Home » Politics » Why We’re Ungovernable, Part 3: Gridlock and the Fiscal Cliff

Why We’re Ungovernable, Part 3: Gridlock and the Fiscal Cliff

by John Rubino on May 28, 2012 · 31 comments

Europe’s political problems are hogging the headlines, with good reason. So much debt is coming due so soon that big decisions about Greece and Spain have to be made within the next couple of months to avoid a systemic melt-down.

But the US has some deadlines of its own, with no consensus on what to do about them. Consider:

Congress staring over edge of ‘fiscal cliff’
For Congress, the outlines of the pending fiscal crisis are clear: Don’t do a thing, and watch the economy slip into a double-dip recession early next year. Or cancel the looming tax increases and spending cuts, watch the deficit rise, and push the government ever closer to a European-style debt crisis.

That decision was put in stark terms Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office, which in a new analysis said the economy will plunge into a recession early next year if Congress lets taxes rise and spending be cut, as called for under the law.
But if Congress changes the law to keep taxes low and spending high, it could add more than half a trillion dollars to the deficit in 2013, marking a fifth straight year of trillion-dollar deficits and risking the patience of the country’s creditors.

The CBO numbers come just as the debate is heating up on Capitol Hill over how to handle the looming “fiscal cliff,” which Congress created by continually pushing off tough decisions on both taxes and spending.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, signaled Tuesday that he will allow the automatic spending cuts called for in last year’s debt deal to go into effect — culling billions of dollars from defense and domestic spending — unless Republicans agree to allow taxes to increase on at least some taxpayers.

“If Republicans want to walk away from the bipartisan spending cuts agreed to last August, they will have to work with Democrats to replace them with a balanced deficit-reduction package that asks millionaires to pay their fair share,” Mr. Reid said.

Republicans remain adamant that the lower income- and investment-tax rates passed in 2001 and 2003 under President Bush, and extended in 2010 under President Obama, must be extended again.

“No economy can sustain such a hit without being hurled into recession,” said Sen Orrin G. Hatch, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees tax policy.

One thing both sides say they agree on, however, is the need to act now.

Last week, House Speaker John A. Boehner kicked off the conversation, drawing a line in the sand in saying that he won’t allow another increase in the federal government’s debt ceiling unless it’s matched dollar-for-dollar with future spending cuts — just as the 2011 debt deal was.

Mr. Boehner also signaled he was open to ending some special tax breaks, as long as the money was used to bring down tax rates for everyone. He acknowledged there would be some who would pay more and some who would pay less.

But Democrats said much of the extra money the government would generate by closing those loopholes should go to funding the promises already made on spending, such as Social Security, Medicare and regular domestic spending.

The list of expiring laws reads like a taxpayer’s worst nightmare: The alternative minimum tax would bite ever deeper, last year’s 2-percentage-point payroll-tax cut would disappear, business-investing tax breaks would end, and almost all of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts would expire. Meanwhile, some tax increases from Mr. Obama’s health care law are slated to begin biting in January.

Meanwhile, the US political middle has collapsed, making compromise virtually impossible:

Is polarization really all Republicans fault?
In a piece for the Post’s Sunday Outlook section, Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein write that the rise in political polarization in Congress is not the effect of both parties moving to their ideological extremes but rather of Republicans moving far further to the right than Democrats

So, are they right? Is it really Republicans’ fault that we are in the partisan pickle in which Congress is either unable or unwilling to solve problems — whether small or large — facing the country?

What’s undeniably true is that we are living in an age of hyperpartisanship. Mann and Ornstein cite a study conducted by political scientists Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal that details that fact vividly.

The annual National Journal vote ratings — an invaluable resource — tells the story well. In 2010 and 2011, there was no Senate Democrat with a more conservative voting record than any Senate Republican and no Senate Republican with a more liberal voting record than any Senate Democrat. That had happened only one other time in the previous 30 years before it happened in the last two years straight.

Mann and Ornstein are on very solid ground then in their assertion that we are in uniquely partisan times. There is considerably more disagreement about whether that blame should lie at the doorstep of the GOP, however.

“Both caucuses have moved to the polar caps as more one-party districts are created and members’ reelections are dependent on primaries and not the general elections,” said Tom Davis, a well known moderate and former Virginia Republican House Member. “The political coalitions have evolved into a parliamentary system, which doesn’t work in a checks and balances framework.”

Some thoughts
We have indeed become more polarized, but viewing this as something that just came out of the blue or as a plot by one side or the other misses the point, which is that the more debt a country takes on, the harder and thus less politically marketable the fixes become. Cutting defense, Social Security, or Medicare in half — which is what it would take to make a dent in the current deficit — is unthinkable for those programs’ proponents, so the arguments coalesce around irrelevancies like slight changes in marginal tax rates or penalties for expat billionaires. It’s all just wasted effort.

Looked at another way, easy money over extended periods of time drives good people out of both public and private institutions and replaces them with predators impervious to our opinion of them. That John Corzine is free and JPMorgan Chase’s traders are still gambling with taxpayer money just reinforces the perception that there are two sets of rules, one for the aristocracy and another for the serfs.

One last way of looking at this is that both sides of the spending equation — the military industrial complex and big banks on the right, the entitlement/regulatory state on the left — have gotten everything they’ve wanted for such a long time that they’ve evolved into monsters. No one on the other side wants to compromise with an entity that is fundamentally evil, so the belief takes hold that the only way to fix the country is to “win”, that is, to completely impose one’s view rather than splitting the difference. This may be true, but in a democracy it’s a recipe for gridlock.

But gridlock is a temporary condition. For a country as for a family, when big debts are coming due inaction is not an option. Someone will act in the coming year; it just might be our creditors rather than our leaders.

  • kopavi

    “More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” Woody Allen

    Why is it comedians often have a better grasp of things than elected officials.

    I agree with most everything written above, but am discouraged by the lack of faith in the elected officials of Europe and the US to create more roads to kick cans down. We’ve seen it time and time again. Greece is on the edge of default, the cliff is here, we are looking into the abyss and then there is another announcement of a solution, cheers for the latest and greatest fix and markets rally and everyone is happy. The next deadline is in June less than4 weeks away. Anyone willing to bet that a solution will be found before then?

    The other running joke is that the markets are facing a major correction in — xx quarters, where xx usually equals 2 or 3. Financial pundits make predictions that folks forget about within 3-4 days or a few weeks at the most so predicting the end of life as we know it in 6-8 months is safe. It’s been going on for a long time.

    At least we can always hope for a sane leader with vision and courage to do the right thing to be elected in November.

    We’re screwed.
    kopavi

    • Steven Goodwin

      >> Financial pundits make predictions that folks forget about within 3-4 days or a few weeks

      Yes – I’d love to see the stakes raised and accountability take place. I want experts with some skin invested in being right. One of the (many) problems we have is the informational chaotic white-noise that permeates the public arena. White collar criminals hide behind a smoke screen of denials and oposing opinions, until it is impossible for most citizens to really learn what is going on for all the disinformation that is out there – that is INTENTIONALLY being put “out there”, specifically to confuse the public so that no coherent policy can evolve which might disrupt the status quo. And this is ~really~ causing a problem.

      So this is why if someone steps into the spotlight of public awairness and spouts that “X happens because of Y”, and we later find out that this isn’t the case, then I don’t want to see this guy again unless it’s a story telling me that he is flipping burgers back in his home town and living in his mother’s basement. I’m tired of the flim-flam artists, and I want people to be judged by what they say, and the consequences of what they say.

      Steven in Dallas

  • D

    The move towards highly polarized began with the impeachment of Clinton, was exascerbated by the ill-planned Gore Florida challenge, and has grown ever since.

    Divide and conquer seems to be working out splendidly, as the two parties gather their forces and spin their lies while the TBTF, large corporate interests, and big money continue to bleed the system.

    • paper is poverty

      Divide and conquer is exactly right. A long, drawn-out electoral circus between two pre-chosen candidates is a great way of sucking up the attention and resources of those who are politically inclined, so that they don’t get any real ideas for social change.

      With due respect to D. Zuniga and others who believe the nation can be saved, I suspect it’s too late for anything more than local organization. It’s all too easy to hate people in another state who are on the “wrong side” of the culture war, but it’s not easy to hate the nice person at the farmer’s market who happens to have a very different worldview than one’s own. Face to face in our own communities, most of us are decent people and we might be able to put aside the divisions that mass media & the political parties have sown. But trying to build a national movement that crosses those divisions seems impossible at present. The media only have to portray such a movement as being left or right and the whole movement either crumbles or is co-opted. The media can go out and find one baked-out-of-his-mind ex-hippie at an Occupy rally and next thing you know, half the country hates the people holding the “We are the 99%” signs. Ron Paul’s Tea Party was both hijacked by the Republican political apparatus and spun as right-wing by a media who went out and found the least informed and/or most racist Tea Partiers it could at every rally. And we make it easy for them by being so eager to believe in the rottenness of the “wrong people”.

      All of which leaves the elites free to continue pillaging behind the scenes.

  • http://GreatRedDragon.com Edward Ulysses Cate

    It’s really not that we’re ungovernable; it’s that the 99% do not have representation at the table. That means most of us are on the menu. The two major political parties are used by sociopaths to divide and conquer. There’s really only two political groups; the sociopaths and the non-sociopaths. If we’re ever going to sensible government, the House of Representatives must have a majority of non-sociopaths. The only way to have non-sociopaths is to elect them from a lottery of citizens, to serve one year, and to never serve as a representative again. It probably will never happen, so the 99% can count on always being on the menu. Just like now.

  • bob D

    no one has to go to the trouble of figuring out what to do about the economy
    nor how to fix it, just look at what obamascam is doing and do the reverse
    because he always does it so as to destroy usa, thus the reverse will grow
    usa or at the worst merely let it stay neutral, neutral is better than what
    obamascam will say or do, he is the enemy and he knows it, but the voters
    do not and thus we got a major problem if he is re-elected because then
    he will have nothing to lose (no more re-elections) thus will go full throttle
    destroying what remains of usa…. too bad…

  • http://www.TomBlairEA.com Thomas Avery Blair, EA

    First, The loss of the U. S. Dollar’s control as the Worlds’ Reserve currency is 100% inevitable…and it isn’t even a matter of when as to how soon? Historically speaking, all “fiat” currencies (those currencies not back up by precious metals) have eventually failed. Our national debt is so high right now that it will be discounted by inflation alone eventually into the source of all these Quantitive Easing schemes: thin air. Ours is a debt that cannot ever be repaid…not even the interest payments will be made when nobody will accept the “greenback” as a viable transfer of wealth anymore.

    A reveue of American history provides the only answer: National default on the obligations of all “greenback” denominated contracts, obligations and entitlements…period. It has been done and has worked before, and must be done because it will also work now when there exists no viable alternatives.

    China and out other creditors will be mad as hell, but the die is cast and the consequences are obvious: Unless you are insane, you don’t lend more money to someone you know can never repay the debt. Will there be pain? Of course there will be.

    What will it be like? Read about “reconstruction” exercises after the War Between the States, a/k/a The American Civil War (circa 1862-1865). This time the victors will be China and the other creditors who so foolishly loaned money to an international spendthrift for decades; the vanquished will be those foolish ones who still bet on the “greenback” as a viable means of storage and transfer of wealth.

    My grandpa told me about the “Golden Rule” not found inside your Bible; the one that simply says “The guy with the gold makes the rules!” Our federal government is doing nothing because there is nothing they really can do but to “kick the can” down the road until it hits a solid wall called “not anymore.” The shadow of that wall has fallen on California and a number of other over-indebted states. While the federal politicians themselves see the wall, they only declare that it really isn’t there because the Federal Reserve can build a bridge over it with ever more “fiat” currency.

    Our government has mortgaged our future and the future of our children and grandchildren…the mortgage payments are due and foreclosure is imminent…who is kidding who these days? God help America.

  • bob D

    and, relative to the major article by rubini the wizzzz, dont forget
    if the dumb voters re-elect obamascam we gonna have to have
    a big fat juicy world war 3, worse yet, so as to hype up a war economy
    and hope it salvages our otherwise defunct bankrupt usa, gone gone gone.

  • Bruce C.

    Given the current situation, as well as the track records of the jokers involved, there will be no meaningful or actual preemptive actions taken. I predict that the automatic spending cuts will not transpire nor will any taxes be raised or added for next year. In fact I don’t think anything else will change unless and until the financial markets force it.

    Politically there is no self-serving way to convince people that preemptive actions are necessary or are the correct ones to take. The only existential facts would be the hardships caused by austerity and/or greater tax burdens without the certainty that without them things would be even worse. Better to let the crucible of reality be the final arbiter and dictator and “fall guy” than any grand plan by politicians.

    I like “kopavi’s” faith in craven creativity and I hope he’s right just to keep the show on the road. (Let’s face it, it’s pretty entertaining.) We all well know that “investors” are inveterate pragmatists and aren’t very conceptual (dollar safe, gold risky!), so this train may still have a long way to go.

    Besides, I remember a time when a billion dollars was considered an enormous amount of money and 200 billion dollar deficits were “obviously” unsustainable. Now a two thousand billion dollar deficit seems like a lot. Will we ever learn?

  • JR

    Yeah, “Republicans have moved further to the right” is the cause of it. What a freaking joke. We have a Fabian socialist running the country, what is technically a fascist economy paired with crony capitalism, 46.5 freaking MILLION on food stamps (up 47% and still rising, since Jimmy Carter Obama took over), and nauseam, and these lamestream pundits come up with this bullguano.

    Sorry. The real issue is that the leftists sitting in the seats of power are destroying everything, and they moved the the left of Mao. THAT, mes amis, is the problem

  • http://www.wealthbuildingtoday.info wealth building

    The real deficit is $5 trillion for the year (counting future promises). Politicians and the people will ask for what they want, not what they need. An all out printing war.

  • TacticalZen

    All that is required is for the most productive 1/100 of 1% of us to go “John Galt”.

    That would be change you can believe in!

    Unfortunately, we’re heading over the cliff now. Dramatic steps are not required during a self imposed financial collapse. We get results with or without effort.

    IMHO, hedge everything – food, water, fuel, security, money. Odds are favorable it will be “in the money” soon.

  • JohnK

    The whole argument is misguided. It is clear that both Republicans and Democrats have learned to play the game of “more Federal government is the answer” as both Congress and the President create laws that clearly were never permissible to the Federal government under the original Constitution. Americans, thoroughly brainwashed and “dumbed down” by years of training by the “Department of Education” have simply accepted this as the norm.

    The US, and perhaps the entire world, is headed towards a new Dark Ages because of the bizarre concept of fiat currency and central government planning. Americans have become incapable of recognizing that America is the union of 50 (originally 13) sovereign states who share a common financial and political bond which has been trusted to a government in Washington, D.C. to do the “right things” in the interest of those 50 states and within the boundaries of the defining Constitution. Clearly, Washington, D.C. has become too corrupt to do the “right things” for America so it is now up to the 50 sovereign states to fix the problem that was created in 1781.

    Washington, D.C. will NEVER reform itself. There are too many vested interests (bloodsuckers) who make their living off of the destruction of America to expect true reform. It is up to the sovereign states that created the Federal government as their agent to reform it. They can do that by passing a Constitutional Amendment which creates a “Caretaker government” managed by the states which has the authority to veto any decision made by the Federal government while the states determine how to modify the original Constitution to change verbage which has allowed scofflaws to abuse the original intent of the Founding Fathers when they established the Constitution.

    I am not suggesting that we should have a Constitutional Convention. That would surely result in the One Worlders contravening a meaningful event and creating an unacceptable Constitution which would surely lead to a bloody revolution. I believe that we should use sovereign state powers to put the Federal government back into its rightful small box in a peaceful manner. The Constitutional amendment is a rarely used but very powerful tool available to the states. I suggest that all citizens who are concerned about the un-Constitutional growth of Federal government should press their State representatives to initiate a Constitutional amendment to create a Caretaker government that would control the Federal government until the states make necessary and limiting changes to the Constitution in order to bring the Federal government into alignment with the limited authorities given to it.

    With 300,000,000 guns in America, the alternative might be a whole lot uglier.

    • Agent P

      300,000,000 firearms in America is a Beautiful thing. What isn’t beautiful is that a large number of owners have no concept nor loyalty as to the meaning, importance and original intent of their rights to ownership. Hint: It has nothing to do with ‘home protection’, hunting, collecting or target practice…

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  • Dave Ziffer

    I agree with you JohnK, except that the Constitution is already sufficient to require small government (read the 10th Amendment). The problem is not with the Constitution, but with the American public. This year we have a real and credible constitutionalist (Ron Paul) who has come closer than any such person in the past 100 years to actually being nominated as a presidential candidate. Many of us have worked very hard toward this goal Check out our accomplishments in Minnesota (http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/ron-paul-wins-minnesota/2012/05/20/id/439677) where we will be sending at least 32 of our state’s 40 GOP delegates to Tampa to vote for him. But unfortunately, not enough Americans seem to be buying the idea, because we didn’t manage the same near-miracle in most other states. Most Americans today have lived their entire lives under Big Government and probably couldn’t imagine any other scenario. All that remains now is for us to pay the price.

  • Sue

    MORE DEBT! MORE PRINTING!!!

    I’M INSANE! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  • W G Thompson

    John K. has it mostly right, but the ability to call a Constitutional
    Convention is built into that document,
    and a caretaker government is not.
    The One Worlders can’t muscle in on
    a C.C. because only the 50 state
    governors have a say in the proceedings.
    If they try, nonetheless, those 300
    million guns that were mentioned will
    have to be dusted off and made ready.
    One thing I can guarantee; after 7 or
    8 One Worlders are depicted on TV hanging from trees or lamp posts, the
    rest will quickly find other hobbies.
    Loud and obnoxious they are; brave and
    selfless they aren’t. The richest
    Dems in DC give the least to charities.
    It’s no coincidence. WGT

  • http://www.roycobden.com Roy Cobden

    There a 2 options… One is bad, the other worse.

    Which is which doesn’t matter, because the choice will always be whichever one kicks the problem a little further down the road.

  • http://goldwerewolf.typepad.com goldwerewolf

    False left-right paradigm. Look it up.

    • Jason Emery

      “That John Corzine is free and JPMorgan Chase’s traders are still gambling with taxpayer money just reinforces the perception that there are two sets of rules, one for the aristocracy and another for the serfs.”

      Have to agree with goldwerewolf. It is all for show. If there was this huge partisan animosity, then why aren’t republicans demanding that Corzine be jailed?

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  • http://www.ThisBloodlessLiberty.com D.M. Zuniga

    Ed Cate, you suggest that We The People have no representation “at the table”, and of course you’re correct (more on which presently). But it’s high time we turned the tables, because politics by man’s very nature, simply cannot reform itself. It’s a game for which rule of law is the only answer.

    This is why we have the U.S. Constitution. It simply must be enforced.

    John, I think you agree that the Left’s metanarrative is bogus — but I propose that the metanarrative of the Libaugh-Right is bogus, as well. There’s no problem whatsoever with the U.S. Constitution; enforced, it will pare down massive, overweening government and restore honest money. It’s written in the law.

    Unsurprisingly, bad guys like to swindle people; stupid people are easy to swindle. Government schools are designed to produce unquestioning, lock-step, stupid people. They have produced this sort of citizen since at least the WWI era — and of course that’s the problem.

    Madison and Jefferson maintained that We The People are the only sure bulwarks against the destruction of our rule of law and constitutional order. But even Periclean Athens (arguably the high point of Athenian democracy) only numbered perhaps 25,000 to 40,000 qualified citizens for *ekklesia*, who made the laws and adjudicated the cases that came before it. History proved that the true (plebiscite) democracy could only last so long. Even without the Peloponnesian War, sinful mankind just can’t police itself forever.

    Bad guys figure ways to dupe the masses. Thus a durable rule of law is needed — and the framers of the U.S. Constitution ALREADY GAVE US THAT.

    We just need to enforce it.

    Charlatans and demagogues have succeeded in recruiting activist courts to help them fashion ‘elastic’ clauses in the face of Madison’s specific denials that such ‘penumbras’ can ever exist. The Constitution enumerates (17) powers of federal government; the power over everything else in life is RETAINED BY THE PEOPLE AND THE STATES.

    There is a way to end this madness; a way for far fewer than 1% of the American People to simply force the criminal courts of the States to pursue multi-trillion-dollar crimes committed by Congress on behalf of powerful predators and countless welfare-state parasites. They will pursue these crimes based on violations of state criminal statutes, NOT federal laws or the U.S. Constitution.

    After all, We The People are sovereign OVER the U.S. Constitution; the fedferal government is created, defined, and constrained by that document and thus serves UNDER it.

    We’ve had our lessons backwards for long enough. Once we get things right, it may take years — even a decade or more — to fully turn the tables on BOTH teams of predators and parasites, Left and Right. It will signal the end of 175 years of effective national bifurcation by two ruling electoral party machines (GOP is just a Whig redux).

    Yes, the world is in a considerable pickle; a century of contrived and counterfeit ‘debt-money’ has allowed the accretion of crushing mountains of debt via heavily-leveraged derivatives of all that worthless, immoral paper. Millions of wealthy investors and lower-middle-class retirees alike, live on interest and other unearned income; what was once considered vice is now considered shrewdness. So…a reset is coming; must come.

    As the moveable-type printing press changed Medieval Europe forever, the Internet now changes the world. Nation states will not come out of this intact; some will collapse entirely and others only as tiny, efficient, humbled skeletons of their fat former selves. This is a natural, salutary event in history.

    The population of each U.S. congressional district is about the size of the qualified *ekklesia* in Periclean Athens. Given the right mechanism — of course I think the AmericaAgain! Indictment Engine(TM) is one such mechanism, perhaps only the market creator and brand leader among several healthy competitors — America’s best days are ahead of us.

    I agree with many of the comments above. In Chapter 9 of my book ‘This Bloodless Liberty’ I explain where the false Left-Right paradigm was born (in The War to Enslave the States), and what purpose it serves. All those huge estates weren’t built up by magic.

    Still, my optimism has as much to commend it, as any of the cynical positions voiced above.

    http://www.ThisBloodlessLiberty.com
    I think that solutions will come to a repentant and wise people, even if only The problem is that man is basically sinful. The answer is to enforce the Constitution — and as James Madison said, We The People are the apex sovereigns alone qualified and authorized to do so.

    We must, however, do so within the bounds of law, or given modern American social demographics, we’d have another French Revolution in a trice.

    The shrewd and wicked party of Hamilton and Clay over 175 years ago were able to use their puppet Lincoln — a thrice-failed railroad attorney — to gin up The War to Enslave the States. ly-constructed, always-approximately-equal-and-offsetting North-South bifurcation of the citizenry

  • http://www.ThisBloodlessLiberty.com D.M. Zuniga

    (Sorry about the orphan paragraphs below the link; should have excised it.)

    Just take note…all is NOT lost!

  • http://www.ThisBloodlessLiberty.com D.M. Zuniga

    One more quick note. I understand that the framers of the U.S. Constitution were adamantly opposed to a plebiscite (direct democracy), based on the Bible’s precept that man is basically sinful, not basically good. Rule of law, not ruel of men.

    Still, its best, the Athenian democracy shared something with American rule of law in our constitutional republic. It only took a small minority of the total population to govern the masses. AmericaAgain! Trust is predicated on the fact that however small the cohort, just a handful of citizens will be enough to bring a criminal indictment of a demonstrable felon.

  • JohnK

    I think that most of those leaving comments agree that the Constitution is still a very good framework for establishing a Federal agent of the states having limited powers to fill some of the gaps that the (13 original) states could foresee occurring within their federation. The founding fathers spent a lot of time trying to create a document that would prevent the abuses of government that had been tolerated by citizens (subjects) around the world by monarchs and dictators. However, the abuses of the language in the Constitution which led to abuses by the Federal government began almost immediately after the adoption of the document. The results of the War of Secession (Civil War) opened the floodgates of abuse by the Federal government and it has been non-stop ever since.

    Probably one of the most abused phrases in the Constitution is the “general clause”. The Founding Fathers certainly understood that this phrase was meant to give the Federal government the right to prevent unfair commerce between the states. The liberals have used it to abuse the American people in every possible way (i.e. the concept that Federal law always trumps state law- the general clause!!). Presidents who ignore Congress and start wars willy-nilly, Congresses that don’t take responsibility to vet the citizenship background of the President, indeed, Presidents who claim the authority to murder any citizen on earth, including Americans, just because, well, he thinks that it needs to be done. These are all examples of the abuses being heaped upon the American people because they have been brainwashed to believe that, well, that’s just the way it is and I can’t do anything about it!!

    My point is that Washington, D.C. is HOPELESSLY broken and will not reform itself. With American apathy running at an incredible high, they don’t need to. They will just continue to coast along with the established system and get the most benefit from it for themselves. Our only hope is for Americans (those who have awakened from their slumber) to demand that their state legislators fix the problem that was created in 1791.

    The only real tool that the state legislators have is the Constitutional amendment. Once they adopt an amendment, it IS the constitution. The President can’t override it, Congress can’t override it and the Supreme Court can only interpret but can’t override it. The Federal government can only live within it or resist the American people forcibly (the chances of which should not to be taken lightly and should be addressed as a capital offense in the amendment).

    Once again, a Constitutional amendment that creates a state run caretaker government which has the full authority to oversee and override decisions by the Federal government which are not in the interest of the American people seems like the only way to stem the tide of Federal expansionism. This should be a “self-extinguishing” amendment which is valid for a limited period of time. During this time, the states could “adjust” the wording in the Constitution to eliminate (as best as possible) the “loose” phrases which have allowed the Federal government to abuse its original charter. This might take a year, 2 years, maybe 5 but should be limited so as to force the states to get the job done and get the Federal government back on track to serve the best interests of the American people.

    Americans are great procrastinators, always believing that “someone else” will solve the “problem”. Greece, Portugal, Spain and Europe in general should be a wake-up call that the end of “business as usual” is fast approaching globally. Keep in mind that Washington, D.C. is NOT America! America is a union of 50 sovereign states. Washington, D.C. is just a city full of bureaucrats hired to make decisions for the American people. When Washington, D.C. no longer makes good decisions, it is time for the states to fire the whole city and redefine what they expect from their Federal agent. And the states are the citizens. It is up to every citizen to demand that their legislators fix the problem. I believe that a Constitutional amendment would be the best way to “fire” Washington, D.C. and get the country back on track.

    I enjoy Dollarcollapse.com and all of the comments. Much higher caliber of responses than on websites such as Yahoo.

  • Pete

    I was once religious about the constitution like you are, John.

    Lysander Spooner helped me awaken to reality with a clear, simple point…”The Constitution is either responsible for the government we have, or was incapable of stopping it.”

    I suggest you all read “Constitution of No Authority” by Lysander Spooner. Its time we surrender to the reality that the state is immoral and evil. A limited state is still a legalized murderer, thief, and liar. If any of the people who claim to represent you actual did, they wouldn’t be the first to threaten to take your liberty and property. Taxation is legalized theft. War is legalized murder. Any “law” that claims a crime was committed with no victim is null and void.

  • Agent P

    There are (4) words within this piece that jump out:

    - ‘Moderate’

    What is a ‘moderate’? In short, someone who values private gains and socialized losses; Somebody who likes it ‘both ways’; Personal convenience with the advantage of mild opposition. In other words, a Caspar Milquetoast…

    - ‘Partisanship’

    Used generally in a pejorative manner – as if having strong opposing beliefs or viewpoints is a bad thing. Nonsense. We don’t have Enough partisanship.

    - ‘Democracy’

    This particular word/phrase is nauseatingly irritating because it is generally used in a manner to either convince (or deceive) the dumbed-down or unwitting, that we are ‘democracy’. Very deceptive and deftly used by both politicians and politically-motivated types to hoodwink people into accepting what basically amounts to mob rule.

    - ‘Polarization’

    Much like the use of ‘partisanship’, polarization is generally used in our modern-day political construct, to point the finger at individuals or groups who refuse to budge based on beliefs, values or standards. What is wrong with being polarized? Polarization and partisanship are key ingredients of the ‘animating contest of freedom’. There is a rather perverse mindset permeating body-politic that suggests if we don’t move to ‘get along’, that somehow we are working to ‘polarize’ people. Again, Bloody Nonsense.

    In short, Freedom and Liberty aren’t free – and never will be. Those who love and value Liberty will Always be in an ‘animating contest’ of ‘polarization’ and ‘partisanship’, despite those who would dumb us down or marginalize us as being too ‘partisan’.

  • sgt_doom

    First you mention that drunken super-loser, John Boehner, who washed out of US Navy boot camp in 1968, then falsely and fraudulently claimed military service when he first ran for the House.

    Next you mention Ornstein and that other stooge from — is it the American Enterprise Institute, the hedge fund guys, or Brookings?

    I always get those stink tanks confused — maybe ’cause all they do is spread disinformation and misinformation. Perhaps this timeline will help out:

    Timeline: The Great Masquerade

    1911
    US Supreme Court orders Rockefeller’s oil monopoly, Standard Oil, to be dissolved over the next few years. During the formation of the new companies, majority stock ownership is shifted to the Rockefeller foundations.

    1913
    US Congress passes four pieces of crucial legislation (with the aid of a Rockefeller son-in-law in the US Senate):

    The Federal Reserve Act

    Amendment to establish the federal income tax to pay the interest owed on those loans from the Federal Reserve to the US Treasury.

    Oil depletion allowance

    Financial structure of foundations (creating their tax exempt status and format allowing for sheltering – or hiding – ownership and wealth)

    Thus Rockefeller – and other super-rich – can continue their monopoly ownership through foundations and charitable trusts.

    1918
    Oil depletion allowance increased

    1919
    Gulf Oil, owned by the Mellon family, will enjoy an oil depletion allowance that year which was 449% larger than its net income.

    1920s
    Oil depletion allowance again increased several more times (during two administrations, Coolidge and Hoover, when Andrew Mellon is US Treasury Secretary).

    1961
    President Kennedy confers with Representative Wright Patman, a populist, who convenes a committee to investigate foundations and charitable trusts.

    1962
    In October of this year, President Kennedy persuades Congress to pass legislation removing the distinction between repatriated profits and profits reinvested abroad, aimed at the oil companies and that oil depletion allowance largesse.

    First preliminary report from Rep. Wright Patman’s committee released this year.

    1969
    Tax-Exempt Foundations and Charitable Trusts: Their Impact on Our Economy
    Final report from Rep. Patman’s House Select Committee on Small Business, detailing how the super-rich (Rockefeller, Morgan, Mellon, et al.) hide their monopoly ownership and wealth through foundations and charitable trusts.

    [Report of the House Select Committee on Small Business, Vol. I, 1969, v.]

    (1969)
    A commission is formed to “study” the financial structure of foundations, but the Rockefeller family pressures to have their man, Peter G. Peterson, appointed to chair and whitewash the study — no effective action is taken.
    (Commission on Foundations and Private Philanthropy, known as the Peterson Commission)

    2008
    Timothy Geithner, a member of the Mellon family on the Moore side, is appointed US Treasury Secretary.

    2012
    Steve Coll’s book tour for his book, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power and curiously, Coll’s clueless as to the ownership of ExxonMobil.

    Coll is the president of the New America Foundation, which is funded by the Peterson Foundation, endowed by Peter G. Peterson.

  • Paul

    During a recent bout of ‘Mid-life crisis’ (I just turned 41) I decided it was time to shed a few kilos from the fuel storage area that I’ve been carrying around for the last few years, just above my belt. I joined a Gym. I attend everyday, during work lunch break. I’ve been quite successful, I feel much better, clothes fit me better, I have more energy, I’m less tense, etc…..

    Also, and over a slightly longer period, I’ve collected Silver billion. Not much, I’m not a rich man. Usually only one or two Oz per month (since the heady days of $12 per ounce!). In those few years I’ve amassed a few kilos of the stuff. I quite like it. Occasionally I remove it from where I store it and just look at it. It’s lovely. Real money, no less. Quite reassuring in a way. 

    Anyway, although relevant later, I digress….After my recent Gym trips I’ve invested in a refillable drink bottle, I take it to the Gym, fill it and drink from it, then take it home in my work bag, with my smelly Gym kit each night, and rinse it out. Today though, a peculiar thing happened. I forgot my drink bottle & left it at the Gym. That afternoon I was thirsty, waiting for the train home, I had little choice but to purchase a small bottle of mineral water from the fridge at a news agent near the Train station. A 450ml (@ 1/2 quart) bottle of Mount Franklin Carbonated Spring water. It’s not a fancy brand, in fact it’s just the normal basic stuff you’d buy almost anywhere here in Sydney, Australia. What got me was the price….$3.80! That’s right, you read it correctly, Three Dollars and Eighty Cents (@ US$3.65) for less than half a litre/quart of fizzy water in a plain plastic bottle. At first I wasn’t sure if the cashier hadn’t typed in the wrong amount so I  checked the price with him again. $3.80! For a mouthful of water!!!! I was stunned. I walked away in disbelief and boarded my train home. 

    As I sat, earphone shod, and listened to some Pink Floyd on my iPhone, the reassuring click clack of train track below me, my mind began to stir…. $3.80 for 0.45l of water! That’s @ $8 per litre(quart), $32 per US gallon! Or, if you consider it another way, with the current value of a 1oz Silver Coin – only x7.38 small 450ml bottles of water. 

    Less than 7.5 small bottles of water for the price of one ounce of .999 pure Silver!…..SPARKLING WATER! 

    The reality behind the above story? – Inflation is out of control & Silver is still cheap….

  • http://www.MedicAngel.com Daniel J. Lavigne

    Interesting comments. And most are quite accurate with respect to the fact that we face an unavoidable collapse . . . as stated to Canda’s Prime Minister Chretien in my July 9, 2002 -Open Letter- as found at: http://www.TaxRefusal.com

    The only solution available is to support the spread of ‘The Tax Refusal’ . . . and thereby force Humanity address and confront the reality of its infection by the madness of greed and the evident willingness of its present day ‘Leaders’ to contemplate the murder of millions in order that ‘they’ have their way . . . regardless the costs and consequences to all others.


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