I seem to be a bit anomalous, in that I don’t care even slightly about the people that President Elect Donald Trump chooses to head various federal agencies. The only appointment of his that I have any interest in would be the Supreme Court Justice slot, and my prediction on that is that Trump is going to wait until after his inauguration to let us know who he favors. At the very least, we won’t know until after the Electors have voted.
Thanks to friends who are interested, I see the appointments. I see how Trump picked an Exxon CEO to be… Secretary of State, I think? And someone named DeVos is going to head the Department of Education, if I recall correctly. I don’t care, though, because the whole thing just smacks of tyranny. More than anything, the post-election focus on Trump’s staff and department heads highlights just how broken the American government is, that these positions of extreme power are not elected but appointed.
I am reminded of Thomas Paine’s remarks in The Rights of Man about how France did not find itself under the one despot of King Louis and how there were, in fact, many competing despotisms, some inherited and some newly created, and that Louis himself was little more than the symbol of the myriad tyrannies that stifled the French people:
When despotism has established itself for ages in a country, as in France, it is not in the person of the king only that it resides. It has the appearance of being so in show, and in nominal authority; but it is not so in practice and in fact. It has its standard everywhere. Every office and department has its despotism, founded upon custom and usage. Every place has its Bastille, and every Bastille its despot. The original hereditary despotism resident in the person of the king, divides and sub-divides itself into a thousand shapes and forms, till at last the whole of it is acted by deputation. This was the case in France; and against this species of despotism, proceeding on through an endless labyrinth of office till the source of it is scarcely perceptible, there is no mode of redress. It strengthens itself by assuming the appearance of duty, and tyrannies under the pretence of obeying.
How sad and tragic that this 18th century literature holds so strikingly true today, when we have had the benefit of the United States Constitution and two centuries of education, rationalism, enlightenment, and productivity with which we might have forever cast off the yoke of despotism.
“Drain the swamp!” Trump said during his campaign–a fact that I have only just now bothered to even remark on, because my hyper-cynical libertarianism recognized it immediately as the meaningless slogan that it was–a useless platitude and empty promise to further ignite the “populist” base that propelled him to victory. Hardly a week had gone by, though, that President Elect Donald Trump made it clear that he intended to bathe in the swamp. This is not the pining of someone who expected better, though, but a withdrawn recognition that it was inevitable, just as King Louis would have been utterly unable to effect the changes in government that the French people wanted to see, king or not.
No matter how benevolent King Louis XVI might have been–and it does seem that he was as moderate a monarch as the French people could have hoped for at that period in history–he was as bound by the tyranny of the French government as were the French people who eventually dethroned and executed him. So, too, is it irrelevant how benevolent Trump might be*, how well-intentioned, how moderate, or how compelled he is to complete his countless conflicting campaign contracts.
The tyranny under which the American people suffer–they are extraneous to the office of the President, and the President has little to no power to change them, and I would venture the statement that even Congress has become powerless to change them. Obviously, the CIA is foremost among such agencies: here is a governmental agencies of spies, run by people who were not elected, who play partisan politics, who now operate within the United States, who lied directly to Congress, who involved us in Iraq under false pretenses where at least 150,000 civilians have been killed, who planned Operation Northwoods, who executed Project MK-ULTRA, and who executed Project Paperclip. This agency is responsible, at the very least, for these crimes against the American People–and it can be called nothing else, when the agency kidnaps and tortures American citizens in the name of torture and psychotropic drug “research,” no doubt ideas they got from the people they imported during Project Paperclip–continues on unabated, unchecked, uncontrolled, and uncontested. What difference does it make whether this horrific agency is headed by someone appointed by President Obama or someone appointed by President Trump?
The same holds true of all the government agencies to some degree, though many have crimes against the American people that are less brazen and more oppressive. The Food and Drug Administration, for example, with its absurd shenanigans–it’s hard to even identify a place to start. Aspartame** is probably a good starting point, considering the FDA classified it as a poison for a very long time. Suddenly, though, the FDA decided that it wasn’t a poison after all, and then-head of the FDA resigned and went on to join the board of directors for the company that–shocker of shockers–held the patent on aspartame. There were other things in the news more recently, and libertarians blew the horn on the FDA’s ridiculous bullshit over something that started with a “k.” I don’t recall what, but it’s not of much significance, not really.
How about the IRS? Is Trump’s new appointment to the IRS going to forgive the tax debt of everyone who earns less than fifty thousand dollars a year? Not bloody likely. And I can tell you from first-hand experience that the IRS embodies the spirit of tyranny: unchecked and uncontested, they declare anything they want and they have the power to turn their arbitrary rulings into requirements. The only thing saving me from the IRS is that they are too big, I am too small, and the debt is too small–respectively, for them, at least. If it was $20,000 or $200,000 I have very little doubt that they would throw their might at me. And their might? It is inescapable and indestructible.
So what reason could I possibly have to care that King Louis XV died and has been replaced by King Louis XVI? However well-intentioned he might be, the nature of the state itself is that King Louis does not–indeed, cannot–know that such a person as myself even exists, much less that the state oppresses me. Does the state oppress me? Of course, but I don’t mean to say that it oppresses me more than it oppresses anyone else.
The insidious nature of the state and government regulations is precisely that freedoms are so hard to notice when they’re absent. We humans are creatures of comparison. In order for a man to know he is not free to do something, he must be able to compare his life to some scenario–even a hypothetical one–where he is free to do it. But when it has not been made simply illegal but has been erased entirely from existence, it becomes a matter of extreme imagination to envision scenarios where we might be free but aren’t, where we might have something but don’t.
Our war against the state is beautiful in that it shows how remarkably industrious and creative we are as free, independent people. When the government granted itself the exclusive right to deliver mail and then drove itself into the ground–as fascism is prone to doing–the productivity and ingenuity of liberty stepped forward and delivered: email, facsimile machines, and text messaging were born. “Paperless” is increasingly the trend, further putting the USPS out of business, a relic of the past because government regulations obsoleted the government agency. It was inevitable–by stifling competition, the USPS established a monopoly, promptly became inefficient, and we clever, creative people worked around the letter of the law. I don’t even have a mail box or a Post Office box. That’s how obsolete the USPS is.
What solutions might we have come up with fifty years ago, if the USPS hadn’t outlawed competition? It took a very long time for us to come up with a cost effective, expedient, and efficient solution to undermine the USPS’s tyranny over the delivering of mail–for a long time the literal lifeblood of communication in the country–is it any wonder they wanted to control it? Technology had to advance considerably just for us to be able to do something as simple as deliver a message from one part of the country to another without going through the slow bureaucracy of the USPS.
I mentioned to a friend earlier today that I am tired of shaving… pretty much my entire body, every single day, and so I’m considering trying out Nair. I’m not sure that would be cost effective, though–shaving is pretty cheap, especially when you soak your razors overnight in alcohol*^. I don’t have the patience to let my hair grow long enough to wax it, and I hate being prickly anyway. Then it occurred to me.
Why aren’t there^* At Home Laser Hair Removal kits already?
I can buy a laser pointer powerful enough to crash a 747. Why can’t I buy a Laser Hair Removal kit?
I can buy tattoo guns. In fact, I have tattoo guns. I did most of my tattoos myself. Of course, that’s rife with regulations, but the government can’t keep people in prison from building tattoo guns and giving one another tattoos, so how could they possibly accomplish it out here in wider society? For that matter, they can’t keep guns, drugs, and HIV out of prison, either. So even if they could turn the entire country into a prison in their quest for Max Gun Control and Max Drug Control–which would be necessary, as I enjoy reminding liberals–they still wouldn’t be able to catch that red herring.
I am absolutely positive that, if the government wasn’t in the way, DIY Laser Hair Removal kits would be available. You can buy far more dangerous stuff than that, after all.
Like aspartame, for example.
There was a strange divergence among self-proclaimed libertarians during the 2016 election, and while I know the “type,” I haven’t been able to fully articulate it. They have a nationalist streak and an anti-Islam streak, and while they do qualify as libertarians, they were more than willing to sell out and look the other way on freaking everything that was wrong with Donald Trump in the name of their nationalism and anti-Islamism. I know a few of them, and it’s those people that I think of when I hear the phrase “Drain the swamp!” because they did take Trump at face value; they believed he would do so.
So what is the Federal Government to me? What difference do Trump’s appointments make?
There is Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Supreme Court. That’s the Constitutional way, right? How very unsurprising that the President who led the charge on the creation of these independent regulatory bodies was none other than Abraham Lincoln–commonly called one of the greatest Presidents in American History, despite the fact that he killed more than a million Americans, started a civil war, suspended habeus corpus, deported a senator, and oversaw the creation of the first independent regulatory agencies. What happened was simple: the government pointed to a group of people and said, “Hey, group of people. Now you can tell the American people what they can and can’t do.”
And… well. We can readily see that this snowballed out of control. How many agencies are listed there? One thousand? I’m not going to count, and I doubt the list is exhaustive anyway.
Constitutionally, there are two people in the Federal Government who have authority to tell you what you can and cannot do: your U.S. Senator and your district’s Representative. Two. That’s it–that is the full and exhaustive list of everyone with the “rightful” power to exercise authority over you, and the “power” they have over you is extremely limited and specifically enumerated. There are like 8 things they’re allowed to do, and only then according to fairly strict standards and criteria.
Yet here we see a list of what I’m guessing is a thousand government agencies–none of them elected and none of them accountable–all with power over you, and all competing with one another for the power to tell you what you can and can’t do. It’s rather easy to compare that gargantuan list to the Constitutional two that there should be. Even if each of those agencies has only a single employee, that is roughly one thousand people with authority over you, with the authority to dictate your life, with the power to tell you what you can and can’t do, with the power to tell you what you can and can’t have, with the power to take options away from you and establish monopolies that have you at their mercy.
This isn’t even a problem that can be fixed by “draining the swamp.”
Draining the swamp isn’t going to help you the next time you’re at the DMV and a smart ass government employee denies your new commercial license for whatever reason, because someone pissed in her Cheerios. Draining the swamp isn’t going to help the fact that you have to purchase the government’s permission to commute from one place to another. Draining the swamp isn’t going to help the thousand government agencies who are dictating your life every moment of every day, a condition that we’re just so accustomed to that we don’t even notice it anymore. That requirement to have an inspection sticker, to have liability insurance, to stop at stop signs, to drive a certain speed. And it’s true many of these examples are handled at the state level, but Sonny learns from Daddy; state governments take their cues on how to behave from the federal government, clearly, since the entire point of southern secession was for state governments to maintain their autonomy. Now they’re just enforcers of federal statutes.
Trump can’t abolish these agencies any more than King Louis could have shut down the Bastille. He could appoint people to them who were going to cut and undo all of their agency’s regulations–like appointing Ron Paul to head the IRS. That would be something, wouldn’t it? The Executive Branch might not have the legislative authority to abolish these institutions***, but the agencies themselves certainly have the power now to undo all their regulations. But Trump isn’t a libertarian, and I don’t know why so many people forgot that. He’s not going to name Judge Andrew Napolitano to the Supreme Court, and he’s not going to name Ron Paul Secretary of the Treasury.
Trump isn’t a fucking libertarian, not even of the Big L variety.
He’s better than Hillary solely because Hillary routinely indicated that she wanted to go to war with Russia; she even said point-blank in one of the debates that she felt it was prudent to respond militarily to finger-quotes-wink-wink “Russian hacking.” As far as everything else goes, he is and has always been just another statist. He has always been willing to play ball.
My only hope for a Trump presidency is that he will hopefully attempt to bridge the enormous divide between liberals and conservatives and that he will, in so doing, inadvertently restore the Tenth Amendment to its proper place and remind us all that we are supposed to be more concerned with our state congresses than with our national congress, with our state supreme court than the national supreme court, and with our governor than the President.
But do I have any faith or hope that King Louis XVI is going to give the French people the liberty they seek?
I’ll see you in the Bastille before that happens.
Or should I say “Gitmo?”
* Assuming, for the argument, that he is. I don’t have many feelings about Trump one way or another.
** I can’t vouch for these sources. I’m going off memory and only looked for a link to provide people with a starting point to research it; it’s not a conspiracy theory, though. It actually happened this way.
*^ Pro tip: razors very slowly get dull. They get gunked up by dead skin cells. This is why barbers use barbicide. Soak your blades in alcohol–but be sure to rinse them–and they will last for months. I’ve seen people go through five-blade razors in a week. A 5-blade razor should last three months, easily.
^* For the second time today, I used “their” instead of “there” initially. That’s starting to concern me. I make a lot of slips on occasion, but never that type of mistake.
*** It’s worth mentioning that the legislative branch didn’t have the authority to create them, either. Think about it in any other terms. Just because your wife gives you permission to sleep with her doesn’t mean you can confer that permission to a friend of yours. Just because we consented to let Congress do something doesn’t mean that they can confer that privilege to someone else.