"People have often been willing to give up personal identity and join into a collective. Historically, that propensity has usually been very bad news. Collectives tend to be mean, to designate official enemies, to be violent, and to discourage creative, rigorous thought. Fascists, communists, religious cults, criminal 'families' — there has been no end to the varieties of human collectives, but it seems to me that these examples have quite a lot in common. I wonder if some aspect of human nature evolved in the context of competing packs. We might be genetically wired to be vulnerable to the lure of the mob." ~ Jaron Lanier
Grand Theft America: "All Your Wealth Are Belong to Us"*
Exclusive to STR
"What the Bail-Out does is saddle the country and all its 'taxpayers' with new trillions of debt and makes it such that every 'taxpayer', regardless of how wise, cautious and frugal he may be, owes loads of Federal Reserve Notes (money) to the Federal Reserve Banking system. What will the 'taxpayers' receive for this new tax saddle? The answer is that they have received and will receive nothing. Almost all of the Bail-Out money goes to the corporations whose errand boys like Greenspan, Paulson, Bernanke, Dimon, Mozilo and Fuld carried out the debt trap that was set 9-10 years ago." [emphasis added] ~ John Olagues, The Real Reason Behind the Bail-Out**
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The Vampire State Collapses, Having Drained Its Host
Nearly a century ago, two audacious mechanisms were put into place to drain wealth and power from the American people and to funnel that wealth and power to an elite. Today's crisis has arisen because essentially all of our wealth and power has by now been taken from us, and the illusion of normalcy can no longer be maintained.
Symptoms of the collapse are everywhere and visible throughout nearly every facet of society, although the financial and economic elements have recently taken center stage. The level of debt in America is almost beyond belief; we have all seen the numbers and they are incomprehensible--far too large to make sense in human terms. The on-book national debt has passed ten trillion dollars. Unfunded federal liabilities, calculated as a business would calculate them, are in the neighborhood of one hundred trillion dollars. State, county, and local governments are also deep in debt, to the point where, for example, the "Governator" of California recently asked the feds for a $7 billion loan to cover the state's budget deficit, because it was unclear whether the state would be able to borrow enough money from investors to pay its bills. Yes, California , the world's seventh-largest economy all by itself, is near bankruptcy, although it did manage to sell $5 billion in bonds (more debt!) last week. Plenty of businesses and other organizations are also deep in debt; families and individuals are drowning in debt while employment and other measures of economic health are looking grim and getting worse. Almost half of Southern California house sales are now foreclosures. Banks, insurance companies, auto manufacturers, and other entities are absorbing multi-billion dollar, even trillion-dollar injections of cash (mostly from the government via the Federal Reserve--money created from thin air) and yet are still in danger of going under.
And that's just the economic bad news. Actually, it's just a partial listing of the visible economic bad news.
What on Earth has happened to this country? Speaking mostly of our intensifying economic nightmare, Sam Mathid sums it this way in a recent column:
"We expropriated and wasted not only such real wealth (production) as there has been in the present times, but we wasted the accumulated wealth of all the preceding generations, and finally (and most disgusting of all) we then went into vast debt and consumed the wealth of future generations.
"The whole lot, every last nickel, has either been doled out in the gutter of political corruption, or flushed down Wall Street's slimy drain; all abetted by a malign, mumbo-jumbo nonsense called Keynesian economics. Nowhere is there reference to prior criminality and stupidity on such a grand scale. There is no historical precedent."
-- Sam Mathid, It is Time [emphasis added]
The problems Mathid identifies, and our loss of freedom*** and other problems as well, all have their root in the two mechanisms that created and which define our vampire state -- the twin evils of income taxation and fiat currency. Most of our bloated government itself as well as the blatant, government-enabled misbehavior of American corporations of today and yesterday (Blackwater, Halliburton, AIG, major investment banks, United Fruit, etc. ad nauseum) result from this epic redirection of wealth and power by coercion (income taxation) and by stealth (the Federal Reserve) from the American people to the United States government and from there to favored groups, industries, corporations, foreign governments, and individuals.
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Fascist Empire or Haven for Mankind?
"Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country." ~ Marquis de Lafayette
"O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind." ~ Thomas Paine, Common Sense
Arguing over whether the income tax and the Federal Reserve are legal or not misses the point: Slavery was legal in much of America until 1865; the stunning yet well-known truth is that the Constitution originally sanctioned slavery in plain language. Prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and early 1930s was legal, allowed via Constitutional amendment. Likewise, income taxation was sanctioned by another amendment to the Constitution; popular arguments aside, the income tax appears as legal as anything else in America. But just because something is legal does not make it right or positive--many laws and policies are neither--and bad law should be repealed. America ended slavery and alcohol prohibition, and we should certainly end both the privately-owned Federal Reserve and the taxation of income, replacing the inflationary fiat currency the Fed issues with a stable currency backed by gold and silver, and replacing the income tax with nothing. For most of this nation's history, we had neither a fiat currency nor an income tax, and during that time America became the wealthiest nation in the world and a haven for those seeking both prosperity and freedom from tyranny.
We desperately need to reclaim America's original ideals. Our ultimate goal must be a truly non-coercive society--a society where love and freedom are the norm--and until we succeed, we must at least strive to reduce the level of government violence, coercion, and fraud to a minimum. Henry David Thoreau put it well right at the start of Civil Disobedience:
"I heartily accept the motto, 'That government is best which governs least'; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe -- 'That government is best which governs not at all.'"
As a direct result of allowing our nation to drift so far from its heritage of relative freedom, many trillions of dollars in wealth (both directly and via inflation of the money supply) have been taken from the American people and redirected to special interests of all kinds over the past century, with the largest portion going to war and war-related businesses and government empires (e.g., the Pentagon). This "grand theft America " has caused vast market distortions, business and government corruption, human pain and suffering, and many millions of deaths around the world. It is now causing a global financial crisis that will, before it is over, be unprecedented in human history.
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Ripples and Dominoes
It is worth emphasizing that Americans have been devastated not only by our unfolding national bankruptcy but also by secondary effects of the epic, on-going confiscation of their wealth. Indeed, people around the world have been harmed by these effects.
The problems include two world wars and dozens of lesser wars; a military-industrial complex which has grown to breathtaking size and expense (we spend roughly as much on our military as the rest of the world combined does on theirs, so the pressure to get a war on somewhere is constant); corruption of many governments around the globe; American-engineered coups and destabilization of democratic regimes; a bizarre "war on drugs" that has wrongfully imprisoned millions of non-violent people and created horrific violence in many nations; intense and needless poverty in nations that might otherwise have created some measure of prosperity; the stunning rise of corporatism (which had previously existed but has now become powerful almost beyond imagining); malregulation (a form and symptom of corporatism, actually) leading to corrupt and harmful behavior in industries such as banking and finance (regulated by the SEC and other government entities), pharmaceuticals (FDA and others), and even food and supplements (the FDA, the USDA--which has been preventing cattle producers from testing their herds for Mad Cow--and more)--all this and a great many other devastating symptoms have been caused by the pathological over-growth of government power, enabled by the twin evils of income taxation and central banking in the United States.
Don't miss the forest for the trees: a huge cascade of bad news over the past 95 years--from our needless entry into World War I to the Great Depression of the 1930s; from the war in Vietnam to the current implosion of your retirement fund--has its genesis in the greatest robbery ever conceived, much less carried out: the constant, ongoing redistribution of wealth from the ordinary Americans who create the wealth to a favored elite, via income taxation and fiat currency. The most productive and wealthiest nation to ever exist has been plundered into poverty right under our noses, and the plunder continues.
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There Are No Beginnings; Only Inflection Points
Even more distant events have played roles in the gestation of our present crisis. For example, had the Articles of Confederation not been replaced by the Constitution, America would have no central government as we understand the term today and thus there would have been no coercive body to provide a nationwide monopoly charter to the Federal Reserve or to any other such central bank; nor would we have a national income tax. Other inflection points, both nearer and more distant in time, can be identified as well; for example, the Federal Reserve is not the first central bank America has been saddled with, and Andrew Jackson's successful fight against the Second Bank of the United States remains a dramatic and instructive piece of American history.
As for the future, the very least we can expect is sharply lower living standards for American citizens, with further financial assault from government at every level. For example:
"As a hint of what is to come, Nancy Pelosi has stated that she wants to tax your 401k with a one-time levy or even a levy on appreciation or contribution, never mind that you already pay tax when you withdraw the money to spend in retirement.
"The economy will continue to worsen. With essential government funds redirected to pay off the bankers and make sure they don't suffer, you will instead, along with all of the businesses and industry that make this nation great, never mind providing you with a paycheck."
-- Karl Denninger , America Has Died - To Thunderous Applause
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Toxic Paradigms as Weapons Against Humanity
How have the power elite gotten away with such a brazen scheme--with simply appropriating much of the wealth that you and so many other Americans have worked so hard for over the past 95 years?
Simple: they taught you to question freedom, to obey authority, to believe that coercion is necessary for civil society, to believe that only coercive government can implement compassion for the poor and others in need, and to believe other toxic nonsense designed to legitimize the taking of wealth and power from the people, and handing that wealth and power to an elite. For that matter, those in power taught this nonsense to previous generations going back to at least the start of coercive government schooling in the 1840s (see also this excellent video with John Taylor Gatto [8 min 56 sec] on "state controlled consciousness").
By now, the original idea of America--as a haven for mankind and a place where freedom from tyranny was the plainly-stated and largely-attained goal -- has simply been lost. The concept and benefits of freedom are no longer understood by the majority of Americans; the all-powerful State and its shackles are now everywhere, including deep in the mind of the average person.
The classical liberal movement understood, if vaguely, that love and freedom were different aspects of a unified and unbreakable whole, and that both qualities were necessary for a healthy society. We will not see real progress in fixing our current problems until we first relearn that truth. The elites have taken that understanding from us, and done so quite deliberately. It is time to begin reversing the damage.
America never fully got it right; we put too much power in the hands of government--even at the start, when government was a mere speck compared to today--and we never explicitly enunciated and supported the need for non-coercively provided love and compassion, especially for the young.
Love and freedom: there is no other salvation, nor any other long-term solution to the unfolding global crisis.
* Part of this column title was suggested to me by the broken-English phrase "All your base are belong to us" (from a Japanese video game) that became an internet sensation in 2001. The whole fad may have vanished from popular memory in a few more years, and thus this note.
** Mr. Olagues is among those who believe we are headed for hyper-deflation rather than hyper-inflation. From the linked column:
"Contrary to Ron Paul's forecast of hyper-inflation, which will only take place if the increased money supply goes to the hands of the consumers and does not create a corresponding amount of debt, there may be a severe demand for dollars and hyper-deflation, where the country and the people have no money to buy goods and services but only debts.
"The bankers have discovered a way to force the people of America and the world into an intense form of debt slavery and that is the reason for their reckless past lending practices, credit cards for all and now this massive Wall Street Bankers Bail-Out."
*** Check out Naomi Wolf's list of Ten Steps to Fascism (which the Bush administration has clearly been following) for a disquieting look at another type of bad news for America. For that matter, see my Open Letter to the Red Cross from November 2006, regarding the gulag of detention camps--or "concentration camps" as the Germans called them--that Halliburton recently built here in America on a $385 million no-bid contract. Then there are the numerous pieces of new police-state legislation (the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, and the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007, and others), systematic use of torture, signing statements, executive orders, repressive new federal agencies (Homeland Security and TSA, for example) all clearly aimed more at intimidating and controlling American citizens than defending against terrorists; the Patriot Act was almost immediately used against U.S. citizens in ordinary criminal cases (see here for another example) -- which we had been assured would never happen -- and we have now seen protesters at the Republican National Convention being charged with "terrorism." Let's not forget the ominous deployment, as of October first, of American military to patrol American streets. In short, a vigorous assault on American rights and freedoms has accompanied the accelerating economic decline.