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Foreign Affairs

The Main Source of the American Decline

January 23rd, 2015 // 7:04 am @

Land of the Free  Land of Decay

Colosseum_in_Rome,_Italy_-_April_2007These days, the word “decline” is frequently used to describe the United States. Where “China” is often paired with words and phrases like “rising,” “new superpower,” and “number one,” a different set of adjectives show up when the U.S. is discussed.

This trend recently reached a new low when the cover story on Foreign Affairs was entitled, “See America: Land of Decay and Dysfunction.”

Wow! And we thought “decline” was bad. But decay? And dysfunction? That’s hitting below the belt.

It gets even more interesting, however.

The Players and The Played

The article goes on to suggest that the cause of this “decay” and “dysfunction” is the power of various special interest groups. This is a popular argument, mainly because almost everyone loves to blame special interest groups.

But this proposition bears scrutiny. Indeed, if special interest groups really are the reason for America getting off track, it is one of the most important topics of our time.

In reality, however, something else is at play here. Yes, of course, special interest groups are a serious problem to the precise extent that they “control” government. But why do they control our government? Who allows this? It certainly isn’t written in the Constitution.

Francis Fukuyama, who wrote the Foreign Affairs article, notes that the classic book The Semisovereign People gets to the heart of our challenge. In short, voters are highly swayed by the two big political parties, by the media, and by special interest groups. Special interest groups “control” Washington because they set out to control the parties and the media.

The Madisonian idea of sovereignty in the people (that the voters have the final say in who their leaders are, and what their leaders can and can’t do) is undermined when voters are easily swayed. Period.

Semisovereignty—where the voters do what special interests convince them to do through the media and political parties—is an entirely different political arrangement. It is more like an aristocratic, elite, oligarchy than a democratic republic.

That’s where we are today. And, in according to this analysis, it is the source—not merely a source, but the root—of our decline, decay, and dysfunction. The voters, in this view, don’t know better than to vote as they are told by the interest groups, parties, and media.

This causes them to mistrust government, vote against higher taxes, and remain frustrated with Washington—no matter what it does. The touted “solution?” Be more like a European parliamentary system.

Sadly, too many people are buying in to this flawed narrative.

The problem with this entire analysis is that it is partially true, but not actually true. Meaning what?

Let’s get specific: The fundamental reason for decline, decay, and dysfunction is not a lack voter influence, but rather the exact opposite. American voters—the majority, at least—want more government services than they want to pay for. They want other people to pay for them.

Where We Build From

america_crumblingThey want their government services, and they want them on Henry the Fifth terms. In other words, the typical American voter (let’s call him Tom) wants Washington to cut other peoples’ government programs—but none that directly benefit Tom or his family. That’s the crux of our decline and decay. Pure and simple.

Tom votes for the candidate promising that Tom’s favorite government programs will be protected while Alice’s “socialistic” programs will be cut. Alice, in turn, votes for the candidate who supports her “essential” government benefits while promising to cut Tom’s “greedy” or “imperialistic” programs.

Political parties, special interest groups, and media only dominate American politics because Tom and Alice—and a majority of other voters—take this approach. And our decline is assured if the cost of our government programs continues to depend primarily on debt.

Until Tom and Alice, or a majority of voters are willing to elect candidates who will end our debt-dependence and spend within our means (however hard the choices), the parties, lobbies, and media outlets will continue to sway the vote.

Don’t let the media, or anyone else, fool you. We are in decline because the electorate refuses to make the hard choice of fiscal and moral responsibility. Until we do, we’ll be a nation based fundamentally on debt—not principle.

Such a nation is…always…a nation in decline, decay, and dysfunction.

 

For solutions, see Oliver’s new book: The U.S. Constitution and the 196 Indispensable Principles of Freedom

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odemille  Americas Looming Crash: Special Report Parts I, II, III Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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SPECIAL REPORT: Mitt Romney Will Run and Win- Oliver DeMille

September 11th, 2014 // 10:50 am @

(A Tale of Four Candidates)

Prediction: Mitt Romney is running for president. And, if current trends continue, he’s going to win.

640px-Mitt_Romney_by_Gage_Skidmore_6Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton are running as well. It’s just a matter of time until all three of these future candidates announce, but in the meantime something interesting is happening to this election.

It is being determined by stealth, and the major players are world events—especially in Russia, China, and the Middle East.

In the 2008 election Hillary Clinton was the unanimous frontrunner.

But she lost the nomination because she promoted a strong, aggressive foreign policy while newcomer Barack Obama promised to get America out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and even Guantanamo.

This gave candidate Obama the natural lead in a war-weary nation frustrated about the lack of WMDs in Iraq.

Clinton and McCain talked aggressively about foreign affairs, but the voters wanted to get out of world conflicts and refocus on the home front.They voted for Obama.

In a very similar way, the next presidential election is already gearing up. With the recent resurgence of threats from Putin and Russia, along with continual crises in Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Libya, Israel, Syria, Palestine, and now the constant news coverage on ISIS, Americans are increasingly seeing the need for a strong leader in the White House.

Golf and Governing

Foreign affairs are once again foremost in the American electorate’s emotion center (with worries about China still simmering just under the surface)—but the emphasis is on standing strong and facing down threats instead of getting away from them.

If the storyline shifts by 2016 and the American people once again want to get out of foreign interventions and focus more on the home front, Rand Paul will receive the kind of huge popularity boost that propelled Barack Obama to the White House in 2008.

But right now we’re witnessing something very different. Each recent move from the Obama Administration has been met with major opposition from Democrats as well as Republicans.

If the president plays golf during a crisis, Congressional leaders from both parties criticize him.

If he dresses in his power suit and fills thirty minutes of prime time television announcing a major military initiative, looking straight into the camera and talking tough, national leaders from both parties spend the next three hours and days arguing against his plans—filling the airwaves with every conceivable criticism.

Short Power, Short View

There is a general lack of trust in the president right now, no matter what he does, and it comes from both parties and also the media, even many of the media outlets that have historically been very supportive of the Obama Administration.

Moreover, the president has a low approval rating and a very high level of American voters who mistrust his leadership.

Part of this stems from the fickle nature of the American electorate. Americans overwhelmingly supported going into Afghanistan, and also Iraq. A few years later they overwhelmingly supported getting out.

Today strong majorities want to use our military against ISIS; the more we do, the more likely it is that most Americans will soon be clamoring for us to bring these same troops home.

As a nation, we seem to like the idea of using our power—we just want its use to be short and decisive.

The same thing happens with domestic programs. A majority demanded health care reform; once it passed, the criticisms began. The longer we’ve watched Obamacare roll out, the less support it has among the electorate.

This is repeated in many ways in current U.S. politics.

But there is a bigger reality at work here. The nation is tired of the direction we’re taking. In 2008 the voters blamed it on Bush and put Obama in office. Today the electorate blames it increasingly on Obama.

And with the rise of general concern about foreign threats, both Clinton and Paul will be seen as a bit soft on foreign aggressors. They’re not, but the populace still sees it this way.

Bigger Power

During all this there is one powerful, recurring thread: President Obama is frequently broadcast in the media at his worst and weakest, and Mitt Romney appears on one news program after another—constantly commenting on what we should be doing in international conflicts. His answers are refreshingly different from Obama’s, and he sounds both credible and wise.

Indeed, Romney has accomplished something he never pulled off during the campaign—he projects a consistent, confident message of American strength.

Romney looks a lot more presidential in these clips than the president in his golf clothes. Indeed, the television optics during the last few months of Russian and Middle Eastern crises constitutes a major victory for Romney.

After all, Romney told Obama during the 2012 presidential debates that Russia was a major threat—and Obama scoffed at him. Romney warned of a slowed economy that would need serious free enterprise action to get moving again. Obama sneered at this view. Romney was right; Obama wasn’t.

The electorate is now sneering in the other direction. It has largely lost faith in Obama. And when it sees Romney responding to the latest international problem, he oozes competence while Obama and Hillary evoke immediate skepticism.

If the election were held next week, Romney would win.

But we’ve got over two years until the next presidential election, and a lot will happen between now and then. Not the least of which is the 2014 midterm congressional election.

Foreign and Domestic

randpaulWith all that said, world events may well be the biggest influence on who becomes America’s next commander in chief. If foreign problems maintain their current pace, Romney will most likely be the next president.

If not, we may be faced with a very interesting situation, where a Hawkish Democrat (Hillary Clinton) faces a more non-interventionist Republican (Rand Paul).

While I personally agree with the less interventionist view and would love to see a President Rand Paul lead a White House that actually believes in following the U.S. Constitution, I think world events make this unlikely. Sad.

Ultimately, there is a lot more to this than mere politics. America’s power in international affairs won’t be as important to the future of the nation as whether or not the next president rekindles freedom in our economy.

This is what Romney or Paul offers. Hillary Clinton, or Elizabeth Warren if Hillary falters, will likely keep acting like Washington is the center of our business and economic success. This is the battle: freedom versus bigger government.

This is the great American decision of 2016.

The importance of this choice is almost impossible to overstate!

Ironically, this vital decision will probably be made by foreign aggressors, by what they do or don’t do, and how their actions influence the American electorate in the months and years just ahead.

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odemille The New Ivy League by Oliver DeMille Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah

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The “BIG” Problem by Oliver DeMille

July 30th, 2014 // 7:53 pm @

The Wrong Size

old books background

The “BIG” problem isn’t just hugely important, it’s also the incredible set of challenges that are created when any institution, organization, or endeavor is just plain too big. This problem is predictable, and therefore solvable, but only if the right people are keeping an eye on the right things.

Specifically, our modern government is too big. Period. Until this problem is remedied, we will continue to see crisis after crisis after crisis, each followed by infighting, gridlock, dysfunction, and major mistakes from Washington and both parties. As long as the government tries to do too much on too big a scale, it will continue to do many things poorly.

In fact, our government reached this turning point (too big to be efficient) in the late 1960s. As Micklethwait and Woolridge put it: “By the 1970s, the U.S. government seemed to be spoiling everything it touched…” (Foreign Affairs, vol. 93, no. 4, p. 126) And the size and scope of its endeavors have more than quadrupled since.

The Two Crises

This has created two overarching crises that never seem to dissipate. In fact, they’ll continue to fester and grow as long as the government grows. First, a government too big to be effective or efficient tends to infectiously weaken the effectiveness and efficiency of everything it touches—and at the same time it habitually tries to touch more and more. This dull, inevitable march to control more parts of life and the economy (and inadvertently make them all less effective) has killed every great world power in history.

Its occurrence in the United States is now the defining characteristic of our century—for the whole globe.

Second, the bigger the government gets once reaching this point of inefficiency, the less it fulfills its primary mission. For the framers, the role of what they called the “general government” (meaning the federal government, what we now usually call the “national government” or even, tellingly, “the government”), was national security and the protection of freedom.

The framers saw no other role for Washington. It’s raison de etre was to protect inalienable rights and defend the nation. Nothing else. In fact, the Constitution was designed specifically to ensure that it did nothing else. Worried that they hadn’t quite made this certain, the founding generation then added the Bill of Rights to make absolutely sure that the federal government only did these two things.

Then, just in case they hadn’t made it clear enough, they added the Ninth Amendment to the Bill of Rights. But even then they worried that they hadn’t done enough to limit the federal government. So they added the Tenth Amendment as well: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

“We want the federal government to protect inalienable rights and maintain national security, and do nothing else!” they tried to say (the Constitution). Then, “And we mean it (the Bill of Rights). We really mean it (the Ninth Amendment). Seriously, we truly, totally, emphatically, mean it! (the Tenth Amendment).”

Richard A. Epstein wrote: “…the two central concerns of constitutional law” are “institutional structure and individual rights.” (Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, vol. 37, no. 3, p. 705) The purpose of institutional structure is to secure individual rights, not vice versa.

The People or the Government?

But when the focus of government becomes too big, well beyond the Constitutional powers of protecting rights and maintaining the national defense, the individual rights of the people become a resource to be bargained, traded or sacrificed in the name of institutional structure. “Think not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do with or without your consent for itself,” becomes the operating principle.

The people, the individuals, are forgotten in this new arrangement. They become a cypher, expendable, unimportant. Not citizens but voters. Not a nation of, by, and for the people, but now people for, by, and of the nation (meaning whatever Washington says). In other words, an aristocracy, where elites run the nation and control the people who live in it.

This isn’t the founding model of Americanism at all. It’s the opposite. It’s top-down government, not Jefferson’s bottom-up democracy. As such, it is fundamentally authoritarian, not a self-governing republic. This has created two natural results: national decline as the world’s sole superpower, and the decline of individual freedoms.

Both declines will continue as long as the “BIG” problem (the government is too big) persists.

The Cause

But what can be done, realistically? The federal government can be held to its Constitutional boundaries. It can be limited to national defense and the protection of the inalienable rights of its citizens. This is why the government was created in the first place, and when it tries to do anything else beyond these two roles it is both unconstitutional and also destructive to freedom, prosperity, and happiness.

The people still have the power to remedy this, in every election, if they’ll choose to vote wisely.

Note that nearly all nations in both the free and the authoritarian world are facing the “BIG” Problem. Following America’s lead, or in some cases simply striking out on their own, modern governments are drastically expanding—not sticking to their wise or constitutional limits. For example, the debt of governments around the world “…reached $50.6 trillion in 2013, compared with just $22 trillion in 2003.” (Ibid. p. 130)

At this rate, the fall of individual freedoms to the “BIG” Problem is all but ensured.

This trajectory isn’t surprising in the authoritarian nations, where elites openly rule the masses. But in the free nations, it is a relatively new development, one that began in the United States with the advent of the GI Bill after World War II. Before this time, education generally emphasized the classics and the great skills of deep reading (e.g. The Federalist), writing and thinking.

The BIG problem-Period

When the government began massively funding higher education, schools changed their emphasis to job and career training, and subsequent generations of Americans stopped learning to read. Of course, they gained literacy, but as a nation we lost our high level of what I’ve called Leadership Education and what E.D. Hirsch called Cultural Literacy—a deep understanding of the same things our leaders read and think about.

In fact, before 1945, the primary focus of American education was for each child, youth and citizen to read the same books and think about the same ideas and questions as their Presidents, Senators, Judges, and leading CEOs.

Allan Bloom called this momentous shift away from cultural literacy “the closing of the American mind,” and he warned that unless we reversed this trend democracy was doomed. We didn’t reverse it, and as a result, as mentioned above, “By the 1970s, the U.S. government seemed to be spoiling everything it touched…” (Op Cit)

In the 2010s, the dearth of leadership education is a wholesale national crisis. Very few people know how to really read the fine print of government any more. In such situations, rule by elites is the only historical norm.

If we are merely voters rather than engaged citizens, we vote poorly. We are swayed by media, photogenicism, and campaign popularity contests. We ignore the fact that candidates lie, or more accurately that once in office they routinely fail to live up to their campaign promises.

We become a nation of children, led around by our elite handlers, rather than a nation of adults who closely scan government actions and keep our politicians and their policies on a tight leash.

Again, the fundamental problem is that we aren’t in the habit of reading or thinking like leaders. For example, consider the following commentary from a contemporary source:

“Freedom of speech” in “freedom of speech, or of the press” means the freedom of all to speak; this suggests that “freedom…of the press” in the same phrase means the freedom of all to use the press. Reading “freedom” to mean “freedom of every person to engage in an activity” when “freedom” relates to “speech,” but reading the same word in the same place as meaning “the freedom of some particular group of people” when it relates to “the press” is not how users of the English language use these kinds of closely connected clauses…” (Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, vol. 37, no. 3, p. 733)

Most moderns don’t enjoy reading such paragraphs. They wonder what it is about, why it matters, and why they should read it at all. They have to dig to ascertain it’s meaning, and even then they feel a bit unsure. They consider it the kind of reading to be done by experts, not every citizen. Yet this is the argument a Supreme Court Justice used to make the case that everyone has the right to share their opinions openly—against some who argued that the only ones with this right are actually professional reporters and journalists.

This is a huge deal, with massive consequences to our freedom. Yet almost the only people who read such paragraphs are experts. In the founder’s time, the regular citizens read such ideas and discussed them at length. In our day, we don’t.

Then, when we go to the ballot box, we vote very differently than the founders or any other people who actually closely study and understand the fine print. No nation keeps its freedoms when the regular people don’t read, think, and spend time analyzing the same things as their political officials. Every nation that leaves political details to the experts loses its freedom to a professional expert governing class. There are no exceptions in history.

Yet today we are two nations: the masses, who focus on their careers (from kindergarten through retirement) and entertainments, and the elites who read the fine print and understand it—and use the education of their children to pass on these same skills and interests. This is aristocracy, pure and simple. Freedom and democracy cannot last in such a climate.

One more example, though there are thousands that could be used:

“…today we have about 5,000 federal criminal statutes on the books, most added in the last few decades [since the shift of the 1970s]. And the spigot keeps pouring, with hundreds of new statutory crimes inked every few years. Neither does that begin to count the thousands of additional regulatory crimes buried in the federal register. There are so many crimes cowled in the numbing fine print of those pages that scholars actually debate their number.” (Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, vol. 37, no. 3, p. 747.)

This is the “BIG” Problem in a nutshell. If people don’t know the law, how can they obey the law? If government becomes so big that only the experts know the law, we are living in an aristocracy. But when government becomes so big that even the experts don’t know the law, the nation itself is in danger. Everything the government touches weakens, and the government tries to touch everything. This is today’s America.

The Solution

The answer is to teach the current generation of youth how to read. Really read, in the Allan Bloom, culturally literate, Leadership Education way of reading. Such reading empowers the regular people to think about the same ideas the experts, government officials, and top leaders are thinking about. This creates a nation that is capable of a democratic republic, and of freedom.

No other education allows a citizenry to remain free.

This starts by teaching young people (and adults, where needed) to read the classics. Then to read the scholarly journals and other deep writings of experts and government officials. Without this skill, and this habit, freedom is always lost.

Ironically, most people reject this solution because it takes too long, and can compete with their kids’ career training. This is exactly the short-term viewpoint that is trained into the masses by conveyor-belt schooling. The elites, in contrast, make this a major priority. They ensure that their youth have a leadership education above all else. They know this is the key to their future power. Elite private schools train leadership through the classics.

People who don’t read the classics, the scholarly journals and writings, and important government documents, are part of the masses. Those who do are part of the ruling elites. The goal is to get the majority of citizens reading these things. Only then are the people the rulers, and only then is a nation free.

The “BIG” Problem can only be solved the LITTLE Solution: you reading the classics, journals and other deep writings, and government documents—a little each day. If you don’t do this, you will witness less freedom and the major decline of your nation, and even less freedom for your children and grandchildren.

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odemille A Missing Piece of Entrepreneurship Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah

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Funny: Imagine a Different America

April 17th, 2014 // 8:01 am @

Joke for Thought

The column was a joke (literally).800px-Red_state,_blue_state.svg But in addition to being funny, it really says some very interesting things.

Written by Joel Stein in Time magazine (March 24, 2014), it is a blueprint for how the United States should break into two separate nations.

Consider some of what Stein wrote:

• “We should peacefully break into two countries, one made of red states and one of blue. The red one would still be called the United States of America, since it would otherwise have to alter the lyrics of every song its citizens know. The blue one would be renamed something racially inclusive and long and hard to remember. The Exceedingly Long-Named Country would be free to have the laws it has always griped about not being able to pass. Instead of guns, the cops would carry Change.org petitions.”

• “Once the blue states were their own country, they would develop a better appreciation for the South, as a foreign country they could visit when Mexico seemed like too much effort and Canada too little…. A place with the best breakfasts in the entire world. Where it’s easy to navigate since everyone speaks English, but figuring stuff out is still a bit of a fun challenge because, after all, it’s not really English. A place where you can shoot guns, drive cars with combustion engines and drink beer that isn’t painfully bitter—all at the same time.”

• “This split would in no way prevent Southerners [and Westerners] from vacationing up North for the same reasons they always have: they have relatives there and have no choice.”

Again, though meant as a joke, this describes some of the real differences between the Blue and Red states. Klein continues:

• “The South…could pass laws every month not to raise its debt ceiling since, let’s face it, no one is going to lend a Southerner money.” The North “could make environmental treaties with foreign nations about how to extract natural resources, since they’ll have no natural resources anyway.”

Very funny.

The Un-United States

What’s missing in Stein’s fictional proposal is how the southern red states and the western red states will get along. Since they won’t, they’ll just split too.

And what about the swing states? Florida, Ohio and West Virginia have a lot more in common with each other than most of their geographical neighbors, so maybe they’ll break away and create a fourth nation.

Colorado is part of the blue states anyway, so geography is already archaic in the new system.

But that’s just the beginning. Nevada and Utah are basically the opposite of each other, but Nevada is also the opposite of California—in a totally different way.

Nevada can’t co-exist well with either, but it can connect with Arizona and Montana.

Texas will probably want to its own nation. And that’s just the start…

Time to Stop Laughing

The more I think about it, the less funny it is. People who just want Washington to get along sometimes miss a key truth: the conflict in Washington is a lot less extreme than the conflict would be between capitol cities of competing nations.

As John Jay wrote in Federalist Paper 5:

“Should the people of America divide themselves into three or four nations…envy and jealousy would soon extinguish confidence and affection, and the partial interests of each…instead of the general interests of all America, would be the only objects of their policy and disputes. [Afterwards], like most other bordering nations, they would always be…involved in disputes and wars [with each other].”

The result, Federalist 5 said, would be, first, that America would be weak against all its foreign enemies, and second, the new blocs of states would be dangerous “and formidable only to each other.”

Why Washington Feels Broken

Sometimes it’s nice to sit back and laugh at ourselves.

Yes, Washington can be a frustrating, angry, and dysfunctional place, but it could be a lot worse. Southern and Northern California could be two separate nations, for example. Or Michigan and Ohio. Atlanta and Athens, Georgia. Manhattan and the Bronx.

Talk about conflict. The thought makes Democrat versus Republican feel tame.

The U.S. is not, at it’s essence, federal. The Founders created the federal government as a national security entity that would protect, and loosely cobble together, thirteen distinct states.

When the federal government tries to homogenize fifty unique states, treating them with a one-size-fits-all mentality, the result is dysfunction.

Washington feels “broken” today because it is. It is trying to do something it was never designed for.

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odemille What Will You Be Doing After the Coming Crash? Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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How to Deal With the BLM (A Modest Proposal)

April 15th, 2014 // 12:53 pm @

by Oliver DeMille

Here a -Gate, There a -Gate

putin-bundyThe IRS targeting scandal and BLM-gate in Nevada hit the news again this week. If you missed these two huge stories, do a quick web search and catch up on the news. Both may be precursors of a Constitutional crisis. Add the shocking turn of events (and aftermath) surrounding Benghazi as well.

The truth is, there is a fundamental problem with the way our government works right now. It is structurally broken, and without a real fix things are going to continue to decline. Washington and its out-of-control agencies and branches will continue to expand—breaking the bank and reducing the freedoms of our nation with every advance.

The problem is that the President and Executive Branch are engaged in domestic policy. Period. The framers only wanted the President to deal with national security.

This is a massive change, and it creates an almost insurmountable national crisis.

As long as this is our system, national crises are going to continue. Like dominoes falling, we’ll witness once crisis after another.

People will wonder why Washington can’t get it right, but few will realize the truth: The federal government simply isn’t well designed to do what it is doing. It is designed to be tough on foreign enemies, to leave interactions with its own citizens to the state and local governments.

What’s Washington “For”?

This bears repeating until every American figures it out:

  • The federal government is designed to stop foreign attackers.
  • It is designed to keep the President from becoming a tyrant while he still has enough massive power to effectively repel any security threats to the nation.
  • It is designed with a congress that has the power to ensure that the states help fund and support whatever it takes to stop any attacks on the nation.
  • It is designed to allow the Court to settle disputes between the states in a peaceful manner.

These are, fundamentally, all the federal government is supposed to do. This is how the Constitution was written.

Today the federal government acts like these Constitutional responsibilities are just minor duties, afterthoughts really–as if funding and managing myriad federal programs in every walk of life and in every small town or valley, home and business across the nation is their real job.

As long as this is the case, America will decline.

On the one hand, we’ll decline because Washington too often uses its power stupidly—sending the BLM to shoot a rancher’s cattle or using the IRS to investigate political rivals. But this is natural to a government that was set up to fight its enemies.

The Executive Branch thinks like what it is: a national security apparatus.

And in the context of security issues, the Congress thinks like what it is: an arm to raise funds for the Executive and simultaneously keep the Executive from becoming tyrannical.

All of this is excellent when it is pointed at real threats to America. How about: use the resources of the BLM, IRS, ATF, FDA, etc. on Iran, Iraq, North Korea, China, Russia? See how Putin deals with that!

Misdirection

The truth is, the tactics used by many of our federal agencies would be much better suited against Putin’s Russia than our current international policies.

Sadly, they are used more often against our own people than against our adversaries. Sic the NSA on the phone records of China and Iran, not Burbank or Atlanta.

When the national security apparatus (which should be synonymous with “Washington D.C.”) targets Americans, it does so in the wrong way. It was never designed as a government to oversee its own people. The framers structured it specifically for national defense.

The states and local governments were supposed to do the governing of the people. Read the Constitution. Read the Federalist Papers. This focus was clear.

The second problem, the second reason our system is broken, is that in focusing on domestic governance (unconstitutionally), the federal government is less likely to do its real job—national security.

Why do we send federal agents against a rancher in Nevada or conservative groups applying to the IRS, but send nobody to protect our diplomats in Benghazi?

The federal government has forgotten why it exists.

It spies on its own people, but does nothing except bluster as Iran fails one nuclear inspection deadline after another.

Domestic policy and politics get in the way every time the Congress or the Executive Branch want to do what really should be done for national defense.

We let Putin or China get away with, literally, murder and torture because our federal leaders are afraid to take a stand that might jeopardize them politically.

Here’s a thought…

If the federal government only dealt with national defense, including mitigation of disputes between states, it wouldn’t have this concern. It would take Putin on with strength—the way the ATF and BLM deal with American citizens.

The irony here is shocking.

We putter around with true dictatorship such as North Korea and Iran, and try to make friends with raw aggression from Russia.

The federal government talks big against Putin and China, but it only actually bares its teeth when faced by a one of its own senior citizens and a few cattle.

Again, the Constitutional structure is going unheeded. Until we simply follow the Constitution, our decline is assured.

But what can we do? What are the realistic policies or changes that can fix our plight?

It’s great to talk about the ideals of the Constitution, but what about real solutions?

I agree–we need real changes. So here’s my proposal:

Let’s convince the Obama Administration and Congress to round up all agents who carry guns for the BLM, ATF, IRS, NSA, FDA and any other federal agency and ship them to the Ukraine.

This won’t consist of sending “military” forces because they’re not soldiers, they’re bureaucrats.

It won’t hurt the United States, since the absence of thousands of meddling federal officials will likely cause an economic boom in America.

It will be a real blow to Putin’s aggression, however. They U.S. bureaucrats speak his language.

They’ll cite policies, procedures, precedents, and email/phone data they’ve been secretly collecting on Ukrainians for many years. Putin’s people won’t know what hit them.

When the Russians threaten violence, our “Bureau Team Six” will just make up their own laws, agency rules, and executive orders and enforce them.

No matter how the Russian generals respond, they’ll have an answer: “Who cares what the people on the ground think?” “Who cares what the Constitution says?” “Logic and common sense? What’s that got to do with anything?” “Come on, Putin, just do what we say.”

If all else fails, Bureau Team Six will just write up some new policies and print them out on their laser printer. Then they’ll point to these “laws” and tell the Russians that this is agency policy with the full backing of the U.S. federal government.

Indeed, this Corps of Really Armed Bureaucrats (CRABs) is already highly trained in the exact tactics that will put Putin’s power grab in its place.

When they’re done in the Ukraine, let’s send them to North Korea. They should be able to shape things up quickly.

Then on to Iran.

Back at the Ranch

Meanwhile, the economy at home will be booming.

Less regulation will foster more opportunity.

Fewer dogmatic enforcers will encourage innovation and increased prosperity.

International investors will move their money to American businesses, and employment and salaries will increase.

It’s amazing how quickly things can be fixed when we simply follow good principles. The Constitution is actually a really good idea. We should consider following it.

Conclusion

Satire aside, our system really is broken, and nothing will fix it until the federal government gets out of the governing business and gets back to focusing exclusively on national security. If this is too big a change, then the U.S. cannot stand as a free nation.

 

FreedomBundleFor more on how “regular citizens” can preserve freedom, see Oliver’s Freedom Bundle:

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*******************

odemille What Will You Be Doing After the Coming Crash? Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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