How the Government Controls, Ruins Our Lives
by John Seiler
Previously by John Seiler: Will California Repudiate Its Debt?
It was just last June in this space that I reviewed Nullification, by Thomas Woods. It showed how, over the course of American history, states and citizens successfully thwarted federal usurpations of power. It since has become a guidebook used in many state capitols.
Now comes the prolific Woods’ latest: Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse. It’s broader in scope, taking on the whole government that minutely controls, and ruins, our lives.
He details how, as he puts it, “the federal government has, in fact, been an enemy of the people’s welfare, and that the progress in our living standards has occurred in spite of its efforts. [The government] pits individuals, firms, industries, regions, races and age groups against each other in a zero-sum game of mutual plunder. It takes credit for improvements in material conditions that we, in fact, owe to the private sector, while refusing to accept responsibility for the countless failures and social ills to which its own programs have given rise.”
That’s the most accurate description of the federal government that I’ve ever read.
He describes an economic and social “crash” that is inevitable: By 2020, according to the Congressional Budget Office, interest payments on the national debt will be $925 billion a year – assuming the economy recovers, which it might not.
Future liabilities for Medicare are $96.5 trillion. Of that, $19.4 trillion comes from Medicare Part D, the prescription drug program imposed by President George W. Bush, whom some still call a “conservative.”
The debt the federal government has run up in our name is $200 trillion, according to Boston University economist Lawrence Kotlikoff, who thinks some relatively painless reforms could improve matters. “The truth is, there are no such reforms,” counters Woods. “If there were, they would have been implemented long ago.” That $200 trillion comes down to $64,516 owed by every American, even babies born today.
Woods also shows how the massive military spending of recent decades has debilitated the economy by diverting scarce production from consumer goods, much as happened to the old Soviet Union. The end of the Cold War in 1989 saw a small decline in defense spending. But that was reversed after 9/11. He details how the machine-tool industry’s heavy reliance on Pentagon contracts severely retarded its ability to innovate in producing advanced machines, allowing first the Europeans, then the Japanese to dominate that sector. Woods warns that “the more an industry caters to the Pentagon, the less it makes production with the civilian economy in mind.”
I think Woods is right in predicting that the out-of-control federal government is driving the country off a cliff. He acknowledges that reform will be difficult, but puts forth a few ideas which, if combined and acted upon, could prevent disaster. Some of them: Allow people to opt out of the Social Security and Medicare schemes, which are going broke. Instead of haggling over cutting every item in a budget, just cut everything across-the-board by as high a percentage as possible.
The decline of the dollar by the Federal Reserve Board – detailed in this book – should be checked by allowing Americans to use any currency they wish for their transactions; or use gold, silver or some other commodity. Promote state nullification of repressive federal laws. Pass a constitutional amendment allowing any federal law to be repealed by a two-thirds vote of the states. That’s a start. He has many more suggestions.
Roll back the government? Yeah – roll it all the way back.
Reprinted from the Orange County Register.
February 25, 2011