FT217: “If you want to know what it was like living under an absolute monarchy just think of the IRS.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 11th, 2014

Fundamental Truth

Thomas Jefferson wanted to keep the New Federal Government and Money Apart

Thomas Jefferson did not trust government.  And he didn’t trust moneyed men.  Because when the two come together they cause nothing but trouble.  That’s why he hated and distrusted Alexander Hamilton.  Hamilton wanted a strong central government.  A central bank.  And an economic system favoring merchants and bankers.  With big city moneyed men financing the government in return for special favors.

This is why the nation’s capital isn’t in New York City.  It once was.  But one of the first deals the Hamilton and Jefferson camps made was the relocation of the nation’s capital to a mosquito-infested swamp on the Potomac River.  A long, long way from the moneyed men in New York City.  To try to keep the new federal government and money apart.  To restrict the influence of the moneyed men on the government.  And to prevent the government from having easy access to big money.

Why did Jefferson want to do this?  Well, they fought for their independence from Great Britain.  Which was a constitutional monarchy.  Where some in Parliament were no friends of British America.  And got the king to agree with them rather than the pro-British America faction in Parliament.  Ironically, the Americans got help in their War of Independence from France.  Which had an absolute monarchy.  Whose king ruled with no check on his power.  Both governments were in the big cities.  London.  And Paris.  Where the moneyed men were.  In the big cities.  Allowing these monarchies to do a whole lot of mischief all around the world.  And a fair amount of mischief inside their own countries.  Because the money and the government were in the same city.

Government + Money = Corruption

Great Britain and France were forever at war with each other.  And with other countries.  Requiring a lot of money.  Which they got from the moneyed men.  In return for special privileges that allowed them to get ever richer.  Of course the mischief grew greater as they fought a world war or two.  Requiring ever more money.  Which they got from, of course, taxing the rest of the people.  Even those who could little afford it.  And once this starts, once the government starts accumulating debt, that taxation will only get greater.

This is what Jefferson was worried about.  And why he so distrusted Hamilton.  The Founding Fathers were all gentlemen of the Enlightenment.  Disinterested public servants.  Honorable men who would never take advantage of their position in government for personal gain.  Because for these men honor was everything.  Some even fought duels to protect their honor.  As Hamilton did.  And died.  Washington, Adams, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Jay and Franklin were men of exceptional integrity.  Men who could be trusted.  But here is where Hamilton and Jefferson differed.  Hamilton believed only men like them would ever enter government.  While Jefferson believed that government service would one day attract mostly scoundrels and knaves.

Of course, Jefferson was right.  For as the nation grew so did the size of government.  And the need for great big piles of money.  Which the moneyed men provided.  In exchange for special privileges.  Patronage.  Lucrative government contracts.  Etc.  Big piles of money flowed into Washington.  And favors flowed out from Washington.  With many a politician getting rich in the process of getting rich moneyed men richer.  Politicians who used their position in government for personal gain.  Corrupted politicians.  As government + money = corruption.  Which is why politicians always leave office richer than when they entered office.

Power + Corruption = Tyranny

This is how it started.  As the size of government grew corruption grew.  Just as Jefferson feared.  All that money flowing into Washington corrupted ever more politicians.  Who were not gentlemen of the Enlightenment.  But the scoundrels and knaves Jefferson knew would come.  Who used their position in government for personal gain.  Whose corruption grew so great it exploded federal spending.  So great that taxes from the moneyed men AND the middle class were unable to fund it.  So the taxation grew more aggressive.

The government created by the Founding Fathers had no income taxes.  They funded the few things the new national government did with tariffs for the most part.  People lived from day to day without any fear of the taxman.  The United States even did away with debtors’ prison.  Prison where people were sent who could not pay their debts.  A relic of the 19th century.  Sort of.  For there is one debt people can still go to prison for not paying.  Past-due taxes.  For the IRS can take everything you have and imprison you if you don’t pay your taxes.  And those taxes have grown great as of late.  As the tax code has grown convoluted.  Requiring businesses to hire armies of accountants and lawyers to comply with.  So the government can help the moneyed men who help the government.  In return for special privileges, of course.  Leaving the masses dreading April 15.  As they dread opening any letter from the IRS.

If you want to know what it was like living under an absolute monarchy just think of the IRS.  People fear the IRS.  Just as people feared the arbitrary power of an absolute monarchy.  A king could take your property and lock you away.  Just like the IRS.  And if you spoke out against the monarchy the king could make your life really unpleasant.  Just like the IRS.  During the 2012 election the IRS targeted conservative political groups to stifle their free speech.  Delayed their tax-exempt status approval.  And harassed them with costly tax audits.  And now their tyranny has extended to people in the middle class.  Who unbeknownst to them had a family member owe the federal government.  Years earlier.  Even a generation earlier.  And the IRS is arbitrarily seizing the tax refunds from these debtors’ distant relatives to pay these debts.  Even though they are in no way responsible for these debts.  And the government has no documentation for this debt.  Doesn’t matter.  Because they have the power to do this.  And these people are powerless to stop them.  Just like people living under an absolute monarchy were powerless to stop their king from doing anything to them.  And this is what Jefferson feared.  For after corruption comes tyranny.  For power + corruption = tyranny.  (Just look at every tin-pot dictator that has oppressed his people).  Which is why people fear the IRS.  And the federal government the IRS is beholden to.  Because they have become everything Jefferson feared they would.

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Kings, Court and Civil Servants

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 7th, 2014

History 101

(Originally published June 4th, 2013)

King Louis XVI became the Face of the Ancien Régime during a Period of Great Debt from Decades of War

“It’s good to be the king.”  For you can pretty much do anything you want.  Right up to the point your subjects go French Revolution all over your ass.

“It’s good to be the king” was a constant refrain in the classic Mel Brooks movie History of the World: Part I.  During the French Revolution the people arrested King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette.  And sent them both to the guillotine.  Even though Louis was not really that bad of a king.  Certainly not like Mel Brooks portrayed him in his movie.  He even tried to modernize France with Enlightenment ideals.  And made America’s independence from Great Britain possible.

Louis had some faults.  But it was more bad timing.  Being the face of the Ancien Régime during a period of great debt from decades of war.  High taxes.  And the occasional famine.  The people had suffered for a long time.  In large part thanks to Louis’ predecessor.  Who fought a lot of wars.  And ran up a lot of debt.  While losing most of New France to Great Britain.  Losing a source of wealth and income just as the bill for all those wars were coming due.

Court was where all the Movers and Shakers Gathered

King Louis XIV (aka, Louis the Great; aka, the Sun King) ruled for 72 years and 110 days.  One of the longest reigns in European history.  He believed in the divine right of kings.  Which stated kings answered to no one but God.  Louis XIV created one of the most powerful absolute monarchies in Europe.  He transformed the Palace of Versailles into one of the largest and most lavish palaces in the world.  And moved his court there.  Where it remained
until the French Revolution.

The king’s court was an extended household.  Where the king’s blood family lived.  And all the bureaucrats that helped him run his personal life.  And his kingdom.  For not only is it good to be the king it can be very exhausting to be the king.  Officials took care of business at court.  World leaders sent their ambassadors to court to handle their international business.  And officials from around the country went to court to settle domestic business.  Court was where all the movers and shakers gathered.  And the Palace of Versailles was home to a lot of treaty writing.

This required a large palace to accommodate these people.  And a lavish one to impress them.  To make their image abroad more glorious.  These people needed spaces to live in.  And food to eat.  As did the king.  Who had the finest quarters.  And when he got up in the morning he did not make his own bed.  One of the thousands of his servants attended to that.  For running one of the world’s largest palaces took a lot of servants.  And a lot of organization.

It is Good for your Career to be Close to, and Loyal to, the Person who holds the most Power in the Land

As households grew larger nobles and royals established household offices.  And a big part of these larger households and courts was feeding the people.  Kitchens had a pantry for foods and a buttery for beverages.  A pantler ran the office of the pantry.  And a butler ran the office of the buttery.  Beneath these were other offices.  At the top in charge of managing the household was the chamberlain.  Some of these were positions with a lot of responsibility.  But, surprisingly, some other positions people probably wouldn’t want today were even more powerful.

The cup bearer was very intimate with the king.  And was someone the king trusted with his life.  For the cup bearer served the king drinks at the royal table.  With there always being someone who wanted to kill the king someone had to make sure that didn’t happen through poison in the king’s cup.  Sometimes, just to be sure, he had to drink from the king’s cup before the king did.  To prove it was poison-free.  Making the cup bearer one of the closest confidants of the king.

Then there was the groom of the stool.  The most intimate of the king’s servants.  Who spent time with the king while he was on the toilet.  And de-soiled the king’s bottom after a royal poop.  Only the most trustworthy people could be the groom of the stool.  For no one was closer to the king.  Who knew the king’s secrets.  Because he heard them directly from the king.  And people feared him.  For he could tell the king anything they said or did.  Making this one of the most coveted positions in the king’s court.

When the United States won their independence from Great Britain the king was no longer sovereign.  The people were.  So the king’s court became our civil servants today.  But they don’t physically wipe the president’s bottom these days.  Today they just kiss it.  Figuratively, of course.  Because despite the changes it is still good for your career to be close to, and loyal to, the person who holds the most power in the land.

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Governments turn People into Addicts to generate Tax Revenue

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 4th, 2014

Week in Review

During the days of the British Empire Great Britain had a problem.  They loved Chinese tea.  But the British had nothing the Chinese wanted in trade.  Except for one thing.  Silver.  Hard money.  Which was a problem for Britain.  They were running out of hard money.  So they came up with an ingenious way to solve that problem.  By getting as many Chinese hooked on opium as possible.  So they could trade Indian grown opium for Chinese tea.  It worked out great for the British.  But the Chinese didn’t like it.  And fought two opium wars with the British.  Which did not end well for them.

North Korea has a hard money problem, too.  And they, too, turned to drugs.  Crystal meth.  Which North Korea manufactured in state-run labs.  Destined for China.  Where they tried to get as many people addicted to crystal meth as possible.  So they can sell it in exchange for Chinese currency.  Which they could use to buy Chinese food.  To help ward off famine in North Korea.  This worked pretty well for North Korea.  But only gave China another addiction problem.

In the United States the government found other ways to raise revenue.  The first two big sources of addiction-revenue were cigarette and alcohol taxes.  But it soon proved not enough.  They then got people addicted to playing the lottery.  When that revenue proved to be insufficient they then got people addicted to casino gambling.  But government spending had grown so great that this revenue was still not enough.  So the government is looking at other things to get people addicted to (see Why Legalizing Marijuana Is a Smart Fiscal Move by Bruce Bartlett, The Fiscal Times, posted 1/3/2014 on Yahoo! News).

Perhaps the dominant factor driving marijuana legalization is the desperate search for new revenue by cash-strapped state governments. The opportunity to tax marijuana is potentially a significant source of new revenue, as well as a way of cutting spending on prisons and law enforcement. The California Secretary of State’s office, for example, estimates savings in the hundreds of millions of dollars from both factors. The following summary is from a proposed state ballot initiative in California (No. 1617)…

It is not surprising that revenue considerations should be critical in the marijuana legalization movement. That was previously the reason why cigarettes were not banned until the 1920s despite a strong nationwide movement to do so. In the wake of Prohibition, governments simply needed cigarette tax revenue too badly. And when Prohibition ended, the need for new revenue after the Great Depression decimated government budgets was a driving force.

Indeed, according to author Daniel Okrent, expectations of the revenue from taxing legal liquor were so great in 1932 that some people thought it might permit the repeal of income taxes. It’s worth remembering that in 1900, taxes on alcohol and cigarettes constituted half of all federal revenues. Indeed, the only reason Prohibition was possible in the first place was that the income tax established in 1913, which was greatly expanded by World War I, would replace the revenue lost from the liquor tax after Prohibition.

There have been no great cuts to revenue like that following Prohibition.  Government spending has just grown so great that it far exceeds the nation’s ability to pay for it with current taxes and borrowing.  So they are looking to make people addicted to marijuana to help pay for their large public sectors.  As well as their vote-buying welfare state.  And when this proves insufficient they can turn to other sources of revenue.  Such as decriminalizing and taxing heroin.  Cocaine.  Crack.  Crystal meth.  Opium.  Even prostitution.  People are already doing these things.  So they can’t be any worse than marijuana.  As long as only responsible adults indulge in these activities.  Just as only responsible adults will smoke marijuana in Colorado.  For think of the tax revenue heroin, cocaine, crack, crystal meth and opium could generate.  For those drugs are really addictive.  And just think how much old rich men would enjoy 18 year old prostitutes.  Prostitution would be a booming business to tax.  These young women could generate great tax revenue for the government by just doing what consenting adults want to do.

We could do these things to find new sources of revenue.  Or we could NOT make people addicts.  Or NOT sell women into prostitution.  Instead we could cut the size of the public sector and the welfare state.  So we can cut spending.  Which would eliminate the need to produce new tax revenue in the first place.  Allowing people to keep their hard-earned money instead of handing it over to the government.  To pay for generous pensions and retiree health care for others.

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How Christianity gave us the United States and made the World a Better Place

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 31st, 2013

History 101

The Pope kept European Rulers from Oppressing their People lest they get Excommunicated from the Church

In 39 AD the Romans crucified Jesus of Nazareth.  Because they said he called himself the King of the Jews.  Or rather those with political power who felt threatened by Jesus’ popularity said this.  His death was to protect power and privilege of those who had it.  Ultimately, though, His death would do more to destroy power and privilege.  For the Golden Rule allowed people to live together in peace.  To build communities.  And to help one another.

Emperor Diocletian split up the vast Roman Empire into four parts.  The tetrarchy.  The rulership by four.  Each of the four parts had its own emperor.  When Diocletian stepped down from power those emperors began vying for power.  By 312 two emperors were in open war with each other.  Constantine.  And Maxentius.  On October 28, 312, they met in battle near the Milvian Bridge over the Tiber.  On the eve of battle Constantine had a vision.  The Christian God would help him win the upcoming battle if he placed the Christian symbol on his soldiers’ shields (accounts differ it was either the Chi-Rho sign or the Latin cross).  He did.  He won.  And became Constantine the Great.  Sole ruler of the Roman Empire.  And because of his victory in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge he began his conversion to Christianity.  Making the Roman Empire Christian.

Christianity spread throughout and united Europe.  And the Pope kept European rulers from oppressing their people.  Lest they get excommunicated from the Church.  In time, though, some resented rule from Rome.  In particular when Pope Leo X sold indulgences (a way to help purify one from sin) to fund the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  This was one of many problems that had many calling for a reform of the Church.  One in particular, Martin Luther, published his The Ninety-Five Theses in 1517.  Kicking off the Protestant Reformation.

Plymouth Colony succeeded when Communal Property became Private Property

Henry VIII, King of England, was a good Catholic.  But his wife wasn’t giving him any sons.  And he wanted a male heir.  So he asked the Pope for an annulment from his wife.  Catherine.  So he could marry Anne Boleyn.  The Pope refused.  So Henry left the Catholic Church.  And initiated the English Reformation.  Making England Protestant.  England would swing back and forth between Catholicism and Protestantism without being either but something in between.  Making a group of Protestants very unhappy.  As they felt the English Reformation did not go far enough.  A group referred to derisively as Puritans.  They were so hated that they were being persecuted along with the Catholics.  So they left England.  Landing in the Netherlands first.  Then they sailed across the Atlantic.  They sighted land on November 9, 1620.  They eventually came ashore and established Plymouth Colony.

About half of Plymouth Colony died within the first few years.  From disease.  And hunger.  The economic system they were using was killing them.  Communal property.  Everything the colonists produced belonged to everyone.  People produced according to their ability and took from the common store according to their needs.  A sort of Marxism.  Before there was even a Karl Marx.  To save the colony Governor William Bradford abandoned the idea of communal property in 1623.  Communal property became private property.  And the colony was saved.  As people worked twice as hard to produce more on their land than they did on communal land.  And because they did they replaced famines with bumper crops.  So instead of dying off the American colonies became the prosperous New World.

The Seven Years’ War (1756–1763) came to the New World.  By the time it ended Catholic France lost its North American possessions to Protestant Great Britain.  To pay off the enormous debt of that war Parliament decided to tax their British American colonists.  Who made out very well in the conflict without the costs the British incurred.  But they did this without discussing it with the colonists.  Treating them as second-class citizens in the British Empire.  Who had no representation in Parliament.  Which led to anger over taxation without representation.  Leading to the Boston Tea Party (December 16, 1773).  Which led to the Intolerable Acts and the Quebec Act (1774-1775).  Which led to the shot heard ’round the world.  The Battles of Lexington and Concord (April 19, 1775).  Which ultimately led to July 2, 1776.  When the Continental Congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence.  After a few revisions it was formally passed 2 days later.  On July 4, 1776.  Known forever after as Independence Day in the United States.

In the United States your Last Name does not Determine the Quality of your Life

The American Revolutionary War did not start out well.  As the British pushed them back with little effort.  Until Benedict Arnold (future traitor) did some superb soldiering.  Impeding the advance of General Burgoyne.  The Americans met him in battle for the last time on October 7, 1777.  On the second day of fighting in the Battle of Saratoga.  And won.  Forcing an army in the mightiest empire in the world to surrender.  Shocking the world.  And getting the French to take notice.  Who then entered the American War of Independence.  The turning point of the war.  And world history.  For France was anxious to get back what they had lost to the British.  As was Spain.  Who joined the conflict as France’s ally.  Turning the American War of Independence into a world war.  And a war of attrition.  As their new foes forced them to send British forces all around the globe.  Leaving fewer to fight in North America.  With a British public growing weary of the war in North America.

America won.  Eventually.  Taking 8 years until the Treaty of Paris officially ended the conflict (September 3, 1783).  And peace and prosperity followed.  Thanks in large part to Jay’s Treaty (ratified by the Senate in November 1794).  Which improved relations between Great Britain and the new United States of America.  And began a Special Relationship between two nations of a common people, culture, religion and tradition.  When the treaty expired there was a minor hiccup in that Special Relationship that resulted in war.  The War of 1812 (1812-1815).  But peace and prosperity soon resumed.  With the South having a larger say in the national direction thanks to the Three-Fifths Compromise in the United States Constitution (1787).  Giving the South greater representation in the House of Representatives as they counted 3/5 of each slave to determine their number of representatives.  As the North industrialized and immigration filled their factories and swelled her population the South was losing that larger say.  One thing led to another that eventually resulted in the American Civil War (1861-1865).

The agrarian South had more in common with feudal England than they did with the industrial North.  Rich landowners (the planter elite) comprised an aristocracy that controlled politics.  While peasants/slaves worked the land.  The South was holding onto the Old World.  Where there was power and privilege.  While the North was building the New World.  Though the South talked about states’ rights they used the power of the federal government wherever they could.  Such as the Fugitive Slave Act (1850).  When war broke out the South won most battles.  Until General Grant started his great advance down the Mississippi River.  With the Vicksburg Campaign (May 18 – July 4, 1863) culminating in the capture of Vicksburg.  And control of the Mississippi River.  Severing the Confederacy into two.  Pretty much guaranteeing a Union victory.  It was just a matter of time.  In the east the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863) also ended in a Union victory.  President Lincoln went to the Gettysburg battlefield for the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery there.  Where he gave his Gettysburg’s Address (November 19, 1863).  Which ended with “we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  And so far it hasn’t.  Remaining that shining city upon a hill.  The destination of people everywhere yearning liberty.  And a better life.  Where all men are created equal.  And your last name does not determine the quality of your life.

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King George, President Nixon and President Obama

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 7th, 2013

Politics 101

As far as Countries went in 1775 there were None Better than Great Britain

As late as 1775 the American colonists were still seeking reconciliation with Great Britain.  For they were proud to be British.  Citizens of the greatest empire in the world.  The British Empire.  Where there was representative government.  The rule of law.  Free market capitalism.  And no taxation without representation.  As far as countries went in 1775 there were none better.

The problem the colonists had wasn’t with the British Empire.  Or their king.  It was with the people who worked for the king.  And Parliament.  Who were denying them the rights every other British subject enjoyed in the greatest empire in the world.  With things taking a turn for the worse with the Townshend Acts.  The Tea Act.  The Stamp Act.  The Intolerable Acts (Boston Port Act, Massachusetts Government Act, Administration of Justice Act, Quartering Act and Quebec Act). 

The colonists pleaded to King George.  Who they affirmed their loyalty to.  But expressed their frustration with the king’s representatives and Parliament.  Their great incompetence.  And corruption.  Requesting relief from the king.  Wishing the king would see things their way.  And fix things.  Maybe even fire some of his people who were responsible for causing all the trouble they found themselves in.  But kings don’t fire people by request.  For kings are very intolerant.  Especially when their subjects dare to defy them.  Which is why the colonists last attempt at reconciliation, the Olive Branch Petition, was met with scorn from King George.  While the Americans were still debating whether to declare their independence King George saved them the trouble.  And declared that they were in open rebellion.  Hired Hessian mercenaries.  And waged war on his own subjects.

Nixon did not order nor was he aware of the Watergate Break-in but faced Impeachment over the Cover-up

Andy Reid is the most successful coach in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Or, was.  For after going 4-12 in the 2012 season they fired him.  Because the team owner thought he was doing a poor job.  A fate many other head coaches face when they don’t deliver a winning season.  If they aren’t great in their job that’s it.  Owners fire them.  And start looking for someone who will be great.  For the owners have a large investment in their teams.  Money they won’t get back if people stop buying tickets.  Which they will do if they don’t start winning games.

Jacques Nasser was CEO of the Ford Motor Company from 1998 to 2001.  When he took office Ford was the most profitable of all automakers.  During his tenure he tried to change Ford.  To make it even more profitable.  And make Ford more than just a car company.  Sort of what Jack Welch was doing over at GE.  He acquired some other auto companies.  Dabbled in ecommerce.  And other auto businesses down the food chain from new car sales.  Including repair shops.  And even junkyards.  While he was doing all of this Firestone tires were disintegrating on the Ford Explorer.  Suffice it to say that Ford wasn’t as strong financially as it was when Nasser became CEO.  And when you do that there is but one thing to do.  Submit your resignation.  Which he did.

On June 17, 1972, a security guard caught five ‘burglars’ inside the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate Complex.  One of the reasons they were there was to place illegal listening devices.  To hear things that would help President Nixon’s reelection chances.  Nixon did not order this nor was he aware of it.  But names on the burglars led to the White House Plumbers.  Whose job was to stop security leaks.  Something the president did not want made public.  Which led to President Nixon’s involvement as he ordered the cover-up.  A crime so heinous he ultimately had to resign to avoid impeachment.

History shows President Nixon and King George were better Heads of State than President Obama

Scandals have plagued the Obama administration.  Fast and Furious (sending guns to Mexico so they could be ‘found’ after they were used in gun crimes to advance the gun control agenda).  Benghazi (ignoring the security risk in Benghazi and then blaming the murder of 4 Americans by terrorists on a YouTube video to help the president’s reelection chances).  Monitoring phone calls and emails of the Associated Press and Fox’s James Rosen (trying to find the source of security leaks like Nixon’s White House Plumbers).  IRS-gate (using the IRS to target political enemies of the Obama administration to suppress the opposition vote, especially the Tea Party).  And Obamacare. 

The president said if you like your insurance you can keep your insurance.  If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.  Statements that weren’t true.  As they specifically wrote the new health care law to make sure we would lose our policies and lose our doctors.  Because we had to.  For if they didn’t get these people (the young and healthy with inexpensive ‘crappy’ policies) into their health exchanges Obamacare would be underfunded.  And if these people don’t pay for the old and sick who would?  Besides, the ultimate goal of Obamacare is to get America to a single-payer system.  What the people don’t want.  So the Affordable Care Act has to destroy the private health insurance industry first to force single-payer on the people.  Which will be easier to do when they have no other alternative.

Watergate forced a president to resign and sent some 43 people to jail.  All because of the cover-up.  Which was worse than the crime.  The Obama administration scandals are all worse than a bungled burglary.  And some of the cover-ups have been whoppers of a lie (such as the Benghazi YouTube video).  Yet no one was fired.  No one resigned.  Not even with the debacle of the Obamacare rollout.  (Such a failure would result in firings/resignations in the private sector.)  Any requests for such actions are met with scorn by the Obama administration.  Just like King George did with the American colonists.  For President Obama acts like an imperial president.  Who will lie and deceive to get what he wants (e.g., Obamacare, reelection, etc.).  For he knows what’s best for us.  Gets annoyed when we don’t see his wisdom.  And fumes with rage when his subjects dare defy him.  So President Obama shares some of the worst of President Nixon and King George.  But, sadly, he shares none of their greatness.  For history shows that they were both better heads of state than President Obama.  And that’s with all of their faults.

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Kings, Court and Civil Servants

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 27th, 2013

History 101

(Originally published June 4th, 2013)

King Louis XVI became the Face of the Ancien Régime during a Period of Great Debt from Decades of War

“It’s good to be the king.”  For you can pretty much do anything you want.  Right up to the point your subjects go French Revolution all over your ass.

“It’s good to be the king” was a constant refrain in the classic Mel Brooks movie History of the World: Part I.  During the French Revolution the people arrested King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette.  And sent them both to the guillotine.  Even though Louis was not really that bad of a king.  Certainly not like Mel Brooks portrayed him in his movie.  He even tried to modernize France with Enlightenment ideals.  And made America’s independence from Great Britain possible.

Louis had some faults.  But it was more bad timing.  Being the face of the Ancien Régime during a period of great debt from decades of war.  High taxes.  And the occasional famine.  The people had suffered for a long time.  In large part thanks to Louis’ predecessor.  Who fought a lot of wars.  And ran up a lot of debt.  While losing most of New France to Great Britain.  Losing a source of wealth and income just as the bill for all those wars were coming due.

Court was where all the Movers and Shakers Gathered

King Louis XIV (aka, Louis the Great; aka, the Sun King) ruled for 72 years and 110 days.  One of the longest reigns in European history.  He believed in the divine right of kings.  Which stated kings answered to no one but God.  Louis XIV created one of the most powerful absolute monarchies in Europe.  He transformed the Palace of Versailles into one of the largest and most lavish palaces in the world.  And moved his court there.  Where it remained until the French Revolution.

The king’s court was an extended household.  Where the king’s blood family lived.  And all the bureaucrats that helped him run his personal life.  And his kingdom.  For not only is it good to be the king it can be very exhausting to be the king.  Officials took care of business at court.  World leaders sent their ambassadors to court to handle their international business.  And officials from around the country went to court to settle domestic business.  Court was where all the movers and shakers gathered.  And the Palace of Versailles was home to a lot of treaty writing.

This required a large palace to accommodate these people.  And a lavish one to impress them.  To make their image abroad more glorious.  These people needed spaces to live in.  And food to eat.  As did the king.  Who had the finest quarters.  And when he got up in the morning he did not make his own bed.  One of the thousands of his servants attended to that.  For running one of the world’s largest palaces took a lot of servants.  And a lot of organization.

It is Good for your Career to be Close to, and Loyal to, the Person who holds the most Power in the Land

As households grew larger nobles and royals established household offices.  And a big part of these larger households and courts was feeding the people.  Kitchens had a pantry for foods and a buttery for beverages.  A pantler ran the office of the pantry.  And a butler ran the office of the buttery.  Beneath these were other offices.  At the top in charge of managing the household was the chamberlain.  Some of these were positions with a lot of responsibility.  But, surprisingly, some other positions people probably wouldn’t want today were even more powerful.

The cup bearer was very intimate with the king.  And was someone the king trusted with his life.  For the cup bearer served the king drinks at the royal table.  With there always being someone who wanted to kill the king someone had to make sure that didn’t happen through poison in the king’s cup.  Sometimes, just to be sure, he had to drink from the king’s cup before the king did.  To prove it was poison-free.  Making the cup bearer one of the closest confidants of the king.

Then there was the groom of the stool.  The most intimate of the king’s servants.  Who spent time with the king while he was on the toilet.  And de-soiled the king’s bottom after a royal poop.  Only the most trustworthy people could be the groom of the stool.  For no one was closer to the king.  Who knew the king’s secrets.  Because he heard them directly from the king.  And people feared him.  For he could tell the king anything they said or did.  Making this one of the most coveted positions in the king’s court.

When the United States won their independence from Great Britain the king was no longer sovereign.  The people were.  So the king’s court became our civil servants today.  But they don’t physically wipe the president’s bottom these days.  Today they just kiss it.  Figuratively, of course.  Because despite the changes it is still good for your career to be close to, and loyal to, the person who holds the most power in the land.

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The British have a New Heir to the Throne and we in America say God Save the King

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 27th, 2013

Week in Review

Before the Americans declared their independence from Great Britain they tried to reconcile their differences with Great Britain.  For many believed Great Britain had the greatest form of government in the world.  A constitutional monarchy.  The form of government that vaulted the British Empire into a superpower.  And gave her people more rights and liberties than any nation in the world.

The Americans, rather, the British Americans, were proud to be British.  And would have remained proud members of the British Crown had it not been for the immense cost of the Seven Years’ War.  That the Parliament tried to pay for by taxing the American colonists.  For all the British Crown did to protect the Americans from the French and their Indian allies.  Not asking for much, really.  But the British taxpayers in Great Britain had representation in Parliament.  And had a say in that taxation.  But the British living in North America were not given that British right.  Which was the source of all the friction between the British Americans and Great Britain.  And what brought them to war.

Some of the fighting in the American Revolutionary War was brutal.  But the worst of it was between Patriot and Loyalist.  American against American.  In the civil war that raged in the South.  Which is why the United States and Great Britain resumed relations following the war.  There had plenty of issues but the post-war relationship was far better than any other nation that fought a civil war.  Why?  Because there is a Special Relationship between the British and the Americans.  We come from the same stock.  We share the same values.  And traditions.  The countries around the world that were once part of the British Empire are some of the most advanced nations in the world.  And their people have some of the greatest rights and liberties in the world today.  All because of our British past.

We may never bow to British Royalty again.  Because of our history.  But we can embrace the Royal Family.  Just as the British do.  For it is their tradition.  And a deep part of their glorious history.  As it is ours.  So we welcome the future king into the world.  We wish the best for him and the Royal Family.  And the British people.  Joining them in spirit when they shout God Save the King (see America’s embrace of the Royal Family demonstrates the enduring strength of the Special Relationship by Nile Gardiner posted 7/23/2013 on The Telegraph).

Despite the lukewarm and often insulting approach of the Obama administration towards Britain over the past four and a half years, the Special Relationship between the United States and Great Britain remains extraordinarily strong in terms of defence, intelligence, cultural and trade ties, and is uniquely important to the American people. No other nation in the world holds a place in American hearts as special as Great Britain. And Americans hold an overwhelmingly positive view of the British Royal Family. The most recent poll conducted in the United States on the British Monarchy – a CBS/New York Times poll back in April 2011 – showed that 71 percent of Americans believe the Royal family “is a good thing” for the British people, with only 15 percent against. In the same poll, the Queen held a 61 percent approval rating, at the time about 15 points higher than that of the US president.

There are defeatists who argue that Britain hardly matters anymore to the world’s superpower, and that the UK can only maintain influence in Washington through the lens of the EU. The huge US interest today in events thousands of miles away in London, and the tremendous support for the Royal Family suggests that the Special Relationship is far from dead. With good reason Americans admire the British for their uncompromising defence of tradition, their warrior spirit, and their willingness to uphold national sovereignty.

Britain matters.  And if the Eurozone collapsed as well as the EU they will matter more. Thanks to Margaret Thatcher.  Who reversed their slide into Socialism.  Unlike other European nations.  And of late, the United States.  Sadly.

President Obama insults our greatest friend and ally because Britain bucks the socializing of Europe.  Britain is often the lone rational voice in the European Parliament.  Currently that voice belongs to Daniel Hannan.  Who knows the history of Britain.  The United States.  And our Special Relationship.  Which is conservative.  Not liberal.  Which is why the Special Relationship is anathema to a liberal like President Obama.

God save the future king.  The queen.  The United States of America.  And our Special Relationship.

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FT177: “For democracy to work you need responsible citizens who will temper their wants with knowledge and experience.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 5th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

The British Subjects were bothered by their Protestant King having a French Catholic Wife

King Henry VIII had a falling out with the Pope.  And broke away from the Catholic Church.  Putting England on the path to becoming Protestant.  Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the Protestant Reformation the resulting conflicts between Catholics and Protestants were really horrible.  And bloody.  Some of England’s greatest enemies during that time were Spain and France.  Both Catholic.  But this Catholic-Protestant animosity was not limited to her foreign enemies.

Religion played a large part in the English Civil War (1642–1651).  In fact, it started it.  When King Charles I tried to impose an English prayer book on Presbyterian Scotland.  To have a singular religion in England and Scotland.  Which the Scottish didn’t embrace.  And pushed back on King Charles.  Who then wanted to teach the Scottish a lesson.  With an army.  But to raise an army he needed money.  Which meant he had to call Parliament.  And when he did they weren’t all that keen on spending money for another war.  Then one thing led to another.  Resulting in a war between supporters of the king.  Cavaliers.  And supporters of Parliament.  Roundheads.

But there was another religious element.  The king’s wife.  Henrietta Maria.  Of France.  Who was a proud practicing Catholic.  This bothered a lot of people.  The king having a French Catholic wife in a Protestant country where they were still executing Catholics.  For practicing religion wrong.  And now the king had a Catholic wife.  Who they believed was turning the Protestant king Catholic.  In fact, they thought that English churches even looked too Catholic for their liking.  And they did something about it.  They smashed idols.  Altars.  Vestments.  Stained glass.  Etc.  Anything that you might find in a Catholic Church they destroyed.  Believing their churches should be properly Protestant.  Plain, boring and dull.

When Hostilities broke out the Anti-Catholic Sentiments among these British Americans were as Strong as Ever

About a hundred years later we come to the American Revolutionary War.  Another war between the British people.  Great Britain.  And the American colonists.  Who had grown into their own people.  And did not like the mother country treating them as second class citizens in the British Empire.  They didn’t like the taxation without representation.  Or their mercantile economic policies.  Which limited the colonists to raw material suppliers.  That they had to sell to Britain.  Ship on British ships.  Then buy only British goods.  Shipped on those same British ships.  Goods often manufactured from their own raw materials.

When George Washington settled his accounts with his British agent he didn’t like what he saw.  The British mercantile house was profiting more from his labors than he was.  And it pissed him off.  For George Washington was an astute businessman.  One of the few planters that actually made a profit in Virginia.  And the current system with Great Britain was just bad business.  So when talk of independence came around he was quick to sign on.  Both for principle.  And for business.  For he was an old man.  Who knew a lot.  And experienced even more.  One of the privileges of being an old man.

When hostilities broke out the anti-Catholic sentiments among these British Americans were as strong as ever.  And when General Washington’s soldiers expressed those sentiments publically the general quickly put an end to it.  For the memories of the English Civil War were not that distant.  He did not need to make his task more difficult by adding in that Catholic-Protestant animosity to the current struggle.  Especially when there was an attempt to get Canada to join their cause.  Which was recently French Canada.  A colony of Catholic France.  Before the British defeated the French in the Seven Years’ War.  Making French Canada British.  So the Americans were counting on cashing in on Canada’s anti-British sentiments.  And hopefully France’s anti-British sentiments.

Americans were able to Win the Peace because they didn’t Need Government to tell them how to Live

The Canadians didn’t join the Americans.  But the French did.  And General Washington avoided defeat for 8 years.  And won the American Revolutionary War.  Against the mightiest empire in the world.  A remarkable feat.  Then Washington won the peace.  Which was even more remarkable.  For revolutions rarely end in peace.  Because these conflicts are typically civil wars.  Where brother fights brother.  And when brother fights brother the fighting gets especially brutal.  With bitter feelings of animosity.  Like those between Catholics and Protestants.  Which they often just can’t shut off after the fighting is over.  But the Americans could.  And did.  Which is why their democracy worked.  When so many others have failed.

America’s experiment in self-government worked because of men like George Washington.  Responsible citizens who tempered their wants with knowledge and experience.  Who saw the bigger picture.  Who knew when to stand on principle.  When to compromise.  And when to leave things the hell alone.  Not acting on passions.  Or emotions.  Not acting like children.  But adults.  Who knew they couldn’t have everything they wanted.  And went without a lot of the things they really wanted.  For with liberty came personal responsibility.  You were free to do pretty much whatever you wanted to do.  But that personal responsibility kept you from doing a lot of the things you shouldn’t do.  By exercising restraint.  Which our Founding Fathers exercised after winning the Revolutionary War.  There were no reprisals.  No vengeance.  Only law.  Where justice was blind.  Something that didn’t happen during the French Revolution.  Fought but 5 years from the close of the American Revolution.  But unlike the American Revolution the streets of France ran with blood.  Where vengeance ruled the day.  And justice wasn’t blind.

This is what makes the American Revolution different.  It was the character of the men fighting it.  Men of the Enlightenment.  Selfless men.  Who put the country first.  Instead of settling old scores.  Helped in part by a short history in the New World.  And a long history in the Old World.  As they were able to learn the lessons of history.  Without having centuries of wrongs to right inflaming their passions.  Exceptional men.  And exceptional circumstances.  Something the French just didn’t have.  Which is why the streets of France ran with blood.  And why there were many fits and starts to their republic.  While the Americans were able to make theirs work from the beginning.  Because of the character of its people.  Who were not used to a ruling power subjecting them.  Who expected no one to take care of them.  And just wanted their government to leave them the hell alone.  So they could work hard.  And provide for their families.  And their ideal form of government was one that let them do just that.  Not one that was a big part of their life.  Or one that provided for them.  Made them dependent on it.  The Americans were able to win the peace because they didn’t need government to tell them how to live.  They chose to live harmoniously together.  Thanks to a character honed by their religious beliefs.  And having exemplary men to emulate.  The Founding Fathers.  This is why the Americans were able to win the peace.  Why the French were unable to win theirs.  And why the Egyptians are struggling to win theirs.

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Kings, Court and Civil Servants

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 4th, 2013

History 101

King Louis XVI became the Face of the Ancien Régime during a Period of Great Debt from Decades of War

“It’s good to be the king.”  For you can pretty much do anything you want.  Right up to the point your subjects go French Revolution all over your ass.

“It’s good to be the king” was a constant refrain in the classic Mel Brooks movie History of the World: Part I.  During the French Revolution the people arrested King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette.  And sent them both to the guillotine.  Even though Louis was not really that bad of a king.  Certainly not like Mel Brooks portrayed him in his movie.  He even tried to modernize France with Enlightenment ideals.  And made America’s independence from Great Britain possible.

Louis had some faults.  But it was more bad timing.  Being the face of the Ancien Régime during a period of great debt from decades of war.  High taxes.  And the occasional famine.  The people had suffered for a long time.  In large part thanks to Louis’ predecessor.  Who fought a lot of wars.  And ran up a lot of debt.  While losing most of New France to Great Britain.  Losing a source of wealth and income just as the bill for all those wars were coming due.

Court was where all the Movers and Shakers Gathered

King Louis XIV (aka, Louis the Great; aka, the Sun King) ruled for 72 years and 110 days.  One of the longest reigns in European history.  He believed in the divine right of kings.  Which stated kings answered to no one but God.  Louis XIV created one of the most powerful absolute monarchies in Europe.  He transformed the Palace of Versailles into one of the largest and most lavish palaces in the world.  And moved his court there.  Where it remained until the French Revolution.

The king’s court was an extended household.  Where the king’s blood family lived.  And all the bureaucrats that helped him run his personal life.  And his kingdom.  For not only is it good to be the king it can be very exhausting to be the king.  Officials took care of business at court.  World leaders sent their ambassadors to court to handle their international business.  And officials from around the country went to court to settle domestic business.  Court was where all the movers and shakers gathered.  And the Palace of Versailles was home to a lot of treaty writing.

This required a large palace to accommodate these people.  And a lavish one to impress them.  To make their image abroad more glorious.  These people needed spaces to live in.  And food to eat.  As did the king.  Who had the finest quarters.  And when he got up in the morning he did not make his own bed.  One of the thousands of his servants attended to that.  For running one of the world’s largest palaces took a lot of servants.  And a lot of organization.

It is Good for your Career to be Close to, and Loyal to, the Person who holds the most Power in the Land

As households grew larger nobles and royals established household offices.  And a big part of these larger households and courts was feeding the people.  Kitchens had a pantry for foods and a buttery for beverages.  A pantler ran the office of the pantry.  And a butler ran the office of the buttery.  Beneath these were other offices.  At the top in charge of managing the household was the chamberlain.  Some of these were positions with a lot of responsibility.  But, surprisingly, some other positions people probably wouldn’t want today were even more powerful.

The cup bearer was very intimate with the king.  And was someone the king trusted with his life.  For the cup bearer served the king drinks at the royal table.  With there always being someone who wanted to kill the king someone had to make sure that didn’t happen through poison in the king’s cup.  Sometimes, just to be sure, he had to drink from the king’s cup before the king did.  To prove it was poison-free.  Making the cup bearer one of the closest confidants of the king.

Then there was the groom of the stool.  The most intimate of the king’s servants.  Who spent time with the king while he was on the toilet.  And de-soiled the king’s bottom after a royal poop.  Only the most trustworthy people could be the groom of the stool.  For no one was closer to the king.  Who knew the king’s secrets.  Because he heard them directly from the king.  And people feared him.  For he could tell the king anything they said or did.  Making this one of the most coveted positions in the king’s court.

When the United States won their independence from Great Britain the king was no longer sovereign.  The people were.  So the king’s court became our civil servants today.  But they don’t physically wipe the president’s bottom these days.  Today they just kiss it.  Figuratively, of course.  Because despite the changes it is still good for your career to be close to, and loyal to, the person who holds the most power in the land.

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Great Britain is trying to Privatize their State Pensions

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 26th, 2013

Week in Review

Britain is a social democracy.  Not as much as they were before Margaret Thatcher.  But still a social democracy.  They have national health care.  And state pensions.  Something the American Left always wanted in the United States.  They got the state pensions—Social Security—a long time ago.  But they’ve been waiting a very long time for their national health care.  Now they’ve got something like it in Obamacare.  And now the Left can follow in the footsteps of that social democracy they so admire.  Who has no problem whatsoever in providing those lavish benefits onto their people (see Start retirement saving now or the government may make you by Sarah Mortimer posted 1/25/2013 on Reuters).

Britain may soon have to force workers to start saving for retirement to cut a soaring pensions bill set to reach 120 billion pounds in 20 years…

The government’s current pension legislation is an attempt to tackle the country’s ballooning pensions bill, set to hit 8.5 percent of economic output by 2060, from 6.9 percent now…

Britain lags behind countries including Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia in global pension rankings. Its pension system ranks seventh out of 16 countries in a global comparison of national schemes, according to data from consulting firm Mercer. Its lowly ranking reflects an ageing population, low investment returns and large government debt…

“One way or another, long-term pension contributions will increase,” Paul Macro, defined contribution retirement leader at Mercer said. “The government are trying to stop people relying on the state to support them in retirement.”

An aging population, low investment returns and large government debt?  Sounds like they’re talking about Social Security.

Note how Britain is trying to make their people less dependent on government while the U.S. is trying to make their people more dependent on government.  Even though both countries face the same problems.  An aging population, low investment returns and large government debt.  So it would appear one country—Britain—is trying to be responsible.  While that other country—the United States—isn’t.  Why?  Because Social Security, Medicare and Obamacare are not about taking care of people.  They’re about increasing the power of government.  Which is why the U.S. continues to increase their spending obligations no matter how much they can’t afford to.  Because spending money buys votes.  And winning elections give them power.  Which is what they want.  So they will ignore the responsible governing Britain is doing.  While implementing the kind of programs that caused Britain’s financial problems in the first place.

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