Blackboard Jungle

Recently by William Norman Grigg: ‘Don’t Resist’: The Refrain of Rapists, Police, and OtherDegenerates

What would happen if tax victims, rather than tax-feeders, were to go on strike?

If Madison – or the capital city of any of Leviathan’s other 49 regional administrative units – were over-run by thousands of productive people who decided that they would no longer consent to be plundered on behalf of unionized government employees, would their revolt be promoted by sympathetic media outlets, and supported by the president and his political machine?

Would self-described populist cable pundit Ed Schultz be there in person to confer an on-camera benediction to the rebels, describing them as people standing in “solidarity to fight for the middle class”? Would the state governor display restraint and forbearance in dealing with a malodorous mob that laid siege to the capitol for a week, if the throng were composed of people who withheld their taxes, rather government employees withholding their tax-subsidized services (such as they are)?

If this were to happen anywhere in the soyuz, every element of the Regime’s punitive apparatus would be mobilized to put down the rebellion, hard and fast. Riot police and National Guard units would be deployed to beat and round up the rebels. I suspect that serious consideration would be made to the use of Predator drones to target those identified as “ringleaders” of the uprising.

If that scenario seems unlikely, consider the action taken by President Washington, at the behest of his despicable Treasury Secretary, to suppress the original taxpayer strike, the Whiskey Rebellion.

As James Madison sardonically pointed out, Alexander Hamilton’s vision for America was that of a mercantilist state “woven together by tax collectors.” His program envisioned creating an alliance between the central government and the bond-holding class, which would create a permanent constituency for ever-higher taxes and ever-increasing government. (In recent decades, unionized government employees have become a huge and powerful element of that constituency as well.)

Hamilton’s scheme required the imposition of various excise taxes on the productive population. This in turn led to the rebellion of farmers in western Pennsylvania, who used whiskey as a form of currency. They quite sensibly refused to pay the tax. When Washington dispatched tax collectors to the region, the rebels quite helpfully outfitted them in appropriate couture – hot tar and goose feathers.

A little more than a decade after Yorktown, George Washington assembled an army to set down the rebellion.

As Thomas DiLorenzo observes in his valuable book Hamilton’s Curse: “The rank-and-file soldiers may have been mostly conscripts, but many of the officers who accompanied Hamilton and Washington to Pennsylvania were from the ranks of the creditor aristocracy in the seaboard cities…. These officers were eager to enforce collection of the whiskey tax so that the value of their government bond holdings could be enhanced and secured.”

The revolt was put down without a shot being fired, and Washington – who wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about the campaign – left Hamilton in charge, unsupervised. As DiLorenzo observes, this permitted Hamilton to play “the role of Grand Inquisitor” with those who had been taken prisoner.

The captives, who included elderly veterans of the War for Independence, were dragged through the snow in chains to Philadelphia, where they were confined in jails, stables, and cattle pens to be interrogated by Hamilton and his underlings. The plan was to use what are now called “enhanced interrogation” techniques to compel accusations from some of the Rebels, and confessions from others, thereby building a large show trial that would end in the edifying spectacle of mass executions.

One of the Treasury Secretary’s assistants, a wretch known to history only as General White, gave standing orders that any prisoner who attempted to escape was subject to summary execution by beheading.

That order, DiLorenzo points out, “was not overruled by the treasury secretary, who was apparently willing to play judge, jury, and executioner. Indeed, Hamilton ordered local judges to render guilty verdicts against the twenty men who were eventually imprisoned, and he wanted all guilty parties to be hanged.” This prompted Washington’s intervention. Twelve Whiskey Rebels were prosecuted; two were convicted, and then pardoned.

All of this happened long before the advent of the Federal Reserve and its terrorist arm, the IRS. Just as significantly, it happened long before the “Bonus Army” was cleared from Washington, D.C. by the U.S. military – an incident from the last Great Depression that may provide a useful template for dealing with citizen uprisings that will come as the current Greater Depression deepens.

The peaceful “Bonus Army” protesters were desperate, hungry veterans who had been promised compensation for wages they had lost while serving as conscripts in Wilson’s evil and idiotic war. They had suffered the most onerous tax imaginable in the form of state-inflicted servitude. In 1924, Congress had approved a “Bonus” measure to compensate the former draft slaves, but the promised pittance was to be deferred until 1945, by which time it would have been rendered worthless through inflation.

As a protest handbill pointed out, “The Republican, Democratic, and Socialist Parties are all united in the fight against payment of the balance due to the veterans of the Bonus.” This was hardly the first, or last, time that “Takers” would set aside their party differences to form a united front in a war against the “makers.”

Commanding the cavalry that day was Major George S. Patton, who had no compunctions against using the military against civilians involved in “domestic disturbances.” In a guide to “Riot Duty” he published a few months later, Patton offered some practical advice to future field commanders called on to put down citizen uprisings.

Patton was enthusiastic about the domestic applications of chemical warfare: “The use of gas is paramount…. While tear gas is effective, it should be backed up with vomiting gas…. Although white phosphorous is incendiary, it is useful in forming a screen for the attack of barricades and defended houses.”

"Warn newspapers, theaters, and churches that if they encourage the mob, they are guilty of aiding them and that their leaders will be held personally accountable,” Patton continued. “Freedom of the press cannot be construed as ‘license to encourage’ the armed enemies of the United States of America. An armed mob resisting federal troops is an armed enemy. To aid an enemy is TREASON. This may not be the ‘law,’ but it is fact. When blood starts running, the law stops."

Perhaps thinking of Andrew Jackson’s behavior as self-appointed military dictator of New Orleans during (and, for a while, after) the War of 1812, and anticipating the Cheney-era invention of the concept of “unlawful enemy combatant,” Patton urged future military governors to dispose of the nuisance called habeas corpus – and likewise to dispose of any particularly troublesome “agitator” with extreme prejudice:

"If you have captured a dangerous agitator and some ‘misguided’ federal judge issues a writ of Habeas Corpus for him, try to see the judge to find out what he is liable to do…. There’s always the danger that the man might attempt to escape. If he does, see that he at least falls out of ranks before you shoot him. To be soft hearted might mean death to your men. After all, WAR IS WAR."

Patton’s instructions are being carried out – with murderous impact – by the U.S.-supported and Pentagon-equipped security forces in Bahrain, which hosts the imperial Fifth Fleet.

“We are getting shot by American weapons fired by American-trained Bahraini soldiers with American-made tanks,” a medical orderly in Bahrain told Robert Fisk of The Independent of London. The same was true in Egypt prior to Mubarak’s belated abdication. Both of those countries have been convulsed by uprisings against deeply corrupt, well-entrenched elites. People throughout that region have endured decades of government-abetted plunder, and endless abuse at the hands of the police states that protect the plunderers.

The needs of the Empire’s global plunderbund prompted the Federal Reserve to engage in a hugely destructive round of “Quantitative Easing” – that is, officially sanctioned counterfeiting. This has preserved the comforts of corporatist elite, while triggering a food price shock that literally threatened the lives of millions at the periphery of the Empire.

Americans are just now starting to feel price inflation nibbling at their household finances; in places like Egypt, the same inflationary wave is devouring people alive. As I’ve said before, this is the kind of thing that turns “Mr. Hand” into “Mr. Fist” – and sends people into the streets.

When – not “if,” mind you – similar uprisings occur here in the United States, we will find the “takers” united in solidarity against the “makers.” This is not what is happening in Wisconsin, where the tax parasite cartel is tearing the state apart in an effort to preserve its privileged status, at whatever expense to the productive element of the state’s population.

The tax-devouring thugs who have converged on the state capitol in Madison are trying to wrap themselves in the mantle of the hungry, desperate people who defied Mubarak’s torturers, and the imponderably courageous people in Bahrain who walked, unarmed and unflinching, into gunfire. Ditching work and pitching a tantrum to demand the preservation of “collective bargaining rights” for over-paid, tax-subsidized functionaries simply isn’t the same thing as facing down the pitiless cadres of a quasi-totalitarian police state.

Freedom activists in Cairo demanded an end to martial law, torture, and a one-party dictatorship. Government employees in Wisconsin insist that it’s a species of human rights abuse to withhold tax subsidies for Viagra prescriptions – an actual demand from the teachers’ union, which obviously includes more than a few members who have a hard time keeping the lead in the ol’ pencil.

Here are two critical and little-appreciated facts about the tax-feeder revolt in Wisconsin.

First: In framing the proposed legislation to eliminate collective bargaining for government employee unions (which shouldn’t exist to begin with), Republican Governor Scott Walker carefully exempted unions representing firefighters, police, and the state troopers.

Second: Those unions have united in “solidarity” with their comrades in the tax-consuming class. This illustrates that in Wisconsin, as elsewhere, the police consider themselves part of the “who” rather than the “whom” in the “who does what to whom” formula that defines statist politics.

This will likely set the pattern for future episodes of this kind: “Conservative” executives will preserve the perquisites of the government functionaries directly involved in official coercion. In Wisconsin, as is the case everywhere else, the miracle of “collective bargaining” has conferred extravagant perks on the uniformed bullies on which the State’s wealth extraction mechanism depends.

While police in Madison storm the barricades alongside their fellow revenue hogs, one of their number – drug enforcement Officer Denise Markham – is in the fourteenth month of what will eventually be a nearly two-and-a-half-year-long paid vacation.

Markham was suspended in June 2009 while the department conducted a leisurely and stressless “internal investigation” which eventually ruled that she had engaged in “overbearing, oppressive or tyrannical conduct,” “improper searches,” improper handling of “controlled substances,” and unlawful seizure of private property (that is, theft).

Instead of facing criminal charges, Markham was allowed to resign on December 31 – but she will continue to receive “sick leave,” vacation, and comp time that continued to accumulate even while she was on paid suspension. According to Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, “this is really the best deal for all parties concerned,” given the union-negotiated contract provisions dealing with circumstances of this kind.

Indeed, the deal cut with Denise Markham is miserly compared to the treatment lavished on Michael Grogan, another Madison cop who was fired after being convicted of disorderly conduct for a December 2004 DUI-related incident. After wrecking his car, Grogan – who was pants-pissing drunk – kicked in the door of the first house he found and collapsed in a reeking puddle on the floor. After being shaken awake by strangers the following morning, Grogan drooled out a few incoherent syllables and then staggered out.

A few weeks later, Grogan was put on a paid vacation that would last for three years. During that time, he would collect nearly $250,000 while he and his police union-provided attorney used every dilatory tactic in their arsenal to forestall final termination until they had wrung every possible penny from the productive public.

These are typical examples of the kind of “public service” made possible through “collective bargaining.” And they are very suitable illustrations of the mind-set of those who wouldn’t hesitate to irrigate the gutters with blood in the event that Mundanes ever decide to stage a tax strike.