2 Degrees of Separation: A Plane Ride Next to a Top Congressional Staffer for a Major Party LeaderSubmitted by RobHino on Mon, 10/17/2011 - 02:57
I won't reveal any names to protect the young congressional aide, but this weekend I was fortunate enough to sit next to a staffer of one of the leading members of congress on my flight home from Atlanta. I was proudly wearing my Ron Paul rEVOLution t-shirt as I boarded the plane. As we departed, the young man in the seat next to me said, "So why Ron Paul?"
And as many of you likely experience, I went through my basic Ron Paul spiel which could be paraphrased as, "Well...I vote on three issues...Monetary Policy, End the Wars, and the Role of Government."
He was in his early twenties, and I'm in my early thirties but always get mistaken for a carefree twenty-something, perhaps with some justification. We both were Americans with Mexican decent, we were both from South Texas, and we were both into politics. So naturally we clicked right away even though we were on opposite sides of the political spectrum. When he told me who he worked for in Congress, I was like, "Wow. This is going to be a very interesting 3 hour flight." He revealed that he worked for one of the top leaders in Congress as a congressional adviser regarding Latino concerns.
A little background on me is helpful. As I mentioned, I'm from South Texas, originally raised in a small town near a major border checkpoint a few hours north of the Mexican border. I moved to Corpus Christi when I was in 6th grade and have been living in San Antonio for the past 11 years. My whole family has always voted Democrat for the most part, and growing up, that's just what you did. I didn't really start voting until after 9/11 when I became a political junky trying to understand why things like that happen. I supported Bill Clinton, and I voted for the first time in a Presidential election for John Kerry. I’m ashamed now, but I am always reminded of one of my favorite quotes:
Being wrong is erroneously associated with failure, when in fact to be proven wrong should be celebrated…for it is elevating someone to a new level of understanding…furthering awareness.
While I towed the conventional line of many Hispanics in America, one that says the Democrats are for the middle class and the poor and the Republicans are for the rich, I always remained sympathetic to non-conventional and third party candidates like Jesse Ventura, Ross Perot, Ralph Nadar and others. I became politically active during the 2006 Texas Gubernatorial Election and was vehemently against Rick Perry. I volunteered my time and money to Kinky Friedman. I was actually a blogger for the campaign at getKinky.org. After that campaign, I quickly realized that the system was rigged, and that both parties are different wings of the same bird, flying in the wrong direction. Kinky’s concession speech in 2006 was very inspirational to me, and I feel it is partly responsible for me seeking out the Liberty message. It is extremely related to our movement and still applies today.
Sorry for the shaky camera work:
It was because of my activism during the Kinky Friedman campaign and what I saw in the capabilities of internet as leveling the playing field that I eventually stumbled across Ron Paul in 2007, and my life changed forever! Everything made complete sense, and it was simple to break down complex issues to get at the root of our current problems.
I participated in the 11/05/07 and 12/16/07 moneybombs (which started the Tea Party movement) and every other one since, and I was a Ron Paul delegate to the Texas Republican Convention in 2008. I’ve frequented the DP for years, recently decided to start writing again, and would like to be more active in San Antonio.
We started talking about the three issues I named, Monetary Policy, Ending the Wars, and the Role of Government.
These are my typical arguments in the case that they may be of benefit to you, my fellow DP readers. Constructive criticism is welcomed.
When debating, I like to start with things both sides agree on, so naturally we started on Ending the Wars.
Essentially my argument is while we may have the moral obligation to “help” other countries, we don’t have the legal obligation. Never should a government use force to influence others, instead lead by example so others will emulate you. We got to be loved around the world because people in other countries wanted to be free like us, not because we intervene in their internal affairs, prop up their dictators to do our bidding, sell weapons to their enemies, and occupy their holy lands.
Republicans are quick to tout the horns of personal responsibility domestically, but they do not apply that same principle to foreign affairs. In the recent decade and under the guise of national defense, they ushered in a precedent of preventative and preemptive wars, which are not wars of defense but rather offense. Honest Conservatives should ask themselves if it is really the American Taxpayer's responsibility to subsidize the resolution of internal conflicts in foreign nations or their entire national defense. Is it our responsibility, or the responsibility of the citizens in those foreign countries? Nothing should stop individuals who want to contribute in anyway to a foreign humanitarian cause, however nothing should mandate that all Americans financially support intervention in foreign affairs either.
Democrats tout the horns of spreading democracy, but we do not live in a democracy. We live in a Republic. Democracy is rule of the people…majority rule. Democracy is tyranny of the minority by the majority. Democracy is mob rule. Democracy is two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner. A Republic is the rule of law.
I heard of a great analogy once describing the difference between a democracy and a republic. Allow me demonstrate the difference in the setting of the old west. Imagine in the old west a group of 30 vigilantes chased a lone bank robber. They catch him and vote 30 to 1 to hang him. The bank robber gets a vote too though. In a democracy, the bank robber would be hung. In that same scenario in a Republic however, the 30 vigilantes would catch the bank robber, vote 30 to 1 to hang him, but the sheriff would step in. “You can’t hang that man. He’s entitled to trial and jury of his peers.” Even the jury doesn’t have majority rule. It has to be unanimous.
Basically, democracies protect the majority while republics protect the minority and the individual. The democratic form of government was debated by the founders and ultimately the idea was discarded due to the lavishes that tend to arise when the ruling class vote themselves raises, free education and free healthcare, and vote for laws that raise barriers to market entry for their competitors. This leads to what we have today, Corporatism. All open and free societies tend to gravitate from Republics to Democracies to Oligarchies to Anarchy to Dictatorship as the elite and Money Power who seek to control every aspect of our lives gradually take hold through incrementalism. (Insert frog in boiling water metaphor.)
I then started to talk about the true political spectrum. I told him most people think the true political spectrum is one where on the far right you have fascists and corporatists and on the far left you have communism and socialism.
But the true political spectrum is a percentage of power scale from 100% to 0%.
See this image I prepared: http://imgur.com/BMQ9Z
On the far right you have 0% and on the far left you have 100%. The far right is anarchism, or NO government power. On the far left you have Monarchy, or TOTAL government power. Starting from the far left and total government power, the different forms of government are Monarchy (Rule of One), Oligarchy (Rule by a Small Group), Democracy (Rule of the People), Republic (Rule of Law) and Anarchy (The Absence of Gov’t). All the “isms” like Communism, Socialism, Fascism, etc. are on the far left with the need for more government power to enforce. This idea that people are against capitalism, is a misunderstanding of terms.
Capital is simply the means of production. It’s people, money, assets, buildings, machinery, tools, computers, etc. Socialists are capitalists too. The only difference is who owns or regulates the capital. Communism is total control and ownership of all capital by government. Socialism may allow private ownership of capital, but its use is regulated almost entirely by government. Free markets advocate private ownership of capital and private (if necessary local) regulation of capital.
Democrats aren’t against people like Steve Jobs are they? So the real argument is, HOW does the 1% make their billions and trillions? If they make it through hard work like Steve Jobs, that’s okay. But if they make if off the backs of the American taxpayer through crony capitalism, corporatism, bailouts, no-bid contracts, secret deals, or through the inflationary tactics of central banking, then we have every right to be in the streets raising hell. But we need to make sure we are united in our message, as the powers that be are always co-opting grassroot uprisings like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. The Money Powers don’t want our groups to unite.
The founders gave us a Republic because all the States agreed we needed SOME Federal government, but how much is SOME? They decided on just enough Federal government to provide a strong national defense (not military adventurism), to allow for a judicial system to resolve state conflicts, to coin money and regulate the value thereof, and the other few enumerated powers in Article I, Section 8 of the constitution. They created a system of checks and balances so that no one branch of government could take complete control. Those are the Legislative branch or Congress composed of representatives of the people and the States, an Executive branch of the Presidency, and a judicial system with the Supreme Court.
I’m sure that we all have to lay a little background work and historical events to make our arguments, but this information is very relevant when trying to convince people who have been indoctrinated through standard media channels used by mainstream, everyday Americans.
We continued to when, how and with what authority to go to war, and I explained to him concepts of blowback (Hussein, the Shaw, Taliban, etc.), the Just War Theory, and how when wars aren’t declared through proper procedures outlined in the constitution, the wars never end. They never end because there is no clearly declared enemy, no declared objectives, no defined strategies, no definitions of victory and no exit strategies. I told him we have over 700 bases around the world in over 130 countries…that’s an empire. And all empires throughout history have imploded due to economic reasons…they spread themselves too thin and spent too much money maintaining them. As Commander in Chief, Ron Paul would end ALL wars and bring ALL troops home immediately and WITHOUT having to consult Generals.
This would STRENGTHEN our national defense and stimulate our economy:
1. We obviously need to cut, and the easiest place to start is overseas.
2. It would save BILLIONS, if not TRILLIONS.
3. It would take American Soldiers and Diplomats out of harm’s way.
4. It would put US troops to use defending America and her borders.
5. Troops would spend their money at home rather than in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, or other countries.
6. BILLIONS saved would be redirected to shore-up entitlement programs like Social Security for those who want to stay in it.
7. Young people and those who want to opt-out of the system would be able to do so since funding would no longer be on our shoulders.
The reestablishment of non-interventionalism as our foreign policy would offer a transitional period out of some of our entitlement programs. It would allow those who we have taught to be dependent on government to continue to receive the same benefits while allowing younger generations to opt-out and keep more of their personal income and seek out more local and free-market solutions. This alone would END THE WARS, cut spending, make us safer, shore-up Social Security and truly stimulate the economy with more money spent at home. I’m okay with bailouts…let’s bailout on Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Europe, Japan, and all other countries where we have troops deployed.
It’s time to bring our troops home and transform our military into an elite, tactical, smaller force capable of quick and swift deployments around the world (when necessary, justified, debated & declared by the people through their representatives in Congress) to efficiently extract enemy targets without the need for the bloated military industrial complex and secret weapon contracts, and with the utmost respect for human life and innocence. Others not involved in deployments could be utilized as National Guardsman and Reserves or Militias to defend America instead of defending Europe, Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia and others countries whose defense is subsidized by the American Taxpayer. We can’t afford it anymore…we never could.
The ideas of, “Well what about all the troops that come home? Are they going to be unemployed?” are valid concerns. But here is the real question, “Can government create jobs?” The answer is no. Government can ONLY reallocate (and in every case mis-allocate) resources it collects from others (you and me). The government has mis-allocated human capital (troops) into certain industries (war & enforcement) when that human capital (troops) would have been used more efficiently by the market (mechanics, doctors, entrepreneurs, electricians, teachers, inventors, etc.). We could have 100% employment if we reinstated the draft.
You can always see the jobs the government creates (soldiers, social worker, public works programs, etc.), but what you don’t see is the jobs that would have been created if Americans were allowed to keep more of their income and spend it on phones, computers, charities, schooling, etc. The decisions made by the buyers are a better reflection of what true market demands are, so therefore the jobs created in this scenario are more sustainable and productive. Yes there will be some corrections necessary to balance effects of government meddling with market forces, but these are minimal compared to the unintended consequences of too much government intervention abroad and domestically as seen in casualties of war, inflated money supply, fewer jobs, foreclosures, etc.
I questioned, “Where are all the people protesting Obama for not ending the wars as he promised?” Ron Paul has never voted for any war…period. In fact, when these efforts to rush to war arise, he regularly introduces declarations of war which obviously he votes no to…but so does everyone else. Instead Congress transfers the power to decide whether or not to go to war to the President. This is extremely unconstitutional and the main problem with our foreign policy…that we have not declared a war since WWII.
This was an easy segue into Monetary Policy, “None of these wars would be possible if Congress had to tax the American people to fund them.”
I asked, “Where does the government get money to spend on things it determines to be necessary?”
Government money comes from taxation, and when total expenditures exceed total revenue, through deficit financing (borrowing & printing more). Well taxes come from the people obviously. Borrowing comes for those countries willing to loan us money at interest (China). Well someone has to pay that that money back. Who’s that someone? That’s also the people and our future generations. Printed money comes from the Federal Reserve. “Well isn’t all money printed?” Yes, all money has to be printed. Does the Federal Reserve (FED) print all money in circulation? Yes. “Well how does all the money get into circulation?”
The FED prints money and loans it the US Treasury who issues treasury securities (government backed debt, T-bills, T-notes, or T-bonds depending on the term of investment) as collateral or a promise to pay. The government then spends the printed dollars into circulation by paying troops, government contractors, and other expenses. The money then trickles down to you and me through the market as money exchanges hands through consumption of goods and services and investments.
The key here is that the only way money can get into circulation, is if someone borrows it…essentially MONEY = DEBT.
The FED, a secretive cartel of powerful banking families (The Money Power or Money Trust), neither a completely private nor completely government entity, has been given a gov’t backed monopoly on the issuance of our currency, AND THEY GET TO COLLECT INTEREST OFF OF IT.
At this point in my discussions I usually ask, “Do you have a dollar bill?”
When you read the title on any US dollar bill, it says, “Federal Reserve Note” (FRN). A note is a loan or a promise to pay. These bills of credit are liabilities of the FED and obligations by the US Government secured by…you guessed it…the people and future generations’ obligation to pay back plus interest. However, the interest due is also payable in FRN’s which also have interest attached. The result is a never ending debt system that is impossible to pay back when you’re paying back with debt. As Jefferson is rumored to have stated:
"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies…If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks]…will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered…The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."
Mayer Amschel Rothschild, founder of the Rothschild family international banking dynasty stated, “Give me the control of a nation’s money supply, and I care not who makes the laws."
So the simple answer to my question, “Where does the government get money to spend on things it determines to be necessary?” is they borrow it from counterfeiters. And worse, when the FED prints more money to loan us to fund deficit spending, it also dilutes the purchasing power of the money in savings and already in circulation. This is seen as higher prices which are a tax, a hidden tax called the inflation tax. But the truth is, prices are not rising, the the value of the dollar is decreasing as more and more and more and more and more are printed in secret by the Federal Reserve.
My argument regarding monetary policy is that in order to completely understand and analyze current events, it is imperative that you first understand money, central banking and The Federal Reserve System, for that is the key to unlocking all the doors of resolution. Money is one half of every transaction and therefore EXTREMELY important when dealing with most political issues.
I've tried to illustrate how artificially low interest rates lead to mal-investment, over-consumption, artificial demand, and bubbles in most market sectors:
Money is simply a widely accepted medium of exchange that is used to assess value of goods and services and as a store of wealth. Debt is not money. It is debt. Federal Reserve Notes are debt. Federal Reserve Notes do not hold their value (purchasing power) over time so they are not a store of wealth either, and thus they are not money.
Federal Reserve Notes are simply Monopoly Money that the Parker Brothers have convinced our government to lease as our country’s currency. Knowing that people would not willingly accept this Monopoly Money, government must force its citizens to use this fiat Monopoly Money. The problem is that the Parker Brothers continue to secretly print extra Monopoly Money for themselves, their friends, family and even distant cousins.
We need to return to a monetary system that can’t be easily manipulated. We should debate some sort of gold-silver standard so that our currency cannot be rapidly and easily expanded for private benefit.
The congressional staffer of a major congressional leader repeatedly answered with, “that’s true” as I rambled on for hours on Ron Paul. He actually got his phone out and started taking notes! I’m not kidding!
We continued to my last voting issue, The Role of Government.
Is the role of government to police and bomb the world or to protect life? Is the role of government to spend our money or maintain strong money? Is the role of government to provide free education and free healthcare or to protect free markets? Is the role of government to tell us what to eat, what to drink, what we can put in our bodies or is the role of government to protect our liberties? Is the role of government to provide energy for everyone or to protect against corporatism and cronyism? Is the role of government to protect the environment or to protect private property rights?
The role and powers of the federal government are CLEARLY defined in the constitution. All branches of government are CLEARLY outlined and defined. Anything not clearly enumerated is left for the people and the 50 states to decide how to handle. The more complex the issue, the more local the solution should be.
We have NO CLUE of what kind of education systems we would have if we unleashed the the creative power of teachers and businessmen. Maybe Texas would say that 12 grades of schooling is excessive and decide 10 grades is enough. Maybe New York would find that 15 grades is best for their students in their state. Maybe California would decide that the length of time in school is determined by the child's ability to learn. Maybe some rural and under-funded schools would operate on a system similar to this:
Federal mandates and one-size fits all solutions don’t work. They don’t take into account the various regions in the country, the different demographics, values, resources, etc. Instead, we should advocate 50 creative legislative laboratories to deal with issues like social security, education, energy and abortion. Some states would make bad decisions. Some states would make good decisions. The cream will rise to the top. Some will succeed, and some will fail. There can’t be winners without losers.
We have to allow people to fail, and learn from their mistakes. The more government tries to help, the more government hurts. Our elected politicians do not understand the unintended consequences of their actions.
The clearest argument against excessive government meddling in our lives is the constitutional reason: The federal government simply does not have the authority to do 80% of the things it does.
Whether it’s healthcare, education, energy, entitlement programs, the EPA, endless war, issue stimulus bills and bailout Wall Street, Congress has ZERO authority to meddle in these areas.
This is why Congressman Ron Paul is known as Dr. No, and as a strict Constitutionalist. He takes his Oath of Office seriously. Anytime a bill comes up for a vote, the first thing Dr. Paul does is ask if Congress has the authority to legislate the item up for vote. If the answer is no, he votes no. Of course the status-quo politicians and pundits will spin that to paint Ron Paul as radical and fringe.
Take for instance when H.R. 3501 and H.R. 573, bills to award Ronald Reagan and Rosa Parks $30,000 Congressional Medals of Honor, came up for vote. Congressman Paul was the lone “no” vote. He instead offered $100 out of his own pocket and challenged the other 434 members of congress to do the same instead of using taxpayer dollars unconstitutionally. If all the members had put in $100, they would have had more than enough.
All people want access to healthcare, insurance, education, affordable energy and other goods and services. But the fact remains that ALL goods and services are delivered more efficiently and at a lower cost by private industry than if delivered by government agencies. Healthcare is a service, not a right. Insurance is a product, not a right. Education is a service, not a right. Energy is a product, not a right. You don’t have a right to food or healthcare. You can’t walk into someone’s garden and take their vegetables. You can’t walk into a restaurant or a hospital and demand goods and services for free. Those goods and services are property of the business offering them to the market. The business owners must be compensated before their goods or services can be transferred to those demanding them.
The more government spends trying to deliver these goods and services to the market instead of allowing private industry to deliver them, the more prices rise and the more quality falls.
Look at industries where there is heavy government spending (healthcare, education, energy, war, agriculture). Prices in these industries are inflated, and the quality of the product we’re getting is lousy. Advanced technology is supposed to lower costs of production in normal market conditions, but in all these areas prices continue to rise despite exponential technological advances in manufacturing, computing, logistics, medical, energy, etc.
If you instead look at industries where there are fewer subsidies, less meddling and freer markets, these industries tend to produce better products for gradually decreasing prices…the Arts & Entertainment (music, Hollywood, performing arts, digital technology), Communication Technology (phones, computers, internet), Sports (NFL, NBA, Academy, fishing, hunting), Pet Industry, etc.
Think of your nearest hospital. There is a good chance the name of it is either some Saint or some University. That’s because many of our hospitals started off as church and university hospitals. Many of these hospitals where charity hospitals that offered services for free or whatever patients could pay. They didn’t ask for ID’s or Green Cards. They helped as many people as they could regardless of their ability to pay, and they worked to keep costs down. As government regulation set in however, many of these hospitals had to spend money to keep up with licenses, certifications, proper procedures, red tape, and other bureaucracy and could no longer operate in charitable fashion, and most shut down. There are still a few around today, like the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Ron Paul would move to foster the type of environment where charities wanting to provide free healthcare are not burdened with over-regulation and unnecessary expenditures.
Politicians in Washington today are plagued by Keynesian Economic thinking as oppose to Austrian Economics.
Investopedia defines Keynesian Economics as:
A supporter of Keynesian economics believes it is the government's job to smooth out the bumps in business cycles. Intervention would come in the form of government spending and tax breaks in order to stimulate the economy, and government spending cuts and tax hikes in good times, in order to curb inflation.
Supporters of Austrian economics believe it is the government’s role to simply maintain free markets and a sound currency, to enforce contracts, to provide for bankruptcy laws and courts for disputes, and then to stay out of the market. They believe that people should decide where to spend their money, not governments. If bad decisions are made, business should fail and not be bailed out at the taxpayers’ expense. Austrians also firmly believe that the Federal Reserve System is responsible for the booms and busts of the business cycle and thus have accurately predicted the bursting of several bubbles including the dot com, housing, NASDAQ and the looming dollar bubble that’s floating above our heads.
As the pilot came on the PA, we were wrapping up our conversation. The young man was in awe that really we are all fighting the same thing. He saw the passion in my eyes, and he was EXTREMELY open-minded while searching for answers. It turns out that he has several Ron Paul friends who have been trying to convert him. One of those friends was actually on the way to pick him up from the airport and the Congressional Staffer couldn’t wait to tell him this entire story. I wasn’t quite sure if I ended up converting him to a supporter, but I think he is going to go home and do a little research of his own and come our way. I could see it in his eyes. He was really into the message of freedom and like how things could be explained.
So now to my long winded point.
We should refrain from labeling people as Liberals and Socialists. Many of them are just misguided like I used to be and have never been introduced to the Liberty message in a coherent and thoughtful way. Many of them really do care just as much as we do. We should embrace the Occupy Wall Street movement and try to bring our message to them. We should realize that the Money Powers wants us to remain fractured. They do not want our two movements to realize our enemy is one in the same.
Several months ago a friend and I were discussing how when a really sound principled idea springs up, all of a sudden outside forces latch onto that idea to make it their own. He asked how to keep it from getting tainted and asked if we have to eat some bad fruit with the good.
I told him:
“We root them out and expose them. We never waiver and never compromise on our individual principals. Instead, we build coalitions and focus on what we agree on rather than what we don't. We educate our friends and family on how to spot media manipulation and where to find credible information sources. We make it point to interject these principles WHENEVER the opportunity presents itself no matter the scorn we receive in return. We donate, vote, and volunteer for candidates who have a track record of sustaining these principles. We make it our life goal to bring about REAL change before we breathe our last breath....we do this or we deserve what is forced upon us by those who seek to control every aspect of our lives.”