That Perennial Western Malady, the Revolt of the Individual Against the Species

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Monday, December 27, 2004

Americans are Dissatisfied! -Voter Turnout Statistics

Americans are dissatisfied with their options.

IDEA, the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, tracks election statistics for every country on earth from 1945. (There were 1,617 democratic elections held on earth between January 1, 1945 and December 31, 2000.) At 48.3%, the USA ranks 139th in voter turnout out of the 172 countries that have held at least two elections.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

More on the Intelligence Reform Bill

I came across this great article by Mike Whitney at ProgressiveTrail.org, commenting further on the civil liberties threatened by H.R. 10 I discussed only briefly here. Mainstream media is failing horribly at educating the public about these issues. They give us the horse race, with commentary on the bill's chances of passing and who supports and opposes it. They don't bother to tell us any of what the bill entails beyond vague references to National Intelligence Directors. They tell us it is a bill designed to protect us. No mention of a national I.D. card ("show me your papers, please"), the abandonment of the Fourth Amendment (probable cause just gets in the way, and not just for "terrorists," either), and the legal indefinite imprisonment of citizens who haven't been charged with any crime. Why must Americans rely on underground media sources for this vital information? I don't know whether I'm leaning toward "stupid" or "evil."

Please, please consider copying or paraphrasing the open letter I posted earlier and mailing it to your representatives. I will not live in Amerika!

http://www.progressivetrail.org/articles/041216Whitney.shtml
The new Intelligence reform bill is a more stunning attack on the Bill of Rights than the Patriot Act. Most people have no idea how dramatically their "inalienable" rights have been savaged, or to what extent the Congress has sold them out... The document that will be signed into law next week is a frontal assault on the fundamental rights of man.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Is America Becoming a Police State?

A great essay by one of my only living heroes, Congressman Ron Paul, asking if America is becoming a police state. Disregarding the concrete examples Paul mentions in his essay, there is a growing and prominent mindset, especially in youth today, that behavior should either be required or prohibited with little room for choice. Is America becoming a police state? Are constant surveillance, routine searches, and identification papers things I will live to experience?

http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul225.html
After all, proponents argue, the government is doing all this to catch the bad guys. If you don’t have anything to hide, they ask, what are you so afraid of? The answer is that I’m afraid of losing the last vestiges of privacy that a free society should hold dear. I’m afraid of creating a society where the burden is on citizens to prove their innocence, rather than on government to prove wrongdoing. Most of all, I’m afraid of living in a society where a subservient populace surrenders its liberties to an all-powerful government.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

An Empire Under Strain: Britain's Wars for Empire and Her American Economic Policies

Written August 23, 2004.
Prompt: To what extent is the following statement true?
Britain's wars for empire, more than her mercantilist policies, were responsible for the attitudes and conditions that created the American Revolution.

By the mid-18th-century, a shifting had occurred in Britain’s imperialist design. Strategic trade was no longer its sole purpose, and American and British officials were now supporting gaining land for land’s sake. This was Britain’s motivating mindset during the French and Indian War, and at its conclusion, Britain owned nearly a third of the North American continent, all land east of the Mississippi River (save New Orleans) having been ceded by the French in the Treaty of Paris of 1763. But after nearly a decade of operations, Britain had also gained a staggering war debt. This led to the sharply increased taxation and stronger enforcement of the mercantilist trade policies in Britain’s colonies. The war would have far reaching implications for America. Ultimately, it was Britain’s wars for empire that dictated the economic fortunes of her American colonies, more than her mercantilist policies.

Mercantilism, the political economic system based on national accumulation of wealth through a favorable balance of trade, was the prevalent system in Europe after the decline of feudalism. Rather than import materials from other nations, Spain, Portugal, England, and the other powers of the European world began establishing colonies as a means of producing resources and markets for the nation’s products. America was one such colony of England, and, consequently, mercantilist trade restrictions had always applied to the American colonists. Mainly, Americans were permitted to trade only with other British companies and ships, in order to keep as much wealth as possible within England.

Although these policies were in place throughout the history of colonial America, they were not always enforced. During most of the eighteenth century, Britain did not even have the means to. The bureaucracy in London was so large and inefficient that no department really had much control over colonial affairs. In America, what would later be regarded as smuggling was practiced openly and as the norm. Furthermore, there was little accountability among the royal duty collectors, who often collected bribes rather than duties. Although each royal colony had a governor appointed by the king, the colonies had each established strong, independent representative governments and were largely left to their own devices.

After the French and Indian War, however, the British sentiment quickly changed. The government had huge war debts to pay, and the wealthy English aristocracy was not keen on having them passed on to them. A new king, George III had ascended the throne in 1760, and in 1763 he appointed George Grenville prime minister, a man convinced that America owed much of that debt. Moreover, after nine years of warfare on the continent, Britain now had a well established military force in the colonies very capable of enforcing British trade policies. Navy ships began patrolling American ports and waterways searching for smuggling, and industry was heavily regulated so as to not compete with the expanding industry of Great Britain. Britain raised the duties on household goods such as sugar and tea, and imposed revenue generating taxes such as the Stamp Act of 1765, which required a tax to be paid on most printed documents. England was soon collecting yearly from the American colonies more than ten times what it had before 1763.

New taxes and trade regulations continued to be passed and imposed upon the colonies, and by 1765 a few radical Americans were already discussing revolution and independence. For the first time in their histories, the separate colonies began the process of unification to oppose what they considered British tyranny. Although directly it was Britain’s mercantilist policies that dictated America’s economic fortunes, it was ultimately the cost of her wars for empire that required the strict enforcement of those policies. Had Britain not amassed such debts, the requirement for fast profit from the colonies would not have been nearly as urgent, and many of the profit generating mercantile laws would not have been imposed. The war debts dictated a quick source of revenue, and because of its role in the mercantilist system, America was an expedient source of the needed revenue. Had England not been involved in the French and Indian War, British officials would not have a reason nor means of imposing the taxes and regulations.


Sunday, December 05, 2004

Stop the National I.D. Card!

Mailed December 05, 2004 to Senators Bob Graham and Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite. First paragraph of letter taken directly from the online petition at DownsizeDC.org.

Dear Representative

The national ID database and ID card provisions in the recently passed HR 10 are intolerable to me. And the new powers granted the Attorney General are, if anything, even worse. I urge you to act now to reverse these provisions, without delay.

The National I.D. card can do nothing to counteract terrorism, it will only interfere with the lives of ordinary Americans. I do not trust the future beaurocrats to wield the power provided them in H.R. 10 responsibly and morally. I do not want the federal government maintaining a database of my private, personal information. I do not want to be required to carry a National I.D. card to travel, obtain health care, buy a gun, or get a job. I do not want the Attorney General to have the power to require my employer to submit the fingerprints and DNA of his employees to the federal government.

Furthermore, movement-tracking microchips are already being installed in passports (starting in 2005). Unless the Congress acts now, decisively, to block this trend, microchip equipped National I.D. cards will be a reality in the near future.

Please help protect Americans from the tyrannical provisions of H.R. 10. Those willing to sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

Sincerely

Mr. Spencer K. Neff