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REBORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY

REBORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY

By: L. Neil Smith

Like any American with half a brain these days, I understand that
our country -- in fact the whole of Western Civilization -- is at a
crossroads.

    In one direction lies ruin and collapse, Depression, poverty,
civil war, bloodshed, an end to everything we consider valuable and
good.

    In another, lie all of the different futures each of us desires:
peace, freedom, prosperity, and progress; a decent, relaxed, open
society, virtual immortality, and a chance to leap for the stars
themselves, almost certainly much sooner than most of us presently
expect.

    The only direction truly barred to us lies straight ahead, along
the line that we have so far followed, and which has brought us to
this crisis. The current trendy term for that is "unsustainable": we
cannot go on the way we have for the past century, and rationally
expect that things will remain -- can remain -- as they have always
been.

    As early as the mid-1970s, I began delivering a speech here and
there across the country in which I pointed out some economic facts --
with profound historical implications -- that most of my audiences
seemed unacquainted with. The first was that, even then, the average
individual was permitted to keep only about half of what he or she
earned, while the remainder was taken away, confiscated at implicit
gunpoint, in the form of dozens of different taxes, both open and
concealed.

    It was asserted in those days that there were a hundred taxes on a
single loaf of bread. There are almost certainly many more than that
today. Without these taxes, we would each have double the resources we
have now to feed, clothe, shelter, transport, and defend ourselves and
our families, and our standard of living would be twice as high as it
is.

    Yet the whole truth goes deeper than that. All the people we pay
-- to provide us with goods and services we require to live the lives
we're accustomed to living -- each and every one of them is forced,
just as we are, to surrender around half of what they earn to various
levels of government, federal, state, and local, the difference being
that they don't really pay all of those taxes. We do, in the form of
prices that are twice as high as they would be in a society without
taxes.

    Get rid of the taxes we pay directly, along with the taxes that we
pay in the form of prices that are twice as high as they would be in a
free society, and every one of us would have twice as much money as we
have today, and that money would go twice as far. Our real wealth, and
our standard of living, would be four times higher than they are right
now.

    But it doesn't stop there. Increasingly, everything that we do --
or try to do, or dream of doing -- is bound up in a matted tangle of
laws, ordinances, statutes, rules, and regulations. In addition to
making our lives less satisfying and more unpleasant, the economic
consequences are disastrous, amounting to yet another -- unnecessary
-- doubling of what it takes to maintain our lives as we live them
today, and threatening us with a bleak, unrewarding existence in the
future.

    What it comes down to is this: government is a parasitic organism
the effect of which, on civilization, is ultimately lethal. Owing to
taxation and regulation, fully seven eighths of everything we labor
for is taken away from us by force. We remain the richest society on
the planet (news of our national demise -- so far -- has been greatly
exaggerated, and most other countries are collapsing at a faster rate
than we are), but we are surviving on one eighth of our productive
capacity.

    Like a big V8 pickup truck allowed to run on only one cylinder.

    In the speech I used to give all those years ago, my emphasis was
on what life could be like if we were to keep the fruits of our labor,
a real-world Utopia characterized by all those attributes I mentioned
earlier -- peace, freedom, prosperity, and progress -- where happy
people might live for a thousand years, and even the sky wasn't the
limit.

    That set of mental images became my first novel, _The Probability
Broach_, and colored everything that followed. Today, I still believe
in the truth of what I wrote back than, but we are not an inch closer
to it now. In fact, we're further away from it than we were when I
began.

    And that may partly be my fault.

    I was right to create worlds where people were freer and happier
without the state. It needed doing then and it still needs doing now.
People need a concrete image of the society they're struggling to
establish.

    But I failed to think about -- and write about -- what's being
done with all that ill-gotten seven eighths government takes away from
us.

    We know now that the War Between the States -- the first war
underwritten by an income tax -- was unnecessary, and that the United
States needn't have entered World War One or World War Two, and that
the Cold War, Korea, and Vietnam were hoaxes, con-games designed to
keep the American people frightened and in line, and drain them of
every penny possible so that politicians, bureaucrats, and defense
contractors could ride around in limousines with their little blond
secretaries.

    Whenever you look up in the sky at a military fighter passing
overhead, understand that what you're seeing is half a dozen homes
that didn't get built for Productive Class families. When you see a
nuclear powered aircraft carrier in port or on TV, know that you're
seeing whole cities that never got started, or were allowed to fall
into ruin. Instead of besmirching a word like "enterprise", such
vessels should be given names like the U.S.S. _Detroit_ or _South
Bronx_.

    Unconstitutional bureaucracies and the mercenary cronies of
criminals in power have constructed monstrous pyramids to themselves
in places like Washington and Iraq with treasure, extorted from you
and me, that, left in our hands and in the private marketplace, might
well have been employed to discover a cure for cancer or Alzheimer's
disease.

    Provided that whoever had the talent to find it hadn't been killed
in of America's unnecessary -- but extremely lucrative -- foreign
wars.

    But perhaps more readily appreciable, and more to the point as you
struggle to contend with the rising tax and regulation-driven prices
of groceries and gasoline, is the fact that the fat swinging obscenely
from beneath the upper arms of the obese moustached women behind the
counter at the Department of Motor Vehicles is the flesh of your
children.

    And the death of their future.

    Nothing that government does for us -- nothing that government
_claims_ to do for us -- is worth that. What's more, they know that
the jig is up and things can't go on the way they have. So they've
taken to looting, trying to extract everything they can before it's
over.

    That's what the Obama Administration has been all about.

    What can we do? Thousands of pundits will stand in lines a mile
long to offer you their opinion about that. For my part, I know what I
can do, and I'm doing it. But I've found that it's a little hard to
explain.

    Most of those who want to control the Productive Class, to drain
us and throw us away like a crumpled paper cup when they're done with
us, are low, crawling, craven cowards who keep a wetted finger in the
wind at all times and one eye on the exit. Republicans are the most
pathetically obvious about it, but Democrats aren't even slightly
different.

    That sad and discouraging fact has caused great disappointment
among the advocates of freedom more than once, memorably in 1964,
1994, and most recently, in 2010, but it can also be played to our
advantage.

    Just to offer a single example, suppose someone drafted a proposed
Constitutional amendment that would put teeth in the Bill of Rights by
mandating life in prison for any politician, bureaucrat, or policeman
who was duly convicted of violating any provision of the first ten
amendments.

    Now immediately the cynics in the movement -- those most likely to
think they know something when they don't -- will begin to blather
that such an amendment doesn't stand a chance of passing into law. In
fact, I can hear them blathering now. But they're usually so impressed
with their own pontification that they miss two extremely important
points.

    First, in my lifetime, thousands of historic things have happened
that "older, wiser heads" confidently predicted were impossible. The
year before I was born, a single bomb destroyed a city -- twice. The
monolithic telephone monopoly was replaced by more phone companies
than anyone can count. People went to the Moon. We all saw a giant
comet strike Jupiter, and found water -- lots and lots of it -- on
Mars. Another war was fought in Europe. A black man was elected
president.

    Too bad that didn't turn out better; how about Dick Boddie next
time?

    Most importantly, it doesn't matter whether such an amendment -- a
penalty clause, if you will -- ever passes. Remember that finger in
the wind I mentioned? What percentage of the American people, do you
suppose, endorsing the idea of a penalty clause in polls and focus
groups, in letters, calls, and emails, to representatives, radio
stations, newspapers, blogs and FaceBook pages, would be necessary to
change the behavior of Congress, the Senate, and the White House
significantly?

    What about a simultaneous push for a hundred-year moratorium on
new legislation -- except for bills of repeal? Or a law that sent
politicians into combat first, whenever they decided to fight a war?
Is that number even close to what it would require to actually pass
these measures? I don't believe it is. All it would take is a tiny
fraction.

    What I've done is write a book, _Down With Power_, full of such
ideas, with the tactic in mind of starting a thousand brushfires for
those who think they own us to put out, annoyances to churn their
stomachs, elevate their blood pressure, cost them a night's sleep, and
perhaps even shorten their life expectancy by a few minutes, hours, or
days.

    Call it waterboarding government -- a Revolution by Attrition.

    What can you do?

    Read the book.

    Pass the word.

    Freedom in our time.
 
 

 
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