The Beginning Of The End
The Beginning Of The End By Michael T. Snyder - Kindle Version

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15 Quotes From Our Founding Fathers About Economics, Capitalism And Banking

George Washington At The Constitutional Convention 1787 - Public DomainWhy have we turned our backs on the principles that this nation was founded upon?  Many of those that founded this nation bled and died so that we could experience “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.  And yet we have tossed their ideals aside as if they were so much rubbish.  Our founders had experienced the tyranny of big government (the monarchy) and the tyranny of the big banks and feudal lords, and they wanted something very different for the citizens of the new republic that they were forming.  They wanted a country where private property was respected and hard work was rewarded.  They wanted a country where the individual was empowered, and where everyone could own land and start businesses.  They wanted a country where there were severe restrictions on all large collections of power (government, banks and corporations all included).  They wanted a country where freedom and liberty were maximized and where ordinary people had the power to pursue their dreams and build better lives for their families.  And you know what?  While no system is ever perfect, the experiment that our founders originally set up worked beyond their wildest dreams.  But now we are killing it.  Why in the world would we want to do that?

Most people are under the illusion that the United States has a “capitalist economy” today, but that simply is not accurate.  At best, we have a “mixed economy” that is becoming a little bit more socialist with each passing day.  We pay dozens of different types of taxes each year, and some Americans actually end up giving more of their earnings to the government than they keep themselves.  But that is still not enough, and so our state governments have accumulated astounding amounts of debt, and our federal government has amassed the largest single debt that the world has ever seen.  If future generations of Americans get the chance, they will curse us for the chains of debt that we have placed upon their shoulders.

So what do our government officials do with all of this money?

Well, today approximately 70 percent of all federal government activity involves taking money from some Americans and giving it to other Americans.

Despite this unprecedented wealth-redistribution program, poverty is absolutely exploding in this country and 49 million Americans are dealing with food insecurity.

Meanwhile, the bankers have been getting fabulously wealthy from all of this debt.  The Federal Reserve system was designed to trap the U.S. government in an endless spiral of debt from which it could never possibly escape, and that mission has been accomplished.  In fact, the U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created a little more than 100 years ago.

Most people like to think of big banks as “capitalist” institutions, but that is not really accurate.  In the end, giant corporate banks like we have in the United States are actually collectivist institutions.  They tend to greatly concentrate wealth and power, and socialists find those kinds of banks very useful.

In fact, Vladimir Lenin once said that “without big banks, socialism would be impossible.”

While there may be a bit of animosity between big government and big banks once in a while, the truth is that they are usually very closely tied to one another.  We saw this close relationship very clearly during the financial crisis of 2008, and it is no secret that there is a revolving door between the boardrooms of Wall Street and the halls of power in Washington.  The elite dominate both spheres, and it is not for the benefit of the rest of us.

In America today, government just keeps getting bigger and the banks just keep getting bigger.  Meanwhile, the percentage of self-employed Americans is at an all-time low and the middle class is steadily dying.

What we are doing right now is clearly not working.

So why don’t we go back and do the things that we were doing when we were extremely successful as a nation?

In case you don’t know what those things were, here are some clues…

#1 “A wise and frugal government… shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” — Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

#2 “A people… who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything.” – George Washington

#3 “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man whatever is his own.” – James Madison, Essay on Property, 1792

#4 “Banks have done more injury to the religion, morality, tranquility, prosperity, and even wealth of the nation than they can have done or ever will do good.” – John Adams

#5 “To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Milligan, April 6, 1816

#6 “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.” — John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787

#7 “I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labor and in our amusements.” – Thomas Jefferson

#8 “Beware the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry.” – Thomas Paine

#9 “If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.” – Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, November 29, 1802

#10 “All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise not from defects in the Constitution or Confederation, not from a want of honor or virtue so much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation.” – John Adams, at the Constitutional Convention (1787)

#11 “The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” – Thomas Jefferson

#12 “Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.” – John Adams, 1765

#13 “If ever again our nation stumbles upon unfunded paper, it shall surely be like death to our body politic. This country will crash.” – George Washington

#14 “I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.” – Thomas Jefferson

#15 “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” — Benjamin Franklin

Can America Survive If Americans No Longer Agree On A Core Set Of Shared Values?

Can America Survive If Americans No Longer Agree On A Core Set Of Shared Values? - Photo by DrRandomFactorWhat does America stand for?  That question is a lot more complicated than you might think.  Our Founding Fathers established a Republic that was based on a set of shared values that were embodied in the text of the U.S. Constitution.  But today, many of our politicians openly disregard the Constitution whenever they want and it has become fashionable to mock the U.S. Constitution.  For example, the New York Times recently published a piece by Georgetown University Professor Louis Michael Seidman entitled “Let’s Give Up On The Constitution” in which he publicly called the Constitution “archaic” and “downright evil”.  This is a man that has been teaching constitutional law to the next generation of lawyers at one of the top universities in the nation for nearly 40 years.  Unfortunately, Seidman is not an aberration.  The truth is that law schools all over America are absolutely packed with professors that teach that we should consider the U.S. Constitution a “living, breathing document” that must “evolve” as society evolves.  They also teach that when we find something in the Constitution that does not work for us today that we should just ignore it.  In fact, in his New York Times article Seidman insisted that “constitutional disobedience” is “as old as the Republic”.  But if we can just ignore the U.S. Constitution whenever we want, where does that leave us?  Should we be able to ignore all laws when they are not convenient for us?

Personally, I strongly believe that we should follow the U.S. Constitution, and there are millions of others out there that agree with me.  If we want to amend the Constitution, there is a procedure for doing that, but it is not easy.  Our founders did that to try to ensure that any changes to our Constitution would reflect an overwhelming consensus of the American people.

But today America is more divided than ever before.  We can’t seem to agree on much of anything.  We are at a period in our history when we desperately need to come together, but instead we are constantly at each other’s throats.

Is there anything that truly unites us anymore?

In the old days, if you would have asked people to give you a one word definition of America, many people would have responded by naming important values such as “freedom” and “liberty”.

Sadly, much of the country appears not to even value those things any longer.  One poll found that 51 percent of all Americans believe that “it is necessary to give up some civil liberties in order to make the country safe from terrorism.”  Other surveys have found similar results.

Not only that, we continue to elect control freak politicians from both political parties that appear to be obsessed with constantly eroding our freedoms and liberties.  There are literally millions of ridiculous laws, rules and regulations that govern even the smallest details of our lives, and the government is constantly inventing new ways to watch, track, register, monitor and control all of us.  If you doubt this, please see this article and this article.  If we continue down this path, we are going to end up in a very dark place as a nation.

Well, what about economics?

Aren’t we united by a common economic philosophy?

Sadly, no we are not.

In the old days, Americans overwhelmingly believed in free market capitalism and overwhelmingly rejected socialism, but now that is rapidly changing.

According to a stunning Pew Research Center survey, 49 percent of Americans in the 18 to 29 age bracket have a positive view of socialism while only 46 percent of Americans in that same age bracket have a positive view of capitalism.

So what will the future look like if we continue to see this kind of shift among our young people?

And of course we have not had anything even close to a true free market system in the United States in a very, very long time.  Our economy is dominated by a partnership between the federal government and the monolithic predator corporations that dominate our society.  Individuals and small businesses that try to compete are being absolutely suffocated.  Our Founding Fathers were very suspicious of all large concentrations of power, and they sought to greatly limit the power of both the federal government and of the big corporations.  But today we have gone totally in the other direction.

Well, is there anything else that truly unites America?

What about religion?

Of course it is true that the overwhelming majority of the early colonists were Christian, and even 50 years ago it would have been accurate to say that America was a “Christian nation”, but that is definitely no longer the case today.

The number of Americans with no religious affiliation has absolutely exploded in recent years.  It has grown by a whopping 25 percent over the past five years, and meanwhile the percentage of people that identify themselves as “Christians” in America is dropping like a rock.  In fact, one poll found that the percentage of Protestants in the United States has dropped below 50 percent for the first time ever.  For many more shocking numbers that show the precipitous decline of Christianity in America, please see this article.

So what fundamental principles do most Americans actually agree on?

And I am not talking about things like “American Idol is going downhill” or “Justin Bieber gets too much attention”.

Is there still a core set of shared values that the entire nation can agree upon?

If not, where does that leave us?

Unfortunately, I think that it leaves us in a very difficult place.  The divisiveness that we have seen in Washington D.C. in recent years is just the tip of the iceberg.  We are living in a nation today that is more divided than I can ever remember.  A whole host of opinion polls have shown that anger and frustration in America are rising to very dangerous levels, and instead of focusing on the real reasons for our problems we all tend to point the fingers at one another.

In America today, we have been trained to group ourselves together by certain “categories” and to see those on the other side as “the enemy”.  This is a very dangerous thing.  It keeps the American people from coming together to fix the very serious problems that are facing our country.

The truth is that we are being divided in dozens of different ways today.  The following are just a few of the ways we are currently being divided…

Republican vs. Democrat

Conservative vs. Liberal

Rich vs. Poor

Black vs. White (or insert any other two races or ethnic groups)

North vs. South

Urban vs. Rural

Anti-Gun vs. Pro-Gun

Male vs. Female

Young vs. Old

Traditional vs. “Modern”

Religious vs. Secular

Of course we should never compromise what we believe just for the sake of “unity”.  That is foolishness.  But you can disagree with someone without hating them.

In America today, people will find a reason to hate someone else at the drop of a hat.  Surprisingly large numbers of Americans will hate others because of where they are from, what they look like, what their ethnic background is, what their political affiliation is or what their religious beliefs are.

If America is going to have any kind of a future, we have got to start loving one another.  That does not mean that we all have to agree with one another.  But we do need to start caring about one another and hoping for the best for one another.

For example, I fundamentally disagree with almost every single thing that Barack Obama does.  But I do not hate him.  On the contrary, I pray for him and his family.  I would love to see him experience a 180 degree turnaround and start fighting for the truth.  I believe that love is stronger than hate, and I believe that there is hope for every one of us.

I know that I have had my mind changed on a lot of things throughout my life, and if I could go back there are many things I would do differently.  I am thankful for those that loved me and had patience with me when I was younger.

And that is the kind of grace that we should extend toward others.  Yes, a stand needs to be made when others are promoting evil and trampling on our rights.  But instead of responding to hate with even greater amounts of hate, perhaps it would be better if we responded with even greater amounts of love.

And I am not saying that we always have to be “meek” in our approach.  For example, if I was pushing a shopping cart around the local supermarket and I came upon a young child that was about to guzzle an entire bottle of liquid bleach, I would yell and scream at that child to stop.  Sometimes yelling and screaming is the loving thing to do.  There is nothing wrong with “tough love”.

There are preachers and radio hosts that I know that express what they believe in a very vociferous manner, but it is coming from a good place.  They love their listeners and they love their country and they are just trying to wake people up.  There is nothing wrong with that.

On the flip side, there are others that truly do hate particular categories of people.  For example, I was on a radio show earlier today, and the first half of the interview went great as I explained the problems with our economy, how our cities are degenerating and how the Federal Reserve is at the very heart of our financial problems as a nation.

But then in the second half of the interview, the radio host started blaming one particular ethnic group for all of our problems.  I had not properly researched this particular host and I was horrified.  I told her in a very clear manner that I thought that she was wrong.  I don’t think that she appreciated that very much.

But the truth is that we are never going to fix the very serious problems that are facing this country if we choose to hate one another because of what we look like or who our ancestors were.  We are never going to fix the very serious problems that are facing this country if we choose to remain trapped in the “red vs. blue” paradigm and keep pointing fingers of hatred at one another.  We are never going to fix the very serious problems that are facing this country if we would rather indulge in hatred rather than love.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t fight for what is right.  There are most certainly politicians that need to be voted out of office.  There are most certainly big corporations that need to be exposed.  There are most definitely evil agendas that are being promoted at the highest levels.  Our society is clearly headed in the wrong direction and this country needs a massive wake up call.

But I think that we will get a lot farther if love is our primary motivation.  Without love, we are nothing.  Let us start to love one another as we would like to be loved ourselves.

So what do all of you think about this?  I am sure that there are probably some very strong opinions out there.  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

Women Wearing Oakley Sunglasses Under American Flag - Photo by Michael Dorausch

34 Signs That America Is In Decline

The United States is clearly in an advanced state of decline.  Many people around the world (and even inside America) rejoice at this, but not me.  I mourn for the country that I was born in and that I still love.  Yes, the United States has never been perfect, but the Republic that our Founding Fathers started truly has been a light to the rest of the world in a lot of ways over the centuries.  Unfortunately, our foundations are badly rotting and our nation is collapsing all around us.  Many Americans like to think that the United States is greater today than it has ever been before, but the truth is that America is like a patient that has stage 4 cancer that has spread to almost every area of the body.  Our nation is being destroyed in thousands of different ways, and more distressing news emerges with each passing day.  This article will mainly focus on the economic decline of America, but much could also be said about our social, political, moral and spiritual decline as well.  We are simply not the same country that we used to be.  Americans are proud, selfish, greedy, arrogant, ungrateful, treacherous and completely addicted to entertainment and pleasure.  Our country is literally falling apart all around us, but most Americans are so plugged into entertainment that they can’t even be bothered to notice what is happening.  Most Americans seem to assume that we will always have endless prosperity just because of who we are, but unfortunately that simply is not true.  We inherited the greatest economic machine the world has ever seen and we have wrecked it, and now a very painful day of reckoning is approaching.  But most people will not understand until it is too late.

The following are 34 signs that America is in decline…

#1 According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001.  That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011.  That is not just a decline – that is a freefall.  Just check out the chart in this article.

#2 According to The Economist, the United States was the best place in the world to be born into back in 1988.  Today, the United States is only tied for 16th place.

#3 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

#4 According to the Wall Street Journal, of the 40 biggest publicly traded corporate spenders, half of them plan to reduce capital expenditures in coming months.

#5 More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2012.

#6 America once had the greatest manufacturing cities on the face of the earth.  Now many of our formerly great manufacturing cities have degenerated into festering hellholes.  For example, the city of Detroit is on the verge of financial collapse, and one state lawmaker is now saying that “dissolving Detroit” should be looked at as an option.

#7 In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 age bracket was about 6.5 percent.  Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.

#8 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.

#9 If you can believe it, approximately one out of every four American workers makes 10 dollars an hour or less.

#10 Sadly, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

#11 Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.

#12 The U.S. trade deficit with China during 2011 was 28 times larger than it was back in 1990.

#13 Incredibly, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been shut down since 2001.  During 2010, manufacturing facilities were shutting down at the rate of 23 per day.  How can anyone say that “things are getting better” when our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted?

#14 Back in early 2005, the average price of a gallon of gasoline was less than 2 dollars a gallon.  During 2012, the average price of a gallon of gasoline has been $3.63.

#15 In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#16 As I have written about previously, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971 according to the Pew Research Center.  Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are “middle income”.

#17 There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

#18 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate for children living in the United States is about 22 percent.

#19 Back in 1983, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners in the United States had 62 cents of debt for every dollar that they earned.  By 2007, that figure had soared to $1.48.

#20 Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.

#21 Total credit card debt in the United States is now more than 8 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.

#22 The value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 96 percent since the Federal Reserve was first created.

#23 According to one survey, 29 percent of all Americans in the 25 to 34 year old age bracket are still living with their parents.

#24 Back in 1950, 78 percent of all households in the United States contained a married couple.  Today, that number has declined to 48 percent.

#25 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that receives direct monetary benefits from the federal government.  Back in 1983, less than a third of all Americans lived in a home that received direct monetary benefits from the federal government.

#26 In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7 percent of all income.  Today, government transfer payments account for more than 18 percent of all income.

#27 In November 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, 47.1 million Americans are on food stamps.

#28 Right now, one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

#29 As I wrote about the other day, according to one calculation the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

#30 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid, and things are about to get a whole lot worse.  It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#31 In 2001, the U.S. national debt was less than 6 trillion dollars.  Today, it is over 16 trillion dollars and it is increasing by more than 100 million dollars every single hour.

#32 The U.S. national debt is now more than 23 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

#33 According to a PBS report from earlier this year, U.S. households that make $13,000 or less per year spend 9 percent of their incomes on lottery tickets.  Could that possibly be accurate?  Are people really that foolish?

#34 As the U.S. economy has declined, the American people have been downing more antidepressants and other prescription drugs than ever before.  In fact, the American people spent 60 billion dollars more on prescription drugs in 2010 than they did in 2005.

So what are our “leaders” doing about all of this?

Not much.

They just continue to insist that everything is “just fine”.

Sadly, the truth is that they live in a world that is very different from most of the rest of us.

Barack Obama is getting ready to take a 20 day vacation to Hawaii.

When was the last time you got to take a 20 day vacation?

And most of our “leaders” have no idea what it is like to struggle from month to month on a paycheck.

Overall, more than half of the members of Congress are millionaires.  We are led by wealthy men who are serving the interests of other wealthy men.

But the problem with our system is not limited to the president and the members of Congress.  The truth is that the political system in America has become a colossal beast that just continues to grow no matter who is in power.  The political establishment of both parties is totally dependent on this beast, and they will continue to feed it and serve it because it has been very good to them.  The following is from an outstanding article by Steve McCann

The Republican and Democratic political establishments are made up of the following: 

1) many current and nearly all retired national office holders whose livelihood and narcissistic demands depends upon fealty to Party and access to government largesse;

2) the majority of the media elite, including pundits, editors, writers and television news personalities based in Washington and New York whose proximity to power and access is vital to their continued standard of living;  

3) academia, numerous think-tanks, so-called non-government organizations, and lobbyists who fasten onto those in the administration and Congress for employment, grants, favorable legislation and ego-gratification;  

4) the reliable deep pocket political contributors and political consultants whose future is irrevocably tied to the political machinery of the Party; and

5) the crony capitalists, i.e. leaders of the corporate and financial community as well as unions whose entities are dependent on or subject to government oversight and/or benevolence .

Do you think that there is any chance that this insidious system will be uprooted any time soon?

Of course not.

We will continue on the same path that we are on right now and America will continue to decline.

Many will rejoice as America falls, but I will not.

I will mourn for a mighty Republic that has fallen and for a dream that has been lost.

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