Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dear Mr. Bernanke

Dear Mr. Bernanke,

I realize you must be very busy these days managing the nation’s money supply, so I will make this short.  There are so many people in America that really appreciate everything you are doing to put our economy back on track.  Although I don’t have the resources that you do, I’d like to do my part for the country. 

I’ve been hearing lately about a new program you’re working on that sounds very promising.  I’m referring to the Quantitative Easing II program.  I understand that you plan to buy up poorly performing assets from banks and other businesses.  This will give them more cash so they will be in a better position to invest and make loans.  Obviously lending people more money is what we need to do now to create jobs.

I know I could do a lot for the economy if I didn’t have this albatross of a mortgage around my neck right now.  I’d be more than happy to go out and borrow some more money if I could get this toxic mortgage off my balance sheet.  My daughter will be needing braces soon, and my son needs two more years of college to graduate.  At this point, I don’t have any way to pay for these.  My wife and I have not had a vacation in several years.  Given the high unemployment in America and the declining value of the dollar, we would certainly take a vacation here rather than overseas like we did when we cashed out that equity a few years ago.  I’m sure all of this would be a big boon to the economy if only I could afford it.  Clearly a little extra money from the Federal Reserve will put me in a good position to help out.

As for the banks you’ve been dealing with up to now, clearly they haven't been getting the job done.  All they are doing is sitting on the funds you’ve already given them waiting for a good time to buy each other up.  If you give them more money, they will probably do something foolish and counterproductive with it like buy gold.  We can’t have people hoarding money these days – it’s just not patriotic.  Now is the time to borrow and spend and get people working again. 

And from what I see, the federal government hasn’t been much help either.  I think it just has too many things on its plate these days to be very helpful with the economy.  They have so many programs, I think they just have a hard time deciding what to do first.

Maybe part of the problem is that the banks and the government aren’t used to dealing with such large sums of money.  Perhaps if you break it up into smaller pieces, you might be more effective.  You know the old saying – “many hands make light work.” 

I know that a lot of my neighbors have the same problems I do.  I think you should go directly to the American people, and ask them to help out.  You may not be able to help everyone, but with the resources at your disposal I’m sure you could make a pretty good dent in the problem.  If you can put a large enough number of Americans back in the black, that should be enough to get the ball rolling again and restore peoples’ confidence.  I feel certain that if you asked the people to help you with this problem, they will be more than happy to pitch in.  They've shown time and time again that there’s no problem they can’t solve once they put their hearts and minds to it.

I looked on your web site, but did not see an application for your QE II program.  Will you send me a blank application form?  I’m more than happy to send you regular updates on my efforts to stimulate the economy. 

I know if we all pitch in, we can get this country back on track and make our children proud of us.  God bless you, and thanks for all your hard work.

Sincerely, Jeffery Thomason

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Inflation = Theft + Tyranny

We all have memories from our childhood. Whether they are sad, funny, quaint, or thrilling, they are mostly just personal stories about our lives. The memory I’m about to share, though, is a story that illustrates the most monumental theft in history. All for the price of a candy bar.

At that time of my story, soft drinks were sold in returnable 16 and 32 ounce glass bottles. The 16 ounce bottles could be returned for a nickel, and the 32 ounce bottles for a dime. My friends and I were always scouring open fields, alleyways, and trash cans for an empty bottle that could be redeemed. I’m sure every other kid in America did the same thing.

On the day of my story, I had three nickels in my pocket I’d earned from returning some bottles. I trotted down to the local mom-and-pop grocery near my house to buy three candy bars. I picked out my three bars, and took them to the counter. The clerk told me it was “30 cents.” I was dumbfounded. “What do you mean 30 cents – three times five is 15 cents.” “Sorry, the price went up to 10 cents each.” I was sick. There went my dream of three sweet candy bars. I had to settle for second best – one bar and a pack of candy cigarettes.

That was my first lesson about inflation. A hard lesson at the time, but one that I probably soon forgot in a flurry of other boyhood adventures. At that age I probably didn’t even know it was called inflation, and if I did, I probably would have told you it makes candy cost more money.

We’ve all been living with inflation all our lives. If you’re old enough, you may have lived through times of high inflation. Sometimes inflation gets so out of control that people have to spend their money as quickly as possible before it becomes worthless. You may have heard about examples of this, like Germany after World War I or Zimbabwe. It got so bad in Zimbabwe that they were printing money in trillions of dollars. What could you do with a trillion Zimbabwean dollars? Not much from what I hear – it was just a piece of paper with a lot of zeros on it.

I think I read somewhere that prices didn’t change much during the Middle Ages, and economic growth was glacial. You remember what a bad time that was, so maybe inflation is a good thing. Maybe inflation is like fertilizer, and it makes the economy grow.

Or maybe inflation is like gravity or the sun rising in the east – just a fact of life that must be accepted.

Or perhaps there is more to the story of inflation. Perhaps we just need to ask simple questions.

What is inflation, and why do we have inflation?

I’m sure that almost everyone has played Monopoly, or if not, at least you’re familiar with the game.

Now imagine the everyday game of Monopoly, the kind we play with children. There are multiple players, and everyone picks a little token to move around the board. Of course we have the Bank, and everyone starts with the same amount of money. With a little luck and some money management, you stand a chance of dominating the game and driving the other players into bankruptcy. After the game is over, we box everything up and have a piece of pie – just a fun evening with the family or some friends.

Now imagine a somewhat different game of Monopoly. It’s similar to the one you know. There are players – you and me. There are other players such as car companies, insurance companies, coffee shops, churches, auto clubs, farmers, labor unions, water districts, state governments, and the federal government. And, of course, we have the Bank.

In this modified version of Monopoly, though, the Bank, let’s call it the Federal Reserve Bank, has super powers. One of its super powers is that it can create new money at any time it wants and put it into the game. The Bank just pulls an unopened Monopoly box from the store shelf, pulls out as much money as it wants, and adds it into the game. Presto, more money.

Now if the Bank distributed this new money evenly to all the players at the same time, then the game would remain fair and equal. Let’s say the Bank doubled everyone’s money when it created new money. Instead of having $1000, you’d now have $2000, and all the other players would have twice as much, too. Relatively speaking, everyone would still have the same amount of money.

But the Bank in our special version of Monopoly doesn’t distribute this new money evenly and proportionately. It first gives the new money to one particular player – the federal government. The result is that that one player has an advantage over the other players – it suddenly has a bunch more money than they do. What does the player blessed with this extra money do with it? What would you do if you were suddenly given extra money? You’d buy stuff, right? Hotels, Boardwalk, a few railroads maybe.

(Before we continue playing our deadly game, there are three things you have to understand about the Federal Reserve Bank. First, it’s not a government agency, even though it sounds like one. It’s a banking cartel conceived by rich bankers and approved by the federal government in 1913. Second, I’m not kidding when I write that the Federal Reserve Bank creates money from nothing. And third, the federal government and the Federal Reserve Bank are partners in the biggest heist in history.)

What does the real federal government do with the extra money magically created by the Federal Reserve Bank?

It buys stuff just like the federal government in our fictitious version of Monopoly. Only in the case of the real federal government, it’s buying power and your freedom.

First it buys political loyalty, influence, and resources to keep its power. For example, it bails out large Wall Street banks that made risky, manipulative “investments” that went bad or companies and governments about to go bankrupt that have large union connections. The recipients of these bailouts help keep the government in power because they can make large campaign contributions and/or influence people to vote for certain political candidates.

The government also uses the advantage created by the Federal Reserve’s money from nothing to increase its power, decreasing your freedom in the process. It uses the extra money to create and fund all sorts of government programs. It doesn’t really matter what the programs do. Washington is more than happy to create anything that people ask for – Social Security, Food Stamps, Medicare, student loans, a strong military, farm subsidies, fair labor laws, education, homeland security, food safety inspectors, flood control, housing subsidies, a consumer protection agency – you name it, as long as it increases the federal government’s power.

What does the Federal Reserve Bank get out of this joint venture with the federal government?

Nothing directly. The Federal Reserve is just a tool, a front man, for making sure that the rich stay rich and get richer.

The Federal Reserve helps the rich do this with another of its super powers – fractional banking. People deposit money into a bank. Since the bank knows that not everyone is going to withdraw all the money at the same time, it only keeps a fraction of the money in the bank and loans out the rest with interest. The money that is loaned out is then deposited into other banks, and those banks keep a fraction and loan out the rest with interest. This process can be repeated many times. Each time it is, the supply of money increases, and the new money is lent out with interest. When the money is lent out, the rich skim some off the top – interest on money that was created from nothing. This process explains why the Federal Reserve has made current interest rates so low. It wants people to borrow more money, so the money creation and lending process, and the associated thievery, will start up again. If you steal $10,000 from the bank at gunpoint, you go to prison for 10 years, but if you steal $5 from 14 million customers of the bank, they make you a partner.

The rich get richer in other ways, too. After the federal government and its rich and influential cohorts squeeze the advantage out of the extra money created by the Federal Reserve, the money finds its way into the rest of the economy. Money has to go somewhere, and when there’s too much money around it can create a market bubble, say a stock market or tech stock IPO or housing price bubble. Bubbles are useful to clever and well informed people because they provide an opportunity to siphon large sums of money from the market into their private accounts.

Who gets hurt by inflation?

Poor people get hurt the most, of course, because they are the last ones to get the extra money. One of the biggest lies in Washington, and there are many, is that our Representatives and Senators are working to make life “fair” for poor people. They’ve modified the tax code so that half of the people who file tax returns don’t “pay” any federal taxes, and they’ve created a myriad of welfare and subsidy programs to “help” poor people. Washington claims its redistributing money from the mean, selfish, and nasty rich people, but nothing is further from the truth. It’s all just a sham to placate people and hide the biggest secret tax in history.

The federal government and its cronies don’t really exempt poor people from “paying” taxes, and they don’t care how much money is appropriated for welfare programs because the Federal Reserve Bank can just print up more money at any time. With a wave of the Federal Reserve’s magic wand, the government and the rich keep their advantage, and all the hapless people who thought the government was helping them are still poor and just as dependent on the government as they ever were because their money is worth less and less every day.

If the thievery was only against poor people, that would be bad enough. With each passing day, though, the government’s grasp is expanding. Look at the government’s spending as a percentage of the country’s spending over time. Each year it grows, and each year more and more of us are employed by the federal government or by a state or local government program that is funded by the federal government. Or we become caught in the insidious web of federal entitlements, contracts, subsidies, tax rebates, and incentives. If the trend continues, the day will arrive when everything comes from or through the federal government.

Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe all our wants and our needs are best managed centrally. Maybe if we bring the best minds to Washington, they can work together to solve all the complex problems that confront modern America and provide for our security and happiness.

Before you consider the merits of this approach, though, you have to consider two things. First, this requires the concentration of vast power in the hands of a small number of people. Such an environment is ripe for corruption. Which is easier to corrupt – one federal government or 50 state governments? Second, there are countless factors that have to be considered, coordinated, and reconciled to make this work. Therefore, all of the people that we entrust with this power have to be virtuous and brilliant.

If you believe Washington is filled with virtuous and brilliant people who only have your best interest at heart, then don’t do anything. The pattern is for the government to keep getting bigger and providing more benefits and more programs.

Once the federal government has bought everything, though, including your freedom, what will it do then? Will it ever give them back? Why should rich and powerful people give up their riches and power?

There’s an old saying about “not biting the hand that feeds you.” If we allow Washington to take over everything, we put ourselves in a vulnerable position. How will you take care of your family if questioning the government might mean losing your government job, your government contract, your government benefit check, or your government health care? Do you trust the people in Washington? Do you think they care about you?

If you don’t trust the folks in Washington, or doubt their ability to manage the lives of 300 million people, then you need to wake up and do something about it.

How are they able to get away with this?

The federal government and the rich can get away with this because Washington is filled with politicians. Most politicians are unprincipled cowards that will step on their own mothers if it will get them elected. They will do whatever is necessary to conceal what is really going on between the federal government and the Federal Reserve Bank. This means slinging every slur and hyping every scandal they can find to pit the people against each other and keep us distracted. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are guilty of this. All the while the really big money, and your freedom, is going out the back door.

Now it wouldn’t take much to spot the unfairness if the Bank created new money during a kitchen-table Monopoly game and distributed it to only one player. A child could see in about four seconds that something is up – something unfair, something rigged – and would demand that it stop immediately or quit playing the game. It’s harder to see it in the real world, but that is exactly what’s going on. The federal government and its unscrupulous, and immoral, friends have given themselves a huge advantage over every other player in the game of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They won’t stop until you demand that it stop or the whole system comes crashing down like it did in Germany and Zimbabwe. They’ve gotten very good at it, and it’s easy for them. It’s so easy, it’s like taking candy from the mouth of a child.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Game of Life and Death

The Game of Life and Death is a board game created by Congress in 2010. (Further details at The game simulates a person's attempts to pursue happiness and remain healthy under Your New Health Care System. Two to six players can participate in one game; however, variations of the game have been made to accommodate a maximum of eight or ten players.

The Board
Like many games, it has a strong moral message. The game does not include dice, but instead uses a small wheel with spaces numbered 1 through 10. Dice would give the impression that players are gambling with their lives.

The game board can be seen above. Each player starts as a "Patient" in the lower right corner of the board. Players take turns spinning the wheel, risking their future health prospects. The object of the game is to land on the "good" spaces and collect benefits from the government while working toward the ultimate goal of reaching the "Physician" in the lower left corner.

Players must avoid the “Day of Reckoning” and the "Poor Farm" on their way to reaching the “Physician.” Some players may be fortunate to become a “Millionaire Tycoon” and receive concierge medical care in a foreign country. Players are led to believe they are free to choose their doctor and health coverage during the game, but in reality they are being manipulated for the benefit of egomaniacs and thieves.

Players are pawns, I mean, players use pieces (pawns) consisting of small, colored plastic cars which come in six different colors (red, blue, white, yellow, orange and green). Each pawn has six holes in the top in which the blue and pink "people pegs" are placed throughout the game as the player "gets married" and has or adopts "children."

Each game also includes a Federal Reserve Bank (which issues play money in denominations of $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, $20,000, $50,000, and $100,000) and a government mandated insurance policy. (About halfway through the production of the game, many dollar values doubled – possibly to reflect inflation caused by over stimulation of the money supply.)

Types of Spaces
All of the spaces on the board require the player to pay the insurance company or face significant fines from the government. The board includes spaces for "Major Tax Increase," “Higher Deficits,” and “Ballooning National Debt.” Players may protect themselves from these spaces by opting for “strictly rationed access” and “lower quality of care.” If at any time the draw pile of LIFE Tiles is depleted, a player may appeal to the “death panel.”

Salaries and Careers

There are two routes at the beginning of the game, labeled Career and College. Once a player selects a route, he continues the game with that specific career and salary until his employer can no longer afford the insurance premiums and “dumps” him into a government-run insurance program. Regardless of the route selected, all players are in debt up to their eyeballs from the very start due to the past board games created by Congress. These include Social Insecurity, MediFraud, Corporate Welfare, and Subsidies for Farmers in Dark Blue Suits. The probability of a better job and a higher salary is much greater on the College route than the Career route. A player selecting the College route, however, faces greater tax increases in the future to pay for higher health costs caused by increased demand for “free” services.

Jobs in The Game of Life and Death
Doctor: Degree required. The doctor is the only person who works and trains like a dog for 10 years and then gets second guessed by bureaucrats and accountants. The doctor’s salary and job satisfaction prospects are grim, unless he went to medical school overseas and is willing to work for peanuts.
Artist: This is a person who previously worked for a living, but quit his job because Nancy Pelosi said he no longer had to work now that he can get government health insurance.
Athlete: This player may trade in four LIFE Tiles to get an astronomical salary and marry a pretty cheerleader. These jobs are necessary to keep the masses preoccupied so they don’t discover they are being ripped off and revolt.
Accountant: Degree required. These jobs are in high demand given the complexity of the game and the difficulty of figuring out where the hell all the money goes.
Entertainer: If two 8s, 9s, or 10s are spun in a row, this player replaces his or her salary card with the yellow salary card and immediately proceeds to the next White House dinner to entertain the President.
Government Worker: This player may draw a career card resulting in extra benefits with little or no chance of layoff provided union dues are paid promptly.

"Share the Wealth" cards
Distributed with the game are a number of "Share the Wealth" cards. Each player starts with one, and earns another card if "Pay Day" is reached by exact count. There are three types: Collect, Pay, and Exemption, and they are used as follows:
1. If a player makes a large campaign contribution to an influential Senator, he can steal money from the federal treasury.
2. If a player cheated on his Taxes, he can be appointed to a position in the Administration. The player may present a Pay card to an opponent, who immediately has to pay an IRS penalty or face 10 years in federal prison.
3. If a player has an Exemption Card, a Share the Wealth card is canceled. Both cards are then removed from the game, and the player retires immediately to a private island with a multi-million dollar bank account and a private jet.

There are two insurance policies that prevent a player from being affected by a number of "tragedy" spaces throughout the board. One version is for poor schmucks like you, and the other version is for members of Congress and their wealthy supporters. Buying insurance results in the government deciding what health care you can get and when you can get it. Any time a player spins, the insurance companies collect $10,000 from the government.

If a player does not have an insurance policy and lands on a "tragedy" space, the player pays an obscene amount of money for health care and moves to the "Bankrupt" space. Insurance can be cancelled if the player questions the Constitutionality of Congress’s latest power grab.

The Game of Life and Death rewards players for "good" behavior, such as consuming every new medication concocted by the drug companies and requesting unnecessary diagnostic procedures to avoid malpractice lawsuits.

If a player lands on the "Unsustainable Entitlement Program” space, he can choose between higher unemployment, fewer jobs, lower wages, or slower economic growth.

Lucky Day
Several of the spaces are marked "Lucky Day." If the player lands on a Lucky Day, he immediately receives $20,000. The player can keep the money or take a chance on a back alley doctor. To gamble, the player contacts a friend who has an acquaintance who can put him in contact with the guy who knows how to get in touch with a doctor that will see you right away, but you have to pay cash. Of course he’s a real doctor! With all these government regulations, though, he’s had a hard time getting his license. It’s just a matter of time before they review his application and approve it. He went to the best medical school in the country. I don’t know what country, but he’s a very good doctor. Just go see him!

When a player reaches the end of the game, he can retire to the "Still Kicking" space if he thinks he has the will to live. In some circumstances, all players can retire here after reaching the end of the game, at which point they count their scars and any remaining vital organs. The player with the most vital organs wins the game.

If a player is trailing near the end of the game, he can make one final attempt to see the “Physician." The player selects one number on the number strip and places his car on it. Upon spinning the wheel, 9 of the 10 numbers force the player to move to the "Access for the Elderly Denied" space. However, if the correct number is selected, the player becomes the Millionaire Tycoon and automatically wins the game.

Some critics have noted that luck and influence peddling play too large a role in determining the winner of the game. Aspects of the game where a player has to make a decision, such as which doctor to visit, what treatments and medicines are good, what foods to eat, and how much exercise is appropriate, have a very small effect on the outcome of the game. As the frequency of play has increased since its creation, though, this criticism has found less and less favor as people begin to realize the insanity of a small number of bureaucrats in Washington, who after all aren’t any smarter than the rest of us, try to manage the health needs of hundreds of millions of people.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Notable Quotables

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C. S. Lewis, British author
God in the Dock

The lessons of history can be summed up in four sentences.

1. Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad with power.
2. The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small.
3. The bee fertilizes the flower it robs.
4. When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.

Charles A. Beard, American historian

Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest thing we have.

Harry Emerson Fosdick, American clergyman

When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed.

Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged

The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money.

Margaret Thatcher

The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.

Ernest Hemingway

The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.

Vladimir Lenin

The worship of the state is the worship of force. There is no more dangerous menace to civilization than a government of incompetent, corrupt, or vile men. The worst evils which mankind ever had to endure were inflicted by governments.

Ludwig von Mises, Austrian economist

It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.

Henry Ford, American industrialist

All famine is political.


Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.

Thomas Jefferson

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

Thomas Jefferson

In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson

Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

The Federalist – No. 51
[James Madison]

If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there'd be a shortage of sand.

Milton Friedman, American economist and Nobel Prize recipient

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

Groucho Marx

The turn will come when we entrust the conduct of our affairs to men who understand that their first duty as public officials is to divest themselves of the power they have been given. It will come when Americans, in hundreds of communities throughout the nation, decide to put the man in office who is pledged to enforce the Constitution and restore the Republic. Who will proclaim in a campaign speech: “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ ‘interests,’ I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.

Barry Goldwater
The Conscience of a Conservative

What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.

Adam Smith

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

Mao Tse-tung

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!

Samuel Adams

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent – it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

George Washington

An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.

Martin Luther King Jr.

If you take the King's shilling, you do the King's bidding.

English aphorism

The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.

David Friedman, American economist and writer

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.

Attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, Scottish lawyer and writer

When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is completely insane.

Dave Barry, American writer

There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.

Ludwig von Mises, Austrian Economist

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm and three or more is a congress.

John Adams

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself.

Mark Twain

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.

Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.

George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.

G. Gordon Liddy

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.

Douglas Casey

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

P.J. O'Rourke, American writer

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.

Frederic Bastiat, French statesman and philosopher

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Ronald Reagan

I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.

Will Rogers

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free!

P.J. O'Rourke, American writer

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.


Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you!


No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.

Mark Twain

Talk is cheap...except when Congress does it.


The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.

Ronald Reagan

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.

Winston Churchill

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.

Mark Twain

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.

Herbert Spencer, English philosopher, biologist, sociologist, and political theorist

There is no distinctly Native American criminal Congress.

Mark Twain

What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.

Edward Langley, Painter

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.


Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value – zero.


The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.

Patrick Henry

There are only two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by sword; the other is by debt.

John Adams

I believe the banking institutions having the issuing power of money are more dangerous to liberty than standing armies.

Thomas Jefferson

Communism has never come to power in a country that was not disrupted by war or corruption, or both.

John F. Kennedy

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

John F. Kennedy

Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.

Robert A. Heinlein

The universe never did make sense; I suspect it was built on government contract.

Robert A. Heinlein

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The mischief springs from the power which the moneyed interest derives from a paper currency which they are able to control, from the multitude of corporations with exclusive privileges which they have succeeded in obtaining in the different States, and which are employed altogether for their benefit; and unless you become more watchful in your States and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges you will in the end find that the most important powers of Government have been given or bartered away, and the control over your dearest interests has passed into the hands of these corporations.

Andrew Jackson
Farewell Address

Experience has shown that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

Thomas Jefferson

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Lord Acton

Debt has to be reckoned with one way or another. It either has to be repaid, or someone has to bear the losses on what cannot be repaid, either through default or inflation and currency debasement. It if were otherwise, everyone could be rich.

Charles Biderman

Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes the laws.

Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The Bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create deposits, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take it away from them, and all the great fortunes like mine will disappear and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But, if you wish to remain the slaves of Bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create deposits.

Sir Josiah Stamp, Former President of the Bank of England
University of Texas Commencement Address, 1927

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.

John Adams

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.

John Adams

The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.

Thomas Jefferson

Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.

But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.

She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

[America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace. This has been her Declaration: this has been, as far as her necessary intercourse with the rest of mankind would permit, her practice.

John Quincy Adams
Address to Congress, July 4, 1821

The defense policy of the United States is based on a simple premise: The United States does not start fights. We will never be an aggressor.

Ronald Reagan

People do not make wars; governments do.

Ronald Reagan

I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Do not ever say that the desire to 'do good' by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives.

Ayn Rand

There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.

Mahatma Gandhi

War prosperity is like the prosperity that an earthquake or a plague brings.

Ludwig von Mises, Austrian economist

The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history.

Bertrand Russell

I call on the young men of America who must make a choice today to take a stand on this issue. Tomorrow may be too late. The book may close. And don't let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine, messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, ‘You're too arrogant! And if you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I'll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn't even know my name. Be still and know that I'm God.’

Martin Luther King Jr.
Sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, April 30, 1967, “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam”

What good fortune for governments that the people do not think.

Adolf Hitler

Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns; why should we let them have ideas.

Joseph Stalin

Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.

Justice Joseph Story

I believe that liberty is the only genuinely valuable thing that men have invented, at least in the field of government, in a thousand years. I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman's club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave.

H. L. Mencken

If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking... is freedom.

Dwight Eisenhower

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Thomas Jefferson

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

Thomas Jefferson
First Inaugural Address, 1801

I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security.

James Madison
Letter to Henry Lee, 1824

The great object of my fear is the federal judiciary. That body, like gravity, ever acting, with noiseless foot, and unalarming advance, gaining ground step by step, and holding what it gains, is engulfing insidiously the special governments into the jaws of that which feeds them.

Thomas Jefferson
Letter to Judge Spencer Roane, 1821

Every time that we try to lift a problem from our own shoulders, and shift that problem to the hands of the government, to the same extent we are sacrificing the liberties of our people.

John F. Kennedy

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.

Jimi Hendrix

I heartedly 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;' and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

Henry David Thoreau

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

H. L. Mencken

If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad.

James Madison

By a continuing process of inflation, Governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some ... Those to whom the system brings windfalls ... become "profiteers" who are the object of the hatred ... the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery ... Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society then to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.

John Maynard Keynes, British economist

It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of govenment to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talent, of education , or of wealth cannot be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society - the farmers, mechanics, and laborers - who have neither the time nor the means of securing favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favor alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles.

Andrew Jackson
Veto of the Bank of the United States charter

It's a fucking valuable thing; you just don't give it away for nothing.

Rod Blagojevich, Former Illinois Governor discussing the replacement for the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama

I have solved this political dilemma in a very direct way: I don't vote. On Election Day, I stay home. I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. Now, some people like to twist that around. They say, 'If you don't vote, you have no right to complain,' but where's the logic in that? If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote – who did not even leave the house on Election Day – am in no way responsible for what these politicians have done and have every right to complain about the mess that you created.

George Carlin

What a wonderful world it would be if everyone accepted the simple moral premise of rejecting all acts of aggression. The retort to such a suggestion is always: it’s too simplistic, too idealistic, impractical, naïve, utopian, dangerous, and unrealistic to strive for such an ideal.

The answer to that is that for thousands of years the acceptance of government force, to rule over the people, at the sacrifice of liberty, was considered moral and the only available option for achieving peace and prosperity.

What could be more utopian than that myth – considering the results especially looking at the state sponsored killing, by nearly every government during the 20th Century, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions. It’s time to reconsider this grant of authority to the state.

No good has ever come from granting monopoly power to the state to use aggression against the people to arbitrarily mold human behavior. Such power, when left unchecked, becomes the seed of an ugly tyranny. This method of governance has been adequately tested, and the results are in: reality dictates we try liberty.

The idealism of non-aggression and rejecting all offensive use of force should be tried. The idealism of government sanctioned violence has been abused throughout history and is the primary source of poverty and war. The theory of a society being based on individual freedom has been around for a long time. It’s time to take a bold step and actually permit it by advancing this cause, rather than taking a step backwards as some would like us to do.

Ron Paul

Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If you're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.

P.J. O'Rourke, American writer

The principle that the majority have a right to rule the minority, practically resolves all government into a mere contest between two bodies of men, as to which of them shall be masters, and which of them slaves.

Lysander Spooner

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

The Preamble to The Bill of Rights

Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business. Government shouldn't play a part in everyday life. Jefferson said that the people should be left to manage their own afffairs. His opposition will bear careful analysis, and the country could stand a good deal more of its application. The trouble with us is we talk about Jefferson, but we do not follow him. In this theory that the people should manage their government, and not be managed by it, he was everlastingly right.

Calvin Coolidge

These are the times that try men’s souls: the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: Tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to set proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has right [not only to tax but] ‘to bind us in all cases whatsoever’ and if being bound in that manner is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon the earth. Even the expression is impious, for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.

Thomas Paine

The power of the sword, say the minority..., is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for The powers of the sword are in the hands of the yeomanry of America from sixteen to sixty. The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress has no power to disarm the militia. Their swords and every terrible implement of the soldier are the birthright of Americans. The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments but where, I trust in God, it will always remain, in the hands of the people.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, February 20, 1788

'Need' is never a metric used to determine the exercise of a right.

'Need,' ... is an artificial value judgment imposed by one person on another. In other words: Tyranny.

You do not get to determine what I need any more than I get to determine what you need. The list of items we possess, and actions we indulge in, that are 'un-needed' and potentially (or even demonstrably) dangerous is endless.

A freedom to choose things outside of our "'needs' is what it means to have self-determination and freedom. Unless someone's exercise of that choice directly infringes on another's freedom, it should not be a consideration of the State or any other person what that choice may be.

'Need' is not the justification I must make to live my life.

Brian Compton
Baytown, Texas

A gold-coin standard provides the people with direct control over the government's use and abuse of the public purse.... When governments or banks issue money or other promises to pay in a manner that raises doubts as to their value compared to gold, those people entertaining such doubts will demand gold in lieu of ... paper money, or bank deposits.... The gold-coin standard thus places in the hands of every individual who uses money some power to express his approval or disapproval of the government's management of the people's monetary and fiscal affairs.

Walter E. Spahr
Monetary Notes

There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.

The Federalist – No. 78
[Alexander Hamilton]

The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.

Albert Einstein

The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of the republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of the rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.

Justice Joseph Story

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.

H. L. Mencken

On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.

Thomas Jefferson

The proposal [for the wording of the Second Amendment] finally passed the House in its present form: ‘A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.’ In this form it was submitted into the Senate, which passed it the following day. The Senate in the process indicated its intent that the right be an individual one, for private purposes, by rejecting an amendment which would have limited the keeping and bearing of arms to bearing ‘for the common defense’... The conclusion is thus inescapable that the history, concept, and wording of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as well as its interpretation by every major commentator and court in the first half-century after its ratification, indicates that what is protected is an individual right of a private citizen to own and carry firearms in a peaceful manner.

The Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Report of the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Ninety-Seventh Congress, Second Session, February, 1982, pp. 9, 17.

The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meet.

Will Rogers

How could a large bank, constituted on essentially the same principles, be expected to regulate beneficially the lesser banks? Has enlarged power been found to be less liable to abuse than limited power? Has concentrated power been found less liable to abuse than distributed power?

Samuel Tilden, Former New York Governor

If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress.... Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America.

James Madison

Why is patriotism thought to be blind loyalty to the government and the politicians who run it, rather than loyalty to the principles of liberty and support for the people? Real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it’s wrong.

Ron Paul

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are—

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

United States Code, title 10, §311

It must be recognized that there now exists in this land of liberty virtually every institution of state power necessary to totalitarianism with the possible exception of a national police force.

Karl Hess

One may ask, ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with Saint Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’

Martin Luther King Jr.
Letter from the Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.

Robert A. Heinlein
Starship Troopers

Let me make a short, opening, blanket comment. There are no good guns. There are no bad guns. Any guns in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a decent person is no threat to anybody - except bad people.

Charlton Heston
Meet the Press, May 18, 1997
After a shooting, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.

William S. Burroughs

It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.

Thomas Sowell

It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.

People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we’re compassionate we’ll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint.

Penn Jillette

Libertarianism is not and does not pretend to be a complete moral, or aesthetic theory; it is only a political theory, that is, the important subset of moral theory that deals with the proper role of violence in social life. Political theory deals with what is proper or improper for government to do, and government is distinguished from every other group in society as being the institution of organized violence. Libertarianism holds that the only proper role of violence is to defend person and property against violence, that any use of violence that goes beyond such just defense is itself aggressive, unjust, and criminal. Libertarianism, therefore, is a theory which states that everyone should be free of violent invasion, should be free to do as he sees fit except invade the person or property of another. What a person does with his or her life is vital and important, but is simply irrelevant to libertarianism.

Murray Rothbard

Scientific progress makes moral progress a necessity; for if man's power is increased, the checks that restrain him from abusing it must be strengthened.
Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein
Swiss author

Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.

Will Rogers

The very idea of law originates in men's natural rights. There is no other standard, than natural rights, by which civil law can be measured. Law has always been the name of that rule or principle of justice, which protects those rights. Thus we speak of natural law. Natural law, in fact, constitutes the great body of the law that is professedly administered by judicial tribunals: and it always necessarily must be ‑‑ for it is impossible to anticipate a thousandth part of the cases that arise, so as to enact a special law for them. Wherever the cases have not been thus anticipated, the natural law prevails. We thus politically and judicially recognize the principle of law as originating in the nature and rights of men. By recognizing it as originating in the nature of men, we recognize it as a principle, that is necessarily as immutable, and as indestructible as the nature of man. We also, in the same way, recognize the impartiality and universality of its application.

Lysander Spooner
The Unconstitutionality of Slavery

It is this disposition to decide off-hand that some people are not fit for liberty and self-government which gives relative truth to the doctrine that all men are equal, and inasmuch as the history of mankind has been one long story of the abuse of some by others, who, of course, smoothed over their tyranny by some beautiful doctrines of religion, or ethics, or political philosophy, which proved that it was all for the best good of the oppressed, therefore the doctrine that all men are equal has come to stand as one of the corner-stones of the temple of justice and truth. It was set up as a bar to just this notion that we are so much better than others that it is liberty for them to be governed by us.

William Graham Sumner
The Conquest of the United States by Spain

The thirst for glory is an epidemic which robs a people of their judgment, seduces their vanity, cheats them of their interests, and corrupts their consciences.

William Graham Sumner
The Conquest of the United States by Spain

Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

Thomas Paine

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Government Is Beautiful In Its Own Way

You have to admit that government is a beautiful thing. It’s a wonderful invention that has brought untold happiness, peace, and security to mankind though out the ages. Of course, government has gotten better over the years just like most things. It’s steadily improved as people learned by trial and error what worked and what didn’t. America’s Founders took these lessons to heart, and as a result, the American government is the finest government the world has ever seen. Here are some examples to illustrate what I’m talking about.

When I was young, we had a thing called the “energy crisis.” For those of you that don’t remember, or weren’t around at the time, it was a royal pain. There was a bunch of oil over in the Middle East, but the people there decided to jack up the price one day. The result was that everybody had to really cut back on driving and heating and stuff like that.

We were fortunate, though, because we had a wise President named Jimmy Carter to guide us through this mess. He came up with a number of great ideas to help out. He extended Daylight Savings Time to conserve energy for later in the day when you really needed it. Even though we had to walk to school in the dark, it gave us a chance to throw snowballs at people without being seen. He told everyone to turn down their thermostats, but was kind enough to send everybody a sweater to help them stay warm.

But these were short term measures just to get through that first winter. (I mean, you don’t think the President has time to knit everyone a sweater, do you?) For a long-term solution, the government came up with the Energy Department to figure out a way to end our dependence on overseas oil and make us self-sufficient. Since then the Energy Department has found all sorts of new sources of energy. Our dependence on overseas oil is virtually a thing of the past. In fact we get so little energy from the Middle East these days that the folks over there are running out of money. I hear the government is about to start a foreign aid program so the Sheikhs of Arabia don’t starve.

Another example of the great job our government does is the Education Department. When I got old enough to understand these things, probably 40 years ago, I found out that the education system in America sucked. Kids in other countries, like Japan, Germany, and France, were getting a much better education than I was. And it was showing, too. Those countries were kicking our butts creating all sorts of new things like personal computers and the Internet. They even sent a man to the moon. You name it, they were going places and we weren’t – all due to the failing school system. Anyway, the government stepped in again just in the nick of time and started the Education Department.

Since then we’ve seen a complete overhaul of our crappy education system in America. Test scores have steadily increased every year, and graduation rates this past year hit an all-time high. And the beauty of it all is that the cost of running our education system just keeps going down every year.

Another area where we’re blessed with good government is our food supply. Now think back to when you were a kid. Remember how bad the food was – not just in the school cafeteria, but everywhere. Remember how your mom was always complaining that she had take food back to the store because it was contaminated. And remember how overweight everyone was because the food was so unhealthy.

Well, those days are gone. Now that the government sets standards that protect our food supply and regulates the people who produce the food for us, we have the best tasting, healthiest food in the world. People are losing weight like crazy, and the French are really jealous of all the good food we have here in America.

But the government doesn’t stop at the small problems like energy or education or food. No, our government has taken on the really big jobs that people couldn’t handle in the past. For years and years people had to contend with this pesky thing called the “business cycle.” You’ve probably heard about it. You get a job. You learn how to do your job. The boss starts to like you because you’re doing a really good job. You get a promotion and buy a house. Pretty soon you start thinking that maybe you can take the wife on that cruise she’s always wanted to go on or maybe even buy a boat. And then, WHAMO!, you get laid off.

So the government came up with a way to eliminate the business cycle and keep everyone employed. They call it the Federal Reserve Bank, or Fed for short. Through skillful management and oversight of the nation’s monetary system, the Fed has been able to completely eliminate the business cycle. Now no one ever has to worry about losing his job because the Fed always makes sure there's enough money to keep people busy all the time. In fact the Fed has done so well that we have to bring in extra people from other countries and hire people overseas just to get all the work done.

Since the government has been so successful at making everyone in America happy, over the last several decades it started helping the rest of the world. It really started after World War II. Now that was a war we didn’t want anything to do with, but then we got attacked and had no choice but to defend ourselves. After a lot of hard fighting alongside some other brave folks around the world, the War was won. Afterwards we were about the only ones that had anything left.

But the government learned a valuable lesson from the War. They learned that the American people are a bunch of hard working sons of guns, and if you steer them in the right direction, they can be a powerful force for making the world a better place. So the government started taking an interest in the well being of other countries around the world. Anytime some little bully started mistreating people, our government would grab him by the scruff of the neck and put him in his place. In fact the government has gotten so good at this that it can tell in advance when one of these punks is going to get out of line and take him out before he causes any problems.

The government’s efforts have been so successful that the majority of countries around the world now have good governments like we do. Those that still don’t have good governments are seriously considering getting one. I guess they all got the hint that if they don’t shape up, we might come knocking on their door next.

There are many more examples I could give about the wonderful benefits of government in the modern era, but I think you get the idea. Considering all the good things our government does today, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. Whatever it is, I know it will only make our lives better. We should truly be thankful for the blessings of government. Happy 4th of July everyone.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Enough is Enough

"Support the troops" from the mouths of politicians in Washington is code for don't question what they're doing.

The only appropriate way to honor and support our troops is to bring them home today - not next week, not next year, but today. It's hard to remember why they were sent originally, and at this point the reasons for staying have almost nothing to do with the reason for sending them in the first place. We need to stop wasting their lives and their honor on a pointless war that will soon bankrupt our nation morally and financially.

Our leaders in Washington aren't concerned about our nation's honor. They are only concerned about their own hides. They don't want to bring our troops home because the questions that follow are what did you accomplish and why didn't you bring them home years ago? So instead they falsely appeal to patriotism, a War on Terror, or protecting the American People, because if they admit they're wasting time and have no clue what they're doing they know they will quickly be shown the door. This is sick and selfish, and the American People should demand better from their leaders. They should demand virtue and courage from their leaders. Not just the courage to send Americans to fight and kill and die, but the courage to admit that it's time to stop the fighting and killing and dying.

Bringing our men and women home is the best thing for America and the American People. Whether it's good for anyone in Washington, I just don't care.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Washington’s Farewell Address – Redux

Like many people these days, I’m reading about our nation’s history and its government. Some of this is a repeat; some of it is new. Reading documents written at the founding is sometimes challenging because the language is dated. At the risk of being disrespectful, I rewrote Pres. Washington’s Farewell Address in modern vernacular. The language is still formal, but that is probably appropriate given the importance of the document. I hope, though, this makes his letter easier to read. Any misinterpretation or mischaracterization of his original sentiments are entirely my fault.

How sad that we have not followed his advice. What would our country be like if we had? Is it too late to start trying?


Friends and Fellow-Citizens:

Since the time is near for a new election of a Citizen to administer the Executive Branch of the United States, and since you are currently thinking about whom that important person should be, it seems proper for me, especially since it will allow the public to make a clear choice, that I let you know that I have decided to decline being considered for the office.

Please kindly be assured that I have considered this decision carefully with a clear eye to my duties as a citizen of this country, and by withdrawing from consideration when silence might imply my willingness, I still wish you great future success and am grateful for your past kindness to me. I fully believe that my decision is compatible with both.

My acceptance and holding of this office to which you have twice elected me have been a uniform sacrifice even though it was to meet the call of duty and to meet your desires. I constantly hoped that I could retire much earlier, consistent with the sense of duty I could not ignore, so that I could return to the retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my desire to do this, before the last election, even led me to prepare an address to declare my intentions to you. A careful consideration of the tenuous and critical state of our relations with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of people I trust, compelled me to abandon the idea.

I’m happy that the state of your affairs, both external and internal, allow me to pursue a desire that is compatible with duty and propriety. I am persuaded that whatever desire you have for my continued service, under the present circumstances you will approve of my decision to retire.

I previously explained my reasons for taking on the arduous trust. In carrying out this trust, I will only say that I have with good intentions helped organize and administer the government with the best effort that a very fallible judgment was capable. Conscious at the outset of my inferior qualifications, my own experience, and perhaps the opinions of others, has increased my distrust of my own strengths, and every day the weight of the years convinces me that retirement is both necessary and welcome. Satisfied that if any of my efforts were valuable, they were temporary, and I have the consolation to believe that while choice and prudence invite me to quit politics, patriotism does not prohibit it.

In looking forward to the end of my public career, I must acknowledge the profound debt I owe to my beloved country. It has given me many honors. It has consistently supported me with its confidence. It has given me the opportunity to show my undying love even though my skills were unequal to my enthusiasm. If our country has benefited from my service, it should always be attributed to you, and remembered as a good lesson in our history. Our effort succeeded under trying circumstances when it was easy to become confused, when there was no clear sign of success, when fortune was discouraging, and when lack of success often brought much second-guessing, Your constant support was essential to guaranteeing our plans. I shall carry this idea with me to my grave, and shall pray to Heaven that it continues to give you its benefits. I pray that your union and brotherly affection will be perpetual. I pray that the free Constitution you created will be sacredly maintained, and that its administration will be wise and virtuous so that the happiness of the people of these States, with the guidance of liberty, will be complete. By carefully preserving and prudently using this blessing, future generations will receive the glory of recommending it to every nation which is unfamiliar with it.

Perhaps I should stop here. My hopes for your welfare, which will only end with my life, and my natural fear for your future, urge me on this occasion to offer you some solemn thoughts which I hope you will review frequently. I have thought about these things for a long time. They are the result of considerable observation, and they appear to me to be important for your future happiness as a People. I offer these thoughts freely. They are only the disinterested warnings of a parting friend who cannot have any personal motive to lead you astray. Nor can I forget, as further encouragement, your kind reception of my thoughts on a former, similar occasion.

Just as the love of liberty is woven into your hearts, no words from me are necessary to strengthen or confirm our mutual attachment.

The Unity of Government that makes you one people is also dear to you now. This is appropriate because it is main Pillar in the Edifice of your real independence. It supports your tranquility at home, your peace abroad, your safety, your prosperity, and the very Liberty that you cherish so highly. But it is easy to foresee that in many different ways and from many different directions, great efforts will be taken and many tricks will be used to weaken this truth in your minds. This conviction is the point against which internal and external enemies will, often secretly and insidiously, direct their constant activities. Therefore, it is paramount that you properly understand the importance of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness. You should foster a friendly, habitual, and unyielding attachment to it. You should think and speak of it as the Monument of your political safety and prosperity. You should jealously watch over its preservation and reject anything that even hints that it can be abandoned, and indignantly frown on the first sign of every attempt to alienate any portion of the Country from the rest or to weaken the sacred ties that link together the parts of our country.

You have every reason to do this. You are Citizens by birth or by choice of a common country, and that country deserves your affection. The name AMERICAN, which belongs to you as a nation, must always praise the pride of Patriotism, more than any name based on local considerations. With some differences, you have the same Religion, Manners, Habits, and Political Principles. You have fought and triumphed together for a common cause. The Independence and Liberty you possess are the result of joint decisions and joint efforts – of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerful, are greatly outweighed by more immediate Interests. Every portion of our country has compelling reasons for carefully guarding and preserving the Union of the whole.

The North having unrestrained relations with the South protected by equal Laws of common government, has access to additional resources for maritime and commercial activity and precious material for manufacturing. The South in turn benefits from access to the North allowing its agriculture and commerce to expand. Directing into its own waterways the seamen of the North, it finds its own navigation increased, and while it contributes in different ways to nourish and increase the nation’s navigation generally, it looks forward to the added protection of maritime strength to which it is not adapted. The East in relationship to the West has already found, and will continue to find, through improved communication and transportation a valuable market for the goods it brings from abroad or manufactures at home. The West gets from the East supplies necessary to its growth and comfort, and perhaps more importantly, it owes the secure access for its own products to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union based on an unbreakable, shared interest as one Nation. Any other path by which the West can hold this advantage, whether through its own strength or some cynical and unnatural connection with a foreign power, is intrinsically precarious.

While every part of our Country feels an immediate and particular interest in Union, all of the parts combined cannot fail to find greater strength, greater resource, greater security from external threat, and less chance of attack by foreign Nations. What is most precious is that their Union must free them from the quarrels and wars between themselves that frequently happen between neighboring countries not connected by the same government. Your own rivalries are sufficient to produce these, but are even more likely with foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues. Furthermore, you will avoid overgrown Military establishments, which are harmful to liberty under any form of government, and are particularly hostile to Republican Liberty. In this sense, your Union should be considered the main support for your liberty, and the love of the one should endear you to the preservation of the other.

These ideas are persuasive to the thoughtful and virtuous mind, and show that the continuation of the UNION is the primary objective of Patriotism. Can a common government embrace such a large sphere? Let the future determine that. To speculate at this point is criminal. We can hope that proper organization of the whole, with the help of local governments, will result in a happy ending. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to maintain the Union for the entire country, assuming experience does not prove it unworkable, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who try to weaken its bands.

In thinking about the causes that might disrupt our Union, it is a serious matter of concern that we not give credence to parties based on geography – Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western. Cunning men may use this to foster a belief that there are real differences between local interests and views. One of the tricks of Parties to acquire influence within particular groups is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other groups. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and resentments that spring from these misrepresentations. They tend to alienate those who should be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants in the West recently learned a valuable lesson on this point. They have seen with the negotiation of the treaty with Spain by the Executive, with the unanimous ratification by the Senate, and the universal satisfaction throughout the United States, decisive proof that their suspicions were unfounded that there was a policy unfriendly to their interests on the MISSISSIPPI within the General Government and the Atlantic States. Will it not be wise for them to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the Union that obtained them? Will they not turn a deaf ear to any advisors, should they exist, who will separate them from their Brethren and connect them with Aliens?

For the effectiveness and permanency of your Union, a Government for the whole is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute. They will inevitably suffer the frictions and interruptions that all alliances in all times have experienced. Mindful of this momentous truth, you have adopted for an intimate Union a Constitution of Government that is even better designed than the first. It will allow for the efficient management of your common concerns. The government, the free creation of your own choice, adopted after full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of power, uniting security with energy, and containing provisions for its own amendment, can justly claim your confidence and support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its Laws, acquiescence to its measures, are duties required by the fundamental maxims of true Liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution that exists at any time, until it is changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People, is a sacred obligation on all of us. The very idea of the power and the right of the People to establish Government assumes the duty of everyone to obey the established Government.

All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations whatever they may be that are designed to direct, control, counteract, or bully the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities are detrimental to this principle and ultimately fatal. They serve to organize faction and give it an artificial and extraordinary force to replace the delegated will of the nation with the will of a party – often a small but cunning and enterprising minority. With the alternating victories of different parties, the public administration begins to mirror the disjointed and inconsistent projects of factions rather than the instrument of consistent and wholesome plans of common councils with mutual interests. Even though combinations and associations as described above may now and then answer popular demands, they are likely over the course of time to become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men can subvert the Power of the People, and usurp for themselves the reins of Government – destroying afterward the very engines that lifted them to unjust power.

For the preservation of your Government and the continuation of your present happiness, it is essential that you not only continuously disapprove of periodic opposition to its acknowledged authority, but that you also resist the urge to tinker with its principles, however tempting the pretexts. One way may be to introduce changes that impair its vitality, and thus undermine what can’t be overthrown. Especially remember that for efficient management of your common interests in a country as large as ours, it is indispensible to have a Government with as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of Liberty. Liberty itself will find a Guardian in a government with powers that are properly distributed and adjusted. It will be little more than a name, if the Government is too feeble to withstand the efforts of faction, to confine members of society within the limits of the law, and to maintain for all the security and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already implied the danger associated with parties in the State, with particular reference to those based on Geography. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you solemnly against the horrible effects in general of the Party Spirit.

This Spirit is, unfortunately, part of our nature with roots in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all Governments, even though it may be stifled, controlled, or repressed. But it is at its most foul in popular forms of government, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternating domination of one party over the other, heightened by the spirit of getting even natural to such a contest, which historically has created the most horrible atrocities, is by itself a frightful despotism. But as time goes on, this leads to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorder and misery which result gradually push the minds of men to seek the security and comfort of absolute rule by an Individual. Sooner or later the chief of some victorious faction, who is more able or more lucky than his competitors, takes advantage of this tendency so that he can elevate himself, ruining Public Liberty in the process.

Without predicting this extreme, which should never be entirely out of sight, the common and continuous mischief associated with Parties are enough to justify wise people discouraging and restraining them.

It always distracts the Public Councils, and weakens the Public administration. It stirs up the community with false jealousies and alarms. It kindles the hatred of one group against another, and occasionally fosters riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find easy access to the Government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There are some who believe that parties in free countries are useful checks on the Administration of Government, and help keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This is to some extent probably true, and in constitutional Monarchies, Patriotism may indulge, if not favor, the party spirit. But in popular Governments that are elected, party spirit should not be encouraged. From our natural tendencies, there will certainly be enough of that spirit for every good purpose. Since there is a constant danger of excess, the effort should be to restrain it by force of public opinion. It is a fire that cannot be quenched; it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent it from bursting into flames that instead of warming us, consume us.

It is important, too, that conventional thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with government power so that they confine themselves to their constitutional responsibilities and not encroach on other areas of responsibility. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate all power into one department, and thus create, no matter what form of government, real despotism. The love of power, and the tendency to abuse it, which dominates the human heart, is sufficient to prove this. The need for checks and balances in the exercise of political power, by separating them into different branches, and constituting each the Guardian of the Public Welfare against invasion by the others, has been tested in ancient and modern times – some in our own country under our own eyes. To preserve them is just as necessary as to institute them. If the People decide the separation or distribution of the Constitutional powers is wrong in any way, then let it be corrected with an amendment as the Constitution designates. But don’t let there be any change by usurpation. Even though this may in one instance be for good reasons, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent will always outweigh in permanent evil any small or temporary benefit which can be gained.

Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable. A man who claims the tribute of Patriotism will labor in vain if he subverts these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, as well as the pious man, should respect and cherish them. No volume can trace all of their connections with private and public happiness. Simply ask yourself where is security for property, for reputation, for life, if there is no religious obligation behind an oath, the basis of examination in Court? And let us carefully consider the thought that morality can exist without religion. Whatever we may concede are the benefits of education, reason and experience lead us to expect that national morality cannot prevail without religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue and morality are necessary for popular government. The rule is important for every form of Free Government. Who that sincerely believes this can be indifferent to any attempts to shake this foundation?

It is very important, then, that you should promote institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. Since the government turns public opinion into force, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One way to preserve it is to use it as little as possible. Avoid expenses by cultivating peace, while also remembering that preparing for danger frequently prevents much greater costs to repel it. Also avoid the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning chances to spend, but by working hard during times of Peace to pay down debts brought about by unavoidable wars so you don’t force upon future generations burdens that we should bear. Your Representatives are responsible for executing these maxims, but it is also necessary that the public cooperate. To help them perform this duty, it is essential that you bear in mind that to pay debt there must be Revenue. To have Revenue, there must be taxes, and all taxes are inconvenient or unpleasant to some degree. The intrinsic discomfort, inseparable from the selection of the method (which is always a difficult choice), should be a decisive factor for the Government candidly establishing it, and for a spirit of acceptance of the measures necessary to generate the Revenue necessary for the public needs that exist at any time.

Deal in good faith and respect all Nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and Morality require this conduct, and isn’t it true that good policy requires it also? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and soon a great nation, to give mankind the gracious and too novel example of a People always guided by justice and goodwill. Who can doubt that over time the fruits of such a plan will more than repay any short-term advantages that might be lost by always following such a plan? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent happiness of a Nation with its virtue? Every noble sentiment of human nature encourages us to try. Alas! do our vices prevent us from trying?

In following such a plan, nothing is more essential than avoiding permanent hatred against certain nations and passionate attachment to others. In place of them, just and friendly feelings towards all should be cultivated. The Nation that indulges habitual hatred or habitual fondness is to some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection. Either of these feelings is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty or its interest. Hatred of one nation against another disposes each to more easily offer insult and injury, to take offence from little matters, and to be haughty and intractable when accidental or minor disputes occur, leading to frequent collisions, obstinate, venomous and bloody conflicts. The Nation motivated by ill-will and resentment sometimes pushes the Government to War, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The Government sometimes participates in the national fervor, and emotionally adopts what reason would reject. At other times, the Government makes the hatred of the Nation serve hostile projects instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, and sometimes perhaps the Liberty, of Nations has been the victim.

So too the passionate attachment of one Nation for another also produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for a favorite nation, implying an imaginary common interest where none exists, and transmitting the hatreds from one to the other, betrays the first into participating in the quarrels and wars of the second without reason or justification. It also leads to concessions to the favorite Nation that are denied to others. This is likely to doubly injure the Nation making the concessions by unnecessarily parting with what should be kept, by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a tendency to retaliate in the parties that aren’t favored, and to give ambitious, corrupt, and deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite Nation) the opportunity to betray or sacrifice their country’s own interest, without condemnation, and even sometimes with popularity. They are able to do this by gilding their devotion with the appearance of virtuous obligation, a commendable deference to public opinion, or a laudable enthusiasm for public good and the base or foolish compliance of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

Such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent Patriot because they serve as innumerable avenues to foreign influence. How many opportunities do they give to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the art of seduction, to mislead public opinion, and to influence and sway public discourse! The attachment of a small or weak nation to a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the later.

Against the insidious guile of foreign influence, I implore you, fellow citizens, to believe me that free people should be constantly vigilant. History and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most cursed foes of republican Government. But your vigilance must be impartial to be useful. Otherwise it becomes the instrument of the very influence you are trying to avoid, rather than a defense against it. Excessive favoritism for one foreign nation, and an excessive dislike of another, motivate those that see danger only on one side and veil and even empower the influence on the other side. Real Patriots who resist the intrigues of the favored, are liable to be shunned and outcast, while their tools and dupes steal the applause and confidence of the people in order to hand over their interests.

The great rule of conduct with regard to foreign Nations, while extending our commercial relations, is to have as little Political connection with them as possible. In so far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. After that, let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests, which have little or no connection to us. Hence she is engaged in frequent controversies whose causes are essentially foreign to our concerns. Therefore, it is unwise for us to become involved through artificial ties in the course of her politics or the everyday combinations and collisions of her friendships and quarrels.

Our detached and distant location invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one People, under an efficient government, the time will soon come when we can defy injury from an external source – when we may adopt an attitude of neutrality When belligerent nations, realizing the impossibility of overtaking us, will not lightly run the risk of provoking us into choosing peace or war, whatever our interest, guided by justice, shall dictate.

Why forego the advantages of so fortuitous a situation? Why send ourselves from our own land to stand on foreign ground? Why connect our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalry, interest, humor, or caprice?

It is our best policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the rest of the world so far as we are now free to do so. Let me be clear that I don’t condone infidelity to existing agreements. (I believe that honesty is the best policy in both public and private affairs.) I repeat that existing obligations should be fully observed. But in my opinion it is unnecessary, and would be unwise, to extend them.

Taking care always to maintain a respectable defensive posture by suitable preparations, we may rely on temporary alliances for extraordinary circumstances.

Harmony and free exchange with all nations are endorsed by policy, humanity, and our own interest. But even our commercial policy should be equal and impartial – neither seeking or granting exclusive favors or preferences. It should follow the natural course of things – diffusing and diversifying through the gentle streams of commerce without forcing anything. Establishing with amenable Powers, as best as circumstances and mutual agreement will allow, conventional rules of exchange that will result in stable trade, defined rights for Merchants, and a Government to support them. These rules, though, should be temporary, and subject to abandonment or modification as experience and circumstance dictate, constantly keeping in mind that it is folly for any nation to look for disinterested favors from another nation. Any nation must give up a portion of its independence for what it accepts under such terms, and doing so may force it give up something cheaply and being called ungrateful for not giving up more. There is no greater error than to expect or count on real favors between Nations. It is an illusion that experience must correct, and which a just pride should discard.

In offering to you, my Countrymen, these words from an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope that they will make the strong and lasting impression I wish for, that they will control the usual passions, or prevent the Nation from following the same course that marks the destiny of Nations. But if I might flatter myself that they may provide some partial benefit or some occasional good that now and then moderates the fury of party spirit, to warn against the damage of foreign intrigue, to guard against the posturing of pretended patriotism, this hope will be full compensation for the desire that motivates me to think of your welfare.

How well in the discharge of my official duties I was guided by these principles, the public Records and other evidence will serve as proof to You and the world. My own conscience has at least convinced me that I believed myself guided by them.

In relation to the ongoing War in Europe, my Proclamation of April 22, 1793, explains my plan, sanctioned by your approval and that of your Representatives in both Houses of Congress. The spirit of that measure has continually guided me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination with the aid of the best minds available, I was satisfied that our country under the present circumstances had a right, a duty, and an interest to take a Neutral position. Having taken it, I decided, to the extent that it depended on me, to maintain it with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.

It isn’t necessary at this time to go into detail on the reasons why it is right to hold this conduct. I will only say that as I understand it, none of the Belligerent Powers have denied our right to be neutral, and all of them have essentially admitted that we have that right.

The duty of remaining neutral may be inferred simply from the obligation for justice and humanity imposed on every Nation, when it is free to act, to maintain undisturbed its Peaceful and Friendly relationships toward other Nations.

The primary reason that motivated me was to buy time for our country’s institutions to settle and mature, and to progress without interruption to the point of strength and consistency necessary to give, as far as humanly possible, the command of its own fortunes.

In reviewing the conduct of my Administration, I am unaware of any intentional errors. I am too aware of my own faults, though, to not think that I probably committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently ask the Almighty to avert or lessen the evils they may create. I also hope that my country will never cease to view them graciously, and that after dedicating forty-five years of my life to its service, any mistakes due to incompetence will be relegated to oblivion, as I will be soon to the mansions of rest.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and inspired by a deep love which a man naturally feels toward the native soil of himself and his many forebears, I fondly look forward to the retreat in which I promise to enjoy, without reservation, the sweetness of sharing with my fellow-citizens the comfort of good Laws under a free Government, the always favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.