Friday, August 10, 2012

Speech at the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin

            In 1961, an American president said, “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence… by the military industrial complex”.
            In 1850, Frederic Bastiat warned us about the broken window fallacy; the notion that destruction can be beneficial to the economy, provided that recovery involved the spending of money and the creation of jobs.
            Perhaps this fallacy is the very motivation for our policies of financing the destruction and re-building of foreign infrastructure; of sabotaging our own infrastructure to keep inflation under control; of subsidizing housing in areas prone to floods and fires.
            Of course, the broken window fallacy holds true for you in particular if you are one of the lucky few given the privilege of exclusive contract to rebuild; one of the special interests able to curry favor of those with discretion to spend public funds.

            But who are these special interests? Who are these agencies able to thrive on society’s dime? And which of them are among the most responsible for the financial mess in which we find ourselves today?
            Military technology and private security contractors; Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Halliburton, and Blackwater? Certainly. The security apparati and those who serve them; commanders, soldiers, domestic law enforcement officers? Certainly.
Banks like A.I.G., Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs; and auto manufacturers like General Motors and Chrysler? Of course.
People who brought their goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for, and who hired workers the rest of us paid to educate? Some would say so. Presidential pet projects like Solyndra, and public employees like educators and physicians? Some would say so. Perhaps even the public employees we elect to represent us are special interests.

            Whatever our view on which stimulus projects and which government employees are holding the economy back, we can certainly agree that the military-industrial complex and the banks are the main culprits, and that they help to prop one another up.
            This is especially obvious given that Goldman Sachs – the seventh-largest receiver of bank bailout funds – is financing the campaigns of both major-party presidential candidates, and given the vastly disproportionate percentage of former Goldman employees working for the Federal Reserve and other financial agencies of the federal government.
            It should come as no surprise, then, that both major-party presidential candidates are proponents of both wasteful, aggressive foreign military interventionism and central banking; especially bearing in mind that in 2009, a candidate for president said, “it is no coincidence that the century of total war coincided with the century of central banking”.
            It is this total war which saps the strength, the labor, and the attention of the citizen, and which pilfers the existing wealth of foreign nations, creating a convenient “war bubble” to replace any other market bubbles whose collapse may be impending. Thus, truly, it is the military-industrial complex and the banks – and, by association, the American public and its financial institutions – which thrive off the dime of global society.

            Of course, the reason these military technology and private security firms, big banks, auto manufacturers, and so on, are given taxpayer funds, is because they are able to afford to hire powerful lobbyists to attempt to curry favor of politicians, who have the discretion to spend such money in the first place.
            By now, it has eluded few that lobbying and special interests have significantly contributed to the culture of corruption, financial irresponsibility, and ill-gotten power which pervades the nation’s capital. And, of course, the barriers to unlimited and secretive campaign finance have been eroded by the nation’s courts in recent years.
            Thus, we arrive at the phrase “corporate personhood”. Our knee-jerk response to this phrase is to simply assert that corporations are not people, but such an assertion has no legal repercussions, and does not change the law. The law still defines corporations as legal persons.
            Corpus mysticum, the mystical body of the church. The body politic of the American public. A legislative body, such as Congress. Head of church, head of State. Why are political and religious institutions likened to the human body? Of course, because the root of the word “corporate” means “body”.
            I – a living, breathing human being – possess corporeity (that is, bodiliness); the quality of having a body. Corporeity is a quality I possess; a characteristic, a property which I possess. My bodiliness is my property.
            Property, the characteristic of being one’s own; that which is unique to oneself. I possess my body, my bodiliness, my corporeity, my own, my ownership, my uniqueness. I am corporeal, regardless of whether my characteristic of having a body is recognized by church, State, et cetera.
            But the State may still have legalistic methods of recognizing the characteristic of being of a body. Thus, businesses such as corporations – and, indeed, labor unions – who perceive themselves as possessing a single physicality (a single body) may wish to take the opportunity to have their bodiliness believed, endorsed, and upheld by government, and treated like you and I, able to give to campaigns, and to receive special-interest money as if it were the general welfare.
            But unlike you and I, corporations, unions, and governments have the potential to live forever. Some writing on a piece of paper supposedly makes them perpetual, regardless of our attempts to destroy them; to end their “lives”.

            Philosopher Max Stirner notably rejected the corporeity of “God, Emperor, Pope, Fatherland, et cetera”, and asserted that the only way to reclaim what is one’s own is to proclaim “I alone am corporeal”, and destroy the corporeity of these “geists” (typically translated as either “ghosts” or “spirits”).
            So how do we destroy the wealth-sucking, undead, zombie entities of government, unions, and corporations, and reclaim our lone corporeity? How do we eliminate secrecy from the electoral system, and make the government spend the money earned by all of us in order to benefit all of us?
            I say that the General Welfare Clause – were the Constitution obeyed – should protect us against special interests, being that the common and universal good should be the only recipient of taxpayer funds.
            I say that the root of secrecy in the electoral process is the very practice of secret-ballot voting itself, in which we refrain from requiring citizens to sign their ballots, and requiring representatives to sign and obey the contracts they make with We the People; and in which we even give our representatives – who act as our power of attorney, who act as legally us – special privileges to break the law.
            We give our representatives license to commit crimes on our behalves; and yet we are the ones who receive the punishment. On top of it all, we obligate ourselves to obey them financially, whereby we become names on pieces of paper; legal fictions on-par with corporations and so on. Corporations are people, yes, but only to the extent that people are corporations.
            But this merger of State and corporate power; is this a problem of capitalism? Socialism? Mussolini defined corporatism as the merger of State and corporate power. But why call “corporatism” what most call “unfettered crony capitalism”? Is corporatism the free market? Is it a form of socialism? Do socialism and the free market have any common reasons to oppose corporatism?

            Proponents of the free market desire a minimal standard of economic efficiency.
            For this to occur, transaction costs and externalities must be eliminated.
            To minimize transaction costs, usury and fraud in banking practices are to be discouraged. This would prohibit fractional-reserve banking, the use of debt as a medium of exchange, the misrepresentation of funds, and speculation without the full backing of assets, and all sorts of fraudulent banking-sector activity which precipitated the current financial mess. Indeed, many of these practices have at times been prohibited by federal law.
            Furthermore, low interest and lending rates are to be desired, insofar as they are natural and not manipulated by lenders. This necessitates that interest rates be only high enough to cover administration costs, and can allow for the possibility of zero- and negative- interest-rate lending. This type of banking has been supported by Mutualists and individualist anarchists alike, whom are generally regarded as falling on the left side of the political spectrum.
            Minimizing and compensating for externalities requires that people have the right to pursue restitution and compensation, whether they have been harmed intentionally, or inadvertently, and regardless of whether the action resulted in harm or benefit.
            This stands in contrast to the “privatize-the-gains,-socialize-the-losses” model; in that it necessitates compartmentalizing risk, through localization and specialization, for example. It would also necessitate solutions like fee-for-service models, encouragement of safety and discretion, minority-unionism, and members-only collective bargaining.
            Thus, we see that an ideal left-anarchist banking system and an ideal free-market banking system would not be very different at all.

            What else unites these two schools? The freedom of the individual to determine for his own subjective purposes the values of goods and services; the value of the product and fruits of one’s labor; and the value of the wages, benefits, and conditions for which one is willing to work.
            Additionally, the freedom of the individual to determine for his own purposes his ethical principles, and which agencies should hold him responsible and answerable to his own claimed moral code.
            The left has typically been very supportive of such civil liberties and market freedoms. After all, the left has contributed non-violent resistance, civil disobedience, conscientious objection, and the consent of the governed.
            However, there have been a few slip-ups along the way, such as direct democracy and market abolition (in which all economic decisions are made by vote, and individuals have no freedom to profit, or to name their own prices), as well as cartelization of the labor market (in which people are free to decide what compensation they will work for, unless it is below some standard set by the privileged and the already-employed).
            But in general, both left-anarchists and proponents of the free market have supported the freedom of action, preference for large numbers of alternatives in economic and political decision-making, the freedoms of speech and expression, and the notion that peoples should live and let live.
            But why, then, if consent of the governed and plentiful alternatives are desirable, do we not have more than one choice in who will govern us? Leave aside the ideas that we can “vote with our feet” by moving to the place with the set of laws we despise the least, and that we have political choice due to choice between parties; where is our freedom to choose an entire government whose ethics is in-line with our own?
            Isn’t this the state of affairs which are decried by the left as “monopolistic”, monopoly typically thought of as leading to abuse, given the lack of alternatives? Doesn’t the government – in the absence of competitors – tend to make decisions in its own selfish interest whenever given the opportunity? Doesn’t the government in these respects behave as a greedy corporation?

            If anything good has come out of this financial crisis, it is that many Americans have come to perceive government as a business. Of course, it should be frugal, have a balanced budget, and not spend money it doesn’t have, like money which will have to be earned by – and taken away from – future generations.
            But it is crucial to perceive government as a corporation, which seeks to horizontally integrate by competing with other nations in armed conflict, and which seeks to vertically integrate by controlling and conquering smaller and more local governments.
            Why have we abandoned the maximal localization of the provision of government services? Don’t we support checks-and-balances, and the separation of powers? Don’t we want to protect the local economy from the distortions caused by the Federal Reserve and the big banks? Why should every national problem have a federal solution?
            Proponents of the free market do not support artificial collusion, monopolies, or oligarchies. They support voluntary cooperation and collaboration, and friendly competition as an alternative to unfair economic and power privileges for the few.
            The minimal standard of economic efficiency which I described earlier, in fact, rests on the notion that no seller or buyer should be so large that it can disproportionately affect the supply, demand, and price of goods and services. Such an environment would seek to eliminate unnatural scarcity and conspicuous consumption, as they are antagonistic to economic efficiency and equality of opportunity in the marketplace.
            Furthermore, information of consumers (and consumers of government services, i.e., citizens) is desirable. Voters and buyers in the marketplace act most reasonably and logically – and in accordance with the public good – when they are informed about their alternatives as much as possible, and able to rank their preferences in accordance with their own subjective needs, desires, and ethics.
            This is what we should be pursuing: information and alternatives in the electoral system. Information and informed consent in voting; full disclosure, and lack of secrecy. Not privacy, but privity; the right to be privy to contracts made with our elected representatives, and the right to hold our representatives responsible for the crimes which they commit in our names and with our money.
            Alternatives in voting; increased access to polls, debates, and ballots for independent candidates and alternative political parties. Furthermore, the elimination of the effects of pandering as bribery, as well as other forms of undue external influence on independent voter choice.
            Alternatives in government; the freedom of the individual to choose a government whose ethics are in-line with his own, and to choose which government obligates him to follow the set of ethics in which he claims to believe, and by which he claims to act.
            I believe that all goods and services typically provided by government exist in a marketplace, and that receipt of such goods and services constitutes commerce. In the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution, we find legal prohibitions on state monopolies on commerce.
            I believe that this clause can and should be used to justify the use of federal power to eliminate the states’ monopolies on the representation of citizens within their claimed jurisdictions.
            Why should we remain unfree to choose which among the many governmental agencies in this country best suits our personal ethics? Why should we remain unfree to sue our government, without appealing to the very same government to make the decision? Hasn’t big business made enough decisions that have affected our lives without our consent? Why should government continue to imitate big business?

            Ladies and gentlemen, I’m running as a write-in independent candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Wisconsin’s 2nd congressional district. As a write-in candidate and as an independent, I support a multitude of reforms which would make it easier for alternative candidates and parties to get into the electoral system, as well as a multitude of reforms which would make government, politicians, and businesses more responsible and responsive to the people.
            We can no longer tolerate the degree of government secrecy to which we have become accustomed, nor the degree of pandering to special interests. If I am elected your congressman, I promise to combat special interests; by voting against the legislation which they sponsor, but also by adhering to the Constitutional provision that taxpayer funds should only benefit the universal, common good; that funds which are earned by – and taken from – all of us, should benefit all of us.
            A government in which I would see reforms which I favor enacted would be protective of individual privacy and civil liberties; basic and essential freedoms of the marketplace; subjective decision-making in political and economic matters alike; and diversity, whether cultural or ethical.
            There is no such thing as freedom so long as those who perceive themselves as among the most tolerant do not tolerate the freedom of others to choose to be subject to political institutions which obligate them to act in accordance with their own moral principles; as long as they do not harm others; others are free to seek compensation for harms inflicted upon them; and individuals give fully-informed, uncorrupted consent to the political associations to which they become party.
            Please vote for me – independent candidate Joe Kopsick – by writing-in my name on the ballot for U.S. House on November 6th, 2012, and we can have a free society; with freedom of the individual, freedom of the community, freedom of the marketplace, freedom in the voting booth, and freedom from worry that violent collusion between business and the State will cause our economic and civil society to collapse before it arrives at the precipice, which we have been anticipating for decades, and which seems all the more immediate and impending as the days go by.

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