West Virginia, Environmentalism, and Secession From the 'Great Wish Machine'
by Double Eagle, Realty Reality - Global Real Estate Markets Forum. December 18, 2004
Much has been written about various bubbles and manias. History is replete with them: Holland's tulip bulb mania, the South Sea Company, the dot.com and telecom bubbles, the current real estate bubble, etc. Taking the real estate bubble as an example, many Americans now have the expectation that it is possible to get "wealthy" by simply borrowing money to buy a house, make the monthly payments, and then breathlessly watch home equity grow to the moon - wealth creation without effort. Ah, but there is a greater mania in the United States. It is the belief in big government as the "great wish machine." The larger the government grows, it is believed, the stronger the wish machine becomes. Both Democrats and Republicans proclaim to be the most skillful at operating this machine and promise to make it better than ever - so please vote accordingly and watch your entitlements and benefits grow without bound.
In 2000, something unexpected occurred. When Al Gore promised to paint the great wish machine green, West Virginians rejected environmentalism and unwittingly put the neocons at the helm - another unintended consequence of environmentalism. Unfortunately, the Bush administration's borrowing and spending habits have reached such nutty proportions that there is no sense of fiscal sanity left in Washington, D.C. In fact, the neocons have so accelerated the growth of the American welfare-warfare state, that it may reach the breaking point, as did that other welfare-warfare state named the Soviet Union. The laws of economics, after all, cannot be defied. Hence, when it is realized that the great wish machine is a fraud, Americans may outright withdraw their support of the federal Leviathan. Could this mean secession and a break up of the United States?
Most Americans find the prospect of secession to be extremely unlikely in light of the Civil War. Then again, do not lose sight of the fact that the Democratic Party found it highly unlikely that West Virginia's electoral votes would go to a Republican presidential candidate. Frankly, Democrats never expected their own party's environmentalism to be its own Achilles heel. Nonetheless, in the 2000 election, a majority of West Virginia's voters displayed uncommonly clear thinking and rejected the premise that governmental/federal central planning (albeit "green" central planning) paved the road to prosperity. Al Gore was seen as a threat to West Virginia, and rightly so. Ironically, the very neocons the West Virginians help thrust into power may eventually be deemed a threat to all states. After all, this is perhaps the most belligerent, reckless, and profligate administration the United States has ever seen. Consequently, George W. Bush's "guns and butter" approach to governance may very well break the bank. Should this occur, the central government may be identified as nothing but a redistributionist and bankrupt parasite unworthy of further support for the folly of social democracy will have been finally exposed. At this point, secession from the union would become a logical choice.
WEST VIRGINIANS VOTING AGAINST ENVIRONMENTALISM GAVE BUSH THE PRESIDENCY
To support the assertion that voting against environmentalism put George W. Bush into the White House, let's look at West Virginia's Electoral College history since the Great Depression:
|YEAR|| WEST VIRGINIA |
Electoral Vote Winner
|1932||Franklin Roosevelt||Democrat||Won election|
|1936||Franklin Roosevelt||Democrat||Won election|
|1940||Franklin Roosevelt||Democrat||Won election|
|1944||Franklin Roosevelt||Democrat||Won election|
|1948||Harry Truman||Democrat||Won election|
|1952||Adlai Stevenson||Democrat||Eisenhower won election|
|1956||Dwight Eisenhower||Republican||Won election|
|1960||John F. Kennedy||Democrat||Won election|
|1964||Lyndon Johnson||Democrat||Won election|
|1968||Hubert Humphrey||Democrat||Nixon won election|
|1972||Richard Nixon||Republican||Won election|
|1976||Jimmy Carter||Democrat||Won election|
|1980||Jimmy Carter||Democrat||Reagan won election|
|1984||Ronald Reagan||Republican||Won election|
|1988||Michael Dukakis||Democrat||George H.W. Bush won|
|1992||Bill Clinton||Democrat||Won election|
|1996||Bill Clinton||Democrat||Won election|
|2000||George W. Bush||Republican||Won election|
|2004||George W. Bush||Republican||Won election|
In looking over this table, it is obvious that West Virginia's citizens are quite loyal to the Democratic Party. It is notable that when Republicans Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush won their first-term presidential elections, West Virginia's electoral votes went to the losing Democrat. In turn, what is highly noteworthy is that George W. Bush is the first Republican (since the Great Depression) to win West Virginia's electoral votes en route to becoming a first-term president.
Had West Virginians stuck to their historic voting pattern (since the Great Depression), Al Gore would have won West Virginia's 5 electoral votes and would have won the presidency with 271 electoral votes to George W. Bush's 266 electoral votes (of course, the reverse happened with Bush receiving 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266). Consequently, the 2000 presidential election did not swing to Bush because of Florida, as Al Gore would have won the presidency - regardless of what happened in Florida - had he carried the traditionally Democratic state of West Virginia. As Michael Kilian, a national correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, stated in his October 20, 2004 article (W. Virginia Delivers Notice to Bush, Kerry) key issues to West Virginians in the 2000 presidential election "...were gun control, anathema to West Virginians, and Al Gore's high profile as an environmentalist, sparking fears he would put the state out of the coal business." With 40,000 West Virginians directly employed by the coal industry (27,000 of which are coal miners), it is no wonder why environmentalism cost Al Gore West Virginia's 5 electoral votes and, therefore, the presidency.
To put an exclamation point as to why West Virginians rejected Al Gore, the following goofy excerpt comes directly from the 2000 Democratic Party Platform:
Eight of the ten hottest years ever recorded have occurred during the past ten years. Scientists predict a daunting range of likely effects from global warming. Much of Florida and Louisiana submerged underwater. More record floods, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires. Diseases and pests spreading to new areas. Crop failures and famines. Melting glaciers, stronger storms, and rising seas. These are not Biblical plagues. They are the predicted result of human actions. They can be prevented only with a new set of human actions - big choices and new thinking.
Of course, West Virginians understood that some of the "big choices" would include ways to regulate and legislate coal mining out of existence. Coal-fire power plants, years ago, were blamed for causing acid rain (another environmentalist scare) and West Virginians have not forgotten this either. With so much at stake, it is not surprising that George W. Bush won this heavily-Democratic state and, correspondingly, the presidency. It was the West Virginians, in the end, who made the big choice by withdrawing support from the Democratic Party. Plain and simple, this unlikely event came to pass (i.e. West Virginia voting Republican and swinging the election to Bush) because a state's tangible economic interests were put ahead of the Democratic Party's ideology.
THE GREAT WISH MACHINE
Today, it does not matter if one is a Democrat or a Republican, big government is demanded by constituents of both parties. So what is demanded of our Santa Claus government? Well, just about everything - just look at the list:
- A steady income during one's retirement years - Social Security
- Subsidized medical care for the poor and elderly
- Prescription drug benefits for the elderly
- Public education available to all children for grades 1-12
- Homeland security to keep us safe from terrorists
- Government sponsored enterprises (i.e. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) to help poor and middle class Americans buy a home
- Protection from drug dealers and drug cartels - with the help of the Drug Enforcement Agency
- FDIC "insurance" for bank deposits up to $100,000
- Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) "insurance" for private pensions participating in this program
Unfortunately, this list goes on and on. Americans, quite disturbingly, have come to believe the great fiction (to paraphrase Frédéric Bastiat) that, via government, everyone can live safely and securely at the expense of everyone else. Republicans and Democrats alike look to big government to take care of them, in one manner or another, from cradle to grave. It is as if somehow government can magically overcome scarcity and provide a trough from which all can feed. This is pure fantasy. It certainly seems that the bull-market mania in big government borders on mass mental disorder. Why not have this federal wish machine promise each American 10,000 ounces of gold, a personal security detail (like the President's), and perfect health for life? If you revisit the list above, you'll see that government is already in the fantasy "business." And yet, people continue to want more benefits and entitlements. In reality, Americans are living in a state of delusion - redistribution via taxation and inflation be damned - regardless if they live in "red" or "blue" states.
A CHINK IN THE GREAT WISH MACHINE'S ARMOR
Viewed properly, environmentalism is a nihilistic movement bent upon rolling back the industrial revolution and dismantling capitalism - thereby making every state a "green" one populated by noble savages. The most effective method for achieving these aims involves attacking the very energy sources needed to fuel the machinery of capitalism (i.e. coal, oil, and natural gas). Accordingly, environmentalists use scare tactics by conjuring up such frightening nonsense as acid rain, global warming, and even global cooling (back in the 1970s). Environmentalism, ultimately, is a socialist movement seeking the political power necessary to destroy private property rights in order to bring about their utopian vision of a "green" Garden of Eden. Without a doubt, environmentalists/green socialists believe government is a wish machine that will somehow provide health and prosperity for all in spite of dismantling the only system - capitalism - capable of bringing ample food, shelter, clothing, and medicine to the masses. Environmentalism is a delusional movement to be feared and rejected.
As a matter of fact, in 2000, West Virginians did just that - they rejected the lunacy of "green" central planning. Evidently, West Virginians understood that having an honest, hard-working job provided the keys to self-reliance, providing for a family, and saving for retirement. If the state's coal mines were eventually to be shut down, then what would become of all the displaced workers and families? West Virginians didn't see any solutions coming from the great wish machine in Washington, D.C. - especially considering that Al Gore and his ilk put spotted owls, snail darters, and old-growth forests ahead of human beings. West Virginians properly concluded that the federal wish machine wasn't capable of providing replacement jobs and that the best course of action was to vote for Bush in order to protect the local coal industry and its related jobs. Essentially, West Virginia "seceded" from the national Democratic Party over local jobs.
CENTRAL PLANNING LEADS TO INSTABILITY
Under George W. Bush, the federal government has grown to proportions that would even make FDR and LBJ blush. No bill, spending or otherwise, has ever been vetoed by this president. So it is no wonder that the national debt has grown by about $1.8 trillion since Bush-43 took office (as of 12/15/04 the national debt stood at over $7.5 trillion). There has never been a more profligate administration in U.S. history. The neocon wish machine seems to have unlimited money and credit. In turn, this administration is operating under the hallucination that America can have its guns and butter.
This is where Alan Greenspan, and the Federal Reserve, enter the picture. It is the Federal Reserve that helps create the illusion that our Santa Claus government has unlimited resources and that it can make good on any promise or entitlement. This wish machine is fueled by the Federal Reserve's printing press that electronically creates money "out of thin air." Such a scam can last for decades. Yet, there are limits to how much fiat money and credit can magically be created before Santa Claus comes crashing back to earth.
The U.S. Government may be reaching this limit. When combining the aforementioned national debt with other unfunded liabilities, the GAO estimates that the federal government has $53 trillion of unfunded liabilities. To say that our monetary and governmental central planners have overreached is a gross understatement. It is all too obvious that the federal government's redistributionist schemes will be exposed as frauds thereby resulting in the breaking of "promises" to tens of millions of Americans who have come to rely upon the income and services "provided" by Uncle Sam (aka: Santa Claus or the great wish machine). The mass delusion that government can provide for all, from cradle to grave, certainly paves the road to perdition. On this matter, here is what the eminent Austrian economist - Dr. Hans Sennholz - has to say:
The ultimate destination of the present road of political fiat is hyperinflation with all its ominous economic, social and political consequences. On this road, no federal plan, program, incomes policy, control, nationalization, threat, fine, or prison can prevent the continuous erosion and ultimate destruction of the dollar. (Source: Reaping the Whirlwind by Jim Cook)
What happened during Weimar Germany's incredibly destabilizing hyperinflation is instructive. Otto Friedrich described the ramifications of Germany's hyperinflation in his most excellent book Before the Deluge:
The fundamental quality of the disaster was a complete loss of faith in the functioning of society. Money is important not just as a medium of economic exchange, after all, but as a standard by which society judges our work, and thus our selves. If all money becomes worthless, then so does all government, and all society, and all standards. In the madness of 1923, a workman's work was worthless, a widow's savings were worthless, everything was worthless. "The collapse of the currency not only meant the end of trade, bankrupt businesses, food shortages in the big cities and unemployment," according to one historian, Alan Bullock. "It had the effect, which is the unique quality of economic catastrophe, of reaching down to and touching every single member of the community in a way which no political event can. The savings of the middle classes and the working classes were wiped out in a single blow with a ruthlessness which no revolution could ever equal. The result of the inflation was to undermine the foundations of German society in a way which neither the war, nor the revolution of November 1918, nor the Treaty of Versailles had ever done. The real revolution in Germany was the inflation."
The irony here is that the social democracy the neocons want to force upon the globe, will end up collapsing all around them at home. The great wish machine will be broken, the neocons will be discredited, and the bull-market mania in government will transform into a growling bear. Yet, where will this lead?
IS THE NEXT "BIG CHOICE" SECESSION?
A political consequence, that may emerge from hyperinflation, is secession from the union. On this matter, let's refer to Hans-Hermann Hoppe's masterful book Democracy: The God That Failed:
Initially, secession is nothing more than a shifting of control over the nationalized wealth from a larger, central government to a smaller, regional one. Whether this leads to more or less economic integration and prosperity depends largely on the new regional government's policies. However, the act of secession in itself has a positive impact on production, for one of the most important reasons for secession is typically the belief that they and their territory are being exploited by others.
Dr. Hoppe further states:
Just as political centralization ultimately tends to promote economic disintegration, so secession tends to advance integration and economic development.
Having political centralization lead to economic disintegration � at the state level � is exactly what West Virginians feared. Green central planning, beyond a shadow of a doubt, would have put the fate of West Virginia's coal mines in the hands of politicians in Washington, D.C. For example, had Al Gore won the presidency and had the attack against coal mining begun in earnest, the economic disintegration Dr. Hoppe wrote about would have become quite real for West Virginians � once again, we must not lose sight of the fact that this is exactly what West Virginians feared. It stands to reason that avoiding (or mitigating) economic devastation provides more than sufficient grounds for seceding from the union let alone "seceding" from a political party.
On a more general level, as described above, the federal government has become a wealth-redistribution parasite funding its welfare-warfare schemes by borrowing, printing, and spending money with reckless abandon (do not lose sight of the fact that inflation is a form of wealth redistribution). With the federal government having $53 trillion in unfunded liabilities, it would seem that Dr. Sennholz's prediction of imminent hyperinflation is nearly a foregone conclusion. Should political and economic instability emerge due to hyperinflation, then Americans most certainly will feel exploited by the plutocrats in Washington, D.C. For why should Americans continue to support the draconian redistributionist schemes of the exploitative welfare-warfare state? The folly that, via government, everyone can live at the expense of everyone else will have been exposed as the deceitful racket social democracy really is. Quite conceivably, states, counties, cities, etc. will outright reject the federal government, secede from it, and work toward regaining economic prosperity. Maybe the independent-minded folks of West Virginia will lead the way.
© 2004 Double Eagle
About the Author - Double Eagle is the nom de plume for our surety bond specialist on the West Coast, who has linkages to the realty markets gig in his bond underwriting. He is a frequent essayist on lewrockwell.com as well as a few other financial sites. His favorite websites include lewrockwell.com, mises.org, gold-eagle.com, and hyperinflation.net.
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