Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Vermont Secessionists...

Time Magazine ran an article on the nascent Vermont Secessionist movement (I am certainly NOT advocating any secessionist talk, which I think to be nothing short of dangerous - a case of "be careful what you ask for, you may get it". In most other countries, these guys would have disappeared already - that says a great deal about our Constitution).

I was struck by a couple passages in the article:

A former Duke University economics professor, Naylor heads up the Second Vermont Republic, which he describes as "left-libertarian, anti-big government, anti-empire, antiwar, with small is beautiful as our guiding philosophy."
With 20 or so mostly middle-aged attendees looking on, the candidates each stood at the podium to deliver a remarkably unified message: The U.S. government, they said, was an immoral enterprise — engaged in imperial wars, propping up corrupt bankers and supersized corporations, crushing small businessmen, plundering the tax-base for corporate welfare, snooping on the private lives of citizens — and they wanted no more part of it. "The gods of the empire," Steele told the room, "are not the gods of Vermont."

Vermont has the reputation (Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy are the state's Senators!) as one of the most Liberal states in the U.S.... but does the above quote sound Liberal to you? Naylor's claim of "Left-Libertarian" and "anti- Big Government" is really just LIBERTARIAN with with the word "Left" thrown into the mix for marketing purposes. Heck the "engaged in imperial wars.... private lives of citizens" line sounds like something I WROTE. I mean, come on... when was the Left so concerned about Small Business? Or anti-Big Government? This is a major shift, and one to which I say "Welcome! Come on over! Good to have you here!"

If you have been reading my stuff for a while, you know that I firmly believe that there are not that many issues separating the majority of American's who describe themselves as "Left" or "Right"... actually, I have been saying that for the most part, the VAST most part, that the only issue separating these Americans is abortion (and that the TPTB be are terrified that the non-feminist Left will come to their senses on this issue) and aged American's support of Social Security and Medicare (seniors can't focus on anything else, and understandably so. If you addict someone to heroin or free services... well, what the h*ll did you expect?).

That Tea Parties and Vermont Secessionist Movements are coming into ideological alignment tells me that we are approaching some kind of political tipping point, and it would appear that aging, childless feminists are finally losing their grip on the former "Left".

One can only hope.


Donal Lang said...

We all knew you Colonials would make a mess of it! ;-)

bureaucrat said...

There are a LOT of differences between the left and right -- we just choose to say there aren't. It's easier that way. The left is pro-choice (law of the land right now), big govt. (already have it and will have it for a million years), pro-labor (union mafia criminals does NOT a movement make), less concerned with God (people are becoming less religious these days -- 16% are having trouble believing in God versus less than 10% before), and anti-rich (the last 10 years should justify that one). However, there can also be certain libertarian tendencies on the left (Austrian economics seems to be winning the game right now) plus everyone hates taxes and busybody government in their lives.

I'm not concerned with little hypocritical separatist groups wanting their freedom (till they get into trouble and need bailouts). They will dry up and blow away eventually.

Stephen B. said...

Vermonters' flavor of leftism has been different from the rest of the Left for decades, owing to the surprisingly large number of leftie, hippie-types that moved to VT in the 60s-70s back-to-the-land movement and somehow stayed, even after giving in and resubscribing to the electric utility.

That this type of rurally-influenced Leftism is finally coalescing into something perhaps more serious as VT lefties are a bit more able to look at the true consequences of leftism, doesn't really surprise me. The realities of rural living, in my opinion, better highlight the supremacy of individualism and self-sufficiency that urban/suburban living ever did.

Donal Lang said...

Seems to me that left and right is a sterile argument. Any party that wants power has to capture the middle ground and get money from the corporations to campaign with. They have to keep the military on board and have some kind of accomodation with the Unions.

Whatever they say, its just rhetoric, ego-posturing to their party radicals.They all end up in the same place.

Here's an example; since WW2 Britain, France and Italy, with roughly the same populations, have had wildly different politics. France; De Gaulle and then mostly socialist, Italy; chaos and dozens of useless administrations plus Mafia and corruption, Britain; of all Europe probably closest the US model. And guess what? All have ended up in about the same place in GDP, personal wealth, etc.

Truth is, USA was rich because it had lots of oil and a big empty country, and it wasn't destroyed by the last 2 wars. Now its getting poor fast because the oil ran out and its in two wars it can't win.

Its no wonder a fair chunk of your population want out. I guess it'll get worse.

Greg T. Jeffers said...


I see this as more of a seismic shift - fascinating stuff.

Stephan B:

I think your point is essentially correct - and I love it.

Publius said...

Well that post sure got Bureaucrat's knickers in a bundle, didn't it?

I guess the idea that his employer may not live forever is a bit off-putting.

He says "big gov't" will live forever. But maybe not OUR big government.

The whole thing about people's belief in god and its relation to political ideology is pure bull... marketing. The simple fact is that rural people tend to be more religious than city people, because city folk get cut off from the cycle of nature and the realization that the simple fact of life and the existence of anything at all is a complete mystery. An interesting fact is that physicists and cosmologists are far more religious than biologists, and its the physicists who are closer to the foundation levels of the physical universe.

If there is such a thing as karma, or even if there's simply a reaction to every action, the US government is pretty much doomed. You can only screw over both your own people and the rest of the world for so long before something gives, bends, breaks, and blows back.
Good gravy... just a look at American TV would lead an observer with a grasp of history to realize we are in the decadent phase of a nation's existence, and are living off the stored wealth of the past. It also helped that the rest of the world's productive capacity was completely destroyed by WWII... those Krauts and Japs turned out to be pretty darn ingenious themselves. But the myth of American exceptionalism will die hard, while the truth of natural law and justice will go on forever, dooming those who ignore it for too long.
Thank God for George Carlin, though.

Dan said...

Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

Generally secession movements are a handful of misfits in a trailer park that is styled as a compound; that doesn’t fit these guys. This is more troubling because they are not a bunch of losers, the extreme times we are in, and beyond sentiment very few realize the benefits of the union. I wonder how many have read the federalist papers- my guess is the percentage of the population who have would round to zero.

Fundamentally the real division is not between the left and right but betwixt a handful of plutocrats, their enablers, sophists, etc. and the rest of us. Perhaps more people are beginning to look past the BS; funny how getting beat down causes you to reassess your assumptions and priorities.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Pub and Dan:

Thank you for your excellent points.

Governments come and go every 4 years... and the fact that all of them have ignored the U.S. Constitution does not take away from the value of the Constitution.

These guys need to quite the treason thing, and get on with supporting a third libertarian party.

Anonymous said...

Publius- can you supply links to your contention about the religiosity of physicists? In my experience they are one of the least religious groups in the country.

And I would dispute the idea that connection to nature results in strong religiosity. We are long time rural self-sufficiency folks and have no connection to any religious groups- there are many more of us.

bureaucrat said...

Big government will last as long as the baby boomers are on Earth. Once they have died off (in 20-30 years - the first ones hit age 62 in 2008), the expenses of the Federal government will greatly diminish. Until then, the plan is, I'm retiring on 12/31/2023 with a $3,200/month pension, health care, and a $660,000 401k. Plus the IRA, energy investments, my rents and metals liquidation. Things are all good .. until they aren't. :)

Anonymous said...

What happens when the public employees' unions and those on the dole start fighting over a steadily decreasing supply of milk at the public teat? Seems to me that a serious rift on the left is in the offing. There may be more than one new political party.


Coal Guy

DaShui said...

North Korea has a constitution, granting human rights to its citizens.
England does not have a written constitution.
It's not the paper-it's the people.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there is a growing public realization that there is too much power concentrated at the top. The left points at the corporations, the right points at big government. But, in fact, there is just too much power concentrated in too few organizations. It doesn't bode well for vested interests. The Vermont Secessionists, Tea Party, etc. are all signs of the general public having had enough of the bunch of them. I watch Obama and the banks and see a tendency toward Fascism, but this stuff gives me hope.


Coal Guy

oOOo said...

For Bur regarding his 401k:

People sound spitting mad in the comments.

bureaucrat said...

Old men are always spitting mad at the idea of the government taking any control away from them -- they also think they will live forever, that they shouldn't pay any tax since they aren't getting any "real benefits" (like the hugely expensive Social security, Medicare and Medicaid), and that since they fought for their country for 3 days in Saipan, that they should get unlimited Veterans benefits for life as well. Been there, done that.

As far as the annunitization thing goes, the government has every incentive to "kick the can down the road" and NOT pay back 100% of any money paid in. It's been 20 years since the Feds stopped pension lump-sums from being paid out (you now have to take monthly payments). My pension will be monthly payments instead of a lump sum (they will also encourage me to convert my 401k to an annunity someday). We just got Obama to approve us getting slightly bigger pensions for unused sick leave .. another obligation for America's kids; kicking the can down the road.

However, Japan relies almost exclusively on internal Japanese citizen savings to fund their government (similar to the proposal you cite.). And while that scheme is now becoming a real problem (Japanese elderly are starting to want their money back), it did work for Japan for 20 years, buying time, keeping borrowing costs near zero. It should be no surprise to anyone that troubled institutions like the U.S. want to pay you back monthly instead of lump sum. By now, I'm used to it.

bureaucrat said...

By the way, notice the use of the word "option" in that link. :)

Anonymous said...

But, welfare queens are not the point. We have been exporting our industry for 40 years now, and been scooping up the bottom of the workforce with the welfare net. It's all been done at the expense of ever increasing debt and trade imbalances. We've reached the end of that rope.

There is overcapacity, but as you point out, Bur, that occurs every 75 years or so. Then, people figure out other productive things to do. In our present economy, replacement of dwindling fossil fuel resources seems like a growth industry to me. With the present decline in oil output across the globe, bringing Iraq on line would keep worldwide production about flat. Better than the alternative, but oil will still be expensive.


Coal Guy