Saturday, August 14, 2010

True Confessions (on Liberty and the Republic) (guest essay)

Correspondent Eric Andrews makes the case for liberty and taking responsibility for ourselves rather than turning to the Savior State (Federal government) to "fix" everything.


This site is blessed to have thousands of very smart readers. One is correspondent Eric Andrews, who has submitted a number of radically insightful essays over the past few years. (Search for "Eric A." in the custom search box to your left to read them all.)


If I set out to encapsulate my Survival+ critique in a mere 2,700 words, I could do no better than this: a closely reasoned case for opting out, small-scale, resilient solutions and radical self-reliance--the very heart of the Survival+ critique.

Some readers seem to think that this is an implicit recommendation for living in mud huts and a return to a pre-technology Dark Ages. Nothing could be further from the future I envision, which is radically better, more sustainable and more humane than the present dominated by an insatiable Savior State and its Global Empire which protects and empowers a handful of cartels and fiefdoms at the expense of the world and the U.S. citizenry.


Here is Eric's essay.


True Confessions (on Liberty and the Republic)
by Eric Andrews

I have a confession to make: I have been to a Tea Party meeting. I admit it was because my girlfriend was working in the coffee shop, but I was there. I saw it all.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m an avid Libertarian and Constitutionalist, someone who read the Federalist Papers at 16 (assigned to me in AP American History), and I believe being an American means following the law described therein. However, the sort of changes they want to make are not my changes.


Not that I don’t want to vote out incumbents who are venal, corrupt felons who are risking the collapse of the United States with reckless, short-sighted spending and threatening the national security and very existence of our nation. I do. Not that I don’t believe that undo taxation cripples an economy, or that taking taxpayer’s money just to give it back to them in social programs isn’t a wasteful leviathan of circular insanity—it is. But my changes are different than that.


Suppose we got out those incumbents: others would simply take their place. The head-count in Washington DC, Albany NY, has become irrelevant—no matter who is sent, the system will self-preserve to buy them out, shut them down, or if they somehow become an actual threat to the system, however minor, scandalize or jail them. If they have no skeletons, no dark secrets, this is worst of all, and the candidates must be compromised, attacked and slandered in force to prevent their candidacy and political relevance from the get-go. White supremacy, black supremacy, taxes, nannies, true, false or indifferent, it matters not: threats to cash-flow are job #1, the only red-alert that remains.


Voting out incumbents is a useless exercise, and what’s worse, so long as you are paying attention to it, your attention isn’t on the multi-trillion or even quadrillion dollar frauds, thefts, murders, and scams where the real action and power is.


The answer to this, the single problem of the Republic is perfectly simple:move the power from the Central Government as far down to the people as possible. The vultures wouldn’t circle if there weren’t a big pot of money sitting all in one place. Take away the money-pile and push it back to the States, the Counties, and the People and there becomes no point in Lobbying Congress for anything. They’d have to shift focus to 50 States, to 10,000 town council meetings until it’s no longer worth the effort to lobby so many for so little. This is why they push for ever-increasing Centralization, of national power, of money and business, and International Agencies like the UN, IMF, or EU: one set of people to bribe and capture, and the fewer the better. Profits are higher that way.


Best thing about this plan? It’s already the law.


“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” --10th Amendment


What powers are delegated to the United States Government? Control and regulation of the economy, interest rates, and money supply? Nope. Energy policy? Nope. Promotion of Business or Agriculture? Nope. Education? Nope. How about national rails, ports, and water ways? Sorry, nope, not even that.


Basically the Federal Government was given to import/export Tariffs, the military, and the Post Office (don’t ask). That’s it. All other laws written or enforced are illegal. Let me repeat that:


All other laws written or enforced are illegal.


That is, according to U.S. Supreme Court Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425 (1886)


"An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation as inoperative as though it had never been passed."


Nothing needs to be repealed. No new laws need to be passed. No one needs to be removed. We simply need to enforce the law we already have. Public Officials who do not follow the law, and uphold their oath of office need to be impeached and removed, which is the law and your duty as policemen, prosecutors, or citizens.


In the case of the President, that oath is quite simple:


"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."


Similar oaths are given for other officials, Congressmen, Judges, and Soldiers.


So what’s the problem? Follow the law. It’s so simple even a 16-year old boy from New York’s poorest cabbage town can understand it.


No money=no bribery, no fraud. If the money’s in YOUR pocket, the pocket of 300 million individual Americans, it will be very hard to get it. Not worth the effort. The whole scam depends on first getting that money into a single pile.


The Tea Parties are all for this, even if they don’t always know it: following anything remotely like the Constitution will lead you here, which is why billionaires, bureaucrats, and insiders hate it: it reduces power and profits. So why not join in and jump on?


Remember the phrase “Be the change you wish to see in the world”? Yes, that’s Mohandas Gandhi. So what did our Founding Fathers just tell us, what did promise to uphold? That true power lies NOT with the Federal Government, but with the People of the United States. So why are we looking to the Federal government to save us? When there’s a disaster, who do we look to for help, who do we blame? The Federal Government. When somebody spills oil in International Waters, which then washes ashore in State waters, who do we look to? The Federal Government. When somebody smokes in a restaurant, throws their taco wrapper on the streets, talks too loud, will or won’t hire you, pay you, promote you, doesn’t like the look of your jib, who do we want to pass a law to make the men with guns come down and stop it? The Federal Government. When stocks go down instead of up, who do we cry to for help? The Federal Government.


I thought the Federal Government, the concentration of money, power, and influence was the problem. So why do we look to the Federal Government for the answer? Not only do they not have the answer, they are specifically prohibited by the Constitution from acting on almost any problem you can name. That’s YOUR job, people. YOU are supposed to fix the stuff you want fixed. That’s called “Liberty”, the poor lady who’s been banished from our coins and now all but banished from society. “Liberty” is Freedom, but with the addition of restraint not to hurt others, and responsibility to work and do what must be done.


America was not founded on Freedom and Democracy: America was founded on Liberty and Republic. Freedom is when the strongest do whatever they want unless you have the power to stop them; Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. Liberty demands the strongest are restrained by justice and due process, and Republic restrains the 51% from doing whatever they like to the other 49%. I regret to say that presently Freedom and Democracy have free reign in the United States: Freedom for the Strong to do whatever they please, and for any privileged group to vote to themselves the rights and property of anyone who can‘t defend themselves.


And you look for this government to save you? You’re looking for it to reform itself? Liberty asks that if you want something done, YOU do it. You don’t pass a law to force your neighbor to do it.


And this sentiment is everywhere in our culture. We have an energy problem, with Peak Oil, energy-transition, or at least instability of dollar-based imports. What do we do? Form an Energy “Manhattan Project”, pass a law on energy standards, form a national Carbon Tax, boycott nations, force farmers to grow ethanol, force your neighbors to turn down their thermostat, stop driving their SUV, anything but the obvious: YOU stop driving so far. YOU stop using so much energy. YOU help your neighbors insulate or fund a local charity promoting energy-savings.


What is the biggest problem today? We’re a whole nation of busy-bodies telling the other guy what he has to do. We’re a nation of co-dependent junkies strung out on the intoxicating power of government coercion and violence. We spend so much time and effort telling other people what to do, we no longer do anything ourselves. We’re like the Soviet Union on a deadly cocktail of cappuccino and crystal meth—half as much fun, twice as dangerous, and moving a whole lot faster.


So what am I to do? Go tell others what to do? Form a committee, a think-tank, a Public Interest group to lobby Congress to do what it’s illegal for them to do anyway?


Yes, it’s true: I alone am the only man in the country smart enough to tell everybody what they should do.


Does that sound ridiculous and offensive to you? Then why do we accept and demand the same nonsense from the President? This may be an universal human failing, yet this sort of benighted hubris is the essence of the PROBLEM—everybody, and I mean everybody—thinks they know best what everybody should do. Talk Shows. TV Pundits. Politicians. Economists—especially economists who want to control the movement of every brass tack and the motion of every screw. They know what everybody should do. Everybody but THEM. And it seems perpetual failure is no longer proof that they don't know.


This is not the way of LIBERTY. Liberty asks, what am I going to do? What is my duty, to myself and to my country? And what are my limitations, so that other men are able to live free without being oppressed by me?


You see the problem here? This is a matter of the heart. Until I stop looking to others to do things for me, save me, to live my life for me. Once I do that, then accidentally or not I have given them my power, and once given, they use the power I have given them for their own rich, self-serving ends.


So am I going to set up a socio-political-environmental think tank to enlist others under my command? It’s my right to communicate what I think and let it be hashed out and shopped in the marketplace of ideas, and that’s what I’m doing right now. But I’m not going to make the world live life the way I think it should be. This is MY life, and it’s rightfully different from the lives other people lead. I don’t know how anybody else should live and it’s not my business to tell them. Nobody on earth knows enough to tell them: not the President, Albert Einstein or Sigmund Freud. Only one person knows best what they need, what works for them, what gives happiness and makes sense: they do. Not me. Only you know what is best for you. Not me. So don't look to them: look to yourself.


Suppose people take responsibility the way I advocate--what happens in my model? The Central Government and the Unstoppable Insiders take over an unresisting public? No. My idea is much simpler: YOU grow a garden, YOU build a pantry, YOU learn to cook your meals, YOU take care of your parents, YOU take action in YOUR community. Soon enough you find that you’re independent: your life no longer depends on Government, on media, on multinational conglomerates a thousand miles away. Stop paying attention to them and start paying attention to yourself. YOU become independent, self-sufficient, upright men and women. When they demand you obey, you uphold your duty to say, “I’m sorry, I prefer not to.” In fact, morally, you arerequired not to. Not to steal, not to threaten, not to oppress others, whether you do it with your own hands or pay the government to do it for you a thousand miles away.


The system only exists because of your participation in it.


Stop participating, it stops existing. It changes. It must shrink back to levels that are acceptable to us, to a point where we freely cooperate with it without violence or coercion.


The system can tolerate nearly anything, it can bear and absorb anything, but the one thing it cannot stand is to be laughed at. Who is Napoleon if no one obeys his command? A silly little man. Would this be easy? Of course not—look at what was required of India to decline participation in British Imperialism. However, it will work. It DOES work. Because a system people do not support with their actions is not a system at all.


Maybe I’m just ahead of the curve on this. What do we hear every day? “Social Security is bankrupt.” “The stock market is a Ponzi scheme.” “Your pension is gone.” “The government is broke.” “The currency is collapsing.” “Re-localization is the answer.” “Life is about to get smaller.”


At the Tea Party, an old man asked “who here is willing to give up their Social Security to support these ideas?” To me it’s laughable: Social Security is ALREADY broke: if the government took 100% of all income, corporate and private, they ALREADY couldn’t pay Social Security and Medicaid. The awful joke is on those who actually believed somebody else would uphold their personal responsibility for them so they wouldn’t have to. Social Security, Medicare, your pension, government help—already gone. You’re not giving up anything but your illusions. By looking after yourself, you’re not taking anything from them but your freedom. Isn’t that the way it should have been all along? Who would trust another man to feed and clothe them? However golden, that is the position of a slave and his master, not between free men.


Same with the upcoming Energy Crisis: you think any centralized body can implement the necessary 100,000 small efficiencies down at the household level? The energy bill wants to. It wants to go into every house and change every light bulb—or else! Even if you could, wouldn’t that action be better run by 100,000 localized bodies closest to the problems—say, the people and businesses themselves? With less energy there will be ever LESS ability to create a unified response, to say nothing of enacting the plan. Even if they could enact it, does it make sense to ship a bucketful of money across the country, stir it around the Washington pot, and ship it all the way back just to do what we could have done for ourselves? Better just to do what we think needs to be done. No asking, no discussing, no wasted time and effort.


What’s more, as central power devolves due to declining tax revenue, as central reach shrinks due to decreasing participation and energy input, as central control dissolves due to re-localization and non-participation, locally is the only place anything will get done.


The great secret and greatest fear of government is this one fact:they’re already irrelevant. That’s all. They’ve already proven they’re incapable of the smallest action: Katrina, TARP, the Deepwater Horizon, how many times do they need them to prove it to you? How much longer will you look to them to save you?


It’s already under your control. It’s already the highest law of the land. It’s both your right and your duty to remove, ignore, and impeach anyone who stands in your way.


All you need to do is go do it. Take care of yourself, help your neighbors, obey the law, and as my grandmother would say, mind your own business and don’t worry about the other guy.


Isn’t that all we would want from others? That they would leave us alone so we could return the favor?


So to the Tea Party: instead of fixing the Nation, maybe we should just fix ourselves. Maybe the problem isn’t them. The problem is us.

Thank you, Eric, for presenting a view of our nation and central government which is radically common-sensical. Your thoughts align very well with the theme I have been pursuing this week, which is embodied in this phrase:


We might change Tolstoy's wisdom to: "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing his behavior."


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