Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Insurance, assurance and prosperity

The following is a position paper of The Jacksonian Party.

During the years post-WWI, the United States was undergoing the largest demographic transition it had ever experienced. This was not a transition by age group nor by ethnicity nor by religious outlook, instead it had a major driving force which would change the face of the Nation and the world. The following is taken from an Indiana Business Review article, Summer 2007, Vol. 82 No.2 by James Altmann, Professor of Economics Indiana University Southeast:

Economies start out as being almost exclusively agricultural in nature. The United States began this evolutionary process during colonial times when over 90 percent of all workers made their living in farming. As late as the Civil War, more than two-thirds of workers were still employed in agriculture. By the 1920s, more than one-fourth of U.S. workers were still in agriculture, but the percentage of agricultural workers has dropped to about 2 percent since then—with a corresponding massive reduction in the number of farms. States that held on to agriculture as their economic mainstay became economically depressed, particularly when compared to states that embraced the transition to manufacturing economies. By 1925, employment in the manufacturing segment of the economy surpassed employment in agriculture. Manufacturing employment peaked at 19.4 million in 1979 but has subsequently continued to decline to 14.2 million workers as of December 2006. New manufacturing jobs in the United States seem unlikely, with typical projections calling for another half-million or more manufacturing job losses in the coming decade. Such losses can be attributed to increasing automation, improved efficiency, foreign competition, and outsourcing.
That peak in manufacturing would start building in the early part of the 20th century and then go upwards until 1925 when it would surpass agricultural sector employment. The Nation that started as Jeffersonian landowners and farmers had reached a tipping point in mechanization, employment and working efficiency that could not have been imagined in the 18th or early 19th century, and was only first felt in the first industrialized war of the West, the US Civil War. From 1865 to 1925 some 20% of the US population would move from rural farm communities to urban settings for employment.

A reason the Great Depression was actually so deeply felt is that more than 50% of Americans were now employed by manufacturing and the stock market has a direct relationship to overall manufacturing health. Those that had moved in the early part of that transition, 1865 to 1900, had established themselves in cities and had families there. The continued demographic flux would point to a long term sustainment not only of manufacturing but of economically robust outlooks, even with intervening depressions, recessions and deflationary periods. That population mix, by 1929, now had a cross-section of the population, from older workers to new job entrants, and when the bottom fell out of the market, the problem was also across the board, demographically. If the United States had not shifted so heavily to manufacturing, the Great Depression would have not been that much of a shock, socially. Even with that economic shock, however, would come renewal of the Nation from its manufacturing sector. The following is from Wikipedia, but I have also seen it in historical analyses of that era and in history texts on the demographic shifts in the US:

Source: Wikipedia Great Depression in the US

There are a few things that are clearly evident from that graph:

1) The first being that the actual decline in the economy did not bottom out until mid-1933.

2) Economic recovery between 1933-37 would reach to the pre-Depression growth line and then secure the manufacturing sector's footing and suffer what we would then consider to be a normal recession due to other causes.

Notice that neither of these relates to World War II. Indeed, the Recession of 1937-39, would take place while NYC hosted the World's Fair, and that Fair was famous for the automobile industry's views of the future of Americans 'on the road', as seen in the General Motors works by Norman Bel Geddes:

Source: Columbia University Call it Home, Ch.10

Yes that is a *drawing* of how GM imagined the future would be back in 1939. That is not a world being imagined with soup kitchens, industrial poverty or with long-term economic depression. What is startling is how much that does look like a city of the 1960's-70's.

That does leave some Depression era questions, however.

The most primary being: As the majority of recovery legislation did not get in-place until mid-1933, and full enactment of even the most basic parts would take until 1934, what portion of the recovery is due to Federal Government influence?

The Reconstruction Finance Corporation was started by President Hoover, in 1932, but is typically rolled into the 'New Deal' programs. That said by 1934 it had dropped from nearly $2 billion/year in its starting years to approximately $350 million/year by 1934. While it would serve as the basis for the industrial coordination for World War II, and would see heavy financing then, that would only be in late 1941, well after the Depression had ended.

The Securities Act of 1933 would be the first major legislation in the financial arena, and was not passed until 27 MAY 1933, and would be followed the next year with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which lives with us to this day. By that point in time the US Economy was already on its rise out of the Depression.

While a number of attempts to regulate wage and prices were struck down by the US Supreme Court, one piece of legislation aimed at providing old-age, survivors and disability (OASDI) would stick: Social Security. What is fascinating is that Social Security, itself, may have been the cause of the 1937 Recession by raising taxes just as industrial expansion was reaching its pre-Depression base with growth. At the time this was not expected to turn into a permanent fixture on the landscape, that it is today. However, by fixing a 'retirement' date in the mid-1930's for individuals based on life expectancy, one obvious problem could not only be foreseen, but predicted.

US Life Expectancy

Source: CJ Seymour, The Coming Great Depression

Global Life Expectancy

Source: Working Paper on Inequality and Mortality: Long-Run Evidence from a Panel of Countries
By Andrew Leigh and Christopher Jencks
Harvard University

That upwards trend of increasing life expectancy, after the Spanish Influenza pandemic, continues the previously rising line of pre-WWI. In other words, outside of war and pandemic, US life expectancy, along with many other Nations, has been increasing steadily since 1900 and setting an age retirement date in the 1930's is a problematical attempt to determine when individuals should retire from the workforce. By giving assured income to anyone retiring at that age would ensure that more people would be drawing benefits for longer periods of time and thus causing a long-term sustainment problem. Even with population growth due to births, there will be a population growth due to individuals not dying and living longer. The move to sequester skills and active working life at a set age outside of the economy, those individuals become an economic drain to it.

I cannot speak to the possible causes of the Recession of 1937, and while SSN taxation surely plays a part, by removing economic power from working individuals, there are other causes such as some infrastructure over utilization and lack of adding capacity that can also be viewed as a problem. The money sent to SSN is not in a 'trust fund' to gather interest but is, instead, immediately paid out to those under SSN. While this might give some short-term stimulus to the workforce, to retire older workers, any shift in demographics by the overall population either in lengthening life, reducing infant mortality or decreasing birth rates would all play key roles in changing the economic sustainability of this system. Each of those have, indeed, happened, with the post-WWII baby boom, removal of some infectious disease from the normal landscape of childhood mortality (polio and smallpox come to mind), and a shift to have smaller families for multiple causes.

Clearly this is not 'insurance' but some sort of 'assurance' by the government. Insurance is payment to plans that will pay out if something happens: you are paying in the bet that something will happen to you, and the insurer takes such payments in the bet that they will not. Those that live in the modern, industrialized United States have some great expectation that they will live to see 'retirement age' and then live for a decade or even two after that. If one lives to be 85 or so, 20 years can be expected at the end of not doing much in the way of work. Add that to the 18 years or so of education to get to High School level, and nearly 40 years of one's life is spent not working at a job, about 45%. Compare that to the 20 years spent (approx.) and retiring at age 63 and that is only 20 years or 31% of one's life spent in learning and 'retirement'. At this point in time, via SSN, the Federal Government is mandating that an individual, to be eligible for payout from the system, is to spend 14% more of their life in leisure than their grandparents. Great work if you can get it, which you can in the US.

There is a problem that happens after the New Deal era, and that is in the wartime era, where some of these workers must be convinced to *work longer*. One of the prime ways to do that was to use actual insurance to offer non-wage benefits from companies. That insurance is medical insurance, and is now becoming a major point of misunderstanding for the population as it is *not* an 'assurance' by the government but actual 'insurance' paid to companies. In an article Bad Medecine of 21 SEP 2007, John Stossel takes a look at the roots of this 'insurance' and what it does:
America's health-care problem is not that some people lack insurance, it is that 250 million Americans do have it.

You have to understand something right from the start. We Americans got hooked on health insurance because the government did the insurance companies a favor during World War II. Wartime wage controls prohibited cash raises, so employers started giving noncash benefits like health insurance to attract workers. The tax code helped this along by treating employer-based health insurance more favorably than coverage you buy yourself. And state governments have made things worse by mandating coverage many people would never buy for themselves.

Competition also pushed companies to offer ever-more attractive policies, such as first-dollar coverage for routine ailments like ear infections and colds, and coverage for things that are not even illnesses, like pregnancy. We came to expect insurance to cover everything.
These non-wage benefits were meant to be used as an 'incentive' and the tax code was adjusted so employers could write off part of it. By doing that, the Federal Government interevened in the health care insurance market *against* the consumer and *for* companies. This has had a multiple, compounding effect as more 'coverage' is offered that is not even 'insurance'. And this system is not a good one as Mr. Stossel looks at a bit further on:
But insurance is a lousy way to pay for things. You premiums go not just to pay for medical care, but also for fraud, paperwork, and insurance company employee salaries. This is bad for you, and bad for doctors.

The average American doctor now spends 14 percent of his income on insurance paperwork. A North Carolina doctor we interviewed had to hire four people just to fill out forms. He wishes he could spend that money on caring for patients.

The paperwork is part of insurance companies' attempt to protect themselves against fraud. That's understandable. Many people do cheat — lie about their history, demand money for unnecessary care or care that never even happened.
If you want to find out *where* giving private healthcare information to companies starts, do not look at the companies, but look at the system that has been promoted via the tax code. Also note that the 14% of your income spent is part of that percentage spent for healthcare, currently riding in the 16% range.

Or about 2% of your money goes to healthcare, the rest goes to overhead.

Before WWII most companies would rarely offer health care insurance, due to the size of the labor market. By putting a tax code marker in for it during wartime and not *removing it* the idea that one would 'let the insurance company pay for it' started to grow: individuals no longer worried about the cost of treatment or medicine. That tax code provision removed the individual from the health care decision process in many companies and the sticker shock that is seen when looking to get a private plan is the shock of the huge bureaucracy that you pay for.

Traditionally coverage for catastrophic care and early payer plans for long-term care were ways to address one's life, but even more used was the system known as: 'the extended family'. The demographic change and technological change for mobility of the modern world makes having a large family a cost burden. To get the benefits of childhood healthcare, most Americans see the cost of it and nearly faint. Most of that cost is: bureaucracy. And by putting forward yet *another* government assurance via SSN and Medicare/Medicaid, more money via taxation needs to be collected to sustain the government overhead for those systems as well as the long-term needs of those who retire. Retire and live longer without working.

There is one final piece to this puzzle, that very few like to address, and that is investment income. Prior to the computer age, the ability of individuals to own fractional shares in investment plans was limited. That infrastructure required high degrees of automation and were, traditionally, limited to the wealthy. By the mid-1970's the very first 'consumer oriented mutual funds' started to appear.

A part of the great loss of wealth in the Great Depression was in the uneconomical and concentrated wealth investment by investors. That is not only a limitation via knowledge but also one of structure as it would be very difficult and cost prohibitive to run such funds via manual accounting. Even more interesting is that some of those companies that 'died' during the Depression were purchased for assets and then those previous shares honored in the new company. One individual found that his grandfather had plastered stock on one wall and when he looked at the certificates in the 1970's he realized that he had millions of dollars plastered on his wall: those companies had been bought out by successful firms. Indeed, by 1939, even with the Recession ending, most portfolios had recovered to their pre-Depression era value.

Today, the ability to invest widely, not only within the US, but globally, allows individuals, via these consumer plans, to invest for long-term needs. Only something that would hit the entire planet financially, say a massive solar storm burning out all electronics, would effect it... and then the concept of 'survival' would be primary. Additionally, the computer age saw the very first 'consumer forecast' systems stand up in the way of this piece of software known as 'spreadsheets'. Suddenly the tools that are described in dusty economics texts could be put into formulas and examined for their actual economic correlation and *that* was given to the individual to use. The drop in the cost of computers and software, relative to income, plus the ability of mutual fund companies to offer wide ranging investment schema now puts tools that Rockerfellers and Carnegies of previous eras to shame.

It also means that there are many, many more eyes on the lookout for economic problems, which is why economic catastrophes are predicted every 30 seconds and arrive every decade or so. People are obviously using these tools and understanding the system a bit better than those reporting on it. This is creating self-made prosperity, that is being put in danger by Federally subsidized health care, both via payer system and via tax code. One's own personal wealth can no longer be applied directly to the market until the tax code is changed to remove the company based economic incentives.

Even worse the SSN 'assurance' system is hitting the end of the line as more of the population spends time in enforced leisure subsidized by the younger working class. Minor one or two year 'tweaks' to the retirement age are not enough to address the decade or so it needs to be adjusted upwards, and that is starting to press on the 15-20 year mark upwards for a sustainable system of any sort to be had. Then, if that were done, indexing the retirement age to life expectancy would help to keep things solvent a bit longer... for an ever shrinking part of the population that needs it as continued and strengthened investment in 'prosperity' will allow individuals to set their own course for retirement as a concept or even eliminate it.

That is where the full faith and trust in our system to create 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' is invested: in yourself.

It seems that our attemtps to allow government to do this for us have put the Nation on a perilous path economically and socially, by creating an unsustainable system of 'entitlements' for those that should know better.

Giving a hand up to the poor and those in dire need is one thing.

Attempting to make this 'universal' or even 'fair' appears to be a road to, indeed, make all Americans 'equal': equally poor and sick.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Modern Jacksonian - Chapter 7 - The Ties that Bind

From the very start of the exploration of North America by Europeans and Asians, this was seen as a varied land in shape and form, but not necessarily an easy land to stay in nor one rich in treasure. The original settlers who came from Asia and some from Europe back thousands to tens of thousands of years ago brought their capabilities with them and found that this rich and varied land required work to survive in. While game was plentiful, the types of grain that could be sustained were different than what they had known and the plants offered a different array of things that could provide sustenance. Long centuries allowed these peoples, diverse in their origins, to spread across two continents and meet up with each other East to West and West to East. Those original populations that we now dub 'native' have the remnants of that meeting in their blood which can still be traced to two parts of the world: Europe and Asia.

These peoples also brought tools with them and made new ones to address their conditions across varied climates and regions. They also brought warfare and the tools of that, which are only lost in the most isolated and small of human populations, where surviving alone against the elements is the battle. The first tendrils of the modern European movement westward was done by a People that had reached the limit of exploration and the climate shift of that age ended that first foray to this now unknown land. No longer having any ties to this New World, the populations that lived here were unready for the alien culture and ways that looked towards the land differently than those that had made a living with the land from that first great settlement. But this land also offered more than just the plenty of hard work upon the land and the first of this second wave would experience an awful thing unknown to them by prior experience in warfare.

Scant records exist of a war that was going on in this New World before the second wave arrived, but the end of it was seen and recorded by churchmen and frontiersmen north of the Great Freshwater Seas. This was a grim and bitter struggle of culture against culture, of Nation against Nation, which would be recorded as the Iroquois-Huron War. From the oral histories gathered this had been a long, long war across generations of the Iroquois Nations against the Huron, and the slow, bitter drive of the Huron northwards as they lost and lost and lost again. The end of that war would not come in peace, but in extermination of the Huron: ended as a coherent culture and people by the Iroquois. We would put a name to this, in later ages, when this sort of destruction would happen due to the European type of conflict moving into that realm: Genocide.

That war continued on because it was 'traditional' in form: bred into the culture and children raised knowing who their blood enemies were and that to assert supremacy those in the other culture must die. There was no law on that, it was the culture that made it so, and the ancient binding of tradition that year on year would drive that war to an end, until only one people survived as a people. Other cultures on these continents would have different forms of warfare, and many of which put forth skill and cunning over raw power. Those of the Great Plains would see warriors of great esteem who could *touch* another warrior in battle and survive to tell the tale as anyone who could merely *touch* had shown bravery and skill to get that close and not get killed. These peoples of these continents were of different view of life and relationship to land than those of the second wave, but that was difference in degree, not kind.

What the new wave would do was bring a culture that was more highly coordinated and adhered to standards of conduct also enforced by their societies, but tempered by those very same societies. As the great wars of religion had more than decimated Europe multiple times, the separation of culture to peoples who had recognized differences into these things called Nations was done and the bonds that allowed Nations to enforce religion were likewise broken. By the tempestuous close proximity of Neighbors taking up arms on opposite sides of wars and then switching sides through death, bribe and coercion, the entire concept of one coherent culture or religion that was over these peoples could not be made. Their differences were put forth as necessary and sacrosanct along with the hard and fast need to negotiate ends to conflicts so that they would not go on for generations. For centuries. And to make that to be the case there would grow up these things that had been used between starkly different cultures before: diplomacy, negotiations, treaties.

That change in outlook by this second wave of immigrants, thousands to tens of thousands of years after the first, changed history. There was a time before the rise of City States in the Old World, when the peoples there adhered to much the same ethos and outlook towards the land and people as the New Worlders did. With that rise of large scale organizations, ordered structure for society and seeking a long-term and long-standing means to invest it in something other than the land, would begin a hard process of investing culture within a people and recording that to be passed on. While the New World would use characters and symbols to communicate, the press to move that information outwards was not done and those societies invested the communication in permanent structures, not ephemeral reading material. With the rise of writing upon clay then papyrus and then upon parchment and finally paper, would come a way to increase literacy, increase knowledge and more widely disseminate it beyond the capabilities of the oral and stone written traditions of old. In those thousands of years of difference the wide chasm between organized society around systems of belief and ethnicity and investing within that society to form long lasting social structures would be seen.

Those that first came to the New World were labeled as 'primitive' keeping to traditional means of society and passing information on in an oral culture. The last of that culture is not even dead in the Old World, where bards and storytellers in small communities across the Middle East and Asia continue to relate verbal stories about Alexander the Great when his army marched through town. The change, however, was when the Poet Homer had one great Epic put to writing that could be easily copied and moved, and that would come after long centuries after the event it depicted. It told of a War of minor Kings and tiny Kingdoms coming together to face a larger City State who was once at peace with them but had given cause for them to go to war together. It would tell of Troy and the confederation that brought it down. And the aftermath of the Trojan War is still felt to this day across the world, because it served as the first tie to bind culture together and show just what it meant to be a Sovereign in that bygone era.

It is not because of the grandness of that war, but of its telling that would make that tie. The skill of many poets would be involved, as some stories are clearly not of that war, but belong as a part of the history of the people involved. Long centuries later that simple story would tie a people together, beyond the concept of Kingdom or Empire, and would even bring foreigners into that culture as they moved there and they would also lose their previous cultural heritage and become known as Greek. That single tie has diffused across cultures, across religions and across time and serves as the founding point for that New World culture, although it would intertwine with many other outlooks, this point was the one that gave the basis for understanding the world and mankind's place within it.

And that place starts with war.

The era following it did not usher in peace, but, instead, a break up of that confederation, of peoples taking to the sea as Corsairs and Pirates, it would see the Trojans disperse outwards and the great early Bronze Age fall into Dark Age in the Aegean basin. Other cultures would record this, but their ability to capture such spirit of society that would form a strong culture outside of ethnic bounds was minimal. Egypt would rise in Empire and Fall again and again, but the ability to make disparate peoples into Egyptians would not be seen. The Hittites, recorders of events and scholars, had mighty forces and yet they, too, would succumb to the vicissitudes of time and Empire and fall to be nearly forgotten until their full rediscovery some decades back. It was in those Dark Ages of the fall of the Early Bronze age that would forge the Late Bronze Age and the true City State structure and give rise to democracy, to trade making people wealthy, to investment in cities and peoples to increase their wealth of knowledge. And it would bring conflict with a great Empire that sought to conquer the known world and its only real rival were these pitiful City States across the Aegean. With one pontoon bridge and thousands of ships, a vast army would invade. An army of the old style of committed warriors, great and grand heroics, nameless and faceless elite troops named Immortals. That would be the second great founding point of this new idea of culture and peoples. It would be at Thermopylae when Soldiers would supplant Warriors and Ranks of Bronze would withstand the frontal assault of chaotic attack. Those soldiers would die to protect their lands to the last man, so that they would be worthy of that given them by Achilles, Odysseus and Agamemnon.

The battle on land and at sea to deprive the Persian Empire of easy supply routes and to weaken and then drain its ability to fight that would, in a scant two generations, bring forth that one who would unite Greeks for the first time and conquer Persia and be sung about right to the modern time. From seven centuries from Troy to Thermopylae would then come scant two lifetimes to bring forward the Greeks united in cause and memory. That empire would not outlast the man, but the shock waves of it, of this tiny, foreign army destroying Empires and nearly going to lands only heard about in fable, it is that which would create the spirit that would drive mighty Nations.

And it, too, was born in war.

Great Empires would rise and fall across history, and many would use the exact, same tools used by the Greeks to create Nation. This would not, however, prevent those Empires from falling, time and again, but would start to give a new basis for recovery after that fall. China would use the vastness of the plains of Asia and the seas around it to turn inwards and seek internal order first and always, which would require rulers, second and always. The great joke they relate is that they may come as foreigners to victory, but they will all be Chinese in a generation or three. From that, however, different ethnicities would have different standings and while there might be one culture, there are still many peoples each with underlying views and outlooks.

In the New World would arise larger ruling Nations, but they would be limited due to time, outlook and changing climate. Lacking written basics for mathematics and interpretation, the great cities would remain built by measure via simple tools. Yet they would be inventive beyond those limits, and create tools that are unmatched in surgery in the modern age until they were recreated. Without the ability to store plans, make long term associations between events and physical outlays of structures and without that ability to compile all of those to create a distillation of knowledge, these societies would be at the direct mercy of weather, land and problems in trade. That gulf between the Old and New was already vast, before the Roman Empire and that is plainly obvious. These cultures were on different tracks and yet only one had outlook to explore, expand and create new things where they had not been created before.

It is that culture that would next change in a way not expected when a more primitive peoples with different outlook would interact with it and change it at the fringes and then deeper still. The older ideas of Nation, democracy, soldier, and honor would be suffused with a new group from the north that would expand while the Roman Empire fell. These people would bring accountability, social cohesion and popular democracy to the table, and the slow crossing of these two at the fringes of the area called Europe would change forever the course of Nations because they saw Nation as directly accountable to people and that the Nation was not powerful because of being a Nation, but due to the power of the people within it. They would make Nation and Leaders accountable to a common law and enforce it at that level, and not expect one to pay for enforcement as had been the case in Rome.

While Rome had shifted to be associated with religion and enforce it, these people would be associated with many religions and respect those differences. These two outlooks of vibrancy could not co-exist for Nations and peoples. While a religion may speak of tolerance, the toleration is in the action not the words spoken. And those from the northern climes would demonstrate their ability to give each man his leeway in belief, often in equal disdain it is true, but that would set no religion as basis for war nor as basis for control of peoples. The religion of Rome would use the Nations to enforce it and the slow grind of these two concepts would lead to conflict as some northerners would adhere to the religion of Rome... and then put forth that it must practice what it preaches. With the printing press and one man nailing his views to the church doors would come a revolution in that old order of Nations as accountability of Nation to its people was put forward above religion. Much of Europe would be swallowed by the wars that followed and the death toll was staggering in terms of the population of mankind of that era.

Those wars would end in a different form of peace as it had not been fought, like at Troy and Thermoplyae for just temporal power, as this was an outlook of what the sphere of power of those things higher than mere mortal should be in the mortal realm. With 15-20% of Europe dead due to the greatest of these wars, would come a peace that would change the definition of Nation and what Nations are to be accountable to. That peace would be in 1648 at Westphalia, and would give that Nations may have religious outlook, but are not to impose that upon its people. These Nation States would be Sovereign to those within them and would only be accountable to two things: each other and the people within them.

That, too, was born of war.

While the New world was rediscovered by the Old in this era, the turmoil and tumult of this change in Europe would spread across the globe in fits and starts. Empires could still arise, but their life term was no longer to be measured in millenia and even centuries would be difficult as the knife point stuck in to cleave religion from Nation had begun to erode those ties. And by placing an internal accountability of Sovereigns within their Nations to their Peoples, the very first new form of representative democracy with high degrees of accountability and a common law would be born. Nations had that as something within the wide spectrum of governments that could arise, but there was no guarantee that it ever would arise, just that it could arise. There were those actively pushing for that as a concept both within restricted Nations and by adhering to local law practice that was enforced by communities upwards. These notions fused together when those disenchanted with the views upon diverse religions came to this New World as social outcasts. And others looking for a better means to live life with more freedom would join them as well as criminals sent into exiles and the social outcasts of Europe who would find no good means to live in those lands due to their personal outlooks.

For a century or more that would slowly accumulate in this New World in the Northern Hemisphere in those Colonies placed down by a King so as to expand an Empire. That Empire had a mighty fleet and mighty armies at its call. And because no one had ever acted as if they should be free on their own accord, the imposition of taxes to pay for prior war for the defense of these Colonies were imposed upon them. What was about to happen in those Colonies was unprecedented: No People had ever chosen to throw off the yoke of Empire and declare themselves Free unto themselves. One, single tax was enough to take these outcasts, religious minorities, social misfits, and quite some number of loyalists to the Crown and ignite yet another war. Not a war to defend themselves, although that, too, was part of it. Not a war to establish religious freedom, which they enshrined so that they could live together in peace. Nor was it a war to continue Nation and defend it as no Nation existed there.

These people would declare that the ties of Nation were directly depending upon themselves to be a Nation. To do that they sought the greatest liberty, so that man may profit from his works in proportion to their worth and thus have a life separate from yoke of government. And they would make each accountable to the laws in common and make government a safeguard of freedom, not a source of it. This was a war of Revolution in the affairs of mankind, that put forth that men are free because it is self-evident. That freedom comes from higher power but it exists and must be dealt with as a fact amongst men, no matter the source of that power, it is the order of things that man is born free and equal and is no longer subservient to State or religion. That individual is accountable to the commonality within the Nation and to any higher power for their conscience. And it is that accountability to commonality of law that is highest, so that all men can know how they are to act and upon what they shall be judged upon by those around him in this mortal realm.

It would take 7 years and more to finally win that Revolution and establish that at least in one Nation upon Earth men are seen as born free and equal. A place where one lives by their own work and the worth of that work, and gets the greatest possible leeway to utilize the fruits of their labor. As with the systems within Nations, that is no guarantee that an individual will succeed, but it places within the realm of the possible that success and good life can be found and had in proportion to how one contributes to society. To their dismay the initial war, once won, was not the establishment of peace but of poverty as small States sought to pay off the debt owed to other Nations in helping to become free. In 5 years the Confederation that had won victory was seen as losing the peace and it must change to be strong enough to bear the burden of common debt and yet not so strong as to endanger liberty and freedom that had been hard won.

The victory for liberty and freedom was born in war.

The victory to make peace was made from lack of planning.

That lull between end of war and coming together a second time marked two ways forward that would fuse from Virginia and Connecticut and would give rise to government with limited scope, but high powers within that limitation as the People agreed to give that to such government to govern. Each State made its problems with these compromises clear and they still stand as a warning to all future generations on the problems of having a Republic supported by representative democracy. The thing that brought them together, however, was ancient: the first thing necessary to form anything is called "Community".

All of the other ties of city, State, Nation, Republic, democracy would stand upon Community. As all other forms of government and association would, also. For that basic and common right is across all of mankind, in all parts of the world and is self-evident by its omnipresence. Mankind comes together in diverse Community to form associations with each other. Without that, there would be no higher purpose to life. Without the right and ability to amicably live together with those who are agreeable to us, and they the same with us, there would be no communities, and even tribes would be difficult to make or nomadic hunting groups. People seek that association for the common good between them, for increased protection and for companionship. Today that sense of local community has changed in scope, but not in outlook via modern communications: the 'virtual community' is no less a community and association of individuals than is a town or village. That being said the lack of co-location makes such communities distributed, dispersed and mobile.

The two major outcomes of this, and there are quite some more beyond it, is a change in local, physical associations due to time spent in 'virtual' community and the lack of cross-acknowledged rights in that 'virtual' community. Both of these have seen some academic study and the ways that we change our personal outlook to accommodate any dichotomies between 'virtual' and physical communities may point up positives and negatives in one's own physical reality and location. To Americans this is noticeable only in how others have viewpoints that are constrained by their locale in the physical world, which shows up in outlook in communications. More jarring are those coming from authoritarian regimes or those with few societal rights for speaking and acknowledgment of self-worth. Disparities in the expectation of individuals for government in the physical world are seen in the virtual ones, especially those that are not limited to static story lines or to dedicated game play, although this will show up in those, also.

American demonstration of freedoms and responsibilities for actions to Communities is a prime mover in the affairs of man and have been since the founding of the Nation. As those who would explore the world brought American values with them, other peoples would see the expectation of free practice of religion, freedom of speech and the power of the individual to utilize them in ways they saw fit to make a better world. Be it to teach, tend the poor and sick, offer new religions, or to just explore it is Americans that stand at the forefront of liberty and freedom, showing that individuals have the choices, to themselves, to practice as they preach... even if the preaching is about religion, the practice shows the expectation that it will be treated with dignity and that the devoutness is combined with personal accountability. No one forces an individual to do these things, but their spirit, given the widest scope of interplay demonstrates the depth of commitment and fulfillment of anything that is done by an American.

To counter this, those that have taken to authoritarian means also utilize these vast resources in an attempt to control or end them. They, too, form a virtual community, but one with commitment to subjugation and destruction. Fanaticism is the key to entry to those limited realms, and those without it find hard entry to them. Here the disaffected use the means of modern communication to subvert the protections of actual Nations and seek to end them. There is no interplay of mankind, save to find better ways to reduce their fellow man, subjugate them or just kill. These opponents of freedom use the vast resources available for human fulfillment to bring about an end to fulfillment by all others, and gain power to themselves in that doing. As in the previous eras of distributed threats that can elude the mighty but cumbersome forces of the Nation State, the prime defense is *not* police or army, but of individuals who want to defend their community against attack, destruction and enslavement. This is the second most primal right after forming community: defending community.

All endeavors by mankind have always seen opposition, be it in neighbors that disagree and resort to violence, States resorting to martial endeavors to impose their will upon others, or advancement in technology by those that would sabotage it... literally to throw a shoe into the works to foul them. To protect society those that would step up to defend it require the right to do so on a voluntary basis, and worthwhile societies have always found those that will volunteer to protect home, family and community as not to do so would be the loss of the last and the endangerment of the first two. With modern communities that are made to do ill we, as a Nation and humanity, must realize that this community seeks to end all others and remove them for ones of their own choosing. They do wish to make the world the same all around: equally subservient with all treated equally by those that rule, and with very few rights of the individual acknowledged.

Those exact same freedoms have *always* been available to mankind - the freedom to oppress, to subjugate, to suppress the rights of others or just to kill them. Many of these go under the name of 'terrorist' but others now cloak themselves by the name 'progressive' so as to try and disarm others by affecting a forward looking nomenclature to a backwards looking ideal. When these endeavors moved beyond peaceful and peaceable interaction, when they moved towards empowerment of the unelected over Nations, those doing so have sought to lose in peace what was gained in war. By pushing peace at any price, at any cost, the sum total is that of: give power away to those who threaten or proclaim their wisdom to be overarching and will lead mankind out of these times of Nations to something 'better' and more 'just'.

What they ask for are the keys to Empire. Terrorists look to diminish the ability of Nations to fight by being no Nation and fighting unjustly so as to coerce power from Nations. Progressivists seek to enthrall Nations with lofty ideals of a common good for mankind that can only be found by giving them power at the top, so as to administer their views upon the world. Those that follow the Capitalist credo of trade to empower people seek to misguide Nations that trade creates freedom, while the history of the world has only demonstrated that freedom amongst Nations and Peoples creates trade. By the Sword, by the sweetly venomous words or with cold, hard cash, these views each seek to end the power of Peoples to have Nations that will represent them, for good or ill. These views seek only their own Just outlook, not the Justice of People ruling themselves as they will. By trying to cut the hard bindings that war has given us that makes the system of Nations by the law of nations, and in seeking to abolish the 'bane of war' through their means, these outlooks seek to create an unjust Peace. One in which accountability cannot be found as none propose it nor any way for them to be held accountable. That is not a Community crafted by all the Peoples, in their global diversity, but of a set structure of tyrannical outlook imposed from above by the validity of convincing People they should not form their own Communities and should let others decide for them what is best for them.

In seeking to undo the law of nations and replace that with some thing called 'international law', those seeking in that doing forget that only the old law of nations keeps any form of accountability upon these voluntary agreements between Nations. To enforce anything else is not a path to freedom, but a path to authoritarian rule that is tyrannical in outlook. Give this to terrorists and the death toll they already inflict would be multiplied by orders of magnitude, so that instead of random death by the ones or tens there would be coercive death by the hundreds or thousands, until agreement was killed upon Peoples with assent of the grave as the only one possible.

Give this same power to the lawyers and diplomats, with their views for themselves, and the suppression of Peoples to their views would be enforced by their own organs of repression. Any 'international law' that has its own enforcement arm will soon find it wielding that arm to the good of those doing so. These Transnational bodies do not have the legitimacy of Nation nor of actually input from Peoples directly: they seek to put an unaccountable layer over all Nations until the idea of Peoples being free to choose their own way is forgotten. There is an inflicted death toll upon those that disagree with this, also, but even worse than the naked barbarity of the Sword used unjustly is the rendition of accountability to be obsolete. All the work of centuries to reign in mighty Kings and Emperors and hold them accountable to those they governed would be undone so that some 'new community' of the ruled would be created. Those seeking to beguile with Progressive ideals hold that there is no judgment that Communities can render upon those that are predators and that the only way to judge is by their lofty ideals. They will tell you who and what predators and victims are, and enforce that with the unaccountable systems and forces they ask us for today.

And those seeking to do this via the craft of trade and economics put forth that there should be NO accountability of that to any Community and that those that would own the means of creating the goods of mankind should LEAD mankind. That, too, only leads to tyranny as the fallen form of Communism has pointed out. When those doing the producing of goods are held to no account by any Community, it is not freedom that is found, but laws of economic efficiency enforced upon the unwilling. It has only been a century since these industries have been powerful enough to create such vast amounts of goods so as to give some physical ease to those living life, but these goods are not the end in and of themselves, but only the means to lead a good life. By putting forth that the means are the ends, and that those doing the creation of those ends should have final say on how to do them, they seek to cut their ties to Communities and create the sea of consumers that will only consume and not ask questions as to the utility of what is being consumed if it has no other end than consumption.

Those are the fates that await us down these paths of 'international law' held unaccountable by Nations and they are far worse than the wars they seek to end: Coercion, Subjugation, Bribery.

They all seek to end the ties that bind from Individuals to create Community and for Communities to declare their identity as Nations.