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Social Security Commentary

(c) Earl L. Haehl  Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given.  Book rights are reserved.

I suppose every blogger has some opinion of the Social Security issue. And while every politician who can move his or her lips has spoken out, the question remains as to whether a permanent fix is appropriat for what in 1935 was a quick fix to lower the unemployment rate in time for the 1936 election.

Disclaimer: I am a Social Security recipient.  That was optional but I calculated out that any way I go I will be 82 1/2 when I will have gotten back the funds confiscated from my employers and myself in my name.  Added to this is the fact that the dollars confiscated in 1975 are paid back in 2010 dollars.  And with all due respect to those who have said this is an insurance plan I say, “No!”  Social Security was designed to supplement pensions so employees would have an incentive to leave the workforce.  A true insurance plan would have fiduciary responsibilities unknown in government programs.

I began working when Dwight David Eisenhower was President and was paid under the table.  I can say this because all of the employers who so paid me have long ago passed into the realm that is beyond the jurisdiction of the Internal Revenue Service.  The culture back then was to avoid this.  Lyndon Baines Johnson was President when I first had the deduction.

Every so often a politician announces that something has to be done about Social Security and it has to be a permanent solution not a quick fix.  The resulting solution is a bipartisan plan that buys a few more years so “we” will have time to work out a permanent solution.  It is interesting that politicians use the the term “we” to mean someone who will have to deal with the problem somewhere down the line.  But the root of the problem is never addressed.

It’s easy (and often accurate) to blame the Prussians.  John Taylor Gatto points out that Horace Mann was heavily influenced by the Prussian system of public education.  Bean counters admire Prussian record keeping,  The use of statistics in government program development comes from the formation of Germany in 1870.  The hours of close order drill to which I was subjected from age 16 to 19 was the result of Benjamin Franklin recruiting an out of work Prussian staff officer to devise a method of drill for the Continental Army.  And from use of statistics Bismarck determined that 65 was an optimum age for members of the German Army to retire.

Back in the 1930s, Franklin Roosevelt was trying to redesign the mode of production in the United States to combat an economic “crisis” resulting from government and government authorized actions.  In 1929, the Federal Reserve tightened the money supply because the economy was a little too “hot.”  This resulted in the Stock Market crash of 1929.  The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 was vetoed by President Hoover–I give him credit for this–but it was passed over his veto.  US Industry was at full production until April of 1931 according to Merrill Rukeyser.  He viewed Smoot-Hawley as the proximate cause of the recession that began in 1931 and was nursed along by FDR until it was handed to Harry Truman.

Which brings us to the New Deal.  What FDR promised was a set of temporary laws that would restore the country.  Frances Perkins, graduate of Mt Holyoke College and Columbia University was the Secretary of Labor.  In 1935 she chaired the group that brought forth the Social Security Act.  Remember back in 1870 that Bismarck’s plan for retirement arrived by statistics at age 65.  It was a rare retired soldier that would live beyond 67 or 68 (a significant portion did not make it to 65) which made the retirement age sustainable (well, statistically sustainable).  Age 65 retirement made sense in the new deal because it had a precedent–it did not have the statistical analysis that said that workers were not as effective at that age or that their longevity was ideal to this.  The other factor that was probably more important was that this would give the older worker an incentive to leave the workplace so that “family men” could have jobs.

Like the other alphabet programs the SSA would disappear at the end of the emergency, which in this case, turned out to be 1946.  However, all of the New Deal legislation remained in effect and was enlarged upon.  In 1965, Medicare was added to the Social Security entitlement.  There have been various adjustments in retirement age.  Only individuals ages 16 through 64 are considered to be in the Civilian Workforce.  This is comparable to the withering of the state after the dictatorship of the proletariat.  While Social Security did not demand retirement at any age, social pressure was applied to those who kept “family men” out of the workforce–this is the way authoritarian regimes keep power by demonizing those who do not get with the program,

Unintended consequences:  Every piece of social legislation has unintended consequences which keep lawyers and activists in business.  While taking social security is not necessary, in a society where there were “family men” out of work, there was a certain opprobrium attached to older workers staying on jobs.  In a manufacturing setting it used to be the older skilled workers would train the newbies–65 retirement eliminated that.  AVTS and junior college are not a substitute.  When I worked at the ladder company I was taught by the foreman even though I had shop training in school and knew everything.

And the “jobs are for family men” meme sort of evolved into a bias against older workers. That had to be rectified by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.  And it is still a perception that when you’re 60 or so it is over.  Except that there is an expectation that “older workers” make excellent greeters but not necessarily sales associates in the sporting goods section.  You will find retirees in small hardware stores, but not the big box outfits.

Meanwhile, if you are between age  40 through 70 and so inclined, you may tie an employer up with an EEOC investigation to determine whether or not there are reasonable grounds for you to sue that employer–no worries; the taxpayers pick up your tab whether or not EEOC finds anything and you have achieved a terrific inconvenience for your employer. The costs of the inconvenience will be passed on to the employer’s customers who pay the taxes to fund federal regulatory agencies.  And if that employer is a manufacturer, the cost of mounting regulatory inconveniences can help make product less competitive in the marketplace.

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People’s Rights (?) Amendment

(c) Earl L. Haehl  Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given.  Book rights are reserved.

Imagine waking up and dealing with the fact that your email account has been used as a conduit of really insipid spam. And then you decide to do a run through of the morning’s news. The usual inching toward an unjustified and stupid war on Iran because the current occupant of the White House does not understand history or geopolitics well enough to evaluate what his venal advisers tell him. Either that or he is with the Wilsonian program of military adventurism to spread “democracy” throughout the world. Then, on infowars.com you pick up Nancy Pelosi nattering about amending the constitution to “undo” the damage the Supreme Court did in Citizens United.

If you want to read their story here is the link.

http://www.infowars.com/nancy-pelosi-wants-to-amend-the-first-amendment/

So the basic idea is that the “founders” intended this to be a democracy and the Supreme Court had thwarted that dream by allowing the “slime” of big money to control our elections.

Let’s get rid of some assumptions.

Let’s talk about how democratic our Constitution really is.

“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, (chosen by the Legislature thereof,)…” The words in parentheses were unfortunately removed by the Seventeenth Amendment, thereby making Senators the least accountable public servants outside TSA. Federal Judges serve during good behavior and Congress has power to impeach. Prior to 1913, a Senator could be removed by a legislative resolution—no signature by the governor needed. This is not Democracy, but rather a shield against democracy.

And as to whether the “Founders” intended a democracy, I will quote one of my two favorite members of the Convention, Benjamin Franklin. A woman approach Dr Franklin and said something to the effect of, “So what have you given us, Dr Franklin, a democracy or a monarchy?” Dr Franklin answered, “a Republic madam, if you can keep it.”

Ms Pelosi wants to convince Americans that this is a democracy subject to the will and tyranny of the majority rather than a constitutional republic where there are restrictions upon governmental powers.  She fails in this.

My other favorite member of the Convention is George Mason who walked out without signing the document because it did not include rights. His actions galvanized the anti-federalist movement to demand a Bill of Rights. No, the first amendment was not the idea of the founders, but of the anti-federalist faction.

Hamilton, Jay, Madison, Washington, John Adams were opposed to the Bill of Rights. The first four believed it to be unnecessary although Madison “came around” after time “in the woodshed” with Jefferson and Mason. Adams was a reluctant Patriot—he believed that the President should have absolute power in emergencies and that the country needed an army rather than a militia (except for the armed thugs he sent out to deal with his enemies in the press). In Massachusetts it fell to others, primarily Sam Adams, Elbridge Gerry and Mercy Otis Warren to fight for ratification of the Bill of Rights.

New York, where Governor George Clinton prevailed over Hamilton, and Virginia, led by Patrick Henry, insisted on the amendments we now call the Bill of Rights as condition precedent to remaining in the compact—these were the days before Daniel Webster claimed the Union was indissoluble. Without New York and Virginia, the United States would have foundered.

Ms Pelosi is a hack politician, who like so many on both ends of that road from the Capitol to the Executive Mansion, lacks a grounding in history and the Constitution. The “Peoples’ Rights Amendment” reads as follows:

Section 1. We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this Constitution to be the rights of natural persons.

Section 2. People, person, or persons as used in this Constitution does not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulation as the people, through their elected state and federal representatives, deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution.

Section 3. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the people’s rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, and such other rights of the people, which rights are inalienable.

This reads like a high-school debate topic. What this lacks is the prohibitory nature of the First Amendment which reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

To be absolutely honest, the Democrats who are responsible for this do not realize that:

1. Congress will no longer be prohibited from establishing a religion, as long as it permits free exercise. In other words, the establishment of secularism like France with the universal ban on public display becomes possible. Rights provided by the government may also be regulated by the government.
2. The people’s rights presumes a collective, rather than an individual right. Such rights, if spelled out, become rights granted rather than rights recognized. There is difference. This basically allows the regulation of rights in which they become privileges.
3. If a corporate entity is no longer recognized as a legal person, then it can neither sue nor be sued because it does not exist. It could not be held liable in tort nor could it be liable to pay fines or taxes. Nor for that matter could it be outlawed. The non-profits that both sides of the spectrum use to run surveys and disseminate both information and disinformation would have no corporate being to receive funds.

There are probably, among the sponsors, some who understand the consequences fully and would merely assume all corporate powers into agencies of the government—the United States could have as efficient an economy as the Soviet Union.

UPDATE 07MAY2012

Having read George Will I see the author of this travesty is Rep Jim McGovern (D-Mass). That the author is from Massachusetts should really surprise no one. Massachusetts is home to John Adams, Second President of the United states and reluctant member of the committee that wrote the Declaration of Independence. It is not that John (unlike his smarter Cousin Sam) was happy with the King but rather that he would have preferred a Cromwell type rebellion. John Adams, while President, ignored the Bill of Rights and sent thugs to punish his enemies in the press. B.F. Bache, publisher of the Philadelphia Aurora and grandson of Benjamin Franklin, was beaten severely and his press significantly damaged. He was unable to return to publishing.

Mr McGovern would do well to emulate John’s smarter cousin Sam and his anti-federalist colleagues Elbridge Gerry and Mercy Otis Warren who pushed the limitations on government which protect us from the “tyranny of the majority,”

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The new Villienage

About a year ago commentary in Alex Jones’ infowars.com discussed a tax protest in England. A number of Englishmen engaged in effecting a civil arrest of a judge over a “charter tax” which the judge was enforcing. This was in neither Idaho nor Montana, but in the mother country. Commentators are comparing this to a poll tax protest in 1990 and on this side of the pond to the American Revolution.

Such comparisons are often made. However the Peasants’ Revolt or Wat Tyler’s rebellion took place in 1381 as peasants who were unhappy with their lot of being taxed. They rebelled against the boy king, Richard II, who had ascended the throne because his father, Edward the Black Prince, had the bad form to predecease his grandfather Edward III. As a minor Richard was controlled by John of Gaunt and Simon Sudbury, a pair of tyrants who would exist gloriously in the pages of a Sir Waltet Scott novel. The tax was not as important as the fact that these peasants were held in a state of villeinage or perpetual debt by their lords.

Added to this was that a theologian named Wycliffe had recently been dismissed from Oxford for his deviation from church doctrine regarding the Eucharist. His followers were called Lollards and were mostly from the class of villeins.

This is just a little background. In the great twentieth century we began some programs to have the government guarantee and regulate loans for various purposes such as small business (really big businesses do not need these loans because they have subsidies in the form of contracts), farming, home ownership and education. This was to protect these from the rigors of the market and to protect farmers from the villainous bankers who appear in melodrama to take the farm until Dandy Dick shows up, having hit the Power Ball to save the day. Note that the term villain is used for a creditor whereas the term villein means debtor. The term villain was early on used as a class distinction as in “these rough villains” to refer to the debtor class who were outside polite society. In American usage the term villain became the loathsome creditor.

In the late seventies and early eighties there was a mortgage crisis in the midwest—it is not considered as serious because the people losing their stuff were farmers. So were they the victims of predatory banks? In the words of Walter Williams if you said no go to the head of the class. The banks had been working with the farmers, adjusting rates—they had been through the tough times together and come out of it before. The Farmers Home Administration (FmHA) was the successor of a new deal agency that guaranteed agricultural assistance loans. It was a GS-14 or supergrade administrator who made the decision that the banks had to foreclose.

During the Clinton Administration many of the loan guarantee programs became direct loan programs. During the “recovery,” bailout or takeover of the financial system there were a lot of requirements on private lenders to adjust terms and even write off debt.

However, no government debt was written off and, in fact such debt follows for the rest of people’s lives and is not discharged in bankruptcy. The existence of Federal student loan debt (either direct or guaranteed) may restrict government employment, travel outside the country, educational programs etc. Such controls over individuals is much like the semi-feudal control in England in the fourteenth century.

During various times, especially in rural areas, there have been organizations sprout up to actively protest debt policies. (A joke in early Wyoming was that Republicans were beholden to the big banks in New York or Denver whereas Democrats were beholden to banks in Chicago and Omaha.) In the upper midwest there were “penny auctions” wherein friends and relatives of those farmers foreclosed on would bid trivial amounts on the land while other friends and relatives convinced speculators and bank representatives that they did not want to bid. This could happen again.

The problem with villienage is that it leads to the condition Kristofferson wrote about in Bobby Magee. “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” When too large a portion of the population gets into that situation it is going to be a lot different than the collectivist controlled Occupy movement.

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EMPIRE

In some of these posts I am going to comment on the concept of Empire. It has been with us since the 1840s with Manifest Destiny when we expanded into much of Mexico. While this was the result of a mistake on the part of Major General Zachary Taylor when he crossed the Rio Grand and Polk decided to go to war without a declaration. However, in 1898, at the urging of publishers William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, Congress declared war on Spain. The pretext was the explosion (probably from the boiler) of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor. The result of the war was the acquisition of Spain’s overseas empire—most notably the Philippines.

President McKinley opposed the war and was not thrilled with the new territories with the expenses involved in their maintenance. When Roosevelt became governor of New York, McKinley breathed relief that he would no longer have to deal with Teddy. Rudyard Kipling dusted off a poem he had written, and then rejected, for Queen Victoria’s jubilee. In a magnificent dose of irony Kipling ridiculed Roosevelt’s thirst for empire. A note here is that Kipling was born and grew up in Colonial India and he was also raised to third degree in a predominantly Hindu lodge.

WHITE MAN’S BURDEN

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit,
And work another’s gain.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
The savage wars of peace–
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper–
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard–
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:–
“Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?”

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Ye dare not stoop to less–
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To choke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Have done with childish days–
The lightly proferred laurel
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

Our old friend Anonymous added fuel to the fire in the New York World on July 15, 1899.

 Weve taken up the white man’s burden:

Of ebony and brown;;

Now will you kindly tell us, Rudyard,

How we may put it down? 

 Americans were not entirely excited about this Empire. And they were of the opinion that we should not be involved. The chorus to a popular broadside and vaudeville song went.

“Damn, damn, damn the Filipinos!
Cut throat khaki ladrones!
Underneath the starry flag,
Civilize them with a Krag,
And return us to our beloved home.”

Kipling is thought to be the poet of Empire he was not really happy with the idea of jingoistic boasts and belief in military force, as reflected in the poem he substituted. It was a hymn I learned in my youth that we sang to the tune of Faith of Our Fathers. When the Episcopal Hymnal was revised in 1982, it disappeared but I think it appropriate. It was called Recessional.

God of our fathers, known of old—
Lord of our far-flung battle line—
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
The tumult and the shouting dies—
The Captains and the Kings depart—
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
Far-called our navies melt away—
On dune and headland sinks the fire—
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe—
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard—
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard.
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!

Further, those who wish to see what Kipling would have to say about our adventure in Afghanistan should read Kim. This describes the situation in that part of the world as the nineteenth century was closing. And there is little difference today. Afghanistan is still a loose collection of tribal regions living in the eighth century, but now they have 20th century weapons.

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Defense, production, and Executive Powers

(c) Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

On Friday, March 16, 2012, the President signed an Executive Order giving the executive authority to nationalize industry, initiate selective service, and seize infrastructure.  For authority he cited “the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (50 U.S.C. App. 2061 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States,”  The Order–not yet numbered–was issued by the White House Press Office.  The link is as follows.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-order-national-defense-resources-preparedness

I went over the document as well as the statute referenced and, while I have not done the exhaustive analysis that a law review article or court brief would require, I am neither applying for an adjunct professorship/federal judgeship nor am I being remunerated to write an appellate brief. That said, there are a few things I would point out.

The Defense Production Act of 1950, as Amended [50 U.S.C. App. § 2061 et seq.] was legislation in place when President Truman to seize the steel mills and railroads.  The US Supreme Court slapped down Truman’s action in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952). There was at one time a provision in the Act for seizing necessary assets but Congress repealed that article.  If I read this correctly, the executive order restores the powers by not providing for seizure  per se but by redirecting the use of facilities. This is sometimes referred to as the Mussolini approach.   Query whether Friendly Quaker Industries, maker and purveyor of  plowshares, could be compelled to repurpose and/or retool the factory for the production of bayonets.  And query whether an executive order may go beyond the powers in the statute.  The not so hidden hand of  Cass Sunstein (whose works lack the socially redeeming virtues of those of Cass Elliott2) is apparent in this document.

Evidently the executive branch has the unilateral authority to determine whether there is an emergency.  Could this include (as with John Adams) that segments of society are not paying the Government proper respect.3

The question would be whether the current Supreme Court would follow the Youngstown precedent. Hugo Black, possibly the most liberal justice of the 20th Century (within a year he would become the primary justice taking the side of plaintiffs in Brown v Board of Education, cutting through the arguments and asserting that separate is unequal) wrote the decision. He was joined in his absolutist view by William O. Douglas. It all depends on whether the government can distinguish the case and whether they can convince either Alito or Kennedy.
Footnotes:

  1. It has been more than thirty-five years since I really wrote like this. After reviewing the sentence from an English major’s perspective, I concluded that it makes sense with Santa’s contracted elves (independent clauses).
  2. California Dreamin’ for one.
  3. See what Adams had to say regarding an editor named B.F. Bache.
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Life and Death Powers

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

In the past few days, the Attorney General has affirmed the President’s power to make the decision to eliminate or neutralize those who present a threat to the security of the nation. This was before congress and published in the Washington Post. I was disturbed by this—I was also disturbed when we started using the term “enemy combatants” for foreign nationals picked up on the battlefield and the expansion of powers under the USA PATRIOT Act and the Homeland Security Department’s assumption of powers. But back to the AG who was reported by the Post as follows:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/holder-us-can-lawfully-target-american-citizens/2012/03/05/gIQANknFtR_story.html?wpisrc=nl_politics

Now Mr Holder talked specifically about Mr Awlaki. Upon order of the President an attack drone was sent to take him out. Mr Holder said that the Fifth Amendment’s requirement of due process was satisfied by the President’s review of the facts to determine guilt and punishment in a capital case. Let us examine these assertions. GEORGIVS TERTIVS REX, a gentleman ruling by semi-devine right and eager to suppress a violent insurrection, did not publicly proclaim the right to put out a hit. Parliament held power to issue letters of marque and reprisal as does the United States Congress.

So what does the Constitution of the United States say about this? The Fifth Amendment, to which Mr Holder pays lip service, reads as follows:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The question is whether there an exception for time of War or public danger. The answer is that this applies to the land or Naval forces or the Militia when in actual service.  Mr Awlaki does not fit those categories.

This Assertion of power was extended by the testimony of General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta over the President’s legal authority to engage in military actions.  Mr Panetta basically reiterated what the President said about the Libyan excursion, that is that when there is a coalition our authority derives from the other nations involved.  Mr Panetta asserted the executive authority to make all decisions regarding defense.

http://www.infowars.com/panettainternational-permission-trumps-congressional-permission-for-military-actions/

So this goes back to examples where President Polk sent Maj Gen Zachary Taylor to Texas to expel Mexican troops from the area between the Nueces and Rio Grande rivers.  That was within his authority.   When Taylor crossed the Rio Grande (sort of  like Gaius Julius on the Rubicon) we were at war and Polk dispatched Winfield Scott to take over what Taylor stumbled into.  He obtained a retroactive declaration of war after acquiring New Mexico. Arizona, Utah, Nevada and (unfortunately) California as well as parts of Colorado and Wyoming.   While President McKinley waited for Congress and thought war with Spain was stupid, his Assistant Secretary of the Navy had dispatched Dewey’s fleet to Manila.  And so it goes through Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson (his actions against Mexico), Kennedy, Johnson etc. 

But the founders did not value governmental efficiency.  They deliberately made it difficult to go to war.  They deliberately gave the executive few powers. 

But there is one thing to remember.  “All power is temporary, save that which created the cosmos.” – J.F. Macarthur

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A quick trip from Locke and Smith to Keynes and Krugman

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

This is part of a manifesto I was writing before I realized I’m too old to lead a social movement.

A free society depends, not upon its political class, but on a general understanding of its principles by the majority.  These principles do not reflect entitlements or “goodies” but rather opportunity and duty.

Along with the so called Tea Party, I believe we need to cut the power in Washington and the power to Washington.  We are engaged in a domestic battle which so far involves attempted government takeovers of health care, banking, education and industry.  There is also an attempted takeover of our Constitution which has been going on since 1901 with the repeal of the Militia Act of 1792.  Since 1968 there has been an increased attempt to federalize and militarize law enforcement.  But this goes back to the Benjamin Harrison/Grover Cleveland era and anti-trust legislation.
Progressives love the Commerce Clause of the Constitution and Alexander Hamilton. What they ignore is the agenda of Hamilton and Madison in the commerce clause itself. What Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wanted in the Commerce Clause was elimination of barriers to trade among the States–to be specific the states having power to restrict, whether by tariff or prohibition or unreasonable regulation, the lawful movement of goods from one location to another.  The example was that New York could not grant a preferred status to goods from New Jersey as opposed to Connecticut or Delaware by means of tariff and excise.  It had nothing to do with Federal Regulation of hours of work, wages or other terms and conditions of employment.  It had nothing to do with the regulation of sales of firearms or ammunition to individuals, with a federal scheme of licensing and regulating dealers, with regulation of medical equipment, with federal regulation of pharmaceuticals and the food supply.
If we go back to the areas for takeover, we can examine each.  We must realize that much of the industrial and banking infrastructure predates the progressive movement which some trace to Thomas Woodrow Wilson’s essay on the transcendent constitution.  It even predates Lincoln and the Transcontinental Railroad, as well as the Land Management Act.
Hamilton believed in the free flow of commerce to the extent that he supported the Democratic Republican/Clintonian candidate, Morgan Lewis, over the Democratic Republican/Federalist candidate, Aaron Burr.  Burr was of the Federalist faction like Hamilton, but had allied himself with the secessionist faction within the faction.  Hamilton realized that the dream of free commerce would be destroyed by a breakup of the Union and therefore he supported the successor of his old political enemy George Clinton.  There was bad blood between Hamilton and Burr regarding their banking rivalries–Burr’s family had incorporated the Manhattan company to provide water to Manhattan, but had also gotten authorization to issue notes.  They were on opposite sides of the National Bank debate.
Hamilton also believed in the excise power of the government.  He was influential in getting Congress to pass the gallonage tax on production of whiskey in 1791.  This was a cause of the 1794 Whiskey Insurrection.  In his papers he claims credit for inciting the rebellion because he felt it would demonstrate the inadequacy of reliance on militias rather than a national army.  The performance of Governor Lee and the combined militia force supplied by Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut disproved this on a small scale.  The excise power has been the subject of much mischief over the years as well as the commerce clause.
While this seems a digression, the study of history cannot be complete without the dots to connect unless you have a coloring book where the colors show up when you brush water on the sheet.  Much of the history taught in schools follows this latter pattern with the dyes drawn into the paper by leftist interpreters. The national bank proposal of Hamilton, for example, was only the first of many resulting in the Federal Reserve in 1913.  Hamilton, while a financial player, would probably not recognize the Creature from Jekyll Island.  Nor for that matter would Nicholas Biddle, David Crockett, William Henry Harrison or other 19th Century Whigs.
So let us start with the regulation of banking, Wall Street, mortgages, credit cards, etc. Back in the seventies and eighties (the 1980s–I’m not that old) there was a crisis in agricultural property foreclosures.  The banks were generally willing to work with the farmers but FmHA wanted to clean the books.  As usual Congress acted with the Emergency Farm Mortgage Act to help farmers delinquent on mortgages through the Farm Credit Service.
The fact is that a lot of farmers lost their land anyway.  An exception is that German anabaptist farmers (Mennonites, Amish, Brethren, Hutterites) did not have delinquencies or foreclosures because they avoided major debt.  They were able to purchase some foreclosed land which temporarily caused some resentment among the “English.”  This is an example of the banks following social mandates in lending and then having negative consequences for which they are blamed.  The primary culprits in the recent “mortgage meltdown” are the quasi-governmental twins (Freddie and Fannie) and the “affordable housing movement” which had the effect of putting people into properties they could not afford.
A friend of mine, the late John R Kuefel, observed that the whole federal loan program of student, home and business loans has the result of placing large numbers of individuals in a state of villeinage.  Villeins were indebted individuals whose freedom was limited by those holding the debts.  They were outside of society and considered to be of a criminal class, hence the term “villain.”  As an experiment try getting an exit visa or visa waiver to leave the United States if you are delinquent on a student loan.  For an example of the impact of villeinage on a society, read up on the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.
Back in the eighties the Kansas Legislature passed a law requiring that the state pension fund make investments to increase local business development in Kansas.  Mainly they were looking a urban based development that was having trouble getting funding in the private market.  A number were also associates of the governor and legislators sponsoring the program.  The executive secretary of the pension fund recommended strongly against the legislation because it would compromise the fiduciary integrity of the system.  When, as usual, this turned out badly, the executive secretary took the fall.  A law professor with an impeccable reputation as a judge and cabinet officer (for the governor who supported and signed the bill) was appointed to investigate.  Charges were brought against some businessmen for defrauding the fund.  No culpability was assigned to either the governor or legislators who promoted the bill that opened the system up to the scam.
Pension funds took a hit in 2009 when the Obama Administration interjected itself into the bankruptcy proceedings of General Motors and Chrysler with proposals that benefited the United Auto Workers union to the detriment of stockholders.  The new beneficiaries are the “stakeholders” preferred by the regulating power.  Among the preferred stockholders who got left out were pension funds that are heavy investors.  There is a movement to nationalize all private and state pension funds.
Stock brokers began to be regulated after the “crash” of 1929 when the Federal Reserve, without a signal from the economy jacked up interest rates.  There was a panic on Wall Street and some of the reverberations came from the turning bones of Alexander Hamilton in the church yard at Broad and Wall.  The “crash” however did not start the Great Depression other than being about 17 months prior to the recession of 1931, the proximate cause of which was Smoot-Hawley tariff act.   As the recession was beginning to abate, Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office with a plan that involved Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins and National Recovery Administrator Hugh S. Jackson.  Their approach to the ills of the country was a massive set of federal agencies and regulations based on The Corporate State by Benito Mussolini.  The Commerce Clause ceased to be about the free flow of goods and services, and more about federal power to intervene in the employer-employee relationship.    This view of the Commerce Clause is best epitomized by William O. Douglas and William J. Brennan.  Brennan expanded his view of the Commerce Clause to include state and local governmental activities as “commerce.”
The twentieth century was all about War.  In 1898, the United States Congress, at the behest of William Randolph Hearst and Assistant (read Acting) Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, declared war on Spain.  Roosevelt involved himself in the Cuba campaign which also doubled as the beginning of his campaign for Governor of New York.  McKinley was not in favor of a war but Congress declared it and at least he had Roosevelt out of his cabinet.  Roosevelt was planning to run for reelection for governor but the powers that be decided he could do less damage as vice president.  Unfortunately for the establishment, McKinley was assassinated and TR became a reality to be dealt with.  He continued the occupation of the Philippines, created the general staff, and sent the Great White Fleet around the world.  He was prepared to use the Marines to protect Panama’s “independence” to build a canal across the isthmus.  Out of the malaria that plagued the workers came the Public Health Service.  “I took the Canal Zone and let Congress debate about me.”
While there was a four year lag in the “progressive” movement under William Howard Taft. Then in 1913 Thomas Woodrow Wilson came into office largely as a result of the “Bull Moose” campaign of TR that took electoral votes and made Taft the second incumbent in history to come in third.  Wilson soon had the Federal Reserve act, the ratification of the income tax, the ratification of direct election of Senators, and troops in Mexico.
The sixteenth amendment says, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” This basically gives the government the means to expand without raising tariffs and to engage in military adventurism,  The Wilson administration was responsible for the occupation of Mexico, our involvement in World War I, and the 1920 invasion of the Soviet Union to interfere with the Bolshevik revolution.  Also on the plate were the Sedition Act of 1917 and the Intelligence Bureau (modeled after the Soviet Cheka) to break up socialist and anarchist gatherings.
The post war economic downturn was due to loss of about 40 percent of the industrial work force between the “Great War” and the Camp Funston flu.  The first outbreak of the 1918 flu was at Camp Funston, Kansas.  What the government did about this downturn was, in a word, nothing.  The recession ran its course and by 1925, America was back at full production.  Admiral Yamamoto who took his master’s degree at Harvard warned Japan that America would ultimately triumph because of industrial might.
But after eight years of limited government in the twenties, the United States turned to Herbert Hoover, a Rooseveltian progressive.  Since that time the power struggle has basically been between styles of progressivism.  Kennedy and Reagan were Rooseveltian progressives (TR) with some conservative and occasional libertarian tendencies.  But it has been a steady movement of more alphabet soup agencies and restrrictions for the good of the people.   Remember castor oil?  It was part of every grandmother’s medicine chest and it was derived from the toxic castor bean,
So that is how we get from John Locke and Adam Smith to the disciples of John Maynard Keynes, J.K. Galbraith and Paul Krugman.
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