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.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Meet the new boss, the same as the old boss...

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Pool Filled with Sharks is Dangerous

A valid criticism of the “New Declaration of Independence” below might be that the complaints against the Government are somewhat disjointed and uncoordinated. Maybe they are just the awkward and rambling thoughts of a maniac. After all there is no dictator in America, there is no puppet master, there is no star chamber coordinating a plan to tyrannize Americans. The people have given their consent. The President and the Congress are duly elected. We have three separate but equal branches of government that keep tabs on each other and keep each other from overstepping their boundaries. Therefore, since the federal government is working according to the Constitution, we should accept it. This is the best thing for our safety and happiness, and to question the laws passed by the Congress, approved by the President, and reviewed by the Supreme Court is, well, suspicious.

Sharks in a pool also have no master. They have no grand plan for domination. They're only goal is to feed themselves. You might swim in the shark filled pool without being injured or eaten. You might even safely join them multiple times. But only a foolish man would ignore the potential danger inherent in a pool filled with sharks or in a large and powerful central government. A prudent man will take appropriate precautions in both cases.

The Founders went to a lot of trouble to set up a federal government that has limited and specific powers. This blueprint for the federal government required approval by three-fourths of the States before it went into effect, and to this day any changes require three-fourths approval by the States. They put a great deal of thought into what this federal government is allowed to do because they understood human nature – the love of power and the tendency of human beings to abuse power.

It isn’t unpatriotic to question the federal government or its exercise of power. The foundation of America is the right of the People to alter or even abolish their government, and make a government they think will protect their safety and happiness. Anyone that doesn’t believe in that principle really doesn’t believe in America. Don’t let anyone try to convince you that you're a bad person for expressing concern about the federal government’s power. You are in good company. All of the Founders were deeply suspicious of government.

So the next time you’re watching one of the talking heads on TV telling you that the “tea partiers” are just a bunch of white, middle class folks that secretly harbor a desire to reinstitute racism in America, or that they’re just too stingy to contribute their fair share, or that they are a bunch of Militia nuts running around in the woods, you might ask yourself whether the commentator is just foolish or whether he or she is perhaps a shark.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A New Declaration of Independence

When in the course of history it becomes necessary for people to cast off archaic political bands, and to assert the equal rights each person is entitled to by the laws of nature and God, respect for the good opinion of mankind requires that they explain why such action is necessary.

We believe these truths are self-evident. We believe that all men are created equal. We believe they have natural rights, and that their inherent rights cannot be taken from them. Whether people believe in a Creator or not, we believe that these rights include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Men create governments and consent to give them certain powers in order to protect and secure these rights for themselves. Whenever any government jeopardizes this goal, people have the right to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government founded on those principles and to give it the powers they think will best protect and serve their safety and happiness. Prudence dictates that long standing governments should not be changed for trivial or fleeting reasons, and experience has shown that people are more likely to tolerate evil, while it is tolerable, than to change a familiar government. But when there is a long history of abuse and disobedience, which clearly shows a pattern of the government overstepping its limits and depriving citizens of their liberty and heritage, it is their right and their duty to change their government and provide new safeguards for their future security. Americans have patiently suffered, and now it is time for them to reclaim their birthright. The history of the government is a history of repeated failures, lies, and usurpations that demonstrate that it is no longer a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. To prove this, here are some facts for earnest people to consider.

The government has established elaborate districts and election laws designed to preserve the dominance of two interchangeable political parties. With rare exceptions, all of our representatives and government officials are loyal to these two political parties. Even though one-third of Americans are politically independent and almost everyone is unhappy with the results produced by these two parties, they maintain complete control of our government.

The government over spends every year, and refuses to balance its budget.  It has created debts and obligations that threaten our security and prosperity and that will burden future generations from birth. To support its overspending, the government borrows extensively from countries that may not have America’s best interest at heart and spends today the money it promised the people it would save for tomorrow. 

The government forces the people to use false money so that it and its friends can surreptitiously take wealth from us.  It uses our wealth to glorify itself and to buy our allegiance with countless programs operated under the guise of fairness, progress, or safety.  Baseless money is the root of profiteering, economic instability, and inflation that hurts the very people the government claims to be helping.

The government has created an indecipherable tax code that cannot be applied fairly. It creates tax rebates and insists that we should be grateful for its indulgence.

The government passes legislation that will have sweeping consequences for all Americans by cutting outrageous and obviously unfair deals, and approves laws written by and for special interests without reading them.  The government exempts itself from laws it imposes on the rest of us.

The government regulates our food, the air, the water, farming, education, energy use, healthcare, housing and homeownership, business, industry, communications, labor, transportation, foreign policy, war and peace, and the currency.  Every year it issues volumes of complicated new rules that often conflict with state rules, stifle competition, and interfere with common sense, innovation, and individual freedom.  It manages with each new crisis, real or exaggerated, to expand its power.  It can imprison and take the property of anyone who fails to pay for its services. It owns one-fifth of the land, and has a nationwide system of courts, attorneys, police, and prisons to enforce its laws and protect its interests.

According to the President’s Web site, “There are hundreds of federal agencies and commissions…” There are only three explanations for this state of affairs: we are savage people that must be restrained; we are stupid people incapable of solving our own problems; or the people who run the government love power.

Many patriots feared the second constitution would produce the same evils they had just fought to end.  Time has demonstrated that either the Constitution authorized the same or worse abuses, or it is powerless to prevent them.

Government programs are always more expensive than originally estimated, and even failed or obsolete programs are continued.

A small number of people run the corporations and unions one day and then run the government the next day. They can’t be objective under those circumstances or serve the best interests of the people. They serve only themselves and their friends.

The government is giving and lending the public’s money to private companies to ensure success and profit. If the goods and services provided by these companies are worthwhile, then the people running these businesses should be able to succeed without favors from the government.

The government is bailing out other countries, and the central bank does not have to show the public how it uses our money.

The government enters into treaties, contracts, and relationships with foreign entities, and relinquishes authority to international bodies, undermining America’s sovereignty.

The government has ruled that it can take private land from one owner and give it to another private owner if it prefers the new owner’s plans for the property.

The government won't allow dying people to smoke marijuana, but it says you are free to choose an abortion.

The government's current prohibition is fueling lawlessness, turmoil, and corruption, here and abroad, just like the last prohibition did. Despite the mayhem and the humiliation it causes, the government persists in trying to control foolish and unhealthy behavior by jailing scores of otherwise innocent people.  Its approach discredits the law, and has given the land of the free the world's largest prison population.

We no longer have orderly militias, but we have many laws that infringe on our right to keep and bear arms for our own security. History's greatest atrocities were committed by armed governments, not armed people.

The government is advising Americans to spy on each other.  Its agents violate the rights of travelers daily, and assault children, the sick, and the dying.  Its money and influence are gradually transforming the police into an apparatus capable of controlling us.

The government’s military spending, not including the current wars, is equal to the military spending of the rest of the world combined. Why? We have oceans on either side of us, a mostly unpopulated wilderness to the north, a nation to the south barely able to defend itself against criminal gangs, and millions of people who love freedom.

The government has given us a War on Terror, a War on Drugs, and a War on Poverty. None of these wars were ever won.

The government tells us that millions of Americans need help, and it has numerous programs to provide them the necessities of life. It does this at the same time that billions of dollars are spent every month to employ people overseas and millions of people, many at great personal risk, come here legally and illegally. Most of the people who come here find work and shelter, raise their families, and are grateful for the opportunities and freedoms denied them in their own lands.

Those that come here illegally are often swindled and abused, live in deplorable conditions and fear, and never become Americans like our grandparents did. Those that come here legally are often subjected to delays and bureaucratic absurdities while trying to become Americans. The government is planning to sweep this under the rug again by re-forming the law.

The government has given itself the power to watch us, track us, and listen to us without independent judicial approval.  It is developing new methods to monitor, track, and examine everyone without probable cause. 

The government meddles in the political affairs of other countries, supports oppressive regimes, and recently used surrogates and secret prisons to do things that can’t be done legally. History shows that this behavior only creates resentment. A good reputation and friendship are just as important as security and freedom.

The government is indefinitely holding people without charges and without trial, and has identified Americans, who have not been charged or convicted of any crime, for assassination. The President has been given the power to declare Americans outlaws, depriving them of due process.  These are the practices of dictators and kings, not a nation of laws.

The government fights undeclared wars. If we find it necessary to defend ourselves, then Congress should have the integrity and courage to declare war as required by its constitution.

The government has given itself the authority to wage war at any time and in any place. Unfettered authority appears to have resulted in unending war. This will enrich arms suppliers, but will surely lead to our nation's downfall.

The government has been at war for the past 15 years. All it has to show for it are a few heads on pikes, a mountain of debt, the wounded souls and maimed bodies of our countrymen, and everyone’s suspicion that AMERICA no longer exists.

The government trumpets virtue and decency and sacrifice to the people while pursuing power and decadence and privilege for itself and its friends.

For many years, we have forewarned the government of the problems associated with its growth, only to be told that we need still more government. A government that continuously grabs power and begins to take on the characteristics that define a tyranny is not fit to be the government of free people.

Nor have we ignored our fellow citizens. We have warned them of the dangers of this creeping intrusion into our lives and of the accumulation of power. We have reminded them why people came here and the circumstances under which this nation was created. We have appealed to their sense of fairness and open-mindedness, and have appealed to our common interest to reject these efforts that will inexorably undermine our connections and mutual trust. They have turned a deaf ear to the voice of reason and kinship, and our efforts have often been met with accusations of heartlessness and bigotry or the insinuation that we should be silent because our words might incite violence. Freedom is a blessing, and only tyrants fear dissent. Despite all that, we consider all sincere Americans friends.

We, therefore, believers in a just and dignified existence, in general accord, proclaiming our best intentions to the Supreme Judge of the world, do solemnly publish and declare in our name and by our authority, that we are by right free and independent.  That we are released from all loyalty to the government, and that all political connection between it and us is and should be terminated.  As free and independent people, we reclaim our lives free from the corruption that inevitably infects men’s hearts whenever they undertake to rule other men and repossess complete power to act and do all things that able people may rightly do.  For the support of this declaration, with confidence in the protection of Providence, we pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” – Thomas Jefferson