By David Tong and the chuckhawks.com staff
I believe that most Americans desire to have an earnest discussion about the nature and scope of governmental power and regulation in our lives. Our government has evolved contrary to the design and intention of the Constitutional Republic envisioned by our Founders. Both of our major political parties have taken extreme liberties with the Constitutional principles that set our Republic apart from any government the world had seen in the late 18th Century.
Our elected representatives have amended our Constitution to impose a progressive income tax and introduced a host of government-run entitlement programs to provide low-income housing, unemployment insurance, food stamps, Medicaid/Medicare and enacted a minimum wage that must be paid by employers, to name only a few. They brought into being a government bank, known as the Federal Reserve, which sets national monetary policy. They created agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Health and Human Services, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Education, National Endowment for the Arts, Department of Energy, National Public Broadcasting, Interstate Commerce Commission and many others, not to mention a slew of Federal police agencies (over a dozen at last count).
The nanny-state that results from these Federal bureaucracies infringes on what was envisioned by the Founders, namely a weak national government whose powers were limited and specifically enumerated by the Constitution with most power delegated to the people and the individual states. The top-heavy Federal government extends and enforces its will by fiat, as well as the threat of withholding Federal matching funds from recalcitrant state governments. In addition, the states themselves have created mirror-image bureaucracies of similar mission and scope. Polls suggest that a large percentage of Americans have been reduced to wanting or needing the illusory “security” afforded by government meddling, as opposed to the notion of equal opportunity that the creators of our Republic originally envisioned. The untenable fact is that now over half of our population (the majority), are supported by the remaining productive minority.
At the time of writing, there are now more employees in government than there are in energy production, farming, manufacturing and mining, combined. The Federal Government is the largest employer in the country. With the mismanagement and meddling of the Fed and its monetary policy, the greed of both banks and borrowers and high levels of bankruptcy, foreclosures and unemployment, many folks looking for work are attracted to government positions. It is well known that the pay, benefits packages and employment security are far more attractive than is the case for most equivalent positions in the private sector. (Naturally, since the aforementioned are unrealistic from the standpoint of any enterprise attempting to make enough profit to stay in business.) Only an entity running at a loss, using other people's money (the government) could do this. This begets the question: “On whose backs are the government workers standing on?” The answer is ours, the taxpayers.
Those who purport to regulate its output now vastly outnumber the producers of prosperity in America. We must be aware that Jefferson’s model of an agrarian America, governed by public servants who served only briefly and who focused on individual rights, could not have accounted for the Industrial Revolution, the need to compete for spoils in a world market and the political aspirations of corrupt Presidents.
F.D.R. did not invent the notion of the national retirement savings program. This was actually the creation of the Iron Chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck, in the 1880's. By looking at actuarial tables to determine just how long people were living after leaving employment, by using monies deducted by the state from the living wages of the employee, a government system of a percentage of that wage and its distribution to the retiree was enacted.
There are two things to note about this. First, it presumes that the government knows better how to save and disburse this money than the wage earner him or herself. Second, it assumes that the investment that is placed in an interest earning trust account that is more secure and earns higher interest than that obtainable by the ordinary citizen in private sector saving institutions.
There are several problems. First is the philosophical shift in trusting government and political parties, interested in expanding their power and not providing adequate oversight of Social Security tax revenue collected versus the disbursement pool estimates.
Second, history is sometimes an unkind teacher. The CPA who taught a yearlong accounting course I took warned us about the history of Social Security. While Social Security was introduced, it was supposed to have just four paths of disbursement of funds; in reality by the early 1990s, there were over forty, as both political parties rendered Al Gore’s famous “Social Security Lockbox” in the 2000 campaign a sophomoric joke. Congress alone has the ability to tax and spend and both political parties use this revenue source as their own private fund, spending tax money to support entitlement programs or local projects to help them get re-elected. This is the position taken in nearly every discussion of entitlement spending by the leadership of both parties.
I am no economist; my educational background is in history and political science. However, it appears to me that this sort of government “mission creep” is fueled by our two major political parties. They argue about “individual rights” in the media, but this is largely a ruse designed to keep us distracted from the real issue. The elected and appointed leadership of our government appears to have become Machiavellian in their calculations, representing self-interest instead of their constituents. Very few even consider “protecting and defending” the Constitution, which is their sworn duty and the oath they took when assuming office.
I would like to see a Constitutional amendment placing strict term limits on members of Congress, the same as the restriction on the President (two terms). We desperately need a Presidential line item veto and a balanced budget amendment. I would like to see a ten-year prohibition of the former Congressperson from engaging in political consulting or lobbying after leaving office. I would like to see the candidates for Congress, the Supreme Court and the Presidency required to have served on active duty in the military. It would be nice if those who presume to lead the nation demonstrated that they have achieved something in the private sector, so that they personally understand how productive work enables creativity and creates satisfaction. Sadly, most of our leadership has never held a job or met a payroll; they have fed at the public trough all of their adult lives. The likelihood of either major political party’s willingness to adopt such a platform and to have the necessary majority to ratify a Constitutional Amendment in both Houses appears slight.
At the same time, our country needs to realize that economic, not military, strength is what is strategically powerful and respected in the world, Marxism be damned. It is sad to note that Communist China is now carrying the majority of our debt, some $1.2 trillion, and we have allowed this to happen in the past fifteen years. Japan is not far behind them, at about $880 billion and their economy is as shaky as our own. Japan suffers the ills of artificially low inflation, banks controlling monetary policy, massive government subsidies to industry and restrictive trade laws creating a business environment and a government hostile to competition from abroad. With the recent natural calamities in Japan, I suspect that there may be a global financial problem in the offing.
American corporations have also suffered under government regulation, particularly in the areas of employee relations, minimum wage laws, environmental protection laws and the tax code. Because of this Federal interference, to remain competitive, American companies have been forced to move jobs and production to countries that may have interests inimical to ours. Indeed some, such as the Communist government of Red China, are dedicated to the economic and military destruction of the United States. (This long term strategy was revealed several years ago in internal Red Chinese government documents that were inadvertently released to the media.) Soviet Premier Khrushchev once loudly boasted that he would bury us; the Red Chinese are actively engaged in a policy to do it.
Finally, we simply cannot afford endless entitlement programs or endless military commitments overseas. Our national deficit is in the trillions of dollars. ("Deficit" means budgetary shortfall; the total accumulated national debt is much greater.) At a time when our nation’s infrastructure needs to be rebuilt, including dams, roadways, bridges and power utilities’ delivery systems, let us not return again to Federal programs such as the CCC or TVA. We must allow the private sector to rebuild America using a much more cost effective strategy than union-scale government workers can possibly provide.
In order to reduce our 60% consumption of foreign oil, which makes us strategically vulnerable in an increasingly hostile world, we need to exploit our own natural resources. This includes building advanced nuclear power stations. Rather than finger-pointing after events such as the Gulf oil spill or the recent Japanese earthquakes and having our current Administration show its evident bias in declaring yet another moratorium on offshore drilling, or drilling anywhere for that matter, we need to unleash the U.S. energy industry and let them solve the problem.
I think that U.S. corporations should adopt a more synergistic, long-term approach to creating solutions for our country, rather than wondering how quarterly profits for the next fiscal year will look, so I am not letting them off the hook. While I think the private sector is the answer to most of our problems, not least by affording employees the ability to create their own destiny, the reports of CEOs and upper echelon executives who were just bailed-out by TARP, paying themselves handsome raises and retirement plans illustrates how government intervention breeds corporate corruption. No wonder the American people are leery of both their government and giant corporations. I do not have a problem with people becoming rich, but I do think that compensation, in government or industry, should be based on individual performance.
This may seem somewhat utopian, but the time to reverse our slide into Socialism and bankruptcy is now. This is our last, best chance. We must take to heart the lessons of our history and understand the limited government envisioned in our Constitution, which is the blueprint for how our government is supposed to look. Otherwise, one wonders whether, as Jefferson put it, “A revolution every couple of generations is a good thing.”
We are Americans and we can do better. I remain optimistic that we will.
Copyright 2011 by David Tong and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.