Well the answer in Civics class is “Either or both of the other two branches.”
Problem is, the Legislative Branch has abdicated a lot of its lawmaking power to the Executive Branch, and the Judicial Branch has allowed it. Now we have multiple Executive Branch Bureaus, Departments and Services that serve to make regulations (Legislative), enforce regulations (Executive) and punish violations (Judicial) essentially without oversight. We don’t elect the people in these organizations. We have no power to remove them.
Our only hope is the Legislative Branch or the Judicial Branch will stomp on their excesses. The Supreme Court recently did that with the EPAs abuse of the “Clean Water Act” in Sackett v. EPA. The legislature failed to do so in their review of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive’s recent redefinition of pistol braces, making what was legal now a federal felony. Senate Democrats reject measure to block pistol brace rule.
There’s a group over at Quora, “Gun Memes R Us” where I like to read and post. I came across this one and put it up:
It has inspired a number of comments, but I want to archive this thread:
Paul: Nobody is coming to take away your guns. The only reason you continue talking about something that will never happen is that it supports your violent fantasies about murdering your fellow countrymen.
UPDATE: Paul has responded, in a sense. The reply below and the remainder of the comment thread are now gone. END UPDATE.
Paul: Look at that. Another Trumpanzee who can only communicate through memes that were created by someone smarter than you. I’ve run across your cult before. I always feel bad for you knuckleheads.
I get your message, though. You couldn’t begin to refute my comment about how no one is coming to take your guns, and that disturbed you. To self-soothe, you posted a bunch of memes in the same way someone with epilepsy might have a grand mal seizure.
Me: Look at that, someone who comments on a meme page and complains about memes. (Most of which are screenshots of his ideological brethren.)
We’ve been told “no one is coming for your guns” for decades, while at the same time we get stuff like this from legislators:
Or this exchange between North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop and the loathsome Jerry Nadler over H.R. 1808:
“Would anyone on the other side dispute that this bill would ban weapons that are in common use in the United States today?” Bishop asked.
“That’s the point of the bill,” Nadler replied.
“So, to clarify, Mr. Chairman, you’re saying it is the point of the bill to ban weapons that are in common use in the United States today,” the Republican representative pressed.
“Yes,” Nadler clarified. “The problem is that they’re in common use.”
So, no one wants to take our guns? Pull my other leg.
Paul: I’m impressed. Most people who speak in memes literally can’t communicate otherwise. You actually made a coherent point.
It’s wrong. First, nobody is trying to take “all firearms” from you (as this meme stated). In the case of HR 1808, that’s a ban on assault weapons, similar to what we had before when mass shootings were much less frequent. You can still have the rest of your guns.
I know, I know. You’d sooner watch a thousand kids mowed down by AR15s than part with yours. That’s your prerogative. But not everyone is a sociopath, and they have their prerogatives too.
Me: What, you’d prefer them mowed down with 12 gauge shotguns? 9mm pistols? How many children are you willing to let die? If the number of guns is the problem, then the solution must be reducing the number in circulation to as close to zero as to make no difference. That’s the logic. “If it saves one life!” So excuse me if I don’t kowtow to your “It’s only ‘assault weapons!’ “ argument. It’s bullshit.
I’ve been doing this for about thirty years now. I have the receipts.
Pundit Charles Krauthammer stated the obvious in his 1996 column “Disarm the Citizenry, But Not Yet”:
“Ultimately, a civilized society must disarm its citizenry if it is to have a modicum of domestic tranquility of the kind enjoyed in sister democracies like Canada and Britain. Given the frontier history and individualist ideology of the United States, however, this will not come easily. It certainly cannot be done radically.
“It will probably take one, maybe two generations. It might be 50 years before the United States gets to where Britain is today.
“Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic – purely symbolic – move in that direction. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation.”
In 1988 the Violence Policy Center, a group founded on the platform of banning all handguns (we could keep rifles and shotguns, for now) wrote a white paper entitled “Assault Weapons and Accessories in America.” From its conclusion:
“Assault weapons are increasingly being perceived by legislators, police organizations, handgun restriction advocates, and the press as a public health threat. As these weapons come to be associated with drug traffickers, paramilitary extremists, and survivalists, their television and movie glamour is losing its lustre to a violent reality.
“Because of this fact, assault weapons are quickly becoming the leading topic of America’s gun control debate and will most likely remain the leading gun control issue for the near future. Such a shift will not only damage America’s gun lobby, but strengthen the handgun restriction lobby for the following reasons:
It will be a new topic in what has become to the press and public an “old” debate. Although handguns claim more than 20,000 lives a year, the issue of handgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. The reasons for this vary: the power of the gun lobby; the tendency of both sides of the issue to resort to sloganeering and pre-packaged arguments when discussing the issue; the fact that until an individual is affected by handgun violence he or she is unlikely to work for handgun restrictions; the view that handgun violence is an “unsolvable” problem; the inability of the handgun restriction movement to organize itself into an effective electoral threat; and the fact that until someone famous is shot, or something truly horrible happens, handgun restriction is simply not viewed as a priority. Assault weapons—just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms—are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. In addition, few people can envision a practical use for these weapons.
Efforts to stop restrictions on assault weapons will only further alienate the police from the gun lobby. Until recently, police organizations viewed the gun lobby in general, and the NRA in particular, as a reliable friend. This stemmed in part from the role the NRA played in training officers and its reputation regarding gun safety and hunter training. Yet, throughout the 1980s, the NRA has found itself increasingly on the opposite side of police on the gun control issue. Its opposition to legislation banning armor-piercing ammunition, plastic handguns, and machine guns, and its drafting of and support for the McClure/Volkmer handgun decontrol bill, burned many of the bridges the NRA had built throughout the past hundred years. As the result of this, the Law Enforcement Steering Committee was formed. The Committee now favors such restriction measures as waiting periods with background check for handgun purchase and a ban on machine guns and plastic firearms. If police continue to call for assault weapons restrictions, and the NRA continues to fight such measures, the result can only be a further tarnishing of the NRA’s image in the eyes of the public, the police, and NRA members. The organization will no longer be viewed as the defender of the sportsman, but as the defender of the drug dealer.
Efforts to restrict assault weapons are more likely to succeed than those to restrict handguns. Although the majority of Americans favor stricter handgun controls, and a consistent 40 percent of Americans favor banning the private sale and possession of handguns, many Americans do believe that handguns are effective weapons for home self-defense and the majority of Americans mistakenly believe that the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the individual right to keep and bear arms. Yet, many who support the individual’s right to own a handgun have second thoughts when the issue comes down to assault weapons. Assault weapons are often viewed the same way as machine guns and “plastic” firearms—a weapon that poses such a grave risk that it’s worth compromising a perceived constitutional right.
So excuse me if I reject your “They only want to take X away” bullshit for what it is. It’s a camel’s nose under the tent, and your side has no compunction about lying to achieve it.
Paul: There’s a reason mass shooters choose AR15s over a 12-gauge or a 9mm pistol. That reason is the same as why HR 1808 exists. The AR15 is an assault rifle (and yes, spare me, I know that’s not what the “AR” stands for). It can also be considered a “battle rifle,” as the cops in Uvalde called it. It’s a gun for little boys to pretend that they’re GI Joe (best case scenario) or to mow down a bunch of people (worst case). It has no positives to it.
Regarding this quote from above:
“Ultimately, a civilized society must disarm its citizenry if it is to have a modicum of domestic tranquility of the kind enjoyed in sister democracies like Canada and Britain.”
I wholeheartedly agree with this. A civilized society can’t be armed like this. However, I understand we will never be disarmed due to the 2nd Amendment and the impossibility of repealing it. Therefore, the US will never be a civilized society. Everyone in government understands that. Seriously, to find someone in government who believes we can take away all guns would require finding someone as dumb as Marjorie Tailor Greene, and the left doesn’t have people that dumb.
Me: “There’s a reason mass shooters choose AR15s over a 12-gauge or a 9mm pistol.” Really? Pray tell, what is it? The last one had an AR, but used a Kel-Tec Sub 2000, a pistol-caliber carbine. The majority of them are carried out with handguns because handguns are portable and concealable. Columbine? Shotguns, a pistol-caliber carbine and a pistol.
But all you want is “assault rifles”? Yeah. Right. For The Children.
I want the school staff that is willing to be able to carry, and I want signs like this posted around the campus:
In the Tennessee shooting the Sheriff reported that the shooter had considered a different target, but because it had security she chose the Christian school instead.
I want to do something that WORKS. You want security theater.
Paul: Ok, you want to do something that WORKS. (Caps lock noted…you’re serious!)
Do you know any educators? How many do you think have the aptitude and inclination to use a gun to defend a class of kids against an assailant armed to the teeth? Remember, the Uvalde cops were shit scared to confront such a shooter. But you want Mrs. Harrison who teaches the 3rd grade to handle it.
Also, do you know how little teachers get paid for the amount of work they put in? But you want to add on top of that the requirement to buy a gun and be trained on it all on the same salary, because let’s face it, giving teachers more money is un-American to a republican.
Is this what you think will work?
Me: How many school staffers are veterans? How many staffers are there compared to the teaching staff? Hell, the janitor can carry if he’s willing. Why do want to deny the willing and able? You’re using Uvalde as an example? Those guys signed up for that job, then didn’t do it. That didn’t happen in Tennessee.
What makes you think, in a nation where about a third of the population owns guns, that no school staffers – including teachers – already owns guns? Already have concealed-carry licenses? I know one teacher. She taught middle school math and science for 40 years. She owned a gun most of her professional career, but she wasn’t allowed to even have it in her car on campus.
Yes, I want schools to be less attractive targets.
Paul: Your questions are all valid. However, don’t pretend you know the answers. You have no idea if there are enough veterans or gun owners at each school to protect them.
The reason I mention the Uvalde cops is because, yes, they signed up for that job. And they didn’t do it. But you’re expecting people who did not sign up for that job to do it instead?
Also, who’s paying these people? “Oh, by the way, Mavis, starting on Monday we’d like you to start providing security for your Spanish class. It’s just another part of the job.”
This could be a viable plan if it gets past these obstacles. But I don’t expect it would.
Me: Utah has allowed staff to carry on campus for years. I personally know that many trainers offered staff free training so they could get their permits. When was the last school shooting in Utah?
You don’t seem to have any faith in your fellows. Just because you cannot see yourself defending yourself or innocents doesn’t mean others can’t. You’d rather disarm everyone so you don’t have to feel guilty about it. (End – for now.)
I’m curious to see if he’ll come back with anything.
I want to give this guy props for trying, but more importantly, I want more people to be aware, that he is EXCEPTIONAL, not average. He’s TRYING.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 54% of U.S. adults 16-74 years old – about 130 million people – lack proficiency in literacy, reading below the equivalent of a sixth-grade level.
Per another study, “One out of every five bachelor’s degree holders among employed college graduates ages 21 to 65 lacks minimum skills in literacy. For numeracy, the number is one in three.”
Employed. College. Graduates.
Literacy has declined, according to John Taylor Gatto, from 96% in 1942, to 81% in 1955, to 73% in 1973. Today it’s 46%. The Department of Education was formed in 1979 in part to combat the trend. The 1983 report “A Nation at Risk” declared:
“Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world. This report is concerned with only one of the many causes and dimensions of the problem, but it is the one that undergirds American prosperity, security, and civility. We report to the American people that while we can take justifiable pride in what our schools and colleges have historically accomplished and contributed to the United States and the well-being of its people, the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people. What was unimaginable a generation ago has begun to occur–others are matching and surpassing our educational attainments.
“If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”
It was an act of war. But a foreign power wasn’t responsible.
It’s easier to control a population that cannot think.
On this day, May 14, 2003, I hit “Publish” on my first blog post at the original Blogspot site.
This blog is now officially 20 years old.
I’ve spent the last twenty years trying to figure out what was going on, and it now appears uncontestable that what is going on is an attempt to return society to a two-tiered feudal system, with the people Thomas Sowell calls “The Anointed” as the royalty, and everyone else as the serfs – owning nothing, and no one giving a damn about their happiness.
In the summer of 1776, after years of increasing abuse from their government, including an attempt to disarm by force the militia of Concord, Massachusetts, a group of wealthy, politically powerful men representing their individual colonies met in a hall in Philadelphia to commit treason. Fifty-six men committed a nation of about three million to an irreversible action with the promise of dire consequences. Perhaps a million of that population was in favor, a million opposed, and the third million ambivalent. Many of the 56 paid dearly for that decision, as did thousands of other colonists, but they birthed the most free, most wealthy and powerful nation the world has ever seen by increasing the liberty of ordinary people through the establishment of a new form of government dedicated to protecting the rights of individual citizens. What does Politifact want you to know about them? Most were slave owners.
Liberty has been defined as a right to act without control or interference by government or other power so long as those actions do not infringe on another’s liberty or property. “Liberal” used to mean “In favor of maximizing individual liberty.” No more.
The Western World in general and the United States in particular has gone, in the words of someone I respect*, “batshit fucking insane.”
Let us look at what has happened over the last few years:
Let’s start with the thing that woke up a significant portion of our population: Whether you believe the 2020 election was stolen or not, if you’re intellectually honest you must admit that some very questionable things went on, some so blatant Time Magazine bragged about them. None have been adequately addressed. And we’re headed into another election that promises to be every bit as questionable.
The U.S. Department of Education, established in 1980 in response to declining public school performance, has presided over a rapidly accelerating decline in those schools over the last forty years. No one is held responsible for this decline. 54% of the population is functionally illiterate. According to this paper: “One out of every five bachelor’s degree holders among employed college graduates ages 21 to 65 lacks minimum skills in literacy. For numeracy, the number is one in three.” Employed. College. Graduates. And these people vote. This was not accidental. The 1983 report “A Nation at Risk” warned “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.” Whoever they were, they won. (Hint: They weren’t foreign.) We’ve gone from mediocre to abysmal. This has made possible everything else I report on here.
Government policies sold on the idea of “improving” the plight of the homeless – who are, by and large mentally ill, drug addicts or both – have instead exponentially increased the problem where they have been implemented. The result of this failure? They double-down. The philosophy cannot be wrong! Do it again, only harder!
District Attorneys elected with funds from foreign sources, acting ostensibly for “criminal justice reform” have created chaos. Open-air drug markets, unrestricted shoplifting and rioting resulting in closures or relocations of dozens of businesses who can no longer sustain the financial losses, or whose employees fear to come to work. The result of this is the collapse of commercial districts serving the very people that “criminal justice reform” was supposed to benefit. The response? Do it some more, only harder!
Multiple agencies of the Federal government have blatantly and unconstitutionally censored the speech of American citizens on social media and not just recently. It cost Elon Musk $44B to uncover the evidence. No one involved will pay any price for this, and the media has suppressed the story as far as possible allowing society to turn a blind eye.
The government has been collecting data on the entire population – locations, emails, texts, phone calls – for decades. This was exposed by Edward Snowden. No one denies it’s being done. It hasn’t stopped. Snowden lives in exile in Russia.
The pandemic restrictions resulted in the largest transfer of wealth in history. That’s a feature, not a bug. As Russell Brand said, “What the government want is control. What the corporate world want is money. What both of them want is power. What neither of them care about is you.”
The job of Congress is to write laws, the Executive to pass and enforce them, the Judiciary to judge and administer them. Two hundred and thirty years of this has resulted in a U.S. Code that runs 53 volumes. The U.S. Code is the laws written by Congress and signed by the President. In addition to that is the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, an additional 50 volumes of regulations written by the various agencies created by the Executive branch authorized by the U.S. Code. We have reached the point where you cannot go an entire day without probably committing three felonies. And should the government decide to, any competent District Attorney can get a Grand Jury to indict a ham sandwich. What chance do you have when you can be indicted on a dozen felonies, any one of which can put you in prison for years? Is there any question why 98% of federal prosecutions result in plea bargains?
I don’t think anyone who has read it can honestly deny Prof. Angelo Codevilla’s (PBUH) observation that we have separated into a Ruling Class and what he called the Country Class – ordinary Americans. Our Ruling Class and the Ruling Classes of the West all share a common philosophy – they are in charge because it is their right to be in charge. They are the people who have accumulated vast wealth and power because of their superiority. Of course they should rule. They know best. We are merely ignorant peasants. We should eat the bugs, sleep in the pods, use only public transportation, be restricted to virtual currency they control, hear only that information they approve for us, receive only the medical care they determine we’re worth, and shut the fuck up.
Restrictions on energy production have resulted in climbing costs not just for energy, but everything energy is used to make and transport, with no relief in sight. Again, Climate Change is the clarion call.
There are undeniable signs that world governments including our own are looking at going to strictly digital currency – a cash-free society – that will eliminate all private transactions. Remember when the Canadian government froze the bank accounts of people who donated to the trucker’s convoy? How would you like to learn that something you posted on Facebook got your accounts frozen and you can’t buy groceries or gas?
Unrestricted spending has resulted in a U.S. national debt of $31,700,000,000,000 and climbing exponentially. This is the definition of unsustainable. There has to be an end-game. The Ruling Class is arrogant, but not stupid.
In July of 1776 fifty-six men signed a document that declared:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Instead of a nation of three million, we are now a nation of more than 330 million, but more than half can’t read above a sixth grade level. Twenty percent of employed college graduates are functionally illiterate. Fewer are numerate. In 1776 the literacy rate was reportedly 90%. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, published in January of 1776, sold 500,000 copies by the end of that year, again, in a nation with a population of only 3,000,000 people – one copy for every six people in the country. 2022’s best seller moved 2,729,007 copies. It was a romance novel.
I watched the recent interview of Elon Musk by Bill Maher. Elon told the story of a parent asking his high-school aged children what they knew about the first Presidents. They knew George Washington. What did they know? That he was a slave owner. Apparently their textbooks are vetted by Politifact.
If you’re paying attention, the current long train of abuses and usurpations is no longer deniable, but damned few are paying attention. There’s no group of people to stand up and say “NO MORE!” and no populace willing to back them.
(*Thanks to TheGeekWithA.45 for editorial help on this one.)
The Democrats are a disorganized crime family. They are all corrupt, really corrupt, not “Some money to settle a dizzy tramp’s sex claims got mischaracterized in the books” corrupt. And that makes them vulnerable.
Remember, all those norms and principles they cavalierly pillage are not really there to protect us. We’re not crooks and we have all the guns – nothing to hide and the power to rule. Norms are to protect them. So let’s stop protecting them.
For a long time, we had a norm about trying not to prosecute political opponents even when we could. You beat them at the ballot box. But then they got more brazen, and there was no ambiguity about their crimes. They were actual crimes, and they rubbed them in our face. The Felonia Milhouse von Pantsuit toilet server stuff struck a nerve because so many of us knew what a big deal treating classified materials like her husband treated interns is (or was) – if we had done that, we’d be charged and in some fed pen converting large rocks to tiny ones. But she did not get charged. That looming doofus James Comey invented a new legal requirement for the statute that never existed before and never would exist if it was us. And there’s the First Crackhead buying a gun when he’s a drug addict – again, you know that if we lied on a Form 4473 the AFT would be SWATing us in our cribs. They took the sensible norm of reluctance and mocked us with it.
So, let’s not do that anymore. Let’s not bend over backwards to avoid charging our political enemies with their crimes. And if we have to be creative about the crimes and create novel new theories to ensnare our opponents, so be it. Alvin Bragg was creative. That’s the New Rule. Let’s see how they like being served up a dose of that kind of legal suppository.
“BUT THE RULE OF LAW!!!!”
Yeah, what rule of law is that?
Lawfare works both ways. But remember what Prof. Codevilla warned us about, it’s not Republicans vs. Democrats, its us against the Ruling Class. The Ruling Class is an exclusive club, and we ain’t in it. And the Ruling Class control the DAs and the Courts.
RTWT, but I think Schlicter mssed out on the Ruling Class angle.
And pretty healthy, apparently. Sorry I’ve been gone so long. I started an überpost a bit back, but couldn’t get it to gel so I stepped away. I should, at the very minimum, check in here from time to time to look at comments and clear the spam cache if nothing else.
A couple of days ago over on Facebook I posted a link to an essay by Sarah Hoyt entitled “We’re Not Going Back.” I strongly suggest you read the whole thing, as they say. Pertinent excerpt:
If you look at yourself and your opinions, in the last six years, you’ll see how much you’ve changed.
The biggest points in my change are:
A complete and utter distrust of the scientific establishment. I used to think that other than stupid cr*p like global warming, you could trust most of it. I was one of those people who would look up the official research and “the way things are done.” Not anymore. I’ve learned the limits of irreproducibility and also that most non-applied (and some applied like medicine) science is just “Shut up, they explained.”
A complete and utter distrust of our three letter agencies. Used to be that I looked at Heinlein saying that we had the worst intelligence services in the universe and go “well, I guess he’d seen some bad stuff.” Now? Now I look at it and go “You forgot self-serving, corrupt and partisan.”
A complete and utter distrust in centralized government. You know, it’s funny because I thought I already had that distrust. Turns out I was wrong. I still thought they had some sort of competence and ability to do things that benefited the country. Now? Now I think they’re as stupid and incompetent as they’re evil. Government should be as small and localized as possible. No. Smaller and more localized than that. No. Than that too.
A commenter at the FB post left this:
I read it. Every paragraph. Hoyt thesis that science is completely unreliable, that three letter agencies are our mortal enemy, and that centralized government is completely and utterly untrustworthy is total nonsense. It is short-sighted, selfish, and just plain dangerous.
People who think like Hoyt have very little understanding of the problems that we face as a nation or what the nation faces with the rest of the world.
No need to read that, because I’m kinda gonna Fisk it.
So my interlocutor rejects Sarah’s position as “short-sighted, selfish, and just plain dangerous.” He is also a Champion of Democracy, or considers himself one based on his other posts and comments.
I don’t think so. Oh, I believe he thinks he is, but only because he hasn’t really considered his beliefs to their logical end, as I’ll explain using the op-ed he selected. Let us Fisk:
In the coming decades, the world faces megathreats that would imperil not just our global economy and financial assets, but also put at risk peace and prosperity.
Agreed. But as Agent K said in the original Men in Black, “There’s always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet….” Perhaps the dangers aren’t so interstellar, but we’ve been a couple of minutes from Nuclear Midnight my entire life, and most of the things we’ve been told to fear have been conquered or proven to be false. Even when they weren’t, humans overcame. It’s what we do. Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.
In our partisan political world, where we kick the can down the road – we are biased towards short-term planning and leave thinking about the future to others – these threats are something different. Left to grow, they will make life worse for people across the world. It is essential for the public good that these threats are not ignored by our leaders, but are acknowledged, taken seriously and countered – fast.
This is the “If we just had the right people in charge” appeal to authority. But we very seldom do.
Some of these megathreats are economic: the spectre of inflation and recession at the same time; the mother-of-all debt crises as private and public debt ratios hit historic highs; an ageing population that will crash our pension and healthcare systems, to name just three. In the years before the 2008 financial crisis, I correctly predicted that our virulent cycles of boom and bust would bring total economic meltdown. I fear we face that prospect once again.
And he’s hardly alone. Take, for example, this excerpt from George F. Will’s 2010 speach “Learned Feudalism” –
Calvin Coolidge, the last president with whom I fully agreed, once said that when you see a problem coming down the road at you, relax. Nine times out of ten it will go into the ditch before it gets to you. He was wrong about the one we now face. We are facing the most predictable financial crisis, most predictable social and political crisis of our time. And all the political class can do is practice what I call “the politics of assuming a ladder.” That’s an old famous story of two people walking down the road, one’s an economist the other’s a normal American, and they fall into a pit with very steep sides. The normal American at the bottom says “Good lord we can’t get out!” The economists said, “Not to worry, we’ll just assume a ladder.”
This seems to me what is the only approach they have to the Ponzi nature of our own welfare state. I think what it is time for us to understand, that the model that we share in a somewhat attenuated form so far with Europe simply cannot work. It is that on the one hand we should tax the rich, AKA the investing and job creating class, yet count on spending the revenues of investment and job creation. No one has explained to the political class that it is very dangerous to try to leap a chasm in two bounds.
You might want to read that one too while you’re at it. Our leaders aren’t ignoring the problem, they just aren’t taking any measures to correct it. They’ve got theirs. You’re on your own. As Teddy Kennedy was quoted as saying:
I’m glad I’m not going to be around when you guys are my age. … Because when you guys are my age, the whole thing is going to fall apart.
Back to Roubini:
Here is what economic crisis would look like this time. A global recession that will be severe – not short and shallow – as high debt ratios and rising interest rates cause a sharp increase in debt servicing problems. Defaults for zombie households, firms, financial institutions, governments and countries as central banks are forced to increase interest rates – not cut them as we have seen in recent decades – to fight inflation. Advanced economies such as the UK start to be priced like emerging markets after disastrous economic and fiscal policies, such as those from the short-lived Truss government. The bubbles of private equity, property, venture capital and cryptocurrencies will burst now that the era of cheap money is over.
Again, no disagreement here. It’s not like it hasn’t been predicted literally for decades. Ross Perot ran on a platform of stopping this in 1992 – and lost dramatically. More on this later, too. But the fact of the matter is, that which cannot go on, won’t.
But beyond these, our turbulent times present us with broader geopolitical megathreats to our way of being. The global backlash against liberal democracy and the rise of radical, authoritarian parties of the extreme right and left is in part driven by the sharp rise in income and wealth inequality. Workers feel left behind while elites gain wealth and power. This will worsen as jobs are lost, not because of trade and migration, but because AI, robotics and automation will lead to permanent technological unemployment. Left unchecked, this will surely see yet more dangerous, aggressive, populist regimes rise to power.
Now this paragraph I find interesting. He notes that there is a “global backlash against liberal democracy.” A backlash by whom? “Radical authoritarian parties of the extreme right and left”. Yeah, not so much. A whole bunch of us in the vast middle are pretty pissed off. From Angelo Codevilla’s “The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It” (also published in 2010):
As over-leveraged investment houses began to fail in September 2008, the leaders of the Republican and Democratic Parties, heads of major corporations, and opinion leaders stretching from the National Review and the Wall Street Journal on the right to The Nation on the left, agreed that spending some $700 billion to buy the investors’ “toxic assets” was the only alternative to the U.S. economy’s “systemic collapse.” In this, President George W. Bush and his would-be Republican successor John McCain agreed with the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. Many, if not most, people around them also agreed upon the eventual commitment of some ten trillion nonexistent dollars in ways unprecedented in America. They explained neither the difference between the assets’ nominal and real values, nor precisely why letting the market find the latter would collapse America’s economy. In part because they deem the American people incapable of understanding such matters, in part because they do not understand them themselves, they failed to think these matters through for themselves. When dealing with the American people, as when dealing with children and animals, they promised rewards if their policies were implemented, and threatened doom if they were not. The public objected immediately, by margins of three or four to one. A January 2009 CNN poll found that 80 percent opposed the proposed measures.
When this majority discovered that virtually no one with a national voice or in a position of power in either party would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted on by people who had not read them, they realized that America’s rulers had become a self-contained, self-referential class. Then, after those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public’s understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around the government as the Ruling Class.
It’s not “radical Authoritarians” on the Left and Right, it’s Joe and Jane Average who have discovered that the government doesn’t serve them, it services them in the animal husbandry meaning. That “sharp rise in income and wealth inequality” is primarily due to government regulations picking winners and losers. And the votes of Joe and Jane Average obviously don’t mean sh!t for the most part.
Also Codevilla (and I’m very fond of this quote):
The polls quantify what any observant person can see: the division between the Ruling Class and the Country Class has overwhelmed that between Republicans and Democrats. When pollsters ask the American people whether they are likely to vote Republican or Democrat in the next presidential election, Republicans win growing pluralities. But whenever pollsters add the preferences “undecided,” “none of the above,” or “Tea Party,” these win handily, the Democrats come in second, and the Republicans trail far behind. That’s because while most of the voters who call themselves Democrats say that Democratic officials represent them well, only a fourth of the voters who identify themselves as Republicans say the same about the Republican officeholders. Hence our rulers, both Democrats and Republicans, gladden the hearts of some one-third of the electorate—most Democratic voters, plus a few Republicans. This means that Democratic politicians are the Ruling Class’ prime legitimate representatives, and that because Republican politicians are supported by only a fourth of their voters while the rest vote for them reluctantly, most are aspirants for a junior role in the Ruling Class. In short, the Ruling Class has a party: the Democrats. But some two-thirds of Americans—a few Democratic voters, most Republican voters, and all Independents—lack a vehicle in electoral politics.
Sooner or later, well or badly, that majority’s demand for representation will be filled.
(Bold my emphasis.) Will it be filled by Authoritarians of the Left and Right? Roubini warns against “populist regimes.” Have you ever read the dictionary definition of “Populism”?
A political philosophy supporting the rights and power of the people in their struggle against the privileged elite.
Populism is what you get when your vote doesn’t mean anything anymore, when the “privileged elite” have manipulated the system until the populace has had enough. Could we devolve into an Authoritarian government? Could be, but it will be accomplished DEMOCRATICALLY.
You can vote your way into slavery, but you have to shoot your way out.
Back to Roubini, again:
More urgently, the conflict in Ukraine has increased the risk of a renewed cold war between the west and powers such as China, Russia or North Korea. The rising tensions between the US and China over Taiwan have peaked in recent months and could escalate further. The constant risk of conflict between Iran and Israel could yet destabilise us all.
Cold war? I’m worried about a hot one. If you owe another country billions of dollars, what better way to wipe that off the books than to go to war with them? The same Left that screamed that Trump was going to get us into nuclear war with North Korea, now pushes for nuclear war with Russia. Biden announces in a 60 Minutes interview that the U.S. will defend Taiwan.
And then there is the most pressing, most real megathreat of all: the global climate crisis, which will cause untold, irreversible economic and human disasters if it continues to be ignored.
A complete and utter distrust of the scientific establishment. I used to think that other than stupid cr*p like global warming, you could trust most of it.
For the Left, for the Ruling Class, Anthropogenic Global Warm… Climate Cha… Catastrophe is Gospel. It’s effectively a religion since Christianity has been eliminated. Yet a whole bunch of us aren’t worshipping at the altar, and though our reasons for that are pooh-poohed by the Warmists, they are valid questions. This is not the essay to delve into those arguments. I’ll just go with Glenn Reynolds’ observation:
When they start acting like it’s a crisis, I’ll start thinking it’s a crisis.
As an aside, this year’s United Nations Climate conference in Egypt is being attended by 400 private jets. Don’t talk to me about my carbon footprint.
Roubini once again:
It’s already at our door, of course. Natural disasters this year alone have resulted in millions of climate refugees. Droughts and heatwaves have swept across India and Pakistan, sub-Saharan Africa and the western United States. They are just a sign of things to come, yet the powerful are doing little to address it – most talk, and indeed most investment, is nothing more than green-washing, and green-wishing. It is not the urgent, tangible action we need.
Again: When they start acting like its a crisis… Get back to me when Martha’s Vineyard is submerged. Or they start building offshore wind farms there.
I’m going to skip the last three paragraph’s of Roubini’s piece except for this:
Here is one possible path for our future world: these threats materialise and feed on each other in a destructive loop, leading to economic chaos, instability, meltdowns and conflict worse than we already know. But there is another, less dystopian, future: one where domestic and international politicians cooperate on sound policies and solutions to ensure the continuation – however bumpy – of the half a century of peace and prosperity.
And there that is: World Government. He doesn’t use the words, but it’s strongly implied.
And for my interlocutor, Democracy will get us there! If only the Radical Authoritarians will let it! We will put the RIGHT PEOPLE IN CHARGE! We just have to get the gun hugging, bible-thumping, cousin-humping, knuckle-dragging, beer-swilling rednecks with IQ’s that match their number of teeth to vote like we tell them to!
Democracy would be wonderful if it weren’t for the voters.
Danish Liberal EU spokesperson Charlotte Antonsen questions the use of referenda as a useful way to build up European democracy.
The book – “Towards the European Constitution” warns that the EU could fall apart if the Danish practise of consulting the people in referenda over important EU treaties is copied by other member states.
“Referenda have a very conservative effect on development. If the other countries copy us, the EU will fall apart”, she writes.
Mrs Antonsen, a member of the Danish Parliament for the ruling Liberal party, argues that representative democracy is just as democratic as referenda.
“Referenda are in fact pure gambling. There is no guarantee of a positive outcome, unfortunately”.
Ms. Antonsen believes that “When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong. Every. Single. Time.”
And she is not alone. Time Magazine published a story after the 2020 election celebrating how the elites “fortified” and “saved” the election, preventing Donald Trump being elected again in another populist uprising.
How was this accomplished? “…a vast, cross-partisan campaign to protect the election–an extraordinary shadow effort….” – “Their work touched every aspect of the election. They got states to change voting systems and laws and helped secure hundreds of millions in public and private funding. They fended off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time. They successfully pressured social media companies to take a harder line against disinformation and used data-driven strategies to fight viral smears.”
They manipulated the law and propagandized the public, and while we cannot prove it in court, cranked up the fraud machine with corporate money behind it. Dr. Robert Epstein, Senior Research Psychologist, at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, has documented that Google algorithms shape public thought on political questions. He says “They can do it in any direction,” but they always do it towards the Left.
Our democracy exists so that you think that you could choose But our algorithms make you do what we want you to do
I had as a header to this blog back at Blogger this quote from Sultan Knish:
The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been “liberated” to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it’s because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it’s because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem.
“Democracy! Democracy! Democracy!” they cry. The election of The Wrong People will bring about the End Of Democracy!
No, the people decrying the Death of Democracy don’t want democracy. They want that Authoritarian government, but it won’t be radical because they will be in charge, and they are the Tolerant, Caring, and Inclusive people who know best. Now just climb into your capsule apartment, eat your cricket paste and take public transport to your assigned job tomorrow.
I’ve said it before, starting in about the 1960’s the Left became more and more convinced that the Right wasn’t merely wrong, mislead, ignorant. No, the Right was EVIL.
You don’t debate with Evil. You don’t negotiate with Evil. You don’t compromise with Evil. You placate Evil until you have the power to obliterate it. Anything and everything in the service of that path is, by definition, justified.
Seen at FB today:
In a Democracy, the majority rules. If the majority decided they wanted your bike, they could take it.
In a Republic, your bike is your property and you do not owe it to anyone. It cannot be taken against your will, by law.
America is a Constitutional Republic.
Therefore, the Constitution is the law under which we are supposed to be protected.
In a Republic, the individual is protected FROM the majority, by Constitutional law.
A Constitutional Republic is what we were given.
The story goes that when Benjamin Franklin left the Constitutional Convention at its conclusion he was asked, “Mr. Franklin, what kind of government have you given us?” He replied, “A Republic, if we can keep it.”
We failed. And we’re not going to get a Democracy. Algorithm by algorithm, ZuckBuck, BezosDollar, the DNC, the Corporate Media (but I repeat myself) – the entire (to paraphrase Hillary Clinton) Vast Leftwing Conspiracy as exposed in that Time article – is going to make sure that one of two things happens:
We get a Rightwing populist uprising, or
We get a Radical Leftwing Authoritarian government
Either way, it sure as hell won’t be a Democracy OR a Republic.
They don’t want Democracy, they want to be in exclusive control – for our own good. Because when people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong. Every. Single. Time.
Our government at every level is humming along pretty much as envisioned a quarter millennium ago by its architects. Read the Constitution and our government is easily recognizable as what our forefathers had in mind. It serves as a conduit for everything from hope to rancor and passes good laws and bad, renders court decisions good and bad, and, for better or worse, tackles all the executive chores. It checks. It balances. It functions pretty much as intended.
No, the issue is not government. It is the administrative state, sometimes referred to as the fourth branch of government but really a boulder increasingly crushing the liberal republican form of government we were guaranteed.
The administrative state is the backdoor around government with which progressives—in both parties—have hoped to execute their goal of converting us from the most robust engine of freedom and prosperity for all ever on the planet to just another social democratic lumpen state.
Why would they attempt such a take-down? Because the political class and the intelligentsia cannot see straight in a scheme where everyone is their own boss. National greatness in their eyes can only be achieved when their voice drowns out ours and they are calling the shots and we are snapping to to their agenda for us.
It started in the administration of Grover Cleveland with the 1887 creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission in response to long-simmering claims of abuse by western agrarians, especially Grangers, against the railroads. It was the first instance of using a state agency to monitor and arbitrate commercial interests rather than let markets settle the issues out. It died during the administration of Bill Clinton.
The scheme blew up with Woodrow Wilson. He launched one agency after another. To give you an idea of his overreach, here are some agencies shut down after his term.
The War Industries Board provided the very model for fascist corporatism, and Franklin Roosevelt in particular was singled out by Mussolini for his work in directing ship building in his position as assistant secretary of the Navy for having proven his own concept of Dirigisme (a fact Roosevelt was proud to mention to Italian-American audiences when later campaigning for president).
The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in response to just such excesses of Wilson to prevent recurrences. His many successors have moved much less rashly, much more stealthily. (The ACLU was long ago taken over by the Democrats and is no longer our watchdog for these kinds of abuses).
But it was Franklin Roosevelt who greatly expanded the administrative state, and he did so by exploiting the Great Depression in true Democratic “never let a good crisis go to waste” style. He played the “we’re from the government and we’re here to help you” card over and over to create one new agency after another.
Lyndon Johnson, biting the bullet to pass John Kennedy’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 following his assassination knowing the alienation it would cause among the Conservative Democrats of the South, shored up the damage by swiftly passing his Great Society initiative, which created a score of major programs along with agencies to head them, as well as his War on Poverty program that created the Office of Economic Opportunity to administer the individual programs. The major thrust of this greatly expansive legislation was to allow giveaways to minorities of more than a billion dollars a year [= ~$2.5B now] to insure being able to replace lost white Conservative Democrat votes with those of minority recipients of the largesse.
Many agencies have been given their own tax power without referral to Congress (the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, for example, is entirely funded by taxes it levies on publicly-traded companies)
Many agencies have their own courts with self-selected ALJs (Administrative Law Judges) who are not not subject to performance reviews or any other oversight and who decide cases based on “a preponderance of the evidence” (if he’s 50.1% in agreement with the agency’s case, you lose) and without a jury. It’s a kangaroo court.
Many agencies have their own police forces, often at SWAT level, to be used at their own discretion and, unlike how police forces are supposed to be constituted in a republican government, not subject to civilian control and review.
Many agencies engage in no small part in rent-seeking, regulatory capture and other forms of what properly should be labeled corruption and do so precisely to increase the power of our elected politicians. (There’s a reason a life-long public servant like Harry Reid was able recently to leave office worth a reputed $80 million.)
It overturns the guarantee that our laws apply to government officials the same as all of us. For example, when the EPA dumped more than a million tons of toxic waste into the Animas River in Colorado in 2015, they were not subject to the fines or even criminal assessments a private firm would face; they faced no repercussions. It was quite obvious also our enforcement agencies did not think the law applies to Hillary Clinton.
The great majority of agency heads are not picked by the president or other elected officials but by other administrators. There is near-zero accountability to us citizens, who, in a republican government, hold sovereignty, or are supposed to.
These egregious violations don’t even get to the grave issues. First, we now have 30 million people out of a work force of 150 million paid out of tax revenues—not only workers for government at all levels but teachers, professors, some health care workers and researchers and so on.* Those numbers yield a ratio of one public worker for every four private taxpaying workers (yes, public workers feel the tax bite, but because they are paid from tax revenue, no new money enters the system).
Thanks to an executive order signed in 1962 by John Kennedy permitting public-sector unions (something even FDR said could never be allowed for obvious conflict-of-interest reasons), compensation for public workers has grown from 80 percent of an average private worker’s to just over 160 percent of taxpaying workers now. Indeed, the public is the only sector to have growth of compensation net of inflation over the last half century. Two private sectors, finance and electronics, have held their own; the rest have lost ground.
With total taxes over the last half century having stayed right at 40 percent of income, do the math and it turns out we need the total taxes of all four-out-of-five private workers just to pay the labor component of the public sector. That is precisely our debt spiral as all other costs of government have to be paid for by borrowing.
The anti-constitutional administrative state then is something that we don’t want but we are being required to pay for, one, out of our taxes, two, since that doesn’t cover it, by suffering a reduced standard of living not shared at all by public workers, and, three, by requiring our children and their children and so on to continue paying for it. The progressive elite do not care if they crater the economy; the automatic door will have slam shut, and they’ll be in total charge.
How could that possibly be? It is because our political class demands a large nomenklatura that is both loyal and compliant. Compliant to whom? Well, 97, 98 and 99 percent of political donations by public-sector unions go to Democrats.
“It therefore is necessary to consider the possibility that administrative law was an instrument of a class that took a dim view of popularly elected legislatures and a high view of its own rationality and specialized knowledge. This class drew upon popular political power, but primarily to establish another sort of power, which would be exercised by members of its own class, in a manner that reflected the alleged authority that came with their specialized knowledge. Although it did not thereby become the only ruling class, it at least made itself the rulemaking class.”
—Philip Hamburger, Is Administrative Law Unlawful?
The second grave issue is even worse.
How do you capture a herd of wild boar? You start setting out feed in a place where they congregate. Once they are happily eating, you build one side of a fence. This scares them, but they soon return for the feed. You build a second side and later a third. They are nervous again but, with no consequences the first time, they are soon back. Then you build an automatically triggered gate. WHAM! Back the truck up and bacon!
We are being treated to the same thing. The goal is for the US to become a State. We in the US have no more sense of what a State is than wild pigs understand automatic gates. The State is the very condition our Founding Fathers strove to make certain we would never descend into.
The first fence went up in the progressive era with progressive public education and the Flexner Report, which brought health care partially under government control and made the American Medical Association not only the first major lobbying group but a quasi-administrative agency (bringing education under political control allows for indoctrination and health care allows for populace control. It spread the meme that government cares and is the proper provider of all things good [this and following asides are based on The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World and to The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought]).
The second fence was control of free enterprise and the ability of citizens to operate in their own economic self-interest. This was accomplished mostly by the 16th Amendment permitting the income tax but also by implementation of raft of majoritarian-rule democratic methods that allowed the progressive majority to violate the rights of minorities. Minimum wage laws, Keynesian economics and similar controls on economic activity allowed the public sector substantial control over the private and civil sectors (the powers to tax and substantially control economic outcomes allows the public sector the ability to rule).
The third fence was building out the administrative state, media monopolies and the use of political correctness (a state monopolizes rule-making and messaging in order to create a common political culture supportive of the ruling regime and with subversive elements easily identified and dealt with).
It is the gate, with its moving parts, that has been proving tricky for our would-be rulers. The top priority of a state is a monopoly on violence. Where citizens own firearms, it is tricky to take away their rights and impose a state. A giveaway that we were close to an attempt to close the gate on us came during the Obama administration with his weaponization of several agencies against the public interest and build-out of the deep state, his distribution of military-grade vehicles and weapons to local police, his repeal of the long-standing posse comitatus rule limiting government ability to impose military policing domestically, his purge of a considerable number of generals and admirals, his building of detention centers, his killing of Americans and, of course, the incessant drumbeat of the Democrats on behalf of gun control.
That’s a lot of dots pointing to being eager to flip the switch and lock us in. One suspects they have been using every opportunity that appeared to justify such measures if not creating Reichstag fires of their own making.
And here sit we talking about amicable agreement over government. Government is going to the Post Office. It is seeing the occasional military man in uniform. It is getting a ticket and paying a fine. We read about a few of its actions in our usual sources. It is unintrusive, unremarkable. Even at its most rambunctious, it affects us little. Government is a feather. The State… manacles.
Unfortunately, many of our political class seem to want to affect us in a major way, seriously to our detriment. Oddly, their fellow officeholders are not screaming bloody murder on our behalf as they should be at such threats to our liberty. They get to DC and get told they play the game or sit on the sideline. Time to get serious ourselves about stopping the threat. Time to start investigating the investigators and pruning a lot of people out of government. Time to quit being cordial with progressive foot soldiers and all their pleas for the social democratic state they feel so virtuous about.
Time to be on guard and not leave it all to Trump. No telling what comes after him. And if we leave most of the statist apparatus in place over the next couple of years, shame on us. We’ll deserve to end up on the griddle.
* Public sector numbers typically do not include military personal, whose figures are provided by the Department of Defense rather than the Bureau of Labor Statistics.