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There's only one way political swamps ever get drained, and our far-seeing Founders carefully gave the American people the means to do it:

The Founders' Defense Against Sociopaths In Office

"In order to get power and retain it, it is necessary to love power; but love of power is not connected with goodness but with qualities that are the opposite of goodness, such as pride, cunning and cruelty."

-Leo Tolstoy

IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED that there are an inordinate number of sociopaths in public office as compared to the general population. As observed by Martha Stout, clinical psychologist and author of The Sociopath Next Door,

"[P]oliticians are more likely than people in the general population to be sociopaths. I think you would find no expert in the field of sociopathy/psychopathy/antisocial personality disorder who would dispute this..."

These sociopaths are people of the "power sickness", characterized by narcissism, self-importance, a willingness to manipulate others and the charm to do it effectively, and a perpetual habit of deflecting blame when their self-interested actions cause harm to others, all stemming from a basic lack of conscience. See here, here, here and here.

This overrepresentation of sociopaths in the "political class" is no surprise. After all, public office offers all the things gratifying to such people. Office-holders get lots of attention from others, much of it fawning; they get easy money and lots of it; they get the opportunity to rule over other people; and they face a standard of success that relies more on a skill at bullsh*tting than on the hard work needed to actually gratify the needs and desires of strangers, such as is required in any other occupation.

Further, the skills needed to achieve public office-- being willing and able to convincingly paint a rosier, more desirable picture than any honest opponent would have the moral turpitude to offer; charisma; and an obsession with self-aggrandizement-- are all the natural traits of the sociopath. Healthy men and women are hard-pressed to compete against these political "naturals" in any but the most extraordinary circumstances.

Given this remarkably-aligned package of requirements and rewards, it's no surprise that sociopaths gravitate toward public office and achieve it in numbers disproportionate to their representation within the general population of healthy men and women. The top prizes go to the very worst of them, and the losers satisfy themselves by joining the swarm of petty functionaries with clipboards that fills government buildings coast-to-coast.

SO, PUBLIC OFFICES ARE TYPICALLY nests of snakes, supported by nests of lesser but just-as-reptilian creatures, including, of course, all the appointees selected by the chief sociopaths (judges, department heads, commission members and so forth), who are from the ranks of those congenial to their benefactors' characters and desires. This has always been the case, from the very beginning of any kind of hierarchic ruling structure in any human society.

And sociopaths in positions of authority are dangerous! No one in his or her right mind wants these folks wielding significant power that is capable of causing harm on any kind of mass scale, whether at home or abroad.

Signing of the Declaration of IndependenceHAPPILY, THOSE WHO FOUNDED THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN AMERICA knew all about sociopaths, their lusts, and their skills. Adams, Jefferson, Madison and the rest were close and accomplished students of history and psychology, and had their own personal lifelong experiences with public office-holders, both elected and appointed. The Founders recognized the danger these mentally-ill but eminently-functional types represented to decent society and the principles of liberty.

At the same time, the Founders also recognized that some form of power-managing societal organization was inevitable, whether theoretically "necessary" or not. So, they made provisions to structure that organization so as to provide for the accommodation of the inevitable while strictly protecting against the threat of sociopaths using the structure to do great harm or to become an existential threat to the liberty of the People.

THE FOUNDERS' CHOSEN DEFENSES AGAINST THE SOCIOPATHS were two-fold. Informing both was an understanding that while power cannot be kept from bad people, and any degree of power corrupts even good people once it is in their hands, if the power that bad people are able to wield is small, then the harm done by them can be kept small and tolerable.

The lesser (less relied upon) of the Founders' defenses against sociopathy was the recognizably weak measure of granting public officialdom only express, limited powers. The Founders were not fools, and they were well aware that the very same public officials they meant to restrain would assume for themselves the authority to interpret those limitations, and would do so in a fashion which would, over time, nullify them. It was also understood that the class of public officials and those who supported their elevation would also end up manipulating the electoral process so as to largely ensure their perpetuation in office.

Thus, the second, and far more powerful and reliable defense: the juxtaposing of the personal interests of individual men and women directly against the desires of those in office by carefully-designed rules controlling the federal government's taxing authority. Here, too, expressions in the fundamental law were involved, but those regarding taxation are unique among the delegated powers in several critically-important ways.

First of all, under the unique rules controlling federal government (fedgov) taxing powers, the fedgov is given a means by which an unlimited amount of wealth can be commandeered at the sole discretion of Congress and the President-- but only by a politically-challenging, largely self-regulating mechanism. This is "direct" taxation.

At the same time, the fedgov is permitted to allege and seek to enforce individual, personal liabilities, but only in regard to gains from the purely elective exercise of federally-granted privileges. This is "indirect" taxation.

Because the population of a state in the aggregate will ultimately pay all direct tax levies, an explicit incentive exists for residents of the state to pressure its congressional delegation to keep direct taxes low. Further, because apportionment (the mechanism by which liabilities among the states are distributed) lays the burden for a tax upon a state based on its proportion of the national population, not its proportion of the national wealth, the overall per capita burden of any direct tax cannot exceed whatever the poorest state is able to pay, again forcing direct taxes to remain low.

On the other hand, indirect taxes cannot be collected unless individuals have chosen to engage in government-privileged economic activities rather than common economic activities engaged in by right. Thus, every individual is entirely in control of how much, if anything, he or she will pay the government in indirect taxes, such as the "income tax".

Because every individual naturally seeks to optimize the gains from all effort, individuals will keep privileged economic activity at a minimum, unless the rates of tax are kept so low that the overall net gains from privileged activities exceed those that can be had through unprivileged economic activity, even with the additional burden of the tax factored in as a cost. Either way, the power accruing to the government through the capture of indirect tax revenues is kept small.

Putting the two varieties of tax together, Congress has a deep and broad authority to tax. At the same time, the rules under which Congress is exclusively allowed to exercise this authority impose extremely powerful, diffuse, wide-reaching and self-activating constraints on how much power its exercise puts into the hands of those in public office.

And those constraints operate by virtue of natural incentives needing no special political organization on their behalf. No other provision of the Constitution either authorizing a power of Congress or limiting congressional discretion shares this effective duality of character, and is so unassailable either politically or through creative "construction" of the law.

SO, THIS IS HOW THE FOUNDERS, in their far-seeing wisdom, solved the age-old problem of sociopaths in office. They set up a structure limiting the power those sociopaths can wield which does not rely on the inherently unreliable checks and balances of different branches of government, which are always at risk of corruption from "checks and balances" into "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."

Instead, the Founders invoke and rely upon the discipline and energy of the competing interests of the individual Americans from whose pockets the power must be taken and against whom it would be exercised. People looking out for #1 look hard and sharply, and in doing so benefit all of society by keeping the sociopath-infested state from growing large, and therefore dangerous.

NEEDLESS TO SAY, THE SOCIOPATHS have struggled over the centuries to escape the constraints of the Founders' design, but to no avail. It has only been by the flimsy artifice of absurd myths about the nature of the indirect "income tax" that any evasion has been managed. But even this evasion is not an escape.

It is true that under the influence of the sociopaths' myths many Americans have been fooled into treating all their economic activity as federally-privileged and subject to tax during the last 75 years, and this has allowed much more power to accrue to the sociopaths than any sensible person would want.

But the mistreatment of activity as privileged and subject to the tax remains entirely within the discretion of each individual, however much that discretion is being controlled in its exercise by state-encouraged ignorance about the tax. The rules have merely been evaded, and only so far as the state can promote and maintain that ignorance. The rules have not been escaped.

Nor will those rules be escaped. It is telling that the sociopath-benefiting mistreatment of non-taxable activities as taxable has not been accomplished by convincing Americans that is it good for their power to change hands. As the Founders understood, this will never happen, and has never happened.

Only the fostering of falsehoods about the nature of the tax and the rules to which it is subject have accomplished this undesirable transfer, which remains entirely vulnerable at all times to the truth about the tax and the rules under which it operates. As rapidly as that re-empowering information spreads the power available to the sociopaths diminishes, and nothing is needed to secure that relief except that spread of knowledge.

Already the tide is starting to turn back toward liberty and limited government under the law. Many Americans have learned the truth about the tax and have re-claimed their power, keeping it from the sociopaths and protecting all of us from harm. Meet some of these truly heroic American men and women here.

If you're not already CtC-educated about the tax and the Constitutional structure designed by the Founders, start learning the truth here, and share it with everyone you know.

Being safe from the war-mongering, injustice-committing, liberty-crushing, self-enriching sociopaths is really as simple as this single question:

What's your answer?

© Peter E. Hendrickson 2016

(Permission is hereby granted for digitally posting this article anywhere, as long as it is left fully intact, all links remain functional, and the authorship/copyright-- and this note-- appear at the end just as they do here.)