By Ronald Glenn
Notes From the Conservative Underground is an ongoing section here at America’s Right, featuring the written manifestation of Ron Glenn’s observations on the conservative movement, gleaned from sources found everywhere between short-wave radio to mainstream commentary, between random discourse with concerned everyday Americans to planned discussions with people and officials plugged into grassroots organizations nationwide.
Smile for the Camera!
The city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania is now on the map for reasons other than the sale of die-cast horse-and-buggy statuettes and other similar Amish souvenirs. In conjunction with Bosch Security Systems, the city has mounted sophisticated cameras over its length and breadth under the pretense of what officials have maintained, at various public meetings and through the press, is nothing more than concern for public safety. At this point, I will not argue the merits or flaws of the system — I am far more interested in the politics of how such a system is viewed by the political right and left in an era when government is less and less inhibited about spying on American citizens.
On Friday, June 12, an article was run here at America’s Right about Texas Congressman Ron Paul and the Federal Reserve. I had been in contact with a grassroots Ron Paul group in Lancaster, and through discussion with them found out about the implementation of the surveillance program. In my early investigation of the matter, I discovered that there is concern by the Ron Paul Libertarian right as well as the socialist left about use of the cameras. Since cameras serve little purpose unless they record, both sides are concerned about the use of these recordings if and when they end up in the hands of law enforcement.
The argument mirrors the discussion instigated on the national level with the passage of the first Patriot Act under former President George W. Bush. The liberals objected to giving so much power to a Republican. Now that Barack Obama is president, of course, the conservatives care that a liberal has so much power. Since Lancaster County has been a Republican stronghold for many years, the left in Lancaster is concerned that the cameras will be used against them; for example, there could be concern that the cameras would be used to keep a record of who frequents gay bars or attends union meetings.
In principle, the constitutionalists are against the practice in general but, to evoke an age-old saying, what one is against in principle, one is not necessarily against in fact. When almost any political group is pushed to the wall, after all, it will inevitably point a finger at some other group it believes should be spied upon by the police, and that includes spying which might be perceived as unconstitutional. This thinking is what allows the systems of police monitoring to survive no matter who is in charge of the government at the time.
From this point of view, the American public resembles a child whose parents have divorced and who is forced to spend time in the custody of each parent. The parents might say nasty things about each other, trying to show the child who is the better of the two. But no matter, the child is subject to the rules of the parent he happens to be living with. The child is never free to live as he wishes but rather simply learns to live with the person who has the power to boss him or her around. Those who oppose the cameras, by that line of thinking, want to live more like adults and less like children.
I will report further on this issue; in a time when political organization at the local and state level on up is crucial for the future of America, it is likewise just as important to see how national political policy translates on down to the localities in America. There are some in Lancaster who believe the city is being used as a pilot project for the rest of the nation. Stay tuned.
Among the people with whom I rub elbows daily, those in financial circles are increasingly busy peering into the best crystal ball available in order to ascertain what the Obama administration intends to do next about the economy. This involves a whole set of complex circumstances and emotions, as many continue to be frustrated that much of this economic downturn could have been avoided by a refusal to abandon free market principles.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is beginning to feel the wrath that comes with the job. Some accuse him of being in way over his head, others accuse him of the obvious — since he used to be the head of the New York Federal Reserve, many feel he is too attached to the Federal Reserve System and approaches everything the way a banker would. That perspective is not without merit, but is certainly limited.
The problem of predicting the future boils down to asking what the Obama administration will do in conjunction with the Federal Reserve when inflation becomes a serious problem. Remember that, when an economy is in contraction, the amount of money in circulation should decrease, thus stemming any inflation. Prices should follow the lead of the housing market and fall. However, since the Federal Reserve and the Federal Government chose to spend trillions of American dollars still warm from the printing press, there is more potential money in the economy than ever before.
The money is “potential” because the banks are sitting on it. The money from the Federal Reserve was given to the banks to prop up their depleted resources, but as of yet the money has not been put into the public domain in the form of loans because of credit tightening and timidity from borrowers. If the banks begin to lend the money in the course of business, the economy will be drowning in dollars, especially when done in conjunction with a trillion-dollar or higher deficit from the federal government.
What happens if the inflation hits hard? The Federal Reserve will have to raise interest rates, which would curtail borrowing and slow the economy. (Remember that, in 1980 as the Carter era waned and the Reagan era began, interest rates were upwards of 18 percent.) The real unknown, though, is whether the Democrats have the discipline to reduce spending at all, or whether they will rely solely on the Federal Reserve to stop the flow of paper from its printing press. Up until now, history shows it is the cost of borrowing imposed by the Federal Reserve that is used to slow inflation, not less government spending.
This is why the crystal ball looks very cloudy at the moment. Treasury Secretary Geithner may be forced to phone his favorite socialist European head of state for advice. We should be glad he went to the Bilberberg Conference this year and made so many secret, helpful friends. Can you feel the love?
The ultimate solution for many is to send the bankers shuffling off to Buffalo (perhaps Buffalo, Antarctica) and re-institute what the Constitution says to do: gold and silver coinage, which is real money. A Federal Reserve note–what we call the “dollar”– is not real money. It is a note, meaning it is only a promise to pay.
For this moment, if Americans are wondering what at all they can do, they can tell their representatives to support Ron Paul’s H.R. 1207, which would set up an audit of the Federal Reserve. After all, the Fed has never been audited, and any continued efforts to cheat will be more difficult if Bernanke and his henchmen are forced to account for exactly where those trillions of Federal reserve notes are going! As reported here at America’s Right last week, the bill already has more than 220 sponsors.
Truth or Consequences
Statistics showing the unemployment rate in America will have a lot to do with the government rhetoric on the state of the economy. Despite promising that because of his stimulus package unemployment would not increase past eight percent, the Obama administration has managed to orchestrate an unemployment rate of over nine percent. The number they want to avoid announcing, of course, is ten percent. Double digit unemployment is bad for public relations.
This creates a great dilemma for the Obama administration. If the unemployment rate does reach ten percent, it might look as if their programs are not working. If they deny the unemployment rate is ten percent, they may not be forced to do the right thing to fix the mess.
Even more to the point is the fact that many consider the unemployment figure completely off the mark. If one considers the number of people who have given up looking for work, and the number who are forced to work part-time, the actual unemployment rate is between 16 and 20 percent. The government will not admit it, of course, and the problems of the nation will not be addressed at all.
Governments tend to under- or overestimate a problem, depending on which one serves their purposes. The unemployment rate would be twenty percent according to the Democrats if George W. Bush were still in office and Barack Obama was running for president. Now that Barack Obama is president, we shall see how soon that ten percent confession ever arrives.
Unhappiness Is Contagious
It has been reported numerous times on the Internet that the left is losing its popularity since the election of 2008, but it is interesting that the unhappiest come from both sides of the political spectrum. Conservatives are unhappy about all the things one would expect. Liberals, though, are very unhappy about two specific areas: First, they do not like the chumminess of the current administration with the banking community. Wall Street, they feel, has not been punished for its crimes, and the international culprit banks who caused the troubles are still intact. Second, President Obama has also maintained the defense budget. The anti-war sentiments of the left have not been realized. Iraq appears to be occupied in much the same manner as South Korea, and in Afghanistan troop numbers are on the rise.
It is fascinating that when George W. Bush’s eight year reign ended, both the left and right were angry with him. Liberals thought the Bush administration was a fascist war machine that exuded all the traits of a police state. Conservatives thought Bush and his cronies had become liberals when it came to spending money.
There are some who would try to argue this is the price a leader pays who leads from the center, but if President Obama is in the center, we must ask ourselves how far left the center has moved. Bush was commonly accused by conservatives of moving the Republican Party too far away from its fiscal conservative roots. By the end of his first year in office, we shall discover if President Obama is accused of moving away from his leftist roots or if he is a celebrity politician who is another magnificent campaigner that cannot govern coherently.
Ronald Glenn has worked in real estate and law for more than twenty years. He now works in Philadelphia, and lives outside the city with his wife. Ron has been writing for America’s Right since January 2009.