Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Death of Our Republic

(The following writing is my two-cents worth sent to my congressman a few days ago. I then followup with some after-the-fact (after approval of the so-called bailout) thoughts:

To The Honorable Congressman Wally Herger,

Right now I have a very full plate with precious little spare time, but I feel strongly about the “bailout” vote and must express my view.
Make no mistake about it, Mr. Herger, this problem –and your vote—are most likely the most important problem and vote you are likely to face in your public career. More important than the Iraq war and your ensuing votes? Yes. More important than gun rights, or any particular civil right issue? Yes. Why? Because this problem is not an issue, but a philosophy, or rather, the death of a philosophy as called for by Mr. Barry Obama.
Some decades ago our republican form of government came under attack, in part, when the public-at-large “discovered” it could effectively vote itself a pay raise. With the outlandish judicially active interpretations of the 14th Amendment, and other follow-up decisions, our federal government became, in action, nationalistic (as so stated by President Kennedy’s Secretary of State). Then came Mr. Roosevelt’s New Deal, followed up by Mr. Johnson’s Great Society. Since then, our entire system has ran for all its worth towards the cliff of nationalism and democratic socialism. The one thing that has kept it in check (to some degree) was the governments (in)ability to publicly in-your-face issue significant credits to non-producing individuals. But, with this bailout plan, particularly in its current form, that roadblock shall be removed.
With this bailout, government will be speaking very loudly regarding several issues of morality. This bailout is the conclusion of the split of what should be siamese twins: Responsibility, AND Accountability. For years our criminal court system has been tearing these two apart, but now the deed is to be finalized with this bailout.
Some of the great things about America and Americans for decades was our drive to discover – our competitive and curious nature, AND our ability to accept the consequences, with hard work, planning, and risk; sometimes having to accept failure, learn from it, pick ourselves back up and go at it again, with lessons learned from the school of hard knocks. Moreover, such actions nearly always end with great success and the attached great rewards. But this bailout upsets that natural process by rewarding failure. Without reaping the benefits of failure, we can only expect less and less success into the future.


This is more than a basic financial bailout Mr. Herger. This is about the spiritual/mental health of our American spirit; our children are watching. So what is the message here? Are we to portray to our up-and-coming generation that government is and must be an integral part of your inner most thoughts; your most intimate idealisms are to include the backing of Uncle Sam? A natural right to entitlements? Score a big One for The Rights of Man, and a knock out punch for Inalienable Rights. What a sad day when this bill finds its way into law.


Why is not every conservative Congressman/Senator screaming from the mountaintops about their attempt, including Mr. McCain, to pass related reform legislation back in 2005/2006? Why are you not in front of a camera asking questions about the actions/words of the likes of Mr. Barney Frank and Mrs. Maxine Waters (do you fear political correctness)? Why are you not screaming about the highest compensated public servants –compensated by GSE funds-- to include the likes of Mr. Barack Obama and his running mate? I’ve heard Democrats suggest this is not the time to point fingers. I could be inclined to agree IF we were going to do the Right thing here. But on that note, the Dems had no objection to pointing some very large fingers regarding the war in Iraq, for instance. Republicans were sucked into the game of politics a long time ago, following the rules set by democratic theororists; when conservatism dances to the rules of liberalism the best it can do is play catch-up.
Fortitude of judgment, Mr. Herger. Sit back and think for a moment: what condition will our country be in in 25 years if this bailout does not pass? How about 50 years? Then, imagine our condition in 25 years –in 50 years—if it does pass. I see a great and grave difference, not in terms of the economy, but in terms of defining America and Americans; fortitude of judgment, Mr. Herger. This is a defining moment in American history, as momentous as the Great Depression, and as defining as the Civil War.
Can you put your finger on that part of the Constitution allowing this action from government? I heard Mr. Paulson suggest government had the power to do this bailout based on the Constitution’s mention of its’ authority to “coin money.” Perhaps you could suggest to him he should read the related Federalist Papers, and/or brush up on countless early High Court decisions relative to Article 1, Section 8. Nothing suggests government has the power to operate as a sovereign entity, within the realm of commerce, and issue notes of wealth to ill-fated, poorly ran, privately operated, businesses. I agree that the worst thing that good Men can do is nothing. But sometimes “nothing” is the good and right thing to do too.
Mr. Obama speaks often of entitlements. But such a bailout dwarfs his (relative) small-time thinking of "change:" this is change on a massive, hyper-scale for the way government does business, but most of all, for the moral conscience of society. I see it as a direct move further into Nationalism; Direct Democracy will trump our constitutionally guaranteed republican form of government.
If you vote for this legislation, your next move –in order to be intellectually honest—should be to propose replacement of our very Constitution, for the precepts it was founded on –the soul expressed in our Declaration—shall be dead.
I have little in this world, but what I do have is important to me and my family. However, as a truck driver, living from paycheck to paycheck, I stand to lose a lot if this credit crunch does in fact make waives into the fundamentals of our economy. Notwithstanding, I cannot care about that over this issue; I cannot vote my pocketbook when the health of my liberty, and the liberty of those yet to come, is at stake. Perhaps if the worst happens, and our system collapses, we will then learn again how to work together. Perhaps we need a crisis. But please, let it be a crisis of mere money and not one of Spirit. What if the Congress authorizes this bailout and it doesn’t work; what then? Truly, this is a grave moment in the health and times of our Grand Old republic.


Please forgive my brashness – I mean no disrespect. You have been one of the few active conservatives on many issues. And perhaps this is the One where it is time for you to put all the marbles on the table. Worse come to worse, I can always set a place for you at my table.

With all due Respect- Bruce Hedrick
******end of letter to Mr. Herger

Following letter is Mr. Herger's response:

October 7, 2008

Dear Sgt. Hedrick,

Thank you for contacting me to express your strong concerns about the Economic Emergency Stabilization Act, which recently became law. I appreciate your thoughts on this very important issue, and hope that I can adequately explain the reasons that I felt that decisive action was critical to preventing a severe economic crisis from sweeping across Northern California communities and our nation. Second, I hope to sufficiently stress that we took great care to ensure that taxpayers are protected. The plan is designed to ensure that taxpayers will earn back every penny invested in mortgage-based assets, and potentially make a profit as the housing market recovers, and includes a safeguard requiring the President to submit a proposal to recoup taxpayer dollars from the banks that benefited from the program should there be any losses after 5 years.

By way of brief background, on September 18, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke informed Congressional leaders of both parties that our nation's financial system was on the verge of collapse, and that unless prompt action was taken, we were destined for a deep recession. Indeed, we learned that earlier in the week we very narrowly averted a credit panic and a Depression-era bank run. After attending many briefings and reading the analyses of several economists, I concluded that we are truly facing a once-in-a-century crisis in our financial markets that, if not addressed, could lead to a long-lasting economic recession that would cost thousands of jobs and hurt families, farmers and small businesses throughout Northern California. If the problems created by this crisis would affect only those on Wall Street who made poor decisions, I would agree it should run its course. But with bank accounts, incomes, jobs, student loans, and retirement savings in Northern California on the line, I concluded that we cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and hope for the best.

While it was clear that decisive action was necessary, I believed the Bush Administration's original plan was unacceptable. In its original proposal, the Administration asked Congress for approximately $700 billion in taxpayer money to purchase the "toxic" mortgage-backed securities that are causing credit markets to seize up. It was designed to inject much-needed capital into our financial markets, and ease the credit crisis by temporarily taking these assets off the books of ailing banks. As originally structured, however, the plan essentially provided the Secretary with a blank check, and failed to provide sufficient oversight and accountability. Additionally, it failed to include sufficient protections to ensure that American taxpayers would recoup the costs of the program. For these reasons, I supported efforts by members of both parties to substantially improve the measure.

I was pleased that the final legislation did, in fact, include significant protections for taxpayers while retaining the core proposal for restoring the credit markets through the acquisition of these "toxic" mortgage-backed assets. These protections included: (1) restrictions on "golden parachutes" (lucrative severance packages) for Wall Street executives to ensure they will not benefit at taxpayer expense; (2) the creation of an alternative insurance program whereby participating companies, not taxpayers, will share in the costs; (3) a 50% reduction in the upfront costs to taxpayers, and a requirement that Congress approve the second half of the funding; (4) requirements that taxpayers are the first people in line to get potential profits after the assets are resold as the housing market recovers and assets appreciate in value; and (5) a provision stating that, if after five years taxpayers experience a loss from the asset purchase program, the President is required to submit a proposal to recoup the losses from the entities that benefited from the program.

While the bill was not perfect, these provisions provided a great deal of added protection for taxpayers, and therefore when it was presented to the full House for approval I voted in favor of the measure. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have made as a member of Congress. As a longtime advocate of limited government and free markets, I strongly believe that investors who make poor decisions should suffer the consequences of those decisions. But at the end of the day, I believed the measure, however imperfect, was necessary to restore America's credit markets and avert a potentially historic economic collapse that would have cost our nation far more in the way of lost jobs, incomes and retirement savings in Northern California, and included essential protections to ensure taxpayers ultimately do not bear the cost of this program.

As a final point, this crisis came about because of the irresponsible business practices in our financial services sector that were aided and abetted by ill-advised government policies. Moving forward, I believe reform is badly needed in our financial services sector and we must fix these failed government policies, place safeguards against predatory lending, update our regulatory system, and prosecute all illegal behavior to ensure that this never happens again.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this incredibly important issue. Please don't hesitate to contact me in the future regarding this or any other federal issue important to you. In addition, I would like to invite you to visit my website at where you can find additional information on my position on a variety of issues and sign up for occasional e-mail updates on the federal issues important to you.
Member of Congress

****end of response

10/04/08-- The deed is done.
As an over-the-road truck driver, I have a lot of time to think. Virtually all day long I listen to politics and news on my Sirius satellite radio, only periodically inserting a little of the Health (114) channel spiced with either Ole’ Blue Eyes (75) or Movin’ Eze (4), and yes, it also includes Left Talk (146). I listen to all sides: the so-called Left and Right, doing my best to sort through all the hype. It helps that my major in college was –and still is—political science. My former studies in Constitutional Law, as well as my certification in paralegal studies also helps. But what mostly guides me is my great passion for Liberty, AND my understanding of the difference between Liberty and Freedom, i.e., republicanism (rights) and democracy (privileges).
With that said I find myself in a very somber, meditative, worrisome mood over this, now signed into law, bailout bill. My heroes over this issue have been Journalist Michelle Malkin, former Lt. Governor Michael Steel, Senator Tom Coburn, and a sprinkling of a few others. And I am very worried; so few have a full understanding of what they are about to do.
If you are a regular reader of mine you know my driving passion insists that I look at a much larger picture than most people are able to muster; I don’t worry about today or tomorrow, but of next year and the decades to come, as a Patriot. I am not motivated by my personal financial bottom line –not concerned about stock piling a personal fortune. The state of today’s political and social condition, and where it seems to be pointing itself, is my consuming issue. I refuse to look at another’s worthiness by considering his financial wealth; as a classic conservative, I believe all are created equal, live and die with the natural and equal right to pursue life, liberty and property. In my eyes, we are defined by our spirit of individualism and our ability to accept our collective differences.
One rule I’ve learned and adopted is to always give legislation the butterfly test: if government is dabbling in an issue that potentially sends a warm sensation up the back of people’s legs culminating in fuzzy warm feelings in the belly, it is an issue not within the realm of constitutional control (see previous articles below discerning the differences between our republic and our Constitutional Democracy). Clearly this issue of a bailout is one of them. We are more concerned about our pocketbook than we at preserving the liberty our Constitution bestowed upon us.
October 8, 2008:

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