Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Standing Army

The job of the Army is to protect the United States from foreign attack. Prior to the end of WWII, the US didn't keep much of an army, except during wartime. The army was just enough to keep the bases up and the brass polished. When it was decided to send American troops to Europe to fight in WWI, we had to first get an army recruited and trained. They were trained by Indian fighters. Once over there, they had to be retrained to fight less effectively, to take more casualties, in the European tradition.

When FDR was finally able to get us into WWII, we again had to scramble to get an army together. After that war, I guess Truman decided we'd better keep an army ready just in case.

Well, just in case has happened many times since the end of WWII which, during the Viet Nam undeclared war, prompted many to observe correctly that, "if the government has a large standing army, the government will find uses for it."

There was Korea, the Cuban Blockade, Viet Nam, Grenada, Bosnia, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iraq again. Tell me if I've forgotten any. The earlier wars in this group were fought within the envelope of what Generals wistfully refer to as The Cold War. I'll have to remember to ask some of my biker buds how cold they thought it was during the battles at Pork Chop Hill and Tet.

Every one of these were undeclared wars. Seems that when we have a huge standing army with nothing to do but train to kill people and break things, declaring war somehow went out of fashion. When we want a war now, we just send the troops in and they start shooting.

L Neil Smith, my favorite sci-fi writer and world-class libertarian thinker, wrote an article that proposes a solution. He recognizes that it'll be hard to get Americans to decide to implement his idea, as do I, but we'll strive for it. Anything less will, at best, slow our motion in the direction toward totalitarianism.

I've long thought that, if the Roman Catholic church can squeek by with 10% titheing (we know how impoverished they are), the US federal government is getting way too much of our hard earned cash. That, of course, is not hot news to anybody.

My proposal, which falls in line with Neil's, is that government not be allowed to forcibly tax anyone. A radical proposal? Read the US Constitution. Prior to the adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment, the US government was not allowed to tax individuals. Scholars disagree as to whether or not the Sixteenth was properly adopted (I rather think corners were cut), and we all know that government was far more respectful of the rights of individuals before it started snooping into our finances and our professional lives.

The federal government even conducted the evil and very expensive War between the States without compulsory taxation of individuals.

Needless to say though, in the absence of compulsory taxation, there are many things the feds would have to stop doing. Most of the general population might be willing to tithe five or ten percent to government, but not much more than that.

One of the things government would have to do away with is the big standing army. One of the few proper functions of government, according to the Constitution, is to protect the country from foreign invasion. A small army with a well-thought-out set of state reserve militiae, would satisfy that function.

Doing away with the thousands of unConstitutional gun control laws, that every individual has the full right to defend himself against attackers, foreign and domestic, would help even more. Even the most severely self-deluded invaders will recognize the difficulty of seizing territory, a few square feet at a time, from millions of armed individuals.

There is one Amendment to the Constitution I'd like to see. It'd take away all the incentive for the intergovernment discussions that lead to war: The federal government must be barred from any diplomatic relations with other nations. The federal government should restrict itself to maintaining a skeleton military, a system of courts and police. While I have no quarrel with the military sending agents out to gather intelligence from potential foes, the word should be defense.

Diplomatic relations can and should be initiated and maintained by international buyers and sellers of commodities. Who better? I'd bet my savings, could the truth be shown, that Shell, Standard, BP and other oil companies would not have made such a mess of American-Arab relations had government not been involved. And when I say not involved, I mean that each entire transaction is initiated, negotiated and consummated entirely by the oil company reps and the Arabs in control of oil sales. No government.

No government! What a concept!

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California


Ol' BC said...

Wow, Colonel, such a concept would be in contradiction of the world government movement of the left. Even though high government intervention entities have failed repeatedly, there is still a sizable call for the socialist or communist model. To have more efficient types handle affairs of state makes way too much sense to ever be implemented.

The Wine Commonsewer said...

Great piece.

Unfortunately, however, in 1862 Congress enacted the nation's first income tax law. It was a forerunner of our modern income tax in that it was based on the principles of graduated, or progressive, taxation and of withholding income at the source.

During the Civil War, a person earning from $600 to $10,000 per year paid tax at the rate of 3%. Those with incomes of more than $10,000 paid taxes at a higher rate. Additional sales and excise taxes were added, and an “inheritance” tax also made its debut.

In 1866, internal revenue collections reached their highest point in the nation's 90-year history—more than $310 million, an amount not reached again until 1911.

The Confederates OTOH printed notes and borrowed money and collected very little in the way of taxes to support the war.

BTW, Catholics don't tithe anywhere near the 10% that God asked them to--hence the US could probably function on a 3%-5% tithe.

Col. Hogan said...

I'd heard that Lincoln proposed an income tax, but I didn't know it was implemented.

Yet another reason why J Wilkes Booth should be given a medal (posthumously).