IN GOVERNMENT WE TRUST
Why We Elect Liars as Leaders
Nixon: “I Wasn’t Lying. I Said Things That Later On Seemed to Be Untrue”—Washington Post, NOVEMBER 29, 1978
Clinton Concedes He Lied About Affair—Washington Times, AUGUST 18, 1998
Obama Promises “Tax Cuts” to 95 Percent of Americans, Even Though 44 Percent of Filers Pay $0 in Income Taxes.—Manchester Union Leader, NOVEMBER 4, 2008
Did you ever stop to wonder why most governments—no matter where on earth you look, or what time period you consider—tend toward being tyrannical and predatory? I’m not referring just to those unfortunate nations suffering under openly brutal dictatorships. Even here in the West, where our elected governments portray themselves as benevolent and democratic, somehow they always end up taxing, legislating, and regulating us into servitude. Why?
To bring this topic into sharp focus, let’s start by taking a whirlwind tour of the world’s governments:
• Before America and its coalition partners invaded Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein, giving the Iraqi people a chance to choose another destiny, here’s what life was like there, according to the U.S. State Department: “In 1979, immediately upon coming to power, Saddam Hussein silenced all political opposition in Iraq and converted his one-party state into a cult of personality. Over the more than 20 years since then, his regime has systematically executed, tortured, imprisoned, raped, terrorized and repressed Iraqi people.”1 Though Iraq was once “rich in culture with a long history of intellectual and scientific achievement,” Saddam “silenced its scholars and doctors, as well as its women and children” with unimaginable cruelty, the official report documents:
Iraqi dissidents are tortured, killed or disappear in order to deter other Iraqi citizens from speaking out against the government or demanding change. A system of collective punishment tortures entire families or ethnic groups for the acts of one dissident. Women are raped and often videotaped during rape to blackmail their families. Citizens are publicly beheaded, and their families are required to display the heads of the deceased as a warning to others who might question the politics of this regime.2
With such unspeakable atrocities a part of daily life, why didn’t more Iraqis complain publicly? Maybe because of Saddam’s decree in 2000 authorizing the government to amputate the tongues of citizens who criticized him or his government.
The report also documents Saddam’s use of chemical weapons (that’s right, “weapons of mass destruction”) against his own people, destroying more than sixty villages and 30,000 citizens—some international organizations say 60,000—with mustard gas and nerve agents.
• In North Korea, every citizen is the slave of a demented ruling family. While Kim Jong Il—or the “dear leader,” as all are required to call him—lives in ostentatious regal splendor, most North Koreans endure crushing poverty. Indeed, during the 1990s as much as 10 percent of the nation’s population—an estimated two and a half million people—starved to death as a result of the communist nation-cult’s dysfunctional command economy.
“The unwritten and unspoken compact prior to the famine,” explained Andrew S. Natsios, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, in Senate testimony, “was that the people surrendered their freedom in exchange for which the state agreed to care for them, heavily tempered by political loyalty, from cradle to grave.”3
“Cradle-to-grave security”—there’s that coveted socialist holy grail we’re always hearing about. But for millions of North Koreans, all they’ve gotten in the bargain is cradle and grave, with not much in between. In fact, it’s impossible to adequately convey the sheer horror they endure in their day-to-day lives, but perhaps this quick story from the Washington Post will provide a tiny taste:
Han, a Communist Party official in North Korea, was walking home from work when he heard he was in trouble. He had smuggled a radio back from China after an official trip. He listened to it late at night, huddled with earphones on and shades drawn, to hear music that brought him a whisper of sanity and took him away from the horrors of his day.
Now, someone had found it, or someone had told.
“It could have been my children who said something outside. It could have been my friend; one knew,” said Han, 39, who spoke on condition he be identified only by his surname.
“If a farmer or laborer had a radio, he could have been released,” Han said. “But I was an official. In my case, it would have been torture and a life sentence in a political prisoners’ camp.”4
Torture and life in prison for possessing a radio? That just about sums up life in this communist “workers’ paradise” that has devolved into a brutal and bizarre national cult.
• Zimbabwe, once a gleaming gem of a country in the central highlands of southern Africa, featuring the breathtakingly beautiful, mile-wide Victoria Falls, used to be a major breadbasket for the entire continent. That was when it was called Rhodesia. But once Marxist Robert Mugabe was elected prime minister in 1980, Zimbabwe gradually was transformed into yet another indescribable hell-on-earth.
Thousands of productive white-owned commercial farms have been stolen by hordes of government-sanctioned thugs, the owners brutalized, tortured, and murdered, the farms left in ruin—causing the catastrophic collapse of the nation’s once-robust agricultural base. Reformers and political opponents are routinely executed and Christian churches bulldozed. As a result, Zimbabwe’s formerly thriving economy has disintegrated, causing the world’s highest— and frankly incomprehensible—inflation rate, over 11 million percent!5 Average life expectancy has been cut almost in half, from 57 to only 34 years for females and 37 for males—the shortest life span of any nation on earth.6
Yes, I know, these are some of the worst governments on earth. But in truth, a great many other nations are not much better. Burma and Sudan are ruled by brutal military dictatorships and mass slaughter and genocide are normal there. The vast Middle East is made up largely of Arab-Muslim police states, almost two dozen of them, where Islam’s strict, medieval sharia law reduces everyday life to one of repression, cruelty, and paralyzing fear at best—and at worst, terrorism, “honor killings,” and death by stoning for relatively minor offenses (and sometimes for no offense)—all sugarcoated with a stiflingly rigid and intolerant religious code.
• China, currently with about a fifth of the world’s population—more than 1.3 billion souls—is still at core a ruthless and suffocating communist dictatorship, despite its prodigious economic growth. The government imprisons anyone who dares criticize it. “An estimated 500,000 people are currently enduring punitive detention without charge or trial,” reveals Amnesty International, “and millions are unable to access the legal system to seek redress for their grievances. Harassment, surveillance, house arrest and imprisonment of human rights defenders are on the rise… .”7
There’s no free press in China, news organizations being largely owned and run by the government, which even censors the Internet (cyber-dissidents are imprisoned for signing online petitions and calling for reform). And the government’s notorious one-child policy has been heartlessly enforced via mandatory sterilization, forced abortion, and even infanticide. Chinese goods may be cheap, but life there is even cheaper.
• What about Russia? Most in the West have the impression much has improved since the bad old Soviet days, but appearances can be deceiving. According to Andrey Illarionov, former senior economic policy adviser to Vladimir Putin, freedom in Russia has deteriorated dramatically in recent years. Specifically, he reveals, the year 2006 “was an extraordinary one in a sense of destruction of all types and all elements of freedom. Whichever area we can look at—the political system, legal system, court system, civil society, rule of law, division of powers, freedom of expression, freedom of mass media, freedom of association—everywhere, in each area, we see tremendous backlash against the basic liberties of Russian people.”8 As this supposedly “reformed” giant of a nation, which spans eleven time zones, continues increasingly to resemble its former, malignantly aggressive “superpower” alter ego, Russia internally is in crisis. Its judicial system is almost dysfunctional, there’s virtually no freedom of the press, and international human rights organizations report widespread abuses, including systematic torture of people held by police.
We could continue on with our tour, but we’d just find that most other governments, from the Far East to Africa to South America, are corrupt, predatory, and power-hungry. Each typically perfumes its tyranny with an idealistic, utopian philosophy such as communism or Islamic fundamentalism to help control the population. Even Europe and the United Kingdom, once the crown of Western civilization, are firmly in the grip of secular (de facto atheistic) socialism, which suffocates their once-vibrant Christian culture and seduces their citizens into giving up their hard-won freedoms, independence, and wealth in exchange for “cradle-to-grave” security.
That brings us to America.
The United States of America has a transcendent heritage of liberty rooted in self-government and personal responsibility, the result of a revolutionary two-hundred-year-old “experiment” so gloriously successful it became a shining light in an otherwise mostly dark world.
Yet, in recent decades, we too have been seduced. Many of us have been taught in our universities that the “self-evident truths” the founders relied upon are just outdated and dangerous myths. The press routinely portrays values the founders considered to be evil (high taxes, unrestrained federal power, permissive sexual morals) as good, and good as evil. Same with Hollywood, which once showcased pro-American and patriotic themes but now glorifies sex, extreme violence, and total moral confusion.
With this constant cultural subversion in the background, no wonder millions of Americans have gradually been demoralized into depending on government to solve all of their problems, fueling today’s uncontrolled, cancerlike growth in government.
Power-hungry demagogues have always used basically the same methods: they demonize “the rich,” claiming they obtained their wealth by exploiting and stealing from the downtrodden; they stir up racial or tribal hatreds at every opportunity; they blame convenient scapegoats for problems they themselves have caused; and they promise universal peace and happiness if we’ll just give them unlimited power over us.
But they win our support only by appealing to the basest part of us—hate, dissatisfaction, greed, and especially envy. They know instinctively that if they can stir up and ignite these dark and addictive passions in all of us, they will seduce us away from our inner dependency on God, and instead create a massive voting bloc of people dependent upon them. The reward for this transference of fidelity is great power for them, and confusion, demoralization, and ultimate bondage for us. In its purest form, this phenomenon is known today as Marxism, communism, socialism—the spiritual core of which is raw envy.
Communism, as we know, is atheistic—where the government is the only god, the giver of blessings, the solver of problems, the dispenser of justice and mercy, the source of civilization’s progress. Unfortunately, the only “progress” it actually confers is the progression from freedom to slavery.
Yet this is exactly the appeal that more and more Americans today have been conditioned to respond to, as we have gradually fallen away from the Judeo-Christian, free market values that once animated our culture and institutions. The envy-based system Marx unleashed on the world is alive and well, and in different forms still dominates large parts of the world. In America, it has taken root in the once-noble Democratic Party, and has made significant inroads into the Republican Party as well. In the age of Obama, it is coming into full bloom.
Although Ronald Reagan admirably presided over the dismantling of the “evil empire” of the Soviet Union, freeing its many “satellite” slave states, one cannot destroy evil itself. The temptation of socialism continues to corrupt whole societies, including America.
Even the encouragement of immorality—sexual promiscuity, abortion, easy divorce—is all part and parcel of the socialist modus operandi, because dissolute, dysfunctional people who have crossed the moral line and thus become estranged from the laws of God now need the “god” of socialist government.
To understand how the U.S. government has become the huge, parasitical entity it is today, let’s clear our minds, take a deep breath, and for just a few minutes reflect on the truly transcendent and self-evident first principles of life, liberty, and property. Then the true basis for a just government—as well as an understanding of where we’ve gone astray—will come into sharp focus.
The brilliant French economist, statesman, and author Frédéric Bastiat expressed it eloquently:
We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life—physical, intellectual, and moral life.
But life cannot maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By the application of our faculties to these natural resources we convert them into products, and use them. This process is necessary in order that life may run its appointed course.
Life, faculties, production—in other words, individuality, liberty, property—this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.9
What is law, then? Very simply, explains Bastiat, “It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense”:
Each of us has a natural right—from God—to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend—even by force—his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right—its reason for existing, its lawfulness—is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force—for the same reason— cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.10
Nothing could be clearer than these basic, commonsense principles of fairness that any child could understand. Yet, over time, American government has abandoned its original principles, and the Constitution has become merely a venerated relic, with little deference paid to the founders’ intent or vision. Indeed, ever since the Civil War (when the federal government, by force, imposed its authority on the individual nation-states to keep the union intact), government has grown steadily—and has almost never stopped growing. Today it is a virtual cancer, drawing much of the life and productive capability out of the nation, while feeding its own uncontrolled growth.
For example, here’s how scientist and energy expert Arthur Robinson, Ph.D., explains America’s scandalous inability to provide for its own energy needs:
The reason is simple. Americans no longer possess the freedom to produce the goods and services required to maintain their former standard of living. Taxation—both direct and indirect through currency inflation—runaway government regulation and government-sponsored-and-encouraged litigation have reduced the productivity of Americans below that required to maintain their way of life. This tyranny—this economic slavery—has been produced entirely by the federal and state governments of the United States.
There are no resource limitations, technological limitations, or geopolitical reasons for the current energy shortages and high prices. These shortages and prices are solely the result of taxation, regulation, and litigation that have stifled American energy-producing industries.11
More fundamentally, government has robbed Americans of their very substance by corrupting their money system. Congress created the Federal Reserve System in 1913, handing over to a private banking cartel the crucial responsibility for the nation’s money supply, a responsibility that the founders had specifically vested in Congress in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. Since then, Americans have seen the value of their money lose 95 percent of its purchasing power12 (a clandestine form of grand theft) and their economy continually destabilized by the Fed’s artificial manipulation of interest rates and the money supply—all of which serve to cripple the free market. As Texas congressman and money expert Ron Paul puts it, “Every economic downturn suffered by the country over the last 80 years can be traced to Federal Reserve policy.”13
If you reflect on what money really represents—it is your life and substance, literally stored energy—you’ll see that life itself is being robbed by government.
As citizens struggle to earn enough to support their families and pay their mortgages, the government literally throws their money away. Yes—throws it away. The watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste annually issues its famed Pig Book, which details the preceding year’s wasteful spending by the federal government. You know, such as $1 million for the “Waterfree Urinal Conservation Initiative” or $50 million for an “indoor rainforest” in Coralville, Iowa.14 Such spending has gone into overdrive under Barack Obama, with twenty thousand taxpayer-funded “stimulus” projects, including $3.4 million for an “eco-passage” in Florida to protect turtles from being run over by cars, $2.2 million for skylights in Montana’s state-run liquor warehouse,15 $1 million to pay for the removal of crickets in Utah, $200,000 for gang tattoo removal in Southern California, and almost $2 million for “swine odor research” in Iowa. And that’s only a few projects—there are thousands of others.16
The level of squandering of taxpayers’ substance is a wonder. One audit showed the U.S. Defense Department wasted $100 million on unused commercial airline tickets it had purchased, never bothering to collect refunds even though the tickets were returnable and refundable.17
And government doesn’t just waste your money—it sometimes uses it to fund evil. Not too many years back, the public was less than thrilled to learn that the federal government was funneling their hard-earned tax dollars into support for obscene, perverse, and blasphemous “art.” There was the “homoerotic photography” of Robert Mapplethorpe, featuring images too repugnant to be described here. Then there was Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, consisting of a crucifix submerged in the artist’s urine (as well as Piss Pope, with the image of the pope in urine). And of course there was David Wojnarowicz’s Tongues of Flame, depicting Jesus shooting up heroin. All funded by you.18
It’s not just obscene art we’ve paid for; it’s obscene politicians, too. We have a never-ending stream of sexually promiscuous “public servants”: President Bill Clinton had a predatory sexual relationship with a White House intern barely older than his daughter. Then there was New Jersey governor James McGreevey, who held a press conference, wife stoically at his side, to announce he was coming out as a “gay American,” and New York governor Eliot Spitzer, who frequented high-priced prostitutes, and presidential candidate John Edwards, who cheated on his cancer-stricken wife while accepting the “Father of the Year” award,19 and Nevada senator John Ensign, a high-ranking, profamily Republican who cheated on his wife with a married female staffer. Even South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, once a top GOP presidential hopeful, confessed to an extramarital affair. The revelations are endless—our leaders frequenting prostitutes, preying on teenage congressional page boys, and betraying their sacred marriage vows.
In the current era, the socialistic transformation of America has accelerated at a truly frightening and unprecedented rate, with the expenditure of sums of money not comprehensible by mortal man, the nationalization of entire industries, and—less obvious to the public—the growing corruption of government itself. As Pulitzer-winning journalist George Will wrote in the Washington Post,“The [Obama] administration’s central activity—the political allocation of wealth and opportunity—is not merely susceptible to corruption, it is corruption.”20
But all this corruption and outrageous behavior shouldn’t really be surprising. Why? For starters, it’s very common for human beings, in or out of government, to lack strong moral principles— leaving them free to lie, manipulate, and steal in a multitude of obvious and subtle ways. Since virtually everyone is beset by typical human flaws such as egotism, greed, lust, envy, anger, and so on, how on earth do we expect the same flawed individuals suddenly to manifest great selflessness and nobility when they get into government? Doesn’t make much sense, does it? That’s precisely why our founders wisely created a national government with very limited powers and lots of internal checks and balances.
What we need to understand is that it’s not just deranged psychopaths like Saddam Hussein and Robert Mugabe who give us tyrannical government; regular politicians and bureaucrats do it, too. As long as they’re unprincipled and self-serving, more inclined to preserve their job, personal advantage, power, wealth, and comfort than to risk it all by championing the public good, the state will grow ever more tyrannical.
I know this sounds pretty negative, but we really need to understand why it is that governments just about always end up playing God and controlling our lives. Only then will the way out become clear.
Therefore let’s pause, take a breath, and briefly reflect on the bottom-line reality of our lives on this earth. Though widely ignored, it’s a fundamental truth almost everybody knows deep down:
There really is an all-knowing God. He really does create human beings whose true purpose is to discover ultimate fulfillment through obedience to Him in all things. And our life goes badly—and is supposed to go badly—if we defy His laws, which besides being written in the Bible are also “written” clearly inside each of us. (That is, we know it’s wrong to steal from our neighbor, not just because Scripture says so, but because it’s obvious—or as Jefferson put it, “self-evident” truth.)
If we fail to find this inner fidelity to God, then we automatically designate someone or something else to fill that necessary role: we will worship another “god.” Moreover, when we are in rebellion against the true God, we need lies and deception to maintain our illusions—and people who love power are all too eager to step up and play that role for us.
That’s right: we elect liars as leaders because we actually need lies if we’re avoiding inner Truth. So, for example, let’s say you’ve had an abortion but are in denial over the fact that you ended a life; you’d be attracted by the lies of an eloquent pro-choice politician defending abortion as a cherished constitutional right. Or say you foolishly took out a huge subprime home loan beyond your ability to repay; you’d probably support the politician who blames it all on greedy lenders and promises to force other taxpayers to bail you out. For those living in denial, lies do a great job of excusing their failings and validating their illusions.
Since bad government relies so totally on persuasive lying, let’s take a closer look at that phenomenon. There’s much more to it than you might think.
WHY POLITICIANS LIE, AND WHY WE BELIEVE THEM
In The Marketing of Evil, I explore many powerful manipulation techniques used to alter Americans’ attitudes toward everything from abortion to divorce to homosexuality. But there’s one technique that reigns supreme as the king of all propaganda weapons—lying. To make evil look good, and good appear to be evil, you have to lie.
The power of lies is not so much in the little “white lies” that are part of the fabric of most of our lives. It’s in the big lies. It’s paradoxical, but we’re more likely to believe big lies than small ones.
How can this be? Wouldn’t the big, outrageous lie be more easily discerned and resisted than the small, less consequential lie? You’d think so, but you’d be wrong.
There’s dark magic in boldly lying, in telling a “big lie”— repeatedly, with a straight face, and with confidence and authority.
One of the greatest liars of the last century, Adolf Hitler, taught that the bigger the lie, the more believable it was.
During World War II, the U.S. government’s Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to today’s CIA, assessed Hitler’s methods this way:
His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.21
Hitler himself, in his 1925 autobiography, Mein Kampf, explained with eerie insight the fantastic power of lying:
[I]n the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes… .22
Truly the words of an evil genius. But let’s bring this explanation down to earth: Suppose, just prior to election day, a candidate accuses his opponent of immoral or illegal behavior. Even if the charges are totally false, and even if the accused candidate answers the charges credibly and effectively, “the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it.” In plain English, no matter how effectively the accused answers the charges, some people will still believe he’s guilty, and many others will still retain varying degrees of doubt and uncertainty regarding the accused, who may well lose the election due to the cloud hanging over his head. This, as Hitler said, is the magic of lying that “is known to all expert liars in this world.”
The “doubt-inducing” quality inherent in a “big lie” is actually more powerful even than Hitler explained in Mein Kampf. Let’s say someone tells you a real whopper—for example, “Your husband/wife is cheating on you. I saw it with my own eyes.” Although it’s totally untrue, the big lie has the ability to upset you in a way the little, everyday white lie doesn’t. And when you get upset over any thing, guess what? You feel a little bit of guilt for becoming upset, a little angry, a little confused, perhaps a little fearful—and bingo, all those conflicting emotions cause you to be unable to think straight, and can easily result in your compulsively believing the lie. To put it another way: when you’re upset, the lie takes on a mysterious quality of attraction and believability, as though a protective force field has temporarily been disabled, allowing the lie to enter your mental inner sanctum.
Hitler’s principle is exactly what lying, ruthless leaders everywhere bank on to get their way with the public. Believe me, they understand all this—which is why we need to also.
USING LIES TO CREATE A CRISIS
One of the most creative uses of lying—and a key tactic for bending a population to your will—is the creation of a crisis. Now, anyone even superficially familiar with the history of the political left has heard references to the strategy of creating crises as a means of transforming society. You’ve probably heard of the “Hegelian dialectic,” a key Marxist technique whereby an idea (“We need more gun control laws!”) generates its opposite (“No, we don’t need more gun laws, we just need tougher sentencing of criminals!”), which leads to a reconciliation of opposites, or synthesis (“Okay, we’ll compromise by passing new gun control laws, but watering them down somewhat”). Likewise, maybe you’ve heard of the “Cloward-Piven Strategy”— inspired by left-wing radical organizer Saul Alinsky, whose methods Barack Obama adopted—which openly advocates the creation of crises to destroy capitalist society.23 This is how socialist progress is achieved “peacefully”: through conflict or crisis, which always is resolved in the direction of greater socialism.
The problem is, this “crisis creation” talk just sounds so crazy, so foreign to us, that it’s hard to believe our fellow human beings, no matter how confused or deluded, could actually engage in such a practice. But it’s not only true, it’s actually a common part of everyday life.
Consider this nonpolitical example and note how it illustrates the power of a crisis to mold people to the deceiver’s will: In one child abduction case, a little girl was approached after school by a man she didn’t know. He claimed her house was burning down, that her parents were busy putting out the fire, and that he was a friend of the parents, who had asked him to pick up their daughter and take her to them. The crisis—and the emotional upset the girl experienced over the thought of her house being on fire and her parents in danger—drowned out her normal caution about getting into a car with a stranger. You guessed it: the stranger was a predator who had concocted the lie for the sole purpose of upsetting and thereby tricking the girl into going with him so he could brutalize and murder her.
This tragic story makes an important point: a crisis throws us off our guard, upsets us, and inclines us to make decisions and accept “solutions” we normally would reject.
Politically, the strategy is to create a crisis, or exploit a real one, by throwing people into a mode where they can be redirected toward a predetermined “solution”—whether it’s imposing “carbon penalties” on businesses in response to fears of global warming, or a trillion-dollar taxpayer-funded corporate bailout in response to a dire “financial crisis,” or draconian gun control laws in response to a rash of school shootings. We’re talking about solutions that people would normally reject, but now in a crisis accept, and that establish as a result a new baseline of what is normal—which becomes the starting point for pushing the nation still further leftward in response to the next “crisis.”
Let’s look at a few examples of fake “crises.” They’re all around us:
• Small towns and cities across America pull a certain stunt with depressing regularity around election time. They claim that if taxpayers don’t vote in favor of a new tax levy, they’ll be forced to eliminate or drastically cut back police and fire protection—two of the few services the people actually want from their government. I once lived in a town where the city council and city manager decided the way to force voters to approve their new tax levy would be to threaten to completely eliminate police protection within the city limits between midnight and 8 A.M. No joke. This was a crisis of their own creation and for their own obvious purposes. After all, the city council members and their budget committee could have reprioritized their budget to cut back on street sweeping, park maintenance, library hours, raises and benefits for city employees, or other things less crucial to the public safety and welfare, and gotten by on the existing tax base without leaving the citizens vulnerable to criminals every night. As I said, this is a common tactic in cities and towns up and down the turnpike.
• The radical environmental movement’s primary modus operandi is the creation of crises where none exist. The “spotted owl” crisis in my home state of Oregon is a great example. Environmentalists claimed the northern spotted owl was dying out because of commercial logging of old-growth forests where the birds nested. So in 1991 a compliant judge halted logging in Oregon’s national forests, causing the loss of about thirty thousand jobs, an 80 percent reduction in timber harvesting, a consequent decrease in the supply of lumber, and sky-high prices. I remember—I was there. However, it wasn’t owls that environmentalists were in love with; they were in love with stopping loggers from harvesting any trees in Oregon’s old-growth forests. The owls just provided the needed “crisis.”
Here’s the rest of the story. Long after Oregon’s timber-based economy was decimated by the court-ordered logging ban, the northern spotted owl population inexplicably continued to decline. Surprise! New research showed logging in old-growth forests wasn’t the problem at all. The real problem, it turned out, was competition from another larger and more aggressive species of owl that liked the same habitat and food as the spotted owl.
The truth is, ever since “socialism” lost its luster as the salvation of mankind (because it has never actually worked as promised anywhere), the environmental movement has become one of the most powerful, modern battering rams of the left for advancing the same socialist agenda. And of course, the biggest environmental cause of all is global warming.
• Today, a generation of children worldwide is being brainwashed into believing they face imminent doom—monster hurricanes and tornadoes, polar ice melting and raising ocean levels, leading to catastrophic flooding, tidal waves, and other cataclysmic events. Many have been forced to sit in classrooms and watch Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, in which he claims the oceans may rise by twenty feet, leading to worldwide devastation. Not to be outdone, NBC reporter Meredith Vieira warned on national TV of the oceans rising— are you ready?—two hundred feet.24 Thus, while the kids suffer from doomsday nightmares, grown-ups respond to the “crisis” by clamoring for “solutions” offered by the environmentalist crisis creators.
And yet, not only is there no scientific basis for either NBC’s two hundred feet or Gore’s twenty-feet figure, in reality tens of thousands of scientists have gone on record stating their belief that man-caused global warming is a fake crisis. Indeed, as of this writing, more than 30,000 American scientists, including over 9,000 with Ph.D.s, have signed a petition stating: “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”25 And yet this “crisis,” based on increasingly dubious science, has become the U.S. government’s pretext for imposing truly draconian policy initiatives that many fear will cripple the nation’s economy.
• Another legacy of phony environmental crises is our fear of nuclear power. In truth, nuclear energy is clean, homegrown, and abundant, and its safety record is extremely good. Many other nations—including France, Russia, and Japan—have long taken advantage of this amazing power source. But irrational fear, in response to an environmentalist-created “crisis” mentality, has gripped the American consciousness for decades and contributed greatly to our dangerous national dependence on foreign energy sources.
• The “Fairness Doctrine” is a freedom-destroying solution to a crisis that doesn’t exist. With the exception of talk radio and certain online and cable TV news offerings, virtually the entire news media establishment is overwhelmingly left of center. Yet some congressmen and senators claim there’s an unfair conservative bias in the media (talk radio) that demands “balance” by legally forcing radio stations to provide airtime to “opposing views”—that is, to the left-leaning views that utterly dominate the rest of the information media.
• Racism is largely a manufactured crisis in America today. So-called black leaders such as Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are longtime professional race-baiters who thrive on stirring up racial suspicions and hatreds. In reality, America is probably the least racist nation in the world. Yes, we had slavery, but that ceased a century and a half ago when we sacrificed more than six hundred thousand American lives in the Civil War (more than in all other American wars combined) to exorcise it from our nation. Yes, we had segregation—but we long ago repented of this and made it illegal. Since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, led by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., the vast majority of Americans—hundreds of millions of normal, middle-class citizens—believe deeply and wholeheartedly in the color-blind America that King envisioned. If the election of a black president in 2008 doesn’t prove this, nothing will.
Yet Sharpton, Jackson, and others have thrived for decades on literally creating the perception of racism where none existed—for their own benefit. From the fake rape claims of Tawana Brawley to the fake rape claims against the Duke lacrosse team members, the false accusation of racism remains a powerful weapon of the left.
• Similarly, charges of rampant anti-Muslim bigotry and hate crimes in the United States, leveled by groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the American Civil Liberties Union, constitute a totally fake crisis. Actually, Americans have demonstrated extraordinary restraint and magnanimity toward Muslims since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks and the subsequent revelations of widespread Islamist antipathy toward America. In fact, according to the FBI’s own statistics, in the five years following 9/11, anti-Islamic hate crimes in the United States decreased by 68 percent!26
We could go on and on—fake crises are everywhere. In fact, crisis is the central operating principle of the Obama presidency. Everything is a crisis, an emergency, and has to be fixed right now—all for the purpose of vastly increasing government power and control over citizens’ wealth, behavior, their very lives.
Here’s the key point: people who want to manipulate and remold us are always creating crises, small or large, real or imagined, to use as leverage. That leverage, to be precise, is our emotional upset and our resulting inability to think straight and make sensible decisions. Repeat: just upsetting us through any means whatsoever constitutes a mini-crisis—by means of which we can be manipulated. Although being upset by some injustice or cruelty seems like a “small” crisis in the scheme of things, it is the basis for all other crises, even the largest.
If you think about it, this process of remolding us through crises is a perversion of what God does with His children. He “creates a crisis”—or perhaps more accurately, allows a crisis to develop in our lives because of our ignorance of His laws, which cries out for resolution. Our marriage and family are in crisis, or our health is in crisis, or our finances are in crisis, yet if we are sincere, truth-loving souls, that crisis mysteriously has a way of maturing and changing us, and we end up growing in His direction.
You might well wonder what kind of person could be so deranged that he or she would create a phony crisis for the purpose of exercising power over others. But this shouldn’t be hard to comprehend. For one thing, lots of us are so troubled and insecure that we develop an unhealthy need to be needed by others. It’s a very common syndrome. Consciously or unconsciously, we tempt or corrupt people into becoming dependent on us, so as to fulfill our unhealthy need to be needed.
Moreover, consider that if you are consumed by pride—in other words, if you’re a big egomaniac—you actually have a subconscious need or desire for other people to fail. Why? Because your own sense of worth is based on comparing yourself with other people, and particularly with cultivating others to look up to you. Unfortunately, a politician’s need for adulation can be fulfilled only if he weakens and fools other people into depending on him for their sustenance and happiness.
So, if you’re a dishonest, ambitious, and manipulating politician like so many, even though you haven’t murdered anyone, haven’t committed genocide, haven’t put people feet-first through a plastic-shredder like Saddam Hussein, you’re still spreading evil and misery throughout the land.
If this syndrome describes you (whether in politics or in your marriage or at your workplace), you may not be aware of the forces working through you. Oh, you may occasionally catch a fleeting glimpse of it, but you quickly escape from this painful, humiliating realization. For a fraction of a second you see it, but then it’s gone.
But let me ask anyway: Have you ever seen another person lose his temper, or fail in some other way—and felt a very slight, perverse sense of satisfaction? Or, when someone has done really well and received credit for it, or made a lot of money, or just expressed a brilliant idea, have you ever noticed a subtle feeling of envy rearing its head inside you?
It’s okay. Most everyone has experienced feelings like this at some point—perhaps often. But if you’re a sincere soul and are willing to observe these base feelings emanating from the dark side, and if deep down you really don’t agree with those feelings, then in a very real sense those feelings are not you. You could say there are two of you: with the real you being the observer who is chagrined over the dark thoughts and feelings rising from the deep. Watching those thoughts and feelings honestly leads to repentance and real change.
However, many people are not sincere. And these types of thoughts, and the dark forces behind them, come to dominate their lives, albeit unconsciously. And that is why, without being a Saddam Hussein, but just being a prideful, selfish, denial-based person, you can do terrible things to other human beings—deceive them, betray them, enslave them. You can destroy lives and civilizations.
This, then, is exactly why we have limited government in America: because power corrupts, and now we know why.
By the way, what we’re talking about here—the tendency for government to be dishonest and predatory—didn’t start with Karl Marx. It has ever been with the human race. More than two thousand years ago, the great orator and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero is said to have foretold the decline and fall of the Roman Empire with these words, which exquisitely described the ravages wrought by lying politicians:
A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.
When all is said and done, we elect liars as leaders because we need lies. And we need lies because we’re running from truth.
Lies that fulfill us in a wrong way are offered to us constantly, in every area of life. If our marriage is in trouble, there’s always “the other woman” or “the other man” who will embrace and reassure us that we’re great people and that our spouse is the problem. But their lying “solution” only makes things immeasurably worse. If we’re depressed or full of rage, but not really interested in understanding ourselves, we have experts eager to prescribe drugs to mask our symptoms—a false “solution” without hope of real change. Or we can bypass the doctor and go straight to the liquor store or criminal drug dealer to procure another wrong “solution.”
William Penn said it all: “If man is not governed by God, he will be ruled by tyrants.” Freedom apart from God is just an illusion of pride. This is because when we are at war with our conscience, something has to sustain our denial, our secret war against the still, small voice of Truth within—hence our need for lies. And government, in the form of other prideful human beings, is only too happy to oblige.
John Adams, a principal crafter of the Constitution and later our second president, understood this very well, writing: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Benjamin Franklin expressed the same vital reality this way: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
But the Bible puts it most eloquently and succinctly of all: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
© 2010 David Kupelian
Understanding and Overcoming the Destructive Forces That Are Transforming America
How Evil Works
Understanding and Overcoming the Destructive Forces That Are Transforming America
Why are big lies more believable than little ones?
How does terrorism really work?
Why do so many celebrities who “have it all” end up self-destructing?
Why are boys doing worse in school today than girls?
Why do we treat the problems of anger and depression with drugs?
. . . and much more. Fortunately, once we really understand “how evil works”—both in our own lives and in the world at large—evil loses much of its power and the way out becomes more clear.