Monday, July 29, 2019

A nation of Charlie Browns

I read today about a proposal for a constitutional amendment that if enforced to the letter would prohibit government from interfering in trade.   Just like that we will have fixed a problem.  On paper.

How effective is the Constitution?  Can a president start a war on his own?  No, see Article 1, Section 8: only Congress can declare war.  Recent presidents have ignored section 8 with impunity.

Can people be forced to use government paper money as a medium of exchange?  Of course not.  The Constitution says only gold and silver coin are acceptable tender for payment.  But wait—another section gives Congress the power to coin money and regulate the value thereof.  Couldn’t the production of paper money or its digital equivalent be considered a logical extension of coining money?  And how about the Federal Reserve?  The president appoints the Board members, but it’s up to the Senate to confirm them.  In this sense the FED could be considered an extension of Congress, serving to regulate the value of money.  

Can government conscript young men to fight in its wars?  Read it—Article XIII forbids involuntary servitude.  But let’s lawyer that phrase too.  One of the “near-great” US presidents, Woodrow Wilson, declared that drafting men into the military was “in no sense a conscription of the unwilling; it is, rather, selection from a nation which has volunteered in mass.”  There you have it.  Conscription isn’t involuntary servitude; it’s a selection from among eager volunteers, what is officially called selective service.  The fact that enlistments were anemic before the draft is irrelevant.  No sophistry here, just clarification.   

And by the way, Wilson wasn’t drafting men into a war, he was sending them on a crusade.  “The war to end war,” remember?  As it turned out Wilson’s crusade didn’t bring about good will among men but a mustachioed little man with a grudge.   

And what of the Constitution itself?  Is it like a secular Bible?  How many times have you seen a preacher tear up a Bible for some higher purpose?  Lincoln, who most historians regard as the epitome of a great president, shredded the Constitution as he waged a four-year invasion of the South to keep it in the Union at gunpoint.  He called it “saving” the Union.  Northern critics were silenced by threat of imprisonment.  We’re told his higher purpose was to end slavery, which to Lincoln meant sending them out of the country, permanently.  An even higher purpose was the goal of fixing a punitive tariff on Southerners so his northern cronies could enjoy protection from more efficient foreign manufacturers.  

“War is the Health of the State” wrote Randolph Bourne in 1918.  Lincoln applied “health care” to the state in spades.  He ripped its law-abiding mask off and exposed it for what it really is. 

Only one organization has a legal monopoly on the use of violence over a given territory.  That is a state’s defining characteristic — Google doesn’t have it, Twitter doesn’t have it, Facebook doesn’t have it.  States can never be criminal, by decree.  Opponents of the state become criminals, by decree.  When heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali refused induction into the armed forces, he was the criminal, not the state attempting to enslave him to kill poor people in Vietnam.

None of the Big Tech companies has an army to make you buy their products or services, nor can they forcibly employ you.  They rely on your judgment.  They hunger and compete madly for your “votes,” meaning your purchases. We can put any one of them out of business by voting elsewhere or abstaining altogether. 

Yes, the big guys get cozy with the state.  If they want to avoid a shakedown they have to.  And in their short-sightedness most see it as smart business.  Still, they have to cater to our fickle ways with things we’re willing to pay for.  That’s how markets work.

That’s not how politics works.  Do your votes bring about changes?  How’s the swamp-draining going?  Are the troops on their way home?  Did you personally vote for the PATRIOT Act?  Were you at least consulted?  Did you vote for the Current Tax Payment Act of 1943?  What? — you weren’t around in 1943 and know nothing about it?  Doesn’t matter, the state regards it as binding.  It was passed as a temporary “war measure” by a government hell-bent on more wars, even if they weren’t always hot.  It’s commonly called tax withholding, forcing employers to deduct a certain amount from each employee’s paycheck every pay period and send it to the Treasury.  That way when April 15 arrives you don’t have to cough up a large lump-sum check, which might stir rumblings in your normally obedient persona.  Leviathan makes it easy to feed it.

Government as it stands is mostly a racket for privileged minorities and empire-building.  It has no future.  As I argued in my previous article, those who want to end coercion can let themselves be heard on Election Day by “voting” online to end the state.

George Ford Smith is the author of eight books, including The Flight of the Barbarous RelicEyes of Fire: Thomas Paine and the American Revolution, and The Fall of Tyranny, the Rise of Liberty.  He is also a filmmaker whose latest work is a five-minute documentary about the Christmas Truce of 1914, A Christmas to Remember.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Get serious about voting

Isn’t it great that Americans sent to government schools grow up to be so burned out about government that many of them turn their backs on voting?  The belief that people can be programmed to believe anything is untrue.  They might not be able to unravel all the corruption swirling around them but they surely know it’s there.  They’re hungry for a better deal but don’t see one in the offering, so they don’t vote.

We read that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016 by almost three million votes.  But how “popular” was that vote, really?  She did not win a majority of the votes cast (48%), and as a percentage of the total US population, that figure shrinks to 20.30%.  Roughly 4 out of 5 people living in this country did not cast a vote for Hillary; Trump did even worse at 19.41%.

Nevertheless, there was a clear-cut winner, an overwhelming winner, in the 2016 presidential election.  The “winner” received 471 electoral votes and won all but eight states and D.C.  Who won this landslide?  According to,“did not vote” smashed all challengers: 

Mainstream commentators bemoan this finding, describing US voter turnout as “abysmal” compared to other countries in the “developed world.” The nonvoter is depicted as too lazy to deal with the hassle of casting a vote.  But when the choice is either Tweedledum or Tweedledee, both of which have their eyes on voters' wallets, why should they head for the polls?

It is not a matter of finding better candidates.  The current system forbids better candidates, as it did with Ron Paul.

The heart of the government is a legal monopoly on coercion.  When this monopoly is magnified by the seeming omnipotence of the US military and its vast intelligence apparatus, and has the power to drain the productive resources of its citizens by whatever trillions it claims to need, whether to bail out the big boys or drop bombs on some hapless Third World backwater that nevertheless poses a threat to our “freedom,” you have a monster that cannot be tamed by casting ballots.  

At least, not in the usual sense.

What if. . .

What if those 100 million nonvoters decided to vote?  And what if they could vote to end the State?  To shut it down completely, permanently?   No more coercive monopoly as the legal basis of our society.    

Why end the FED or repeal the income tax when you can end the institution that created those monsters and countless others?  Why not end evil at its root?  End coercion, end the State.  

The State, of course, will never allow such a choice to become a subject of serious discussion, let alone something to vote on.  But suppose for a moment it did.  Can you picture the legions of federal employees, from the president on down, packing their desks and heading home to find a job in the volunteer economy?  And while you’re dreaming, picture the voluntary economy coming together to solve problems that were wrongly considered the exclusive domain of the State. 

But that could happen, as incredible as it may seem.  

Our traditional elections are government operations.  We need an election not tainted by the government.  

Thinking outside the box requires voting outside the voting booth.  We need a separate election, one in which those who wish to express their contempt for the State can do so without taking to the streets.

What if — on Election Day — people who wish to end the State could cast a vote by checking a box on a website?  The technical problems of implementing a fair system are solvable.  

And what if “end the State” won by a landslide compared to the winner of the State’s election? 

The status quo would remain the status quo after the election.  Bombs would continue to drop, soldiers and innocents alike would continue to die, money would continue to flow from those who earned it to those who did not, the FED would monitor everything with its hand on the printing press, and the media would overflow with analysis and policy prescriptions.  Those who see voting in government elections as patriotic would continue to do so, and winners and losers would emerge, as always.  

But there would be a difference.  A voice would be heard.  That voice would say stop the nonsense and let people create their own government the way they create commercial enterprises.  We don’t need a coercive element in a civilized society.  It’s the rot that’s destroying us.

The voice would be ignored, but it will have spoken.  And that’s a start.


George Ford Smith is the author of eight books, including The Flight of the Barbarous RelicEyes of Fire: Thomas Paine and the American Revolution, and The Fall of Tyranny, the Rise of Liberty.  He is also a filmmaker whose latest work is a five-minute documentary about the Christmas Truce of 1914, A Christmas to Remember.

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