The Limits of Civil Government - EC359

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: The Limits of Civil Government
Course: Course - Easy Chair Series
Subject: Subject:Conversations and Sermons
Lesson#: 57
Length: 0:59:35
TapeCode: ec359
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Easy Chair Series.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


This is R. J. Rushdoony, Easy Chair number 359, April the third, 1996.

This evening, first of all, Douglas Murray, Paul Biddle, Mark Rushdoony and I will discuss the limits of civil government. Incidentally, Andrew Sandlin is in England speaking at present and so is not with us tonight.

The limits of civil government is an important subject because we are facing increasingly a world in which no one is ready to say there are any limits on civil government. Its power has increased exponentially just since World War II, although you could put that increase in power back to the days of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is hard to realize that earlier in the century, just before World War I, Washington, DC was barely a city except when Congress was in session. There were not many people there. It was a sleepy, quiet southern community. The Taft family would stake the family cow out on the lawn or front area—it was just grass in those days—of the White House. So there were no lofty driveways and entrance to the White House. Washington itself, except when Congress was in session, did not have a great population.

I used to know some years ago a man who grew up in those days. He was born in the last century and was a mature man when he left Washington, DC. And he said in his childhood and youth you knew most of the people in the city.

Well, Washington, DC has grown. So has every other civil government. [00:02:46]

Now what are the limits on civil government? We are...[edit]

Now what are the limits on civil government? We are used to thinking of the Middle Ages of a time when the state had great power because kings and emperors ruled. Actually, they did not have much power. In fact, as J. R. Lander in his book The Limitations of English Monarchy in the Later Middle Ages has written, and I quote, “The civil bureaucratic establishment of late medieval England was very small, indeed. At the most not more than one civil servant for ever 1050 of the population. Moreover, their functions were by no means exactly comparable as about two fifths of these were employed in the law courts so that we can plausibly say that it was one for every 2070 of the population. To investigate the actual distribution of these civil servants, their total number nominally at the direct command of the king can hardly have exceeded 1500 men, perhaps 250 to 300 knights, esquires, yeomen and pages in the politically significant section of the royal household, perhaps 100 in the exchequer, 150 in the chancery, about the same in the law courts and about 30 or 40 receivers and auditors staffing the New Yorkest system of estate management and financial control centered in the king’s chamber. Eighty or 90 custom officials and about 700 or 800 local keepers of royal parks, castles and forests and stewards of royal manors. Each county its sheriff’s office and its staff in a large county like Lincolnshire could number up to 100. These appointments, however, were in the control of the sheriff, not the king. And whatever had been the case earlier by the mid 14th century, the sheriff’s offices had become notorious centers of corruption,” end of quote.

However, as he goes on to make clear, the corruption was not on the grand scale that it is now. The bureaucracy was limited and although you could say it was the will of the king that prevailed, there were many checks on the will of the king, the power of the local lords and a great deal more.

In other words, there were more limitations on English kings in the late Middle Ages than there are on many of our prominent American public officials. [00:06:13]

So bureaucracy has grown...[edit]

So bureaucracy has grown. Democracy has not been a prevention of corruption or a prevention of the growth of bureaucracy. In fact, both have proliferated under democracy.

Now, this is not to say that it is an evil fact to have popular suffrage, but simply that the basic problem is the lack of character in the people which has led to corruption on all levels. The old saying, “You cannot make a good omelet with rotten eggs” applies to every area of life. You cannot do it in the state, nor can you do it in the Church. You cannot do it in education on any level. If you have bad eggs, you are going to have a bad omelet. And in our day the bad omelet surfaces on every level of civil government as well as society at large.

Well, with that general introduction, Douglas, would you like to take over? I know you have a great deal of experience here.

[Murray] Well, the thing that people in government don’t seem to realize yet or at least in our current federal government, is that government also, while it has many powers, it also has the power to destroy itself by overstepping its limits. And as we have observed previously, historically, governments that go beyond 50 percent taxation are generally changed either by force, mostly, historically they have been changed by force or the governments have fallen and a new government has risen to take its place. It would be preferable to have a bloodless revolution, but too often in history when the pressure builds up it becomes a bloody revolution because the people, they are actually driven mad as people in this country are being driven mad by the continuing ratcheting of the pressure at all levels through regulation, pressure on the property rights, pressure through taxation, et cetera. [00:09:01]

The... the limit is... is really on government is the limit of the tolerance of the people to the predatory actions of government and also they are limited by the resources that are available to tax. Historically, property has been the primary target of taxation because it is the tangible thing that can be counted most easily. It is the one thing you can’t hide is physical property, real property. However, our government has stepped it up to tax income, to tax profit, to redefine what you can keep by defining certain profits as excess profits. In other words, you are not allowed to make beyond a certain point otherwise the government considers that you don’t keep any percentage of an excess profit. They take it all instead of taking a percentage up to a certain level as they do in a graduated income tax. Beyond a certain point for a corporation, particularly oil companies back in, I believe, the 1970s they defined excess profits as being government property and they confiscated those profits.

Then it becomes taxing tools of production so that the means with which you make your living the actual tools that you use to make your living are taxed.

Now we are seeing a new break. Now I know it has been done in other countries, but we are seeing it here, I think, for the first time and now that leisure time activities, there is proposal now to tax television. I mean, this is the last refuge of poor people is to stay at home and watch television. And so it is... indicates to me that we are getting to the end of the cycle of resources that is available for the government to tax when they get down to taxing leisure activities of the poor. And we are getting, I believe, very close to a change in government, because when they go that far they are going to get over the 50 percent point and at that point people are just going to pull the plug on... they will either refuse to pay, states will refuse to send tax money in and the government will just, you know, either have to take it by force at that point, in which case they will have a ... we will have blood in the streets. [00:12:18]

The... something that I have never seen in my lifetime is auctioning of radio frequencies. Now in all prior laws the ... the Geneva Convention of 1934 communications convention, the basis on which all countries regulated the use of the airwaves was in the public interest, convenience and necessity, didn’t say anything about corporate profit, didn’t say anything about the government’s making a profit, but auctioning something that basically belongs to the people. It is a public resource. Selling them, in effect, through auction to corporate entities so that they now own radio frequencies so that the government is now relinquishing, in effect, relinquishing control over the people’s airways and selling them to corporations. So they are getting down to the nitty gritty of what they can sell in order to finance the welfare state. So I believe these are definite indications that we are getting to the end of this cycle of government that is no longer going to be able to sustain itself economically and will collapse, because there is nothing else left to tax.

[M. Rushdoony] The government, in the same vein, for self limits on the power of the government, a government that likes to tax, likes to spend even more. And so they are inevitably not only going to tax the people high, because, theoretically a government taxes if they spend only what they receive, they can maintain that for a long time and they can claim that look at what we are giving you.

Well, but... but... but they like to go into debt and they like to inflate which means they are destroying the economy as they tax and spend.

[Murray] I don’t think there is anyone in this country that stays aware of current events that is ... has any expectations that our government will ever cut spending. It is simply a politically impossibility, because once people figure out that they can vote themselves benefits from the public treasury, there is no stopping it. Absolutely no stopping it, because it runs counter to human nature. Everybody wants something for free and, you know, the vast majority of people in this country will continue to take money from the public purse. The public purse will never be full enough. It will never have enough money until they tax it all at which point people will figure out there is nothing left for them. [00:15:13]

[Rushdoony] Paul...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Paul.

[Biddle] Well, I was trying to think of some countries that I visited and efforts of the United States that have been undertaken to think about what these limitations are and I think there are two types of limitations that we speak of. One are limitations that are and then there are limitations that we might think should be in place. And I won’t go too far into what should be, because that can take quite a bit of time, but the limitations that I think are inherent in governments, so civil institutions are, one, their ability to know what is going on within their entity and, two, their ability to enforce their wills within that entity. And so if you don’t know that you are... your organization, your state organization is doing something, you cannot keep it on track. You cannot effect its direction or the outcome of events. But if you don’t have the means to go out and enforce, you don’t have a police force, you don’t have a taxing authority, what have you, you can’t do much to enforce the will of the state. And I ... I look at several things that come under the ability to enforce. And I think when we see these things out... when I was in Vietnam and I was involved in the type of the work I was doing there, I saw these four tools that states use. One... one is they control communication.

Doug was talking about, you know, selling off frequencies. Well, if you control the ability of people to articulate, you have defined a status that you can either continue or you can modify. But it provides you knowledge and it provides you the ability to contain. And if you notice in most foreign counties, most foreign countries you cannot have an English language radio station or television station. A great example was Japan up until 1980 or so. The only English language broadcast that was permitted in that country was by the armed forces networks down in {?} and areas like that and {?}. You go into the Philippines and the Philippines are very much Americanized, but you had limited television programming in English there also. But communication is one instrument that the government uses and they control people with the communication lines.

Another one is the popular interpretation of history and heritage. In Malaysia I recall when I was in... working in Kuala Lumpur, I read these textbooks that the Malays were using in their schools and it... I mean, it really put down people of western European heritage. And, of course, that is not a Christian country. But there was tremendous disgust with the colonial efforts that occurred in at that time Malaya and it was informed or placed upon all western Europeans, not just English. [00:18:22]

Another way that the government uses to control people...[edit]

Another way that the government uses to control people and direct them with this ability to enforce their wills is through dress and that can come through either the police function which we can think of as the people with white shirts and black trousers and batons, but a police effort also comes from other things, causing people to be sure that they have so much space in front of their house, zoning ordinances. These are all police activities, because there is enforcement associated with them if you violate them.

And another area that is immense in terms of a state having... what limits them is when these things start failing, if taxing capacity starts failing, if you are not able to enforce taxation and we see the development of a tier of commercial activity in our country where it is not being taxed. It has slipped beyond the reach of the taxing authorities.

So I think that is an inherent limitation to civil government. And another one is the financial reach of the state. When it reaches out and it fails to control such as in the stock markets, in the banking institutions, savings and loans, even in our ... our trade agreements, in GAAP where we, in effect, have lost much of our self control of our financial destinies, in NAFTA. When we start things... seeing things like this where a state cannot control, it begins to say that the state is limiting its authority, so to speak, because of their actions.

And I guess the last one is a state’s or a civil authority is limited by its quality. If you see leadership that you think is bankrupt morally, you start seeing a civil entity that starts to contract. People lose respect for it. It loses its authority.

So I would say the two big things are, first, the state has to know what is going on with in its... its borders. Secondly, it has to have the ability to enforce both inside and outside.

We think of the Monroe Doctrine. We get carried off into things like bussing. But this ability to enforce its will is really important and if you can’t do that, you start having these natural limitations.

[M. Rushdoony] Well, I think it is important to remember that you can assign most any task to government, but you have to remember that government is never efficient in anything it does. The most necessary functions are not going to be done particularly efficiently or certainly not cost effectively, because government never has to think in terms of doing anything efficiently. [00:21:14]

A large corporation, let’s say a fast food, they will...[edit]

A large corporation, let’s say a fast food, they will know right down to the penny how much their French fries cost to produce per serving, for the different size servings, how much the little cardboard box or paper wrapper costs. They know everything and they... because if they are losing money they are losing it millions of times any day in any one item. And they have to constantly focus on doing things efficiently and government doesn’t have to do that. A government just says, “We are getting the job done. That is what you want out of your government, isn’t it?” They don’t have to be efficient. So the bigger a government gets, the more inefficient it is going to be, because that means more power, more spending to accomplish any given factor.

So government can do just about anything people expect of it, but none of it is going to be efficient. Even something as necessary as military defense, it has never been efficient. That is why the liberals can always criticize it because they can... they will always be able to find tremendous amounts of waste in anything that that is large... that... that large that government does. But people expect a defense and so there is going to be some inefficiency in it.

I think the two essentials of what we ... that we have to look at is with the two essentials what government is for is justice and defense. The government has to be a source of justice, a source of... in other words courts making sure that I have some recourse other than some personal vendetta or a vengeance that there is some administration of justice that I can have recourse to. And defense would include police as well as military. We have to have some designated authority to enforce the laws.

But if you keep in mind that nothing you are going to do is going to be particularly efficient and the larger our government gets the less our freedoms are available to us, then there is no real advantage to a large government if it doesn't serve those functions in justice and defense.

[Biddle] Can I ask a question, Rush, because I am hearing things here and ... and I am thinking. How far does a government have to fail before its inertia or its natural aspects cause it to be limited? I am thinking, like, one of the things I had is duress. And I am looking at civil governments. We are hearing now about Riverside where their two deputies beat some illegal immigrants. I believe that was the case. We have the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles. Where? I ... I think, once you start losing confidence, because of the effecting of duress, or once you have a financial debacle... I was very surprised in the United States when the savings and loan and the banking industry and HUD—these were tremendous financial enterprises in our country—started to go south and people still believed in the system and still supported the government that had occasioned these things to occur. How far does a government have to slip, do you think, before its naturalness causes it to be limited and to fail? [00:24:49]

[Rushdoony] I don’t think that is a question that can...[edit]

[Rushdoony] I don’t think that is a question that can be answered. For example, Gladstone, one of the great English political figures of the last century at one time called attention to the incredible corruption of the kingdom of the two Sicilies. Now for generations that realm had an amazing record of corruption, almost unbelievable. But it survived. It was only when Garibaldi created a united Italy and overthrew that regime that it ended. The people were ready to take whatever was dished out because they didn’t have the faith to resist just as the mafia has for generations ruled Sicily in effect and the people know it is death to resist.

So states can be exceedingly corrupt. As long as they maintain the power to kill off any critics, they survive. This makes it very, very dangerous for a state to get too powerful, because then it can step in and do as it pleases with the people. So if the people are without faith and if they have allowed the central power to get too powerful, they become virtually impotent. This has happened again and again. At this point war has been a help at times in overthrowing corrupt regimes, regimes that have been for generation upon generation corrupt, no one able to challenge the power and then a war overthrows the regime. [00:27:09]

So wars, ugly as they are, have at times served a beneficial...[edit]

So wars, ugly as they are, have at times served a beneficial purpose in ending ugly regimes. At other times regimes within a regime have survived for a long, long time. For example, a history of, let’s say, just European warfare is, if accurately written, a thoroughly horrifying story because generals were named for, well, their services to the king, providing him with a mistress or being highly regarded by the queen. They would have no military knowledge. They would send people to their death wholesale. But no attention was called to that until the modern media arose which, bad as it is, has called attention to a great many things and public opinion was formed. That happened in England with the Crimean War, things like the charge of the light brigade, one of many, many instances, the most dramatic of total incompetence on the part of those in command.

That incident horrified the English public. It led to reforms. It meant that no longer were these incompetent boobs who are very good at dressing, but didn’t have an iota of knowledge as to what military strategy should be, only with public opinion was a stop put to that type of an appointment.

The caliber of military command since the Crimean War has steadily improved so that while there were people who were highly critical of the top brass, for example, in our armed forces, they don’t know how bad it once was, especially overseas. It was better here than most places.

Well, there are a number of things that lead to overthrowing a bad regime or a bad part of a regime. Public opinion through the media is one of them. And that has been an important fact. Moreover, the... well, we will continue. [00:30:28]

Well, to continue...[edit]

Well, to continue. One of the problems we face today is that because of the sheer size of civil government on every level, there is too much there for the ordinary man to monitor or even experts or the media. It is commonly said that the most corrupt branch of the federal government is the Indian service. Well, if that is true—and it is certainly among the worst—there is an obvious reason for it. It does not get much attention. How often in the course of a year do you read about the Indian service? It is out of sight and out of mind. As a result, those within the Indian service can do just about as they please.

And because there are so many, many branches comparable to the Indian service, hundreds upon hundreds of agencies commanding a total of billions of dollars, but actually unknown to the average American. It is easy for these agencies to survive, to be radically corrupt and to be beyond the reach of any reform. A few years ago in the 80s this one prominent writer had a list of a great number of agencies in Washington and the entire book was about them and how much they were spending all of which were useless. All these agencies could be dispensed with. But nothing was done. They were too many for the people to get indignant about and as a result they survived endlessly. [00:32:56]

I know that until not too many years ago when it became...[edit]

I know that until not too many years ago when it became a kind of joke and then was abolished, the navy was still buying rope made for the old fashioned sailing vessels of the navy. Nobody had put a stop to it and there were segments of the economy living off of that, having a sure income year after year. And finally a few people wrote enough about it, made fun of it so that it was finally dropped. Or at least someone with that time worked in the navy, who has since retired, told me it was going to be dropped.

Now, it is possible that after being dropped for a year it was put back into the budget, because who reads the budget? It is a few thousand pages. Nobody has ever read it all. Everybody puts in what they want and it goes through with a vote by congressmen and senators who have never read it. And there can be things in there that are beyond our imagination and which nobody has the time to research and to expose. So the very bigness of the federal government or any civil government makes it difficult to reform it. Plus, the moral weakness of the people. They are out to get what they can and, therefore, there is no righteous indignation in them about what is happening in Washington or the state capital or the county seat or the city offices.

[Murray] Talking about anachronisms of government, in the 1950s I was in the army and I was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas and I was just a dog face at the time going through basic training and I was detailed to shovel horse manure and horse barns of a horse mounted cavalry detachment in the 1950s. And they... these horses got the best of everything. I mean, they had the saddles and, you know, everything and they trotted them out once a year for a parade or something like that, but here is the tax paper supporting a horse mounted cavalry detachment just in case.

[Rushdoony] In the case... there was another battle of...

[Murray] That’s right.

[Rushdoony] ... the Little Big Horn or whatever.

[Murray] Well, the reason it was there, it was ... it was a holdover from when ... who is the general, the tank commander in World war II? Patton. That Patton had commanded that thing and that was his pet project. So nobody was going to fool with it even though when Patton died in the 1940s or something like that they weren’t going to... they weren’t going to fool with it, because that was his pet project.

[Rushdoony] That was his background, the cavalry.

[Murray] Yeah. He was a cavalry soldier, you know, they just changed to motorized horses.

[Biddle] So this past summer my son Carl and I we visited Fort Riley. And I think we visited those stalls. {?}

So they don't... they still have a few horses, but I don’t know that they have any cavalry left in the United States army, but...

You know, I was... I was thinking about three countries, civil instituted authority that have failed and I was just applying my little measure against them. And it really... I was thinking of were, one, Iran under the Shah. I was thinking of Cuba... actually there were four of them. Cuba under Batiste. Romania Ceausescu and the Serb efforts recently in the Bosnia area. And if we take the two measures that I ... I think are the ... that show the inherent limitations as God has built into the system, why these things fail, I think that in all of those states there was effort made to know about what the people were doing. They had secret police. In Iran you had to survive. Batiste, I don’t know what his intelligence organization and police organizations were named, but in all of these countries there were efforts made to know what was going on. But where they failed was they could not enforce their will either internally or externally. I ... if would go through those countries, let’s take the Shah. I think when the western allies started shifting away from the Shah, he could not control their interest in the country and so in exile in Paris comes back to Iran and he is overthrown.

You look at Batiste when Castro was endorsed by the United States government in the 50s. For a period of time he was a hero. Batiste fell.

If you look at Ceausescu in Romania, I believe Ceausescu irritated people—when I say people, I am speaking in governments now—on both sides of the iron curtain. I think when we look at the Serbs, I think they, again, could not control the externalities. [00:39:04]

Now if we look at major powers like our own country...[edit]

Now if we look at major powers like our own country, that is a hint that we need to control our externalities. We do not need to be at the whim of some foreign power either financially, militarily or in terms of our history or heritage. We should be as fine as any country that will come along in terms of political process we propose and live by. But when we start seeing those things changing, if we start seeing a ... a weakening in our military posture, if we start seeing a weakening in our ability to control our own financial affairs, when we start seeing a weakening in our heritage and our past where it has become ridiculed, boy, I think you are starting to lay track for the limitations of a civil authority called our country, the United States of America. And if we take hints from these other places that I must mentioned or we look at other countries and there have been other great powers before. I mean, you can go all the way back to Rome or you can talk about things as recent as Britain and France and Italy or German and Japan. We could learn a lot from those.

[Rushdoony] Well, it was my privilege to know a remarkably humble and a truly great man, Elgin Grossclose. His name is perhaps forgotten by most people today, although he wrote a few very remarkable novels. But basically he was an economist, wrote two exceptionally fine books on money.

After World War I Elgin Grossclose was sent to Iran to help set up the old shah’s regime which he did. After World War II he went there once again to help the young shah. And it led to the dramatic modernization of the country, remarkable progress, but the shah failed to follow Grossclose’s advice at one point. He said, “If you do not put your country on a hard money basis, on the gold standard, you will sooner or later have an inflation that will wipe you out and send you packing.” No account of the shah’s departure mentions that fact. The people were well off under the shah, better than they could ever have imagined. They were, as compared to other Islamic states, more prosperous, had a bit more freedom, even though it was a tightly controlled situation. But when inflation set in, suddenly all these people found that everything they had was at risk, because money was losing its value. And that is what destroyed the shah. [00:42:20]

And it is going to destroy other countries as well...[edit]

And it is going to destroy other countries as well, including ours, because money is becoming worth less and less.

I can recall that I have mentioned this fact before. One time in the 30s thousands upon thousands were applying from all over the country to teach in Los Angeles because the teachers were paid 150 dollars a month. That was big money. But today nobody can live on 150. And the result of inflation is that people are in trouble now, economically in trouble. Increasingly, as I hear from people across country, even in very well to do upper middle class neighborhoods, it is now necessary for both husband and wife to work. And even then they are having trouble making ends meet.

Now we don’t feel it as much here, because we are in a mountain area, a low cost area and in the back washes, so to speak, of the rise in prices. But inflation is wiping out more and more people in the United States. The number of people today who are in a position of being unable to meet the payments in their houses is increasing. And what the banks are doing is to tell the people: If you can make any kind of payment, we will carry you. We cannot repossess all the homes of people who are in trouble, but we are ready to carry you if you will make some kind of token payment regularly.

So it was inflation that wiped him out.

Now it is the modern state that creates inflation. You cannot inflate silver and gold. There is now way you can inflate it. If that is your only currency, it holds its value. But if it is paper, then you can increase the money supply via the printing presses. And the result is that people are faced with inflation. [00:45:16]

Now up to a point people welcome it...[edit]

Now up to a point people welcome it. I recall in the 50s this young veteran who was very pleased. He was having trouble meeting payments on his house. But when inflation sent his salary from 400 to 650, he thought inflation was great. He defended it. He championed it. And he said, “What we need is more inflation.” Well, what it has done is to wipe people out. And in the real estate boom of the 80s people were going out and buying houses, having payments to make of 1500, 2000, up to 3000 and now they can’t make it. So the wives are going to work. And it I creating problems because in many instances the wives now are better able to get and hold a job than the men, precisely because there is a differential in pay. The man has seniority in his work. He is easily expendable. But the women are coming in at the bottom level and they can do as much work.

[Murray] It should be pointed out to the Feminists that if they do achieve equality in pay, they will lose job security.

[Rushdoony] Yes. It was in 72 that inflation began to push women into the marketplace. And now in the 90s they are out there with a vengeance, because they have to keep working or go to work to preserve the family’s home and property.

[Murray] We talked about for a minute there has to be a... a seminal influence that drives the decay of all governments to the point where they... they can no longer maintain themselves. You have discussed inflation and the symptoms of inflation, the... what inflation inflicts on the population. But the fact that there have been so many governments though history, thousands, tens of thousands of them since the beginning of history, they all follow the same track.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Murray] So there has to be some common denominator, some lesson to be learned after all of this human experience and nobody is getting it. [00:48:03]

[Rushdoony] They don’t want to learn and they think...[edit]

[Rushdoony] They don’t want to learn and they think they can beat it. Dorothy has often remarked about the incredible fact that France destroyed itself economically with the South Sea bubble. And almost at once the ... yes, the Mississippi bubble. And then almost at once the South Sea bubble wiped out the British economy. They didn’t learn from the French experience, because they decided they were smarter than Frenchmen and, therefore, they could make it work. And the results were devastating for both.

There is an interesting fact that John Lofton very recently called to my attention. In the primaries there was a great deal of talk about protectionism versus free trade. Well, I think a case could be made for the fact that both have worked. The key is not the device, but the productivity of the people in this country. However, the point that Lofton made that was rather startling… Once you saw it you were, yes, that is the way it was. Up until World War I, our federal government lived primarily on tariff money and we did very well with it. We prospered. Now we are living and we are prospering as a country economically off of the income tax. So we have shifted the burden of taxes from the foreigner who wants to sell to us to the American citizen. Maybe that is a good thing. Maybe it isn’t. I don’t particularly like it. But it has been destructive to the American citizen.

[M. Rushdoony] You know, you mentioned Paul earlier was talking about what ... what causes this collapse of... of confidence that leads to the collapse of a government. We have talked about inflation. You mentioned the Mississippi bubble, the South Sea bubble which is... is the same pattern of all speculative bubbles and ... and that go bust. And... and that is when the people lose confidence in a system just as if they lose confidence in a get rich scheme, once the public perception is such that this isn’t going to fly, it all falls apart. When the people whose confidence in a government or they think they can disobey a government and get away with it... and that was one of the primary, as I understand it, one of the primary rationales behind removing the prohibition amendment because it was so widely disobeyed and that was thought that that was not... not a healthy thing for people, if they thought they could get away with violating the law... [00:51:21]

[Murray] Observe a couple of things...[edit]

[Murray] Observe a couple of things. One of them is that people in this country have fallen silent. You know, the media does all of the talking. It tells the people what to think, but the people have fallen silent. And the second thing is that people aren’t voting. So the collapse is in progress. The collapse of confidence is in progress. It simply hasn’t run its course. But it is on that... it is on the downhill road.

[M. Rushdoony] And people are disappointed because they have been promised so much and so many people believed it for so long and now they find are finding that the promises aren’t going to pan out, that the government can’t really do this and they can’t really do that and all they have done is bankrupt the American citizen and the American economy.

So a... a change can happen when the change comes to the people and you often can’t see that coming. Why does a... a.... a bull market turn bear all of the sudden? It is... after it happens you can... you can speculate about the... the causes, but it is a public perception that...

[Murray] Investor confidence.

[M. Rushdoony] ...things are turning around.

[Murray] Well, you know, some of the breaks that we have seen relatively recently is the Los Angeles police department running in the face of civil disorder, abandoning the streets to the mob. When have we seen that previously in our lifetimes? The Supreme Court handing down a decision that police departments are not obligated to protect you whether you pay for it or not. They are not obligated to protect you. I mean, these are all signals that you have to assume that we are getting to the end of this cycle of this government.

[Biddle] I... I think that... I was... I kind of {?} the thing that Mark said and the thing that you said, Douglas, within this category of what I call ability to enforce. And I think one of the things that I think is a real bell weather for civil government has to do when people recognize and exchange of value is disproportionate. We can’t tell whether a battleship costs the right amount. We get upset when we hear about hammers costing so much. But when people start seeing a disproportionate value exchange, for instance, if you pay for your government and your roads are still bad, that is... that is subtle, but it starts to contribute. But if you look at in Germany in the 20s when people had to carry wheelbarrows of currency to buy loaves of bread, then they see a disproportionate value in the exchange. And when that happens and it is widespread... now you can have erratic movement where sometimes you would say, “Gee, why am I paying 18 percent?” like under Carter or, you know, when you had to pay 18 percent for home mortgages. Now it went down and everyone said, “Oh, it is ok, now.” [00:54:20]

But when you start seeing disproportionate exchange...[edit]

But when you start seeing disproportionate exchange values and they don’t seem to be coming to an end or they seem to be lasting for a disproportionate amount of time, that, I think, is when the civil government, the state starts to cave in on itself.

[Murray] Well, this is why the federal government created the federal reserve system. You remember Volker or Alan Greenspan when the ... when the savings and loan collapse came along and he just had to make one statement. We will provide liquidity. And that was all people wanted to hear. They want to be told a fairy story and they got it and everybody went back to sleep. But it was a device, pure and simple.

[Biddle] Yeah.

[Murray] More dollars chasing fewer goods and services, the master plan for inflation. The government lies routinely about inflation. They tell the people every night on the six o'clock news, latest figures in government sources say that inflation is two to three percent, when the real rate of inflation is 13 to 14 percent because they cook the books. They subtract things that we commonly have to pay for in our daily lives from the cost of living that arrives at the rate of inflation. So the government lies routinely. It misrepresents routinely. So these are additional indications that the government knows... the government knows...

[Biddle] The government knows, yes.

[Murray] You know? They know that they are getting toward the end of the cycle and they come up with all of these devices, these little sham devices and lies and ... and so forth to try to fool the people into thinking that everything is all right. So when we get to the point you are talking about, the wheelbarrow full of money, that is when the cat will be out of the bag.

[Rushdoony] There is another aspect here that I think should be brought out. Across the world there are no limits on the civil governments around the world. We had limits originally, but we have abolished them, especially since World War I in that we have progressively introduced the doctrine of federal sovereignty into our legal system. [00:57:06]

The Constitution does not use the word because Washington...[edit]

The Constitution does not use the word because Washington, for one and others as well, were totally opposed to it. John Quincy Adams cried out eloquently on the 50th anniversary of the Constitution against the use of the word, because, as he rightly said, the term, belongs only to God. He alone is sovereign or Lord.

Well, the simple fact is the claim to sovereignty is crucial. No law can bind a sovereign. You cannot pass laws telling God what to do, because if he is God, he is going to overrule them. He is the lawmaker. And if the state is sovereign, if Washington, DC, the federal government is sovereign, no law on any level can ever control them. Congress has passed a couple of restrictions on deficit spending, but they are worthless, because Congress has no power to chain a sovereign power, the federal government.

So until we get back to a Christian premise, mainly that God alone is Lord or sovereign, we are going to have an uncontrollable federal government. We have an uncontrollable British government, an uncontrollable French, German, Italian, Spanish, you name it. The governments of the world all claim sovereignty.

Now if the UN is declared to be the sovereign—and we are legally moving towards that—it is going to make the claim all the more evil. Yes.

Well, thank you all for listening. Our time is up. God bless you.