This from WaPo, July 30.
I just finished a 2-parter on the mainstream media, of which The Washington Post is a signatory member, so I won’t spend much time about what you can immediately recognize as a hit-piece, with over a third of the article outlining the SEC’s charges against the Wyly brothers, wrapped around another third of the article outlining their cozy relationship with the GOP and conservative causes and the final third more or less describing the Wylys brand of capitalism as a kind of theft. In the Wyly’s defense? Two sentences.
Now most commentaries about this story, from the left, will center on the main theme of Goldfarb and Rucker’s article, that some greedy right-leaning billionaires are finally getting their just comeuppance, with…you guessed it…a too well-timed demand by the Dems that GOP candidates return all the Wyly contributions made so far (read all the follow-ups to see how Leftwing press manipulation works). In other words, the Wylys are scandalicious.
And from the right, there will be outrage that the Obama shakedown and punishment of conservative private sector wealth is gearing up just in time for the elections, while the GOP will once again run for cover.
As Mrs Ryder, my 10th Grade English teacher would have said, “Diagram this sentence”, which is the opening sentence of this story as it appeared in WaPo on Friday:
“Sam and Charles Wyly, billionaire Texas brothers who gained prominence spending millions of dollars on conservative political causes, committed fraud by using secret overseas accounts to generate more than $550 million in profit through illegal stock trades, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Thursday.” (italics mine)
The declarative nature of this sentence is found at the next-to-the-last word, “charged” and not, as most readers will digest, from the first verb “committed”. That’s a common journalistic trick, pay it no mind as it is directed at Leftie readers who haven’t the attention span to finish a long sentence anyway. The first 37 words of that sentence are the entire story here, and those contain all anyone on the Left needs to know. The rest is just space filler, as no doubt someone there at WaPo is being paid by the word. (Probably a union thing.)
But while the GOP this morning is wringing its hands about all that money these already-convicted “evil donors” have given their candidates, and conservative pundits are stroking their whiskers and musing as to whether this is just a coincidence, or an extension of thug politics, Chicago-style, i.e., a shakedown…since a hefty settlement is obviously in the offing….I’m asking a more fundamental question:
Even if everything in that opening statement were true, key words “conservative political causes”, “fraud”, “secret”, “profit”, “illegal” trades, is there anything there that a God-fearing person can go to hell for? (Yes, I know non-God-fearing people need to fear hell as well. Probably more.”) Well, fraud does often involve a lie, which last time I checked, is till on the Top Ten tablet, but often now, a failure to disclose is also considered fraud. So my answer is a qualified “no” based on the charges alone.
This needs some explaining, then, although I’ll avoid a long history of God in the legislature and courtroom, and why people, even on the charge of public drunkenness, generally felt you went to jail for pretty much the same reasons you went to hell for. That goes back to one of the basic cultural underpinnings of this free republic.
Now, I like Judge Napolitano a lot, and he’s a Libertarian and believes all taxation is theft. Morally and ethically he is right, but most conservatives, beginning with the Founders, believed that the Congress should be able to levy a reasonable (my word) amount of taxes, and that the People would have the right and power to say where that reasonable amount ends, “enough is enough”. Our current war with the Left is based in large part on their intent, and near success in taking that basic right away from the People, the right to say “No” and “No more”. The Wyly brothers are part of that process.
But I notice the Wylys are not accused of not reporting or failing to even pay the taxes on these “hidden” riches. IRS hasn’t come after them…yet. And if they don’t, or can’t, that fact alone will expose the state-run hell nature of this charge.
So, just when did it suddenly become a “sin” to not tell the state where all your assets are? Yes, i know it is law, but it wasn’t always the law. At one time, a man’s wealth was his own business. And how he spent it was his own business. When did that change? And for what special purpose? And just what is the nature of that “sin”? And what is the nature of that special purpose?
Well, the SEC goes back to, yep, FDR, 1933, and, if you glance at its original purposes, much like the Financial “Reform” Act of only last month, while starting out with broad bold platitudes about curing excesses in the private sector…that were themselves a reaction to prior governmental restraints on free enterprise…ended up being an office of hundreds, even thousands, enforcing regulations and rules in the tens of thousands. The SEC long ago lost its way.
Now again, Judge Napolitano would argue, rightfully and ethically, the SEC should be done away with and that the natural curative effects of the free market itself would do everything the SEC purports to be trying to do now, except without all those deadbeat regulators, who should instead be putting in applications at Best Buy right now. There are enough CFR’s in print to heat all the huts in Nepal for ten years (you can look it up) and just imagine the highland deforestation that would reduce. (A little environmental aside, another problem the free market is not allowed to cure.)
Napolitano would say the same thing about the 16th Amendment, which was enacted in 1913 on another Progressive’s watch, Woodrow Wilson.
But being a man of moderation, I’m willing to meet the state halfway on this. Let the 1933 law stand, but in its original intent. Watchdog. Just like EPA, there is an indefinite function, of sticking litmus paper in a creek every week to insure it’s clean, and a finite function of writing rules and enforcing them. In theory, the finite function will see a day it is no longer needed, and all those lawyers and agents will go down to Temps R Us to find new employment. The watchdog should be with us forever.
Of course, this is not how it is…at SEC, the EPA and a dozen more agencies. The Watchdog is so far down the totem pole of priorities as to be inconsequential. The raison d’etre of the agency quickly morphs into one of the punishment of “sin” and the creation of still more sins that can be punished.
Bottom line, I, better Art Chance, could run the SEC with two pages of legislation, 200 pages of regulations, and a 30-page internal management booklet. And with Art in charge he could probably run the whole shebang with a staff a ten and a ceiling of twenty. Most of the “watched” firms could save millions each year in reporting costs alone….and the original intent of the SEC Act of 1933 would be satisfied.
The heart of the matter
Beginning in 1913, with the income tax, the government ratified the duel notion that all the people’s money is theirs, and the state gets to decide how much the people who earn it get to keep. A horrible, noxious notion to appear in a land of free people, yet, it has been around almost a hundred years now. But this new point of view did not in any way alter the fundamental relationship between God and man, or the nature of sin. Or so we thought. “Give unto Ceasar…” So then you’d also think the passport requirement across the River Styx didn’t change either. Hell is still hell and the same kind of people still go there. You still went to hell for all the things you always went to hell for.
But no one really considered that what was being created here was an alternate hell, a state-run hell, which, in time would (in the people’s eyes) replace or supercede the eternal one. But being the sworn Enemy of God, (something the state didn’t broadcast as loudly as it does now)…Progressives cannot serve two masters…they had to create a state-run Hell for earthly transgressors of their very earthly sins. So then, by 1933, there was both Hell and…hell.
It only figures in ordinary people’s minds this would get confusing, for on the one hand you had a relatively short list of sins that an All Knowing Creator knew you’d done even before you finished doing it. He had His own list of punishments and His own appeal procedures…and for the most part, known only to the two of you. With God you can always escape His final noose. That’s always been His covenant. On the other hand, you had a list of state-sins that you could fill Cowboys Stadium with, covering virtually every aspect of your life, and so complex you can’t open the refrigerator door without committing at least a couple of them.
The good news, for years, is that they had to catch you first, and lacked the resources to do it. They’re getting better (In a sense) and sure getting bigger, with the help of new technologies, but primarily through agencies like the SEC who require to you to do your own reporting, then holding you liable, in a sin-like manner, for telling them wrong. Like George Carlin’s famous story about his teenage plans to go feel up Carla, according to Church teachings there were five sins in one feel. This is how the state does it as well. No act comes without at least ten counts.
The bad news is that our ideas about sin have changed, from a God-based notion, to a state-based one. More and more of us, with each passing generation, have dropped the notion that we’re caught the minute we conceive one of those listed sins on the Big Tablet, and have eased into the idea that the objective of almost all human activity is to not get caught. I cannot tell you the magnitude of change that engulfs a society when it goes from a people who already know they’re caught and one that is spending all its time and resources trying to avoid it.
Russia proved, is still proving today…that a lost people cannot reform a lost government.
My reason for tying this argument to the Wyly brothers is that, while I’m no John Edwards, it seems to me a cottage industry in legal defense can arise, and should arise, in our courts, especially with government bureaucratic claims against citizens for doing nothing more than being private with their possessions, pointing out the general incompatibility of a God-fearing people and the people fearing a state-made god. Judges will never buy it, of course. But juries will. All the good lawyer needs is a few people of faith on the jury…not all, just a few…then let the fur fly.
These days, as we’re seeing in Arizona right now, almost every case in court seems to be our God versus their god. So be it. Laissers les bon temps rouller.
(h/t to StephC for the heads-up, the link and whole idea.)