An Open Letter to the President on the Anniversary of His Election

2009 November 4

by Roy W. Bakos

Three hundred and sixty-five days ago, I experienced the elation that a political junkie experiences when “his” guy wins an election times 100 upon the end of the Bush Presidency (which became the symbol and the leading factor in the past decade being the most corrupt and lawless in American History) and the historic election of our first President that looks like most of the people on the planet.  The feeling on the night of Barack Obama’s election was one of optimism and new beginnings.  Everything could be done.  Everything that was bad about the last two decades of history was going to be made right.  Everything was better as of right now.  To say that it hasn’t worked out this way is an understatement in the least.

There are still troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  Guantanamo Bay’s “detention center” is still open for business.  The economy is a mess.  Corporate greed still runs DC and the offices of the leadership of both political parties are infused with lobbyists and money that are trying to ensure that the law benefits the few at the expense of the many.  The discourse on our national issues has not improved and is as clouded by lies and half-truths as it ever was.  The reactionaries that were waiting for the election to finish and have been hiding out since Bill Clinton was getting blowjobs in the Oval Office have come out again and the Heath Care Debate has been reduced to talking about “death panels” and any discussion of foreign policy is tied to the dictum of “Patriots vs. Terrorists and Terrorist Collaborators.”

President Obama, please do everything in your power to make this stop.  Use the Presidency as a bully pulpit to explain the things that we must do and why we should do them to the American People.  Drive the debate and define the issues rather than let the reactionaries define them for you…sometimes offense is the best defense.  Americans like leaders that aggressively defend their ideas and they tend to shy away from really smart guys that come across as pussies.  Fight back when attacked and hit the reactionaries where it hurts, in the pocketbook.  It is time that the majority started to act like a majority.  I have never in all of American history been taught that it takes 60 votes to pass legislation.  If the Republicans Filibuster, make them pay for it legislatively or shut down the government like Clinton did.  If blue-dogs or Senator Assbag from Connecticut join them in doing so, have your majority leaders in the Congress take their Chairmanships away and bring all of their discretionary money and set asides to a full floor vote from now until eternity.

Four million people (including me) came to DC to see you sworn in.  That is a movement.  50,000 came out for Glen Beck and Limbaugh’s love fest against health care.  That is the fringe. The majority of Americans still support health care reform with a public option in spite of the billions of dollars spent by the insurance and medi-business industries to buy off elected officials and kill anything that would hurt their business.  Use this to your advantage and please do what we elected you to do.  Take on Wall Street and hold the banks responsible for their role in destroying the economy.  Reinstate regulations that were phased out over the last 20 years that helped to keep our economy and the robber barons that tinker with it in check.  Bring the troops home and choose Republic over Empire.  Look at photos of the crowd at your inauguration that stood on the vast parkland in front of you and not at those that hold power that stood behind you when making decisions or the second 365 days will see your support erode and the reactionaries come back into power and kill any and all chance that we as a nation had at real reform.

15 Responses leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    November 5, 2009

    I paraphrase Jon Stewart when I echo his thought that it was incredibly wrong for an Obama surrogate to announce that the reason they were taking on Fox News is that they feel they must “speak truth to power.” No one must have told the Obama administration that they were the power!

  2. admin permalink
    November 6, 2009

    it’s hilarious that you think a guy who steals from little old ladies is a chance at real reform. You forgot to ask The One to roll the oceans back and bring the unicorns on magic marshmallow barges down the River Terrifico in your article here.

  3. November 8, 2009

    I can have unicorns on the River Terrifico? Awesome Jego! Thanks for letting me know that. Can we for once stop referring to taxation as stealing from little old ladies and just call it taxation? Can you name any successful society that did not have taxation in one form or another? I believe that the easiest way to end taxation would be to end the concept of money as we know it…no money no taxes, right?

  4. Lori d permalink
    November 10, 2009

    So I could be wrong, but I believe that when people refer to The Chosen One as a guy who steals from little old ladies, They aren’t referring to all the taxes he is raising, but the GM/Chrysler bailout. That bailout gave a sweet deal to the auto unions while screwing the stockholders. Many of the stockholders were teachers pension funds, thus the stealing from little old ladies. To Admin, if this is not what you were talking about, please let me know.

    Roy, the other part of your response facinates me, and that is doing away with money. Would we then go back to a barter system? I’m all for it, as I believe I have superior goods and services to earn barter points with. What, however; happens to the guy who spends his days home playing play station, having HUD pay his rent, Heap pay his heat, Foodstamps pay his grocery bills, and medicaid pay for his health insurance, etc. He has nothing to barter. Do we let him freeze to death and starve–isn’t ours supposed to be a more civilized society.

  5. Jego permalink
    November 10, 2009

    Sorry, Lori–I was wearing my admin hat. This is Jego (and so was that comment.) He didn’t actually screw the stockholders–they get wiped out in a business failure and that’s OK–that’s how the model works. He wiped out the bondholders–literally stole their ownership interest from them. Those are the sweet old ladies with the teacher pension funds.

    It’s OK, though. He just thinks things are better when you spread the wealth around. That’s totally um…a good thing? Blech.

  6. Jego permalink
    November 10, 2009

    And Roy: is your knee jerking or are you simply ignorant? I wasn’t talking about Obugger’s consfiscatory tax schemes, lies and promise breaking–though you rightly point out that taxation is theft.

    I was talking about his destruction of the secured creditor model in the GM restructuring. This has already begun to hurt American investment as we now have the feds actively stealing and changing deep, fundamental rules according to whim. The courts that allowed this are craven and vicious. Basically: the folks who owned most of the company’s stuff (the bondholders) got screwed in a process that totally ignored the bankruptcy code as the feds made the whole thing up with the UAW. At the end, the UAW and Feds owned, I think like 87.5% of GM and the bondholders had their stakes forcibly converted into equity in a process where they had no recourse. Illegal. Immoral. Theft.

    I won’t address your other taxation comments here as they’re not germane other than to say: the concept of stealing from the unproductive to give to the productive did not begin with the invention of money.

  7. November 17, 2009

    My knee jerked…just thought you were on the taxation as theft thing again…as for the GM thing, I agree, should have went into bankruptcy or just nationalize the thing like in the past with steel and other manufacturing during wartime or strikes or the like. One or the other. The only “new rules” should be putting back the old regulations from the 1930’s that limited pension fund liability in investments like this and also limited the financial trickery of the last decade.

    I do not know what can “replace” money but I do believe that a fundamental change in the way we “create” money and wealth needs to be addressed as the system that we have now is designed for a reality where it takes a month to send a message to Europe from San Francisco and the movement of goods and services around the world took travels of months and years to accomplish. The smaller world (and the accompanying globalization in our economies and our understanding of one another) demands something different or updated. I do not know what this is but there has to be something out there that we can do differently for the greatest benefit (in opportunity) for all peoples of the world.

  8. admin permalink
    November 17, 2009

    This is Jego.
    Roy, quoting you:

    The only “new rules” should be putting back the old regulations from the 1930’s that limited pension fund liability in investments like this and also limited the financial trickery of the last decade.

    Prithee, what are those regulations specifically? Chapter and verse, love. Specifically, I’d like to see the reg that limited pension fund liability (whatever that means) when purchasing bonds for large companies.

    Additionally:

    I do believe that a fundamental change in the way we “create” money and wealth needs to be addressed

    Characterize the current way, please. You want some buy-in here, but I can’t give you any because I don’t think there’s a problem with it. We’re both smart, so the first place to look is to our definitions and get those straight before we even slog through the marvelous entertainment of arguing.

  9. Jego permalink
    November 17, 2009

    Taxation is theft. How could it be otherwise? To pass a law doesn’t make something other than it is. It merely affects the legality. The torture-murder of Jews by Inquisitors may well have been legal, but it was torture and murder nonetheless. Similarly, taxation is theft, regardless of its legality and also regardless of its utility. It might be very good for a neighbor’s happiness to steal all of my tools–the other neighbors might even put it to a vote and judge that it was for the common good: but it would still be theft. How can this be puzzling?

  10. November 17, 2009

    Jego,
    Thank you for the “we’re both smart” thing…my definition I believe in a coming post or in your coming summations of the pieces sent to you on the creation of wealth…will continue later.
    As for the theft thing. Nice try but taxation is simply part of the “social contract” that we all accept when we choose to stay here after our 18th birthday. It is a necessity of a government that it have revenue to pay for it’s existence and operation. What form of taxation is up for argument but some kind, whether personal, tariff based, fee based or any collection of funds by the government is necessary to having a government. If you are saying taxes are theft, then you are saying government is criminal and therefore all governments must be illegitimate if they operate in a criminal manner to secure their very existence from the get go.
    That begs the question that if we don’t have taxes, should government be voluntarily funded or should we have no government?

  11. Jego permalink
    November 18, 2009

    My oh my. The smell is rather high around here–is your brain rotting? You still have to post the regs or retract your assertion. You going to take the red pill anytime soon?

    But the brain rot comes with the tax thing. It may be part of your social contract, and it is nonetheless theft, no matter if it bounces off your shiny ideology helment. You are talking out of both sides of your mouth. Any silliness you can imagine can be said to be part of the social contract–any immorality, any sin, and bootlicking statist slaves will parrot ’social contract, social contract’ as if that were saying something of merit. I’m guessing your ’social contract’ is itself a circular argument, but I’d love to hear the justification. You’re also assuming that, if you did decide at 18 to remain an American, you were saying yes for life for all policies–oh, it’s a social contract. Actually, you called it a “social contract” with the quotes and I’d love to know what the difference is.

    The 15,000-60,000 pages (depending on who’s counting) of Title 26 are part of your social contract. The Patriot Act is part of your social contract. Yes? If I understand your theory. Rendition is part of your social contract. And signing statements are part of your social contract–ergo, you don’t have one, brother. Oh, and your boy uses ‘em, too. The Constitution could be said to be the social contract, but it’s ignored and we don’t get to elect the judiciary. So….social contract? Bullshit.

    Do you really think you start paying taxes at 18? My daughter will pay taxes this year and she isn’t one yet. And more than half the inhabitants of the country do not pay any taxes at all. What’s their social contract? This is a vapid defense. Try again. So, she’s under 18 and hasn’t chosen to be a member of this or any society and we’re going to steal her money so that Goldman can pay out bonuses and the State Department can maintain a private army. What’s her buy-in? She has to pay tax because if she doesn’t, the government will come take more of her money (tax plus penalties). Theft. Have fun redefining it.

    This president and the last one gave away, between them, trillions of dollars and created huge amounts of debt that is now my responsibility, as someone who actually pays income taxes. Where’s my contract?

    If you are saying taxes are theft, then you are saying government is criminal and therefore all governments must be illegitimate if they operate in a criminal manner to secure their very existence from the get go.
    That begs the question that if we don’t have taxes, should government be voluntarily funded or should we have no government?

    I beg pardon; yet I must point out that your logic in the first sentence doesn’t scan. Consider: If A, then B and therefore all governments are of necessity illegitimate. No, that’s not so, as you point out. You could make it voluntary. Then things would be totally legit. And of course, the government would be a lot smaller. Oh. Wouldn’t that be wonderful…anyway. I’m not saying governments must be illegitimate, whatever that means. What would it mean for one to be legitimate? I am saying they are thieves. And murderers, too, but that’s for another post.

  12. Roy permalink
    November 18, 2009

    I will temporarily retract the regs stuff for the sake of argument but I believe that there were regs for pension funds (read in Harper’s or the Economist within the last 14 months I think but I could be confused) in how much of their portfolios could be dedicated to certain investments…maybe I am mistaken and it was practice and not regs but for now a retraction.

    Logic does scan because I know of no active government where funding is voluntary or is gathered in any way but through taxes and fees…therefore, according to you theft, and therefore illegal and illegitimate.

    Your assertion that governments are murderers is probably right if you include war and the death penalty in the mix…part of the reason why I oppose the death penalty but I believe that sometimes (and not now and not with “my guy” either) that war is legit and that death that comes from it is necessary, so war does not always equal murder by definition.

    Maybe we as a group should set up a basic set of words (eg. Government, Liberalism, Libertarianism, Theft, Murder, etc.) and all try to define them so we can come up with a base for all of our discussions. Most of the disagreements here revolve around syntax and context and this may clear things up for us and all 27 of our readers.

    Finally, your part that “Try again. So, she’s under 18 and hasn’t chosen to be a member of this or any society and we’re going to steal her money so that Goldman can pay out bonuses and the State Department can maintain a private army. What’s her buy-in? She has to pay tax because if she doesn’t, the government will come take more of her money (tax plus penalties). Theft. Have fun redefining it.” Actually, she did not pay taxes because she did not earn anything…whatever is set up to have her have earnings was set up by mom and dad as her surrogates until she is legal at 18 or you let her become independent at some point between her 16th and 18th birthdays. On you and therefore part of your social compact. Which we can’t argue until we better define what we mean by such phrases.

    And where do I get this pill? Will it be fun? I don’t really like stimulants (except coffee) but something akin to an opiate or weed would be OK. Or bourbon.
    Thanks again and lets get to getting the lot of us to start defining terms. e-mail me the ones you want defined and I will add mine and we will send out a questionnaire and post the results. Should be a fun exercise.

  13. Jego permalink
    November 18, 2009

    I can be patient, I guess. Diagram out your statement in first-order predicate calculus: you’ll note that ‘active government’ isn’t included in your statement. Feel free to edit. Or turn the problem on its head: Is it possible to have a government that is funded voluntarily?

    Again you refuse to tackle the issue with an open heart and clear eyes. Define taxation in a way that can’t be confused with theft. You can’t do it, because it is theft. I think this unwillingness to tackle that issue leads you to ignore the comments about how the phrase ’social contract’ will let the statist slave swallow or support any immorality.

    And I didn’t say illegitimate–I quite clearly said I don’t even know what it would mean to say illegitimate. They put you in cages if you don’t comply–OK, great. Who cares about legitimacy? Let’s all stay out of cages. If they tax me at 100%, I’ll still pay the tax–my morals don’t extend to stepping into cages.

    When you talk about regs for pension funds and mention Harper’s or the Economist, you are not doing the work. Go find the original source–read it. Understand it. For now, go find the regs you were talking about that limited pension fund liability and financial trickery. Go do it. Make us all smarter and richer.

    Quoting you: “Most of the disagreements here revolve around syntax and context and this may clear things up for us and all 27 of our readers.” No, that’s not so. You and I have entirely different narratives about the role of the state and the freedom of persons. It’s not a syntax thing–it’s more like a language thing–to put it badly and inaccurately, when I say freedom, I mean the ability to preserve my capital and my self-ownership and you mean the ability for people to get health care for free.

    Quoting you again: “Actually, she did not pay taxes because she did not earn anything…whatever is set up to have her have earnings was set up by mom and dad as her surrogates until she is legal at 18 or you let her become independent at some point between her 16th and 18th birthdays. On you and therefore part of your social compact. Which we can’t argue until we better define what we mean by such phrases.” Actually, she did earn the money. And I earned money, starting at age 10, with summer jobs that I held every summer until I turned 18. I kept summer jobs after that, but had reached my majority so we won’t sweat it. My child is physically beautiful and earned cash modeling for advertisements. Your social contract–or is it compact? you’re inconsistent–doesn’t apply. Unless you’d like to say that money isn’t earned until one is legally independent, which is just vapid.

    You’ve answered none of my criticisms of your silly theory of social contract, and ignored even the possibility of taxation being tantamount to theft. Why?

    I challenge you again: define taxation in some way that doesn’t bring theft in and address what it means to have a social contract in view of my above criticisms.

  14. November 19, 2009

    Maybe taxation is theft…again, syntax and definition. Is working for free theft of labour? Is slavery theft first and a human crime later or the other way around? I don’t know, and that is why I want to define, so I can either keep believing like I do or change my beliefs without ending up in a cage.

    I guess that is the trade off when we choose (and I use choose lightly because of the implications of the cage or finding a place that is ungoverned or governed in the least possible way) to live in a society that must have some rules and therefore, some way to enforce those rules which becomes government. I am not arguing type of government here, just government in general. Law, rule of law, courts, etc…all of the things that keep societies in place are parts of government. When the church runs things, it ceases to be the church and becomes the government. The kid that steals the conch from Piggy and becomes leader on the island becomes government. The first guy that told his clan they were moving to a new cave to get more food was the government. Unless we are truly alone, I do not know how we can live without it…we can only change it’s type to make it better and to have it do a better job doing the things that we in a given society need it to do.

    As for her earning her money, maybe at 10 but at less than 2? Can’t feed yourself, can’t “earn” money. If your house appears in a magazine and there is a fee your house does not earn the money, you do. Again, semantics and syntax. This in no way diminishes the beauty of your daughter or her humanity in any way…using a comparison to something inanimate is the only thing that my feeble, post work already up for 21 hours brain could come up with succinctly. Maybe not legally independent but at least past the age of reason where we actually become self aware to the choices we are making…what is that, 7 or something near there? Self awareness is not vapid, is it? I take that back, I know many self-aware vapid people, I just hope that I am not one of them.

    If taxation is theft or became voluntary, would it be theft for the individual that chooses not to pay to then use the things that government provides like roads and the like? Should everything be funded privately?

    “It’s not a syntax thing–it’s more like a language thing–to put it badly and inaccurately, when I say freedom, I mean the ability to preserve my capital and my self-ownership and you mean the ability for people to get health care for free.” Not so sir. Low cost or no cost or high cost Health Care has nothing to do with freedom. Again, maybe we need to define freedom as well. To me freedom is more than just the individual’s freedom, it is a much larger abstract concept that involves the individual at the start but also includes freedom within a society.

    “I challenge you again: define taxation in some way that doesn’t bring theft in and address what it means to have a social contract in view of my above criticisms.” Taxation: taxes – : The mass noun for money paid to the government for public purposes. I guess this can be looked at as theft as well and you may be asking me to do the impossible as defining taxation in any way but theft is going to have you simply saying that taking without consent is theft and me arguing that by living with a government in any form is consenting to be governed and thus grating consent to have funds appropriated to the government in some way. If just you and I decide to build a shelter, we must consent to living within some kind of rule within that shelter and anytime we add to it or fix it or do anything to it, with or without the use of money, we are being taxed (by us, the citizens of JegoRoyLand) to make sure that JegoRoyLand stays hospitable for us.

    Please tell me how we as human beings, especially almost 7 million of us with various resources and various access to such, could survive without basic society and government? If I can get a sufficient, non Utopian answer that we could really develop and make work in the world, I will join you in starting the movement to enlighten all human beings to their true potential as individuals with responsibilities to themselves and each other and begin to make this happen. Really. We can listen to the Beatles Revolution all day while we do it. Or Rage Against the Machine. Or the Pixies. Not being silly here…ok maybe a bit silly but I really want you to enlighten me here…with open heart and clear eyes…

  15. November 19, 2009

    By the way, all of this started with me criticizing Obama for not doing all (or attempting to do all) that he promised…this discussion did not begin with my Matrix-induced desire for statism…allthough if I am in the Matrix, take me out from the battery pod and wake me up brother Jego!

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