Contact FreedomWorks

400 North Capitol Street, NW
Suite 765
Washington, DC 20001

  • Toll Free 1.888.564.6273
  • Local 202.783.3870

Blog

    Can We the People Govern Ourselves?

    05/16/2012

    There will always be a party for giving more to the rulers, that the rulers may be able in return to give more to them.  Hence as all history informs us, there has been in every State & Kingdom, a constant kind of warfare between the governing & governed:  the one striving to obtain more for its support, and the other to pay less.  And this has alone occasioned great convulsions, actual civil wars, ending either in dethroning of the Princes, or enslaving of the people. Generally indeed the ruling power carries its point, the revenues of princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more.

    - Benjamin Franklin, a letter to the Constitutional Convention

     

    Can We the People Govern Ourselves?

    Can democracies survive?  Can We the People govern ourselves? Maybe, but democratically elected politicians must significantly alter their behavior. 

    Recently, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyzed the fiscal gap of state governments in America.  What they have found is elected officials have promised too much and saved too little.  The combined debt of the States is over $4 trillion.  These are debts to be paid by future taxpayers.  To eliminate their debts, state governments must increase tax revenues by 12.7% annually or reduce spending by 12.7%.

    Benjamin Franklin once warned about predatory interest groups, using government to extract favors – paid by all the tax payers.

    There will always be a party for giving more to the rulers, that the rulers may be able in return to give more to them.    

    Unfortunately, present -day politicians have been pleasing the predatory, interest groups without raising taxes.  Ruinously, elected politicians give benefits, e.g., posh retirements to government workers, and do not increase taxes.  Intentionally, politicians are increasing the government’s debt, which must be paid by future workers.  This is a common curse of democratically elected governments - politicians buy votes today and push debts off to future generations.  

    Bob Williams, CEO of State Budget Solutions, identifies the sources of America’s disabling debt – accounting gimmicks, reckless spending and devious politicians: 

    The downward spiral that state budgets are experiencing are the result of accounting gimmicks, reckless spending, and a failure of state legislatures and governors over the years to make the tough decisions to reset state spending to a level that taxpayers can afford.

    Presently, America is stagnating economically and socially because of politically created debt.  Tragically, few politicians are honestly assessing the problem, and fewer are attempting to correct the escalating fiscal, political and societal upheaval.

    Bob Williams, a former legislator, federal auditor, budget expert and a champion of personal freedom, knows what states must do to escape their imminent disasters.  First, identify essential government functions and implement Reality-Based Budgeting. 

    Upon determining how much money the state actually has, government officials must establish what is the most effective and efficient way to deliver essential services within those limits.

    Equally import, states must impose 401(k) type retirement accounts.  At the bequest of the public employee unions, generous and unfunded retirement and medical benefits have been promised to government workers.  Again Williams:

    Unfunded pension liabilities are the dark cloud on the horizon of state budgets; a cloud totaling trillions of dollars.

    Again, states must tax future workers to meet these contractual obligations.  Last year, Illinois increased its income tax by 66% and California is attempting to increase its income tax from 10 to 13 percent to help pay for government employees' benefits.

    Politely, Bob Williams states that time is of the essence:

    The day of reckoning is here.

    Will these changes be implemented? Some states have made modest reforms, e.g., Utah and Indiana.  Other states are attempting to institute reforms, which politically and socially are fervently contested, e.g., Wisconsin, Ohio, and New Jersey.  Realistically, few politicians have the fortitude, persistence and character to reverse and rectify years of political gimmicks and gamesmanship. For self-government to survive and thrive, We the People must become persistently involved with the necessary reforms.

    • First, recognize all democracies have essentially the same problem – politicians pleasing their current voters at the expense of the future taxpayers.
    • Second, support, support, support the politicians with the character, fortitude and competence to institute the essential reforms.  This is only a first step, but is essential in the short run.
    • We the People must limit the power of government – federal, state, and local – to strictly defined functions.
    • Politicians must be held accountable for all violations of the limits of the government’s power.  “Held accountable” includes monetary damages, which includes a politician’s pension.
    • Many states and local governments will not produce leaders interested or capable of instituting the necessary reforms. Teams of policy and politically savvy experts – restructuring experts - will be needed.  Policy and financial experts to define the essential government functions, implement efficiency controls, and allocate the necessary money.  We the People must insist on empowering the experts to initiate necessary reforms.  Similar to the military base closure commission established by the federal government, the experts would recommend changes, subject to an all or nothing vote of the elected representatives.  Possible better, the vote could be all or nothing by the people.

    There is no perfect solution.  There has never been a perfect system of governance.  America has had the best system of government, which in recent years has been overrun by predatory special interest groups and conniving politicians. Almost every political entity in America has accumulated enormous debt, which must be paid by future workers.  At some point, the future workers are going to refuse to pay for the past recklessness and corruptions of elected politicians.  Reformation must begin immediately.  Bob Williams has identified two essential reforms – Reality-Based Budgeting and pension reform. 

    Again, time is of the essence or greater disruptions and bankruptcies will occur – much greater and more violent than the social and economic unrest occurring now. 

    Much more important, self-governance is precious - unique.  Only We the People can restore and improve our system of self-governance.  Only structural reform will restore freedom and prosperity in America.  Politicians must be held accountable. 

    Benjamin Franklyn understood that predatory interest groups would corrupt the political process, with the rulers demanding more taxes which enslaves the people:

    There will always be a party for giving more to the rulers, that the rulers may be able in return to give more to them.  Hence as all history informs us, there has been in every State & Kingdom, a constant kind of warfare between the governing & governed:  the one striving to obtain more for its support, and the other to pay less.  And this has alone occasioned great convulsions, actual civil wars, ending either in dethroning of the Princes, or enslaving of the people. Generally indeed the ruling power carries its point, the revenues of princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more.

    2 comments
    Ingo Bischoff
    05/17/2012

    If "We the People" had been vigilant enough to prevent our state legislatures from ratifying the 16th and 17th Amendments in 1913, which were pushed by the socialist/communist "Progressive Movement", as well as the big money center banks, "We the People" would never have ended up in the mess we find ourselves.

    It was the states which abrogated their voice in the Congress of the United States. It was the U.S. Senate elected by the people, helped with campaign funds from the big money center banks, which allowed the passage of the National Banking Act of 1935, and the installation of our irredeemable currency system.

    Forget all other lamentations. Concentrate on the repeal of the 16th and 17th Amendments. With their repeal, the U.S. Constitution is returned to its original intent as it was written in 1787. States will then again have the power to control the monetary system. Failure to repeal these two amendments will inevitably result in the loss of the American Republic. It is as simple as that.

    teda's picture
    Ted Abram
    05/18/2012

    Agreed, the 16th and 17th Amendments (popular election of senators and the federal income tax) harmfully transferred the locus of power to the federal government. Repeal would return power to the states and local communities. This would reinstate the republican form of governance, and would eventually limit the federal government to the enumerated powers. However repeal of the 16th and 17th Amendments – while a significant improvement – does not solve the curse of all democratically elected politicians – buying votes today and pushing the enormous debts on the next generation. Again, politicians – at all levels of government – must be held personally responsible for creating debt.

    Pages