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Posts from Kurt, Los Angeles

Kurt, Los AngelesKurt, Los Angeles
Kurt, Los Angeles

This quote is attributed to Mark Twain and listed under his name on this web site. My recollection is that Twain's exact quote is that "No man's life, liberty or property is secure when the legislature is in session." I doubt that Franklin would have made such a cynical remark about the republic he had worked so hard to gain.

Kurt, Los Angeles

This quote is attributed to Benj. Franklin. See Franklin quotes.

Kurt, Los Angeles

Note that Dr. Franklin did not specify whose responsibility it is to "well inform" the citizens of this country. Our form of government was never intended to be a pure democracy. It is a democratic republic. Our responsibility is to elect only wise and honorable men/women to represent us. The framers walked out of Independence Hall with an elitist form of government. (The Bill of Rights came later and was not intented to confer any substantive rights on citizens, only further limitations on the power of the federal government.) Senators were to be elected by each state legislature and the president by the Eectoral College comprised of electors from each state, the number of which were and are determined by each states' population. The purpose of the Electoral College was to assure that only the wisest of the wise (in their sole determination) would be selected as president. The only federal voting right of the population in general was the right to vote for a congressional representative in the House. The whole structure was so top heavy in favor of the elites that the framers threw us a bone;i.e., all appropriations of money must originate in the House. In theory, our representatives would look out for their district constituents and turn off the money supply if the elites became too tyranical. However, even that set-up was not entirely democratic because each state had the power to determine who could vote. The framers were afraid of two things: a) the formation of a tyrany, and b) the general population, many of which were illiterate, uneducated, transient and generally unwashed or female. State laws determined who could vote by imposing pre-conditions (aside from being a slave) such as land ownership, poll taxes and literacy. So, who was Franklin referring to as "well informed men who have been taught...:? Most likely, he had in mind the landed gentry who had the means to send their kids to Harvard or Oxford and who maintained a home library containing the classics of literature, philosophy and the fine arts. Jefferson's personal library, donated by him to the federal government, formed the initial collection of the Library of Congress. And a great number of people of fortunate circumstances read widely, wrote letters and traveled to Europe. These were the well informed men who knew their rights - and their congressmen, their senators and probably their president. In a massive wave of egalitarianism we have been granted the right to vote for our senators as well as congressmen. But we sill can't directly vote in a presidential election. Ignorance of the law is no defense to the breach of one. And we are, as citizens, obligated to keep ourselves well informed, but about what? There are no posted agendas for the House and Senate. We don't know the status of a bill or who voted for or against it without first knowing the bill number. And there is no index. Try reading the latest stimulus package. Just surf on over to recovery.gov and devote the ramainder of the month trying to pick your way through just one piece of legislation. We cannot be expected to know enough to second guess our elected representatives, particularly since it is highly likely they haven't read the stuff themselves. A few days after 9/11/01 there appeared on the desks of every congressman and senator one of the largest airline bail-out bills in history. It was passed without a hearing and signed off by the president. The dirty little secret is that nobody read the thing. Who wrote a 1,000 page bill and slipped it through congress before the dust settled over Manhattan? Timing is everything. Benjamin Franklin is also noted for stating that, over the course of all deliberations leading the the signing of the constitution, the framers explored every form of government known to man. His conclusion was that any form of government is acceptable as long as it is "well managed". He was not very concerned about the state of the union during the lives of the framers, but could not hazard a guess about the future. He said that if the republic was not well managed it would turn into a tyrany. We have now arrived. While we riding on the merry-go-round with outstretched arms trying to grab the American Dream, moneyed interests took over the levers of our government. It ceased to be well managed. It turned into a Plutocracy. Graft and corruption have been around forever but not on the scale, and as openly, as it has been for the last thrity years. And the whole thing was engineered under the rubric of "deregulation". We have sanctioned the institutionalization of greed. The Wall Street pay structure is based on some amorphous system of bonuses so entrenched that it can no longer be classified as embezzlement. There is no law preventing it. And there was no law in existence to stop J.D. Rockefeller and his cronies from cornering the American economy until Teddy Roosevelt stamped down his foot and we enacted the anti-trust laws. They haven't been enforced in decades. Someone forgot that capitalism has it's limits. Someone please tell me how to become well informed when our elected representatives are not. Subscribe to the post-Bush flood of reports coming out of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) at its web site: gao.gov. Read through them and discover why the GAO won't even certify this country's financial statements. Bush ordered the DOD to violate the law and not report the amount of money they were/are spending to congress. Check out the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) web site: cbo.gov and read about the impossibilty of defining the costs of a "global war on terror". Also available (now) on the GAO web site is the speech given by the then Comptroller General of the GAO in January, 2008, wherein he stated that the entire "federal debt burden" (only part of which is the national debt) until the year 2040 was then over $53 trillion, not counting two wars for which numbers were not reported, and, of course, the trillions now being spent to prevent the total collapse of our economy. After that speech was posted Mr. Bush fired the Comptroller General and his speech was buried so deep in web links that it could not be found without knowing what to look for. A well informed citizen no longer knows what his rights are. Little things like the "Patriot Act" have subjected us to star chamber proceedings before unknown and unnamed "FISA Courts" that allow unknown agencies of government drag us from our homes homes, tap our telephones, homes and computers. It's dangerous to speak the word "terrorist" in public and even more to have an Arabic appearance. We now live in a country where the exact nature of our "rights" can no longer be defined. There are more exceptions than there are rules. An adversarial relationship between our government and its citizens has been institutionalized. Our elected representatives can't tell us the truth without admitting to gross dereliction of duty and, more likely than not, bribery and corruption. And the news media are more interested in selling air time through sensatinalism than objectively ferreting out the truth. Our government is opaque and more secret than a mortician's profit margin. Today, a man seeking to become well informed about his rights is well advised not to bother. Nobody knows what's going on. Greed is an addiction to material things, usually money, and that is what is bringing us to our knees. Addicts will not even admit to a problem until they "hit bottom", run out of excuses and discover they have no place to run. And no consensus sufficient to overcome the lure of special interests can be formed until the lights begin to flicker off in the White House and Capitol and the oil companies stop giving the government a line of credit to fuel up Air Force One. Until that time comes we can only sit and wait. History is definitely against us. England has had a monarchy (with only one time out) for 1,000 years. Time periods for the Romans, Turks and Egyptians are measured by millenia. Harvard College was founded in 1636. The constitution went into effect 150 years later. The 150th anniversary of the constitution was celebrated in 1939. And it has taken us only 70 years to run our country into the ground.

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