It Has Happened Here!

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Many have wondered how a people who produced Beethoven, Goethe, Schiller, Bach, Brahms, etc., could also have given rise to Nazism. An evidently cultured and advanced civilization giving birth to a monster! How could it happen?

Sinclair Lewis even wrote a novel about it: It Can’t Happen Here, in 1935. Of course, he was wrong. It has happened here.

If you have ever wondered how it happened in Germany, look around. The evidence is everywhere, but it isn’t necessarily dramatic or obvious.

I realized this recently when I received a notice from the county assessor of my home’s new "evaluation." We will be spending a considerable amount of money on the house this year: piering one portion of it that has sagged — probably because of excessive water in the soil, necessitating a French drain. The driveway and turn-around area behind the garage is badly cracked, and a major expense will be the replacement of all that concrete. The house, in other words, is showing its thirty-seven years. Despite the rigors of age, however, and the gradual advance of deterioration, it has sextupled in value! Isn’t that amazing? As a clever friend of mine once remarked, "If I’d known my house would become so valuable as it aged, I’d have built it of second-hand material to begin with and gotten instant appreciation!"

The new "value" of the house was given as a number preceded by "$." That triggered a letter to the assessor. I think it is reasonable for him to define the standard by which he evaluates property. Since he is evidently using dollars for that purpose, which ones? There are the mental dollars, represented by checkbook entries, and having no physical existence at all. There is the fiat of the Federal Reserve System. There are token "dollars" of base metals. There are legal tender U.S. dollars of gold, silver, and platinum being produced this very moment by the U.S. Mint. Which is the standard? Curiously, the ten dollar gold coin doesn’t contain twice as much gold as the five-dollar coin. How can that be, if the word "dollar" has any specific meaning?

After a delay of several weeks, the assessor replied, but his answer was no answer at all. He huffed and puffed some irrelevancies, thanked me for writing, and left the question of what standard he used in his evaluations completely up in the air.

The same is true of the IRS. Ask them a simple question, and see what kind of an answer you get. If, for example, you happen across the IRS regulation that taxable income will be determined under sections so-and-so of the Code of Federal Regulations, does that mean that you should actually use those sections to determine your taxable income? If you do, you’ll learn that your taxable income is zero! Well, ask the IRS and see what sort of answer you get. Actually, if you get a pertinent answer, you will be the first of thousands who’ve asked that question. More likely, you’ll receive veiled threats, and the invariable reference to "frivolous" which the government intones when confronted with a question that it cannot or will not answer.

I wrote a letter to Admiral Loy, of the Transportation Safety Administration, and asked him what recourse I had if, as a result of his don’t-lock-your-luggage policy, I had something valuable stolen from my suitcase. He didn’t answer. I wrote again, and respectfully demanded an answer. He ignored my request: a favorite government ploy.

And it goes on and on. Ask anyone in government a pointed and relevant question, and expect drivel and pap in response — if you get a response at all.

So what has this to do with the rise of fascism? Everything! The men and women who comprise government didn’t go to Washington to deprive you of your rights, and render you a more or less comfortable slave — at least most of them didn’t. They had noble ideals, however foolish or naïve, which they wanted to put into effect. Unfortunately, under the Constitution, most government programs are unlawful.

Earlier versions of the Internal Revenue Code, for example, made it relatively clear that the income tax applied to foreigners earning income here, or Americans getting income from international commerce: persons under federal jurisdiction, in other words.

Missouri law makes only the silver coins of the United States a legal tender in the state, so if the St. Louis county assessor makes an evaluation of property in something other than Missouri legal tender, he probably can only do so pursuant to some law allowing it. Is there such a law? I don’t think so. If the law presents an obstacle to the ambitions and programs of the bureaucrats, the law must be ignored.

In other words, corruption. Prosecutors must prosecute people whose crimes are minimal or non-existent, because the needs of the government require it. Judges must rule against the innocent, or risk the disfavor of their superiors. If the system is to continue, it must be protected from the rigors of the law!

If the bureaucrat’s job requires him to routinely disregard the law, or even seek to punish those who invoke it, the order of things is turned on its head. Government, originated to protect men’s rights, becomes the greatest threat to those rights. Those who are expected to administer justice become a font of injustice. The consciences of men and women in power become dulled, and atrophy. No putsch is required, no blood in the streets, just a gradual disintegration of the fabric of society. Anything goes, if you’ve got the power to make it happen. There are no fixed principles, only expediency.

It has happened here!

Dr. Hein [send him mail] is a semi-retired ophthalmologist in St. Louis, and the author of All Work & No Pay.

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