Beyond the Cusp

December 15, 2011

Liberal and Progressive Two Misleading Titles in Society and Politics

The titles of “Liberal” and “Progressive” are probably the two most misleading titles which are employed in common everyday discourse, without a pause to take even the slightest of critical inquiries as to whether or not these are fitting terms being attached to the leftist, big government politics they have come to define. The first necessary step in clarifying the original and true meaning of these titles and the meaning they now hold in modern political discourse would be to take a defining look into the reasoning behind their original uses and any transformations or hijackings they have taken over the years. Let’s take the evolution of the Liberal concept first.

At the times of the founding of the United States of America, the leadership of the revolution and the drafters of the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States considered themselves to be Liberals or Libertarians, the two terms were thought to be interchangeable. The driving concepts and philosophies driving the leaders of the new politics were the nobility of the individuals’ rights which were considered to come from a higher source that placed the governance as subservient to the people. This was a complete reversal of the current political theories found throughout the world, especially in Europe, with most governments being under some form of sovereign, be it a King, Emperor, Sultan, Czar, or other noble title. Previously, the ruler was considered to be a person of privilege who ruled by the powers granted by the Church, Deity, or other higher source defining them as above those over whom they held ultimate power. This definition of Liberal remained intact though it was eventually superseded by other political philosophies which placed more emphasis on government taking some of the powers formerly reserved to the individual and granted them to government. The use of the term Liberal and the political philosophy of Liberalism regained prominence when it was adopted as a new title for those who had previously referred to themselves as Progressives. So, perhaps a look into the early Progressive Movement before returning to the reemergence of the term Liberal is in order.

The early Progressives took a populist stand with their rhetoric in order to implement a program which proved to be in favor of granting more powers and latitude to the federal government at the expense of the powers previously belonging to the individual States. Probably their signature accomplishments came in 1913 with the adoption of two Amendments to the Constitution, the Sixteenth Amendment and the Seventeenth Amendment. The Sixteenth Amendment established the Federal Income Tax which, in time, provided the means for the Federal Government to collect what had previously been unbelievable amounts of money off the backs of the citizenry. The initial promise was that this tax would only ever apply to the truly wealthy and highest ten percent of wage earners and would never rise above five or ten percent anytime in the future. It did not take long before both those promises proved to be the lies the opponents of the Sixteenth Amendment had claimed while voicing visions of coming doom. The Seventeenth Amendment had more far reaching implications though they are far less apparent. In the name of empowering the citizens by making Senators directly elected by the people, the Federal Government removed the most limiting influence which the Founding Fathers had granted to the States. Stealing the power to appoint the Senators by the State Legislators or whatever method each State chose for appointment of their pair of Senators and granting it to the people, the Federal Government placed the States in a position where should they not approve this Amendment they would probably suffer at the next election when their citizens might take as insult that the State retained power and was apparently not trusting of allowing the people to elect the Senators. Once the Seventeenth Amendment was ratified the States watched helplessly as they bled power in a direct transfusion into the arms of the Federal Government. It did not take long after this theft took place until the States were tasked with implementing programs, running programs and enforcing regulations as instructed by the now overly empowered Federal Government. After the enactment of overwhelming amounts of new regulations and laws under the Progressive policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the voters woke to an overbearing Federal Government which was unrecognizable from the Federal Government before the Roosevelt Presidency. After losing much of the support for anything tagged as Progressive forced those who still wished to enact such policies to rebrand themselves, they chose to apply what had been the name which was identified with the founding of the United States and they took the title of Liberals.

This use of the term Liberal was intentionally misleading as is the most recent reappearance of the term Progressive to describe those who were formerly called Liberal. Due to this recent event we are enabled to discuss the current meaning of both terms, Liberal and Progressive, simultaneously. In their original definitions, Liberal meant supporting liberty and individual rights and Progressive was defined as working for new ideas and new ways of looking at problems and situations and providing original and previously untried methods. Now both have simply come to describe those who wish to find new areas and novel ways of expanding governmental power and influence. Most people who consider themselves as Liberal or Progressive support more laws and regulations requiring people to forfeit much of their individual rights to the Government in exchange of the Government also taking over their responsibilities related or implied by these rights. This has another effect whereby the definition of a good citizen becomes more and more narrow and limited with the end target being the blurring of all individual differences and producing a standard model citizen being defined by Government. Liberal and Progressive politicians offer freedom from responsibility at the price of one’s freedom. For many, especially those residing in cities and other concentrated population centers, the offer to have many of their needs and wants being taken care of by Government is so attractive because they believe that Government would never fall down and take such servicing away but will forever provide for them so they can be free of having to obtaining those items and services on their own. These are not the worst of those who advocate the political movements under the titles of Liberal and Progressive.

The extremist element of the Liberal and Progressive Movements advance the ideal that there exists no problem which Government is not the answer. They place their whole strength and efforts into granting the Government with what they refer to as the tools to advance the care of every citizen in order to guarantee everybody with a minimal set of services and worth of life. The guarantee of a livable standard of living for everyone never ends in adding to the basic original obvious necessities but continues to introduce new demands that Government address and provide. The Liberal and especially the Progressive believe that anything that is new, especially new power granted to Government, is by definition advancement of the human element and thus a positive addition to society. They also will support anything that takes society towards the highest of their goals, total equality of outcome even (especially) at the expense of equal opportunity. They condemn any system which solely provides for equal opportunity if it is not regulated and controlled so as to produce equal results. An example might make this apparent on how a Progressive or Liberal would make such a system operate.

There is to be a race between the people who live within one block of the intersection of Liberal Lane and Progressive Place. The two dozen people are all lined up at the same starting point and the finish-line is straight down the road one hundred meters away. A supporter of a Capitalist system would proceed to fire the start pistol and let the race be run with each participant crossing the finish-line according to their physical abilities. But not the Liberals or Progressives. This same race under the control of Progressives and Liberals would have checkpoints every ten meters. Everybody reaching each checkpoint before the last person to reach the checkpoint would be weighted down with weight-belts with the first place runner getting fifty pounds and each person in each place would receive a belt with two less pounds than the person before them. They would then hold everybody there and restart the race with ninety meters to go. This exact same procedure would be executed at station two, three, four, etc. with the weights at each checkpoint added to any weights already carried. The average additional weight on a participant of this race would be carrying approximately 250 pounds and if the same person managed to remain in first place would be carrying 450 pounds in weight-belts and even the person if one managed to always be in last place would still be carrying almost 49 pounds on their weight-belt. Where this system would definitely result in a closer finish of the race but it would also be highly detrimental to every participant’s performance; and that is exactly the problem with the extreme Liberal and Progressive agendas, they disable the able in order to make everyone equally capable. In the name of fairness the most able are crippled to the point their abilities end up crushed, at which point even those originally the least capable will require some form of impediment so that they will also have whatever ability they maintained would be equally crushed. The end result of the agenda of the Liberal and Progressive is equality in all things to that of the least competent who also gives the least effort. Simply put, their result is anything but liberating or facilitating progress.

Beyond the Cusp

October 25, 2011

Our Constitutional Challenge

The Constitution of the United States of America is coming under challenge. There are forces wishing to replace the Constitution or, at a minimum, completely change the fundamental meanings of its parts in order to strip the people of their independence and rights while empowering the State and those in power such that the United States will be transformed into a socialist, top down, all powerful, centrist controlled institution. This will be done using dual methods ib order to assure the transition by one method or the other. The two paths to bring on this centralized, all powerful, redistributive state will be through financial collapse and through over-regulation making the government into a police state where nearly every part of life is regulated by one or another agency established by acts of Congress and allowed to stand by the courts. The American people need to wake up and bring this heinous plot to an end and do so starting with the next election cycle and not give up until the original intents of the American Constitution have been reestablished and the Federal government brought to heed the people. From time to time I intend, as the muse strikes me, to write articles on this subject attempting to shine the light of truth on the steps that are necessary if the United States experiment in liberty is to continue and hopefully succeed.

Many have spoken and written about the imperative to replace President Obama in the 2012 election. Where that is true, it is simply insufficient to elect somebody other than President Obama to take over the White House and the Presidency. We need to make sure whoever we choose to replace President Obama will be sufficiently true to the Constitution and not just another President who will continue the spending and over-regulating of Americans. Look back at all the Presidents since 1900 and you can count the number of Presidents who supported faithfully the letter and the spirit of the Constitution on one hand. In my estimation, the only Presidents who were Constitutional strict constructionists were Taft, Eisenhower and Reagan; with a possibility of including Truman, but probably none other. Under every other President starting even before the twentieth century we have had them enlarging the Federal footprint by one means or another.

Teddy Roosevelt, the first President of the twentieth century, gave birth to the Federal Government land-grab known as the National Parks System which has gobbled up over one third of the total land in the United States and controls vast swaths of land under which are the nation’s largest energy deposits in either coal or oil. Under Woodrow Wilson we changed the US Senate into simply a second House of Representatives by making the Senators directly elected by the people as well as his signature act of passing the Federal Income Tax Amendment. Amendments 16 and 17 probably have done more damage to our Constitutional Republic than almost anything else one can think of. They ended the fiscal independence of the people and brought the age of State’s Rights to a close, two fatal cuts into the heart of our system of government as put forth by the Founding Fathers. Franklin D. Roosevelt, where to start, just the name FDR makes any Constitutionalist’s blood run cold. Social Security, Minimum Wage, and almost countless more. FDR would have also killed the sanctity of the Supreme Court when he attempted to pack the Court because they were an impediment to his larceny against the Constitution. Lyndon B. Johnson ranks as an equal to FDR in my opinion. The Great Society, Welfare, Federal Funding for Education, War on Poverty, Medicare, Medicaid, Gun Control and so much more. President Nixon gave us a period of Price and Wage Control, Removed the Gold Standard for our Money, instituted the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration which provided for an endless number of bureaucratic regulations. Jimmy Carter gave us the first large scale bailout when he bailed out Chrysler while also introducing Americans to a couple of new phrases, malaise and the misery index. George H. W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton and George W. Bush all mostly added and aided many of the earlier programs simply by increasing their scope and funding. Each had their own expansion of the Department of Education with new initiatives which mostly resulted in detracting from education while opening many school systems to mass cheating on test scores and grade inflation in order to meet the new goals while adding nothing to the actual education of the students. During each of these presidencies our ranking in education amongst the nations of the world has steadily declined. Also, as these Presidents all supported the overreaching of the Federal Government and its monstrous bureaucratic regulating mechanisms, the government simply granted itself more power and influence over every segment of the lives of the people through the simple actions of mission creep. Every Federal Agency will, without any outside urging needed, grow and expand writing new regulations and redefining its purview wider and more inclusive simply to survive and grow. Most of the numerous agencies that make up the Federal government now act in a similar manner as an infection in that they continue to grow and take over more and more areas and spread their affects over a wider and wider segment of the population and will, also like an infection, eventually kill the host body which is the American people. It must be mentioned that George W. Bush did have one signature addition to expand government called the Medicare Drug Benefit Program which will add untold billions, possibly trillions, to the Medicare budget. And finally, we have Barack Hussein Obama. I am not even going to bother to state his other destructive acts beyond one, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obama Care.

The one item of note is that it has been Presidents from both the Democrat and Republican Parties that have collectively added to the monster we call the Federal Government. Both parties have fed and grown the monster at the people’s expense. So, it is not simply going to be sufficient to defeat President Obama as it is to choose the candidate who will enforce and engage the Constitution in all of their actions and who is willing to, at the very least, stop the madness and growth of the Federal Bureaucracies. But, oddly enough, who ends up as the next President does not have to be the sign of an ongoing crisis as there is another way to put the brakes on this runaway spending and overreaching by the Federal Government, and it is completely doable. Even if both parties and all the third party and independent candidates for President are people who will try to expand the government and steal our liberties, we can nail that door shut and deny them that power.

The fastest way to rein in the Federal Government is through the House of Representatives. Ask those who remember what happened when the voters turned over the House of Representatives to a large group of new faces who were all behind cutting spending. President Clinton was still in the White House yet the budget was greatly reduced, Welfare Reform was passed, and the United States not only achieved a balanced budget, it actually had a surplus. Unfortunately, many of those fresh faces either lost reelection or eventually succumbed to the Washington Succubus which seems to turn everybody to the dark side given sufficient time. Truth of the matter is the American voters have the power every two years to completely change the complexion of the Federal Government simply by changing the makeup of the House of Representatives. In the Constitution; Article 1; Section 7; Clause 1: reads, “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.” Control the House of Representatives and you control the purse strings of the Federal Government. Once the House of Representatives decides that no money will be spent on any item, idea, department, or function of the Federal Government, that particular function or item is dead in the water. Simply put, the Federal Government cannot spend any funds unless it is initiated by the House of Representatives. Many people, partially due to the impression presented by the press, believe that the President draws up a budget and then presents it to the Congress for ratification. That only continues with the cooperation of the House of Representatives. Should the House of Representatives grow a backbone and defend their Constitutional turf, they can write the budget and should they stick to their guns, then the President in the end will have little choice but to adjust and live within the limit of what the House of Representatives insists upon. The one difficulty is should the President push the issue to the point of the Federal Government shutting down, the House of Representatives can send the President sufficient funds directly appropriated to keep just essential services such as the Military and other services which the public considers necessary and place limitation limiting the continuing funding solely for such services. Under such conditions, with steady and strong leadership, the House of Representatives, acting responsibly, should be able to win popular support and force the President’s hand. So, the one guaranteed path to putting the Federal Government back under the control of the people, is to first elect candidates to the House of Representatives and then stand behind their moves to limit spending, possibly even balancing the budget. Imagine that.

Beyond the Cusp

July 18, 2011

Default? Absolutely Ridiculous Among Other Things!

There has been way too much bluster about the false idea that the United States will default on the interest payment due on the national debt come early August. Let’s take a look at the facts. Estimating for fiscal Year 2011, the Treasury Department estimates to expect $2.23 trillion of incoming revenues out of which must be paid to bond holders a mere $213 billion in interest. That is a mere ten percent which makes the threat of default laughable. What the President and his fellow blackmailers are proposing is to hold the economy and wellbeing of every individual American hostage if the debt ceiling is not raised allowing the Federal government to continue spending like nobody’s business. Instead of making what amounts to a small adjustment and allocate the payment on the interest on the bonds, the government, both Democrats and Republicans since nobody is bothering to point out the absurdity of the default claims, has decided that a dose of general panic and running the risk of having the faith in America paying her debts and having Moody’s downgrade America’s credit rating would be a better policy. This is more of a temper tantrum by the people we presumably depend upon to make wise choices on serious matters who are now threatening to hold their breath until they turn blue if their allowance is not raised so they can go to the mall and buy more stuff. This is what our little corner of the world is calling the end of the world as we know it when, looking around the world, there are revolutions and wholesale insanity just about everywhere one looks, much of which really could end the world as we know it. What we need is to make better choices in 2012 and elect some people with real principles who actually will do what needs to be done to put the United States back on a path of fiscal sanity.

First things first; there are no shortage of funds for running the ship of state. What we have is a bunch of spoiled brats who live to spend other people’s money recklessly and make promises that the future is unable to meet. What is broken is just about everything in our tax code and our giveaway to buy votes budgets. Why are we paying people to grow corn on land more suited for wheat, cotton, potatoes, and any crop other than corn which requires fertilizer and irrigation to grow in most places? Yet, by giving the ethanol subsidies we are paying farmers to literally destroy the land in order to grow more corn which we pay other people to make into fuel for our vehicles while there are food riots around the world and we refuse to allow any exploration for or drilling for reserves of oil on our soil and just off our shores. Does this make sense? What makes this even worse is the reason we are supposedly doing this is to save the Earth yet it costs more and uses more energy and causes more pollution to make and inject ethanol into our fuel supplies than simply using straight petroleum. We subsidized the Brazilian offshore drilling operation at the same time we forced virtually every domestic offshore drilling operation to be shut down, and then President Obama went to Brazil and promised we would be their best customer for the oil we helped them drill off of their shores. Currently, both China and Venezuela are drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico in exactly many of the same spots where we shut down plans to drill. Hello, is anybody awake in Washington DC?

Then there are the costly wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. In Libya we are supporting “rebel revolutionaries” in their struggle for “freedom” from tyranny. OK, true, Kaddafi is a tyrant and a monster, but who are these “rebels” we are supporting and will they be any different? Some of the leaders of the Libyan rebel forces are alumni of the Iraq War and were not fighting on our side. Some come straight from Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. Then in Afghanistan we are negotiating with the Taliban in order to allow them some voice in the future governance of the country. The Taliban also has heard that all of our troops will be out of Afghanistan sooner rather than later and know they just have to wait and then take what they want. The same applies to the terrorists who are backed by Iran waiting for us to finish leaving Iraq so they can take over after we leave. Oh, and a little secret, the Iraqi government does not want us to leave a single soldier in their country and can hardly wait to cooperate and align themselves with Iran. So, please tell me exactly what we have accomplished there for the last decade? We should have gone in, removed whomever we were going to remove and left. It will have made no difference in the long run and we would have much less debt and better relations with the rest of the world, not that being loved by the rest of the world matters in the final accounting.

And finally, why are we having that same old tired tax the rich they do not pay any taxes argument still? By now almost anybody who is literate has seen the figures that show the top ten percent of wage earners who make approximately $100 to $300 thousand a year pay a touch over 55% of the total tax revenues while the lowest sixty percent making as high as $47,400 a year paid 14%. Those who have read a little deeper on the subject know that no matter what the tax schedules and rates have been, the taxes amount to approximately 20% of GDP give or take a few points, consistently through higher rates, lower rates, before the Bush tax cuts, after the Bush tax cuts, and it will remain around that rate even after whatever President Obama does to massage votes by changing the tax laws making an ever more jumbled mess out of the tax code. Since the passage of the Sixteenth Amendment, the tax code has not had a complete and total rewriting style overhaul, it has simply had addendums, adjustments, rewrites of certain codes and rate changes such that, today, nobody could tell you exactly what is and is not allowed in many instances. This is because it has been rewritten and scratched out and replaced piecemeal so many times and so completely that there are probably rules demanding you may not declare certain deductions in one place while granting the very same deduction in another; and what is worse, nobody knows for sure.

So, yes, it is time to rewrite the entire code. Throw out the whole mess and start anew. While we are at it, I have a novel idea that I am sure nobody will like but is so sorely needed so that everybody will actually care what the tax code says. Our current system allows the lower half of wage earners to not really care what the tax rates are, they are mostly exempt, so we get the tax the rich demagoguery. What America needs to change if it is ever going to get serious about taxes, the debt, and budgetary spending is to establish a minimum percentage for taxation that everybody must pay while also ridding the tax code of the vast majority of deductions. Leaving deductions for mortgage interest, educations costs, medical expenses and possibly a few other expenditures which we, as a society, feel are desirous, against a set minimum deduction, which should address most of the allowable deductions. Beyond such minimalist allowances, a tax rate of one fourth of the highest rate, or some sufficiently significant amount, should cause every working American to actually have a stake in the highest tax rate and once and for all end this tax the rich demagoguery. This two taxes on two societies is destroying our cohesion by pitting our society against each other and, as stated so succinctly and clearly by President Lincoln, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Beyond the Cusp

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