Chapter 2 – One Nation Under or Acting as God?
‘An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.’
Hopefully you now have a better understanding about how our minds operate. It is imperative to have awareness of our personal ego and consciousness prior to expanding upon these concepts as they apply to the world we live in and the government we choose to live under. Inner peace must arise before outer peace can manifest in the world in which we reside. Without an understanding of how our minds work, we are left vulnerable to the unconscious persuasion of others who may not have our best interests in mind. It is irrational to believe that a government principled on concepts of peace, love, respect for life, respect for property, free speech, and goodness (i.e. consciousness) can preside over a nation where the majority of individuals are unconscious thus voting their ‘un-conscience.’ Through most of history and even today in many parts of the world still, leaders don’t even have to use persuasion or manipulation. But rather, they use brute force to exert their will on the people which they govern over. Fortunately, humanity has progressed to the point where civilized, free societies that elect their leaders no longer accept such means of attaining positions of leadership.
Throughout history, conscious leaders have offered freedom to choose one’s own destiny and the unconscious leaders offered to directly provide a better life usually through some type of government-controlled distribution. The unconscious ones play on our egos in the service of their own egos; their ego that seeks superiority over as many other human beings as possible. We more-than-willingly oblige by voting, or in the case of dictatorships joining their movement via physical force, when we are not aware of what they are doing by promising to provide us that which we feel we are ‘entitled’ to. And so the stage is set to inflict greater suffering than that which they claimed to be able to alleviate.
The political world in the U.S. today is extremely emotionally charged and polarized into two basic corners of thought. We really have only had two major accepted schools of thoughts (i.e. – political parties) to pick from since John Adams served the as the second President of the United States. George Washington cautioned in his presidential farewell letter of the dangers of aligning ourselves so strongly with one absolute track of thinking when he wrote, ‘The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.’ He strongly warned of caustic division amongst the union as a result of differences of opinion particularly when the contract with the people founded on an understanding of human nature is not strongly adhered to. These are indeed the very issues that afflict us today and the two-party system responsible for electing those who are to govern us is failing us. The current system does not promote and foster free, conscious thinking amongst voters and politicians alike.
Politicians, regardless of the form of government, are often masters of the craft of manipulation. They have the ability to play on our greatest fears and often have studied the law to understand how the legal system that governs over us can be used opportunistically. They know how to ‘work the system’ better than anyone. Sometimes they claim to be in the service of God, sometimes the claim to deny the existence of God, and sometimes they might even think they are God; all the while using fear overtly or covertly, disguised as hope, as their tool of attraction.
It is alarming to see how vulnerable we really are to shifting in thinking and seeing how average, well-intentioned people can find themselves following mad men, thus violating individual rights and committing great atrocities with the belief that it is for the progression of humanity. The persuasiveness to their cause extends across all races and socio-economic classes from doctors and scientists to peasant farmers, factory workers, and the unemployed. Our vulnerability to joining what is believed to be just causes is illustrated by two rather remarkable psycho-social experiments after WWII to better understand how average people can find themselves inadvertently performing great acts of cruelty and brutality:
The first was the Milgram Experiment performed in 1961 at Yale University by psychologist Dr. Stanley Milgram. The purpose of the study was to see how vulnerable we are to not following our conscience particularly when instructed by an authority figure to inflict harm. The premise of the study was that there would be a ‘teacher’ and a ‘learner’ under the watch of the ‘experimenter’. The learner and experimenter were actually actors unbeknownst to the teacher. The teacher would read off a question to the learner and if he or she got the question wrong the teacher at the authoritative instruction of the experimenter was to deliver an electric shock starting at 15V. The teacher was unaware that the shock was not real and the learner was acting. There was a whole series of questions and each time the learner got it wrong another shock would be delivered, each subsequent shock 15V stronger than the last. The teachers were told by the experimenter that they must continue the experiment for the good of the experiment despite the learner’s obvious pain to being electrocuted.
Prior to the experiment, a group of psychology major Yale students were asked what percent of humans would continue the experiment until the final 450V shock was delivered. They all agreed that only a very small percent (~1.2%) of the teachers would be willing to go through with the perceived experiment. To everyone’s surprise and horror, a majority 26 out of the 40 participants in the role of teacher proceeded with the entire experiment and discharged the final 450V shock to the learner. This experiment has been repeated over the years many times and the results are always nearly identical.
The second experiment was The Stanford Prison Experiment performed a decade later in 1971 by psychologist Dr. Phillip Zimbardo. In this study, two groups of college students from Stanford University were divided at random into prisoners and prison guards. The basement of the psychology building at Stanford was converted into a make-believe prison and basic protocols of prison life were to be followed. Palo Alto police even assisted in the experiment by simulating arrests of the prisoners including fingerprinting and mug shots at the police station. The participants were then left to their own devices/minds. Once confined to the prison, the participants began role-playing immediately and the distinction between reality and life in the mock prison became lost. Those placed in the role of authority and assigned the role of prison guards became extremely verbally and emotionally abusive. Unfortunately as well, the prisoners came to accept their role of being powerless and, except for two participants, the prisoners chose to endure the sadistic and humiliating treatment of the guards without voicing opposition to such conduct.
After only 6 days, the experiment was halted due the psychological stress inflicted on all the participants as well as fear of the escalating propensity towards physical violence. These individuals acting in a manner of either superiority or inferiority were not bigoted prison guards or subservient prisoners. Rather, they were above average intelligence, decent human beings who happened to be chosen to participate and divided up randomly in this experiment. Coincidently, all the participants happened to be Caucasian alluding to the fact that racism transcends race. Racism is merely just one more way our egos attempt to assert superiority over another person. The study and process in which it was conducted has created significant controversy in terms of ethical and moral responsibility of all such subsequent psychological and sociological experiments on human subjects.
Despite the controversy of such experiments, they serve as a stark reminder of how all humans are composed of good and bad intertwined; ego and consciousness that can shift relative to the environment. It is what the ancient Chinese religion Taoism symbolizes in the popular yin-yang, . When we are unaware of the composition of human nature the potential exists for ego to repeatedly take precedence over consciousness. And 30 years later, it did in the real world as was demonstrated by the torture and abuse committed against Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Graib Prison by American soldiers. Such human nature also accounts for right-of-passage acts referred to as hazing performed on new members to established groups such as a sports team or college fraternities and sororities.
In previous times, certain individuals have carried the message of liberty and had to suffer at the hands of closed-minded thinkers. These exceptionally courageous and gifted individuals have resorted to various means of communication to get their message to the masses thus challenging and influencing conventional thinking. Sometimes the result was only suffering or death. But in some instances, their bravery and relentless perseverance resulted in a shift in the conscious thinking of the majority so that all humans could move closer to a union of people collectively relishing true freedom whereby individuals are then able to pursue their own form of happiness.
We are fortunate to live in a time and country that permits non-violent demonstration. When you look around the world, you see other groups of people not nearly as fortunate. We should not try to silence these people who choose to speak out but instead try to understand what it is that ignites their passion to demonstrate their opposition to the direction of the herd.
A lesson then in civil disobedience is of utmost importance. The spirit of those labeled as Tea Party followers are taken from the pages of the world’s molders of history like Mahatma Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Susan B. Anthony, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The fact that people can choose to not just go along with status quo is what makes this country the greatest ever; with greatest by definition meaning most conscious. In the United States, citizens are permitted to speak freely and oppose unjust laws and government when done in a civil, non-violent manner. Just because a concept is written into law by no means makes it right or conscious. There was a time in the United States when a certain degree of melanin in your skin only made you worth 3/5’s of a human according to law. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us too in his writings that everything Adolf Hitler did was technically legal based on German law of that time period.
Fortunately, the writers of the U.S. Constitution also built into the contract with the people the flexibility to amend it as needed. At its core though reside certain inalienable rights (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) as first introduced in the Declaration of Independence when the American colonies announced their separation from Britain. These absolute rights cannot be added to or taken away. Since its inception, great leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King Jr. have continued to oppose the mindset of their times by not changing these rights but instead expanding upon whom those rights are entitled. In the U.S., it is now no longer acceptable to own another human being, women’s role in the world is not limited to reproduction and home-making, our children are no longer incorrectly born into the belief that they are either inferior or superior to another human being, and voting is not limited to only certain types of the ‘right’ kinds of people.
Even as the U.S. Constitution was being written, the authors knew in their hearts and conscience slavery was wrong but also knew that human atrocity would have to be addressed by subsequent generations. In 1787 though, the most important thing was to unite under one contract a country on the brink of dissolving after a failed attempt to do so under the Articles of Confederation. It was in the ensuing battles of the American Civil War, women’s suffrage movement, and civil rights movement through much strife the country was able to progress and expand those rights to the greater mass of its citizens. Thomas Jefferson wrote in his autobiography in 1821 “Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people [blacks] are to be free. Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them." The election of 2008 is a testament to how far the United States has come since that document and the rights to whom it guarantees was signed.
The ultimate goal was then and still is now the expansion of the guarantee of liberty to all individuals born into the world through the spreading of the principles established in America. Unfortunately, even in America the concept of liberty can become misconstrued by the ego of those within government and the military. Instead of leading by example, the U.S. government at times has taken it upon itself to physically force its ideals on other nations the last few decades as part of its foreign policy. It is a difficult balance between protecting freedom and attempting to provide others with liberty. True freedom must always come from within. If it is forced or coerced then the reliance of a nation of people is anything but self-reliant. Invading nations and instituting governments not of the citizens’ choosing creates dependency on the entity responsible for removing the previous ruling party. People who seek greater freedom must rally the will of the majority within a nation to oust their own leaders premised on ego as in the case of sociopathic dictators if it is to be sustainable. We must also always keep in mind in our endeavors to protect and expand liberty that all human life has value whether it is a child living in the upper echelons of suburbia New York City or the slums of Detroit; or the poverty and oppressed child just trying to survive the daily hardships of life in Afghanistan.
Amongst certain circles of thinking it might be convenient to label groups such as the Tea Party followers to suit their own special interests. This mindset is misguided at best, and at worse, is the root of all the world’s greatest atrocities. To believe that government (all government, not just the U.S.) can keep sustaining its people with more and more without respect to where it is coming from is the path of no return without inflicting much greater suffering than that which it claims to be able to avoid. Yes, there may be a small, limited number of deeply unconscious individuals that choose to use every opportunity possible as an outlet for their ego to hate in the form of racism. All groups have unconscious members who chose to use their group’s identity as a means of expressing their individual egos. There are plenty of people from all backgrounds that use skin color or religion as a scapegoat for not delving into the heart of the dire problems this country and world faces. We are all in this together and it is important that we each recognize how positive it is that people can come together collectively in a peaceful manner to challenge conventional thinking. It is essential that we know our history and particularly the basic principles upon which this country was founded if we are to truly progress.
Such demonstrations should touch the core of every American who seeks nothing more than the opportunity to provide for themselves and their loved ones through hard work, perseverance, and ingenuity. There is but one concern that should unite all of us: big, intrusive government that puts itself before the rights of the people. It is the kind of big, centralized government whether it is right-winged, left-winged, or chicken-winged that all the founding fathers warned us of centuries ago. As a nation, it is imperative that we the citizens demand our government protect freedom inside its borders as much as it professes to protect freedom outside its borders. You don’t have to have a certain skin color, a certain religion, a certain sexual orientation, a specific party affiliation, or a certain income to align yourself with such views. You should understand the divide-and-conquer tactic of those who want to label and vilify such thinking and people who oppose their own unconscious ideology. At the present moment, it is more often than not the irrational, radical, unconscious voice that is heard over the conscious voice of unity, moderation, logical reasoning, and peace.
Many conscious groups past and present utilize their right to protest in peace because they want to protect their individual liberty and preserve it for future generations. It is when you see people protesting using hatred and violence that you will most often find causes rooted in ego. The ego attempting to preserve itself resorts to such means of influencing sentiment. Unfortunately, many even within the Tea Party movement have yet to consciously accept that programs like Medicare and Social Security too are a form of government control infringing on personal freedom which accounts for why they are insolvent and operate so poorly. There are also many individuals, particularly the younger generation(s), who might not align themselves with any one movement but sense the same disillusionment and frustration of watching the never-ending political wrangling of the current system.
In recent polls, Americans have made it clear above all other issues that having and creating jobs is the most pressing issue this nation is faced with. On August 28, 1963, 250,000 Americans marched through Washington D.C. to promote awareness of the same two problems that afflict us today: Jobs and freedom. It was at this demonstration that a speaker named Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his now infamous “I have a dream” speech. It is critical that all people have access to things like jobs, health care, and education in a free society. But when politicians promote such things as rights on the same level of freedom itself, it corrupts the thinking of the minds of those governed over. It creates a whole society of victims consumed by their own egos looking for someone to blame when such things are not provided to them without expending any effort of their own.
There are now workforces around the world comprised of many individuals who are educated, dedicated, and hard-working as well as not focused on their perceived rights. In many of these countries, it costs a fraction of what it costs to employ a person in the U.S. due to all the government regulations, benefits, and insurance associated with employment in the United States. All U.S. workers and their unions must respect the global market that exists in today’s world and must choose to compete. Most humans around the world are just grateful to have any job or means of income that allows them to provide better for their family. Life on this planet for the majority does not occur with any freedoms and especially not with all the individual freedoms and safety that Americans are bestowed with each and every day along with jobs.
The intent of this book is not to provide a series of statistics to support one group’s thinking over another. The main purpose is to bring people from all backgrounds together and for us to collectively look at ourselves honestly and objectively. Doing so will allow us to adjust the path that we are on peacefully to initiate positive, sustainable change. To do so, it is essential that we think about and understand how we think. We are all responsible regardless of your background or party affiliation for the current state of affairs. It is not us but our egos that are responsible for working counter to our consciousness thus creating a less perfect union of people in the U.S. and around the world. The policies of most Presidents and members of Congress in the 20th and start of the 21st centuries have pushed America away from the principles upon which the country was founded. The current chosen course is irresponsible, financially unfeasible, and deeply unconscious. A few statistics or facts are provided here when absolutely necessary to demonstrate trends or points. Even statistics can be used as a form of manipulation and many today use them to do just that. There are plenty of books written that provide all the information necessary to indicate that our current path and progression is in actuality regression in terms of moving humanity forward. The ultimate challenge is not recognizing the statistics but the mindset that is hindering the process of finding solutions to the many issues facing all humans at the present time.
Prior to 1913, the U.S. did not have a federal income tax and instituted it initially only temporarily to pay off the debt from the American Civil War. Most people today find it hard to imagine a federal government able to operate without a federal income tax and it is most likely impossible to ever return to such a state. The original intent of the founding fathers was for taxation to occur at the level where the money was to be used, i.e. state and local governments. The concept of a federal income tax was deemed unconstitutional in 1895 but that was reversed and the complicated system of taxation that is exists today is a result of less than 100 years of unconscious decision making.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, 28% of American citizens paid no federal taxes in 1950. Fast forward to 2008 and 47% of the U.S. population did not contribute any income taxes to the federal government; some even got compensated just to live and breathe within its borders including non-citizens. So in effect, you have a progression of a decreasing number of people contributing to a bigger proportion of the entity responsible for governing us. On top of that, the entity itself is growing by leaps and bounds due to the fact that many federal agencies and programs present today did not even exist in 1950. The catalyst for the American Revolution was taxation without representation as the British were taxing the colonists to pay for Britain’s own interests without their consent. In America today, we have done a complete 180 degree turn and now we are faced with the problem of having a whole class of citizens (and non-citizens) who receive representation without taxation. There is nearly half the population that dictates the path of government through voting for the representatives of their choice without any personal sacrifice, i.e. social charity or financial contribution.
John F. Kennedy stated in his 1961 inaugural address, “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.” What is your country? If you live in the United States, it is simply your freedom and helping your fellow neighbor in need as you see fit. We must support both but when the government chooses to tax and restrict only those who it deems able to contribute its fair share all humans rich and poor lose their freedom. The lack of fiscal responsibility has caused those in government to go after any and all people who have the means to pay for all their promises. Therefore, fiscal responsibility and equal individual responsibility to support government should be the goal of any and all elected officials regardless of their background or group affiliation to preserve liberty for all.
The net result of government playing Robin Hood is social class warfare. It serves to tear us apart and that sense of one, unified country is lost. That sense of helping our fellow neighbor in need is lost. To quote Abraham Lincoln, ‘You cannot make a poor man rich by making a rich man poor.’ People trade in their sense of freedom for fear. It pits neighbors against each other, political parties against each other, generations against each other, social classes against each other, and races against each other. The only ‘socialism’ that can and should be nurtured is the idea of one man or woman bestowed with certain talents producing fruits under the safeguard of a free economy and then sharing them directly with his fellow man in the service of good. Thus, he or she is extending their own hand of free will to help those personally deemed less fortunate. It is our social, civil, and moral responsibility to do so but many have decided to turn that responsibility solely over to government. When it is government forcing the hand of charity, it is inefficient, ineffective, and opens the flood gates to corruption. Those who choose not to accept the responsibility of helping those less fortunate than themselves and especially those who do not have the means of helping themselves (i.e. children) of their own free will greatly diminish their own legitimacy in protesting a government that is oppressive and unjust.
This concept of helping our fellow man and sharing in prosperity is not a new one in America. The ultra-wealthy throughout our history whether it is J.D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, or Warren Buffett have all humbly come to this conscious realization. To quote Albert Einstein, ‘Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.’ All work has value, is honorable, and serves others as long as it is not manipulative and does not violate the basic, inalienable rights of another. Freedom entails certain responsibilities and cannot exist in a society where we are not willing to consciously help one another. That means to give without asking for anything in return. But, we also must be aware of the difference between truly helping and creating dependency. When one person becomes dependent on another’s altruism and expects it, it violates basic tenets of moral and social conduct much more so than the individual who lives in abundance and does share their wealth. Mandated giving through government instituted redistribution creates dependency and destroys self-discipline and the willpower to be responsible for one’s own destiny. The networks are already in place through our houses of worship and our many non-profit organizations to help each other. We just have to be sure to individually contribute our time, money, talent, and Gifted Hands to such entities thereby removing government from the job of providing welfare which it does so inadequately.
We are approaching the point at which half the population is asking what their country can do for them without doing anything for their country or fellow human. Many today perceive government as a separate entity apart from its citizens and that is not how a democracy is designed to work. Government and the money it uses to pay for that which it supports is nothing more than an extension of the people being governed via taxation. The citizens pay taxes and those within the government, the elected officials, distribute and utilize those funds at their discretion. Their discretion often is to offer things that play on our greatest fears, in exchange for a little more control. And when attempts are made to discuss about how to rein in spending by government it is no coincidence that they speak of cutting things that tug on our heart-strings like teachers, libraries, and police officers instead of bureaucrats. Inciting fear is advantageous political propaganda by the ego of politicians on its citizens. The current government in an effort to deceive its people even further has decided to print extra paper money through the Federal Reserve with no oversight from its citizens as the extent to which this is actually done is unknown. This is because the resources provided by taxpayers are insufficient to fund all the operations promised by government officials. And this is only after they already raided its citizens’ retirement accounts in Social Security over the last few decades.
The news media and U.S. citizens are appalled when one person sets up a Ponzi scheme to cheat a few hundred mostly upper class people out of their retirement funds. But when many do it as is the case with Congress with trillions of dollars and the 300 million people affected by their Ponzi scheme we seem to be ok with it. Maybe we are not ok with it but most people still haven’t come to terms with the thought that we were betrayed by our elected officials. If you ask the majority of Americans where the Social Security tax coming out of their paycheck every week is going, they would probably tell you that there is some pot of gold in which the government has been stashing and investing their retirement. Why is the media not going after those in government with the same ferocity it went after Bernie Madoff or Lehman Brothers with their unethical financial schemes? Bernie Madoff is sitting in jail for life and the elected officials responsible for such a debacle are living in retirement on subsidized pensions with the taxpayers’ dollars. Social Security has become nothing more than a Ponzi scheme with the younger generation left holding the bag of IOU’s. Based on what we see in the news and government action, we seem quite comfortable giving more money and more responsibility to those elected to govern us.
As much as we would like to believe it not to be the case, it is impossible for any government to have a conscience greater than or even equal to those governed over as it is composed of the same citizens. This begs the question, just how conscious are we as citizens individually or as a whole electoral unit in this republic? History shows us that government in all forms has a much lower capacity to make the best conscious decisions possible for a group of people and particularly the individual. It is irrational to believe that government is able to make certain conscious decisions like ending slavery or extending rights to individuals but the majority of people believe that to be true. For those willing to examine the truth, they will discover it is government that often keeps us in bondage through laws and mandates as in the case of the Jim Crow laws during the era of segregation. The will of the people has to then overcome such unconscious laws through collective means which fortunately in democracies is usually done peacefully but not always.
Many people do know that government is by nature less conscious than the will of the people and so they are much more comfortable lamenting to those in government about needing this or that instead of walking over to their neighbor’s house and asking for the same. It is much easier to convince government of a perceived need and find the means of financing it than an individual. Government lacks the capacity to judge whether a fellow human being really is in need. As is most often the case with paid elected officials, there is an inherent incentive to classifying this or that as a need. A need is a very subjective and relative thing. Ask the people of Haiti or Zimbabwe what they need and their answer will be vastly different than an American’s answer most likely; but it shouldn’t be.
Is government able to distinguish whether a person who claims to be starving or in need of something like health care or heating is also in need of an internet cell phone, alcohol, cigarettes, or material things like a gas-guzzling SUV? And does government tell people they must be more responsible about having children if they can’t even take care of themselves or the ones they already have? We have become a society that demands all the civil liberties that go along with living in a free society but then put our hand out when it comes to standing on our own two feet under the premise of liberty in many cases. Does government condone or dissuade people who consume massive amounts of food, drugs, or alcohol when done legally or participate in extremely dangerous activities both of which might result in harm or injury? No, at least not yet, nor should it. It wants to though and it wants to convince us that it needs to. A free nation is comprised of many individuals with varying levels of consciousness but its governing body is not responsible for establishing one standard conscience or instilling virtues. It is irrational to believe that government can do these things even if it desires to. A free government can only be maintained by virtuous people where the majority is in touch with their conscience thus acting and voting consciously. All it can and should do is protect us against another individual’s ego. For those who are at the mercy of another’s ego, as in the case of children for example, it is government’s duty to step in and protect them over the rights of the parent(s).
It is convenient to misconstrue what is being stated here and say that those who happen to take government assistance are being condemned. That is not at all the intent. What is being stated is that government lacks the ability to even distinguish between what is actually a need as well as to what priority one need has over another. Being rich or poor is a state of mind more than a state of circumstances. It is none-the-less a real problem that negatively affects people of all backgrounds. The current path of government is making it more challenging for an individual to choose one’s own lot in life and rise above temporary circumstances. When walls are put in place such as skyrocketing costs of higher education, increasing regulation for those hoping to start a business, and manipulating the monetary system that leads to your dollar being worth less, the likelihood for a person to move up the socio-economic ladder diminishes. The greatest need of all is to be free to choose our own destiny with as few barriers as possible. That is government’s ultimate purpose. Sometimes it is easy to forget this because freedom is not something we can take for a drive with friends, show off at a party, or consume. It then somehow loses its value which is so priceless that money cannot buy it. Through maintaining freedom while governing over a society where the majority of citizens are conscious, the greatest amount of suffering can be reduced. It is a fallacy to believe that suffering can be eliminated completely, especially through government intervention.
The same can be said of corporations as well. It is easier for them to cry to government to support their monopolies than to the purchasers of their product or service, as in the case with some health insurance and banking companies. Let free market capitalism reign and stop coercing legislation to be written that permits corporations to control government usually through funding of campaigns, special interest lobbyists, and gross manipulation of the banking industry. We don’t need laws to protect against this as much as we need conscious politicians to, “just say no!” While the U.S. government does have checks and balances to safeguard against too much control to any one branch, it is ultimately up to the citizens to control who is elected to government to do the monitoring and controlling of businesses. We have seen how government left unchecked leads to the executive branch seizing excessive power and disrupting the balance. Therefore, we must not allow those in government to lose sight that their chief purpose is to ensure freedom which necessitates they have integrity and are principled individuals. And in rare instances sometimes it does require them to intervene in the case of monopolies to maintain free markets when corporations are not operating consciously.
That is a hard thing to do when it is the same entities supporting career politicians’ election campaigns. We need corporations that understand the balance of being profitable while also being conscious so government doesn’t feel compelled to intercede when there’s a monopoly or a catastrophic breakdown in conscious actions such as in the case of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Capitalism is a great thing but it must be done consciously or a few bad apples can corrupt the system for the greater good by convincing citizens and the politicians that government has to monitor and control everything, which is cost prohibitive, ineffective, and in reality impossible. That is why we have so many different agencies, many of which do the same thing which is to restrict and control law-abiding citizens and businesses. Anarchy is obviously not a solution but every time we decide to relinquish control of something to government we have to question the true motives of those in power behind such measures. Consumers also have to do their part by not using lowest price as the sole deciding factor in purchasing a product or service if conscious capitalism is to be successful.
The pervasiveness of ego in the current system resides in many forms. Its voice is basically the same, “I might as well get mine.” It is often the recipients of taxpayer-subsidized programs but it is also the same voice speaking when anyone takes a government kickback (i.e. - tax credit) whether it is from purchasing a new car, a new home, or a solar panel. At the larger collective level, it is the corporation that uses lobbyists to not just represent their specific interests but to protect certain monopolies violating basic tenets of free market capitalism. It is virtually all of us to one degree or another. The net result is always the same; dependency on government to provide and restrict, not just protect.
The current U.S. government goes beyond just protecting freedom for its citizens by providing for them in ways never intended by the U.S. Constitution. The politicians and many judges have failed to uphold the oath that they took to the contract with the people. They have allowed their own egos to interpret the U.S. Constitution as they see fit and then provided individuals what is not rightfully theirs. They have also extended too much authority to the executive branch of government. Many nations around the world also have come to expect government assistance in the form of foreign aid from the U.S. We end up paying corrupt governments for peace and trying to negotiate with leaders who do not value life. It has proven not work. The Constitution was written in the spirit of peace and love. It is the duty of politicians and justices of the peace to uphold it, not change it to serve their own egos or the factions of people’s that elect them to office. When promises are made to provide rather than protect to attain office, it has nothing to do with peace and love and everything to do with ego.
It is interesting to note that it is human nature to want more without regard of how we are each responsible to receive that which we desire; that is how the ego works when we are unaware of its existence. With each new invention or upgrade in lifestyle looking back through history, it is apparent how we develop the sense of entitlement without first offering the production of our own hands to attain that upgrade. To quote economist Milton Friedman, ‘There is no free lunch.’ Many great advances through history have occurred and almost all of them are the cumulative result of free market capitalism. We take much for granted as our lives have been drastically improved by the development of things like indoor plumbing (i.e. - we don’t have to run to the outhouse at 2am in the freezing cold), electricity which laid the groundwork for artificial light and a host of other inventions, the combustible engine and automobile, vaccines and antibiotics, television, cell phones, drastic improvements in agriculture, advancements in all specialized areas of medicine, and on and on.
Society today, particularly in the United States, does not just want these things at the lowest possible cost (which is what true free market capitalism offers them at – Adam Smith’s concept of ‘the Invisible Hand’). They want someone else to be responsible for supplying these upgrades at reduced costs or, better yet, for free. That responsibility is increasing in both things that ‘need’ to be supplied and the mindset that someone else should pay for them. You can see how some businesses play on our vulnerability to such unconscious thinking with the ‘more-for-less’ mentality in their advertising. But this is apparent in all of life and we keep wanting more and more for less and less… until finally it’s free. Such Predictably Irrational speaking is of the ego and that is the route to much greater suffering. In the political world, the only thing we are expected to offer in return for these tax credits or free handouts to get what we desire is our votes. If we were truly a conscious society then the vast majority of our resources our government does spend would go to ensuring the survival of our species; our children.
But, when you look at how government(s) distributes resources that is not necessarily the case. Why? Because children don’t have the right to vote, thus they are merely pawns to secure votes from society’s adults when that government is a democracy or republic. The main form of resources we do provide our children, our educational system, is in severe decline and in need of a major overhaul. Even before that is to take place though, we as a society must individually and collectively change our thinking or we will just institute another government mandated program that is as bad as or worse than the current system of educating our youth.
You could perhaps make a strong case for vast expenditures in defense as they are necessary to preserve a free society. The extent to which though is a whole separate debate to be addressed later in this book. It is also difficult to understand how government paying for medicine for people who happen to have been on the planet a certain number of revolutions around the sun or paying for government pensions from which there is no money set aside to pay from is a conscious decision. It is actually quite easy to understand why; that is because its origin lies with the ego and not with consciousness.
At this point, it is necessary for you to understand the four ways in which we, based on our human nature of ego working in conjunction with consciousness, perceive and spend money when we are Free to Choose as described by Nobel Prize winner economist Milton Friedman. They are listed in order from most efficient to least efficient use of money:
You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money.
You can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost.
I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch!
I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. This is the level at which all government entitlement programs operate and accounts for why all government programs are so inefficient. No one (i.e. - the politicians) cares about spending you the taxpayer’s money on someone else (i.e. - entitlement program recipients and foreign countries).
We in the U.S. often like to think that not having health insurance will mean the absolute end of our existence. Yes, it is very important to have health insurance but statistically whether we want to believe it or not the thought that it is momentary life or death situation is just not the case. Food and clean water are a much more essential need than health care. Also, there is the ethical dilemma of whether any person is entitled to the production, either directly or indirectly through taxes, of another person.
We can see how Milton Friedman’s principles work when we apply them to health care. Let’s hypothetically assume a patient is suffering from an ailment, perhaps a result of their own life decisions but not necessarily, for which there is a surgery or pill that has the chance of extending their life one year. There is a 10% chance that it will be successful and it will cost $100K. When someone else is paying for it, you are operating at the level of the 3rd principle. You are spending someone else’s money on yourself. It is the same as if someone gave you a credit card and said, “Hey, have dinner on me wherever you like!” Would you go to a fast food joint or something a little bit more expensive? Would you then order the cheapest thing on the menu? What if you could do this every day? Would you feast like a king and eventually fail to respect your body? Is it a coincidence that obesity is so rampant amongst our youth and especially those who are products of entitlement programs? If the costs are left up to the patient and their family to pay out-of-pocket, all rational and conscious individuals would look at their savings and decide the value of that surgery relative to things like paying for future life pursuits such as college, a house, a car, or retirement. But when such costs are quietly strapped to the backs of others (future generations) and you don’t have to look into your child’s eyes and make the decision consciously, we think nothing of proceeding with any and all possible treatment.
There already is rationing of health care and there will always be rationing of care because it is asinine to believe that health care can be free or equally distributed without respect to cost containment. It should be understood that all forms of insurance whether it is homeowner’s, car, or health insurance are intended to cover the risk of catastrophic events and not everyday occurrences. Yet, many people get upset at a $25 co-pay for a visit to their doctor’s office and government run entitlement programs like Medicaid often have no co-pays at all. Such thinking drastically increases the costs of health care insurance for those who actually have the responsibility of paying for all the country’s health care.
Recipients of entitlement programs today are lead to believe that because they’re a certain age or, perhaps worse, are bound by their egoic thinking to believe they are a victim of society that they are entitled to have certain goods and services. The amount of money they have actually contributed into the system is irrelevant and the inclination of most recipients is to get out of such programs more than they paid into them. There is a general lack of understanding and respect as to the burden on those who are responsible to pay for such goods and services. That mindset is the ego hard at work.
How upset are the people in Haiti about the fact that they don’t have universal health care or health care after age 65? How many in that country actually live to be 65? Although there was not the health care system that we have today back in 1787 when the U.S. Constitution was written, they still had food and there were many people who suffered from hunger. It was no coincidence that the Constitution did not provide food rations or perhaps shelter to all human beings under its jurisdiction. It was universally accepted that was not and should not be the role of a government established on the principle of true liberty.
Until government is run by people who don’t seek office to advance their own name and status amongst their fellow humans (thus, campaigning and are elected anonymously which is most likely not going to occur), we must treat government as if it has no conscience. Government officials’ generous salaries relative to the average citizen’s along with a handsome pension also contributes to the current lack of consciousness within the system of government. Rather, government is self-serving under the disguise of wanting to help fellow humans. That is not to say that some of the policies don’t help people but the objective is not to serve the people. The main objective is to serve the master: the ego. That is why corruption is and always has been a major problem that has plagued many political figures. The majority of them also don’t have real world careers to sustain themselves outside of politics but they are often equipped with big egos and law degrees. So they use that education and resort to making politics their career, telling people what they want to hear. It’s quite easy to get elected promising to give people what their ego’s desire especially when you know how the legislative and legal process works. That is not to say a person with a law degree cannot be conscious but it raises major concerns for ulterior motives for personal gain more so than any other form of education or training.
It has become in vogue lately for politicians to demonize private entities for making profits. And yes, to some extent certain businesses’ overt greed and sometimes illegal gluttony [ego] has played a part in the significant downturn of the economy. However, the inherent primary desire to look out for one’s own interests is a very good thing when it exists in a free market as it is such competition that keeps prices low and forces businesses to contend with each other. Recessions are a normal, healthy aspect of capitalism. Economies based in free market capitalism are subject to upticks and downticks as growth and productivity are not linear or exponential. It is a balancing act. A positive effect of recessions is that it reminds businesses that there is not an endless supply of customers and money so they need to compete for their business and treat customers with respect.
Unfortunately, entities where there is not free competition like some sectors of banking, health care, and all of government still have not changed their methods of doing business. (How is the service at most states’ Department of Motor Vehicles across the country? Ever wonder why?) Government will never change its method of doing business other than switching between forms of government. To move away from capitalism is to remove all the upticks in an economy and The Wealth of Nations. History shows that to be true and if we do not learn from history we will no doubt repeat it. We have already moved away from capitalism decades ago and that is why the economy is not rebounding despites government’s best efforts to intervene. We must be aware of how vulnerable we are to giving up our independence to politicians making empty promises during difficult economic times.
What is really abnormal and unhealthy is when government assumes that its role extends beyond maintaining a free market by breaking up monopolies, maintaining healthy competition, or even controlling the flow of money. It convinces itself and the people governed that it needs to own and run sectors of the economy such as banking, health care, education, housing, or even car companies. There is no entity more inefficient, more self-indulgent, more ignorant, more wasteful, and more corrupt than government; all forms of government. It is human nature, more specifically the ego’s nature, to want to make as much money as possible while being as unproductive as possible. And it works extremely well and drives innovation when it is permitted to do so in a free market economy where government’s purpose is to preserve the rights of the individual allowing them to be the best that they can be.
Anyone who has worked in government and observed it through objective, conscious eyes understands how the ego within government operates. The comedy movie Dumb and Dumber provides a humorous and colorful example of basically how government and many of its employees work relative to the private sector for those who have never served as a civil servant in some capacity. It is a bit of a misnomer to even describe government employees as civil servants unless they are serving without things like a pension, access to health care that the general public does not have, or nearly guaranteed job security not found in any other sector of the economy. The term ‘civil servant’ should only be reserved for those who literally put their lives at risk in the service of others’ freedom as is the case of military personnel or those who serve others through non-profit entities where pay and benefits are not on par with the private sector. If you have not seen the movie, the two main characters Lloyd and Harry are well-intended but extremely dim-witted pals who can’t make any good, rational decisions. They go on a wild spending spree buying ridiculous, wasteful stuff to service their egos and in the end when it comes time to present the suitcase of money that they ‘borrowed’ all that remains is a pile of IOU’s. If God, or consciousness, is infinitely intelligent then government is infinitely not. It is an entity, while most important, should be kept to a minimal size to maintain individual liberty, civil order, a free market economy, and protect society’s future and most vulnerable group of citizens; its children. Its role is not to mandate charity nor control that which having a free market regulates itself.
Government has no competition and that is why when you look within all government entities you will find a significant number of unproductive and even counterproductive employees more so than you would ever find in the private sector. That is because the private sector is where competition exists. The private sector also does not have to contend with all the bureaucratic hurdles making it virtually impossible to remove people who do not perform the most basic requirements of any given job. Government employees’ compensation and pensions are set up as to not encourage productivity or innovation, only years of service. Every attempt to pay based on productivity and efficiency within government ends up just increasing bureaucracy within the system. Many pay-for-performance programs found within the many branches of government serve as an example of why the government should not get involved with private sector compensation or run private companies.
The sole purpose of many within the system is to serve ego (theirs, their program’s recipients, or their government’s) free from competition. We have to look no further than Medicare Part D, Medicaid, the Veterans Affairs administration, the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security, No Child Left Behind Act, and the recent stimulus bill to provide examples. Yes, there are many intelligent, well-intended workers in government but when there is no competition the sense of efficiency and productivity is lost. Layers upon layers of bureaucracy are laid down to preserve the systems and the jobs within the governing entity. It happens in communism and it happens in democracies. The goal shifts every time from creating programs to help citizens (or non-citizens in the case of foreign aid) based in sympathy, security, and instilling virtues to merely expanding government control and power. George Washington described it well when he wrote ‘Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.’
All these programs and our foreign policy make you question if the United States is still ‘One nation under God’ or are we ‘One nation acting as God’? A government under God requires it to be submissive to the individual citizens through which God operates and under the command of collective consciousness. It is in the individual where that capacity for consciousness resides, not government. Government is but a reflection of the level of consciousness of the majority. In order to permit and preserve freedom to the highest degree, there must be separation of the state with any one religion taking precedence over another. The only way that socialism or communism can reign is if it is the will of the people to not only remove religion from the state but to remove God from the individual. The state is thereby promoted the status of God to be worshiped as such.
Government is a necessary evil and if not contained has the capacity to trump the individual rights and freedoms upon which the United States is founded. It is easy for government to play God when it is with other people’s time, talents, property, and money you are playing God with as is the case with politicians today. In terms of foreign policy, we must recognize the difference between protecting liberty and trying to police the world. We must choose between a government that is either under God or acting as God and then be willing to face the inevitable consequences of that choice being premised on either ego or consciousness. If that choice is to be founded upon consciousness, it starts with us each as individuals deciding to be conscious in our daily lives, operating consciously in our jobs, and then choosing conscious leaders to positions within government.
‘Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.’
 Milton Friedman: Free To Choose