August 31, 2013
The other day, while driving home from the lovely Blue Ridge Mountains of western NC to the lovely upper Shenandoah Valley, it occurred to me that the metaphor of our time has been before us all my life.
Watch for falling rocks. I do watch, but I’ve never seen it happen. Sometimes, you see rocks that have fallen, and sometimes you see the debris after a rockfall cleanup. But I personally have never yet seen the rocks actually falling. Honestly, it’s on my bucket list.
The conditions that lead to falling rocks in nature are several, but fundamentally it’s just gravity and weak foundations. It’s a slow process, until it isn’t, and then, I imagine, it can be terrifying.
Or exciting. Butler Shaffer wrote recently that the state system in the United States is dying before our very eyes.
A system that insists on controlling others through increasing levels of systematic violence; that loots the many for the aggrandizement of the few; that regulates any expressions of human behavior that are not of service to the rulers; that presumes the power to wage wars against any nation of its choosing, a principle that got a number of men hanged at the Nuremberg trials; and finally, criminalizes those who would speak the truth to its victims, has no moral energy remaining with which to sustain itself.
There are so many signs of imminent death of the state, beyond the aggressive immorality it displays 24/7 towards its own citizens and pretty much the rest of the world.
If poor foundations and gravity lead to rockfall, then bankruptcy (both moral and economic) and government hoarding lead to state-fall. I think we are watching this today, in our lifetimes.
The state consumes over 50% of all productivity, to the extent of arrogantly collecting raisins from farmers, and that doesn’t begin to address the productivity destroyed by government regulation, crony capitalism, and their associated anti-freedom agendas. Even as it has accumulated an unpayable debt of $220 trillion, intervention within the state through political elections and public action has been and remains largely ineffective. State bankruptcy (and the compulsive lying that precedes it) is all around us. The municipal crashes and collapses in places like Stockton and Jefferson County and Detroit are good examples, but the strangeness of the “budget” and “spending” in DC over the summer also transfixes and fascinates. The fact that Federal Reserve notes are truly play money for regime politicians and their extended clan is evident to anyone looking.
When we look up at the seemingly solid edifices of a global money system anchored by a flapping-to-distraction U.S. printing press, we need to remember the road sign. Watch for falling rock.
The state at all levels builds fences, jails and schools, prisons and universities, but guards and teaches less than ever before. Increasingly, public schools are acknowledging both home schoolers and illegal aliens (if they can count the heads for subsidy purposes) and allowing non-criminals who use the ubiquitous weed to stay out of jail. Counting invisible students and taxing marijuana are seen as ingenious “revenue streams” for the pseudo-creative closet socialists and central planners who overwhelmingly occupy elective office.
As if to bring the decrepitude of government institutions to light, just today, the Republican governor of Virginia has commanded an inventory of statewide school buildings with an eye to “the elimination of the “prior use” rule to allow private investors to utilize the Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit in the process of renovating aging school buildings for future use in the same capacity, would have a positive impact on Virginia’s students, teachers and parents in communities all across the state.” In simple language, Richmond wants a state “rule” change to allow more “free money from Washington” to refurbish unused and unneeded old buildings rather then simply divest of unused state infrastructure and let the actual free market decide if they are worth saving, or razing.
Richmond looked at the costs of maintaining unneeded infrastructure and associated state employees – and came up with a really cool plan to inject life support. The fact that government, at local, state and federal levels knows it needs emergency life support is good to know. I am on the watch for falling rock.
State bankruptcy is endemic. Beyond that, the US government meets every criteria of clinical hoarding.
I first noticed this when I served in the Pentagon between 1998 and 2003. The original design of the Pentagon once had five “rings” of wide, spacious well-lighted hallways. In my five years there, these hallways were systematically reduced into rabbit warrens, complete with countless jigs and jags, and many impassable areas blocked not by piles of newspapers and broken fans but by cubicled bureaucrats. This coincided with new and expanded federal facilities in Crystal City and Rosslyn, and all around the Beltway. This hoarding of property, the obsessive counting of needs and wants, this unbalanced habit of never-ending construction extends to federal monuments and innumerable federal departments. Sure, DHS, NSA, and IRS growth are in the news, but we are also watching the country-wide maturation of a federally administered hospital network, a federally subsidized higher education system, and a federally driven policing complex – all feverishly built, acquired, and collected for several decades now. While military spending is not seen as growing as much, in fact the Pentagon budget now exceeds in real terms what it was at the peak of World War II, so this sector of the over-consuming state is no slouch as it competes for collectibles.
The hoarding extends to human agency and individual liberty. State excess vis a vis the concept of limited self government, and the capricious yet systematic making of executive war against citizen and stranger alike is evident almost daily, from big cities to small towns and rural areas. The Marxist left and the Progressive right, the Tea Party and the Occupiers, the pacifist and even the neocon have all noticed this – and yet only the Rothbardians can explain it, and in fact predicted it.
It is not logical to expect those invested in the system, those very hoarders of material and buildings and power, to self-diagnose, or to correct the behavior. The state, at this stage in our own country, is very sick. Just as with an individual hoarder, the state can’t see the problem, and becomes angry and even violent at any sign of an intervention or worse, the hard truth about what it has done. It believes it needs all these things and more, and it must have “control” of everything in order to feel safe.
While most normal people would not begrudge the state a certain sense of safety, most normal people also understand that the internal decay, the lost property values and productivity, the filth and the rodent population endemic to the state’s hoard is not healthy, nor sustainable.
Collapse is inevitable. Watch for falling rock.
LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D., a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, blogs occasionally at Liberty and Power and The Beacon. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here or join her Facebook page. She ran for Congress in Virginia’s 6th district in 2012..