Interpretive Jiggery-pokery; Part One

91237701A lot of electrons have been disturbed in commenting on the SCOTUS rulings last week. A lot more will be, some of them by me, but underlying the whole sordid mess, is a pernicious view of the law. Justice Kennedy opened his opinion of SSM with this:

The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity. The petitioners in these cases seek to find that liberty by marrying someone of the same sex and having their marriages deemed lawful on the same terms and conditions as marriages between persons of the opposite sex.

In the analysis section, he says this:

The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.

Those two statements are consistent with each other and with the school of thought that can find new rights (or make them up out of the whole cloth) in a two hundred year old document, whose authors meant no such thing, if (and that’s very doubtful) they even thought of such things. That school is what is often called ‘the living constitution’. And it is fully capable of finding rights that don’t exist and were never intended.

Yesterday, No Mans Land published on All along the Watchtower, an excellent history of marriage in Christianity. But that, while interesting, has little to do with the court ruling, because like Roe v. Wade, the court simply decided what it wanted without recourse to the law. I probably should add that while I’ve always thought Marbury v. Madison was right, I’m beginning to doubt my conclusion.

Because the real problem isn’t with any of that, the real problem is the conception of the law. What Kennedy works from is the old Roman conception of the law that flows strongly in European law. It holds that one can do anything that the law permits. It leads to many laws, and a fair percentage of them perverse, and is imposed from the top down, like these SCOTUS opinions.

But American law, like English law, is based on the Common Law, and law that has built up over time, using precedents. We spoke the other day of the start of the written Common Law, in the days of King Æthelberht of Kent. Contemporary with St. Augustine of Canterbury, King Æthelberht’s Law was the first written version of the Common Law, indeed the first written law code in any of the Germanic languages. This was the basis of King Alfred the Great’s Code, and all subsequent English/American law, including Magna Charta.

The key takeaway here is that Anglo-American law is based on a different principle, that one can do anything that the law does not forbid. That difference is fundamental. That is also the basis of the Ten Commandments. That is an entire law code, in ten simple “Thou shalt not’s. More on that in an earlier post of mine, here, and Jessica postulated that Jesus boiled it down even more  here.

And so we see that there is a fundamental flaw in these decrees from SCOTUS, the court simply chooses to violate the fundamental basis of our law to grant non-existant rights.

More to come on this, of course.

Cultural Tyrants

I wrote last week about how proud I am to be fellow citizens with the admirable citizens of Charleston, that post is here. Their reaction is pretty much what one would expect of American citizens and/or Christians, traditionally the same thing white or black. That anybody was surprised, says more about our current culture (very bad things) than anything else. Writing for The American Spectator magazine, Scott McKay has some thought as well.

Following the nine killed by 21-year-old ninth grade dropout and troglodyte Dylann Roof at the Mother Emanuel AME Church last week, the people of that venerable South Carolina city have given the nation one of our more inspiring spectacles — thousands gathering in prayer and demonstrating for unity and civility. Had the reaction of Charleston been the major story, the massacre — disgusting and tragic as it was — would have told us something good about the basic character of the American people.

Your author will go so far as to say Charleston’s reaction has told us something true, as well — about most of us, at least.

Unfortunately, most of us are not represented by our betters in politics, media and the cultural elite. Our ruling class missed the unity and healing in Charleston completely — so anxious were they to make Roof the epitome of the knuckle-dragging white Southerner (and Republican, at that, though there is no evidence of his membership in the GOP) and present a “teachable moment” to the American people who foolishly believe despite the presence of a black president that America has not fundamentally advanced on race since the bad old days of Jim Crow.

The left, including the President, instantly tried one more time their narrative on gun control, when America yawned in boredom in their faces, they decided that the Battle Flag of one of the most revered American armies, North or South, would be a more viable target. It is, mostly because that flag was defiled after the war and again in the 1960s for the racist purposes of the Democratic Party, and the founder of its terrorist arm, as well as some of it’s more modern members. there is a reason, why the left wants us to forget our history after all, and it is largely because of their place in it. But because it has been misused institutionally that flag is vulnerable, through no fault of its own. The same can validly be said for American history.

The Battle Flag is likely a poor choice for us to occupy that last trench, and yet at some point we are going to have to push back, or we will lose our America, its idealism, its history of trying to do the right thing, its belief that freedom is always better, and yes, its eternal optimism. So if not the Battle Flag, What? If not us, Who? If not now, When? America can never be defeated by an external enemy, neither can Christianity, both can be destroyed by a cancerous rot, and it appears to be metastasizing. To continue with Scott:

The preservation of Southern history, heritage, and culture might not seem like much of a cause to many of our readers, and that’s fine. But the same crowd howling about the racist rednecks in South Carolina and Mississippi is also demanding that students at UCLA not be taught that America is the land of opportunity, for that is also racist and thus offensive. At Cal-Berkeley, traditional American mantras about meritocracy or our country as a melting pot are now unacceptable. At Cal-Irvine the American flag itself is offensive. So are crosses on display in public places, or dogs or the smell of pork in Dearborn and Minneapolis. Or churches wishing to specialize in intersex weddings. Or “manspreading” males on New York subway trains.

This isn’t stopping at the Confederate flag. It accelerates with each victory the cultural Left achieves. And never, ever is there a price paid for its aggression.

At some point, the rest of us are going to have to exact that price. The stars and bars can go, and if Bedford Forrest, who may have been a singular cavalry officer but did, after all, serve as first Grand Wizard of the Democratic Party’s 19th-century terrorist arm, goes with it that’s not an unbearable loss to anyone’s heritage. But while we’re scrubbing the bad baggage from our culture, can we have a merciful end to the painfully stupid leftist obsession with cop-killing racists such as Mumia Abu Jamal, communist terrorists like Bill Ayers, and psychopathic Marxist white supremacists like Che Guevara? How about, as Victor Davis Hanson suggested, an end to racist Leftist institutions like the Congressional Black Caucus and La Raza? If we’re to crack down on the cultural cachet of the Old South, can we conduct a similar purge of the New Black Panthers?

Perhaps as a small token of exchange we could see a prosecution of Al Sharpton for his well-known tax evasion? Is that so awful a price?

A price must be exacted. The Left cannot be allowed its double standards and guilty pleasures on the way to unquestioned cultural dominance. If traditional America must perish under Alinsky’s Rule #4 (“Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules”), then so must the Left.

Continue reading: Cultural Tyrants | The American Spectator.

The time for the backlash is, I fear, drawing very near, and as we did on that construct of the Democratic Party, the Confederate States of America, it is likely that we will wreak a terrible vengeance on those who would destroy the very idea of America, or the dream that is America will end. And von Clausewitz did teach us, after all, that war is simply politics by another name.

Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One

Benjamin_Franklin_by_Joseph_Siffrein_DuplessisI guess we could call this a guest post, although the author didn’t write it for us, specifically. He did do a masterful job of presenting our grievances however, and so, although it is long, I have decided to simply present it.

The author, as some may know in Benjamin Franklin, of Pennsylvania, and it was first published on 11 September 1773 in The Public Advertiser. I suppose my instant comment is, “Nothing new under the sun”.
Enjoy and heed!
For the Public Advertiser.

Rules by which a great Empire may be reduced to a small one. [Presented privately to a late Minister, when he entered upon his Administration; and now first published.]3

An ancient Sage valued himself upon this, that tho’ he could not fiddle, he knew how to make agreat City of a little one.4 The Science that I, a modern Simpleton, am about to communicate is the very reverse.

I address myself to all Ministers who have the Management of extensive Dominions, which from their very Greatness are become troublesome to govern, because the Multiplicity of their Affairs leaves no Time for fiddling.

I. In the first Place, Gentlemen, you are to consider, that a great Empire, like a great Cake, is most easily diminished at the Edges. Turn your Attention therefore first to your remotest Provinces; that as you get rid of them, the next may follow in Order.

II. That the Possibility of this Separation may always exist, take special Care the Provinces are never incorporated with the Mother Country, that they do not enjoy the same common Rights, the same Privileges in Commerce, and that they are governed by severer Laws, all of your enacting, without allowing them any Share in the Choice of the Legislators. By carefully making and preserving such Distinctions, you will (to keep to my Simile of the Cake) act like a wise Gingerbread Baker, who, to facilitate a Division, cuts his Dough half through in those Places, where, when bak’d, he would have it broken to Pieces.

III. These remote Provinces have perhaps been acquired, purchas’d, or conquer’d, at the sole Expence of the Settlers or their Ancestors, without the Aid of the Mother Country. If this should happen to increase her Strength by their growing Numbers ready to join in her Wars, herCommerce by their growing Demand for her Manufactures, or her Naval Power by greater Employment for her Ships and Seamen, they may probably suppose some Merit in this, and that it entitles them to some Favour; you are therefore to forget it all, or resent it as if they had done you Injury. If they happen to be zealous Whigs, Friends of Liberty, nurtur’d in Revolution Principles,remember all that to their Prejudice, and contrive to punish it: For such Principles, after a Revolution is thoroughly established, are of no more Use, they are even odious and abominable.5

IV. However peaceably your Colonies have submitted to your Government, shewn their Affection to your Interest, and patiently borne their Grievances, you are to suppose them always inclined to revolt, and treat them accordingly. Quarter Troops among them, who by their Insolence may provoke the rising of Mobs, and by their Bullets and Bayonets suppress them. By this Means, like the Husband who uses his Wife ill from Suspicion, you may in Time convert your Suspicionsinto Realities.

V. Remote Provinces must have Governors, and Judges, to represent the Royal Person, and execute every where the delegated Parts of his Office and Authority. You Ministers know, that much of the Strength of Government depends on the Opinion of the People; and much of that Opinion on the Choice of6 Rulers placed immediately over them. If you send them wise and good Men for Governors, who study the Interest of the Colonists, and advance their Prosperity, they will think their King wise and good, and that he wishes the Welfare of his Subjects. If you send them learned and upright Men for judges, they will think him a Lover of Justice. This may attach your Provinces more to his Government. You are therefore to be careful who you recommend for those Offices. If you can find Prodigals who have ruined their Fortunes, broken Gamesters or Stock-Jobbers, these may do well as Governors; for they will probably be rapacious, and provoke the People by their Extortions. Wrangling Proctors and petty-fogging Lawyers7 too are not amiss, for they will be for ever disputing and quarrelling with their little Parliaments, if withal they should be ignorant, wrong-headed and insolent, so much the better. Attorneys Clerks and Newgate Solicitors will do for Chief-Justices, especially if they hold their Places during your Pleasure: And all will contribute to impress those ideas of your Government that are proper for a People you would wish to renounce it.

VI. To confirm these Impressions, and strike them deeper, whenever the Injured come to the Capital with Complaints of Mal-administration, Oppression, or Injustice, punish such Suitors with long Delay, enormous Expence, and a final Judgment in Favour of the Oppressor. This will have an admirable Effect every Way. The Trouble of future Complaints will be prevented, and Governors and Judges will be encouraged to farther Acts of Oppression and Injustice; and thence the People may become more disaffected, and at length desperate.

VII. When such Governors have crammed their Coffers, and made themselves so odious to the People that they can no longer remain among them with Safety to their Persons, recall and rewardthem with Pensions. You may make them Baronets too,8 if that respectable Order should not think fit to resent it. All will contribute to encourage new Governors in the same Practices, and make the supreme Government detestable.

VIII. If when you are engaged in War, your Colonies should vie in liberal Aids of Men and Money against the common Enemy, upon your simple Requisition, and give far beyond their Abilities, reflect, that a Penny taken from them by your Power is more honourable to you than a Pound presented by their Benevolence. Despise therefore their voluntary Grants, and resolve to harrass them with novel Taxes. They will probably complain to your Parliaments that they are taxed by a Body in which they have no Representative, and that this is contrary to common Right. They will petition for Redress. Let the Parliaments flout their Claims, reject their Petitions, refuse even to suffer the reading of them, and treat the Petitioners with the utmost Contempt. Nothing can have a better Effect, in producing the Alienation proposed; for though many can forgive Injuries,none ever forgave Contempt.

IX. In laying these Taxes, never regard the heavy Burthens those remote People already undergo, in defending their own Frontiers, supporting their own provincial Governments, making new Roads, building Bridges, Churches and other public Edifices, which in old Countries have been done to your Hands by your Ancestors, but which occasion constant Calls and Demands on the Purses of a new People. Forget the Restraints you lay on their Trade for your own Benefit, and the Advantage a Monopoly of this Trade gives your exacting Merchants. Think nothing of the Wealth those Merchants and your Manufacturers acquire by the Colony Commerce; their encreased Ability thereby to pay Taxes at home; their accumulating, in the Price of their Commodities, most of those Taxes, and so levying them from their consuming Customers: All this, and the Employment and Support of thousands of your Poor by the Colonists, you are intirely to forget. But remember to make your arbitrary Tax more grievous to your Provinces, by public Declarations importing that your Power of taxing them has no limits, so that when you take from them without their Consent a Shilling in the Pound, you have a clear Right to the other nineteen. This will probably weaken every Idea of Security in their Property, and convince them that under such a Government they have nothing they can call their own; which can scarce fail of producingthe happiest Consequences!9

X. Possibly indeed some of them might still comfort themselves, and say, “Though we have no Property, we have yet something left that is valuable; we have constitutional Liberty both of Person and of Conscience. This King, these Lords, and these Commons, who it seems are too remote from us to know us and feel for us, cannot take from us our Habeas Corpus Right, or our Right of Trial by a Jury of our Neighbours: They cannot deprive us of the Exercise of our Religion, alter our ecclesiastical Constitutions, and compel us to be Papists if they please, or Mahometans.” To annihilate this Comfort, begin by Laws to perplex their Commerce with infinite Regulations impossible to be remembered and observed; ordain Seizures of their Property for every Failure; take away the Trial of such Property by Jury, and give it to arbitrary Judges of your own appointing, and of the lowest Characters in the Country, whose Salaries and Emoluments are to arise out of the Duties or Condemnations, and whose Appointments are during Pleasure. Then let there be a formal Declaration of both Houses, that Opposition to your Edicts is Treason, and that Persons suspected of Treason in the Provinces may, according to some obsolete Law, be seized and sent to the Metropolis of the Empire for Trial; and pass an Act that those there charged with certain other Offences shall be sent away in Chains from their Friends and Country to be tried in the same Manner for Felony. Then erect a new Court of Inquisition among them, accompanied by an armed Force, with Instructions to transport all such suspected Persons, to be ruined by the Expence if they bring over Evidences to prove their Innocence, or be found guilty and hanged if they can’t afford it. And lest the People should think you cannot possibly go any farther, pass another solemn declaratory Act, that “King, Lords, and Commons had, hath, and of Right ought to have, full Power and Authority to make Statutes of sufficient Force and Validity to bind the unrepresented Provinces in all cases whatsoever.” This will include Spiritual with temporal; and taken together, must operate wonderfully to your Purpose, by convincing them, that they are at present under a Power something like that spoken of in the Scriptures, which can not only kill their Bodies, butdamn their Souls to all Eternity, by compelling them, if it pleases, to worship the Devil.1

XI. To make your Taxes more odious, and more likely to procure Resistance, send from the Capital a Board of Officers to superintend the Collection, composed of the most indiscreet, ill-bredand insolent you can find. Let these have large Salaries out of the extorted Revenue, and live in open grating Luxury upon the Sweat and Blood of the Industrious, whom they are to worry continually with groundless and expensive Prosecutions before the above-mentioned arbitrary Revenue-Judges, all at the Cost of the Party prosecuted tho’ acquitted, because the King is to pay no Costs. Let these Men by your Order be exempted from all the common Taxes and Burthens of the Province, though they and their Property are protected by its Laws. If any Revenue Officers aresuspected of the least Tenderness for the People, discard them.2 If others are justly complained of, protect and reward them. If any of the Under-officers behave so as to provoke the People to drub them, promote those to better Offices: This will encourage others to procure for themselves such profitable Drubbings, by multiplying and enlarging such Provocations, and all with work towards the End you aim at.

XII. Another Way to make your Tax odious, is to misapply the Produce of it. If it was originally appropriated for the Defence of the Provinces and the better Support of Government, and the Administration of Justice where it may be necessary, then apply none of it to that Defence, but bestow it where it is not necessary, in augmented Salaries or Pensions to every Governor who has distinguished himself by his Enmity to the People, and by calumniating them to their Sovereign. This will make them pay it more unwillingly, and be more apt to quarrel with those that collect it, and those that imposed it, who will quarrel again with them, and all shall contribute to your main Purpose of making them weary of your Government.

XIII. If the People of any Province have been accustomed to support their own Governors and Judges to Satisfaction, you are to apprehend that such Governors and Judges may be thereby influenced to treat the People kindly, and to do them Justice. This is another Reason for applying Part of that Revenue in larger Salaries to such Governors and Judges, given, as their Commissions are, during your Pleasure only, forbidding them to take any Salaries from their Provinces; that thus the People may no longer hope any Kindness from their Governors, or (in Crown Cases) any Justice from their Judges. And as the Money thus mis-applied in one Province is extorted from all, probably all will resent the Misapplication.

XIV. If the Parliaments of your Provinces should dare to claim Rights or complain of your Administration, order them to be harass’d with repeated Dissolutions. If the same Men are continually return’d by new Elections, adjourn their Meetings to some Country Village where they cannot be accommodated, and there keep them during Pleasure; for this, you know, is yourPrerogative; and an excellent one it is, as you may manage it, to promote Discontents among the People, diminish their Respect, and increase their Disaffection.

XV. Convert the brave honest Officers of your Navy into pimping Tide-waiters and Colony Officers of the Customs. Let those who in Time of War fought gallantly in Defence of the Commerce of their Countrymen, in Peace be taught to prey upon it. Let them learn to be corrupted by great and real Smugglers; but (to shew their Diligence) scour with armed Boats every Bay, Harbour, River, Creek, Cove or Nook throughout the Coast of your Colonies, stop and detain every Coaster, every Wood-boat, every Fisherman, tumble their Cargoes, and even their Ballast, inside out and upside down; and if a Penn’orth of Pins is found un-entered, let the Whole be seized and confiscated. Thus shall the Trade of your Colonists suffer more from their Friends in Time of Peace, than it did from their Enemies in War. Then let these Boats Crews land upon every Farm in their Way, rob the Orchards, steal the Pigs and Poultry, and insult the Inhabitants. If the injured and exasperated Farmers, unable to procure other Justice, should attack the Agressors, drub them and burn their Boats, you are to call this High Treason and Rebellion, order3 Fleets and Armies into their Country, and threaten to carry all the Offenders three thousand Miles to be hang’d, drawn and quartered. O! this will work admirably!

XVI. If you are told of Discontents in your Colonies, never believe that they are general, or that you have given Occasion for them; therefore do not think of applying any Remedy, or of changing any offensive Measure. Redress no Grievance, lest they should be encouraged to demand the Redress of some other Grievance. Grant no Request that is just and reasonable, lest they should make another that is unreasonable. Take all your Informations of the State of the Colonies from your Governors and Officers in Enmity with them. Encourage and reward these Leasing-makers;4secrete their lying Accusations lest they should be confuted; but act upon them as the clearest Evidence, and believe nothing you hear from the Friends of the People. Suppose all theirComplaints to be invented and promoted by a few factious Demagogues, whom if you could catch and hang, all would be quiet. Catch and hang a few of them accordingly; and the Blood of the Martyrs shall work Miracles in favour of your Purpose.

XVII. If you see rival Nations rejoicing at the Prospect of your Disunion with your Provinces, and endeavouring to promote it: If they translate, publish and applaud all the Complaints of your discontented Colonists,5 at the same Time privately stimulating you to severer Measures; let not that alarm or offend you. Why should it? since you all mean the same Thing.6

XVIII. If any Colony should at their own Charge erect a Fortress to secure their Port against the Fleets of a foreign Enemy, get your Governor to betray that Fortress into your Hands. Never think of paying what it cost the Country, for that would look, at least, like some Regard for Justice; but turn it into a Citadel to awe the Inhabitants and curb their Commerce. If they should have lodged in such Fortress the very Arms they bought and used to aid you in your Conquests, seize them all, ’twill provoke like Ingratitude added to Robbery.7 One admirable Effect of these Operations will be, to discourage every other Colony from erecting such Defences, and so their and your Enemies may more easily invade them, to the great Disgrace of your Government, and of course the Furtherance of your Project.8

XIX. Send Armies into their Country under Pretence of protecting the Inhabitants; but instead of garrisoning the Forts on their Frontiers with those Troops, to prevent Incursions, demolish those Forts, and order the Troops into the Heart of the Country, that the Savages may be encouraged to attack the Frontiers, and that the Troops may be protected by the Inhabitants: This will seem to proceed from your Ill will or your Ignorance, and contribute farther to produce and strengthen an Opinion among them, that you are no longer fit to govern them.

XX. Lastly, Invest the General of your Army in the Provinces with great and unconstitutional Powers, and free him from the Controul of even your own Civil Governors. Let him have Troops enow under his Command, with all the Fortresses in his Possession; and who knows but (like some provincial Generals in the Roman Empire, and encouraged by the universal Discontent you have produced) he may take it into his Head to set up for himself. If he should, and you have carefully practised these few excellent Rules of mine, take my Word for it, all the Provinces will immediately join him, and you will that Day (if you have not done it sooner) get rid of the Trouble of governing them, and all the Plagues attending their Commerce and Connection from thenceforth and for ever.

Q.E.D.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6The draft lacks the middle pages and conclusion. The notes are small additions, written on the back of an invoice from Brown & Whitefoord dated Sept. 2, 1773; we indicate where they were and were not embodied in the draft.

7Below, under Sept. 22. For a literary analysis of the satires see Richard E. Amacher, Benjamin Franklin (New York, [1962]), pp. 82–8. The fullest analysis is unfortunately not in print: Francis X. Davy, “Benjamin Franklin, Satirist: the Satire of Franklin and Its Rhetoric,” unpublished doctoral dissertation, Columbia University, 1958.

8bf to wf below, Oct. 6.

9Ibid.; Crane, Letters to the Press, pp. 233–4, 236–7.

1To wf below, Nov. 3. bf’s most interesting comment on his motives was to Jane Mecom below, Nov. 1.

3When Hillsborough took office in 1768, in other words, he adopted these rules to guide his policy. Brackets are in the original.

4The sage was Themistocles, as reported by Plutarch; bf’s wording is approximated in John and William Langhorne, Plutarch’s Lives … (6 vols., London, 1770), i, 281.

5bf added this passage, beginning with “If they happen,” from one of the notes mentioned above. His comment must have shocked English readers as much as he intended, for the principles of the Glorious Revolution had developed differently on the two sides of the Atlantic. In England the principle of an omnicompetent crown in Parliament had largely submerged the contractual limitations on government inherent in the Bill of Rights. The colonies, where local autonomy was in tension with control from London, preserved in full force the principle that authority per se was dangerous. See Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge, Mass., [1967]), especially pp. 35–6, 43–7, 201–3.

6The first portion of the surviving draft ends here.

7Proctors had their own areas of pettifoggery, the ecclesiastical and admiralty courts.

8Sir Francis Bernard.

9bf had made this point earlier in his marginalia: above, xvii, 339.

1bf introduced “unrepresented Provinces” into his quotation from the Declaratory Act. His Biblical reference is to Matthew 10:28.

2A reference to John Temple, dismissed in 1770: above, xix, 402.

3The second portion of the surviving draft begins here.

4Liars, a phrase derived from Scottish law. The part of the sentence that follows, from “secrete” to “Evidence,” bf interlined in his draft from one of the notes mentioned above.

5The controlled French press had been publishing, since the time of the Stamp Act, documentation of the developing Anglo-American quarrel; see Durand Echeverria, Mirage in the West: a History of the French Image of American Society to 1815 (Princeton, [1957]), pp. 36–7.

6bf added Rule xvii to his draft from one of the notes mentioned above, but deleted the opening sentence of that note: “If wretched Writers rail against your Colonists, and do their best to widen Breaches, reward them with Pensions or with Patent Places: if those are to be paid out of the Colony Revenue, and those are Colony Places, it will be the more grating and of course so much the better. And if you see,” etc.

7bf interlined this sentence in his draft from one of the notes mentioned above.

8The second portion of the surviving draft ends here. bf returned to the subject of this paragraph in his introduction to Bernard’s speeches below, Sept. 17.

Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One, 1 ….

From: “Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One, 11 September 1773,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-20-02-0213 [last update: 2015-03-20]). Source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 20, January 1 through December 31, 1773, ed. William B. Willcox. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1976, pp. 389–399.

Margaret Thatcher’s Ghost Stalks The Halls Of the European Union

ThatcherWell, it sounds as if the EU has found some method of stealing more productive people’s money to keep Greece going a bit longer. I didn’t pay all that much attention to the details, honestly. It’s all a sham and show anyway, nearly all of Europe, not even excluding Germany itself soon will be in the same boat.

My friend, Jack Curtis, explained it pretty well yesterday. Here’s part of what he said.

If the E.U. elects to advance funds, Greek debt that cannot be repaid already will be increased by the advance. The E.U. will be throwing good money after bad. Weaning an alcoholic as it were, by buying him drinks. But the facade of business as usual can proceed; the Greek banks can open in the morning.

If the E.U. simply says: Pay what you owe: The Greek banks and government will be forced into what amounts to bankruptcy and collapse. The shock may well collapse the stock markets and thereby the banks elsewhere as the overinflated market values deflate, collapsing still more banks by diminishing the worth of their holdings. And reducing the wealth of everyone else too.

Margaret Thatcher’s Ghost Stalks Halls The Halls Of The Euro … | jcurtisblog.

As he explains it’s a bad omen in a worsening situation. All of Europe, including the UK, will end up in this boat, unless the Tory ‘austerity measures’ are a lot tougher than I think, and besides since they keep stalling on leaving the EU, the rest will drag them along anyway. It won’t necessarily stop there either, we here in the US have decided in the last fifteen (or fifty, perhaps) years that this leaky boat is the way forward.

It amounts to a run on the bank, not the Podunk State Bank but the big ones, the ones billed as too big to fail, which really means that when they fail they will likely take their governments with them leading to who knows what. It’s not hard to see why the politicians want to paper over the mess they’ve made, it could be really catastrophic and when that happens it often turns into a hanging party for all hands.

Sadly, all thinking people have known for basically forever that this is how it ends. What ends? The Greek government at best, the EU and it’s constituent governments, maybe, in the worst case, western civilization. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Kipling said it over a hundred years ago.

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four—
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man—
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began —
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire—

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

But maybe that is too complex for those that think themselves fit to rule us. A few years ago Maggie Thatcher put it more succinctly.

“In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.”
Margaret Thatcher

She also wisely noted, as Jack reminded us:

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

 

 

Forecasting the Future

Keep-calm-and-carry-on-scanOne of the many secondary duties I do in our business is strategic planning and how it affects us. That might mean that should we buy a new truck, a used one, or let some customers wait, because an electrician just isn’t much good standing around in the shop, he has to get to the job site with his tools.

A service truck these days costs something over $100.000, so you think about it fairly long and hard, particularly if you are hiring new people to put in it. It will last from about three years to seven or eight, so it has to pay for itself in that time. That’s pretty much how we go about deciding whether it is worthwhile to expand.

Frankly in the last seven or so years, it’s simply been too risky to assume anything, and so we, like almost all business has simply tried to get by on what we already have. I know that we could write enough business to support the truck, but the electrician, well, to be honest, I can no longer even guess what he’s going to cost me in five years, because the rules change so much and so drastically all the time.

Part of it is the general economy, part of it is the health care mess that Washington has made, part of it is the work rules that OSHA insists on, and make some operations nearly impossible, part of it is whether the clients are still going to go ahead with their plans, because they’ve all got these same concerns.

That’s us, a little contractor out here in Podunk, Nebraska. I haven’t a clue if we’ll even be in business at this rate in five years, let alone growing. there’s just too many variables. so whatever I decide on this kind of this is basically a SWAG (Scientific Wild A$$ Guess).

Now multiply that by (at least) several trillion variables and you have the problem with forecasting climate change, man-made or not. See the problem with it. The advocates are sure both that the climate is warming, and that it’s man’s fault, particularly CO2 emissions. I can’t say it’s impossible, and I can say it would be a good idea to reduce them, if it can be done at a reasonable cost.

See the problem? In that paragraph, there are at least 4 variables that I don’t have the answer to, and I’m not sure anybody else does either. And the kicker is that they want to spend at least several trillion dollars solving a problem that may or may not exist.

That’s why it’s all government money, not private investment. Nobody who has to answer for the money they spend is going to make this kind of a bet, only those that play with other people’s money, and are unaccountable. You would be wise if you read that as the government. then you add in all the university researchers, crony capitalists, and plain old crooks, who all (every single one) have lobbyists who stand to lose money, if these projects don’t go forward, and you have Leviathan’s juggernaut going downhill (or maybe over the cliff).

Nobody but the almighty can predict this stuff, all we can do is try to react. And here’s the real kicker. What new invention will make all this Stürm und Drang obsolete next week? Remember New York City had a terrible pollution and health problem a hundred years ago, from horse dung, the automobile solved it, even though it created other problems. Technology is like that.

We solved the air and water pollution problems that we had when I was a kid (more or less, anyway). Mostly we exported the pollution and the manufacturing jobs to Asia, now the air is pretty good here but one can hardly breathe in China. It’s fixable but, no one, not even us, is willing to pay the price on everything we buy at Wal-Mart to fix it.

Answers? Frustrating as it is, for you and me both, I haven’t got any. All we can do is live our lives, thoughtfully and perhaps a bit more frugally than we have been. You know, be a bit more efficient, combine trips, carpool, keep your car another year, that sort of thing.

Will it be better next year? I don’t know that either. But I do know that if we leave the creative types in our midst free to innovate as they have over the last five hundred years, it’ s a virtual certainty that it will be in fifty years. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

King v. Burwell Pits Rule Of Law Against Rule By Decree

shutterstock_199125452-998x666In the next week, we are going to talk quite a lot about the “Rule of Law” as opposed to the prerogative power. here’s a foretaste of why it is so important.

[…] The president’s remarks come as the Supreme Court is preparing this month to decide King v. Burwell, a case that challenges whether the law ever actually authorized subsidies for health coverage paid out through federal exchanges. The details of Burwell reveal the degree to which the Obama administration’s handling of the ACA is ultimately at odds with ideals and aspirations that really are woven into the fabric of America: the rule of law and the separation of powers under the U.S. Constitution.

The ACA says plainly that subsidies may only be administered “through an Exchange established by the State.” But when it became clear that dozens of states were not going to create exchanges, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), at the behest of the White House, simply issued a rule saying that subsidies could flow through exchanges created and operated by the federal government.

The Obama Administration Embodies Will to Power

In other words, the challengers in King v. Burwell contend that the White House illegally authorized billions of dollars of taxes and spending, circumventing Congress and flouting the statutory text of the ACA by administrative decree. The accusation isn’t a stretch. After all, governing by decree has become commonplace in the Obama era—from the ACA’s many unauthorized delays, to the president’s executive order on immigration last year, to the State Department’s recent gun speech gag order.

Continue readin: King v. Burwell Pits Rule Of Law Against Rule By Decree.

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