How the 1% Took America's Wealth--and How to Get It Back

Column by Glen Allport.

Exclusive to STR 

- 1 -
Plundering Wealth vs Producing Wealth
In recent decades, the rich have gathered an increasing share of the total wealth in the United States. As this wealth disparity grows and especially as large numbers of the formerly middle class fall into poverty and even into homelessness, this flow of wealth from main street (from anyone not seriously wealthy) to those who already have extreme wealth, becomes more obvious – and more suspect.
Much of this transfer of wealth to the rich from those of lesser means is either of questionable legality (not to mention ethics) or flatly facilitated by political corruption or cronyism.

 The recent partial audit of the Federal Reserve, for example, revealed that:

"$16,000,000,000,000.00 had been secretly given out to US banks and corporations and foreign banks everywhere from France to Scotland. From the period between December 2007 and June 2010, the Federal Reserve had secretly bailed out many of the world’s banks, corporations, and governments. The Federal Reserve likes to refer to these secret bailouts as an all-inclusive loan program, but virtually none of the money has been returned and it was loaned out at 0% interest."
In many cases, the cronyism and corporatism is happening in plain sight, as when our government pays premium prices to contractors for work that taxpayers are already paying the government to do – outsourcing of military and security work in the Middle East being a well-known example. For instance, the Wikipedia article on XE Services (formerly Blackwater) quotes a Congressional report that alleges "Blackwater charges the government $1,222 per day per guard, 'equivalent to $445,000 per year, or six times more than the cost of an equivalent U.S. soldier'" (Erik Prince, Blackwater's co-founder and CEO at the time, disputed that figure). Either way, given that the U.S. spends almost as much on its military as the rest of the world combined, why are we paying large numbers of private contractors to do what taxpayers already pay the military to do?
The world's top 7 largest military budgets in 2010, courtesy Wikipedia. Figures sourced from SIPRI
Here at home, with more Americans than ever too poor to feed themselves, JP Morgan has found a way to turn that misery into yet another multi-million-dollar income stream. Putting it colorfully, the more children we have on the edge of hunger in America, the more money JP Morgan makes as the largest processor of food stamp benefits in the United States (the food stamp program is now called SNAP). We're not talking small potatoes here: "JP Morgan executive Christopher Paton admits that this is 'a very important business to JP Morgan' and that it is doing very well." The chart below shows why that might be so:


Chart from

Question: Why does a huge, well-connected bank need to be involved in a government program designed to feed the poor? The trillions of dollars taxpayers spend on government aren't enough to let some government agency or department handle this themselves? Our Treasury Department certainly knows how to disburse money (as do scads of other government entities); why are we shoveling more of our money to the mega-banks for this?
Much of the growing transfer of wealth to the rich is in fact only possible because of government coercion. Many of today's corporations (some portion of our military contractors, for instance) would not even exist in a free society, and those which did exist would have to be selling something that people (not government) were willing to pay for.
But today, we don't have a free society, and government power is massive enough to make or break any corporation or industry. Government power is now being used to hand billions and even trillions of dollars to failed businessmen (many of whom failed due to serious fraud, as with "liar loans" in the banking industry) and to connected corporations and other groups. Today, government control of various industries (misleadingly called "regulation") enables bad corporate behavior, stifles competition, allows massive pollution to go unpunished, and raises prices to artificial and even absurd levels. Today, corporations and special interest groups pull vast amounts of money from the masses unfairly, using the State's coercive power to their advantage in a hundred different ways – against the rest of us.
It is these people and groups – the ones whose wealth grows because of government action instead of from honest service to others in the market – who have impoverished the great mass of Americans. For the purposes of this essay, then, "the 1%" means "wealthy people whose wealth derives from the use of government coercion."
- 2 -
The Rich Who Aren't Part of the 1%
The rich whose wealth does NOT derive from use of government coercion are a very different group. These people are helping to enrich their fellow man – monetarily and in other ways, by providing needed or wanted products and services (as defined by the customers themselves) and are thus improving our quality of life.
For example, the late Steve Jobs – although a multi-billionaire – was not part of the 1% as defined above. Jobs amassed his wealth by creating and marketing products that millions of people wanted enough to voluntarily pay for. Those who did not want to buy his products were not forced to pay for them – anyone could say "no" to Apple (or to other companies Jobs was associated with, like NeXT and Pixar) by simply not buying what those companies sold. Nor was government involved in crushing Jobs' competition, paying massive subsidies to him or his companies, using the military to provide Apple any advantage overseas, or otherwise using taxpayer-provided resources to give Jobs or his companies unfair advantages or benefits.*
* As Apple has grown, this has begun to change; the stunningly repressive and corporatist Stop Online Piracy Act, which Apple supports (as do a number of other large corporations), is one example of Apple now striving to benefit from State coercion. The massive public outcry against this bill has Apple and Microsoft publicly backpedalling in their support of SOPA, but how sincere this is (and whether they are supporting the bill by proxy or will support other, equally draconian legislation in the future) remains to be seen.
By honestly competing in the marketplace, Steve Jobs enriched not only himself but all of us, including those who never bought an Apple product or saw a Pixar movie. In addition to creating thousands of jobs in multiple industries, Jobs made things better even for people who preferred, say, Dell to Apple. The refined, attractive, and user-friendly nature of Apple products, for example, put pressure on competitors to improve their own products. The Mac OS put pressure on Microsoft to make its own operating systems more refined, attractive, and user-friendly. The quality and success of Pixar films gave other studios incentive to make their own films as high-quality and engaging as Pixar's. All of this, from the design of products Jobs was associated with to their production and marketing, was accomplished without coercion, without violence, with nothing but the vast web of non-coercive human action that characterizes the market and civil society in general.
We need more rich people like Steve Jobs, who create wealth in the open marketplace rather than benefiting from government contracts, giveaways, regulatory favoritism, or by otherwise gaming the corrupt system of the State. But the State is making it increasingly difficult for an honest person to create wealth in the United States – whether by founding a tech giant or starting a one-person business to braid hair (in this case, laws in Utah and other states are the problem). In addition to draining our pockets with taxation and stealing the value of our dollars by inflation of the money supply (the very serious crime of counterfeiting, if you do it), many of the State's actions make honest wealth creation, at any level, more difficult or in many cases impossible. Money isn't the only thing we lose from that: For example, it used to be simple and easy to set up a free clinic to treat the poor, but try doing it now. For that matter, try even just feeding the homeless.
- 3 -
The Two Systems: Production versus Plunder1
Regardless of form, coercive government – the State as we have known it – is nothing but force.* Ultimately, no matter what it is doing, government's foundation is coercion and violence – including, most ominously, in the matter of funding: "give us your money, or else."
* Alternatives include individual self-government and voluntaryist government in a civil society. In this essay, I use "government" to mean the coercive State, regardless of form – democracy, monarchy, oligarchy, "dictatorship of the proletariat," or whatnot. The defining characteristic is use of force by those at the top against the masses, no matter what the rationale.
In contrast, the market is peaceful, voluntaryist, and cooperative. Customers have choices, including the all-important choice to say "no."
Coercive funding means that government is parasitic in nature, taking wealth from the productive members of society (whether the wealth producers like it or not) and spending that wealth in ways that are at the least inefficient and, in practice, often harmful to those forced to pay. For anything that people WANT done, government doesn't need to be involved: the people will get it done, and more efficiently, with competition providing incentive to keep quality high and costs low – and (unlike entrenched government bureaucracies and special interests) with real openness to new ideas and methods. Government's parasitic nature, combined with the inefficiency and corruption inherent to any operation funded at gunpoint, necessarily reduces living standards overall.
In contrast to coercive government, the market creates wealth and benefits us all, because every voluntary exchange benefits both parties as defined by the parties themselves – neither side participates in an exchange otherwise. But because one's exchanges with the State are NOT voluntary, there is no reason to expect that interactions with the State will be beneficial.
The difference couldn't be more stark: Honest (and non-corporatist2) market activity enriches society as a whole, while government action harms and impoverishes. Liberty produces prosperity; government plunders it – and spends the plunder in ways that cause further harm.
Without honest market activity, there is no food at the market, no smartphones to buy, no anything – except what you are willing and able to provide for yourself. Even a simple wooden pencil requires stunning levels of voluntary cooperation in the global marketplace; Leonard Reed's classic essay I, Pencil, describes why and will knock your socks off if you have not read it before (here's Milton Friedman telling the story; video, 2 min 42 sec). The finely-grained, peaceful, peace-promoting, and non-coercive division of labor that the market naturally creates, along with the simple human desire to better oneself (and one's family and causes) is what allows for modern life.
The benefits of liberty (including the free market) are not mere theory: freedom has repeatedly turned squalor into wealth and starvation into plenty, while extreme levels of government control have reliably done the opposite. Hong Kong (under the British, who gave Hong Kong far more freedom than they allowed to England and other parts of the Empire) boomed, going from wretched poverty in the early 1950s to stunning wealth in just a few decades – while right next door, much of mainland China under Mao was literally starving. Mao's China was one of the poorest nations on Earth, while a more fortunate group of Chinese, with the same cultural heritage as those on the mainland, were rapidly building a modern first-world society on the tiny, mountainous territory that is Hong Kong.
After Mao, the Chinese Communist government began allowing significant levels of freedom to the Chinese people, with results we are all familiar with: China has become an economic powerhouse. However, China's government is still corrupt and meddling in Chinese life, running a central bank, inflating the currency, censoring information, spending huge sums on make-work projects including building entire cities that remain almost empty, and so on – to such an extent that a major economic crash is coming for China, and soon, according to a number of well-informed people with solid track records.
Even within mainland China today, the areas least hobbled and parasitized by government are the main engines of wealth; for example, an article in Reason Magazine reveals that "Wenzhou has become one of the richest cities in China under a regulatory regime that borders on anarchism." The piece goes on to say:
"In southern China, things look rather different. The Chinese say that in this region 'the mountains are high and the emperor is far away'—in other words, the government isn’t paying much attention. Companies are mainly small or medium-sized enterprises, government services are slight, and laws are routinely ignored. According to official statistics, the three southern coastal provinces of Zhejiang, Guangdong, and Fujian have the first, second, and fourth wealthiest citizens, respectively, in the country. They are the center of China’s export sector and the primary destination for China’s millions of internal economic migrants. Here is where the real Chinese miracle is happening."
~ China’s Black Market City by Bradley Gardner
Freedom rewards people for doing the hard work of creating prosperity, and thus a free society becomes prosperous. When government steps in – no matter the excuse – this virtuous dynamic is harmed. With enough government involvement, market dynamics become so corrupted that amassing wealth becomes more a matter of having government influence than of producing products and services that the public wants or needs and is willing to pay for.
Those who favor redistribution of wealth have generally missed the fact that most of the wealth redistributed by government has gone, in a great many ways, into the pockets of the rich and of government bureaucrats. (And when some of it does get directed towards ordinary citizens, it comes in smallish amounts, diminishes over time, and creates poverty and dependence or debt – as with Social Security, Medicare, student loan programs, "affordable home loan" legislation, and almost anything else aimed, at least in theory, at helping the little guy).
Thus, we in the U.S. find ourselves paying, via taxes and in other ways, for things like war after war, police-state agencies that assault us, more than 900 military bases on foreign soil (the Roman and British empires each had only 35 to 40 such bases at their peaks), and so many other things we don't want and don't need that the nation is now bankrupt and the middle class is disappearing. We find our regulatory agencies benefiting corporations and special interest groups at the expense of public health, safety, and prosperity. We increasingly find ourselves living in tyranny despite our national slogan (check the coins in your pocket) of "liberty." And stunningly, one-third of Americans are now in poverty or nearly so, even as many of the wealthy rake in millions in bonuses at their insolvent banks and other corporations thanks to taxpayer-provided bailouts – and as connected corporations grow fat on government contracts, corrupt policies, and regulatory favoritism.
How did such a disaster happen?
- 4 -
Government Happened
America's government was originally very small and restrained – an understatement, at least when comparing today's leviathan to the mere speck of coercive government we had in the post-Revolution years of the late 1700s and early 1800s. Annual per capita federal expenditures were so close to zero [PDF] until the War Between the States that when viewed on a chart (in PDF above) the line can generally not be distinguished from "zero." As for total (not per capita) spending, the chart looks like this:
Modern levels of federal expenditure simply dwarf previous levels – to such an extent that today's federal budgets are orders of magnitude higher than before.
At the same time, U.S. liabilities (for which the big bankers say "Thank you!") have grown to over 700% of GDP: 
 From "Financial Position of the United States,"
This vast tsunami of our national wealth flowing to the State and to its favored schemes, corporations, banks, and special interests is a fairly new problem. We began with no income tax, no fiat-currency-vomiting central bank, and no Departments of, well, anything – other than State, War, and Treasury.* The list of today's federal Departments (Education, Homeland Security, etc.) is long, and those Departments employ more than 4 million people, over and above the Departments of Treasury and State.
* The War Department – tiny compared to today's Pentagon – became the Department of Defense in 1947. There was no Justice Department until after the War Between the States, although the Office of the Attorney General was created in 1789. It became the Department of Justice in 1870. According to the Dept. of Justice website, the Office of the Attorney General was "originally a one-person part-time position." Roll that around in your brain for a moment: One person. Part time.
How did the United States become the richest nation on Earth? Now you know.
The parasite of government was essentially microscopic in this country until recently – certainly in comparison to what we have now. The result was significant levels of actual liberty for the people and a breathtaking growth of prosperity and wealth.
But eventually the parasite became too big for the host – and now the host is dying.
- 5 -
Taking Back Our Wealth and Our Freedom
On a national level, the only possible fix for this disaster is to reverse the cancer-like growth of government – not to slow the growth (called "tax and spending cuts" by the politicians), not to stop the growth, but to reverse it – to dramatically shrink the size, cost, and reach of government in the United States. Government must again be made small enough that it cannot provide corporate subsidies, "regulatory" favoritism, multi-billion-dollar bailouts, or create entire industries (the defense and nuclear power industries as currently constituted, for instance) that you and I would never support voluntarily. Monsanto is a good example of how corporations benefit from government power; they can hire (in one form or another) current or former senators and other high-ranking government employees to support their corporate interests: [Note: lots of other interesting graphics at the site]
Now imagine the corporate/government overlap shown above being impossible, because coercive government was either non-existent or so small as to have no coercive power for corporations to hijack and use to their own benefit.
The genuine freedom and prosperity that only a very small (or non-existent) government allows for (at least on any sustainable basis) is your legacy as an American – and for that matter as a human being, no matter where you live. The best of the founding generation (Thomas Paine, for one stirring example) saw the American Revolution not as merely a revolt against the British King, but as a revolt against the idea of coercive Authority itself. The Revolution was not just for the benefit of those in the 13 colonies, but ultimately for all mankind.
Where do we start? Simple understanding of the truth is the first step, and spreading that understanding is the foundation for any restoration of liberty. You will have your own ideas on how to do that – that's the value of liberty: a society gets the benefit of the creativity, intelligence, experience, and talent of millions of people, not of just a few "special" people (too-often corrupt or even psychopathic) at the top.
Clearly, however, we need a way to rapidly educate millions of people about the benefits of liberty and about the dangers of the ominous, tyranny-expanding path we are on. The tiny audience for abolitionist / anarchist / voluntaryist material means that, while important, such an approach must not be our only one. We are very fortunate to have a mass-audience pro-freedom campaign being reluctantly underwritten by the same corporate media which supports the Total State: Ron Paul's ongoing campaign for president – actually a campaign for liberty and against the Federal Reserve, against the IRS, against our illegal and aggressive wars, against corporatism, against the cruel Drug War, against Big Government of every stripe.
Dr. Paul's interviews and debate responses in the national media, along with his other campaign efforts and the creative, energetic promotion of his campaign by a growing army of supporters is the most effective mass education campaign about the dangers of the State and the benefits of liberty the world has seen since 1776.
I endorse and support Dr. Paul and encourage others to do so – not because Paul is an abolitionist or voluntaryist – he isn't – and not because I think a "restrained, constitutional government" will solve our problems (we had exactly that, starting in 1789, and it took us where we are now) – but because every journey must begin somewhere, and waking Americans up to their heritage of liberty, flawed though that implementation of liberty was, is a necessary first step in turning the situation around.
We absolutely must move away from the high-tech Total Tyranny that approaches and return to a smaller, less cruel, less violent, less corrupt State. Nothing resembling freedom will survive otherwise. If we are lucky, stepping back from the brink will give us a chance to continue reducing coercion until we find ourselves with a truly civil society, where love and freedom are equally in evidence and where the coercion and violence of the State are but fading nightmares.
A world of liberty and compassion is what every new human life desires and what each of us is made for. Soon, it may be the only world an increasingly god-like techno sapiens can survive in.
Love and freedom: we won't get there in a single step, and we need to encourage as many people as possible to begin the journey now.
1) The phrase "production versus plunder" is from the title of Paul Rosenberg's Production Versus Plunder: The Ancient War That Is Destroying the West. Highly recommended, with a mix of history (from the start of human settlements to modern day), intelligent analysis, and a devastating description of the beginnings and true nature of the coercive State: as a more effective and safer (for the plunderers) means of appropriating the wealth created by those who actually produce.
2) I use the term corporatism to mean a symbiotic relationship between governmentand corporations. Corporations supply money in the form of lobbying, campaign cash, jobs to regulators and other government employees after their retirement from "public service," media spin to support this whole corrupt scheme, and other incentives to those in government. Government supplies the force, including actual military force (e.g., as used in the Middle East to the benefit of bankers, oil companies, private security contractors, and many others), and other coercion including regulatory favoritism (see today's pharmaceutical and medical industries), corporate welfare, no-bid contracts, outright cash giveaways in the form of bailouts and "stimulus" spending, loans that often remain unpaid, and many other things – all of it paid for, one way or another, by "the masses" – by all of us not on the corporatist gravy train.
Your rating: None Average: 9.3 (4 votes)
Glen Allport's picture
Columns on STR: 111

Glen Allport co-authored The User's Guide to OS/2 from Compute! Books and is the author of The Paradise Paradigm: On Creating a World of Compassion, Freedom, and Prosperity.


tzo's picture

"Nor was government involved in crushing Jobs' competition..."

Well, copyright laws certainly helped Apple keep their niche sewn up tightly. Of course, he had no choice but to use those laws or others would have and excluded him from his own products. Just goes to show that no matter how much you may want to become wealthy through making exclusively voluntary exchanges in this society, you really can't do it.

Glen Allport's picture

I'm undecided about whether our original copyright system was a reasonable approximation of what the market might have provided -- something along the lines of Creative Commons, perhaps -- but there's no doubt that the US copyright system has become a corporatist tool for plunder and repression (SOPA being only the most recent expression of this). You're certainly right that there is simply no way to avoid using government services -- can't breathe the air without do so, as the EPA is "in charge" of air quality. Not to mention roads, air traffic control, and so many other things.

Suverans2's picture

G'day Glen Allport,

You wrote: "You're certainly right that there is simply no way to avoid using government services -- can't breathe the air without do [sic] so, as the EPA is "in charge" of air quality. Not to mention roads, air traffic control, and so many other things."

You cannot possibly be serious!? If a man "breathes the air", he's using a government service!? That's not rational, that's a vain attempt at rationalizing staying bellied up to the trough. Hell, the adversary doesn't even believe that, Glen Allport!

A l'impossible nul n'est tenu. No one is bound to do what is impossible. 1 Bouv. Inst. n. 601.

Impotentia excusat legem. Impossibility excuses the law. Co. Litt. 29.

Nemo tenetur ad impossibile. No one is bound to an impossibility.

Glen Allport's picture

Yes, I did mean it -- although in all of those cases -- especially the EPA -- it's a mixed bag at best, of course. Government roads are useful and providing them is a service. I use the roads every day, directly and indirectly. Of course I'd rather the government not be involved, but the point is the government IS involved whether I like it or not. The air in Southern California IS a bunch cleaner than it was in the 60s when my family first moved there -- again, I'd rather that civil society rather than coercive government were the agent for this but government steps in and forcibly takes over whatever society begins noticing as a problem (civil rights being another example). Far better to have a non-coercive group do it (Underwriter Labs and many other groups like them for product safety in various industries, for example) but it is still a fact that for now, government has appropriated the provision of many goods and services.

Suverans2's picture

Your government, Glen Allport, did not create air, it is therefore not "in charge" of the air, or even "air quality". "IT" does not say, to the air, "I demand that you be of a higher quality". As in all things, it is "in charge" of that which it has created, which includes artificial persons[1], such as citizen/subjects and corporations.

[1] Artificial persons. Persons created and devised by human laws for the purposes of...government, as distinguished from natural persons. ~ Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition (c.1991), page 113 [Emphasis and bracketed information added]

NATURAL PERSONS. Such as are formed by nature [and therefore are subject to the "natural law of the human world"], as distinguished from artificial persons, [such as citizens] or corporations, formed by human laws for purposes of society and government. Wharton. ~ A Dictionary of the Law (Black’s 1st c. 1891), pg. 802 [Emphasis and bracketed information added]

WhiteIndian's picture

Oh, you're a member. Not willingly, of course, but you are a member. There is no "sovereign individual" in the agricultural city-State (civilization.)

The agricultural city-State (civilization) sits atop mountains of skulls. It's not interested in your ideas about how it's laws do not apply to you.

The only individual sovereignty is found in an egalitarian (non-hierarchical) Non-State sociopolitical typology (bands or tribes.)

"Historically, people in non-state societies are relatively autonomous and SOVEREIGN. They generate their own subsistence with little or no assistance from outside sources. They bow to no external political leaders. Nor are they routinely exploited by outsiders."

NON-STATE AND STATE SOCIETIES, adapted from Elman R. Service (1975), Origins of the State and Civilization: The Process of Cultural Evolution. New York: Norton.

Suverans2's picture

I am what I say I am, not what you and/or your master, the STATE, say I am. I do not consent to be a member of your "gang" [body politic]. Your "gang" can kick my ass every day, but that does not make me a member of your "gang".

Actus me invito factus, non est meus actus. An act done by me against my will, is not my act.

WhiteIndian's picture

I appreciate your sentiments; many dissent and do not consent to agricultural city-statism's virtual prison lockdown on 99% of our home planet's surface.

The problem I see with the sovereign movement, -- constitutionalist, libertarian, an-cap, or other flavors -- is that they imagine that some "pure" form of government within the agricultural city-state (civilization) that isn't brutally aggressive can be somehow conjured. They call it limited government, pure capitalism, constitutional government, privatized defense associations, etc.

They would be as deluded.

An integrated study of neurobiology, biological evolution, anthropology, and archeology will show that humans not only have not formed such a fantastical organization, it is most likely humans cannot, about as likely as conjuring an animated corpse.

Most libertarian/anarchist literature, while expressing sentiments for a return to the freedom we humans lost with civilization -- and I share in that -- ignores significant empirical data obtained in the last 50 years, and is based on many false premises, thus leading Mises, Rand, etc. to significant errors.

The most telling error is that libertarian types swallow is the Hobbesian mythology, which is a fabricated apology for city-statism. "Nasty, brutish, and short" has been discredited by empirical data; the more accurate view is "The Original Affluent Society." (Sahlins)

In conclusion, I now judge libertarianism as a secular salvationist hope to escape the horrors of agricultural civilization, much like Christianity seeks to escape the curse of agricultural civilization in Heaven.

Suverans2's picture

As interesting as all this is, it has nothing to do with a self-governing individual secessionist like me. And, although I would agree that there are "many [who] dissent", i.e. I can't seem to find any others who have, in truth, withdrawn consent, notwithstanding I do find quite a few who claim that they have never consented.

WhiteIndian's picture

If you're an evolved Pleistocene band animal on home planet Mother Earth, whom we call a human being, it has to do with you.

You don't even know that nature of the beast from which you wish to secede.

Better get interested in empirical observation and inductive logic from facts, not deductive libertarian-thinkery based on demonstrably false premises.

Suverans2's picture

And, you are a bit presumptuous. You don't even know me. You also, evidently, misread what I wrote, I do not "wish to secede". Here is what I wrote:

    I am what I say I am, not what you and/or your master, the STATE, say I am. I do not consent to be a member of your "gang" [body politic]. Your "gang" can kick my ass every day, but that does not make me a member of your "gang".

    Actus me invito factus, non est meus actus. An act done by me against my will, is not my act.

I have seceded, whether you and/or your master(s) "legally" recognize it or not.

WhiteIndian's picture

Well, you're being a bit presumptuous yourself. The government isn't my "masters" or "gang" anymore that it is for you.

You, me, or anybody else in the agricultural city-State (civilization) live under a hierarchy enforced by daily violence. If you see a cop's lights come on behind you, you will pull over. If you don't, you'll eventually get caught, get arrested, and possibly go to jail.

Good luck with telling the cops you've "seceded." Do you really think that claim will change their behavior?

Whether or not you recognize such hierarchy legally or morally, it's there. It's real. And you'll behave accordingly, and so will the enforcers of hierarchy, from the point of view of a dispassionate anthropological viewer.

Suverans2's picture

"Do you really think that claim will change their behavior?"

It already has, on many occasions, with both kinds of agents, leo's and judges.

Oh, and it must be more than a mere "claim"; anyone claiming that they have "withdrawn from membership" will be investigated, and those making false-claims are, without a doubt, reprimanded harshly.

WhiteIndian's picture

Good luck with that; I hope it works out. But I've observed a long line of failures with legalistic "sovereign citizen" strategies, particularly with not paying income tax to the IRS, and people in the movement blaming those who get their lives ruined for all kinds of weird hyper-legalistic technical mistakes.

And then it comes to this realization: if freedom is a complicated legal puzzle where you're sparring with Evil Empire all the time, you're probably not all that free from the point of a dispassionate outside anthropological observer.

Suverans2's picture

Thank you for your good wishes. The good news is that individual secession has nothing to do with "income-tax evasion", and it is not "weird[ly] hyper-legalistic[ly] technical".

I am also very aware that just because a man is not a member of a gang, that it does not mean that gang members will not attack him and rob him occasionally, it mainly means that he does not wish to partake of their plunder and that he is not subject to their peculiar laws.

At this time, (while the PTB are still pretending to be governing by the "rule of law"), it is relatively successful, (read that peaceful), for me and my woman, but all bets are off once 'they' declare martial law, which, by the way, I believe 'they' are close to doing, because 'they' can feel how close 'they' are to a "slave-revolt".

Suverans2's picture

"Well, you're being a bit presumptuous yourself. The government isn't my "masters" or "gang" anymore that it is for you." ~ WhiteIndian

I apologize, I presumed from your self-proclaimed belief; "...the best I can do, for now, while inside the prison of civilization, is to unschool and rewild and survive the inescapable prison sentence of city-Statism", that you had not formally "withdrawn from membership" in the "gang", and that you used a chattel number (U.S.) to obtain benefits.

Samarami's picture

If by "withdrawn consent" you mean traipsing down to a court or state house or other government compound and making a scene with the white man -- no, I have not (thankfully). But I did declare sovereignty. At that time I became an individual, independent state residing within an occupied "nation" (that's what they like to call themselves -- a "family of nations").

Does that mean agents of state or their dangerously armed and costumed predator enforcers became less pains in the ass to me?? No. A robber and a thief is a pain in the ass. For years we've all expended certain resource on locks for our doors and cars, burglar alarms, etc. But that was for the non-government pain-in-the-ass. S/he's the easy gangster with which to deal.

The government parasite will send his henchmen in war-surplus armored trucks en-mass, batter your door down with a "no-knock mandate", shoot your dogs and anybody who they suspect doesn't show proper submissiveness, without fear of reprisal -- and will never worry about having made an error. Whatever "judge" they might appear before is paid out of the same booty-bag.

Sovereignty means I recognize just who is the real enemy. It stops me from getting excited about going out and "voting" for a Ron Paul or a Peter Schiff, nice guys both. The sovereign man knows these "nice" sociopaths are still sociopaths (if indeed they have a desire to "win" a white man's election to "serve" Leviathan).

The sovereign man knows the beast will not be tamed by a man or men. So he can concentrate upon living in freedom and helping friends and family declare freedom for themselves. Sam


Suverans2's picture

G'day Sam,

You wrote: If by "withdrawn consent" you mean traipsing down to a court or state house or other government compound and making a scene with the white man -- no, I have not (thankfully). But I did declare sovereignty. At that time I became an individual, independent state residing within an occupied "nation" (that's what they like to call themselves -- a "family of nations").

First, I must have offended you, because I feel your use of the word "traipsing" was intended to demean; not your usual style. I mean, would you say that the so-called forefathers of the United States went "traipsing" to King George to declare their independence? Would you also consider it "traipsing" if, say, you presumed that I had stolen something of yours, (because virtually all the circumstantial evidence pointed towards me), and I went to you to officially rebut that presumption, i.e. to manifestly declare my innocence? If I have offended you, it was not intended, and I apologize.

Next, if you would be so kind, how do you define "sovereignty"? I can only hope that this, "Sovereignty means I recognize just who is the real enemy," is not your actual "definition" of sovereignty, my friend.

And, lastly, it would be interesting to know who, or what, did you "declare sovereignty" to?

Thank you, Sam.

Samarami's picture

No offense taken, no offense intended -- particularly toward you. My use of the bullying term "traipsing" was shooting from the hip, I'm afraid. Which is necessary at times -- particularly when dealing with the white man. He has proven from the beginning of his history that one must never, ever attempt to make any type of a "treaty" or "agreement" with him. That accounts for my adamancy that I have not "declared" anything to the white man. To secede is to quietly go your own way. As you have so aptly put it:

    Your "gang" can kick my ass every day, but that does not make me a member of your "gang".

I became sovereign -- not so much from him as of him. Mull that distinction in terms over for a moment.

Glad to see your use of "so-called forefathers". The men at the head of that group had a hankering to rule. They resented the old gangsters from across the ocean doing the ruling (even though their filching was miniscule compared to the larceny of the progeny of "our" forefathers). Like Ron and Rand Paul, Pete Schiff and some of the others today vying for political one-upsmanship, a few of them were (apparently) honest and sincere men. But they wanted to take the reins of "government" when the vast majority of the poor sheep who eventually fell in line were doing okay and being responsible for themselves and their families and their growing communities without cancerous central government.

Sovereignty means I am responsible for my own protection, my own sustenance, my own contracts and agreements, and the relationships I maintain with friends and family. That would include you.. I made my declaration of sovereignty to my Representative -- who is responsible for the rotation of the earth on its axis. So my Representative is also important to you, I might add.

'Nuff ranting for tonite. Sam.

Suverans2's picture

Thank you for your polite and patient reply, Sam. I'll not take up any more of your time debating with you, my friend, other than to say that I hope you, (and anyone else who may be reading this), understand that a "declaration of independence", is not a "treaty" or "agreement" of any kind, and it does not require anyone's "approval"; it is what it is, an "(law) unsworn statement that can be admitted in evidence in a legal transaction", and nothing more. In this particular case, it is a "manifest proclamation[1]" that lawfully rebuts their "presumption in law" that I am a citizen/subject.

[1] Manifest. Evident to the senses, especially to the sight, obvious to the understanding, evident to the mind, not obscure or hidden, and is synonymous with open, clear, visible, unmistakable, indubitable, indisputable, evident and self-evident. ... ~ Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition (c.1991), page 962

Paul's picture

"To secede is to quietly go your own way."
I like this way of looking at it.

Glen Allport's picture

Suverans2 -- it isn't "my" government and of course it didn't create the air; of course it isn't "in charge" of the air (except by its own rules), and it didn't say to the air "I demand that you be of a higher quality." None of that is anything I said, or believe. Really: what are you thinking?

My point was simple: I observe that the air is a lot cleaner in So. Cal than it was in the late 1960s, and pollution controls are the main reason why. Again, simple observation. As I pointed out, government didn't have to be the agent pushing to make this happen, but it was. I'd rather it was a UL-like group, or a consumer group, or a pro-health group, or (more likely) a coalition of many voluntary groups that wanted to be able to breathe the air without choking on it.

To be clear: I like clean air. I'd also rather that government wasn't involved in the process of getting and keeping the air clear, but that doesn't mean I'll ignore what actually happened.

Oh -- and yes, of course persons are individual people; groups -- be that governments, corporations, or whatever -- are not.

WhiteIndian's picture

The rejection of the reality that humans are indeed social animals is a reaction to the forced mass-society of agricultural city-Statism. That sort of "we" isn't fun or fulfilling.

While it is an understandable reaction, it is an ignorant, fundamentalist philosophy that is easily debunked by empirical data.

There is a "we."

Suverans2's picture

Glen Allport -- First, I was being presumptuous when I wrote "your government"; I presumed that you use a "chattel number", a Taxpayer Identification Number (U.S.), a number which identifies you as a member of the U.S. government. If I am wrong, I will humbly apologize.

Second, what I was "thinking", and my point, too, is simple, is that even if I was in the place called "So. Cal" I would not be "using government services[1]", just because I breathe the air there.

[1] Services. Things purchased by consumers that do not have physical characteristics. ~ Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition (c.1991), page 1369

Paul's picture

Thanks for the great article, Glen. Looks like a lot of work went into it. I hope at least some OWS and Tea Party folks take a look at it. The sad thing is the lost potential when parasitism takes over. People settle for so much less than we would be capable of without it. Even the parasites themselves settle for a much uglier existence than they could have had.

Samarami's picture

I am the 1%.


Glen Allport's picture

Hi, Sam. I don't understand your comment: are you saying you're the 1% as I use the term in my column (i.e., someone who pulls wealth from others by the use, in one way or another, of government coercion against your fellow man)? Or are you using the term as many of the Occupy Wall Street protesters do, meaning just someone who has more money and an easier life than they do?

tzo's picture

I am the .0000000143%.

WhiteIndian's picture

That makes about 100 of your kind in the world!

tzo's picture

Actually, just 1 (move two more decimal places for the %-sign).

WhiteIndian's picture

Ah, right, the % sign does add a couple zeros to correct my math calculation and make you one of a kind on the home planet!

One of 7 billion humans mass-produced by agricultural city-Statism to serve as cannon fodder and a labor pool for the hierarchical elite.

"In fact, the only thing that necessitates a large population is hierarchy itself. Hierarchy requires large pools of labor to provide for the nobility, and large populations that can be levied into large armies with which hierarchy can expand."

Thesis #11: Hierarchy is an unnecessary evil.
by Jason Godesky | 21 October 2005

Samarami's picture

My "1%" statement to your essay is simply a declaration of freedom. I am sovereign -- a free state within an occupied "nation".

Tzo's miniscule percent of a percent may be more realistic. And White Indian's calculation that tzo is one of 500 on earth may indeed represent a reasonable assessment of just how many truly "free" individuals there are in this world occupied by agents of state and supporters thereof (albeit reluctant supporters in most instances).

Your essay, Glen, was good, well put together, statistically verified and informative. You put a lot of hard work into it, and I respect you for that. You obviously see agents of state for the predators they are.

But alas, your solution turns out to be political. We've had lengthy and exhaustive threads here as recently as a month or two ago dealing with "mini" statism and the Ron Paul campaign. My studies indicate mini statism is akin to mini pregnancy. As a father of 7, grandfather of 24, and great grandfather of many; well, I can tell you something about mini pregnancies.

I would not hesitate to turn the delivery of my children -- now grandchildren and great grandchildren -- over to Dr. Ron Paul. I know him and Mrs. Paul personally (have children and grandchildren actively working in his "campaign" for Grand Wizard).

Government elections do not engender honesty. Dr. Paul is honest. He is not electable.

I support Dr Paul's return to doctoring, which is an honest profession.

Abstain from beans.


WhiteIndian's picture

I agree, the minarchists are deluding themselves. There is no "mini" State.

But the anarcho-capitalists are deluding themselves too. There is no "voluntary city." The "State" (government) is a necessary and integral part of the cultural package of agricultural city-Statism (civilization.)

Wherever there is POLIS (city-State) there is going to be POLICe and POLITics.

That's the way city slickers roll.

"When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe." ~Thomas Jefferson

Suverans2's picture

G'day Sam,

Found a great quote in Abstain From Beans.

"Political voting is nothing more than the assumption that might makes right."


WhiteIndian's picture

Capitalism relies on aggression.

Libertarians whitewash the necessary violence to enforce the rules of the rent-seekers with their abstract property theory, but it's rather unconvincing.

Locke's property in his "Of Property" relies on religious monotheism and the resulting hierarchy, as follows:

WOMAN (submits to husband)
ANIMALS (submits to husbandry)
NATURE (only useful as human property)

In reality, humans are evolved animals just like a crow or dolphin, and we don't see those species claiming abstract ownership of the earth's resources, and charging rent to other members of their specie. And if they did, we'd see a huge increase in violence, just like anthropologists and archeologists see whenever humans began to use domestication and agriculture, on the way to agricultural city-Statism.

Many people can't see how the Capitalist culture is based on violence, but Derrick Jensen does a good job of illustrating in this interview:

Everyday Violence

Glen Allport's picture

The State is aggression, and nothing but. Capitalism is the opposite of aggression: it is voluntary cooperation. You can say NO to Apple or Staples or a local business; you cannot say NO to government. Try it and see.

What you are talking about is corporatism, where corporations use government force to their advantage. You can't say NO to Blackwater or other government contractors because government hires them using your money, like it or not. You can't say NO to Monsanto's GMO nightmares because the government has appropriated regulation of the environment and the EPA, FDA, USDA, etc are -- like every regulatory agency -- more interested in providing advantage to big business than in protecting your health, safety, or pocketbook.

Capitalism provides for human need on a voluntary basis; every exchange in true capitalism is voluntary and therefore beneficial to both parties, as the parties themselves see things. Corrupted capitalism -- corporatism -- is another matter entirely.

WhiteIndian's picture

I've heard all of the catechism, (and I've got most of the libertarian canon, having once considered myself "libertarian/ancap" TRUE® Capitalism believer.)

But you're whitewashing the aggression necessary to sustain any agricultural city-Statism (civilization,) whether Communism or Capitalism.

Both left and right city-Statist government schemes rely on big-government enforced regulation of the Land, drawing artificial borders to restrict the free movement of free families to live a Non-State society's lifeways. (Service)

Agricultural city-Statists must prevent people from natural ways of foraging for food. When the system controls and locks up the food,(Quinn) people are starved into submission; otherwise, nobody will work in the agricultural city-Statist's factories. (Bordosi)

Stalin was just as eager to wipe-out tribal societies and force integration into agricultural city-Statism (civilization) as Ayn Rand, who stated to US Army West Point graduates in 1974:

"[The Native Americans] didn't have any rights to the land...Any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to take over this continent."

Hers is a bald-faced apology for genocidal mass-murder.

Still, Libertarians typically try to wriggle out of the inherent violence of the system by claiming that the aggression was all in the past during the Invasion of Turtle Island. But the aggression remains in this occupation.

The aggression is revealed with one simple question:

Officer, am I free to "gambol about plain and forest?" (Manning)

The answer from the Marx-Mises axis of agricultural city-Statism is:


It takes lots of guns to invade and mass-murder Non-State society and make that "no" stick every day of the city-Statist occupation.

References (in order used)

• Many people living in non-state societies enjoy lifeways that a number of Americans seem intent on reinventing - such as close association with the land, small group size, and emphasis on oral traditions.

by Elman Service

• You’ll know you’re among the people of your culture if the food is all owned, if it’s all under lock and key. But food was once no more owned than the air or the sunshine are owned. No other culture in history has ever put food under lock and key—and putting it there is the cornerstone of your economy, because if the food wasn’t under lock and key, who would work?

~A Condensation of Daniel Quinn Thought
Food Under Lock and Key

• Our system of private property in land forces landless men to work for others; to work in factories, stores, and offices, whether they like it or not...Disestablishment from land, like slavery, is a form of duress. The white man, where slavery cannot be practiced, has found that he must first disestablish the savages from their land before he can force them to work steadily for him. Once they are disestablished, they are in effect starved into working for him and into working as he directs.

~Dr. Ralph Bordosi
This Ugly Civilization

• Why agriculture? In retrospect, it seems odd that it has taken archaeologists and paleontologists so long to begin answering this essential question of human history. What we are today—civilized, city-bound, overpopulated, literate, organized, wealthy, poor, diseased, conquered, and conquerors—is all rooted in the domestication of plants and animals. The advent of farming re-formed humanity. In fact, the question "Why agriculture?" is so vital, lies so close to the core of our being that it probably cannot be asked or answered with complete honesty. Better to settle for calming explanations of the sort Stephen Jay Gould calls "just-so stories."

In this case, the core of such stories is the assumption that agriculture was better for us. Its surplus of food allowed the leisure and specialization that made civilization. Its bounty settled, refined, and educated us, freed us from the nasty, mean, brutish, and short existence that was the state of nature, freed us from hunting and gathering. Yet when we think about agriculture, and some people have thought intently about it, the pat story glosses over a fundamental point. This just-so story had to have sprung from the imagination of someone who never hoed a row of corn or rose with the sun for a lifetime of milking cows. GAMBOLING ABOUT PLAIN AND FOREST, hunting and living off the land is fun. Farming is not. That's all one needs to know to begin a rethinking of the issue. The fundamental question was properly phrased by Colin Tudge of the London School of Economics: “The real problem, then, is not to explain why some people were slow to adopt agriculture but why anybody took it up at all.”

~Richard Manning
Against the Grain, p.24

Paul's picture

Actually, there are farmers who actually enjoy farming.

I am sympathetic to your view here, but there is one little problem now. We have painted ourselves into a corner. The Pleistocene existence can support on the order of 6 million humans on this planet, not 6 billion. Looks like agriculture is here to stay, for that reason alone.

WhiteIndian's picture

Indeed, we have "painted ourselves into a corner."

But, agriculture isn't here to stay. The soil is like a bank, and agriculture is like printing fiat money and deficit spending.

Agriculture turned the thick Cedar Forests of Mesopotamia into the Iraqi desert. Half the topsoil of the Midwest has been lost in only a few short years.

But the civilizations centered in those regions had a grand ol' time -- while it lasted -- spending their grandchildren's soil inheritance.

Collapse of fiat money is certain; collapse of agriculture is certain. Both for the same reason -- the rule of diminishing returns. Neither are sustainable, because both are deliberately trying to cheat reality.