The Great Deception
CHARLES BAUDELAIRE OBSERVED THAT, "[T]he loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist!" He meant that by not believing in the Devil, Man must see his woes, and all evil in the world, as being in some manner the natural order of things. This ultimately leads to a loss of faith in God's goodness or even His existence, and the Devil's purposes are accomplished.
Of like craftiness and effect to this Satanic trick is the long-running campaign by Hamiltonians and their fellow-travelers to convince the American people that the U.S. Constitution is actually an evil artifact, designed by a cabal of elitists to look out exclusively for their own interests at the expense of everyone else's. Thanks to this campaign, Americans cast despairing looks down the dark road toward which their feet have been turned, gazing without a hint of recognition right past their best means of secular salvation.
In this, my last post of 2014, I want to take a shot at enlisting all of you, and all those with whom you share these words, into the fight against this pernicious ploy. I think that by the time you finish reading this commentary you will agree that this is a battle on which could rest the outcome of the war.
CONTRARY TO WHAT AMERICANS HAVE LONG BEEN CONDITIONED TO ACCEPT, "the law" is neither a process nor an institutional structure. Rather, it is a set of principles.
Properly understood, when we speak of "the rule of law", we do not speak of "the rule of lawmakers", or "the rule of law-enforcers", or even of "the rule of government". Rather, we speak of the rule of foundational principles to which the government, the lawmakers and the law-enforcers are all subordinate, and to which they must conform. When this conformance happens, we enjoy "the rule of law".
American Constitutions are the articulations of our foundational principles. They list what the governments they authorize into existence are and are not to do. As such, Constitutions embody the beliefs of their creators regarding the purposes and limitations of the governments they call into existence, in a written form so that those purposes and (especially) those limitations can always be resorted-to in the future for guidance and discipline whenever the people feel that the state has exceeded its proper scope.
Without a written Constitution, the principles of governance are undefined and nothing more than shifting, unreliable, unpredictable notions which are selected and enforced based on the degree to which they serve the interests of the loudest or most forcefully-self-interested faction (which often means the richest or most aggressive or most sociopathic faction). Without a written Constitution, there is no rule of law, and that means no rules at all.
The same is true of even a written Constitution, if the idea that it is subject to institutional interpretation is embraced. What, after all, is "interpretation" except for "deviation", which is to say, "evasion"? Any "interpretation" today that is at all different from yesterday's view is an evisceration of the concept and purpose of a "written Constitution". How is writing down the principles different from not doing so if the purposes and limitations they are intended to enforce are subject to varying interpretations?
It IS different. Because our foundational principles are written down, and because the Framers in their wisdom provided that all actors claiming governing authority can only do so through the mechanism and by virtue of that written, foundational instrument, those principles and limitations--as originally conceived-- patiently await the American people like 330 million big, red "re-set" buttons, needing nothing more to restore the republic than that a few million of them be firmly pushed.
Here's a crude little model of how this works.
The U.S. Constitution is a framework setting the shape and limits of the federal government:
That framework-- exactly as written, and exactly as it remains to this day-- successfully confined the federal government within its virtuous liberty-securing and prosperity-enhancing limits for more than 150 years. It was only when the State took an audacious chance at exploiting the unique circumstances of the early 1940s to broadly misapply the "income tax" (as explained here) that everything changed. By that one daring move the State succeeded in equipping itself with a massive amount of concentrated wealth with which to support and advance its limit-busting agenda through extortion, bribery and propaganda. Its most important defensive mechanism thus undone, the Constitution proved unequal to the sustained and enormously-better-financed attack by which it was then assaulted.
Note the history of the failure. As shown in the diagram below, the collapse of the Constitution's limiting effect didn't coincide with the 17th Amendment changing the manner of senatorial elections; it didn't coincide with the Federal Reserve beginning operations; it didn't coincide with the government undertaking some great program like the Cold War, or the Civil Rights programs, or anything else of the sort.
Instead, the collapse coincided with the "Victory Tax Act of 1942" and the "Current Tax Payment Act of 1943", which were accompanied by opportunistic, "Hey, let's see what happens" distributions to individuals and private companies across America of federal forms dictating protocols concerning "income", "employees", "employers" and "wages" but with the custom, statutorily-defined meaning of these terms omitted. Nothing changed in the scope or nature of the tax, but many, many Americans were taken in by the ploy and imagined that something HAD changed (because after all, surely Saint Franklin and the rest of our good and virtuous federal government would never deceive us, or exploit our ignorance, right?).
Over the next few years a huge amount of wealth was successfully extracted from a huge percentage of the American population, and there was a 1000% increase in the average annual fraction of American households filing income tax returns-- almost all in complete blindness as to the legal snares for the unknowing and unwary inherent in the filing process (all of which are explained in this book). The "ignorance-tax" pump became fully-primed with the fuel-tank topped-off, and the now-heavily-funded lovers, beneficiaries and apparatchiks of the mammoth, unrestrained State dug into the task of entrenchment.
(Per-capita expenditures directly reflect the overall size, and therefore also the scope and influence, of the federal government.)
The problem was not any inherent flaw or inadequacy of the Constitution. The problem was an engineered public ignorance and a consequent failure of the American people to recognize its peril and defend the fundamental law from its domestic enemies by the means most heavily-relied upon by the Framers-- the jealous regard of individual citizens for their own interests in harmony with the taxing-power limitations of the Constitution, by which the State is firmly kept on an austerity budget.
Over time (but very quickly), the suddenly well-financed State increasingly exceeded its limits:
Eventually, it became almost impossible to see where the limits ever were.
A real problem, for sure. But because we wrote it down, we've still got the framework needed for a re-boot:
By hitting that reset button, we can be right back where we started:
All that is needed is for individual Americans to learn (or re-learn) the truth about the "income" tax, and apply it. It is ONLY because of the successful exploitation of ignorance about the tax that things got out of whack; and hard though it may be to see today, all that is needed to restore the limits on the State is for that ignorance and consequent exploitation to be undone.
OF COURSE, THERE'S THE ISSUE OF THE "INTERPRETERS" (and their cronies and clients) not wanting anything re-set. That crew got things out of whack deliberately, and they will fight any effort to restore them.
But here's the thing: That's ALWAYS how it is. There never is, and never has been, a magic spell that keeps the law untwisted by special interests, or untwists it without effort.
Liberty HAS always and WILL always require individuals to stand up and reach back and plant their feet firmly on the foundational principles, come what may-- that's the only way it can be secured and enjoyed.
The beauty of our unique American heritage is in that we have those liberty-oriented, government-limiting foundational principles firmly and plainly written in stone for us to stand upon.
We just have to do the actual standing.
Foundational principles-- even the ones written in stone-- don't invoke, enforce or defend themselves.
And, of course, for us to do the standing (and the invoking, enforcing and defending), we have to operate from a perspective of respect for the Constitution. That's why, surprising as it may seem, the "Great Deception" that is the focus of this commentary is not the deception about the nature of the income tax exploited by the unrestrained State.
Instead, the "Great Deception" that is the focus of this commentary is the sometimes subtle, sometimes screeching assertion coming from voices on the left, voices on the right, voices imagining themselves to be libertarian and voices on the top and the bottom all at once that the U.S. Constitution is some kind of elitist, anti-liberty scheme, or at best, a well-meant but futile gesture.
Though often tarted-up with audience-appropriate buzzwords meant to convey "movement" legitimacy, and though sometimes communicating genuine concern and disappointment, these assertions are actually those of the "interpreters", delivered by trolls and useful idiots. This can be seen in the fact that the trolls' attacks are not directed at the flawed "interpretations", and instead imply (if not state outright) that the interpreters are getting the Constitution right.
By this ploy the Constitution is made the villain responsible for the evils of the State, and the "interpreters" are absolved of blame. The current regime is legitimized while its victims are encouraged to turn away from the instrument designed by the Founders to keep American regimes in check.
Somehow this cognitive contortion finds buyers despite the simple fact that the "interpretations" of the fundamental law made today and over the last 70 years or so are wildly at odds with what were steady and consistent contrary views over the previous 150 years. Today's Constitution-haters would have us believe that the bases for today's "interpretations" were somehow overlooked for that previous 150 years, even though it is axiomatic that understanding of the language and purposes of the Constitution is greater and greater the closer one approaches the time of its creation.
As we rewind back to the accurate application of the Constitution, we find four-fifths of the Leviathan State falling away. Prior to the implementation of the "income-ignorance tax" scam and the metastasization it enabled, there was no CIA, no DEA, no Dept. of Education, no NSA, no EPA. As recently as 1940, the FBI-- then the largest and most prominent federal law-enforcement agency by far-- had a mere 890 agents, and neither the funding nor the need for more. Kept to its proper, Constitutionally-mandated limits, the federal government simply had little it was allowed or equipped to do.
Plainly, a simple restoration of respect and enforcement of the U.S. Constitution as written is the best means by which the American people can again enjoy the benefits of the liberty-loving limited-government regime under which we grew dizzyingly prosperous while remaining free individuals secure in our rights. Thus, it behooves each and every one of us to denounce, dispute and disdain all those who would denounce and disdain the Constitution, while at the same time denouncing, disputing and disdaining those who would "interpret" the Constitution contrary to its simple words and clear meaning and purpose.
Eschew utopian anarchists, "Illuminati"-conspiracy theorists and "living law" lunatics alike, regardless of the stature, position, sincerity or credentials of any of them. All of them are enemies of the truth and of your liberty.
Stand and act on behalf of the law, resorting to its words directly and those of its authors. Take back the power you have inadvertently lent to the State by letting yourself be taken in by the "ignorance-tax" scheme.
Teach the liberating truth to your children, your neighbors and your friends.
The Great Deception, Part II
"Is it real butter?" "It's yellow..."
IN PART I OF THE GREAT DECEPTION, I discuss, describe and illustrate the reliance of the enemies of liberty and the rule of law upon misunderstandings and fear in their campaign to disarm the American people against their predations. Today I want to touch a bit on some of the internal cognitive dynamics that either allow the campaign to succeed, or stop it in its tracks.
Regarding the cognitive dynamics that support the Statists' predations, I will address two: Awe and the appeal to the hind-brain; and the vulgarization of expectations.
As to the first, I'm sure everyone remembers the illusory "Oz, the Great and Powerful" created by the charlatan wizard in the classic film The Wizard of Oz: A huge, flaming head accompanied by a thunderous voice, high and remote in the splendor of a mighty hall, all calculated to overawe the observer and replace the rational, skeptical mind with the vulnerable irrational and reactive sub-mind.
The enemies of the law definitely rely upon the puffed-feather ploy to shut down the fore-brain and drive the target back to more primitive perspectives. That's what all the pomp and circumstance is for-- the grossly-oversized motorcades; the absurdly over-the-top security; the black robes and high seats; and all the other trappings of those who hope to be un-resisted in their exercise of power.
This practice of theatrical drama imbues the State with a divine aura in the eyes of many, making debate and justification of desired lawless practices unnecessary for those folks. Overawed Americans residing in their hind-brains take the righteousness of whatever is done by the Great and Powerful Oz as a given-- the only operating principle in their eyes is that the word of the State is self-validating. These are the folks to whom Nixon spoke when he said, "If the president does it, then it's legal."
But many other Americans are not so thoroughly conditioned or weak of mind. For them, there's another ploy used by the enemies of principle. This one might be described as the vulgarization of expectations.
What I mean by the vulgarization of expectations is the calculated disparagement and dismissal of commitment to principle, as though such commitment is childish and unrealistic. This is the fallacy animating the idiotic declaration, "The Constitution is not a suicide pact!" and others of the same sort which litter American history whenever State operators want to do something they are prohibited from doing.
A good example of this cheap Statist-serving sophistry is the use of the "Constitution is not a suicide pact!" line to defend conscription (by the Supreme Court in Kennedy v. Mendoza-Matrinez, 372 U.S. 144 (1963)) despite conscription being nowhere authorized by the Constitution, and being directly in conflict with what is found therein. As always in such cases, no ink is shed regarding the obvious fact that were America to actually be demonstrably in grave and imminent danger requiring a military response for her security, no draft would ever be needed, while if a draft IS needed to get Americans to turn out, the allegation of threat is plainly not well-supported. This is because the object here is not to plug an actual leak in the Constitutional shield-wall, but only to excuse a lawless act by the State.
Broadly put, this vulgarization of expectation implies that only a naive fool would really believe that adherence to principle is even a viable course of action in the real world, much less a desirable one. Under the sway of this cynicism, Constitutional prohibitions-- indeed, all laws-- become merely suggestions, or, at best, aspirations.
"No search or seizure without a warrant supported by sworn evidence of probable cause? Well, sure, whenever possible..." (see more on this here).
"No "taking" except for actual public use (as opposed to re-designated private use by which the local government captures more taxes)? A fine idea, but it would tie our hands and prevent us from properly serving the people..."
"Prohibition on torture? Well, of course no one wants to torture, but what if there's a ticking bomb to be found?"
"All powers not delegated are reserved? A lovely principle, and we honor it religiously. It's just that in not taking the rest of the Constitution quite so rigidly as a naive utopian might think we ought to, we find, interestingly, that there is precious little that has not been delegated to us, after all."
The vulgarization of expectations cognitive regime is the regime of the "living law". Principle, after all, is rigid and unyielding. When we are persuaded to view adherence to principle as unrealistic we are inevitably persuaded to view the law as "flexible", by which is meant, "the law has whatever meaning serves the interests of those wielding it." Since the interests of those wielding the law tend to be the interests of those who pay to put them in office, or those of the largest mob, the end result of the vulgarization of expectation is to pervert "the law" into merely the tool of the wealthy or the demagogue.
Clearly, we must resist the vulgarization effort and be champions of unyielding principle. The law only serves its true and critically-important purpose when it is predictable and properly-grounded. Happily, even when it has taken root in others, vulgarization and its evil effects can be defeated by individuals, one by one.
For an illustration of how the vulgarization is overcome, and a wrap-up of this two-part discussion of the assault on the Constitution, I invite you to click on the image of Rilian and the Serpent, below. What you will read there is simple, but of course, this is, all-in-all, a simple issue. The law either means what it says, and says what it means, or it means nothing. Simple.