How Can You Tell When a Politician Is Lying?

Let us dispense with the traditional short answer first: "check to see if the lips are moving". While that is basically true, it is far too short to have any chance of getting published, so I would like to elaborate on the subject a bit more. In particular, I would like to explore the many ways politicians lie and deceive and look at what the actual truth might be, when they do.

Most of you will not need any convincing that they do lie and will wonder why the issue is worthy of any further discussion. While that may be true for some of you, there must be many others that are taken in by the scoundrel's deceptions – how else can we account for the almost total obsession of many citizens and nearly all of the press with every utterance of a politician or government official? Why is there still an unwarranted trust by much of the public in our two major parties when almost every one of their pronouncements are baloney?

Apparently many citizens still believe that persons in the government and/or politics sometime lie but can still be believed most of the time. That belief has absolutely no foundation which is what I hope to show in this article. Others will say, "So what – we know they don't always tell the truth, but it doesn't seriously impact our lives." I hope to show here that their duplicity does have serious consequences for all of us now and will even more so in the future.

With that inspiration, in this essay I will provide a summary of some of the major ways politicians and government bureaucrats deceive us. Since the scope of the types of deceit is very broad, I can only hit the high spots. But in every case, I will provide references to further material, online if I know about it. I will list some of the more important interactions we have with the politicians and show that there is a consistent pattern of duplicity in every one of them.

This essay is mostly about politicians in office, bureaucrats, and other "public servants" (ha!). However, to get in office requires a fair amount of lying, so I will briefly discuss the campaign phase of political culture first.

Campaign promises

There has been an unusual amount of attention lately to Al Gore's propensity for bending the truth. Many in the press and apparently around 50 percent of the public feel that it is just so much harmless "exaggeration". I disagree: either a politician ought not to lie or he/she should be clever enough not to get caught.

Even politicians must be astounded at how easy it is to make promises, get elected, break those promises, and come right back 2 or 4 years later, make the same promises, and get elected again! It is incredible to watch the public during an election get taken in by the same old garbage, time and time again. It would be easy to overlook this example of political duplicity, but you should not – the consequences are very serious. Let me explain.

Many still believe that we have a functional representative republic, pointing out that we still have elections and our voice is still heard. Not if politicians lie to get elected.

First off, we should remember that any representation we have is through the politicians we elect and not through the laws themselves for – with the exceptions of a few states – we are not given the opportunity to directly vote on the laws. We can only vote on the politician who will enact the laws – not the laws themselves. The conclusion is that we can only impact the selection of laws if the messengers we elect deliver the message they said they would. There is ample evidence that they cannot be counted on to do that. Then that nullifies the claim that the voting process instantiates the process of representation.

That leads us to the most serious issue of all with untruthful politicians, the concept that the politicians are our representatives.


We often hear the media and the politicians spouting off that our form of government is a democracy. Of course, that is bogus – it is not, never has been, and was specifically designed by the founding fathers not to be. Democracy is a fancy name for mob-rule, which the Founding Fathers knew to be unstable and vicious. They tried to make sure we got a republican form of government instead. Unfortunately, as brilliant as they were, their thinking was a bit muddled when in came to making sure that the Republic would in fact be a representative republic. Space does not permit going into great detail on this issue, but to prove my point I will just point out that the members of the "upper house", the Senators, were not to be elected by the public at all but were to be selected by the state leaders. Amazingly, they naively believed that somehow, a responsible, intelligent, group of statesmen could be installed that way.

Didn't happen, of course. And in 1913, we gave up on the idea that an "elite" core of individuals could somehow be selected by a group of "non-elite" state legislatures (elected by popular vote!), and so changed the Constitution (17th Amendment) to require that Senators also be elected by popular vote of the citizenry.

So, then, we have a "representative republic", right? Hmm. . . I just don't see a whole lot of representin' goin' on. If you do, then why don't you try to arrange to personally talk to your representative and then show me how. Good luck. The reality is that they are motivated by lobbyists and other special interests that are generous with the pocket book and not you and me, who are not so generous. Some organizations have done the research to verify what actually is going on with our representatives. An excellent source is the site, where you will find that there are now over 20,000 registered lobbyists and that they spent over 1.4 billion dollars last year (1999)!

Apparently, that is a clue as to how representation really works.

When you add to that situation the impact of the press, the impact of campaign contributions – particularly the enormous spending in the elections – it should be evident that you, the citizen, have no practical input in determining how this country is run. You have been deceived if you think so.

Let us now turn to the legislative process itself where we will find – you guessed it – further deception.

The Legislative Process

There is much deceit going on in the legislative process – far more than we can go into here. A few examples will suffice.

Many bills are modified at the last minute and not read by the legislators in their final form. Not having the time to always read the bills, legislators – like the rest of us – may rely on the bill title and summary information. For this reason, and to deceive the press, bills are often given names that don't quite match the content.

Bills with names that don't match the content: "Stealth Legislation"

Here are a few examples of these deceitfully named bills:

S. 254 sponsored by Senator Hatch:

This bill has many names, most sounding something like, "Children's Protection Act of 1999" or "Safe Handgun Storage and Child Handgun Safety Act of 1999". So, how would Senator Hatch go about pulling off these laudable goals as suggested by the titles?

Well, let us take a look at the actual bill (no small task, I can assure you – the bill is about 800 thousand characters long!).

What does it actually claim to do for juvenile crime?

Here is what I found in a quick review:

  • "Authorizes juveniles age 14 years or older to be tried as adults, with an exception involving Indian country (Native Americans juveniles must be 15 years or older to be tried as adults!), at the discretion of the U.S. Attorney, in Federal district court for violations of Federal law"
  • Generally tightens the screws on individuals less than 18, such as prohibiting certain lenient actions that might be taken by judges, setting sentencing requirements, etc. Congress further takes on the role of the judge.
  • "Authorizes the Attorney General to designate u2018high intensity interstate gang activity areas.' Authorizes appropriations."

Now we are getting to the heart of this bill: spending money! This section authorizes $100 million per year in grants to be dumped into designated areas.

What does it do to everyone?

  • "Amends the code to authorize the use of a clone pager (a numeric display device that receives communications intended for another numeric display paging device). . ." by the authorities.
  • "Directs the Administrator to make CRISIS (confidential reporting of individuals suspected of imminent school violence) grants to support the independent State development and operation of confidential, toll-free telephone hotlines for the reporting of specific threats and suspicious or criminal conduct by juveniles to appropriate State and local law enforcement entities for investigation, and for related purposes. "
  • ". . . establish a National Parenting Support and Education Commission to identify the best practices for parenting and to provide practical parenting advice for parents and care givers based on the best available research data". Yeah, we really need the government telling us how to raise our children!
  • Amends the Brady Act on Gun control.
  • "Requires each Internet service provider, at the time of entering an agreement with a residential customer for the provision of Internet access services, to provide to such customer (either at no fee or at a fee not to exceed the amount equal to the cost of the provider in providing the software or system to the subscriber, including the cost of the software or system and of any license required with respect to the software or system) computer software or other filtering or blocking system that allows the customer to prevent the access of minors to material on the Internet."

It mostly spends and spends!

Establishes many new agencies and positions

  • Authorizes grants of $100 million per year for designated interstate gang activity.
  • Sets up "Office of Juvenile Crime Control and Prevention" with authority and funds to "make grants to Indian tribes and national, statewide, or community-based, nonprofit organizations in crime prone areas".

Who says crime doesn't pay! Many other similar programs with the strong smell of pork are established in this bill.

The "Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill" of 1998

Congress got a lot of press in 1998 with regard to this bill because it was supposedly created to give relief to the flood victims on the upper Mississippi river. I decided to take a look to see what was really in the bill. Here are some things I found (which I reported on in as essay called Emergency Pork. The essay is also quoted in Harry Browne's new book, The Great Libertarian Offer, Page 205-207):

  • The Bill does not directly provide funds to the Red River Flood victims!
  • Yep, the relief was already funded.
  • $3,000,000 for potential terrorism threats in Senator Hatch's Utah.
  • Help for marine mammals trapped in fishing gear.
  • Addresses the problem of, "permits for the importation of polar bear parts (other than internal organs)"
  • $16,000,000 for an automatic targeting system in law enforcement.
  • Establishes the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education.
  • Prohibits the use of funds in the bill to be used for the study of the medicinal use of marijuana.
  • Etc., etc.

The Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 1999

According to numerous press reports, this monstrosity – the largest budget ever – was delivered to Congress where it was approved without ever being read. Examination of this document reveals that every major program that the Republicans promised to eliminate or reduce (in order to get elected) has actually increased in size! See the Cato report. More on this outrage and betrayal by the Republican party is at Conservative USA.

For more on this subject, see Claire Wolfe's popular essay, "Land Mine Legislation".

Loading on the Pork

I need not go into this in great detail as this is a well publicized aspect of political chicanery. The main problem is not so much the pork, but the way it is handled. Typically, politicians tag their pork projects on to other essential bills, where passage is assured. Very dishonest.

The Citizens Against Government Waste group (CAGW) has an excellent web site in which they document this aspect of political duplicity in considerable detail. Be sure to check out the latest Congressional Pig Book. You will never enjoy a pork chop again!

Since the politicians are so fond of creating laws, surely they would want to set a good example by obeying them, right? Well no – laws are for common citizens!

Avoiding laws

Until recently, the politicians in Washington and their staffs enjoyed immunity from the very laws they imposed on the rest of the country (See the essay, "Congress: America's Criminal Class" for some notorious examples). Supposedly, the Republicans in the House of Representatives achieved some success in reducing that privilege – but I suspect it was only a token change.

But much of what they do does not involve the direct breaking of a law, but instead finding somewhat legitimate ways to get around laws. Or making sure that laws that might impinge on their activities don't get passed in the first place – like term-limits, limits on "revolving-door" activities, and limits on how they want to spend "their" money. An example of the last is the business of bypassing the military and awarding contracts to favored contractors for military systems whether the Pentagon agrees or not.

Let us look at just a couple of examples.

The military is expressly prohibited from involvement in civilian law enforcement in the US by both the Constitution and the Posse Comitatus Act of 1978 (modified in 1981 to allow some "Drug War" support). Strangely, in spite of this, it is well known that they are in fact heavily involved in civilian law enforcement activities. So, what gives? Simple, they have found loopholes. The government is better at finding loopholes in laws – including the Constitution – and avoiding the intent of the law, than the highest paid tax lawyer you can find!

We hear stories that our military is interdicting planes and ships at sea (possibly even blowing them away) that may be drug runners. How is the law prohibiting this avoided? I quote from Sam Smith: "the Navy is prohibited by the Posse Comitatus Act from engaging in domestic law enforcement, so the Coast Guard gets around this by hoisting a Coast Guard flag on any naval vessel it wants to use. The ship thereupon becomes a Coast Guard vessel – for the sole purpose of circumventing the law." (I understand that the Navy ships also have at least one Coast Guard officer aboard to actually make any arrests).

Possibly the most incredible piece of government subterfuge is the "legal fiction" they work under to confiscate private property. In the 1970s and 80s, Congress passed a series of laws allowing the easy confiscation of private property based on the concept that an inanimate object could commit a crime and therefore be arrested. By doing this, they were able to get around the Constitutional prohibition of taking property and the guarantee of due process. (Further reading on government confiscation can be found at my Forfeiture reform resource page.)

A related subterfuge is the way the government gets around the prohibition of "double jeopardy". The Founding Fathers surely had no idea how their simple, but maybe too general, words would someday be twisted into this tortuous logic. Did you realize that if you are tried for some heinous crime by a state and win your case, you may then have to go through yet another trial for the same alleged offense but it will not legally be "double jeopardy"? Yep, if the federal government wishes to try you they may and they do all the time. It is not double jeopardy if it is tried by two different jurisdictions. A notorious example is Timothy McVeigh who may be tried by both the federal and the state government (Oklahoma). Too bad he only has one life to give.

It gets worse. You can also be tried for the same alleged crime in criminal court and in civil court – as OJ Simpson will quickly tell you. Now that makes four possible trials for one infraction! Not bad for a Constitutional republic that specifically outlaws double jeopardy.

Lies about budgets and spending

This is one area in which it is essentially impossible to determine anything close to the truth! The government financial structure is so complex and intentionally obscure that no one knows for sure what we are spending in any particular area.

A good example, discussed elsewhere in this article, is how much does the government spend for its employees? Since the shadow labor force (contract employees) is nearly 10 times the actual count of civil servants (see the excellent book by Paul C. Light, The True Size of Government, Brookings Institution Press, Washington, 1999) but are not clearly identified in the budget, no one can precisely determine how much they cost or how many there are. With that sleazy bit of chicanery, Al Gore, in his campaign speeches, can happily go on taking credit for the reduction in total count of federal employees while neglecting to mention that the shadow labor force has actually increased substantially.

And every government agency has a propensity to delve into fields that properly belong to another government agency. For example, the Army is funding Breast Cancer Research. In the budget, is this classified as military or health?

The Navy funds research in genetics. The ATF is fighting church fires. And while the DEA would seem to be the honcho for the drug war, the FBI, the ATF, the U.S. Marshals, the military, all have to have a piece of the action.

Let us look at some of the issues here.

How can there be a surplus when the national debt hasn't declined?

How can it be that there is supposedly a surplus – with Congress and the President frantically trying to find a way to spend it – and at the same time the national debt fails to decline? Simple, you declare some things off budget and you claim to have "trust funds" when there are none! Rather than go into this here, I will just point you to a highly recommended information source for this subject, Michael Hodges' "Government Trust Fund and Deficit/surplus Report". I quote from the Washington Post essay, "Budget Background: A Decade of Black Ink?":

"Even as deficits declined, the accumulated national debt continued to grow. The current total tops $3.7 trillion."

For the current status of the national debt, go to the government site, "The Public Debt To the Penny" where you will see the "huge surpluses" that the news media and the politicians rave about (and desperately try to find a way to spend) just isn't there.

Why do we have to be lied to about the funding for the so-called Black agencies?

Most of the spending for the "Black" agencies (CIA, NSA, DIA, and about 10 others – see this link) has traditionally been (and still is) hidden from the public. With the exception of a select few, even our congressmen do not have access to this information. It is estimated that these agencies spend around $30 billion per year, nearly all of which is hidden from public view. Why? No good reason – and there are some good reasons why it shouldn't be. The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) has filed suit against CIA to force the public disclosure of their budget. See this link.

The tax/grant hustle

In this small community that I live in we have an excellent water system, first class police equipment and top notch medical emergency equipment. Some time ago I inquired as to how all this was possible in a community with such a small tax base. I was told, "Oh, there's nothing to it. Nearly all this stuff was funded by grants from the federal government. Didn't hardly cost us anything!" Free stuff from the government? How can this be?

Simple, you make the taxing and the funding very remote from each other. That makes it quite easy to trick people into thinking that government services are free.

For a moment imagine that there was no federal involvement. In that case, we in the community would have to take a hard look at our budget to see if we really could afford putting all those computers in the police cars and maybe just letting private enterprise take care of the water. We might decide we just couldn't afford it.

Now consider the modern way of doing it. Instead of paying taxes locally for these things, we pay our taxes to a national fund. Then when we need something we just get grants from the federal or state government (which receives block grants from the feds). By doing it this way, there is no discernible connection between the taxes and the grants. That is, the grants really are, for all practical purposes, free because whether we partake or not, we will still pay the taxes. And along that line of thinking, we might as well get all we can since it will not cost us any more!

A brilliant piece of subterfuges by our politicians!

The true size of government

Surely you are aware that under the Clinton regime, the size of the Federal government has been cut drastically. You've heard of Al Gore's "Reinventing Government", right? Big government is over, right? Would it surprise you to find out that the total number of people working for the government has increased since 1992 when this regime took over? While it is true that the number of civil servants has declined somewhat (about 10%), the true size of government, which is about nine times the civil servant count according to Paul Light (see link) has increased somewhat. The true size of government includes civilian contractors, state workers created by federal mandates, Postal Service, military, and others.

And one other thing: the reduction in the civil servants that Mr. Gore takes credit for, came mostly in the lower GS levels according to Light's book, The True Size of Government. It is what one would expect. The lower working levels are easier to dislodge from the government jobs. They were also easier to replace with contract workers.

The Black agencies

How much do you know about what our "black" agencies – CIA, NSA, and so on? Nothing, right? There are two main areas that we know essentially nothing about: what they do, and how much they spend. They tell us that for anyone outside their bailiwick to know either of these would seriously hamper their performance and, therefore, world peace. I doubt that that is true but giving them the ability to work with out scrutiny and with an unlimited budget is insanity.

As P.J. O'Rourke said: "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."

But, what about the claim that we are "representative republic"? How can I do my job as a good citizen if I don't know what they do, how much money they spend, or how I can do anything about it? Well, it's even worse. Most of your representatives know nothing about them either! Only a few select congresscritters are supposedly on the inside of what is going on. I wonder if even that is true.

I have a friend who works for the CIA. Well, actually he works for a contractor that is under contract to the CIA – now that he has retired from working as a civil servant. I asked him how we citizens could find out what they are doing. He said, "You can't". I said, "How can we be assured that you are doing the right thing?" He said, "You will just have to trust us."

Hmm. Do you know any normal, out in the open, government agencies that you would dare to trust without any supervision (or with, for that matter!)? Knowing what you do about government agencies that operate in the clear, can you imagine the waste and corruption going on in those that have no watch dogs? Scary.

Is it really necessary in these times for these agencies that are estimated to spend 30 billion or more per year, to operate without normal controls?

The awful Criminal Justice system

Since most of us are law abiding citizens and have managed to avoid a confrontation with the "justice system", we have no idea how it works. Let us hope that you never do trip their wires for if you do, you will find it is a chamber of horrors and the word "justice" is just a joke. I will just hit the high spots.

Cheating the Constitution: Plea Bargaining, Paid Informants, and Presumption of Guilt

The "Bill of Rights" of the Constitution guarantees us a trial by jury, due process, a speedy trial, and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. We don't have any of that anymore – way too expensive. Instead we have a procedure which allows rapid and efficient justice. It typically goes something like this:

The prosecuting attorney offers you "2 to 5 years" depending how the judge may feel on the day of the sentencing. If you insist on going to trial, he says you will get 15 years. Evidence indicates that he is most likely right (the prosecution wins 80% or more of the cases). You say you are not guilty. This has hardly anything to do with what sentence you will receive. The prosecutor says he has a paid informant that has nailed you (or possibly the guy next door, we can never be sure). No, you will not be allowed to confront this accuser – you will not even be told who he is.

The choice is yours. As for as guilt is concerned, that was established when you were arrested. The rest is just procedure.

Choosing to have a trial has other costs. Due to the heavy backlog of consensual crimes, that is drugs, prostitution, etc., it may be three years before your trial comes to be. Unless you can make what may be a substantial bail, you may be cooling your feelings about injustice sitting in the local jail.

And if you're broke, the Constitution guarantees counsel. But it didn't say how much or of what quality. You may get 10 minutes in which he or she will advise you to accept the plea bargain. Don't argue. They don't have time for it. Hundreds more are waiting in line for this "free" counsel.

For further reading on this subject, I strongly recommend Law and Disorder: Criminal Justice in America, by Bruce Jackson (University of Illinois Press, 1984).

Federal Duplication of State functions

Article 10 of the Bill of Rights says:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Then why, when we recently had an old auto repair garage burn down here in the small town I live in, were BATF agents all over the place the next day? Why was there reportedly 54 different enforcement agencies at the Atlanta bombing of a couple of years back? Why didn't the local sheriff handle the problems at Waco and Ruby Ridge?

Well, it seems there is an interpretation of the Constitution – the "Commerce Clause" – that says it is the Federal government's business if the activity involved interstate commerce. So what exactly is "interstate commerce"?

To give you an idea of what the government means by it, I will quote from the DOJ document, "Federal Money Laundering Cases", January, 1999:

"Use of a bank implicates interstate commerce.." ".. real estate business implicates interstate commerce because of the nature of real estate markets" "buying a house implicates interstate commerce" "purchase a car from a dealer . . ."

"payment . . . with cash affects interstate commerce because the money would be expected to enter the flow of commerce after it was received"

Hopefully this makes clear what the government considers to be interstate commerce and why the 10th Amendment is no longer functional.

In summary, the stuff you were taught in school about justice and the guarantees of the Constitution should be put on the shelf along with the Easter bunny and Santa Clause. You're too old for such childish myths.

  • The various domestic "wars"
  • Domestic "wars" serve various purposes:
  • They establish greater control and authority over the citizens.
  • They provide opportunities for spending huge quantities of cash and employment for hundreds of thousands of government and sub-contractor personnel.
  • They take the attention of the citizens away from other issues.
  • Rarely do they accomplish their publicly stated goals.

Some examples:

War on Communists (a domestic adjunct to the Cold War)

Way back in 1950, Senator McCarthy managed to get the country in a dither about the evils of Communism and to look for them under every rock. The public readily accepted that we would have to give up a few of our Constitutionally promised liberties in order to save our children from "Uncle Joe" Stalin.

Saving us from a Nuclear Holocaust

Since our government and the Soviets were rapidly building up stockpiles of nuclear bombs enough to blow the world apart 17 times, someone got the idea that a few humans could survive if we built fallout shelters and school children held their heads between their legs. After awhile, we got bored with this and it all went away – except the nuclear threat which is worse today than ever since the USSR broke up, a lot of stuff went missing, and third-world countries now have their own arsenals.

War on Organized Crime

Senator Kefauver from Tennessee and his committee started investigating organized crime in the early u201850s. From this effort would evolve a raft of laws, most notorious being the RICO law, which further suppressed the freedoms of the ordinary citizen while making no significant dent in organized crime.

War on Poverty

Desperately looking for something to spend money on, President Johnson declares the War on Poverty and Congress supports him by authorizing billions to be thrown at the problem. But most of the money never got outside the Beltway, so the poor remained poor while politicians and contractors got fatter.

War on energy waste

In the late u201870s the government declared that the world's oil reserves were nearly depleted with predictions saying that we would be totally out by 1985 (see the Cato report). Based on this, the government and others started to hoard oil and the government used the opportunity to fix prices, and to stifle the free market process. As a result of this we had a short panic, a depression and great inconveniences. But when the panic was over, so was the oil shortage and we have had plenty ever since.

Nevertheless, the government used this opportunity to set a lot of rules on automobiles and spent billions on a lot of goofy energy schemes. As of this date, no new energy schemes has become noticeably successful, and we hardly ever whine about the air pollution anymore.

War on Drugs

With the hot war in Vietnam coming to a close, Nixon frantically looked for something to spend money on and comes up with the "War on Drugs". In the subsequent 30 years we have poured billions and billions of dollars down this rat hole with nothing to show for it but a huge debt, the loss of respect for our justice system, hatred from countries we have abused around the world, and the largest incarceration rate in the world. Of course, it has made no impact on the flow of drugs. But the real and important result is that it has allowed the government to essentially destroy all of the Bill of Rights, with nary a whimper from the public (in fact, it is reported that over 50% of the public support the elimination of some rights if it will help in fighting the drug war!).

War on Terrorism

The fact that there is always some revolutionary activity (which is called terrorism if we don't approve, "freedom fighting" if we do) going on in the world has given the government an excuse to further restrict the freedom of law abiding citizens and to monitor their every action, particularly their phones, computer communications, and their bank accounts.

To see just how far the government has moved in the public spying area, read the report on the "Echelon" project at this link, wherein it explains how the government is now monitoring virtually every phone call, fax transmission and email made anywhere in the world! This was all made possible by the public's apathy and and unconcern about the government spending billions of dollars every year without any auditing.

War on Money Laundering

The hot government interest right now is "money laundering" which allows them to arrest anyone at any time because nearly every one has something to do with money (or its relatives such as checks and wire transmissions). Almost any financial activity can be alleged to be money laundering based on the alleged "intent" of the accused. The government made sure that "intent" was mentioned in the law, for intent is only in a person's mind and it is difficult to prove that it was never there. The "money laundering" laws and agencies that implement them, may be the ultimate tool for controlling the citizens!

The Military: Looking for work

We all know that the military was drastically cut after the Cold War was terminated, right?. You have been told, by mostly our conservative politicians and media spokespersons, how our country is in great danger now due to the emaciated military, what with all the military might that our potential enemies have (no, I can't name them, but I'm told they are out there somewhere). They wouldn't lie to us would they? Well, maybe we better check.

One of the difficulties of determining the truth about military spending is that the accounting by our government is always extremely fuzzy. For example, what exactly is "military spending"? Does it include spending by NASA? (Why not, much of their research is specifically done to benefit the military). Does it include the billions in grants/studies to educational institutions and think tanks?. Does it include the interest on the military part of our debt? Does it include our foreign aid? Well, an attempt has been made to determine a more accurate picture of the total military spending, documented at the Center for Defense Information. They say the real costs are approximately double what is actually reported. I suspect that they have underestimated it!

How does U.S. spending compare to the rest of the world? According to the report, "Post-Cold War US Military Expenditure in the Context of World Spending Trends", the U.S. spending as a percentage of total world spending has increased from 28% in 1986 to 34% in 1994 while the spending of the "Potential Threat States", has declined from 42% in 1986 to 20% in 1994. Something funny is going on here! (Specific spending for every country of the world is provided at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) site.)

Nevertheless, you say, the trend is downward in U.S. spending and the charts show that our spending has dropped a whopping 21% since 1986. But we're comparing to the peak of the famous Reagan military build up, the greatest peace time spending spree the country has ever known! A more honest comparison would be to compare to the years prior to Reagan.

Civil Confrontations (Ruby Ridge, etc.)

Nothing inspires the government to lie more than it does when it has a major confrontation with its citizens. We would never know the truth about these incidents were it not for the doggedness of a few members of the press (sadly, most of the press just goes along with the government's scams). Let us look at a couple of the more famous incidents.

Waco, Branch Davidians

Finally, after six years, this horrible incident is getting some attention. It is incredible that at the time of the destruction of the religious compound and the killing of the Branch Dividian sect members, there was hardly any interest by the press. The government successfully kept the press at arms length throughout the siege (which should have caused a huge outrage, but didn't) and then quickly destroyed or hid most of the potential evidence – without a whimper from the press. Current news of the investigation is online at

Ruby Ridge

Much the same happened with the Ruby Ridge disaster. We had hearings and the evidence was overwhelming that the federal government had committed some horrible abuses. The hearings were broadcast every day on television for all the world to see. Nothing happened. Apparently congress felt it did not have the authority to take any action.

Regulatory Agencies

While much of the public has the naive idea that Regulatory Agencies exist to protect the public, those who have actually investigated them, know better. History tells us that the agencies' interests seem to be more in protecting certain key economic interests rather than the public.

In Closing

What I have tried to show in this essay is that in dealing with the politicians and the government, you are advised to be skeptical of anything they claim or say. While not covering nearly all the aspects of duplicity dished out by them, I have covered a wide range that is representative of the problem.

What can be done about it? Well, the first thing is to be wary, as I just suggested. As far as somehow bringing the politicians and government employees to salvation and convincing them that they really out to be honest with us – don't hold your breath. They have time and money – far more than the rest of us – and they will use those resources to fight every effort to make them be honest. But it would be of tremendous help if the public could somehow pull itself out of its apathy. Sigh. . .

But the best advice for dealing with this problem is summed up in the simple quote, author unknown:

"Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason."

Leon Felkins is a retired Engineer, Army officer and former teacher of Computer Systems. He now maintains a web page on Political Philosophy, "A Rational Life", and another on the history of politics, "Political Almanac."