Those on the Left and those on the Right agree that there is too much money in politics, too much power of businesses to influence politicians, and too many lobbyists pressuring Congress to legislate policies that will benefit them alone.

 

The corruption that has and does exist in our political system should be addressed. But how? All of the solutions being offered revolve around controls and regulations and laws that will end the practice of inordinate influence peddling and political opportunism. The problem is that they bump right up against the First Amendment. You can't legislate free speech out of existence. People have the right to campaign, make commercials, phone others and push their views as hard as they can. And people have the right to lobby.

But there is an answer. No one would lobby politicians or spend millions to elect them if politicians did not have the power to extend favors. If politicians did not have the right to intervene into the economy to benefit one group or another, pick winners and losers in business, or dole out favors, why would anyone pay a dime to elect them or lobby them? If politicians did not have the power to change people’s actions, who would curry their favor? If politicians only had the power to protect and defend life, liberty, and property without using force to compel businesses and individuals to take certain actions, why would anyone care about them?

This country was set up as a Constitutional Republic, where democracy was limited to voting for representatives. Those representatives were part-time workers. They got together a few times a year to discuss the world and even take a vote or two over issues, but the real work was done on the local and state level. The federal government was limited...very limited.

It was the courts that decided serious issues such as who violated a person’s rights and what the penalty should be. There wasn’t social justice back then, there was just individual justice. The Founding Fathers knew that democracy and social justice were nice words but a slippery slope to destruction when practiced by a government. The nation was ruled by laws, not people.

 

The Founding Fathers set this country up to be on "automatic pilot", so to speak. The laws were set, and checks and balances were in place established to protect the nation from government. The tough part was implementing those checks and balances. Law and order were the themes of elections in the early days, especially as the nation moved west.

It wasn't until the populist movement came into existence at the turn of the 20th century that things really began to change. Populists wanted to seize the power of government and, through "the will of the people," change the nation from a limited government to a responsive government. From that movement we saw a huge move toward new government agencies. “Buyer beware” was replaced by new controls and regulations to “protect” the individual.

Among the new agencies created were the Food and Drug Administration, The Department of Commerce, the Department of Labor, and the Selective Service Agency, and the Department of Communication. To pay for these new agencies, along came the first income tax and the creation of the Federal Reserve System, this last to control the supply of money and increase it "as needed". We would no longer be "crucified on a cross of gold" as William Jennings Bryan, one of the first progressives, so famously said.

 If we were to have a new form of government we would have to pay for it; thus theft through taxation was warranted by this new philosophy - and the end of the gold standard was essential, since it limited the creation of money to the production of gold. What was needed were printing presses that could create money by whim and fiat; thus the Fiat Standard was born.

Limited government ended and democracy (majority rule) took over. Control of the nation’s money and the ability to tax the rich and provide windfalls to "those that deserved it" were essential if populism was going to work. Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson,  and Franklin D. Roosevelt took the nation to areas uncharted. By the 1920s the country was roaring, celebrating their newfound money.

 

But by 1929 the bubble burst, and the common man that had been "saved by government" found himself broke, unemployed, and in bread lines trying to stay alive. The promise of a populist Utopia had turned to the greatest crash and depression in history. It came courtesy of the Fed and the ability to steal money from the rich to finance ever growing demands of people who wanted more.

No longer was money controlled by the free market; it was turned over to economists and bankers. The discipline of the gold standard that had worked successfully for over two hundred years to protect the wealth of individuals was replaced by the judgement of a government-approved board. And no longer were the citizens of America in charge of their own destinies -- government was. A large can of Campbell’s Alphabet Soup could not supply the amount of letters necessary to spell out the number of government agencies that have been created by politicians to “help” us.

Thus was born the Lobbyist. With all this new money to be doled out by government, businesses needed to hire someone to persuade a congressman to channel a little of that money their way. They needed to get a say at the table to negotiate how much the government could “fairly” take from them and to maybe get something in return in the bargain. And they did. They created tax loopholes, subsidies, and corporate welfare in return for their “support”. Congressmen were bought and sold by businessmen according to how much they were able to deliver to business.

If you didn't have a lobbyist you were at a competitive disadvantage. Soon the money that was going to the man on the street was going to businesses. Class warfare broke out; it was the worker against the bosses, the consumer against the producer. In order to appease the electorate government offered more programs for the voters. During the Great Depression, almost every conceivable program was created to stimulate the economy and help the nation get out of the Depression, but after ten years of 33% unemployment and continuously falling GDP, things were as bad as ever. No government program worked.

Only the advent of WWll got us out of that mess. Today we're in the same malaise as we were in the 30s, albeit a much milder version. Today we have stagnation, mounting debt, and mounting demands from everyone. There is nothing on the horizon that will break this cycle. In fact, it could get worse if we turn to greater government involvement in the economy. Whether it's Trump’s trade wars or Hillary's promises of further welfare programs and redistribution, there is no movement to return to a free enterprise economy, the only system known to man that does work.

To the contrary, millions of Bernie Sander supporters believe that just the opposite of free enterprise is what this nation needs. We need more government! But with the enormous growth of government over the years the voting public are already at each other’s throats. It’s gang warfare. The have's want to keep what they have, and the have not's want more. And what of the rule of law? It's breaking down, starting with our president passing edicts and mandates, filtering down through our Congress who is dysfunctional and won’t pass anything, and ending with a divided and broken Supreme Court.

I have no idea how we will break this cycle of stagnation, corruption, and the breakdown of law and order, but I do know that it must be through a return to the clear thinking and principles laid down by the great men that created America.

A decent start to that endeavor would be to reduce taxes across the board in exchange for the elimination of ALL tax loop holes, grants, favors, and special privileges. That would level the playing field and would go a long way in reducing the power,money, and corruption of politicians and lobbyists.

Paul Nathan