Liberty Lost: American Big Government and the Erosion of the U.S. Constitution: A Brief History
a book by Michael Dahlen
(our site's book review)
The Amazon blurb says that Find out the REAL history of how the U.S. government dismantled the Constitution, thwarted our freedoms, and wrecked the economy
Nineteenth-century America was the closest thing to pure free-market capitalism that has ever existed. There was no welfare state, no central bank, no deficit spending to speak of, no fiat money and no income tax for most of the century, and no antitrust laws or federal regulatory agencies until the end of the century. The U.S. Constitution protected individual liberty (with the exception of slavery) and limited the power of government, giving rise to an economy in which people were free to pursue their interests, free to start new businesses, free to create as much wealth as their ability and ambition allowed. This near laissez-faire system led to the wealthiest, most innovative nation ever.
During the twentieth century, by contrast, American liberty declined, as the size, scope, and power of government exploded. Federal spending, taxes, deficits, and debt have spiraled out of control. The dollar has lost most of its value due to the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve. Entitlement programs now constitute the majority of the federal budget. And American businesses are hog-tied by mountains of red tape in the Code of Federal Regulations.
Entitlement programs now constitute the majority of the federal budget, however, the majority of citizens count on these heavily—they've become essential
Where in our history did we go wrong? How did the American system shift from capitalism to statism, from limited government to big government, from a near free-market economy to a heavily regulated mixed economy? What acts, programs, interventions, and Supreme Court rulings brought America to its present state? The Citizens United case rubber-stamped the U.S. as an oligarchy where elections and politicians can be brought.
Here are the bozos that traitorously sold out the U.S. citizens and killed our last dying pretense of democracy in the Citizens United fiasco
Liberty Lost: American Big Government and the Erosion of the U.S. Constitution: A Brief History answers these questions. It surveys the politico-economic history of the U.S. from the founding to the present, showing how the erosion of the Constitution unleashed big government, undermining our liberties and hindering economic progress.
Some of the people—American citizens whose objective was not freedom but power—tried to impose their will on the freedom loving people. They failed miserably until the arrival of the twentieth century, a century full of violence, wars, and governmental chicanery to gain power over the people. What made the Industrial Revolution so remarkably productive was its substantial economic freedom, which unleashed countless industrious minds to solve problems of human survival and prosperity.
The author of both Liberty Lost and Ending Big Government: The Essential Case for Capitalism and Freedom shows that laissez-faire capitalism is incontestably superior to statism, says Dahlen. Dahlen fails to make this point. Like most libertarians, he has few good answers when it comes to how laissez-faire capitalism can deal fairly and wisely with a third of a billion people that includes different needs, races, priorities and problems. The country has young, old, able-bodied, disabled, females with a desire to control their own bodies like males do, immigrants, etc.
Corrupt Washington bigwigs only got rid of the Mafia so they could take their place! Washington stinks!
The fact is—and most Americans know this—government doesn’t work for average people but for big business, Wall Street and the very rich, which Dahlen reiterates. Politicians are liars and everyone knows it. Obama lied about surveillance but Snowden exposed the lie for all to see. Snowden deserves our sincerest thanks—he is a true hero. See Bravehearts: Whistle-Blowing in the Age of Snowden.
Obama lied about surveillance but Snowden exposed the lie for all to see. Snowden deserves our sincerest thanks—he is a true hero
The critical point which the author gets entirely correct is that there have been those whose objective was not freedom but power—and they tried to impose their will on the freedom loving people. And as the 20th century progressed, they succeeded. Because of these people we get wars that no one wants but our greedy oligarchs. Because of these people we get dumping of rights, mass surveillance, violated privacy (with Google and Facebook as co-conspirators), unregulated greed leading to market crashes the guilty get rewarded for and the people suffer for and pay bailouts for, monopolies that exploit their position and that are against our laws but they are allowed because they and the politicians do mutual back-scratching, spending on pork that wastes public money, etc.
Politicians claim big government lacks checks and balances on its exercise of power, leading it to represent special interests to the detriment of its citizens. Who are these greedy bastards who imposed their will on the freedom loving people? See:
- The Shadow Government
- Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market
- Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World
- When Corporations Rule the World
- The Rise of the American Corporate Security State
- The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption
- Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America
- The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America--and What We Can Do to Stop It
- The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government
- National Security and Double Government
- A Game As Old As Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption
- Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the Global Economy IMPLODED -- and How to Fix It
The Shadow Government
Part of big government that conservatives like Dahlen rightly complain about is progressives' use of social engineering to "fix" social problems. This leads to inefficient bureaucracies that are rich in expense but poor in results. Conservatives rightly point out that liberals judge these programs by their intentions while conservatives rightly judge these programs by their results. Most of the money such programs get end up used for management, oversight, do-nothing jobs, and waste, and even corruption. Taxes keep rising to pay for such programs and the sucking black hole of the bureaucracy in charge suffers from the same endless greed bureaucracies have always suffered from.
The survival instinct trumps the bureaucracy's morals so the program heads who are getting poor results claim that if they only had more people and more money, the desired results would be forthcoming, which few believe, but bureaucrats learn to tell these lies with a straight face. Education in the U.S. is failing, yet the NEA keeps saying that they just need more money and that would attract better teachers and education in the U.S. would be saved. So "more money" was tried. The result? Education got worse. The conservatives were right. See Perverse Incentives: The Neglect of Social Technology in the Public Sector.
It’s time to drive the final nail into the coffin of laissez-faire capitalism by treating it like the discredited ideology it inarguably is. If not, the Dr. Frankensteins of the right will surely try to revive the monster and send it marauding through our economy once again, says Huffington Post's Arianna Huffington in 2009 (post-crash)
"It’s time to drive the final nail into the coffin of laissez-faire capitalism by treating it like the discredited ideology it inarguably is. If not, the Dr. Frankensteins of the right will surely try to revive the monster and send it marauding through our economy once again. We’ve only just begun to bury the financially dead, and the free market fundamentalists are already looking to deflect the blame. . . . Bush and his team did a bang-up job executing a defective theory [free market fundamentalism]. The problem wasn’t just the bathwater; the baby itself is rotten to the core. . . . We’ve got to do everything we can to make sure there will be no sequels to this political horror. The blame shifters cannot be allowed to make their case without the truth being pointed out at every turn. It’s time to relegate free market fundamentalists to the same standing as Marxist ideologues: intellectual curiosities occasionally trotted out as relics of a failed philosophy." (Source: Laissez-Faire Capitalism Should Be as Dead as Soviet Communism, Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post)
The problem wasn’t just the bathwater (execution); the baby (free market fundamentalism) itself is rotten to the core
The only reliable result of free market fundamentalism and neoliberalism is a lot of misery and a lot of rich people getting way too rich while the nonrich went without. See Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order and Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power.
When neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was . . . nothing. So it staggered on like a zombie, refusing to die, but still efficacious at destruction, misery production, disempowerment, misleading, and confusing
"Neoliberalism . . . has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007-8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. . . . neoliberal theorists advocated the use of crises to impose unpopular policies while people were distracted: for example . . . the Iraq war." The freedoms offered under neoliberalism were amazing—BUT ONLY FOR THE RICH. The nonrich LOST freedoms—and, eventually, they lost democracy itself as well as freedom of the press. (Source: Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems, George Monbiot, The Guardian) See also Democracy—an American Delusion and Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion.
It’s time to relegate free market fundamentalists to the same standing as Marxist ideologues: intellectual curiosities occasionally trotted out as relics of a failed philosophy
"Smith used the term 'Invisible Hand' just once in The Wealth of Nations and only once in his earlier work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. The Invisible Hand is believed by economists to demonstrate that markets where goods and services are freely exchanged will result in the greatest benefit to buyers and sellers alike, and as noted direct investment where it is most useful, enhancing the rate at which the economy can grow. All of this takes place without any outside government intervention. . . . It especially draws theorists toward the laissez-faire model of governing, which holds that government intervention should be minimized. Indeed, the free market, not government, is accepted as the dominant organizing mechanism of society. . . . Smith was determined to show that such self-oriented behavior on the part of individuals led to a common good." (Source: How the Invisible Hand Was Corrupted by Laissez-Faire Economics, Jeff Madrick, Evonomics)
The trickle down theory is a manipulative metaphor invented by the wealthy to fool the poor
Adam Smith was determined to show that such self-oriented behavior on the part of individuals led to a common good. And "determined to show that" is another way of saying someone is hot to push an agenda. Unfortunately, economics is a science, and objective science abhors agendas and pushing of one's pet ideals and values. It has undeniably turned out that the Invisible Hand wanders surreptitiously into and out of the pockets of the nonrich and then into and out of the pockets of the rich as it takes the greed-fueled plunder gotten from the former and leaves it with the latter. The trickle down theory is a manipulative metaphor invented by the wealthy to fool the poor. Had Smith lived long enough, he'd have been devastated to learn that the Invisible Hand is little more than a pickpocket!
Had Smith lived long enough, he'd have been devastated to learn that the Invisible Hand is little more than a pickpocket!
"The key difference between a democracy and a republic lies in the limits placed on government by the law, which has implications for minority rights. Both forms of government tend to use a representational system — i.e., citizens vote to elect politicians to represent their interests and form the government. In a republic, a constitution or charter of rights protects certain inalienable rights that cannot be taken away by the government, even if it has been elected by a majority of voters. In a "pure democracy," the majority is not restrained in this way and can impose its will on the minority. Most modern nations are democratic republics with a constitution, which can be amended by a popularly elected government." (So obviously we need to avoid either pure democracy where the minorities would get screwed over or pseudo-democratic oligarchies—what the U.S. has degenerated into.) (Source: Democracy vs. Republic, Diffen)
Liberals like to 'solve' problems by throwing money at them, which both we and Dahlen feel highly skeptical about
"'Democracies,' [James Madison] said, 'have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention'; . . . The turbulence seems self-evident. Domestic welfare programs are not sustainable and do not accomplish their stated goals. State and federal spending and deficits are out of control. Terrorism and uncontrollable fear undermine our sense of well-being. Hysterical reactions to dangers not yet seen prompt the people at the prodding of the politicians to readily sacrifice their liberties in vain hope that someone else will take care of them and guarantee their security. With these obvious signs of a failed system all around us, there seems to be more determination than ever to antagonize the people of the world by pursuing a world empire. Nation building, foreign intervention, preemptive war, and global government drive our foreign policy. There seems to be complete aversion to defending the Republic and the Constitution that established it." (Source: HOW THE UNITED STATES IS BEING DESTROYED, Pacific Institute)
Trump convinced enough rubes, deplorables, racists and even soccer moms to vote for him that he won, but he then proceeded to make it Great for himself and his rich buddies, but NOT for the rubes that voted for him
In Liberty Lost: American Big Government and the Erosion of the U.S. Constitution: A Brief History, Michael Dahlen puts way too much unearned confidence in laissez-faire capitalism, in spite of its poor overall record. He is right that statism puts too much confidence in government as problem solver—it often creates as many problems as it solves. Neoliberalism and neoconservatism have both led the U.S. into a mire of merciless corporatocracy and oligarchy, empire building and nation destroying/building, and the time is overdue when free market fundamentalism ends up in the scrap heap since from the perspective of the citizens, it has proven itself to be a failed philosophy, even though from the perspective of the powers-that-be—the shadow government in charge—it has been both an efficient wealth creation mechanism and a tool of exploitation.
The oligarchs manipulated government to gain power over the people, and now the government that is supposed to empower citizens does so only minimally while empowering the shadow government thugs maximally. This is what the Founders warned about. It was up to citizens to preserve freedom by the exercise of eternal vigilance. But we failed to keep our eye on the ball so the shadow elites pounced while we were distracted chasing shiny objects.
We failed to keep our eye on the ball so the shadow elites pounced while we were distracted chasing shiny objects
Dahlen is right that a couple of centuries ago, the near laissez-faire system led to the wealthiest, most innovative nation ever, thanks to the Industrial Revolution and a lot of hard work. But the world is incredibly different in 2018, and he makes the error of thinking the same exact philosophy that led to a successful country back then can do so now. This is wrong. Then, in the past, it admittedly led to success, but today it can lead to little but stuffing the moneybins of the tycoons. The logical fallacy The Appeal to Tradition (argumentum ad antiquitatem) is his error here.
Today in 2018, laissez-faire capitalism can lead to little but stuffing the moneybins of the tycoons