Saturday, August 22, 2020

Conspiring Men: The Times in Which We Live

This blog post is a political commentary on the times in which we live from the perspective of a Latter-day Saint. Clearly there is a monumental political struggle raging in our nation and conditions that threaten the stability of the world. There are an abundance of explanations for what brought us to this precipice and there are many theories of wide spread conspiracy. Theories of conspiracy abound on the left and right of the political spectrum, each side charging the other with evil intent to overthrow our society. It becomes difficult to discern truth and make correct judgments about the explosive charges being leveled back and forth.

For the left the conspiracy is that President Trump is working with the Russians to subvert democracy in America. On the right, President Trump is secretly waging a righteous war against a secret and subversive deep state seeking to tear down the American Constitutional system and breaking up a hidden cabal of Satanic worshipers within the upper levels of our government. Depending on which news you consume and what political persuasion you are loyal too will determine which of these conspiracy theories you entertain as plausible. Or maybe, you are one of those who just thinks all conspiracy theories have no basis in reality and dismiss it wholesale.

I am often asked by my friends what I think about this conspiracy theory or that. I am more comfortable answering the question, do I believe there are conspiracies that seek the destruction of American Liberty and Constitutional government? To this my answer is without hesitation, yes! It is a simple question to answer because I believe that the agency of man is of paramount importance to God and his plan for his children, and I believe the unique form of free government established in this land was inspired by God for the purpose of expanding that liberty necessary for the free worship of God in preparation for the fullness of times and the second coming of Christ. As a natural extension of this belief, I believe the devil is at work in the hearts of men and that there are conspiring men and women who seek to overthrow freedom and bring this world into either destructive chaos or total tyranny, and so far as they destroy liberty and prop up their own power they could care less which.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I believe in a Book of Scripture that is uniquely American and as an ancient account of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, the Book of Mormon contains parallels and prophesies of a sacred American Covenant that is a bridge between the ancient times and the last days. The prophets of Book of Mormon record events that prophets tell us are a type and shadow of our times, a warning to our day. Whether or not you believe the Book of Mormon is scripture, listen to these descriptions and ask yourself if they are not a near perfect description of the times in which we live:

“For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted. Yea, and this was not all; they were a stiffnecked [proud] people, insomuch that they could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction... the people began to grow exceedingly wicked... For behold, the Lord had blessed them so long with the riches of the world that they... began to set their hearts upon their riches."

Like our day, these ancient Americans had established a government of freedom, a government by the people, of the people, and for the people; and like our times, this government was in serious jeopardy when the more part of the people became wicked and elected corrupt leaders who corrupted their laws and institutions. The people enjoyed great prosperity and peace and became exceedingly proud as a result. This pride caused them to depart from the ways of the Lord. The people were so wicked and proud that they could not be governed by law or justice which is a disturbing symptom of rampant wickedness in our times as well, as we have daily proof in major cities throughout the US daily.

 "Yea, they began to seek to get gain... they began to commit secret murders, and to rob and to plunder, that they might get gain. Those murderers and plunderers were a band [organized crime] ... Satan did stir up the hearts of the more part of the [people], insomuch that they did unite with those bands... and did enter into their covenants and their oaths... that whatsoever wickedness his brother should do he should not be injured... by those who did belong to his band... And thus they might murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country and also the laws of their God. And whosoever of those who belonged to their band should reveal unto the world of their wickedness and their abominations, should be tried, not according to the laws of their country, but according to the laws of their wickedness... 
“Now behold, those secret oaths and covenants... were put into their hearts by — [Satan] — that same being... who spread the works of darkness and abominations over all the face of the land... And behold, it is he who is the author of all sin. And behold, he doth carry on his works of darkness and secret murder, and doth hand down their plots, and their oaths, and their covenants, and their plans of awful wickedness, from generation to generation according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men.

This organized crime among the ancient people of America is not new to the world. The Book of Mormon calls it "secret combinations" and tells us that it was not new to America. This work of darkness increases in the land to the degree with which the people are wicked. The greater hold Satan has upon the hearts of men, the more expansive are the secret bands of organized crime and wickedness in high places. This truth can be verified in millennia of human history, but it is a truth that is denied today by the secular humanist dogmas of moral relativism; an ideology that holds no belief in evil as the opposite of absolute principles of righteousness. When you make it a central creed that there is no right or wrong, no evil or good, and that the only thing of consequence is your own "truth," your own version of happiness, then the powers of the darkness gain great power over the hearts of men and the decent of society is swift.

“And now behold, he had got great hold upon the hearts of the [people]; yea, insomuch that they had become exceedingly wicked; yea, the more part of them had turned out of the way of righteousness, and did trample under their feet the commandments of God, and did turn unto their own ways, and did build up unto themselves idols of their gold and their silver. And it came to pass that all these iniquities did come unto them in the space of not many years. 
“And they did grow in their iniquities... to the great sorrow and lamentation of the righteous... [and they] did begin to dwindle in unbelief, and grow in wickedness and abominations... thus we see that the Spirit of the Lord began to withdraw from the [them], because of the wickedness and the hardness of their hearts.”

When you have striped from society the meaning of life that rests in righteousness, the only thing left is the selfish acquisition of things. The idols of their worship became their possessions, their wealth. They turned to their own way, their own truth, and mocked God. We see the same thing happening in our times. In our day we call this Materialism, and it has infected the whole world. Materialism is not new, nor is it a creation of American capitalism as many charge, but rather, it is the natural outgrowth of that based human nature that without check will act in envy and greed. It is in this state that organized crime and corruption gains it's foothold in a society.

“[The more part of the people] did build up [that secret band] and support them, beginning at the more wicked part of them, until they had overspread all the land... and had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils, and to join with them in their secret... combinations.” 
“And thus they [the secret band] did obtain the sole management of the government, insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God. And thus we see that they were in an awful state, and ripening for an everlasting destruction.”

~ Helaman Chapters 5&6, Book of Mormon 


What are the secret combinations, organized criminal bands, that have infected our government today?

In 1997, Elder Russell M. Ballard talked about our modern day “Gadianton robbers,” those secret bands subverting law and order, in this way:

“Every day our neighborhoods and communities are in desperate need of our support and our commitment to safety and law and order. Crime, in all its pervasive manifestations, is a serious worldwide evil and a moral problem about which Church leaders have great concern. The social, economic, and moral costs of crime are incalculable. It is no respecter of race, religion, nationality, age, culture, or socioeconomic status. 
“If we are not careful, today’s secret combinations can obtain power and influence just as quickly and just as completely as they did in Book of Mormon times. Do you remember the pattern? The secret combinations began among the “more wicked part” of society, but eventually “seduced the more part of the righteous” until the whole society was polluted.”

Elder Ballard warned that secret combination would obtain that same level of prevalence within our American system as it had among the ancient Americans if we were not vigilant in the defense of righteousness and that law and order that is supportive of it. Each of us should examine thoroughly the state of our own minds upon this subject and seek to know if we are among those "more righteous" parts of our society who are at this time being seduced by these secret combinations. To do so we must also ponder on that which is so disturbing to us, we must consider the possibility that there are secret combinations, that they have infiltrated our government and institutions, and that these powers in high places are a grave threat to the survival of our liberty. From there we may begin to identify what those threats are.

Organized crime has always existed to get gain and it's constant presence sometimes prompts us to discount it's dangers, but we shouldn't ignore the concerns Elder Ballard spoke of in 1997. We ought to ask ourselves why he would give such pronounced warnings about this rising threat? It may help give context if we review the history of the time and the changes taking place in the world after the end of the Cold War. Let's examine how these secret combinations among the more wicked elements of our world were aided in their expansion as the end of bipolar rivalry triggered the opening of borders and blurred the lines between the free world and the communist world.

“No one has benefited more from the political changes of the 1990's than international organized crime. Within the space of just three or four years, the world's great crime syndicates have joined in a planet-wide criminal consortium unlike any in history. A Pax Mafioso has emerged--an agreement to avoid conflict, devise common strategy, and exploit the planet peaceably together--linking the American and Sicilian Mafias, Russian organized crime, the Chinese Triads, the Japanese Yakuza, and Colombia's cocaine cartels. It threatens the liberty, security, and political integrity of the U.S., Europe, and all free societies." (Claire Sterling, Thieves World: The Threat of the New Global Network of Organized Crime, 1994) 
“International organized crime, an imagery menace for many in 1990, was a world wide emergency by 1993. The big syndicates of East and West were pooling services and personnel, rapidly colonizing Western Europe and the United States, running the drug traffic up to half a trillion dollars a year, laundering and reinvesting an estimated quarter of a trillion dollars a year in legitimate enterprise." (Thieves World, p. 14)

In addition to drug trafficking, organized crime has infected banking and capital markets and reached into our economic systems. Financial crime is rampant and threatens the safety and soundness of financial systems world-wide. In some cases, these crimes threaten the security and safety of the nation. These crimes range from fairly simple operations carried out by individuals or small groups to highly sophisticated rings seeking funding for criminal enterprises or terrorism.

Another area of organized crime that has seen vast expansions since the 1990's is in the trafficking of human beings, slavery, a most evil crime enterprise that results in death and misery across the world and has proliferated into western society, especially among the rich, politically powerful, and well connected. During the Cold War, human trafficking was not as prominent with the borders between the two ideological camps tightly closed, human trafficking was more limited in it's scope, especially in the western world. 

In economic terms, the expansion of organized crime is a by-product of socialized globalization, a toxic mix of lawlessness and state power. Since 1990 lawlessness is the new Russia. Richard F. Staar, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, observed that business life in Russia functions “at a level similar to that of Al Capone's Chicago. There is no effective system of laws to ensure the fair and orderly operation of business, banking, finance, insurance, stock trading, and so forth, and existing laws are neither consistently nor impartially enforced. Lawlessness and excess are more often rewarded than punished, and people have little protection against fraud by the new criminal class. The fall of the USSR was hardly the victory over the evil empire that many in the west believed it to be.”

Russia specialist Richard F. Staar, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, reports in The Washington Times (Nov. 27, 1996):

"In his book, Comrade Criminal, Stephen Handelman discussed connections between the already then well-established mafia underworld and corrupt bureaucrats, a relationship that apparently now has reached into the Kremlin itself. According to former Russian Social Security Minister Ella A. Pamfilova, a cynical redistribution of property currently is taking place. In her words, "The nature of the ruling class has not changed ... It is the same old corrupt, elitist, nomenklatura-bureaucratic swamp." 
"What is changing involves the national economy, half of which already has fallen under mob control, according to Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin. Former Director of the CIA, Robert M. Gates estimated earlier this year that two-thirds of all commercial institutions, some 400 banks (those in Moscow already control 80 percent of the country's finances), several dozen stock exchanges, and 150 large government enterprises are controlled by the mob. A recent Russian periodical revealed that about 40 percent of the Gross Domestic Product is in the hands of organized crime, mow merged with corrupt official and businessmen.

After the fall of the USSR the west unwisely put down its guard against the threats of global communism and decided that the best way to spread freedom was to open the flood gates of trade to the communist world. The new Russia morphed into a nation of organized crime controlled by the former KGB, and with the broken chains of western anti-communism, the Clinton administration and his globalist allies in the Republican Party, set China free to begin corrupt widespread trade with the west. The benefits of this arrangement were lauded in the US as the way to beat communism with free market trade, but the market China sought was anything but free, and the results have weakened the American system while enriching communism and organized crime globally.

Minxin Pei wrote in his book, "China's Crony Capitalism,” “that beginning in the 1990s, changes in the control and ownership rights of state-owned assets allowed well-connected government officials and businessmen to amass huge fortunes through the systematic looting of state-owned property—in particular land, natural resources, and assets in state-run enterprises.” Leveraging components of capitalism to capitalize on western consumerism, China built a quasi communist capitalism, that Minxin Pei referred to as “China’s Crony Capitalism.” Though Crony capitalism wasn’t a creation of China, it was perfected there. The use of centralized power to subvert free markets for the gain of some over others, began in the west as a byproduct of the mingling of socialist governments and the capitalist economic model. We saw it in Hitler's Germany and the expansion of it among European social democracies after World War II. In America, the progressive era laid the foundation for weakening American constitutional government and US law began mingling socialist control in the capitalist market. The expansion of progressive socialism in the US were catalyst forward by FDR’s New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society politics. Both initiated by progressive social democrats, the transformations were heralded as compassionate democracy but have in practice corrupted our laws and undermined the concrete mechanism of our Constitution that were designed to protect the people from the tyranny of crony government. We needn’t look any further than China to see how this corrupt alliance is an enemy to liberty.

“Mustering compelling evidence from over two hundred Chinese corruption cases involving government and law enforcement officials, private businessmen, and organized crime members, Minxin Pei shows how collusion among Chinese elites has spawned an illicit market for power inside the party-state, in which bribes and official appointments are surreptitiously but routinely traded. This system of crony capitalism has created a legacy of criminality and entrenched privilege that will make any movement toward democracy difficult and disorderly.” (“China’s Crony Capitalism”)

China seized upon the changing world order by mixing into the soup Chinese style control and corruption and produced a particularly toxic form of crony capitalism. The west enabled China to exploit capitalism because it enriched everyone. — especially the powerful and well connected. — The result was organized crime on a global governmental level. Thus, the defeat of communism was abandoned and instead America began doing business with the evil empire.

In the Book of Mormon these bands of organized criminals lived on the peripheral edge so long as the majority of the people upheld the high ideals and laws of their land and their religion, but when they departed from the true path, the laws of their land became corrupted and the criminals became their government. Today organized crime isn’t just among the gangs in the street, today the toxic mix of state power and crony capitalism has made government the organized criminals. The government has become the legalized form of the bands of robbers spoken of in the Book of Mormon. Not only is this not shocking, no matter how disturbing, it’s to be expected. It’s the prophesied path and the purpose for which the Book of Mormon prophets gave their warnings.

“And thus they [the secret band] did obtain the sole management of the government, insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God. And thus we see that they were in an awful state, and ripening for an everlasting destruction.”

Even some members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who study regularly the passages of the Book of Mormon that warn of these corrupt bands of secret “combinations,” and their threats to the liberty of the land and the religion of our God, misunderstand the threats we face. As did many of the righteous in ancient America who were seduced by the secret combinations and thus gave their support to these secret band until they gained the sole management of the government. We would be wise to examine what characteristics of these secret combinations are used in order to persuade good people to support them.

One such characteristic is how these bands are able to successfully characterize that which is good to be evil and make that which is evil appear good. The Book of Mormon identifies that a key characteristic of these secret combinations are that they “turn their backs upon the poor,” and as such some have been persuaded that Free Market Capitalism is the great evil that threatens us. After all, progressive movements in the west have successfully persuaded the majority of the world to view those who defend the free market and oppose expansive socialist government programs as enemies of the poor. Proponents of Socialism and Communism systems, purport themselves to be compassionate, fair, and attendant to the uplift of the poor. Unfortunately, this is a gross mis-characterization of reality and one of the clearest examples of calling evil good in our modern times.

The truth is, never has communism lifted the poor or upheld the innate human dignity and equality of man under God, and it has never been so great an evil as it is now that it has been enabled through the leveraging of crony capitalism to spread it's tentacles across the globe. Ironically, it was Karl Marx who coined the term “capitalism” as an indictment of the unique free market economic system that was a natural outgrowth of the transformative American liberty he so despised. In true communist form, Marx accused the American free market economy of the evils natural to communism. He charged Capitalism with the great sins of greed and materialism and argued that Capitalism would corrupt the world.

Many Americans today believe Marx got it right when they look at the so-called “capitalist world,” which is now widely infected with toxic socialist and communist forms of crony capitalism. Of course what they see is very concerning, it is essentially organized crime in the government systems across the world. It is rampant greed, death, and exploitation. Every iteration of pure socialism or communism has resulted the devaluation of human life, the destruction of faith and family structures, and ultimately the exploitation of the poor by the powerful; and it will be no different with every form of crony capitalism throughout the world today, be it the quasi communist capitalism of China or the western secular progressive form of crony capitalism within social democracies, for both corrupt the law and result in the same destructive ends.

What this great evil is not, is the child of the American system. No! Crony Capitalism is the exploited child of progressive socialism and communism. It’s the result of leveraging the power of capital through the central planning and controls of corrupt governments; and it’s a very serious departure from both free market economies and American Republican government. In a prophetic way, Thomas Jefferson described the criminal band that could subvert the reigns of government in this way: "The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."

The American system was created as a great bulwark of protection to the liberties of the people against criminals outside and inside the government. Free markets are not exploitative of the poor, they aren't by themselves capable of malice toward anyone. Free markets are blind and operate only as a mutually beneficial gain for the individual and by extension society. However, Crony Capitalism is robbery by legal means and exploits the middle class and the poor while enriching the powerful. Even social democracies, socially progressive western states, have been far more successful at improving the quality of life for the poor, the more they moved away from socialist governance and closer to the true forms of free market Capitalism.

The big difference between Crony Capitalism and Free Market Capitalism is that the first is all about money and power and the second is all about liberty and the rule of law. The first is legalized theft, oppression, and death and the second is an essential support for the liberty of mankind.

For this reason we must be eternally vigilant and ever working to teach true principles of freedom, stand up to authoritarian, totalitarian, and anarchy world views and the tactics (social and political) that lead to them. We can’t bring down these organizations and ideologies without God’s help, we aren’t powerful enough, — and tyranny is always better organized than freedom, that truth can be very scary at times — but God IS powerful, more powerful then ALL and he is organized. He organizes us one heart at a time, as each faithful freedom loving person goes about the work of their daily life and is obedient to God, as we do each day, each moment, what His Spirit asks us to do he will organize his forces of righteousness against that great and abominable tyranny and it will fall. Their plans will be frustrated, but God’s plans cannot be frustrated.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Means Will Defeat the Ends

Here's my take on Trump's Constitutionally questionable executive order to legislate COVID relief package: 

1) Executive orders are meant to be used to effectuate legislation and not to legislate. It's not good when any POTUS exceeds executive boundaries, which he is doing with this executive action. 

2) It is "politically smart" to act in the face of legislative inaction, and in this case Trump is outmaneuvering the left who are leveraging a national economic crisis for political gain. It's politically smart but that doesn't make it right.

3) Cutting the payroll tax is NOT a war on Social Security. THERE IS NO SOCIAL SECURITY LOCK BOX. The government NEVER lets social security payments to go unpaid. Trump is not robbing social security and the Democrats are engaging in misinformation to manipulate the public when they say he is. Case in point, Obama passed cuts the payroll tax while President but he wasn't accused of stealing from social security. Everyone knows the payroll taxes are just taxes. 

4) The Democrats are once again acting hypocritically. President Obama signed several (understatement) Constitutionally questionable executive orders -- at the very least not in keeping with the purpose of executive orders in similar manner as Trump is doing now -- and then Democrats have nothing but praise for Obama. Because of the way that the Obama Presidency expanded the use of executive power through executive order, the Democrats have no card to play against Trump's use of that very same tactic. They enabled the abuse of power by showing no restraint when they were in office and giving up the high ground; if they ever had it to begin with.

5) The Republican defense of Trump's executive order is hypocrisy. The Republicans and Conservatives spent eight years in opposition to Obama's self-proclaimed executive rule by "pen and phone." The Republican party groaned when the Obama Administration put the balance of powers on life support to the universal applause of every elected official on the left side of the isle. Republican senators spoke out in grand Constitutional principle against such use of executive power and warned that America would never be the same. They were right, and now they will defend Trump for taking full advantage of the death of divided powers.

In short, it may be a shrewd political move on Trump's part, he may be winning the political chess game, but it isn't a good thing for the American system... BUT, who really cares about that anymore? It would seem nobody does, not on the left or the right. The only reason anyone on the left is mad is because they've been outplayed with their own "house rules" and the right has decided to play the game with Democrat house rules rather than stick to the principles of the Constitution. The right says they want to save the Constitution but apparently the only way to do that is win at all cost, even at the cost of ignoring the Constitution. It's the ends justify the means concept. 

We have an impasse, the left and the right have very different ends. The left wants to tear down the American system and replace it with a socialist or communist state. The right has long fought for the preservation of our Constitutional Federalist Republic and free market economy. Gradually the right has lost sight of the fact that the end they seek requires very different means then the ends the left desires. For leftist, weakening the Constitution to win political power enables their objective, but sadly when the right decides that we have to play the game the leftist way, we will discover that the means will certainly defeat the ends of our cause.