The Election – Understand What is Yours and Take Care not to Lose it.

It is election time again, and it has caused me to think about our country and the people who are its citizenry today.  In some sense, I believe that we, the citizenry, fall into two important and large categories of people.  There are those who were born into US citizenship, and who, for the most part, have never really known any form of government other than our own.  Then there are those who were born into foreign citizenship, have lived under other forms of government and who, for whatever personal reasons, have come to this country and have chosen to become US citizens.

The two broad categories of people, which I have roughly defined, comprise our citizenry and, if they have achieved voting age, they comprise our electorate.  I choose to focus on this separation of our citizenry into these two broad categories for a reason.  The reason has to do with choice, and with understanding of what it means to be an American citizen.  In my own experience, and perhaps in the experience of many of us, we know people who belong to each of these two categories.

Painting with a very large brush, there are many people in both categories who may not really understand what this country’s form of government is and what makes it unique in this world.  On the other hand, there are also many who may not understand what this country’s form of government is not.  Many in the second category, however, (those who have earned American citizenship and have denounced a previous foreign citizenship) usually do have a pretty good idea of what this country’s form of government is not.  At least they know that it is not what they left behind, and in many cases, this has been their motivation to come to the United States and to seek and to attain the status of American citizenship.

We have all heard the familiar expression “I didn’t know what I had until I lost it”.  Surely these words must be counted amongst “all the sad words of tongue and pen” (… the saddest are these, “it might have been”), to paraphrase the poet, John Greenleaf Whittier.  The familiar expression in the first sentence hints that “if I had only known what I had, I surely would not have given it up”. And implies even further, that not knowing what I had, I did give it up.  To me, and to perhaps most of us, these would surely count among the “saddest words of tongue and pen”.  They remind us of the primeval truth that we most easily lose that which we do not understand and by not understanding, do not know what we have.

To begin, I know that many people do not understand the form of government which the United States actually has.  The United States is, in fact, a Republic, and even more accurately, a Constitutional Republic.  To quote from the Constitution, itself (Article IV, Section 4), “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government….”.  If we look around the world, we find Monarchies, Oligarchies, Theocracies, Dictatorships, etc, but we are a Republic.  If you’ve never thought about it, it is reasonable to ask, “what is a Republic”, or. “what is a Republican form of government?”.

To quote from one edition of Webster’s dictionary, a Republic is “a state in which the sovereign power resides in a certain body of the people (the electorate), and is exercised by representatives elected by, and responsible to them”.  This simple definition encapsulates the primary characteristics of a Republican government, namely that the electorate, whomever that may comprise, holds the sovereign power (the power of the state) and elects representatives to exercise those powers while being fully responsible to those who elected them.

In addition to being a Republic, the United States is a Constitutional Republic with a well defined division of powers granted by the people to their elected representatives.  At the Federal (highest) level, The President resides over the Administrative arm of government, the two Houses of Congress (Senate and House of Representatives) comprise the Legislative arm of government, and the Supreme Court comprises the Judicial arm of government.  These three arms operate independently and together, in a system of checks and balances, in which none of these arms wields absolute power.  Power is vested in the people and those powers are granted by the electorate to the Federal Government in a very specific way, spelled out by the Constitution.  Any power not specifically granted by the Constitution to the Federal Government and not prohibited by it to the States is specifically reserved to the States or to the people.  This latter statement is in essence, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, and is embodied in our “Bill of Rights”.  It is critical to understand that, in a Republic, people do not derive their rights from the government, instead the government derives its rights from the electorate and is fully accountable to that electorate..

In short, in the United States, the sovereign power of the Republic resides in and belongs to the people, and is simply granted by the electorate in a very limited way to a government who must exercise that delegated power in strict accordance with the mandates of the Constitution.  The power of the Federal Government is purposely extremely limited (we should look at this in more detail in another post), and all powers, not specifically assigned to it by the Constitution, belong to the States or to the people.  It is very important that all informed citizens have a basic understanding of these principles.  You collectively hold the sovereign power of the United States and you are independently entitled to all the rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution, the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments) and the additional amendments which have been duly made a part of that document since its original drafting and approval.  You do not look to the government or your representatives in government to grant or to deny those rights to you.

It is critical to understand in all of this that you, the citizens, are not the subjects of the government. Rather, it is the other way around, the representatives who you elect to serve you in government and to exercise and to uphold the rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution, are your servants.  As your servants, they take a sacred oath to uphold the Constitution of this great country.  You pay them and they answer to you, and they must do what they have pledged to do.  You have the right to remove them in the electoral process, without recourse, if you so choose.  You hold the power, and they do not.

At this point, there should be a basic understanding of “what you have”.  Understanding that, you should also understand what it is that you could lose, namely your rights and freedoms and your sovereign power as a state.  You have delegated to your elected representatives very limited rights to exercise powers which belong to you and are guaranteed to you by the Constitution.  When those to whom you have delegated those powers abuse them or ignore them, or refuse to exercise those powers in the way in  which they must be exercised, based on the Constitution, you not only have the right, but indeed you have the obligation to remove them before they take away what rightfully belongs to you.   Hopefully you will never have to say “I didn’t know what I had until I lost it”.

Why do I bring this up, and why am I writing about what we all should already know?  It is because I personally know people who have come to the United States, denounced their former citizenship, and have become citizens of this country by choice.  I have also personally heard the testimony of many of the same kind of  people whom I do not know.  They all appear to be asking the same basic question, which prompted me to put into words my response to what they are asking.

Specifically what they are asking and saying in large numbers, and which I think cannot be missed by anyone who is listening, is the following (my own paraphrase of their words) “we have lived under other forms of government, and we came to America to escape and to find a better life for ourselves and for our progeny.  Do Americans not understand what they have and what they stand to lose?”  These citizens-by-choice speak sincerely and they speak in awe and fear of the apparent lack of understanding of many American citizens who simply don’t seem to fully comprehend “what they have, and what they have to lose”.  Those who do understand live in fear that the dream, which they came to the United States to embrace, could easily be lost if all who benefit from it don’t understand it well enough to do what must be done in order to protect and preserve it.

The Constitution is a short document easily found and read by search on the Internet.  It is the basis for our rights as citizens, and our laws.  It is worth noting what the Preamble to the Constitution says: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”.   These are the words, and they are the expression of the hopes and dreams of people around the world who have chosen to come here and to pledge their allegiance to this country and to these principles in hopes of securing this dream for themselves and for their progeny.

It is election time again in this country.  Understand what you have, and that by your vote you can choose to retain those who honor the mandates of your Constitution, and to remove those who do not.  This is how you exercise the power which is yours.  When you vote, delegate your power wisely, and only to those who will honor, and who will not violate their pledge to uphold your Constitution.  Hold all of your elected representatives in government fully accountable for their actions.  Failure to do so may lead to consequences from which your rights and liberties cannot be recovered.

If you are a part of the electorate of this great country, understand your rights and be informed. Further, be aware of what you have and what you risk as you vote in this election. Those who have denounced other forms of government, and have chosen to pledge allegiance to this one, understand why they did it and the dream they hoped to attain by doing it.  Each of us owes it to him/herself  and to our country to do no less, and to hold those whom we elect fully accountable for their actions when they ask for and receive our votes.  When you vote, delegate your power wisely and carefully, guided by your understanding of the great and unique legacy of rights and freedoms which are yours.  Act wisely and do not risk losing what is your legacy and should remain the legacy of all who will follow you – your children, their children, and so on to eternity.

I am not a lawyer or a statesman.  I am a citizen just like you.  I do not speak with authority,  but hopefully I speak with a modicum of understanding of the most basic tenets or our government, our Constitution, and our rights and responsibilities as citizens of this great country.  Many are those who would take away from you what is yours to keep, to enjoy, to benefit from, and to pass on to your children and to future generations.  Treat what is yours with care and do your best to understand, as I have done, what it is that we have and what it is that we might lose if we are not constantly on guard and taking action, as is our right, to preserve and to defend our great legacy.

Your vote is your exercise of the power which belongs to you – use it wisely and let no one take that power from you.


An Artist’s Statement – Freedom and the National Debt

Every self-respecting artist is expected to have an Artist’s Statement that explains to anyone, who may be interested, something about the artist, his or her work, motivations, etc.  It is supposed to be an illuminating glimpse into the soul of the artist and is supposed to make you feel as if you know him or her more intimately.  Artist’s Statements are used especially by dealers in making patrons feel comfortable with the person whose art they may be buying, for example.  When purchasing something of value from another person, particularly an artisan, it is human nature to want to know something about that person.  It helps to give life to the object that the artist has created.  The Artist’s Statement is in some sense the next best thing to actually meeting the artist.  As a result, artists often spend a great deal of time carefully crafting their Artist’s Statement to meet the objectives and to give a glimpse into their very soul.

I, too, wanted to make a statement that would be pertinent to who I am and how I feel, and what motivates me, when launching my new websites, now available at (link on the right sidebar).  Because of the times we live in, I was motivated to speak out about the dangers that I see before us and the threat that they hold for what I hold dearest in my own heart – my freedom.  Because I feel strongly about this, and because the time is right to speak or perhaps forever regret not having done so, I wanted to write to you in my Blog.  I hope that my words and feelings will strike a chord with you, also.  I believe that I have many kindred spirits out there in our country, who share my fears and concerns about all that is now happening and about the possible consequences.

Let me begin by quoting from my Artist’s Statement, which will be found on the new website:

If I were an eagle, I’d soar as a free spirit above the mountains and clouds; over the sea and shore, and down to the valleys and plains. I’d see and I’d experience as much as I could from my unique vantage point on high. But, sadly, I’d miss the greatest adventure of all – the chance to try my hand at preserving and interpreting all that I had seen – and imagining and perhaps giving expression to all that I had not seen. Without that challenge and opportunity, life could not be as meaningful or as exciting as without a doubt it was meant to be!

The artist is free to create, and does create, a world of his own vision and imagination. In so doing, he captures within it perhaps his own identity and perhaps the essence of another world he’d like to know, but can only imagine… (reference to an image, here, has been removed).  Where would we be if we hadn’t all joined into and played our own roles in the never-ending quest to imagine and to create our own realities and our own futures!

May we all be forever free to imagine and to create, and to follow our own hearts and dreams now and to the end of time….

This is what I wrote, and this is what I meant.  I think that it does not need a lot of explanation.  This country was founded on the concept of individual liberties and freedoms with which we are “endowed by our Creator” and  which cannot be taken from us.  We declared our freedom publicly at the risk of death, we won it, and we embodied it in our system of laws which is founded on our Constitution.

Freedom has a price, and many times in our history, in every generation since the founding of this great nation, those who lived and enjoyed those freedoms have sacrificed and paid that price over and over again, without fail or even hesitation, and with true resolve.  And they have largely succeeded in preserving much of that heritage which was intended for all of us, and they passed it on to the next generation, in their turn.

We, in our turn, must do the same for the sake of all who will follow us – our children, their children, and so-on ad infinitum.  To be true to our heritage, there can be no end to our freedom, and it must not ever be taken from us.

The opposite of freedom is slavery.  Slavery means loss of choice, loss or identity, loss of rights, and even forced servitude to meet some goal which may be at conflict with our own personal rights and freedoms.  Recently, in the last week or so, it was reported in the news that the United States had slipped, in only one year, from 5th place in economic freedom among the nations of the world, to 18th place.  Economic freedom is an important aspect of freedom and much of our freedom as individuals to choose and to pursue our own destinies in our own personal ways, is tied to our economic freedom to do so.  When a nation engages in creating massive debt which then becomes a burden on its citizens, then they must bear the burden of somehow repaying that debt or otherwise removing its obligations.  When a nation further ignores or does not honor the foundation of its laws, in this case, our Constitution, then there is no basis for law, and whoever is able to claim power over you (and whoever controls the money controls the world, as some have said), can do whatever he or she chooses, since there is no acknowledged legal constraint for doing otherwise.

At this point in time, I believe that we have amassed a debt that can never be repaid in any of the usual ways of paying a debt.  It has been reported that if we took all of the money from our very wealthiest people, taxed away everything over $250,000 in earnings from everyone else, and could confiscate all of the profits from our 400 largest corporations each year, we could currently only operate our government for much less than a year, and we could make no payment of any kind toward reducing our debt.  These are not my words, but they are borrowed from those who have done these calculations, and whether the numbers are absolutely right or wrong or even exactly quoted, as I hope they are, they do represent very clearly the threat that we are facing as individuals and as a nation.

A trillion is a hard number to comprehend.  Technically, it is 1 followed by 12 zeroes: 1,000,000,000,000.  It is a million million, or a thousand billion, or a billion thousand, or however you wish to say it.  If we had spent $1million per day since we began counting years on the current calendar (2,012 years),  we would have spent less than 3/4 of a trillion dollars and we would have to continue to spend at this rate for more than 700 more years before reaching our first 1 trillion dollars.  And yet our debt, we are told, now stands at 16 trillion dollars and is increasing at a frightening rate, daily.

I won’t ask where the money has gone or what it has bought.  It was all spent by our government, but however they did it, there seems to be no way to ever repay this debt.  Eventually, and probably not very far away in time, we won’t even be able to find enough money to pay the interest on this debt, even with interest rates very close to zero.  That is the reason that the government cannot afford to let interest rates rise – it could be a disaster.

And yet, the other way to pay off the debt is to simply inflate our currency so that it takes a smaller percentage of inflated dollars to pay off old debts.  To do this means that your dollar must become ever more worthless so that more of them are required to buy anything.   If it took 16 trillion dollars to buy a loaf of bread, for example, then we could easily pay off our national debt by simply baking a single loaf of bread.  This is the program that our government has been following since at least the end of World War II, and it helps to explain why gasoline once cost (in the 1960s) around 20 cents per gallon, and the list could go on and on.  The truth is that your money today will not buy what money would buy 50 years ago, or even 10 or 5 years ago.  That is an observation that I think every one of us can relate to.

Failed government promises and mismanagement of money at the highest levels of government are making slaves out of every one of us.  Either we must find ways to continue to earn more and more dollars that are constantly becoming worth less, or we must work, with very little to show for it, as the government taxes as much as possible away from us to make payments on the debt.  Taxation, however, when there are too few jobs, almost half of the population doesn’t pay taxes, and the economy is very weak, cannot even make a dent in the debt, and can’t even do enough toward paying the annual cost of running the government, as pointed out earlier..  Either way, you are being sold into slavery to that debt obligation, which means that you have lost economic freedom, and that’s what the drop in our ranking from 5th place to 18th place is telling us.

I won’t write much more today.  This may serve as an introduction to one aspect of the problems that do now, and will face all of us in the future, as a nation.  It is time to wake up and to realize the danger to ourselves and to our children and to many generations who will follow them.  Wake up and think, and then decide what you can do to preserve the freedoms that ought to have been yours and theirs.

I am writing because I am concerned and I am afraid.  I am writing because I love freedom and do not want to lose it.  And I am writing because I love my country and don’t want to see it destroyed by massive debt and the consequences that it brings.

In his wisdom, one of our Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, wrote “a government that can give you whatever you want, can take from you whatever you have.”

Eric Sloane was a great American artist, whom I once had the honor to meet.  He was a patriot who loved his country.  He took his name “Eric” from the center of the word “America”.  He wrote and illustrated a book a year for his last 30 years about his country and its ways.  He painted the Aerospace Murals at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington.  He is worth learning about and listening to.

In a book titled “Eric Sloane’s America”, by Michael Wigley, Wigley recounts interviews with Eric Sloane before his death in 1985.  Wigley tells us that Eric reminded him of values that every American should embrace by recalling the words of one of our greatest Presidents, Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln wrote “Our progress in degeneracy appears to be pretty rapid“.  And then he went on to write “You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.  You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.  You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.  You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.  You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence.  You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.” (quote from Abraham Lincoln, printed in “Eric Sloane’s America” by Michael Wigley, Dover Publications, 2009, page 118).

Let us pray for our country, let us move quickly to take whatever steps we can take to correct the dire situation in which we find ourselves today, and let us all work together to build a better, brighter future for ourselves and for all our progeny to follow.  I direct these statements to our statesmen who represent us in government, now or in the future, and to every American who loves his country and who seeks to preserve what it was intended to be and what it has always stood for.  Be free and exercise the rights and responsibilities of freedom while you still have them.