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Columns

The Waiting Game

Marc Solomon

This is a particularly exciting time for those in the freedom movement.  We’re waiting for you to get the answer to the question that boggles the modern mind: which is correct? Liberalism or Conservatism?  The destruction of economic liberties or personal liberties?

We have front-row tickets to a great clash between the idealisms of the two sides, the Bush and Obama administrations. Could there not be a more distinct contrast by which we should measure the effectiveness of big government in its two guises? Yet, the Bush era concluded by spending $1 trillion and the beginning of the Obama administration spends yet another $1 trillion, give or take.  The difference is…?

Will our economy, our way of life, our nation, our world, pull out of this tailspin? If not, what next?  Surely, most of our citizens if not the world prays to the great myth of American stability. For most Americans this belief is so deep, so ingrained that even to speak of it would be to shatter the boundaries of decent thought.  Amongst other sacred cows. After all, we are the empire too big to fall. Except for colonial England. And Rome. And. And.

We got out of the 1929 Depression?  Of course, we had the most powerful industrial capability on the planet. Nothing the Government did would be able to stop (or restart) the economy.  If the New Deal worked, it worked because we could pay our bills in money that meant something. But we have sold that industrial base off, bit by bit.  Now we’re only lousy credit risks with no equity except our land itself.  Hawaii is already mostly gone.

Yet for some of us, this alternative is terrifyingly real. History bears this out.  I’m not hoping for or advocating such a scenario.  Listen: If you asked anyone who lived during the heyday of any great society or empire the question “will your society ever end?” they would all say  no.  For whatever time that empire lasted, they would be right.  Their lifetimes would never see history. Yet, history happens. In the 20th century alone we saw the Russian Empire fall, and then the Soviet Union after that.  Eternal China became a strange nightmare of communist oppression (now becoming rabidly capitalist). The Third Reich, great, horrible, and defeated.  Germany was split, then reunified. India emerges from serfdom into an intellectual powerhouse. Japan, feudal warriors to calm businessmen.

So what about America?  It can’t happen here?  Nothing can change?

Is it a fact that we are too big to fail? If we look at the arc of our story, our nation began as a untapped resource, a rich amazing opportunity. Through the hard work of the settlers and slaves (and subjugation of the natives) we were able to first build an amazing agrarian economy, then a commodities economy, and then a manufacturing economy, the power and scale of which the Earth had never seen before. Our ideas, products, and money flooded the world. We became the sole superpower of the planet in around 200 years.

Yet in the second half of the 20th century, as our government became more invasive and more taxing our businesses began to realize, with rational self-interest, that production was far cheaper overseas. America lost key industries. We were told our country was undergoing a transformation into a "service economy"--whatever that is. The rest of the world could make the steel, the televisions, the cars and the clothing. We would provide “services”. Oh boy.  Our government's unchecked growth finally removed the dollar from the gold standard, so our currency represented only paper and our ability to take on debt. For the remainder of the 20th century, the world took our markers.

There were warnings of things to come.  In the ’70s, the Arab oil embargo demonstrated our façade of self-reliance. We could be shaken by the outside world. We depended on the outside world. As government continued to spend, a federal deficit became the rule. The politicians’ thirst for cash put them in competition for money with the average American, with small business, and interest rates continued to rise. We urged foreign banks to buy T-bills, to buy our future.  Average Americans, ignorantly emulating their government, did the same with credit cards and blindly took on interest rates of up to 20%. In the interest of “fairness” the Clinton administration decided to make housing available to all, whether or not they could actually afford it.  Yes, the greedy pounced as well, but wherein lies the cause?

The 21st century began with the 9/11 disaster. We then were plunged into the most costly adventure a nation can pursue: war. Not just one war, but two wars simultaneously.  Since war is expensive, the Bush administration chose not to report the cost of war in the budget.  By the end of that evil reign, the house of cards began to fall. The banks again, emulated our government, led by the corrupt Federal Reserve, and synthesized money out of nothingness, lending sums of cash they did not have on hand, and compounding the problem with fraudulent fractional lending.  All of which is the same as you printing money in your basement. With the banks lending money that did not exist, and the government printing money that did not exist, the US dollar began to show its weakness, its worthlessness. First, the insurance and banking industries realized that their debts would not be paid. They reached out to their pals in the Bush regime who could provide them with newly printed fake money. Such was the end of the Republican administrations—and the fake neoconservative movement—of the 20th century.

Sick of war, social tyranny, and out-and-out evil, the people rallied behind the young and poised Barack Obama.  Now, the trouble is his solutions look a lot like the techniques of the Bushies: Print more money.  Stay in war(s).  Promise to spend more.  Make a limited skill free (medical care).  Meet the new boss…

So let's stop arguing. I'm tired. Let’s wait and see, if you can survive it. Because history is going to happen. We will find out if the combined logic of both Bush and Obama (and our spineless Congress) and their limitless ability to write bad checks (against our future) will let them escape the inevitable.  Let's  stop calling each other names, saying other one is stupid or shortsighted or greedy or socialist or whatever.   I personally am content to wait for history's judgment. Because clearly, we as a people, as an empire, as a society, have lost the ability to objectively discuss or discern fact from fiction, self-aggrandizement from honest opinion.  We do not allow ourselves to examine history or money or policy without the backing of a loud-mouthed pundit. The “two” parties have us trained to fear rational, calm discussion, and to treat any disagreement as a mortal threat.  Good dog.

In the end, the waiting game will not be to determine whether or not conservativism (big government) or liberalism (big government) will succeed. Neither can.  It will be to find out how much we can endure, how much we are willing to suffer being lied to, and how little we can live with.  People create money, and government is the trustee of that value or the thief of that value. Any history book will tell you what the end will be for a nation of fiat currency: the dissolution of that empire.

That average citizen in the middle of his eternal empire believes it will always continue. Yet every great civilization has perished or become something completely unrecognizable.  How different are we from the Aztecs, the Mayans, Egyptians, the Persians, the Romans?

What will happen to us? Will we stay together as one nation? Will we all pull together and pool what is left of our limited resources, will we all pledge to “buy American” and allow our international debt to go bad?  Will we retreat to a rational isolationism to lick our wounds? Will we reject any government spending that takes a single dollar from our pockets that does not pay for a road or a fire fighter? Will we reject any further devaluation of our hard earned wages by returning to precious metals as money, and stop using paper? Will the federal government let us, and actually legalize money? When a state or group of states becomes so enraged that their resources--if they are one of the lucky ones left--are being stolen daily by the other parts of the country, will they leave the Republic? Will the nation fragment? Will we be friendly to each other? Will we return to local communities providing goods and services to each other help to those in need, rather than those who work the system?

If we lose the Union, will we then become the target of real external aggression? Will we become vulnerable to an invasion, a takeover of our still precious and resource rich land?

It might give you nightmares.

It’s hard to find words from the people who lived during the times of great change, when Rome fell or Jerusalem was conquered. As the old saying goes, the winners write the history. Perhaps someone will write of us as yet another example of how a great empire, no matter how large, can forget the realities of money. To think that it can consume more than it produces, to think it can borrow more than its citizens could ever repay, and still survive on the faith of others, is in direct contradiction with human history, no matter the color of the skin, the religion or the sound of the language.

Who knows how long our waiting game will go. The question is, what will you do? See you on the other side.

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