It seems to me that I might have once read a book possibly entitled The Dark Side of Camelot maybe by Seymour M. Hersh plausibly published under the imprint of Back Bay Books tentatively by Little, Brown and Company putatively in the year 1997.
That book reminds me of the movie, “The Sound of Music.” Of course, that fluffy film completely misrepresents the famous submarine commander, Korvettenkapitän von Trapp, and the strong fatherly relations he enjoyed with his fascinated and loving children. Meanwhile, just as Trapp wasn’t a stiff and silly martinet, so in real life the tutor didn’t assume the dual leadership role of “The King and I,” or for that matter much anything else in the family. That’s an old American economics fantasy tracing back to the Wild West when women were scarce and they knew it.
In the movie, there’s a song about “my favorite things.” If John Kennedy’s sex lusts and—
Mildred: John F. Kennedy was a great war hero whose beautiful boat — it was mahogany or something lovely — was brutally sunk by some very bad men, and then afterwards the dear boy always needed back therapy.
Elvira: Mildred, how does an armed speed boat that goes 50 knots get surprised on the open sea by a big destroyer that only goes 30? Was Kennedy off Cape Cod in his mind sunbathing in those tight white shorts of his? Besides, I don’t think it’s his back that was getting the therapy.
Mildred: And his wife wore such nice clothes. Things were so wonderfully French back then, even in France.
Thank you, ladies.
Mildred: Oh, you’re welcome! Such well-mannered politeness is so rare these days! — He’s such a nice young man! Don’t you agree, Elvira?
If Kennedy’s back therapies and commando fantasies were the dark side of Camelot, then Nixon’s paranoias — I mean alternative sanities — were the dark side of our alpine purple mountains majesty. I can see Rose Mary overhearing Nixon pounding out the piano accompaniment on his Oval Office desk while singing, “When the dog frisks, when the bee hums, when I’m feeling glad, I simply remember my paranoid lists and then I can feel so bad!”
We’ve been discussing Roosevelt’s chats and Trump’s tweets as illustrations of direct presidential mass contacts with the American people. We should add the weekly Saturday morning addresses “to the nation” that were started in 1982 by Reagan. I was offended by that executive innovation when it began, and my attitude hasn’t changed. Such transmissions are the political equivalents of weekly sermons. Therefore, their saving grace is that presidents aren’t running a religion. Or are they? “The First Church of Nationalism, America”? Does the president thereby become the official hierophant of American meaning? “The auspices are up 2.3% this week over the same time a year ago. Happiness America!” Meanwhile, the coverage by the press of that Sabbath event is always religious. I doubt they’ve ever declined to broadcast the national sermon.
The good news about these presidential pronouncements — and their back talks — is that they’re transmitted on Saturday morning. Most citizens then have better things to do than to listen to the president of the United States and contrarian Congressmen prompting their political imaginations. People are busy buying groceries, washing their cars, golfing, or recovering from the night before.
These executive communications are just one aspect of the much larger issue you cross-haired in your last post. That issue is the behavior of the president of the United States as America’s representative. In particular, the issue puts its sights — adjusted for the windage of rhetoric — on exactly what behaviors are appropriate for the representative of the United States.
But the president of the United States isn’t the representative of the United States.
It’s a constitutional fact — of undeniable inference if not of explicit words — that the president represents America outside America to other nations on matters of diplomacy and warfare.
But the president of the United States isn’t the representative of the United States inside America.
Who, then, is?
Answer: No one.
At most, the United States is represented by a handful of symbols: the flag, the eagle, the bell. And, of course, Franklin gets his way once a year when America is represented by that wise and wily bird, the turkey, rather than that nasty carrion raptor and Roman symbol of autocrator imperialism, the eagle.
Think how obvious it is that the president doesn’t represent the United States, and, more importantly, that he can’t.
The president is the head of the executive branch of the federal or national government. I use both terms here because The Federalist addresses precisely that issue, and demonstrates that country’s government is both. (See Paper #39.)
As the head of the executive branch, the president can, may, and should represent the executive branch.
And that’s it.
The president may not represent Congress or the federal courts.
The president may not represent the 50 sovereign states in any particular or comprehensive aspects.
The president may not even represent Washington, D.C. That’s a matter for Congressional oversight, an oversight all-too-often overlooked instead.
And, of course, the president may not represent the various counties, townships, cities, towns, boroughs, villages, hamlets, suburbs, crossroads, and jealous nowheres of America.
Finally, the president may not represent the private property of America.
Oh, and the president may not represent the American people, either. As I recall from the last election — as the Democrats so gently remind us with psalter-like regularity — “we” didn’t elect him. Some crypto-mysterious non-assembly of the states did.
Meanwhile, the American media are fond of national mantras. I’m sure the French media have similar lists and drills for their Gallic truisms. And, of course, there’s North Korea and Ballistic Kim — and those toothy posters that couldn’t sell toothpaste in the West let alone oppressive cooperative submission.
One such American media mantra is this: “The president of the United States is the most important and powerful man on earth.” Well, maybe in foreign affairs that’s recently been true c. 1945ff. Brzezinski even calls three successive presidents — Bush, Clinton, and Bush Lite — the first three “global leaders”.
Nonetheless, from all the above lists, the president looks like a bit player domestically.
And, in fact, that’s exactly the way the Constitution was written and the way it reads.
Congress is the first, predominant, and even preponderant branch of government. Accordingly, it’s assigned most of the federal powers. As you’ll recall from my course, the Founders at the Convention struggled to come up with a list of things for the president to do. Not only then would he be kept occupied, but by having some national powers, he’d be empowered to play the presidency off against that otherwise over-potent branch: Congress. One branch of federal power then wouldn’t dominate the national government, thereby destroying the system of checks and balances so essential to the American way of government: of political power-group constraint and ethical power-self restraint.
In other words, America wouldn’t be like England — which Wilson so wanted America to emulate. On my back-of-an-envelope unsent-email-of-my-mind estimation, England doesn’t have three branches of government. England doesn’t have two branches of government. England doesn’t have even one branch of government. England has one-half branch: Parliament. How? The executive is in the legislative. The judiciary doesn’t boss the lawmakers around. And the upper half of Parliament has been so whittled down over the past several centuries, the House of Lords now contains by law scarce a hundred members of blood aristocracy. All of the others have had their heritable titles — if not their heads and possessions — gently removed. Now most “aristocrats” in the Lords are crown-appointed lifetime temps for services rendered to — gasp! choke! sputter! — the people.
“Good Lord! Did America really win? Not just the war, but history, too!”
The Lords is now justifiably a luncheon club for lamentations past.
“I say, Huffington, how goes England by the by?”
“All downhill since 1732! Good roast today.”
“You mean 1832?”
“I mean 1732! Rotten service, though.”
Of course, today’s little inside grin in Britain — today’s wise aside and tittle and wink — is that Parliament doesn’t run Parliament. No, the PM and his ministers run it. And the PM runs the ministers. And the ministers carry out his or her devout wishes — and they’d better do it devotedly! Wilson once wrote a paper entitled “Cabinet Government.” He could have wished himself to be such a cabinet minister primus inter pares. In Rome they called it princeps. So much nicer than basileus. Or was it basilisk?
Alright, so what’s going on here?
Did a Rip Van Winkle sleep through a several centuries of world history and just now wake up? Or is it a Rip Van Republican? You know, the kind of guy who snorts awake: “Da Constitution is what da words meant in 1787. Submit or amend! Zzzzzz.” Right. And so, without an amendment, “freedom of the press” covers only printed material printed with a press — one of them big old screw jobs —and not radio, TV, movies, the web? And what does the 2nd Amendment mean? “What da words say! Read ‘em! Zzzzzz.” But the language is intrinsically ambiguous. Is “a well regulated militia” an illustrative synecdoche or an exclusive specification? And what does the word “bear” mean? Does a hunter “bear” arms? And what does the word “keep” even mean? Keep where? Locked in your house like in Massachusetts?
Let’s dispose of the easy part first. Many national governments have two leaders. There’s a head of government and there’s a head of state. In Germany there are two top constitutional officers: the chancellor and the president. The former runs the government — like the prime minister in Great Britain. And the latter represents the state for mostly ceremonial purposes — as the royal family does in England.
America doesn’t have such a national division of executive labor, either by written constitution like Germany does, or by unwritten constitution as in Britain. The vice president could have done this for the past two centuries. But traditionally the VP has been a life insurance policy kept in a drawer. Thus Stalin knew more about Roosevelt’s White House policies and operations than Vice President Truman ever did. Of course, Stalin implicitly understood Sun Tzu and employed his sage advice: ‘Use spies everywhere. They’re cheap!’ And Americans like Athenians are so easy to mind hack: they’re open. They’re happy to be gregarious with the truth! But then they can afford to be. Public knowledge is their private friend.
Meanwhile, the vice presidency in recent decades has become a much more engaged office — a sort of unofficial assistant president or standing envoy for the Oval Office.
The president, nonetheless, in his personal occupancy of the presidency still retains both the government functions of executive power, and the state functions of national representation.
In other words — in the absence of words amending the Constitution — we live with it.
What “it” is remains the big question.
I recently read an essay on the history of Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t even begin to attempt to summarize the complex transformations that started with several president-declared occasional national holidays through the many state-proclaimed calendrical variants until a single national holiday on a single annual date was finally federally established and definitively fixed. I’ll only note that FDR once shifted the date of the holiday back a week to increase Christmas retail sales. And who said “that man in the White House” was a progressive atheistic communist and not a religious capitalist lackey? Not the communists!
And consider the National Defense Act of 1916. That law required National Guardsmen to swear oaths of allegiance to both the federal government and their respective state governments. In other words, federal law as recently as 100 years ago recognized and reinforced the constitutional dual citizenship of America’s dual-sovereignty compound republic. I doubt this double oath is still taken today by the Guard. And if it is, it’s probably regarded by most soldiers as some ancient oddity, or an old empty formality. Most Americans today don’t consider themselves citizens of their resident states, Texas perhaps excepted. The most obvious reason is that so many state residents are precisely that: residents in one state until they move once again to the residency of another state.
Meanwhile, what has happened since 1787 — or the annus mirabilis: 1789 (see the Republic, Ch. 44) — is both a national and an international transformation of sovereignty.
The nation state, created by a cunning and unconscious coordination of western European kings and nascent world commerce, came into its secular maturity after the climacteric French Revolution and Napoleon’s transitional godless monarchy. This development was facilitated by Napoleon himself when he politically erased the feudal regions of France and overwrote on them a large number of purely administrative units. These appropriately named “departments” are without precedent — i.e., they’re without antecedent historical significance — which was the idea. Look at the map of France with its grid of geographical if not quite Euclidean squares, and imagine imposing that cartographic regime on the United States. What would happen to state identity and even regional sentiments. Pfffft! That was Napoleon’s idea precisely. Napoleon concentrated all state power into Paris more effectively than Louis ever did in Versailles, and he reduced the old regional capitals and their emotional fealties to administrative addresses and recollected affections.
Contemporary nation states are astonishing constructs of people, concepts, power, commerce, and organization. Their success confirms their effectiveness as units. Their ordered and uniform cohesion is much more efficient than the flux of a feudal matrix. It’s more efficient administratively, legally, culturally, linguistically, and economically.
Think of the internal efficiencies that commerce enjoys given the elimination of internal trade barriers and tariffs, and the introduction of uniform measures and standards. Interstate efficiency was one of the main motivations for replacing the Articles of Confederation — that bumbling first attempt at America. Meanwhile, because of residual feudalism, we still have two measures for dry ounces: avoirdupois and troy.
And think of the efficiencies of language. Even if the old regions retain their local dialects for family bonding and tavern familiarity, everyone can speak the same version of the same national language nationwide, rendering political communication and state direction word-transparent — or language-invisible. America led the world in this trend in the pre-radio and pre-TV 19th century for reasons perhaps still not understood. The uniform grammar and orthography of America’s ubiquitous newspapers may have been the cause. Thus Huckleberry Finn with its five dialects was already colorfully retrospective for city readers. A whole “funny” literature of dialects then flourished in America. The humor of it all now seems excrutiatingly slow.
The cultural advantages of the nation state are equally obvious. Artists of any vocal art — music, novels, movies, TV — have a larger available audience and a bigger economic base. And since art content throughout history has rarely been laissez faire, the morality managers of art have an easier task, too. Think of American movies. By the 1920s, they were made in one place, and the political regulators and ethics interest groups knew where their concentrated headquarters were conveniently located.
Finally, the legal and administrative efficiencies of the nation state are almost too obvious to highlight here. The law of France is the law of Paris. Meanwhile, the law of the United States is made in 50 different states as well as Washington. That might sound almost rather retro-feudal. It’s most certainly incessantly complex. For example, when I discuss such issues as abortion or euthanasia in my medical ethics course, I observe that 50 or 51 sovereign jurisdictions in America are actively crafting legislation and case law on these matters. Only professional interest groups and specialized scholars can keep up with the complexified details, which change unendingly.
One obvious and perhaps inevitable result of the contemporary large nation state is the concentration of leadership in the executive branch. A large unity calls for a large leadership. And leadership tends to unify. It’s an inverse power law distribution thing. Furthermore, as I observe in my Republic, post-aristocracy despots, even if transitional to representative governments, create a tradition of national efficiency. And it can look good. Mussolini was media-celebrated in America! In the 1920s at least. Post ran his memoirs! But because the United States largely avoided this despotic transition as England had already done it for us, that concentrating inclination isn’t in the American ethos. (See my Republic, Ch. 36) Furthermore, the United States isn’t just a large nation state. It’s a compound republic of dual sovereignty spread over 51 sovereign states.
That being the case, why then has the executive branch of the federal government so greatly increased in power since 1900? Of course, that branch is constitutionally concentrated in a sole and solitary executive officer.
Wilson made a breathless observation in one of his books around 1900. ‘Nothing from even 20 years ago can guide us today!’ was the gist of his remarks. ‘Everything is new!’
Think of it. It’s 1900! Wow! Of course, landline phones solid enough to club someone to death haven’t yet become universal. And universal rural electrification hasn’t happened yet, either. And radio is just getting off that kid Marconi’s workbench while Edison’s great demotic invention, movies, just has. And yet Wilson is breathless with the future — which is now! Wow! Everything before now is old-fashioned, fossilized, fussy, and fuddled. Live now! Do it in real time! Zoom!
In other words, the futurist attitude now totally endemic and so cool today was invented — ahem, a long time ago. Or, as Marx would say, that attitude came about as the cultural by-product of the restless self-revolutionizing energies of capitalist production, capitalist distribution, capitalist world construction, and capitalist human consciousness configuration.
Shall we laugh or shall we cry? Or, to be more now-wow, we should shout: Cool! or Jinkees!
And yet, however persuasive and even dominant these economic and political developments are, they don’t constitute a sufficient historical force for American national power concentration, a concentration that’s especially executive.
What, then, has caused it?
In the absence of kings and dictators, war has been the national teacher of America’s federal engrossment and executive aggrandizement.
The Civil War was the first such lesson. After that war, Congress took away the war powers of the Lincoln executive. And thereupon Congress ran Washington through the end of the century and beyond. And just to make the point of its law potency unequivocally clear, Congress impeached and tried Johnson. When all else fails, shout Impeach! Impeach! And when that fails, try it again a few years later. This 19th century “Congressional government” was precisely Wilson’s pre-White House gripe. Meanwhile, the efficiencies of nationalism learned from the continental resource mobilization of the war were enjoyed by the new large industries — steel, oil, rails, finance.
The next great national concentration occurred in the mobilization of WWI. I’ve read scholarship that traces the expeditious welfare mobilizations of FDR’s New Deal back to the administrative experiences and legal skills acquired during WWI. The CCC today is the most visually accessible example of that efficiency. The benefits of the CCC’s large-scale labor regimentation still beautifully endure in the sturdy stone work in our state parks and other such places.
And then there’s the astonishing global mobilization for WWII — the demobilization of which the Cold War anti-communist orthodoxy quickly reversed. That reversal, which resulted in a large standing army contrary to all American tradition, has been permanent since 1947.
Since that time, America has been almost permanently in a state of war. There was the Cold War with its occasional proxy flair-ups in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan. Then the Cold War eventually ended and demobilization immediately began just like in 1945. But “fortunately” there was the Gulf War. And then there was 9/11. The War on Terror — this new war, like the Cold War, is euphemistically named — should be good for at least as long as the Great Red War.
Meanwhile, according to the Constitution, the president is not only charged with leading America’s wars. The president is even granted a formal, unique, and indisputable title: Commander in Chief. Furthermore, this position is the first power listed in Article II. I doubt that even liberal post-textualists could textualize their way out of those words.
Here, then, is a main reason for the concentration of nation state power in the hands of the American federal executive. Not only is the president the war-maker of America by law. But many of America’s recent wars — long-running and politically untidy affairs — have induced Congress to defer both discretion and leadership to the executive.
And the executive has taken it.
And since those wars have become seriatum permanent, the taking has acquired a stare decisis sort of permanency.
For most of my adult life, I’ve observed that any TV or radio news program almost always begins its national coverage with a story about the president. Of course, airline crashes, apartment fires, interstate pile-ups, hurricanes, and human interest Amber Alerts get first billing. Whether the president is signing some new legislation, or meeting with a foreign leader, or planning to sign some legislation, or having just met with a foreign leader, or out on the golf course or at the Western White House, the president takes the lead story.
In effect, we’re hearing what the king or even the emperor is doing. Of course, Confucius wouldn’t report on the Emperor’s golf game. He’d humbly observe that the Exalted One is placidly ensconced in the place of state, and gazing south. And everything in the realm is in accord. And now for the day’s beheadings.
Now that we have an entrée to the cause of the engrossing aggrandizement of the American federal executive, let’s put that matter aside. And let’s consider now only the general trend of national homogenization and its resultant cultural efficiencies.
I’m all in favor of efficiency per se. Who wouldn’t be?
Hooray for efficiency!
Indeed, I’m all in favor of a block party, a city party, a state party, even a national party for efficiency. Hooray! Comte delineated just such a system in France after Napoleon historically outlawed European feudalism. In Comte, engineers will organize and operate humanity — to the max. And, hey, let’s get enthusiastic and hang ecstatic banners everywhere saluting the futurity of maximal humanity. “Equality! Freedom!! Happiness!!!” And all of this will come about by the replacement of silly superstition and fossil feudalism with national efficiency and human unity.
Great! Wow!! Zoom!!!
This is what Wilson felt in his heart with pulpit exultation after the epiphany of his conversion from Presbyterianism to Progressivism. It was a conversion like Paine’s sudden switch from Quakerism to rationality all in one easy or breath-taking leap. And what was the Wilsonian word? “The good news today is the even better news tomorrow! Stay tuned!”
The past has nothing to tell us. Today is only the onramp to the highway to tomorrow. And tomorrow will be faster!
Everything can change. Everything has changed. Everything will change. And it will do so ever faster.
Except for human nature.
Oh, whoops! Hit zoom! What? Wait! Not start! Zoom!
“Comrades, excuse me. Comrade Marx has proven that human nature is a social construct of superstructural convention built with historical oppression on the proprietary reality of economics relations. And his neo-liberated followers all religiously believe this when their home security systems are on. Remember, when we advance the economy, we advance humanity. And when we perfect the economy, we perfect humanity. History will then end, and we’ll all be happy and humanity huggable forever.
It’s called progress, which is dialectics for dummies.
Except that Marx was wrong.
Marx’s insight into human nature has all the psychological subtlety a Euclidean geometer has eating isosceles slices of pizza after cutting away the geodesic curvature of the crust.
And that makes all of Marx’s spiritual children even to the third and fourth generations, yea, and beyond, psychologically wrong, whether by lazy imitation or willful mendacity. I was once much taken by a remark of the great Harvard biologist, Edward O. Wilson, who called the great Harvard Darwinian, Stephen Jay Gould, a fraud — quote, a fraud, unquote — on the basis of Gould’s political denial of innate abilities, especially intelligence. “Scientist Lies for Politics!” They used to do that for Stalin, right? But what do you expect from Russia? The truth?
Well, we won’t distract ourselves here with such dumb stuff as intelligence.
Our present concern is the relationship between humans and power. Marx said that humans coveted, coerced, collected, cultivated, and cashed in their powers over other humans because the economy didn’t produce enough goods and services to cover the necessities of nature — along with a little leisure for civility, felicity, and equanimity with the universe. Well, a lot of leisure!
According to the Federalists, humans are psychologically hard-wired for power. And no amount of wealth will ever eliminate the ferocious joy that humans take in their superiority over their “fellow” humans, and the consummation celebrations of their supremacy, whether beautiful or beastly.
The willful misunderstanding of human nature by liberals — by total materialists who love natural science! — has produced a series of governmental theories and power implementations since the French Revolution all of which promised total happiness and organic identity. But the results were always mass butchery and cultural destruction instead.
The problem with power therefore isn’t to be found in Acton’s famous maxim. “Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Since there’s no absolute power, there’s no absolute corruption. The second half of the maxim is just a residual papal-satanic catechism. We can disregard it, and even dismiss it. That leaves the first half of the maxim: “power tends to corrupt.” Well, oxygen tends to kill. Oxygen is one of the most corrosive elements on the earth. It produces the worst of all radicals: free radicals. No, those aren’t free-love communists! Communists, in fact, tend to be love-aesthetic prigs — prigs for progress! Of course, I mean the theorists, not the nomenklatura. Nor should we give up breathing because oxygen is toxic? How silly! Likewise, humans have no reason to give up power because of its toxicity. Animal life has learned to live with oxygen. And human have learned to live with power — and flourish! As for Acton’s perpetually enduring maxim, of such silly remarks is sententious immortality made.
No, the problem with a massive executive isn’t this style or that style of governance, but any and every style of government because of human nature. The size is the problem. A big city isn’t a copy of a small city scaled up a few dozen — or a few hundred! — times. The big city takes on its own novel traits, most of them unattractive to and inefficient for civilized happiness. The same is true of big governments. You’ll note that the Founders wanted a big country but without a big government. The management of power in large constellations without wrecking the felicities of humanity was the foremost concern of the founders, especially for those in The Federalist. This is the problem and even the paradox of the Big Republic.
In contrast, with radiant joys and religious ecstasies, humans almost everywhere else in the world set forth in the past 200 years to bring humanity to the political millennium. The fascists and communists had humans breathe pure oxygen, and the anarchists no oxygen at all. As for anarchists being called socialists, anarchists are the limiting case of socialism. Anarchists are power-solitary socialists.
Now here are a couple of small points from your last post.
- You compare Trump to a “medieval lord” who is “holding on to some fragile sense of honor.” No doubt honor isn’t like granite or steel, and in that sense it could be called fragile. Likewise, love isn’t made of steel. Nor is world consciousness granite. But love isn’t fragile. Love is a force. And human consciousness measures the universe. Such world spiritual dispositions are alive and need continual cultivation like sensitive plants. I’d call them delicate rather than fragile. And those who step on them — those who step on the respect of gang leaders, on the erotic capacity of bar goers, or on my tomato plants— will discover just how robust these tender sentiments really are.
- I fear that your view of the contemporary American family is rather more hopeful than sociological. You say that when a child insults a parent, the other parent doesn’t “join the fray and go on the attack,” but is a superior peace maker who “stands above childish aggression.” Of course, you didn’t say which side of the fray the second parent would peacefully join. You assume a judicial home unity, something necessarily not found in most American households today given the divorce and single parent national statistics.
Meanwhile, it’s well known that socialism is opposed to the family as a political unit of any kind, let alone a unified one. Insofar as the family is ethically allowed to exist in socialism and its political cousin, liberalism, it’s only as a convenience for the nurturing of the next generation of the state’s laborers— I mean free citizens. The parents are the children’s custodians — like janitors — but not their home authorities. In fact, a child that insults a parent has committed lese familias, and is in need of redoubtable correction. But such correction is now illegal in America. “Hello, 911. My parents are correcting— I mean they’re abusing me! Help!!!” Here come the handcuffs! And this isn’t some Las Vegas bridal suite fantasy.
I wouldn’t assume that the second parent will immediately join the first in judicial loftiness. As likely as not, the second parent will join the child in a domestic-sectarian alliance, and the fray will go on even more robustly or cunningly. You see, everyone has gone through the following drill. “We’re all equal. And authority is only a power relation of oppression. Challenge authority!
Chant a mantra enough times and it will change your mind. Humans are creatures of habit. Just ask any ad agency or public relations firm. The only difference left now is that parents are older and less technologically cool than “their” children, and therefore susceptible to browbeating and exploitation by media-socialized and school-practiced pre-adults.
- As for Nixon aides devoutly wishing for IRS audits for their hate-list habitués, it seems to me that Obama’s IRS commissioner has been massively accused of targeting Christian groups, delaying their tax-free status applications, and even initiating punitive audits.
Regardless of the facts, all such IRS-related behavior is reprehensible to the Republic, and should be punished with memorable penalties. The reason is simple. In America’s free enterprise society, private property is — private. It’s not the business of the federal government — except for the federal income tax. The appropriate office — the IRS — should have access to Americans’ income information on an exclusive need-to-know basis and without exception. The IRS should be walled-off as rigorously as nuclear weapons are.
You might respond, “But income is public business. Taxpayers might be cheating!” Of course! They might be excessively avoiding taxes and thereby evading them. Even intentionally!
Mildred: I wouldn’t do that! I haven’t filed for years! Or have I?
Well, I have a business degree. I teach business ethics. But intentionality and fraud are for the IRS to attend to — and only the IRS — unless the courts are brought in over various contentions or criminal charges. Otherwise, private income is no one’s public business.
I’m so pleased that Trump never caved to the daily mantra of the media. “Everyone has released their tax returns!” So what? “Release yours!” Why? Why should such private business — the heart of private property and personal family matters — be made public in a republic of private property? Answer: Because that’s what socialists want. “It’s not private property. It’s social property. Which you happen to have. And if you’ve got a lot of it, it can’t all be yours! Show us what you got!” Trump’s response is the simple and correct one. It’s not your business.
And now I’ll close by quoting Ben Franklin, whom Wilson called the first all-true complete American.
Mind your business!
And then I won’t mind it for you.