Archive for July, 2012
There is a fundamental rule in architecture, always build upon a sturdy foundation. It is as old as the Bible, the earliest builders understood to build on shifting sands was to invite ruin. That if not on solid rock we stand all other ground is sinking sand so to speak. These laws also apply to other creations, a nation for instance. The most basic relationship that a citizen has with his country is based around taxes. Be honest, how many of you thought of the structure of government until you saw just how much Uncle Sam was taking from your paycheck? A driver’s license is a rite of passage, most young people do not vote, only a small minority of people reside in jail cells, but no one can escape taxation. It is true that only half pay into the income tax system, but as we have covered ad nauseum here, the income tax system is only one small part of a 70,000+ page tax code that is only growing. It is the part that is played by politicians in front of a camera to divide the American people and solidify their own position of power. The fact is that the tax code extends into our everyday life in a surreptitious way that borders on sinister. To extricate ourselves from this entangling mess of a tax code we must not merely cut the growing vines but set fire to them. Nothing short of full repeal will allow us the necessary breathing room to jumpstart our economy from the individual, to the small business, on up to the large corporation.
It cannot be ignored or forgotten that the growth of government is directly tied to its ability to tax. There is a large segment of the population that believes that the first priority of government should be to cut its spending. It is true that government spending is out of control. That can be easily seen in the fifth consecutive $1 trillion deficit we have run. But the popular idiom, we do not have a taxing problem we have a spending problem, is misleading. The reason we have a spending problem is because of our taxing problem. The same government that has control of the checkbook also has the ability to gain taxes from whatever source derived. This, quite literally, unlimited power leaves the people without much of a say in the matter. We, under law, must pay our taxes; the government can tax to whatever degree they wish. If we question or protest, we are called greedy and elitist by those that have cameras recording their every word. Abraham Lincoln would certainly be confused with present circumstances for it seems we have a government created of, by, and for the politician. This is the result of nearly a century of government mandated control of our own wallets.
The issue of the balance of power has come to light during the last four years; the questions have surrounded our three coequal branches. Can a President stop enforcing a duly enacted piece of legislation? Can the Supreme Court make a political decision in an election year and still retain its credibility? How far can the Congressional subpoena power reach into the Executive branch and what communications are subject to be covered with Executive Privilege? The questions surrounding the balance of power are not avoided in national discourse yet the question is never asked as to the people’s position in government. It is merely understood that citizens are allowed to have a say at least once a year, but mostly every four years. Sometimes, if the political situation allows, they may have some impact in a mid-term election. The work load of the responsible citizen and the Olympic athlete should not share so many similarities. How many hoops do we jump through, how far must we travel, and how quick must we be with our messages? At the end of our efforts, we are not rewarded with a medal or trophy, but a form letter, a noncommittal answer, an effete promise to deal with the situation in an unnamed committee. What we have watched over the last several years is the creation of a new class of people. Congress is now creating laws that others must follow but that they themselves are immune from. Of course you remember the insider trading that was running rampant throughout Congress until it had to be exposed by an outside party. It should also not be forgotten that the Affordable Care Act that was passed, supposedly, for the betterment of all American citizens and allowed for Congressional members, their families, and their staff to remain immune from its effects. But few instances highlight the complete disregard for rules and our nation’s proud traditions as well as Patrick Kennedy’s DUI from 2006. He was stopped by Capitol Police at 2:45 in the morning and instead of owning up to his actions, that he later pled guilty to, he claimed to be on his way to the Hill for a vote. It seems a very silly excuse until it is realized that the police could not have detained him if he were indeed involved in official business. He knew that legal loophole all too well and even in a diminished capacity had the wherewithal to call such information to his mind. He used the Constitution of the United States, a document fought over and fraught over with more diligence and care than we may ever be able to comprehend, and attempted to use it to cover his rear. There is no respect for our founding values in the highest offices of the land, why are we confused as to the reason its appeal is waning for our future generations?
There could be no clearer example that our elected leaders are out of touch with the average American. In an era when communication is easier and cheaper than any other this should not be accepted. We can only conclude that the reason that they are so far removed and seemingly so little concerned with the lives of American citizens is that they do not have to be. Representatives very rarely represent their constituents anymore. Listen to them speak, they represent the interests of their constituents. The difference may seem slight but it is telling. The interests of constituents are not expressed by voters at all, but by large groups. Whether those groups are corporations purchasing political favors and advantages or special interest groups ready to show political favor and positive media coverage of politicians willing to play their game. You see, it is not profitable to represent citizens anymore. The reason that people feel a lack of political representation is not a secret and the way to fix it is no less of one. This shell that surrounds our elected officials is the bureaucracy that we pay for. It is comprised of laws passed for special interest groups, paid for with money taken by a tax code largely changed to fit the desires of large corporations.
The FairTax releases us from this monstrosity. It is as John writes in the 15th Chapter. “I am the vine….apart from me you can do nothing.” Likewise we are removed from our founding. How long do we expect to survive? If our foundational principles are missing from today’s actions then we are doomed to wander lost without tether to anything familiar. Our destination could be a disastrous one with no guiding light to set us again on the path to success. If the scope of tax power is reduced to just consumption then the heretofore complicated and multi-faceted organization becomes as clear as day. People understand consumption taxes and are aware of them every time they spend. We are also more aware of when those taxes go up or down. Those who do not wish to stay aware of what their government is doing are forced into becoming political participants by the sheer power of perception alone. We know, regardless of the arguments from several political elites, that keeping our own money is not greedy. Taking money that does not belong to you to give to matters that many disagree with in such quantities that you cannot afford to ensure your own job is greedy. If the system is to become more transparent it will ensure that the American people can better hold our leaders accountable. If we are to continue paying a consumption tax for something as basic as groceries, then we will want to know how our money is being spent. If we begin to look under the hood of our government we will see that quite a bit of the machinery is useless, out dated, repetitive, or just not working. To curb spending we must first make people aware on a massive scale not seen today, we must hold our leaders accountable in a way that we cannot or do not do now. We cannot stop our out of control spending if the people continue to be divided with the class warfare inherent in our tax code. Both parties have had control of Washington in the past decade and our debt has risen to uncontrollable levels. Electing new Congressmen, changing the party in charge of the Senate, or choosing a new President is no guarantee against the spending controls we need now. All we can rely on is the campaign promises of a group of people who have made it a practice to dance around the needs of the American people while building a fortune for themselves. The only safeguard against an overpowering government is the input of the people and the only way we can return to them the power is to give them back the purse strings.
We are being crushed under the expanding weight of a federal bureaucracy that we can no longer afford. That is not the position envisioned for us by those who created this government. We were meant as overseers and masters of our own domain. The nobility of the individual is lost in the name of centralized power. We have corrupted an institution that was meant to watch over us into one that lords over us. The foundation of our country was built on the rock of individual liberty and responsibility. The tax code has suffered a daunting 4,500 changes over the last ten years. That is more than one per day. That is also the definition of shifting sands. To continue down this path is to invite calamity. A course correction is necessary to stave off such disastrous outcomes. Let us refashion our government to fit into the fundamental and bedrock building blocks of our founding. Lay the cornerstone of government at the heart of what the FairTax enshrines. The individual.
If this political season has taught us anything, it is the danger of falling into routine. Events of the past years are discussed and reported in the same news anchor’s monotone throughout the country. Policies are described without context and only the shallowest of meanings are conveyed as important. Keep an eye on the news in the upcoming months, every story will be broken down to its basest elements and will be shown in light of only one event, the upcoming election. Just this past Friday, early in the morning, a psychopath shot innocent movie goers in Aurora, Colorado. Before noon of that day he was tied to the TEA Party, the Democrat Party, and the Mayor of New York was calling for stricter gun control laws. Immediately the story was made to fit the narrative, the candidates were called upon to address, not the tragedy, but the need for limiting access to guns regardless of the Constitution. In less than eight hours the victims lost their humanity, the families their dignity, and the focus and limelight of the media drenched a wretched and selfish fool with the attention he obviously craved. He had become part of a larger battle that has been a topic of discussion for decades and will be for several more. Forget the ruling of the Supreme Court on such matters; forget that violent crime has fallen nationwide; look at what this lone crazy person has done. What we lose in this media hype is far more important that the crusade against guns fought by every politician ready to turn today’s tragedy into tomorrow’s campaign commercial. We lose perspective. The healthcare decision was covered in a similar manner. We were told of its political importance and the discussion revolved around the decision’s impact on the campaign and even fundraising. Forget of course, that the government has the, heretofore unfound in the Constitution, power to tax inaction and to force Americans, under penalty of law, to enter into contracts with third parties, look at the poll numbers!
Cutting through the morass can be difficult but it yields important findings. In the lead up to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, where did the government hire new agents to facilitate the operation? It was not the Health and Human Services Department. Kathleen Sebelius, its Secretary, is given wide and sweeping new powers by this law but her department did not receive thousands of new hires. It was the IRS. That story is from 2010, long before the Supreme Court even heard the case, and new agents were hired to oversee this law’s implementation. It was always a tax. It was always intended to be a tax. It was sold to us otherwise. How else can the change in tone be explained? We were told that it was needed to cover Americans without insurance or adequate access to healthcare. When the court outed the mandate as a tax those same compassionate “bleeding hearts” called those without insurance freeloaders, deserving of the penalty that the court “misread” as a tax. Politicians do not care about you, politicians care about your vote.
FairTax advocates many times run a dangerous game of believing that nonpartisan means supported by everyone. While it is absolutely true that this plan can be supported by those in either party or those in neither party we must recognize that there exists an ideological opponent to our cause. One that can be found in every party and organization. The ideology that says centralized authority is better, that the individual cannot fend for himself. The ideology espoused in Osawatomie by both a Republican and a Democrat President 100 years apart. The ideology that wishes to supplement the gas tax with an additional mileage tax. The ideology that refuses to recognize the nobility of creating your own business and tries to tell you that it is the government bureaucrat that is truly to credit for your success. That same ideology that penalizes success under the assumption that it is not yours. The ideology that will lower taxes on a majority of voters but will kill their opportunity to succeed in the name of economic justice. The ideology that believes we should cap the profits of oil and gas companies. The ideology that believes in the redistribution of wealth instead of the creation of wealth. Make no mistake, that ideology is present and is finding successes in this country. That vilified 1% is losing money and their tax rate is rising. The call still remains for “fairness” from those that wish to strip even more out of the pockets of the wealthy; they show no sign of stopping.
Another trap many have fallen into is the ruse of wonderment. We recognize that our dream could come true but in a distant future far away. We continue in our quest because we are convinced that our plan is right and that it will help our country. But we do not fear. Panic induces anarchy and chaos, but fear of death is necessary. Without it our actions are deadened, our resolve is numbed, our speed lags. Since politics is a competitive sport we must fear defeat or we lose. Spectators forfeit because the game is being played as we speak. Training is nice but not crucial. We must have a will to act. People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and that is what we have to offer. The counterpoint to every governmental expansionist idea on the table. I have watched the news for the past several years waiting and hoping for people to change course. It is not that they will not, it is that they cannot if all they are offered is more of the same. The will to act is vital to our cause and the passion connected to it is more contagious than laughter. We must show our passion that strengthens our resolve to gain the momentum we need.
Current events are depressing but can be used to gain an accurate view of the world around us. We are told that we cannot succeed because of a natural disaster in Japan and an economic one in Europe, but the Canadians are now richer than we are. One might ask Canada where it has been when Japan was hit, or if it knew that the Euro was in trouble. But while we floundered on a Keynesian theory that has been disproved before, our neighbors to the North were cutting their tax rates to make doing business easier and to promote individual liberty. We, to help our economy, have reached an arrangement with Mexico to promote expansion of food stamp use in our country. Yet we cannot bring ourselves to inform them of a dangerous and lethal weapons tracking program that has killed many of their police and citizens and at least one of ours. Where do our priorities lie? With reelection, in a land where the ends justify any means. This is our defeat; to yield now is to accept this for the rest of our days at least. I am not part of the FairTax movement merely because our plan is the best tax alternative discussed. I strive to pass the FairTax because it is the best chance American citizens have to taking back control of a government that was designed for them. Two thousand or so pages have recently altered our entire relationship to the government and the effectively the tax code. The slow encroach of government will not arrest itself or cease its own expansion. The waning power of Americans to do as they see fit in their everyday life is directly connected to the waxing power of the state into every segment of society. But we are not without recourse. We cannot afford to sit and wait for a great leader to stand for our cause; it must be done by us. This achievement cannot be accomplished by one man alone, or an organization, but a movement. A movement comprised of people who believe, not in a bill but in themselves. The message we must take to Washington is one of reclamation. Our cause is greater than the method to collect revenue but how our government is to function. With our input or without it. Realize this dichotomy and use it as motivation. Nearly a century has removed us from our proper role in government and we cannot regain our place of power as a restless or harried mob. Our purpose is clear, our cause is just, our numbers are vast, our voice is loud, our hearts are strong, we need only to do one more thing………RISE!
In politics, as the saying goes, perception is reality. Much of what the American public watches on its nightly news is merely elected officials, appointed officials and other talking heads attempting to spin reality into a narrative that benefits one half of the country to the detriment of the other. A large majority of the time this disillusion only results in a momentary or temporary gain. The long-term effect however is a perpetual state of illusion or in the cases of our elected officials, intentional self-delusion. But time and time again these leaders are the ones we listen to on the matters of the day and the possibility of the matters of tomorrow. We bring our ideas and plans to these elected leaders and they tell us that what we seek is impossible. They look into our eyes and will tell us that plans such as the FairTax cannot pass in such a partisan environment but will spend an entire summer setting up a Joint Select Committee of hand chosen party favorites to circumvent the Constitution and result in nothing less than our nation’s first credit downgrade. We constantly praise our representative style of government but have watched in the last week as the last popular branch of government plummeted to join the rest. The Supreme Court is hovering just over 50% in approval which is still higher than the near single digit approval rating of Congress and the -15 approval rating for the President it is a wonder as to who our government represents.
For many in elected office the importance of narrative outweighs any opposition and any connection to objective reality. For example, in the effort to pass the still controversial Affordable Care Act, the President was caught handing out white lab coats to the attendees to a press conference. What was supposed to be an informative discussion with the elected leader of the free world about a major shift in national policy turned out to be nothing more than a mere photo-op. Our current crop of political leaders are less interested in how they can serve than with what they can sell. Our political culture is one of style trumping substance. No candidate is praised for their ability to speak outside of a ten second sound bite. Our Founders locked themselves away during a steamy Philadelphia summer to avoid the media and work together to break from a monarchy so that they could form a new “more perfect union”. The most recent use of that phrase, taken from our Constitutional Preamble, in current important political events was as the title of speech given by then-candidate Obama. You may remember it as the speech that discussed in frank terms his views on “black anger” and “white resentment” in response to the coverage of his former pastor on video screaming “God d-mn America!” The question turns from “who does the government represent” to what exactly happened to us as a people.
This election year has also highlighted our elected leaders’ propensity to let the ends justify their means. One need not listen too closely to the rhetoric surrounding the campaign to hear an ample supply of narrative disconnected to reality. Recently the President’s campaign has hinted that their opponent is a felon. A Senate candidate in Massachusetts continues to claim that she has Native American heritage even though it can be demonstrably proven that she does not. In this day and age of YouTube recollection and flip-flopper claims it is preferable to march straight into hell because being consistent is preferable to being accurate. In fact it is this inability to change tactics in the face of overwhelming proof that is most frustrating to FairTax advocates. The tax equation for success is an easily learned one. The more economic liberty provided for the populace at large the better off the economy. The more authority centralized in government and the heavier the tax burden, the fewer businesses and individuals remain. Year to year estimates can be tricky but the census information can be telling. Two of the highest taxed states are New York and California. Between the years 2000 and 2010 the delegation of both provides insight into the effects of taxes on human behavior. For the first time in its history, California gained no electoral representation, and for the second census in a row, New York lost two seats. Texas, recently named by CNBC as America’s top state to do business, has gained six seats in twenty years. The equation makes sense. To understand the dangers take a look at San Bernardino, the third California city to file for bankruptcy in less than a month. Those at the national level are consistently moving us in the direction of California’s taxes and farther away from the business, and thus jobs, friendly tax structure of Texas. Narrative trumps facts any day of the year. The increasing pressure of what is shaping up to be an incredibly divisive election year is showing itself in the increased calls for more taxes on the wealthy. The rich are called upon to “pay their fair share” and will be conceivably up to and including Election Day. In complete disregard to the recent CBO report. The Congressional Budget Office’s report shows that the top 1%, and the most vilified group, earns 13.4% of the pre-tax income yet pays 22.3% of the taxes. Looking at this information it becomes very difficult to ascertain what a “fair share” would look like.
The quest for narrative is often overlooked and accepted as part of political discourse. The name calling found in political discourse is hardly anything new. All that is different is the atmosphere of arrogance surrounding the proceedings born of nothing but a mistaken belief that we are progressed. This makes honest accounts more difficult from the outset. If anything we have lost much from where we started. In an interview with CBS on Friday the President said his biggest regret of his term was that he failed to tell a story. The creation of a narrative is a large focus of his campaign, there is a strong effort on his rival’s team to create a narrative that is favorable to the majority of the electorate. That language only serves distance the political elite from the voting public. And they could not be any more out of touch. It is clear that the ruling class does not represent the people, they represent themselves. The distance from where we started to where we are now can be measured by the control we have ceded over our own wallets. The disconnect between spin and reality can be found in an unadulterated lust for power found in and allowed by the unlimited grasp of the Sixteenth Amendment. There is wide recognition that “Washington is broken” but more must be done than change management. If the system is broken than one needs more than new cogs. The rules by which that system operates must be thrown out. If we listen and base the likelihood of our success by those that are divorced from reality then why do we expect to succeed? If those that persist in their insanity tell you that something is impossible then why would you believe them? Former Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards was famed for saying that there were two Americas. He, mistakenly, identified two lands for the “haves” and the “have-nots”. Just as the man’s own life showed, the true difference between the two Americas is that one operates in reality and the other consists of what politicians want you to see. Pay no attention to those operating in the world without reality, if you rule a world of dreams you become lost when you awake. So let us wake them. Either by the force of our action or the intensity of our shouts let them awake. Let them join the world we live in and see that the path we currently walk is disastrous. We must change course and throw out the rules leading to concentrated power and diminished popular voice. The FairTax turns this tide and creates a world governed by those that give consent, not those that ignore it. We have a chance to make that difference you only need to act.
The purpose of a campaign is to send an intelligent and informed voter to the ballot box. – Calvin Coolidge.
This is our goal is it not? We FairTax advocates strive to inform every American that we can and we have goals that we intend to reach and seek the best way to do so. Some are working on playing defense, others are attempting to raise funds, many speak to their Congressional leaders trying to convince them to cosponsor, and a few even run for office in a “Ghandian” effort to “be the change they wish to see”. But for most the ultimate goal is the passage of the FairTax in Congress. Our strides include an increased number of congressional cosponsors, an increased awareness in political leaders, and even a full hearing in front of the Ways and Means Committee. These are positive signs and when our bill does come up for a vote many will cheer the success, and success it will be. Make no mistake, a vote and debate on the floor of the House will be a tremendous milestone but will also mark the most dangerous time for our cause. The moment we hand off H.R. 25 to politicians is nowhere near the end of our duties as advocates. In a sense our job will have just begun. One of the main reasons we endeavor to educate as many Americans as we can is a direct response to that particular leg of the race. You see, no idea is as ever in danger of extinction than when it is debated before Congress. Because the FairTax is written as is to succeed. As it is not a very long bill any change, made in Committee or through an amendment, could substantially alter what we are fighting for.
It is true what Thomas Paine wrote, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” We have heard that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. There is no greater need for vigilance than behind the committee-room door. If we are to see our ultimate goal come to fruition then we must keep an ear steadfastly affixed to the ground. If we are to see the FairTax passed unscathed it will require constant input from volunteers and advocates from across the political spectrum and the map. In fact some of our volunteers that have had occasion to speak to their representative report that they are actually in favor of the idea or the bill itself, it is the process that scares them. While it is important for us to find support on the Ways and Means Committee it is also critical to cultivate relationships with the leadership of both parties. Lyman Beecher, a minister of the Second Great Awakening, said this of political movements, “No great advance has ever been made in science, politics, or religion, without controversy.” He is absolutely right. Which necessitates the input of the people because many politicians have an allergy based aversion to controversy. If left to their own devices it is likely that the slow encroachment of government would continue unimpeded. For example, after the recent Supreme Court ruling it is understood that the Republican Party seeks the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The party’s presumptive nominee stated as much the day of the ruling. Many political prognosticators predicted that the ruling would even turn out more Republican voters on Election Day because the issue had the ability to create such interest. All of that being said look at their leader in the Senate this past week. He believes that the odds are against repeal and that it is likely to remain. He also suggested that the states should handle much of the fallout. A political leader will always make decisions that will retain their seat of power. That means not rocking the boat or taking decisive action. Many times this impotence will be justified with a promise to make things better down the line. How many times have we heard logic similar to this? “I cannot help with that particular problem if I am no longer chairman” or “This leadership position offers the chance to better represent my community”. Of course, those excuses are always accompanied by the word “no”.
This only underscores the rising problem of our tax code. While the voice of the citizen is drowned in the handwringing of political scale measuring, the whims of special interest groups always find their way into codified law. Take the example of the roll-your-own cigarette industry. The following is a synopsis of the article linked. This industry was snuffed out due to a small amendment in a recently passed transportation bill. This case is a perfect example of the weaponized tax code and its devastating effect on commerce, business, jobs and the economy. The roll your own cigarettes were cheaper than those that could be bought in packs, since I am not a smoker I cannot speak to the quality difference if there was one, but the cost differential was substantial. Part of the reason was because the tobacco used in these cigarettes was not taxed the same. It also lacked many of the chemicals in the tobacco and paper that make smoking such a dangerous habit. A few paragraphs were added to the transportation bill changed the definition of what a cigarette manufacturer actually is and added regulations and higher taxes to thousands of roll your own cigarette operations nationwide. The move was, of course, backed by large tobacco companies and the amendment was made by Sen. Max Baucus of Montana. Montana did not have any of the offending roll you own locations. Max Baucus had no legitimate complaint coming from his constituents about business that did not exist in his state. He did however receive donations from Altria, a parent company of Philip Morris. This is one example of how our tax code is no longer serving its intended purpose. The argument in passing the amendment was to increase tax revenues. The end result was lost jobs, stifled entrepreneurship, a loss in revenues, and a larger tax code.
The tax code shows no sign of slowing its own growth. There is too much money for politicians in its complexity and scope. The IRS itself is growing exceedingly fast to prepare for the additional complexities that are the new healthcare taxes. Some political leaders are right to be fearful of the process of passing legislation, it is difficult to defend from a litany of amendments and challenges when you are on your own. Let us reassure them that they are anything but alone. The problem with pushing a bill like the FairTax is that it has to come from the ground up. As seen there is too much monetary resistance for this idea to come from Washington D.C. but we are on the right track. We have to gain cosponsors, win friends in leadership, work across the aisle, inform American citizens to turn them into voters, raise money, discuss the plan in the public eye, and keep our successes with regular follow-ups and maintain an informed view on political machinations. The problem is that an organization cannot do this. No organization could juggle that many issues and responsibilities. A movement can. The difference is that an organization can be led by an individual; a movement is the sweeping passions of a multitude causing action toward a specific goal. A movement has leaders but is comprised only of actors. Those that are interested in goals and more importantly an ideal. The beauty of such a system is that its destiny can only be determined by you. Your effort is not merely suggested but is necessary. From now until the signing ceremony we need you to keep the FairTax bill in its current form through the political wrangling process that turns a bill into a law. We see the fight to the end or it would be better not to fight at all. There is no secret that our current system is broken beyond repair, no amount of tinkering will mend the damage done already. People are tired of leaders that do not lead and calls that go unanswered. It is time to make our move but we cannot do so successfully without you. We cannot be in the debate if we are planted on the sidelines. So get in the game.
In our celebrations of our own independence day we often overlook the actions that brought it to such a successful conclusion. The very act of rebellion that was the revolution could easily have ended far more disastrously. But it did not and now we live in a land that has been responsible for promoting liberty and freedom even in the darkest of times. It should come to no one’s surprise. America’s fighting force of patriots was born of the necessity of war. They entered into the world battle hardened and resolved. Sometimes it requires a refinement by fire to emerge battle ready. For the early Continental Army it was a trudge through the bitter cold. The incident at Valley Forge was a proving ground for the American soldier in which he learned a steely resolve that has served his country throughout time. The winter of 1777 was a make-or-break point for the young revolutionary force. General Washington’s estimation sums it up better than anyone could, “that unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place…this Army must inevitably…starve, dissolve, or disperse, in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner they can.” 12,000 troops marched into Valley Forge, only 1/3 of them had shoes on their feet. Blood left a red trail behind them due to the stark lack of supplies. Going into the winter retreat the Army had lost two key battles against the British in addition to the new capital established at Philadelphia. As the snow began to fall they made their encampment. The alternate freezing and melting of the snow allowed for disease to creep into the threadbare army, the food was scarce but not scarce enough to allow for starvation, the animals were dying due to disease and exhaustion. Petitions to the Continental Congress yielded no substantial gains. As the gloom of winter set in the tactical position of the Patriots solidified. They were close enough to keep the British from continuing with their campaign but were far enough away to prevent a surprise attack. Yet the positioning was not the remarkable aspect of Valley Forge. It was in the frigid temperature of a cold Pennsylvania winter that our revolution won its most crucial victory. While supplies were low our spirits were not, while battles were lost the morale was not. Because the men of the Continental Army were not the only inhabitants of Valley Forge. Families, wives, mothers, sisters, and children came out into the bitter cold to help however they could. Women mended and laundered the poorly kept and dirty clothing. They also nursed the sick. In our darkest moments, even as our nation was not yet formed, it was the American people acting of their own volition that helped the cause… even when our young congress could not.
Surviving the winter was an impressive feat that built a common bond for a fighting force composed of members of all 13 colonies. But to go on and win the war we needed to do much more than survive. We trained. General Washington appointed Baron Friedrich von Steuben, a Prussian drill sergeant, to train the troops. His voice could be heard throughout the camp and he worked tirelessly to bring such a disparate group under a uniform policy. Even though we had little to supply us and even fewer reasons to celebrate our hope endured. We trained to match the professional British force arrayed against us. We trained to create, not only an army, but a nation of free men. Even as disease took a full sixth of the army, some 2,500 men fell to typhoid, jaundice, dysentery and pneumonia; we trained into a professional force that would win the war.
The story of Valley Forge is one that should resonate for us not only as Americans but especially as FairTax advocates. Our appeals to Congress by and large have gone unheeded. We are left to our own devices and currently consist of volunteers that spread throughout the country. We have seen setback after setback in terms of policy measures. We are moving farther away from the ideals at the heart of our movement. The healthcare decision resulted in a gross expansion of the amendment we wish to repeal. The tax discussions of our current leaders revolve exclusively around the ownership of corporate jets and the “greediness” of the 1%. It is never mentioned that the greediness of government that desires more of other’s money while refusing to act responsibly with what they have already taken is something less than virtue. In fact no discussions of taxes are devoid of class warfare. Even the so-called Bush tax cuts are a point of contention even though they have been passed and signed by both Democrat and Republican legislatures and Presidents. For the FairTax advocate it can feel very much like wandering lost in a forest. Just close enough to be tarred with the lies of politicians that profit from such a complicated code but too far away to be part of the discussion of possible alternatives. Our cause, like that of our forefathers, faces troubles in the present. But our circumstances now are not determinate of our destiny. Our resolve is. In the trying times of government expansion, should we starve, dissolve or disperse? When our ideological opponents convince a Supreme Court justice to rewrite legislative intent, do we succumb to the political will or train for tomorrow’s battle? When politicians write us off, misstate our position, or lie about our goals do we sheepishly subside or recommit? Political movements can spend time in the sun and still be ignored or forgotten. Others never break into the light. The difference between the success and failure of these movements is the resolve and determination of its supporters. Resolve is strengthened in the toil of the shadows, determination is hardened in competition. Just as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. A Proverb familiar to our Founders to be sure. We are not weakened by our struggle. We learn to fight better. There are many who are upset or discouraged this week. To them I offer this hope. We could not celebrate our independence this week if not for the suffering that took place in Valley Forge. We as a people have suffered under a government centered bureaucracy-creating tax code for nearly a century. Without that servitude we could not have such a desire for freedom that buoys our cause.
236 years later we can judge for ourselves the wisdom in the decisions of those that have come before. Please realize before getting caught in the raging torrent of the political “now”, our successors will judge us with an equally exacting eye. Did we compromise our principles in the name of political expediency or did we boldly act with an unshaken faith in the American people? As our future generations continue to celebrate our independence, will they look at our actions in the spirit of those brave Patriots huddled in the valley, or will we resemble the King who they fought against? Just with those brave men and women so long ago, the choice is yours. That is freedom. May it ever reign.