As you’re probably aware, yesterday was the much ballyhooed blackout of several popular web sites in protest of new legislation that threatens the Internet as we know it.
The United States Congress has teed up two separate bills which give government agencies sweeping new powers to punish millions of innocent users, criminalize harmless activities, and effectively make entire web sites disappear at their sole discretion without any judicial oversight.
In a nutshell, these bills would create the online equivalent of Nazi Germany.
But what can we really expect from these people? It’s not the first time that Congress has gone out of its way to destroy freedom and prosperity, and it certainly won’t be the last. Just look at the last decade for a plethora of examples:
USA PATRIOT Act, 2001. The US Constitution officially became toilet paper when this bill of over 60,000 words just happened to be introduced only a few weeks after 9/11. Roving wiretaps, suspension of due process, and a complete loss of privacy became the norm.
Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 2002. In the wake of the Enron scandal, Congress did the only thing it knows how to do– pass stupid laws with no thought of long-term consequences. SOX, as it became known, was one of the most burdensome pieces of legislation to American business in history.
The disclosure requirements alone added millions of dollars of unnecessary expenses to US businesses and sent foreign companies who were thinking about listing on the formerly prestigious NYSE running for the hills. Places like Hong Kong and Singapore benefitted from such short-sighted regulation, and the US became less competitive. Again.
Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, 2010. The inappropriately named HIRE Act essentially puts a gun to foreign banks’ heads and forces them to make a decision: any bank with US clients must either enter into a costly information sharing agreement with the IRS, or be subject to a 30% withholding tax on US-sourced capital flows.
Consequently, a number of foreign banks have begun dropping their US clients. Taken in conjunction with various US Securities rules, many foreign businesses have also begun dropping US citizens as partners, shareholders, and directors. It’s simply too onerous to have to deal with all the disclosure filings and risk action by the SEC or IRS.
Net result? US citizens are less capable of competing internationally in a world where the economic power is shifting overseas.
National Defense Authorization Act, 2011. Signed by President Obama on Saturday, December 31st with little fanfare when hardly anyone was looking, NDAA is the latest gem in a long line of liberty-destroying legislation that authorizes indefinite military detention (without trial) of suspected terrorists.
Thing is, NDAA provides a ridiculously broad definition of ‘suspected terrorist’, essentially giving carte blanche to local, state, and federal police agencies who no longer need to worry about justifying their decisions in front of a judge.
Don’t worry, though. President Obama issued a statement acknowledging the controversy of the bill, but clarified that his administration “will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.”
Heartwarming. But hardly a secure guarantee. President Obama isn’t exactly batting 1,000 on his promises to the American public, and future presidents certainly won’t be obliged by the same pledge.
There are, of course, dozens of other examples. Obamacare. Dodd-Frank ‘financial reform’. And now the Stop Online Piracy Act / Personal Information Protection Act.
Hey, these laws like SOPA and PIPA always have great names. Just like wars. Operation ‘Enduring Freedom’ was the moniker given to the early days of the US War of Terror. It all sounds very noble. The reality is always different.
Throughout history, governments on the brink of insolvency have routinely enacted similar policies. Sliding into economic obscurity, they’ll engage in reckless, cannibalistic initiatives– higher taxes, burdensome regulation, war, destruction of the productive class, etc. It only hastens the end game.
This time is not different. And we can expect more and more of the same. Up next will be new laws that:
- restrict cash transactions over a certain amount (Italy has already passed such measures for amounts exceeding 1,000 euros)
- nationalize pension funds and private retirement accounts (again, has already happened around the world from Ireland to Argentina)
- impose a national sales tax and reduce death tax exemptions (already at the forefront of the ongoing tax debate in the US)
- ban gold and silver personal holdings (if you think this can’t happen, ask any of the 250,000 people who used to own Liberty Dollar coins before they were seized by the FBI in 2007…)
The thing is, every time one of these new bills crops up, there always seems to be a small resistance movement fighting it tooth and nail on the ground. Hence yesterday’s SOPA/PIPA blackout. But ultimately, the political establishment wins.
It’s impossible to shake the public from its apathy… to steer people from the mind-numbing drivel of prime time airwaves… to rescue them from the PSYOPS campaigns of the 24/7 news channels.
We can only take care of ourselves. Any money or energy spent fighting the government or rousing grassroots support is inherently better spent looking after your own interests and making sure that you and your family aren’t victims of historical certainty.
And make no mistake, collapse of empire is a historical certainty. From the Babylonians to the Persians to the Romans to the Mayans to the Mongolians to the Ottomans, no empire is built to last. And the final years are anything but smooth-sailing.