The Bad Things That Happened to America

 

I recently passed the ten-year mark of my membership on Ricochet.  I have learned a lot during that time, I just wish I could say I understand those things I have learned about.  I have increased my understanding of how we got where we are by at least a magnitude, if that makes sense, but I’m not at all sure that I understand how we could have avoided the outcome we now have and if we would now be better off.

Let me just say at the outset that I think America is now in a bad place. I’m going to use my personal experience to describe part of what I’m trying to get across here. Then I will use what I have been able to observe and my interpretations of those things to augment my own experiences of life in America.  This will include some commentary on social, political, and economic issues; that covers individuals and community relationships, governing , and trading transactions, to use some simple descriptions.

First, how do I know what I think I know. My formal education began when I entered public elementary school in 1944 and ended when I graduated from Georgetown University with a Master of Science (MS) degree in Accounting in 1976. This followed a Bachelor of Arts degree from George Washington University in 1970. That’s a long period because much of the later education was achieved going to night classes while being employed full-time. I also served two years active military 1961-1963. This formal educational process contributed much to how I understand the world today.

From 1959 until 2005, I was actively employed in a range of financial operations, technical, and management positions that added immensely to my knowledge based on life experience. Over the last couple of decades, I have used the internet, including Ricochet, books, and other sources to broaden my understanding of issues of interests. A major one being the policies and operations of America’s federal government following the 9/11 attacks. Those attacks and our federal government’s behavior in the aftermath particularly held my interest.

I think of myself as a Constitutional Conservative viewing our founding documents as foundational to our governing concepts. I never thought of those concepts as being extreme but rather central. Sadly, that tends to be an unpersuasive argument these days. All of my study of history has been on my own since high school and I have come to be very devoted to the founding concepts as the best governing approach ever. That conclusion does not support where we find ourselves today; why is that? From here, I will try to convey what I specifically see as where America has gone wrong, so readers should understand this is a personal view and opinion.

Some Ricochet members might already understand that I operate using a fundamental premise that organizations are highly likely to lose sight and direction of original purposes as they increase in size, influence, and control of matters in which they are involved. Bigness is bad, in most cases, and inspires corruption of purpose. How has this idea played out in the development of America’s federal government?

America’s founders established a federal government of limited powers specifically delegated in the original Constitution and Bill of Rights, with all powers not so delegated to be reserved to the States and the People. I see three actions from the year 1913 and one following the 9/11 attack as being perhaps the biggest individual events contributing to what many call the “Swamp” or the “Deep State” when referencing the American federal government today. There are some other less formal acts that contribute as well. The events from 1913 are the 16th and 17th Constitutional Amendments and the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank; the one resulting from the 9/11 Attacks is the “Patriot Act.”

The process has been on a long journey that didn’t reveal itself to many until probably economic and political events of the 1970s. That decade began with the removal of any gold standard associated with the dollar, then a recession, a Presidential resignation, an energy crisis, uncontrolled inflation, and a major confrontation with an Islamic nation. It is also the decade I got my college degrees and achieved my signatory work accomplishment, directing the implementation of Social Security direct deposit electronic payment capability to replace monthly federal government checks. It was a busy decade. It seems as if it might have been events of this decade that sparked the first major attention of those interested in national and international financial issues. Also, we saw the rise of the first concerns about global temperature changes and population growth.

HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) was created in the sixties, and EPA and the Department of Education in the seventies. This is when the federal government broadened what it was involved in and expanded its power. It is also when Congress began to yield its power to the Executive Branch through delegations to create regulatory authorities (non-elective decision-makers).

I’m not trying to write a treatise, so I’ll jump to the fact. The 16th Amendment, along with the powers granted the Federal Reserve Bank, enabled the federal government to exercise essentially unlimited taxing and spending authority. Hence, there were no financial limitations on expanding the federal bureaucracy. Well, except things like inflation, and that’s where another economic issue enters the picture.

I’m well beyond my expertise here, but I want to raise this issue so readers can research for more. Goods and/or services like homes, education, and healthcare are available to consumers for “use value ” when purchased in a trade transaction for an amount called “exchange value.” The inflation of the seventies seemed to have altered things so that housing in particular had contradictions in these values. Housing transactions moved more on “exchange value” than “use value.”  Something similar started with education in the eighties and again with healthcare with the adoption of “the Affordable Care Act.” Housing loan guarantees, education loan guarantees, and the constant consolidation and increasing bigness and power of banking institutions all contribute to this international financialization of every commodity and service offered to the public.

My thesis is that big, central government and big business, and their working together is the cause of most of our problems today and we might be better off if we could undo some of these things before we go completely broke. I still think we will not come out of the downward spiral until Congress takes charge and cuts spending.

Pardon my ramble, I fully understand this puzzle as presented is missing many parts, but I do think it goes in the right direction. And I do understand that we may already be beyond a point where this is fixable.

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  1. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I think our having allowed the growth at the federal level in size and powers well beyond anything envisioned by the founders has caused a complete breakdown of the free enterprise economic approach we started with.

    • #1
  2. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I’ll let someone else describe all the legal and law enforcement catastrophies we have been experiencing since the Patriot Act was adopted.

    • #2
  3. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    It’s been a long glide-path downward. Not destroying the pro-slavery party after the Civil War. Teddy and his interventionist ways at the dawn of progressivism. Wilson and then the bad Roosevelt’s naked dismissals of the Constitution. Then the step-change in the scope and size of the Federal administration during the Total War of WW2 that has never been rolled back, and only built upon with an endless series of invented wars: poverty, drugs, terrorism, Covid, racism, extremism…

    • #3
  4. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Bob Thompson: My thesis is that big, central government and big business, and their working together is the cause of most of our problems today

    And big education, and big charity.

    • #4
  5. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    genferei (View Comment):

    It’s been a long glide-path downward. Not destroying the pro-slavery party after the Civil War. Teddy and his interventionist ways at the dawn of progressivism. Wilson and then the bad Roosevelt’s naked dismissals of the Constitution. Then the step-change in the scope and size of the Federal administration during the Total War of WW2 that has never been rolled back, and only built upon with an endless series of invented wars: poverty, drugs, terrorism, Covid, racism, extremism…

    All the way along, and even today, we have played into the hands of those who we now call globalists. We have done little to preserve anything.

    • #5
  6. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson: My thesis is that big, central government and big business, and their working together is the cause of most of our problems today

    And big education, and big charity.

    In the case of education, compare current cost to value received. I don’t think it comes even close to what we got 50 or 60 years ago.

    • #6
  7. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson: My thesis is that big, central government and big business, and their working together is the cause of most of our problems today

    And big education, and big charity.

    And Big Banking. We were much better off when banks were contained within state lines.

    Also: repealing Glass-Steagall. My father was a small town banker and he regarded Glass-Steagall as a vital component to banks operating ethically.

    • #7
  8. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson: My thesis is that big, central government and big business, and their working together is the cause of most of our problems today

    And big education, and big charity.

    These have become effectively part of the Big Government block. Healthcare too.

    We desperately need to break everything up into smaller units.

    • #8
  9. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson: My thesis is that big, central government and big business, and their working together is the cause of most of our problems today

    And big education, and big charity.

    And Big Banking. We were much better off when banks were contained within state lines.

    Also: repealing Glass-Steagall. My father was a small town banker and he regarded Glass-Steagall as a vital component to banks operating ethically.

    I should have added that to my Big Government block list in my previous comment. Good point.

    So healthcare, education, and finance.

    • #9
  10. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson: My thesis is that big, central government and big business, and their working together is the cause of most of our problems today

    And big education, and big charity.the constant consolidation and increasing bigness and power of banking institutions all contribute to this international financialization of every commodity and service offered to the public.

    And Big Banking. We were much better off when banks were contained within state lines.

    Also: repealing Glass-Steagall. My father was a small town banker and he regarded Glass-Steagall as a vital component to banks operating ethically.

    I mentioned banking and finance in the OP:

    the constant consolidation and increasing bigness and power of banking institutions all contribute to this international financialization of every commodity and service offered to the public.’

    but should have given it more emphasis since it is the avenue for the federal government to watch, track, and be aware of almost every individual’s pattern of action. And it is the business field with which I am the most familiar.

    I do think if the American people were able to take back control of the country by controlling taxing and spending, then the dual banking as it existed before interstate branching should be restored. 

    Only two things I think of were gained by unlimited geographical banking, convenience for travel and support for unlimited size for loans to business entities. And there was no pressing necessity to justify unlimited bank branching for either of these. Financial management expertise was lost along the way, resulting in conditions like 2008 and now.

     

    • #10
  11. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    This might be the best path to restoration:

    https://conventionofstates.com › news › halfway-there-convention-of-states-movement-hits-historic-

    For any R> who think a restoration cannot be accomplished please look at this five minute segment:

    Elon Musk on Buying Twitter and Turning It Into X

    • #11
  12. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Quote from Sundance at Conservatreehouse.com following the Rogan/Musk video:

    ‘In response to Musk saying the ratio of censorship on the Twitter platform was a multiple of 10 times greater for “right-wing” or centrist views, Rogan ponders how and why accounts like the Taliban were not removed.   Thus, yet again, the issue that brought me to the political sphere many decades ago surfaces.

    The Taliban, as a totalitarian ideology, is not on the right side of the political continuum.  Totalitarianism, or the presence of big oppressive government, falls on the left side of the political continuum.  The far-left is totalitarianism.  The furthest right is the absence of government.  This is an ideological mistake that happens frequently and needs to be addressed when the mistake is made.

    The Taliban, as a totalitarian ideology, is not on the right side of the political continuum.  Totalitarianism, or the presence of big oppressive government, falls on the left side of the political continuum.  The far-left is totalitarianism.  The furthest right is the absence of government.  This is an ideological mistake that happens frequently and needs to be addressed when the mistake is made.

    When the Chinese Communist Party cracked down on the student activists in Tiananmen Square, China, most of the political analysis and media pundits got it totally wrong in their discussion.  It was not a “hard-right” reaction by the Chinese government, it was an actionable shift to the far-left, toward total government control.

    Like the Chinese communist regime, the ideology of Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood et al, is left-wing extremism.  The government – or controlling, totalitarian, oppressive ruling authority – controls the lives of the people subjected to it.  This is a far-left big government worldview.

    Oppressive government is on the left side of the freedom continuum.  That’s why the further left the Democrat Party goes, the more oppressive the government control becomes.  Democrats are leftists, and the leftists believe in socialism (big govt), communism (bigger govt), and eventually totalitarianism (total govt).  Each shift is a move further to the left, further toward oppressive government.

    The absence of government, individual liberty and freedom, is on the right side of the continuum.  Federalism (local govt), Republicanism (limited federal govt), Libertarianism (even less govt), and eventually anarchy (no govt or control authority) are on the right side of the freedom continuum.

    As noted by the reference point of Joe Rogan, almost every pundit makes this common and fundamental mistake.  That’s why Rogan was having difficulty reconciling the Taliban being allowed on Twitter, when the reality is – the Taliban are on Twitter because they are in alignment with big oppressive, controlling government.  That is their central alignment.

    Understanding this core distinction, this fundamental flaw as espoused by so many, is what brought me into the world of politics a long time ago.

    When “Republicans” want bigger government, they are “Democrats”.’

    • #12
  13. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    This might be the best path to restoration:

    https://conventionofstates.com › news › halfway-there-convention-of-states-movement-hits-historic-

    For any R> who think a restoration cannot be accomplished please look at this five minute segment:

    Elon Musk on Buying Twitter and Turning It Into X

    The problem is that Elon did much of his purchase activities in secret.

    Also at the time that he was attempting to buy out twitter, he was known as someone who had voted for Biden.

    It would take a lot of time, work and finangling to get to our having a convention of states.

    By the time we got there, wouldn’t the whole affair be coopted? (Just as our having a “two party” system has been.)

    • #13
  14. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    To start rolling back the progressive state one has to start at the roots. Repeal the 16th amendment. Make the federal government get its revenue from the States, not the individual subjects of the State. The progressive project will never be controlled until its direct access to individuals’ pockets is gone permanently. Then repeal the 17th amendment, so States have a direct say in Washington. Then repeal the deep state peace by piece, the department of education, the EPA, the interior department, the commerce department, the FBI, the CIA (let the defense intelligence agency assume their anti terrorist activities vis a vis foreign threats and let domestic terrorism be addressed by the States. Dismantle, certainly,  the entire federal administrative law system which is completely unconstitutional, End the federal reserve. Make the Treasury department run the money supply with careful rules as outlined by Don Selgin, and reform the banking system also along the lines that he suggests. Dismantle the NIH and CDC. Let private or nonprofit money fund scientific and medical research.End the CFPB along with all of Dodd Frank.Bar the feds from getting involved in mortgage lending. Make the federal government have net spending deficits of zero over every 5 year period.. Make social security and Medicare optional and put their management outside of the federal government. Let States run Medicaid programs withoutLimit the FDA to advisory activity only without the police power to prevent the use of any medication. Ban the federal government from making any international tax treaties or public health treaties. Cede all federal lands to the States except military bases. Let the States run the national parks and all national monuments and preserves as they see fit.Stop all federal money going to universities of any sort. Stop all federal money going to NGO s  Ban all federal subsidies.End US participation in and funding of the UN and eject the organization from USsoil. End the NSA, the Dept of homeland security, and the TSA.  And etc and etc and etc. If in a hundred years those things are accomplished, many generations will enjoy freedom that they will otherwise never know.

    • #14
  15. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson: My thesis is that big, central government and big business, and their working together is the cause of most of our problems today

    And big education, and big charity.

    And Big Banking. We were much better off when banks were contained within state lines.

    Also: repealing Glass-Steagall. My father was a small town banker and he regarded Glass-Steagall as a vital component to banks operating ethically.

    Your dad was joined by only one Senator in a belief that Glass-Steagall held the power to allow a middle class to flourish.

    Sen Deagle of Nebraska was the sole senator to avoid voting for the Banking Reform Act that stripped that component of all of its power. (The vote was either 98 for and one against, or 99 for and one against.)

    Deagle stated at the time that since the “reform” measure had passed, that the American people would experience a severe catastrophic economic decline within ten years.

    The 2008 Economic Collapse hit one year before that ten years would have been up.

    And the middle of the middle class has increasingly vanished into being lower class ever since.

    Just as we were getting out from under, COV plandemic took over.

    Just as we began to regroup, suddenly a necessary new war.

    And like Vonnegut would remark in despair, “And so it goes.”

    • #15
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