Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Show Us the Law!

"Nothing distinguishes more clearly conditions in a free
country from those in a country under arbitrary
government, than the observance in the former of
the great principle known as the Rule of Law.
-FA Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

According to recent polling, only 17% of Americans stand on the principle of the Rule of Law.
We can say this, because only 17% of Americans understand that however exercised they may feel about the AIG Bonuses, the money does indeed belong to those who earned it; their right to it has been guaranteed by contract, a contract that was agreed to prior to the insolvancy of the Financial Products division; this contract was upheld by Congress when it took it upon itself to bail the division out rather than let it enter Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

The Rule of Law is not the same as rule by legislation, nor by legislators. The Rule of Law is a principle that stands above the particular laws written in a country, and it opposes the rule of men, in which the law is made to be a respecter of persons. The Rule of Law requires that the rules, known to all beforehand, must be applied equally to all; justice is blind to the status of the person being judged.

On the other hand, the rule of men implies abitrary application of laws and regulations that can be applied differently in response to the circumstances and/or the status of the person being judged. Thus, it is impossible to know beforehand what the rules are and how they will be applied. In a land with arbitrary government, officials, judges and politicians use their position to apply the law in such a way as to favor those they like and destroy those that they do not like. This is what is happening as the Attorneys General of Connecticut and New York mount the bully pulpit against those AIG executives who have decided to keep their contractually agreed upon bonuses rather than returning the money to government. The AGs are doing so in order to make political hay by inciting mob anger against the executives in order to draw attention away from their own venal ambitions. The AGs are using fear and intimidation in the court of public opinion rather than applying the law in a court of law. They intend to "name and shame" people who keep the money.

And in the course of countless interviews during which these men, who are sworn to uphold the law, are feted and congratulated for "sticking it to the rich", not one journalist has asked the AGs what law these bonus keepers have broken.

That is why it is so good to see one man finally ask the question, and to observe Connecticut AG Blumethal's deer-in-the-headlights response:

GLENN: Now, the one thing I was going through the interviews with you and nobody's asked this question and I'm just dying to know and I know you'll have the answer. What law did the AIG executives break when they took those bonuses that were mandated by a legal contract?
BLUMENTHAL: The AIG executives did not themselves break a contract.
GLENN: So then why were you going after them?
BLUMENTHAL: Well, we're not going after them.
GLENN: You were.
BLUMENTHAL: Going after the bonuses.
GLENN: It's their bonuses.
BLUMENTHAL: We were going after the . . .
GLENN: No, their bonuses.
GLENN: They are their bonuses. They earned that money. What right, what law did they break that gave you the ability in Connecticut to go after those bonuses?
BLUMENTHAL: Well, let's take it one step at a time. The money they received came from us, the taxpayers.
GLENN: Oh, I know how this works. I'm asking you, sir. You're the attorney general. I'm asking you for the law that they broke that gave you the ability. Are you not the defender of the law in Connecticut?
BLUMENTHAL: The law that they broke
BLUMENTHAL: is the law that requires that they serve the public interests, that bonuses that they
GLENN: What law is that? Wait, wait, what law is that, sir? You're the chief law enforcement officer. What law say that again? I don't recognize that law. It sounds like a good policy. It sounds like a good rule of thumb but I'm not sure I recognize that law. Could you give that to me again?
BLUMENTHAL: Well, you know, again these funds belong to us, the taxpayer.
GLENN: No, no, sir, look, you know what you've done? You know what you've done? You have you are an insult to George Washington, sir. George Washington made it very clear that we are a respecter of laws, not of men. For your own political gain you have decided to go after these people at AIG because it is a popular thing. And while I may agree with you that it is obscene, I would like to know, sir, not what's right as a rule of thumb, not what makes us feel good. You, sir, are to protect people and to stand for the law in Connecticut. So again I ask you, sir, what law gave you the right to go after them, what law did they break? . . .
--Fox News (March 30, 2009). Transcript of the The Glenn Beck Show. Retrieved March 31, 2009 from http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/198/23425/.

This man, like many of our public officials at all level, does not apply principles to his job.
Rather he is influenced by the direction of the winds of public opinion; twisting this way and that, doing what is politically expedient.

A similar pragmatic approach can be seen in most of the discourse of our day; the question is never: "by what right?" "by what law?" "by what truth?"; rather people ask: "by what opinion?" "by what popular majority?" "by what spin?"

If as Hayek said, nothing differentiates between liberty and tyranny so much as does the Rule of Law, then we are in the sad state of watching our liberty slip away at the hands of men such as Blumenthal, who encourages mob rule ("It's outrageous!") in order to further his own political ambitions.

By what right, Mr. Blumenthal? Show us the law!

Monday, March 30, 2009

On a Clear Day You Can See Government Motors

This morning as I drove the Boychick to school, I turned on the radio.
I heard that President Obama had fired the CEO of GM.

My first sensation was a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I almost had to pull Henry, the Big Red Truck (it's a Ford!) to the side of Frost Road.
My first thought was: Welcome to the USSA!

Does anyone remember the Yugo?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Edison Hour: Where Would You Rather Live?

This picture has been displayed on numerous blogs.

Capitalist South Korea, the country at the bottom of the picture is ablaze with light at night. Totalitarian North Korea, above it, is in darkness.

Last night, many people and cities participated in the symbolic gesture of sitting in darkness for one hour. As others have pointed out, it is one thing when, at the end of that hour, people can turn the lights back on and go about their lives. They can read, use the computer, watch TV, work on crafts, or enjoy a glass of wine with friends. Electric lights extend our day, giving us the blessing of leisure and participation in hobbies after work. It is again one thing when, during that symbolic hour with the lights off, the water heater is still keeping water for that soothing shower hot; and the furnace is still keeping the room at a constant, comfortable temperature; and the refrigerator is still humming away, keeping the perishable food safe to eat. And of course, people can get in the car and drive to the restaurant for that candlelight dinner; the hospitals still have electricity to start a failing heart and to autoclave the instruments needed for surgery; a woman in labor can use that cell phone charged at an electric outlet to call for assistance; and the taxicabs are still cruising the city to take her to a hospital.

It is entirely another thing to live in a place like North Korea, where there is no leisure after work, and a person considers himself lucky to drop onto a bed much mess luxurious than the Sleep Number with Memory Foam; where there is no perishable food and no refrigerator to keep it safe; where people starve to death, and where a hot shower is an unimaginable luxury. A place where the infant mortality rate is very high, and where death in childbirth is common. A place where an accident that would be easily treated in the industrial West, can lead to death.

Ideas have real consequences.
Economic systems have real consequences.
As Thomas Woods says about our government's economic decisions over the past year, they are "a flight from reality" (From his book Meltdown) .

I will not rehearse all of the arguments about global climate change here; I have discussed them elsewhere in this blog. (See for Example: The End of the World as We Know It and Global Climate Change: Science, Politics, and Ideologies .
However the above picture shows where those who would like to use the idea to declare a crisis are taking us. The science about global climate change is not settled; it is in dispute, as a paradigm like this ought to be.

The above picture is a stark representation of a fundamental difference between ideas their consequences.
Where would you rather live?

I choose not to go back to the dark ages, and I accept responsibility for the way of thinking that modernity requires. I imagine that if ever I stand before the Eternal for judgment, I will be asked, "What new knowledge have you brought into the world?"
For the One who whispers to each blade of grass, "Grow! Grow!" must certainly expect that the human being, endowed with the knowledge of right and wrong, must choose the right, and life. We must continue to use our special faculty, the ability to think and to choose, in order to grow and thrive.

And I celebrate the Edison's of the world, who have stepped forth from the darkness, and shined a beacon of reason that guides us in the direction of a longer, more productive, happier life.

"Blessed is the One who endows the human being with Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Committees of Correspondence and Safety

In the past week, I have hear references to two organizations, the Committees of Correspondence and the Committees of Safety, that I had not thought about in years; and then, only in the context of my high school history books. Who knew that we would need the aid of such as these again?

During the time period leading up to the American Revolution, various groups (such as the Sons of Liberty) within the 13 Colonies developed Committees of Correspondence for the purposes of communicating among the various colonies in order to organize opposition to British actions, and bring people together to support the common cause. The first Committee of Correspondence was formed in 1764 in Boston in opposition to the Currency Act. Other such committees were formed to rally people in protest of the Stamp Act and the Intolerable (Coercive) Acts. These various acts all aimed to tax the colonies into oblivion in order for Great Britian to pay for the recent Queen Anne's War (in Europe), which was called the French and Indian War in North America. The English colonists, not used to such oppressive taxes, and unwilling to pay them, generally refused to do so. The Committees of Correspondence were instrumental in organizing mass actions such as the Boston Tea Party.

Starting at the about the same time (the early 1760s), Committees of Safety were formed in many colonial towns and cities. These were local organizations that were often composed of all of the adult males in the community, whose purpose was to discuss the concerns of the day, and to keep watch and act upon threats to the welfare of the community. As part of the latter, the Committees of Safety elected representatives to larger decision-making bodies (regional or colonial), and often were responsible for ordering out the local militias.

Now as events accelerate towards a great crisis that could destroy our Liberty, bankrupt the United States, and change our political system irrevocably, the patriot community is finding ways to communicate for information and action once again. We are also thinking about how to strengthen our communities and prepare our friends and neighbors for the terrible economic disruption (and all that this implies) still to come.

Last weekend, when the Engineering Geek and I attended the New Mexico organizing meeting for the 2009 Continental Congress, the state chair of the New Mexico Constitution Party passed around a letter and call to action for the purpose of organizing a steering committee for a coalition of the liberty parties and organizations (libertarians, constitutionalists, 9-12ers, etc.) in the state based on shared values and goals. The coalition would be based upon small, local groups, which were called 'Committees of Safety.' He listed the following objectives:

“A Proposal for Your Consideration:

“Formation of a unified patriot community here in New Mexico will provide not only mutual support but also enable us to prepare for what appears to be on the horizon for America. As most citizens are woefully ignorant of indifferent to what is going on, it is imperative that we this NOW so that we will be able to help them later. I submit for your consideration these primary objectives:

· That we continue our efforst in the various groups that we represent
· That we cooperate with one another instead of remaining isolated or distant
· That we identify common or shared values and rally around those principles
· That we form a broader coalition based on these shared convictions
· That we develop a functional network for mutual care, training and mobilization

“To this I would add the following suggested goals:

Formation of a steering committee to chart the course of this network
Cross-pollination of our groups and collaborative efforts
Develop strategic plans for crisis preparedness, patriot education and training
Form localized, small groups to facilitate and achieve these goals
Strengthen and expand this alliance across the State of New Mexico

“Find out more at
http://americansynergy.wetpaint.org/ or www.committeesofsafety.org"
(From "To the patriot community of New Mexico" by Dave Batcheller, distributed March 21, 2009).

Although there are many of us who have been aware of what is coming for some time, we had all hoped against hope that we were wrong about the severity of the approaching storm. However, in the past few weeks we have seen spending packages passed that commit us well beyond our ability to repay, the monitization of said debt, and now we are hearing our genius Secretary of the Treasury ask for power to nationalize and close any businesses he deems "a threat to economy" without asking leave of anyone. This same brilliant man has also been heard to say that he supports a world currency. He was against it before he was for it. And then he was against it after he was for it. The destruction of the dollar is well underway, and the aforementioned monetization of our debt could lead to hyperinflation. We have begun lending ourselves money to pay for our committments because of the deficits. It is a vicious, downward spiral, that will lead to the destruction of our wealth and the suffering of millions.

All of this has been occuring while the corrupt clowns in Congress have tried to distract our attention by bussing the ACORN equivalent of Brownshirts to protest outside the homes of AIG executives and to threaten their families with all manner of creative destruction. The attorney generals of Connecticut and New York have threatened to "out" the executives who dare to keep their contractual and earned bonuses, not in a court of law, but in the court of public opinion. This is government sponsored rule by fear and intimidation; instigated by the fools (in all three branches and in both "major" parties) in Washington who do it to save their own guilty butts from the opening salvos in the class wars they are creating. (Here at Ragamuffin House, we wonder what they will do when the mob turns on them, as mobs are wont to do. It may well be the Reign of Terror on steroids).

And since our government is pouring gasoline on a variety of fires, we understand that it is up to us to work with our friends and neighbors to develop networks for mutual aid and support in order to weather the coming storm. Those of us who have been aware and have already prepared ourselves can be of great assistance to our friends and neighbors who have not, and those who cannot bring themselves to believe that this could be happening now. Thus, the idea to develop these Committees of Safety.

DISCLAIMER FOR HOMELAND SECURITY AND THE MISSOURI STATE POLICE ASSOCIATION: We are not militias. Even though: 1) most of us have in the past or do now belong to third parties such as the Constitution Party or the Libertarians; 2) most of us have actually voted for people like Ron Paul and Bob Barr; 3) some of us belong to the NRA or JPFO; 4) all of us own pocket copies of the US Constitution provided by that subversive group, the Heritage Foundation; and (gasp!) 5) all of us have had the termerity to criticize or complain about the IRS at some point in our lives.

We live in interesting times.

This morning, I heard Congresswoman Michelle Bachman* interviewed on the Glenn Beck Program. In the course of the interview, which can be found in its entirety here--and it's well worth a listen), she commented that radio programs like Mr. Beck's and groups like the 9-12 Project and the Tea Parties, are the modern equivalent of Committees of Correspondence, because they help Americans who love the Constitution keep abreast of the increasing pace of its destruction by the very people sworn to uphold it. And they provide a rallying point for purposeful action by citizens to defend the Constitution.

*Congresswoman Bachman is the committee member who asked Secretary (and Tax Cheat) Geithner to show her where the Constitution would allow him such powers as he was requesting. She asked it over and over again. Funny, how the good secretary could not find anything like that in the Constitution. I mean, he must know what's in it. He has sworn to uphold it.

As I listened, I thought that the good congresswoman was right. Last night, as I sat in a group of 9-12ers at the Independence Grill in Albuquerque, as we discussed and debated the meaning of the Declaration of Independence, I understood also the meaning of our gathering. These are our Committees of Correspondence. We will be Committees of Safety for the mutual aid and support of our neighbors. We love our country and the exceptional form of government passed down to us from those miracle makers in Philadelphia. We want it to continue and prosper. And as we gather to speak and debate, we find our own voices. Voices that no Fairness Doctrine can ever silence. Here we develop the courage not only to express our beliefs, but to act on them.

And just in time, too. It feels downright serendipidous.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quixotic? Quaint? Code Words

I love it when a commenter gives me another blog post.
And Anonymous or Anonymouses have been particular busy doing so lately.
On my last blog post I got a comment by one of my Anonymouses that used language masterfully couched to imply that hopelessness is the proper emotion of those of us who would like to see them actually apply the Constitution inside the Beltway.

The comment started innocuously enough:
" I just stumbled on your blog. It's thoughtful and delightful reading. "
Thanks, for the left-handed compliment. Then there's this:

"I also occasionally check in on Schulz' quixotic pursuit of petition and redress. Petition's there in the first amendment, of course, right at the end--it's hard not to snicker at "capstone"--and preceded by a phrase informing us that Congress shall make no law limiting the right to petition."

The word 'quixotic' evokes a kind of pathetic action, such as tilting at windmills, that is doomed to fail. It is romantic and idealistic, but alas, impractical and unrealistic. It also implies a superior sort of worldliness on the part of the user, and thus the reader should surmise that Anonymous is above those sorts of spectacular feats of craziness.

However, the term quixotic should not be applied without a clear understanding of what the goal of an action is. Bob Schulz understood after one or two petitions that he would never get a cogent response to the Petitions for Redress of Grievance. Since that time, getting a response is not the goal. The goal is to document that people have formally petitioned all three branches of the federal government for Redress, and indeed have done so over and over again, and have received no response except repeated injury. In other words, the goal of the petitions is to document for the American people that our government is an outlaw government; that is, it is no longer governing according to our Constitution. It is also to document for posterity what happened and why. Thus, the action is not quixotic. It is working exactly as planned and the purpose is being met.

Then there's this:
"In the age of emailing the White House, press credentials given to bloggers, and Obama on Leno, petition seems quaint, at best."

It is clear here that Anonymous either deliberately or unthinkingly misunderstands the Petition for Redress. I highly recommend that he go back and check out the quote from the Magna Carta. E-mailing the White House and blogging do not represent formal petitions for Redress of Grievance. And in press conferences (such as the one last night), the questioners are carefully chosen and then often given non-answers straight from the talking points on the Teleprompter of the United States.

As for the Leno interview, the remark about the Special Olympics (they let Obama speak without TOTUS present, more's the pity) led to a new injury, and the whole thing had the air of Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

But consider also Anonymous's diction. In particular, notice the word "quaint." As in: 'Oh, yes, the Constitution. That quaint document. In these days of Obama on Leno, it is only to be taken seriously by the likes of those tiresome libertarians and militia people.' Again, note the worldly-wise tone, that tells us that one of the most brilliant documents of government ever written can be lightly dismissed by Anonymous, because he is oh so modern and politically correct. I can almost hear the Keith Olbermann fake-Shakespearian accent.

Then we get this:
"It's been invoked recently to challenge Obama's qualification for the presidency. So, it's clearly being exercised with the utmost gravity."

Ah, the kitten has some claws. But again, Anonymous, misses the point. The Petitions for Redress reflect the concerns of various citizens. The point is not that they are right or wrong. Or even, as the worldly Anonymous implies, stupid. No, the point is that a citizen, from the time of the Magna Carta until now, had the right to Petition and receive an answer. Is the income tax unconstitutional or not? Is Mr. Obama qualifed to be president of the United States according to the Constitution or not? Neither of these have received an answer.

And here anonymous goes in for the imagined kill:

"In any case, if the government takes active steps to quash such important petitions, you'll have a real case. Otherwise, I hope the snacks at the congress are tasty."

Apparently, Anonymous does not bother to read carefully. I wonder if s/he is related to the NYT science reporters? You know, the type that report on a study and get it exactly wrong, though politically correct?

Because we're done petitioning. The Continental Congress is assembling to consider what we ought to do now that we have demonstrated and documented that the federal government is in brazen defiance to the Constitution. Consider this from the 1774 Act of the First Continental Congress:

“ If money is wanted by Rulers who have in any manner oppressed the People, they may retain it until their grievances are redressed, and thus peaceably procure relief, without trusting to despised petitions or disturbing the public tranquility."

and this from Thomas Jefferson's 1775 reply to Lord North:

“The privilege of giving or withholding our money is an important barrier against the undue exertion of prerogative which if left altogether without control may be exercised to our great oppression; and all history shows how efficacious its intercession for redress of grievances and establishment of rights, and how improvident would be the surrender of so powerful a mediator."

And this from the 1784 New Hampshire Constitution:

“Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection,and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.”

It is, of course, quite possible that resistance is futile. But we cannot know until we try. Of course, sophisticated people like the erudite Anonymous have already joined the Borg.

You can tell by the code words. The collective never constructs a decent argument. It just tries to insult us into silence as quaint and quixotic. (I guess he opened his dictionary to the Q's).

"We are the arbiters of political correctness. Resistance is futile. You will be laughed into assimilation."

Be very afraid.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What Must a Free People Do?

Yesterday, the Engineering Geek and I attended a public meeting about the We the People Organization's 2009 Continental Congress.

At the meeting, we met Bob Schulz, the founder of the We the People Organization, who is traveling to cities in every state of the union in order to develop a mass movement to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Bob Schulz is a man with a gift and a passion. An engineer by training and trade, he is thorough in his analysis of problems, and he has a passion for Liberty, and thus for the Constitution, which was written to restrain our government and protect our unalienable rights.

The road to the We the People Continental Congress began when Bob went to a municipal public meeting at a firehouse in upstate New York. The public meeting was about an upcoming public works project, and Bob rose to ask a few questions, since the project concerned a discipline he knew well. Evidently, his questions were a little too incisive, because the pols involved refused to answer them publically, and instead wanted to discuss the matter privately. But Bob wanted his questions aired and answered before the town meeting. The incident eventually led to a lawsuit, because the project was not beneficial to the town, but was intended to line the pockets of a few of the pols in charge. Bob won. And the town retaliated against him when he went to subdivide his property to fund his nascent government watchdog group, We the People. He accepted a gig as an afternoon drive talkshow host on his local radio station, and from talking to callers, Bob began to realize the extent of corruption in state and national politics as well. When he realized that the Federal government is in violation of nearly every article of the United States Constitution, Bob began to study that document.

The moral of the story: Politicians! Beware an engineer who develops a passion for a problem. Bob consulted Constitutional scholars, and his organization went national. Bob developed a particular passion for what he calls "the capstone right of the First Amendment": the right of the people to petition their government for redress of grievances. In his presentation to the concerned citizens of New Mexico yesterday, Bob traced the history of this right from the Magna Carta to the Constitution and beyond.

The Magna Carta, which was signed by King John at Runnymeade, England, in 1290 (at the point of a sword), was the document that forced the king to share power and recognize the rights of Englishmen as understood by English Common Law. The English were not about to accept an absolute monarchy which was a violation of their customs and traditions. In the Magna Carta, the redress of grievances is guaranteed thus:

“If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us - or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice - to declare it and claim immediate redress.
If we, or in our absence abroad the chief justice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us.” Magna Carta, 1290

(The Royal "WE" is employed here to mean the monarch).

Thus, the great tradition of Court Days, upon which the monarch sat outside in the courtyard and heard the petitions of even the most humble of subjects was born. The American colonists brought that tradition across the Atlantic, and continued to insist upon their right to petition for redress and be answered. In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders justified their separation from England and their right to form a new government upon the fact that King George III and Parliament answered repeated petitions for redress only with repeated injury:

“In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms. Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by with repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is thus unfit to be the ruler of a free people….” Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

(The capitalizations here are not just quaint colonial fashion, the mark specific concepts coming from the English Common Law).

In the Constitution, the right for Redress of Grievances is the capstone of the First Amendment, a right from which the other First Amendment rights are derived:

“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, freedom of the press; or the Right of the People peaceably to assemble, and to Petition the government for a Redress of Grievances.” First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, 1791.

This right was cherished by the People of the United States up until 1830. Every Monday, petitioners came before the relevant committees of the United States Congress to air their grievances and receive an answer or the promise of a written response. In 1830, the southern states forced a "gag rule" to shut down the abolitionists, and the use of this right faded. . .

. . . Until 1995. In that year, Bob Schulz and his We the People Congress began a series of Petitions for the Redress of Grievances to all three branches of the Federal Government. These petitions all addressed grievances caused by the violation of the United States Constitution. Such petitions included:

  • the violation of the monetary clause by bailing out the Mexican Peso (1995)
  • the violation of the Constitutional ban on the direct unapportioned tax on labor (the income tax) (1999, 2000, 2001)
  • the violation of Article 4 by use of the USA Patriot Act (2002)

There were many more, and a complete list can be found here.

Although the topics of the peoples petitions are interesting documentation of percieved injury, the content of the answers are not at issue; what is most important is that the government is required to respond, just as the King of England was. And none of the petitions thus far have received a response. No. Response. At. All.

What is a free people to do? As Bob says, "The Constitution does not defend itself." The Federal system of government is not Sovereign; As Alexander Hamilton put it, "Here, Sir, the People govern." It is the people who are Sovereign. And our rights are individual. Every individual has the right to petition and must be answered.

According to the Declaration of Independence, if the government instituted by the people at the consent of governed becomes tyrannical, the people have the right, derived from the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, to dissovle that government and institute a new one that will protect their rights. The rights belong to the individual. They are inherent in the nature of human beings; they are not a gift of government. The government exists only to protect those rights.

What must a free people do? This is the question that the 2009 Continental Congress is intended to answer. It will be a gathering of three delegates from every state in the United States. It is not a Constitutional Convention; it is a Congress at which the delegates, will consider the violations to the constitution by our government, ennumerate them, take note of the efforts of the People to Petition for the Redress of Grievances, and then consider and determine what the next step must be.

At this point, the People must take action to secure their Liberty once again. Taking a page from Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, Bob Schulz and the We the People Organization believes that three things are needed for successful action: it must be proactive, non-violent, and come from a mass movement. Thus the Mission of the 2009 Continental Congress is:

"The Mission of the Continental Congress is to end and reverse violations of the Constitution of the United States of America by educating Americans on the issue of petitions for redress. We will do this by acting in a proactive, non-violent, constitutionally based course of action to restore the original intent of our Founding Fathers for the free people of our Constitutional Republic." (WTPCC Powerpoint, e-mailed from Bob Schulz on March 21, 2009).

Although there will only be three delegates from each state, this movement will need local and state support, because the acts of civil disobedience that will be required as the course of action, can only be successful if a sizeable minority of citizens engage in them.

At our meeting, there came a moment when those who are willing to act to protect and defend the Constitution were asked to stand. The Engineering Geek and I, along with a sizeable majority in the room, did stand. We were mindful of the words of Thomas Paine:

"THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated." (The Crisis, December 23, 1776).

Our founders pledged to one another "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor" in the cause of Liberty. If we want our children to receive their inheritance of Liberty, the time has come to act. For otherwise, in our old age, we will watch them toiling as indentured servants to the National Debt. It will take generations to pay for the pork and the earmarks, the acts of an irresponsible government at war with reality.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Vernal Equinox Dawn


Yesterday morning, Friday 20 March, at 5:44 AM MDT, the earth passed through the equinox. In the norther hemisphere, it was the Vernal (Spring) Equinox. On this day, we experienced an equal amount of darkness and light in our day, and in our northern hemisphere, the daylight hours will increase each day through the May crossquarter and until the Summer Solstice. In our current calendar the March equinox marks the first day of astronomical spring in the northern hemisphere. In the old calendar, spring began on the February 2 crossquarter, and yesterday was the midpoint of the season.

It was a fortunate day to mark the Vernal Equinox, as we had plenty of time to take our walk together, with both Lily and Shayna, and get to our fixed points for this year to take pictures of the Spring sunrise. I felt a little sad as I took these pictures, because on Ground Hog's day, Zoey was with us. The Great Wheel of Time turns, bringing each of us to the point of departure.

Sunrise, March 20, 2009, from the top of Via Sedillo.
Blessed is the One that separates light from darkness . . .

Sunrise on February 2, 2009.
Compare with the above picture to see that sun rose south of the Pinyon on Candlemas, and yesterday it was north of it.

Sunrise from Teypana and Via Sedillo (south intersection), on March 20, 2009. The sun is rising behind the left middle tree.

Sunrise on February 2, 2009. The sun is rising above the trees that are to the right and above the two trees in the center of the picture above. Again, it is rising to the north of where it did from the same fixed point at the cross-quarter.

A close-up of the Vernal Equinox dawn from the top of Via Sedillo. The sky was full of moisture and so the dawn was full of color. May the golden sunrise signal good rains, good crops and prosperity in the coming seasons.
Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring Break Ending, Spring Break Beginning

This is one of the annoyances about having the Boychick attend school.
My spring break is ending on Sunday, and his is beginning on Saturday.
This means that we can share exactly two days of Spring Break. And they are the weekend days that we would share anyway.
Now you would think that the schools and the university could coordinate these things.
Ah, vain wish! Bureaucracies at any level are incapable of effective communication.
They are even less capable at making common-sensical decisions.

Oh, alright. It is a minor annoyance. After all, we weren't planning on going to Arizona anyway. At least, not as a family. I always do the bulk of my spring cleaning over my spring break.

(This week I spent most of my time in the kitchen, either on a ladder or on my knees, peering into hard-to-reach cabinets. And congratulating myself on throwing out giving away all of those strange and extraneous kitchen gagets last year.
(Note: In the interest of full disclosure I must say that the Engineering Geek and I DO NOT agree about the extraneous nature of those kitchen oddities. One of us is also deluded about what really happened to them).

Anyway, one of us is going to Arizona. The Boychick is going with his scout troop for a jamboree (or is it camporee?--in the girl scouts we just called them trips) in Arizona that will include the chance to do archery at a top-notch range. Today, on the way to Taekwondo, we stopped at Ye Olde Archery Shoppe (not its real name) to get some gold-tip arrows and a bow-case for the Boychick's compound bow. He is also taking the Recurve, but the troop has invested in arrows for that.

Today, when I went to tutor a student in Algebra II (we had a wonderful time playing with imaginary numbers), the Boychick's Special Education case manager asked me for tips that she could give another parent on how to successfully keep a kiddo from frying his brain on the computer 24/7. At first I said that I didn't have any; the Boychick has a variety of interests. And then I realized that that is the trick. While some of his peers at school will spend spring break huddled over glowing screens in dark rooms, pale from lack of sunshine, the Boychick will be in Arizona, helping research Siguaro Cacti, shooting at the archery range, and taking in a Cardinals game. He isn't even taking his I-Pod.

Not bad for an Aspie.

The only thing he says he will miss is the Guild.
It's over at Pimentel, anyway. But that's another story.

Banding Together: The ABQ Tea Party and the East Mountain 9-12ers

Yesterday, I blogged about the problem.

But as we used to say in Chemistry 101 Lab: If you're not part of the solution, you are part of the precipitate. (You know, that stuff at the bottom of the test tube).

Not wanting to be precipitated out, some of us have been moved to do something to take our country back.

Albuquerque, New Mexico is at the heart of Manana-land, a place where it's too nice outside to bother getting grumpy, and where the patron system is alive and well.

But even we have gotten excited by the unprecedented speed at which the past few federal administrations have sold us down the river.

It may not be Boston, but Albuquerque is going to have its very own Tea Party on Taxx* Day.

*Yes, I know what Webster says, but if any word deserves to be a four-letter word, that one does!


Last week, a group of us here in the East Mountains got together to watch the Glenn Beck "We Surround Them" special, which was a response to the sense that there is no common sense, and that those of us who uphold the Constitution are quite alone. This has become the 9-12 Project. (No, Glenn is not putting together an army for revolution, this is about us raising our own voices).

We decided to keep meeting, to plan to participate in the Tea Parties, and to support one another, as many of us work in places where speaking our truths leads to being shut down. Thus, we have begun the East Mountain 9-12ers. I am planning to begin the book club next month.

The patriots of the American Revolution gathered in churches and taverns to discuss the issues of the day and, as Samuel Adams said, "Hatch much treason," in their quest for liberty. They did everything they could to petition their government in England for redress of grievances, before they gave the reasons for their Declaration of Independence to a candid world. In his book Democracy in America, written a generation later, Alexis de Toqueville was impressed at how passionately Americans gathered and read and studied their principles and applied them to the issues of their day.

We mean to do the same,except that we do not intent to hatch any treason; the treason is being hatched by our government in its ongoing violation of our liberties. By our Constitution, the government is answerable to us and exists to protect our rights. In order to take our country back, We the People must know our history and live the principles upon which this nation was founded. That is our purpose. I believe the tax revolt, in the form of the Tea Parties now brewing, is the first shot in the across the bow in the Second American Revolution.

We mean it to be a peaceful and principled stand for the liberties and rights so secured to us by the Founders.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Common Sense Round-Up and Thomas Paine Reincarnated

Our fearless leaders over at Congress think we are incredibly low I.Q. or else infinitely distractible. They want us to believe that they are now suddenly upset by the bonuses they knew about months ago. They are asking us not to pay attention to that man behind the curtain in order to begin ex post facto taxing of specific groups of people as punishment. For more on why the AIG Bonus Scandal is a distraction:

Of course, once Congress begins excise taxing as a weapon in the class war, the Rule of Law will be history. They can then tax any group anytime they want as much as they want for whatever reason they want. It brings a whole new meaning to the idea of taxation without representation.

Make your blood boil? Well, there's more!

Congress recently went on a crusade to make the world safe for Chinese imported toys with lead in them by wiping out the American competition with the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which among other things, means a ban on buying, selling or lending out children's books published before 1985. And now, there's a new law proposed that will make those home grown tomatoes illegal.

For more on CPSIA:

  • Check out Lavender Blue, Dilly, Dilly from the Common Room, and while you're there check out all their CPSIA stories. The Headmistress has been following this one for a long while!

For information on the proposed new food bill:

Sigh. As Will Rogers said, "No one's life, liberty or property is safe as long as Congress is in session."
We are clearly at the mercy of a federal government that is out of control.

We are being spent, taxed and regulated into oblivion. This is tyranny. Consider Edward Cline's blog entry on The New Intolerable Acts at the Rule of Reason. The patriots of 1773 did band together to oppose what they also called the coervice acts. They understood that they were being prepared to become a nation of indentured servants.They acted with reason and on principle to secure the blessings of liberty for themselves and their children. We are being molded into tax slaves. The debt that is being racked up now to secure the power and privilege of our legislators will drive our country into ruin and enslave our children and grandchildren. In the end, it will not work. The United States will be both bankrupt and a tyranny.

We've got to take our country back. There's a guy on You Tube who dresses like Thomas Paine, and sounds like him, too. I agree with his outline of the problem in his video, as he talks about our "unrepresentative representatives."

DISCLAIMER: There are several of TP2's solutions that I vehemently oppose, such as the violation of liberty that is compulsory service. Nevertheless, his statement of the problem is right on!

Last Snowstorm of the Winter?


Astronomical spring for the northern hemisphere begins this coming Friday morning. Since the temperature these past few days has been in 50's and a high parked over the Four Corners is giving us guarranteed sunshine, last weekend's snowstorm was probably the last official snowstorm of the winter.

It was a wet, heavy snow that began falling Friday morning, just as we got up to get the day underway.

The roads were wet and slushy as I drove into Albuquerque to hear Temple Grandin speak.
This late winter snowstorm brought great beauty, and no inconvenience.

Here, the woods are full of the music of treble drips overlying a deep silence in the Friday evening gloaming.

Athough our Shy Shayna is afraid of many things, we found that she likes the snow!

She puts her nose down into it and tosses it joyfully into the air!

The Engineering Geek and Lily make their way through the trees at the edge of the high meadow.

We made our walk extra long through the woods, for this may be the last time this year that we see the branches laden with snow.

Sunday morning, and the remnants of the storm spill down the eastern side of the Sandia fault block. Overhead, ragged clouds scurry to the east, and the winds promise blue skies in the offing.

Sandia Crest is swathed in cloud, and the mountain tops are frosted in white.
Cold and clearing on Sunday morning, and by afternoon, it was warm and sunny.
Every day is uniquely perfect, here in G-d's country!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shy Shayna

Since the day we brought her home, we have been learning who the new member of our pack is. She is shy Shayna, and in the first days she appeared afraid of her own shadow.

As I sat at the table eating, she'd park herself right behind my chair. As I'd move about the house, I had a silent, ghostly shadow following closely. On walks, she cringed at the open sky, and under the trees, and when startled, she tried to climb up me, clinging to my thigh.

There were occasional glimpses of the dog we believe Shy Shayna will become. On her third evening with us, she stole an entire piece of chicken from the table and inhaled it before we could call her name.

But this was dog who is so quiet that we hardly know where she is in the house. Along with her pink collar (the EG's choice), she wears a worried look much of the time, and a look of sadness and uncertainty.

We know she was found on North 14. We can only surmise what happened to her. She sits on command, is house broken (except when frightened by Lily's rambunctious energy), and she walks at the heel and does not pull on the leash.

But she's afraid of the coffee grinder, and the vacuum cleaner sends her running for the safety of the room she shares with me and the Engineering Geek. She wants to be with us, but she'll creep out to check on us, and a sudden move, a hand above her head will make her cringe and whimper.

When horseplay between the Chem Geek Princess and the Boychick sent her panicked into a corner behind the rocker (apparently she'd never seen an adult woman on the back of a teenaged boy), we got her a crate. Sans door, it makes a wonderful place of safety for Shy Shayna to retreat to when it all gets to be too much.

Our cardinal rule is that we never violate her sacred space in the crate, and she has begun to relax there. Last week, she began to realize that she could "go" in the meadow. During the past weekend's snowstorm, we learned that she likes to play in the snow.

She enjoys brisk walks in the meadow, and after watching Lily a few times, she has learned to jump the chain across the new road. Lily has also shown her the joys of sniffing and snuffing at the rodent holes in the meadow, and she has learned what a treat is for. She eats like there is no tomorrow.

It is still one step forward, two steps back, one and one-half steps forward again, but Shy Shayna is coming out of herself bit by bit. She's as beautiful as her name implies, and she still moves silently as a ghost through the house.

And she doesn't quite know what to do with a ball or a rawhide bone.

I guess she'll always be wary of strangers, but she is no longer wary of us.

We've made a good beginning.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Moral Implications of Redistribution and Righteousness

In a comment to my blog entry Going Galt? an anonymous interlocuter suggests that because I am opposed to the Obama adminstration's plans for the federal government to redistribute private wealth (personal and corporate) from those who produced and earned it to those who have not, I am "standing idly by while (my) neighbor bleeds." He was quoting loosely from Yayikra 19:16, and he wrote:

"And yet "Do not stand idly by while your neighbor bleeds." Leviticus 19."

This commandment is in the part of the Book of Leviticus known as the Holiness Code in which the commandments all harken back to the statement:

"And Adonai spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to the whole Congregation of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy* for I, Adonai your G-d, am holy." (VaYikra 19:1-2)

Hebrew digression 1: The word for holy in Hebrew, kadosh, is from the root (kaf-dalet-shin) קדש , which has the meaning of separate. So the meaning of holiness from the Hebrew is to make oneself separate from or other than the ordinary. The verse could be translated as: You shall be separate (other) because I, Adonai your G-d, am separate (other)."

The Holiness Code is therefore a series of commandments intended to instruct the People Israel on how to live a covenental life; a life that is other than or separate from the way that the other nations live. It is the way in which Israel sets itself apart as a covenental people. Here is the entire verse (in blue) in context:

"You shall not steal; you shall not deal deceitfully or falsely with one another. You shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your G-d, I am Adonai.

"You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not commit robbery. The wages of the day-laborer shall not remain with you until morning.

"You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block in front of the blind; You shall be in awe of G-d, I am Adonai.

"You shall do no unrighteousness in judgement; you shall not favor the poor nor show deference to the great; you shall judge your people in righteousness. You shall not accuse your people falsely; you shall not stand by the blood of your neighbor, I am Adonai.

"You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall surely rebuke your neighbor and not bear sin because of him." (VaYikra 19:11 - 17).

Verse 16a has also been translated as "you shall not go about as a talebearer among your people" and "you shall not deal with your people basely." The Hebrew verb is related to the misuse of speech.

Verse 16b has also been translated as: "Do not profit by the blood of your neighbor" and "Do not conspire against your neighbor."

Verses 11-16 deal specifically with the holiness inherent in the dealings among neighbors in the court of law. The theme of these verses is that all such dealings should be imbued with justice*, which is also translated as "righteousness." The position of the part of the verse in question (You shall not stand by the blood of your neighbor), just after the commandment against falsely accusing one's neighbor, suggests that this verse means that it is a very bad thing to make false statements against one's neighbor in court because such false statements might lead to the conviction of the innocent neighbor thus causing him suffering; or to the acquittal of the guilty, causing the victim of the crime to bleed. This is a crime against justice.

*Hebrew digression 2: The Hebrew word tzedekah, which has the root tzaddi-dalet-kuf
צדק , can be translated as either "justice" or "righteousness". The sense of the root is the concept of being straight, right or fair.

In the wider context of the verse, it is clear that to favor the poor in a court of law because they are poor is a violation of justice, as is favoring those who are great simply because of their status. To act justly means to treat everyone as equal before the law, taking no regard to their actual inequality in fact.

Other verses in this discourse on the holiness of judgement in a court of law state that it violates the holiness of dealings among neighbors to steal from them or rob them. The location of these verses in the discourse suggest that it is unholy for the court to take the goods of one of the litigants by force (this is the meaning of stealing) and give it to another unjustly. That means it is unrighteous to impose fines or otherwise transfer wealth from one to another, unless it is a tort payment--that is the payment by one neighbor to another as recompense for injury--imposed by the court in order to make the relationships between neighbors right.

Given the context and the meaning of the verse, then, I would actually be "standing idly by while (my) neighbor bleeds" if I do not speak out against the injustice of the Obama administration's attempts to allow judges in US courts to change the mortgage contracts of certain people, just because they are "poor" i.e. "unable to pay their mortgages." Such an action, in which certain taxpayers and their descendents would thus be forced to pay for the mortgages of certain citizens because of their status is certainly unrighteous.

The unholiness of this action goes beyond the dealings among neighbors in court in that it violates not only the rights of the current generation of taxpayers, but also incurs debt upon future generations without their knowledge or consent. This becomes the ultimate unholiness in Jewish values, for it is slavery.

The problem with the assertion of my commenter is not only that he took the verse out of context (to the point of only quoting half of it), but further, he assumed a false dichotomy: either the federal government takes the wealth of certain citizens (namely, taxpayers) by force to pay off the houses of other citizens OR those who cannot pay their mortgages will continue to suffer (bleed).

Missing in this false dichotomy is another solution: that the "bleeding" neighbor can declare bankruptcy and start over; and that when bankrupt, he can go to family, to friends, and to neighbors, asking for help making that new beginning.

Another meaning of the word tzedakah in Jewish life, is the holiness of being neighborly by helping those in need. Tzedakah is a moral choice made by individuals, alone or in free association with others. If a person is not free to choose an action, then the action has no moral meaning. It is incumbent upon Jews by virtue of their the Covenant of Holiness to engage themselves in acts of tzedakah. Nevertheless, each Jew must be responsible for choosing those actions and how they are made.

According to the Rambam (Maimonides) there are eight levels of this kind of giving, and the most honorable is to make it unneccesary for a person to become dependent on others. This is the opposite of the socialist agenda that would make us all dependent upon the government for our health, wealth and happiness. The purpose of the socialist agenda is to put the power to decide in the hands of an oligarchy and to destroy individual liberty. The purpose of tzedakah done at the most honorable level is to build up the power of individuals to decide for themselves and thus for them to become menschen--moral human beings.

The "Perfect Storm" Blogging Break

This week was one of those weeks!

It was life getting in the way of blogging; events have enforced a mini-blogging break.

To wit:
1) The week before the UNM spring break meant extra busy days at the Writing Center. And for my classes.

2) We had a dog trainer out to help me deal with Shy Shayna and Rowdy Lily on Monday.
It also snowed on Monday.

3) Tuesday Shayna had her teeth cleaned.

4)My ancient laptop (5 years old is practically antique in computer years) combined with DSL problems means slow connections and a lot of down time, and I cannot blog much from work. (I will be ordering a new laptop this year--Dell has a Deal. I am anticipating problems when I beg to remain with XP. I am such a Luddite!).

5) I am tutoring a young man at EMHS for Algebra II. I have suddenly gotten very interested in factoring equations and simple radical equations after all these years! I am finding Algebra II a whole lot more interesting now than I did in 1976-77 when I was taking the course.

6) Yesterday I went to a conference to hear Temple Grandin speak. This was an awesome presentation, and worthy of a blog entry unto itself.

7) Yesterday afternoon, the EG and I gathered with 18 like-minded people for the We Surround Them broadcast and the unveiling of the 9/12 Project. This also deserves a blog unto itself.

8) I am sick--again! This winter has been the pits for illness. Between lupus flares, the arthritis being worse than ever, the flu in November, food poisoning in January, and now a chest cold that feels like bronchitis, I am beginning to feel like I am aging rapidly. Spring cannot come soon enough for me.

Fortunately, it snowed again yesterday and last night, and so between that and a cough that sounds extremely contagious, I have found an excuse to STAY HOME today. And the internet connection is cooperating, and the ancient computer is no slower than it's age would predict.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chag Purim!

It's Purim, and when this post posts, because it was post-dated --or should we say post-houred--we will be off to the Chabad of New Mexico drowning out the name of that evil Haman, as we read the Megillat Esther.

Some of us will drown our sorrows until we cannot tell the difference between a Bailout and a Stimulus . . . oops, I mean the difference between "Bless Mordechai" and "Curse Haman."

And the Purim Shpiels will help us laugh at the economy. This one makes as much sense as most of the economic advice we get today. Just remember that "gornisht" means "nothing"!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Going Galt?

Last night, her Knight Errant out of town on business, the Chemistry Geek Princess came home for Shabbat dinner. She did not bring the granddog this time because our new girl, Shayna is extremely timid, and Ruby the Granddog's very extraverted, puppy ways would have sent Shayna Sunshine to her corner for a week

We lit candles, we sang Shalom Aleichem, Malachei ha-Malakim, we blessed the children--including the 23 year old--the Engineering Geek read Eyshet Chayil (A Woman of Valor), we made Kidush over the wine, we made the blessing for bread.

It was all very pleasant, but as we began the main course, the talk turned to literature which turned quickly to the state of the Republic.

The Chem Geek Princess began by saying: "I am re-reading Atlas Shrugged, and this time through I am noticing that the words on the page reflect reality even more starkly than they did last summer." She went on to talk about the Bank President with a Heart in the book, who loaned money to people who needed it even though they could not afford the loans, and who was thereby responsible for bringing down the economy of Wisconsin, making it a blighted area with no industry and no future. Then she said, "You know, that is a literary version of what actually happened when the Community Reinvestment Act forced the financials to lend money for people to buy houses, people who could not afford those houses and those loans. Then the banks failed and . . . well, here we are."

We went on talking seriously about the economy, the stimulus that isn't one, and the fact that it won't work and that it cannot work. The CGP went on to talk about the Laffer Curve, and how she sees it's basic truth because she knows a lot of people in small businesses that will make more than $250,000, and they are already finding many ways to either cut that down to $249,000 (at least on paper) or are looking to shelter their money in other ways, so that they don't have to start producing less or laying off workers.

The talk turned to the galloping socialism that the Obama adminstration wants to introduce to our country, in the middle of the night. The CGP is very angry because, as she puts it, this administration is selling her future and children's future to his "utopian nightmare." They will be paying a tax rate of 60 -80 percent, just to pay off what Obama and Bush have borrowed in the past six months for the bailouts and the stimuli. She pointed out that she, a mortgage holder for a a very small house in an older neighborhood of Albuquerque, is going to have to pay off the mortgages of people who foolishly bought houses they could not afford. She and others like her, will have the crushing debt of the irresponsible to deal with, making it impossible to ever get ahead. "It's tax slavery, Mom!" she said indignantly. "Why should I bother to work hard and be responsible when the sweat of my brow will be taken by force to pay mortgages for those people who were not so responsible and who are likely to lose those houses anyway? Why should I have to pay to keep the financials that made the bad loans in the business of paying huge bonuses to failing CEOs?"

Why should she indeed? Soon, it's not going to be worth it for her to earn more, to create more, to work harder, because the harder she works, the more the fruit of her efforts will be taken from her by force to support nameless others who do not work as hard as she does. She will not reap the rewards of her effort, she will not be able to put by money for her children's future (as we did for her).

This is what Santelli meant when he said, "The government is promoting bad behavior!" And the nameless trader said, "It's a moral hazard." (See the Shout Heard 'Round the World if you haven't already).

We then began to discuss the story of Twentieth Century Motors as told by the tramp who had worked there, a key piece of plot in Atlas Shrugged. The story illustrates the inevitable result of forcing the Marxist principle of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" on free human beings. What happened in the factory is that when the old man died, his heirs got the workers to vote in the use of this principle for the factory and its workers. They were to be all one big family, they thought. And the workers voted for it, because, in the words of the tramp who'd once been a skilled worker:

"There wasn't a man among us who didn't think that under a setup of this kind he 'd muscle in on the profits of the men abler than himself. There wasn't a man who . . . didn't think that somebody wasn't richer or smarter, and this plan wouldn't give him a share of his better's wealth and brains. But while he was thinking that he'd get unearned benefits from the men above, he forgot about the men below who would get unearned benefits from him . . .The worker who liked the idea that his need entitled him to a limousine like his boss's, forgot that every bum and beggar on earth would come howling that their need entitled them to an icebox like his own . . ." (Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged, Centennial Edition, p. 666, italics in the original).

So the workers who "played it straight" and put forth their best efforts soon found out that they would not be able to have butter on their bread until everybody else had bread; that their children could not go to college until everybody else sent their children to high school. And of course, there were those that gamed the system and brought in every "worthless relative from all over the country, every unmarried pregnant sister, for the extra disability allowance." And since ability and need were decided by a vote, there was an endless drain on those who were responsible. Those who worked hard were forced to work harder, in order to provide for the endlessly growing need of those who did not. And since human beings do not like to be slaves, what happened next was predictable:

"We began to hide what ability we had, to slow down and watch like hawks that we never worked any better or faster than the next fellow. . . We knew that for every stinker who'd ruin a batch of motors and cost the company money . . . it's we who'd pay with our nights and our Sundays . . . What was it they told us about the vicious competition of the profit system where men had to compete for who'd do a better job than his fellows? Vicious, was it? Well, they should have seen what it was like when we all had to compete with one another for who'd do the worst job possible . . . Ability was like a mortgage on you that you could never pay off . . ." (Ibid. p. 662-663).

The story of the factory in Atlas Shrugged is not real, but is an illustration of the consequences of the idea placed in closed system. But this kind of behavior is the consequence of the redistribution of wealth writ large or small, wherever it has been tried. When Stalin starved the peasants off their land, the result was famine for all, because the peasants weren't willing to work hard and well to benefit others when they received no benefit from their work themselves. And in the United States, at the height of the Great Society, when the marginal tax rate (defined as the tax on every dollar over a set amount) became greater than 90%, people began making sure that they did not earn a dollar more than that margin. Ronald Reagan did just this, and stopped working as an actor mid-year when he reached the marginal limit. This caused him to change his party affiliation and work for the Goldwater campaign. The Beatles protested the same kind of "tax-the-rich" scheme in their song The Taxman, and then moved their business to Holland.

President Obama's plans to "spread the wealth around" (as he put it to Joe the Plumber) will not result in stimulating the economy. It will result in tax slavery for generations of Americans who work and pay taxes. And don't think that everybody who works will have their wealth confiscated equally. Remember, those will pull in Washington don't have to pay their taxes. (Think of the tax cheats now in Obama's cabinet). No, it will be ordinary, ambitious Americans who will see their dreams stifled and their savings taken from them as they are condemned to work and leave it up to the Obamas of the world "to decide whose stomach will consume the effort, the dreams and the days of your life." (Atlas Shrugged, p. 670).

There comes a point when it is not worth it work to earn beyond one's subsistence; a point when the tax rate makes a rising income and rising productivity a liability. This is where our children may well find themselves due to the spending without reason or end, as the federal government spends trillions that it does not have to prop up industries and businesses that cannot succeed.

And this is why many hard-working young Americans are thinking of Going Galt.

The Chem Geek Princess is one of them.
Oh, she is not thinking of trying to find the mythical Galt's Gulch in a valley in Colorado.
She is trying to figure out how not to earn past the margin, where the fruit of the days of her work will be taken from her to pay for Peggy Joseph's mortgage and gasoline.

And many of the rest of us are "going Galt" too. We are doing it by planting gardens, trading favors among neighbors, becoming frugal. Paying fewer taxes by making less money and buying fewer things. We are doing it by taking our money out of the stock market, not counting on that 401K cum 201K, refusing to invest in bonds and currencies that will soon have no value. This is why every time Paulsen opened his mouth, and every time Geithner opens his, the stock market falls. A whole lot of us know that we are being scammed into tax slavery.

The press elites call us wingnuts, but we are the ones paying their salaries, and those of the pols and bureaucrats, too.

The press elites may sneer, but many of us are preparing ourselves and our children to be able to ride out the storm and we are working to protect our rights. We are organizing ourselves to demand a redress of our grievances from our government by having Tea Parties and the 2009 Continental Congress. We are gathering to remind our servant government that We Surround Them. We are gathering at the Campaign for Liberty to remind our public servants that they are elected at our pleasure for the purpose of protecting our Liberty. This is what happens when you try to foist "from each according to his ability to each according to his need" on a free people.

Are you listening, Mr. President? We're going Galt.