I feel disillusioned with the government, and I fear I’m one of a growing segment of the population that share similar feelings. There are many problems, but I’ll focus on the most worrisome to me; (1) how our constitution and declaration of independence have been subverted and (2) the ballooning public debt.
We haven’t declared war since 1942. Since WWII ended, we’ve been in the Korean War, Vietnam/Laos War, Central America, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, The Balkans. We’ve armed rebels or supported coups all over the world, often times with great success (initially). You would be hard pressed to find a country since 1942 that hasn’t had American boots on their soil.
The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.
It would be disingenuous for me leave out that congress has approved not war, but “military intervention”, in many of those cases. We had the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, completely abuse of The War Powers Act of 1941/42, the Iraq War Resolution, Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, etc. Every legislative gimmick has been used and every accounting loophole has been employed to hide the costs of these conflicts and force congress critters to go along with these absurd “resolutions” that resolve nothing. The tagline to pull at your heartstrings and emotion, “Support the troops!” Any argument that relies on an appeal to emotion is a weak argument.
The attack on private property and privacy is another disturbing area of government overreach. More recent statistics are difficult to track down now that the public is more aware of this ongoing problem, but in 2010, civil asset forfeitures approached a bit under under 2 billion dollars per year and the trend was increasing. A 600% increase in cases from the mid 80’s when forfeitures totaled paltry 90 million dollars. There are multiple reason for this, chiefly, it is very difficult for a property owner to prove the innocence of their property. Yes, you have to prove an inanimate object is innocent of a crime. If you do win they often times only offer you half of it back, often times less. They can take houses, boats, cars, cash (their favorite), jewelry, etc. The money is then split between the local Police Department (PD) for equipment (hey anyone need a new M4A1?, how about an armored personnel carrier?) and the Feds.
In 10 states police officers need nothing more than probably cause to confiscate your private property on the spot (only 1 state has banned the practice). Worse yet, there is no incentive to stop this legalized form of highway robbery. Nobody gets hurt except the everyday person, and what can they do about it. Somehow it’s all perfectly legal.
the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause
In the same line of absurdity, there are SWAT-led, midnight, no-knock raids. The number of no-knock raids has increased from 3,000 in 1981 to more than 50,000 in 2005. Innocent people get shot in these raids. The tips that bring about the raids often come from informants paid by the local PD to rat someone out. However, most of these “informants” aren’t much more than druggies themselves looking for some cash. This leads to police being given the wrong address, breaking down doors of innocent homeowners, shooting people’s dogs, and pointing guns at their kids. When someone is brave enough and aware enough to defend their home from unannounced men bargaining into your home with guns it ends in two options; dead police officers and a court acquittal for the person defending their home, or a dead homeowner.
Online we have no privacy anymore. Somehow it’s illegal to look at my post mail, but perfectly legal to look at my email. Companies keep your data and sell it, which is annoying, but whatever, you are electing to use their product. You don’t have that freedom of choice when it comes to internet service providers or government. In 2013, Snowden released a FISA court order showing that the NSA required Verizon to provide a daily, ongoing feed of all call detail records (including those for domestic calls) to the NSA. You can only get wiretapped and watched by the NSA with a FISA court ruling. Luckily for the NSA, the court is secret, not elected, has zero accountability, and has a 99% approval rate. Even more troubling is that should the Attorney General decide on his own that an emergency exists, he may authorize the emergency employment of electronic surveillance before obtaining the necessary authorization from the FISC.
The clearest example of this government overreach and how we’ve managed to subvert the rule of law takes us back to 1981, when Reagan signed an executive order banning state-sponsored assassinations in 1981. Despite that, we now live in a world where the president, without congressional approval, a trial, or any due process can put someone’s name on a kill list (even if it’s an American citizen) and have them murdered [along with their innocent 16 year old son] without oversight or consequence. Yes, this happened.
No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.
-Executive Order 12333 signed in 1981 by president Reagan. Since then it has been “reinterpreted”
I could go on for the next few hours about the injustices I feel have been imposed upon the American people unfairly by their government, so I’ll try to be brief. We have free speech zones, permits to protest, companies are people, money is free speech, outrageous bail fees, burdensome municipal traffic tickets, gun laws that make a firearm legal in one state but a felony in the next. The healthcare mandate that fines you for not buying a private companies product. The police state that can arrest you for just about anything. The current push to put NSA backdoors into and remove strong encryption. There can be no secrets and no privacy.
The DREAM Act that was voted down by congress multiple times, only to be enacted with the swipe of a pen on an executive order. The order prevents the deportation of illegal aliens that meet a criteria. In 2012, 10 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents sued Janet Napolitano, saying the directive forces them to break the law and ignore their duties.
This is upsetting because 1) congress was ignored, therefore the people’s singular way to impact legislation was subverted and 2) the law is selectively enforced. When the law is not applied equally we get banksters getting away with millions of dollars in fraud while they shake ‘blue collar Joe’ down for every penny he’s got. We get police getting away with murder. We get a lot of very big problems when laws are not equally applied because it makes the enforcement/prosecutorial (executive) branches too powerful.
The drug war that can put someone in jail for drugs for 55 years for a first time offense. The private prison system that encourages and profits off it. “Common Core” in our education system, which has helped lowered average SAT testing scores year over year since it’s inception.
The idea that police departments should fund themselves though ticketing and asset forfeiture makes both of those acts an unauthorized tax on citizens to provide a public service that tax dollars should already be paying for.
I understand the need for new laws and for old laws to change. Jefferson believed the constitution should be scrapped and re-written every 19 years to prevent the new generation from being bound by the previous one. I don’t know if that would have been feasible, in a world where debt ceilings are held hostage and no one seems to care about the actual country and how well it functions. Something needs to change, and something has to give. The function that modern US democracy is supposed to serve, protecting the people and letting them have a voice in government, has utterly failed us and it will fail our children even more so.
While our rights and liberties are being trampled on, our future is being stolen/mortgaged away by bankers without us putting up the smallest fight. 7% of tax revenue goes to pay interest on the national debt. Our debt to GDP ratio is near the level it was during WW2, but at least WW2 had an end in sight.
Nothing about this seems sustainable. Incomes and wages are falling when you account for inflation and debt is growing. This simply means the money does not exist to satisfy these debts.
In 1973, the median male worker earned just over $49,000 when adjusted for inflation, while in 2010 that worker made about $1,500 less. Yet, in the same period, the output of the economy has more than doubled, and the productivity of workers has risen steadily.
-NPR link with some good non-bias explanation
That’s scary stuff. We are producing more than ever and getting less for it. I don’t want to pin the cause to a single donkey, though I will suggest American labor competing with more competitive foreign labor is at least a part of it. Click the link for better analysis.
So what happens when governments have too much debt and appear to be functionally broken or mismanaged? People stop believing in them. The first of such people are ones with money in the game, creditors and their rating agencies. When the USA delayed their debt ceiling raises 2011-2013 and showed the world they have the potential to default over silly politics their credit rating was downgraded. The next people to stop believing is the government themselves, and they place ATM withdraw limits and prevent cash from leaving the country (already in place in Greece). The final group of people to stop believing will be the citizens, and once that happens social unrest seems inevitable.
Unfortunately for the world, we’ve convinced most of them to jump in this boat of economic fallacy with us. Gigantic debts, public spending that is unsustainable, tax bases that are too poor or too small. France and Japan had their debts downgraded this week. With Brazil’s credit rating failing to junk bond status too. Greece is in denial about default, with several other EU countries in bad shape as well.
Lots of foreign currencies hang in the balance too, as foreign currencies weaken emerging markets buy up dollars to pay off their dollar debts, causing the USD to rise and it will rise further when interest rates normalize. Productivity is slowing across the world and economic outlook does not look good. Maybe Quantitative Easing has staved off the depression we deserved in 2007/2011, but how long can we keep printing money?
So back to my title, something has to give. I’d like to see a revolution where we take back our rights and economic freedom. I think it’s unlikely, but the very first slaves that were brought to America by the Dutch and sold to plantations probably thought their kids would never be free either. In summary my closing argument is this.
“Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”
If you read all this I appreciate it, I write mostly for cathartic reasons and to keep my brain sharp and my mind wandering. Though if you’ve made it this far I hope you’ve found something of value. I’ve been meaning to write about the immigration crisis and a CAD update. Maybe next time!