual — or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.”
–Samuel Adams (1781)
“Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle, is a species of vice.”
–Thomas Paine, Letter Addressed to the Addressers on the Late Proclamation, 1792
“As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure any thing which we may bequeath to posterity: And by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully.”
–Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
How easily we forget that many of our current battles have already been fought. So many of our current questions have already been answered.
“It was the Americans who lived and kept their fighting spirit through the hard and bitter times that followed every surge of prosperity, it was men and women who cared enough for their own personal freedom to take the risks of self-reliance and starve if they could not feed themselves, who created our country, the free country, the richest and the happiest country in the world.”
– Rose Wilder Lane
This Heritage Foundation article quite rightly describes the following statement as a “sobering” thought.
The federal government could cease all other operations (other than major entitlements), including its core constitutional duty to provide for the national defense, and would still end up in a fiscal hole within a generation.
They also provided the following graphic, which describes how each dollar is spent.
Our never-ending expansion of entitlement programs is crushing our ability to pay for what most Americans consider basic functions of government. It is clearly time for a serious overhaul and a rethinking (by people) of what one can reasonably expect government to provide, but I doubt that the country has the will to do anything serious about this situation.
It seems far more likely that our government will entertain (and eventually implement) programs like confiscating the retirement savings of citizens to “spread the wealth around” before they seriously consider cutting spending. A good example of this is the fact that, in the face of our crushing debt, and the sure knowledge that costs would skyrocket, we have gone ahead with a multi-trillion dollar expansion of public health care costs. We’ve almost doubled our debt in the past 5 years and we’re forging ahead with our tax and spend ways.
The truly unfortunate fact is that we still have an opportunity to stop this train before it reaches the cliff and we are forced to endure a far more wrenching and destructive correction. However, I can’t see that anyone in DC has the stomach for even slowing spending to kick the crash down the road a bit further.
“An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation.”
–John Marshall, McCullough v. Maryland, 1819
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
–Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1795
“Illustrious examples are displayed to our view, that we may imitate as well as admire. Before we can be distinguished by the same honors, we must be distinguished by the same virtues. What are those virtues? They are chiefly the same virtues, which we have already seen to be descriptive of the American character — the love of liberty, and the love of law.”
–James Wilson, Of the Study of the Law in the United States, 1790
“Our conflict is not likely to cease so soon as every good man would wish. The measure of iniquity is not yet filled; and unless we can return a little more to first principles, and act a little more upon patriotic ground, I do not know when it will…” –George Washington (1779)
I’m not sure why the “you can lower your electricity rates by stealing tax dollars from your neighbors” crowd are coming out of the woodwork all of a sudden, but I had another call from a helpful sales person today.
This fellow was a bit more pugnacious and better prepared than the girl yesterday to defend his role in this scheme. He started off with the same schpeel about how he could help me to qualify for a government-funded program that would help me to lower my electricity rates.
I did not need to ask if this was a government-funded program; he had already clearly stated that it was. So I stopped him mid-sentence and said that I did not support stealing from my neighbors to fund upgrades to my house just to lower my electricity prices.
He only paused for half a second before coming back with,
Whoa, whoa, whoa … STEALING from your neighbors?!?!? What do you mean stealing from your neighbors?
I explained that any government program was funded by tax dollars that were taken from all taxpayers (i.e., my neighbors and me) to pay for this type of handout. I told him that this is exactly what President Obama meant when he said that we should just “spread the wealth around” and I can’t support taking my neighbors money to upgrade my home.
He must have been in the job longer than the previous helpful caller because he didn’t miss a beat. He ignored my primary concern and started to explain that the money was already there and available for people to use.
But the money is already there. You already pay your taxes and every month, when you pay your electricity bill, the environmental fee of $3-$4 is what pays for this program.
I’ll divert my thoughts to address his mindset and characterize it as something that more of us need to stomp out at every opportunity. He is thinking that the government already has this money. It theirs to do with as they see fit. These people don’t realize that the money came from you and me. In his eyes, this is “government money,” so it is only right that he, you, or I should be willing to grab on to it and enrich ourselves.
Instead, what we should all be thinking is that we must stop making use of programs like this and that the government should stop taking this fee from us each month. Instead, we should keep this $3-$4 dollar fee (and countless other fees like it) in our wallets.
We should also stand up and demand that the government cease its over-regulation of electricity generation and its incessant demands for the use of technologies that have not even been sufficiently tested. As a country, we should push to continue the use of our most abundant domestic energy resources to produce affordable, reliable, and (yes I’ll say it) clean electricity. By doing that, we would effectively remove the “need” for this type of program, which provides corporate welfare for unreliable and overly expensive generation options like solar.
Back to my previous thoughts. After hearing that the government already had the money, so it was OK to grab it for myself, I stopped him again. I said that if I accept his mindset; if I view the money as part of a big government pot, accept the notion that I deserve some portion of that largess, and take part in the program, I am actually perpetuating the “need” for welfare programs like this one.
He was nonplussed. I’m sure that people have said “no” to him for a variety of reasons. They think it’s a scam, they don’t believe him, they don’t have the time, etc. I honestly don’t think that he had ever had anyone tell him that they didn’t want the “free” government money he was dolling out. He kept trying to move forward, reading his canned responses to refusals, but I ended the call by telling him firmly, but politely, that I was not interested in taking part in this program.
So the government already has our money, but just because the money has already been taken from productive people, doesn’t make it “government money.” Just because a thief has already robbed a bank and now has the money in his possession, doesn’t make the money any less stolen. Whether a theft occurs to address the “needs” of a single person, or a “need” is sanctioned by a larger group of voters, doesn’t make it any less of a theft. And now, if I choose to join in with the thief and justify spending his windfall with arguments that it lowers my monthly utility expenses, I am still every bit as much a party to his original theft.
If I rely on the government to pay my way and expect them to carry me when I could (and should walk on my own) I weaken myself and make those around me my slave. Von Mises put it quite succinctly,
The greatest threat to the future of our nation — to our freedom — is not foreign military aggression … but the growing dependence of the people on a paternalistic government. A nation is no stronger than its people and the best measure of their strength is how they accept responsibility. There will never be a great society unless the materialism of the welfare state is replaced by individual initiative and responsibility.
- Ludwig von Mises, Human Action 
I get that this is a small example. I could take part in these programs and still claim to be an advocate for limited government. Most people would never blink an eye at this contradiction. However, I believe that “Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much.” (Luke 16:10)
My hope is that more and more people will begin to refuse these paternalistic “share-the-wealth-around” programs and the ongoing “fundamental transformation of America.” I pray that people will begin to see this sort of program for what it is; a creeping expansion of the welfare state and government control over our lives. I pray that this country will begin to wake up from the fog it is currently in and return to its roots of independence and self reliance.
Again, it is a small thing, but it has never been more important to clearly state that you do not support this type of program and explain why. Doing so helps people to understand how we are being dragged down as a nation. I pray that Americans will once again choose to stand up and take responsibility for their own lives.
The Constitution guarantees everyone a right to speak his or her mind. It guarantees nobody the right to go through life cocooned away from anything he or she would rather not hear. Those principles apply to everyone—from the lowest college freshman to the president of the United States.
– A. Barton Hinkle, “Trigger Warning — Free Speech Ahead” [March 24, 2014]
Very revealing to get a glimpse into the mind of at least one journalist, CNN’s Don Lemon.
I have to say that I would never criticize (or withhold criticism of) the President “because he’s black.” I would, however, criticize a President if he proposed and carried out policies that damaged the country, the Constitution, etc.
It is truly sad to see a self-professed journalist who would censor or alter his stories about anyone based on the color of that person’s skin. It speaks volumes about who Don Lemon is and what he believes to hear him admit that he does do that though.
As a “reporter,” Don Lemon also needs to work on his research and investigation skills a bit more. It is both laughable and naive to say that President Obama has put up with more criticism than previous Presidents, given the love affair that the media has had with him, and outright political aid and cover that they have provided for him throughout his Presidency.
Anyone who lived through the 80′s knows that Reagan was absolutely savaged by the media on a daily basis for his entire 8 years. Anyone remember stories about how he was trying to start World War III, how about Iran-Contra?
President Clinton and President HW Bush were both criticized heavily. Anyone remember the Monica Lewinsky issue, Ron Brown, “Bimbo eruptions”? Does anyone else remember “Read my lips, no new taxes” or “P-O-T-A-T-O-E”?
President GW Bush was routinely called “Bush-Hitler”. There were novels written about how people wanted to attack and injure – even murder – President Bush. The media just covered that as “art.” President Bush even had entire stories simply made up about him – Anyone recall Dan Rather’s hit piece and falsified memos re: the Texas ANG just days before the 2004 election? How about “Bush lied and people died,” or “WMDs? How about “Mission Accomplished,” or “Heckuva job Brownie,” “Harriet Miers”?
Again, Don Lemon’s research skills are obviously lacking and he openly admits that he alters stories based on the color of the subject’s skin. Tell me again why he is still working at CNN?
“The truth is, all might be free if they valued freedom, and defended it as they ought.”
–Samuel Adams, Essay in the Boston Gazette, 1771
“[S]hould Congress, under the pretext of executing its powers, pass laws for the accomplishment of objects not entrusted to the government, such [acts are] not the law of the land.”
–John Marshall, McCulloch v. Maryland, 1819
It is certainly true that our age is full of conflicts which generate war. However, these conflicts do not spring from the operation of the unhampered market society. It may be permissible to call them economic conflicts because they concern that sphere of human life which is, in common speech, known as the sphere of economic activities. But it is a serious blunder to infer from this appellation that the source of these conflicts are conditions which develop within the frame of a market society. It is not capitalism that produces them, but precisely the anticapitalistic policies designed to check the functioning of capitalism. They are an outgrowth of the various governments’ interference with business, of trade and migration barriers and discrimination against foreign labor, foreign products, and foreign capital.
– Ludwig von Mises, Human Action 
No further comment necessary.
Update: Apparently I was wrong. Bernard Goldberg‘s thoughts on this are worth reading.
It’s good to know that President Obama’s most loyal followers – the so-called mainstream media – have their priorities straight. As reported by the (conservative) Media Research Center:“In less than 24 hours, the big three networks have devoted 17 times more coverage to a traffic scandal involving Chris Christie than they’ve allowed in the last six months to Barack Obama’s Internal Revenue Service controversy. Since the story broke on Wednesday that aides to the New Jersey governor punished a local mayor’s lack of endorsement with a massive traffic jam, ABC, CBS and NBC have responded with 34 minutes and 28 seconds of coverage. Since July 1, these same networks managed a scant two minutes and eight seconds for the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups.”
I am also consistently amazed that various “isms” are considered appropriate and funny when viewed from the political left. From the ‘in’ group at MSNBC laughing at Mitt Romney’s African-American grandson, to this cartoon depicting a grossly over-inflated Chris Christie sitting on a bridge and blocking traffic. To the political left, it is all funny and open for attack because it attacks an ostensibly conservative politician.
However, a similar cartoon that targeted a physical disability, weight issues, sexual orientation, religious views, etc. of a left-wing politician would be loudly and universally condemned throughout the media as proof of the inhumanity and insensitivity of the political right.
“Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?”
–Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 1801
As a former backcountry ranger, I am ashamed of men like National Park Service (NPS) Director Jarvis, and the NPS personnel who barred access to national parks during the government shutdown.
In the video that I’ve included below, Rep. Trey Gowdy nails a key issue with the park closures. Gowdy asks why the NPS allowed Occupy protestors to “descend on McPherson Square” for over 100 days without so much as a peep, and certainly not a citation, closure sign, or barricade in sight. From October 2011, to February 2012 Occupy protestors defecated on police cars and vandalized public and private property; there were regular reports of robberies, rapes, and assaults in the Occupy camps. However, for more than three months NPS personnel did almost nothing to bar or remove their impromptu edifices and camps.
In contrast, on the very day that President Obama ordered the government shutdown, NPS Director Jarvis (or people in his organization) gave the orders to “make life as difficult for people” as they could. Jarvis ordered the “barrycades” rushed out and began threatening 90-year old WWII veterans with fines and legal action for even approaching the WWII memorial in DC.
It’s bad enough that Rangers played along with the closure orders and barred access to our national parks for the average, taxpaying citizen. Now I am fully aware that bureaucrats hate to hear this, but the citizens who were barred from parks across the country do pay the ranger’s salaries and pay—every day—for the maintenance and upkeep of those parks. Despite this reality, taxpayers were still ordered to stay out of national parks.
It is much worse, however, for park rangers and for people like Mr. Jarvis to bar access to veterans who (as Rep. Trey Gowdy notes in the video below) helped build the monuments they were trying to visit. The reality is that those veterans not only paid for the parks with their taxes, they paid for them with their sweat, their tears, their blood, and their lives. The veterans own those monuments in a way that few others can understand, and Mr. Jarvis’ and NPS personnels’ attempts to “barrycade” them is a disgusting and indecent affront.
If this video and Mr. Jarvis’ responses don’t make your blood boil, it’s time for you to wake up and begin to take part. For those who watch this video and still refuse to wake up or who might actually think Mr. Jarvis was justified, go back to your reality TV and your government check, I’m beginning to believe you’re not worth the effort anymore.
“If ye love wealth better than liberty,
the tranquility of servitude
better than the animating contest of freedom,
go home from us in peace.
We ask not your counsels or your arms.
Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you.
May your chains set lightly upon you,
and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”
— Samuel Adams
The Fraser Institute and Cato Institute (along with many other free-market think tanks) have republished their economic freedom ranking for various countries around the world. Sadly, the United States has fallen further in their ranking and free-market thinkers are now justified in questioning whether Canada should start referring to the U.S. as their “socialist neighbour to the south.”
Americans have long dismissed Canadians as “our socialist neighbors to the north.” But since 2005 Canada has been more economically free than the supposed laissez-faire wonderland of the United States—and the gap is widening. …
Economic freedom is defined by the Fraser Institute as “the extent to which you can pursue economic activity without interference from government, as long as your actions don’t violate the identical rights of others.” This ideal is difficult to define, much less quantify, so the index breaks each country’s score into five broad categories: size of government, legal structure and property rights, access to sound money, international free trade, and regulation of credit, labor, and business.
Every country is ranked on a scale of one to ten, with ten being most free. In 2013 the report ranked 152 countries and territories. The Index has data on most going back to 1980. This allows for long-term analyses of what policies caused countries to catch up, or in the case of the United States, fall behind, in economic freedom.
Canada’s policies can serve as an example for policy makers looking to jumpstart U.S. growth. Canada has a federal corporate tax rate of just 15 percent whereas the United States has a top rate of 35 percent, the highest among OECD countries. Canada’s federal debt-to-GDP ratio is 35 percent. It is targeting a ratio of 25 percent by 2021 thanks to a strong commitment to spending cuts from Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The U.S. ratio is 73 percent and rising. Mr. Harper has publicly pushed for approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would benefit the economies of both countries, while President Obama has done all he can to block the State Department’s permit. Canada also has an unemployment rate of 7.1 percent, lower than America’s.
The increasing gap in economic freedom, the rapid growth of public debt, the push toward socialized health care, increasing burdens of extreme regulatory pressure, and many other factors are a shameful and destructive attack on what once was the most free country on the planet.
It is becoming increasingly clear that true patriots, conservatives, and libertarians need to push to return government to a far more states-oriented, federalist view as a means of returning the country to its founding principles. We need to use the rights of states to act as a constitutional circuit breaker on the growing power of the federal government. Check out the work of groups like the Goldwater Institute for more information on how that can be achieved.
“No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable.”
–George Washington, Message to the House of Representatives, 1793