‘Sullivan’s Travels’

Commentary
In 1941, Preston Sturges—one of the greatest of Hollywood directors from the days when Hollywood made entertaining movies—debuted a picture called “Sullivan’s Travels” that has become something of a classic.
If you haven’t seen it (you should), it’s a satire of the film industry in which John L. Sullivan, a highly successful, replete with butler and valet, director of shallow comedies, sets out to prove he can make a serious film—“Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?”—by joining the downtrodden to see how they really live.
Much levity and some eventual insight about himself for the director ensues.
Eighty years later, another Sullivan, not John L., has popped up in the news. This one is not fictional—Jake Sullivan, currently United States National Security Advisor to President Joe Biden—and it is unclear whether he has gained any insight from his “travels.” It may have been the other way around.
The estimable Paul Sperry wrote in the Sept. 23 NY Post:
“Last week, Michael A. Sussmann, a partner at Perkins Coie, a law firm representing the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of making false statements to the FBI about his clients and their motives behind planting the rumor, at the highest levels of the FBI, of a secret Trump-Russia server.
“The indictment states that Sussmann, as well as the cyber experts recruited for the operation, ‘coordinated with representatives and agents of the Clinton campaign with regard to the data and written materials that Sussmann gave to the FBI and the media.’
“One of those campaign agents was [Jake] Sullivan, according to emails that special counsel John Durham obtained. On Sept. 15, 2016 — just four days before Sussmann handed off the materials to the FBI — Marc Elias, Sussmann’s law partner and fellow Democratic Party operative, ‘exchanged emails with the Clinton campaign’s foreign policy adviser concerning the bank’ as well as with other top campaign officials, the indictment states
“Sources close to the case confirmed the ‘foreign policy adviser’ referenced by title is Sullivan.
“They say Sullivan was briefed on the development of the opposition-research materials—which tried to allege that a ‘secret’ server of the Trump organization was communicating with Russia’s Alfa Bank. The conspiracy theory, pushed by opposition firm Fusion GPS, was later dismissed, as the ‘communication’ was likely marketing emails.”
Paul Sperry goes on to say that Sullivan denied knowing anything about Fusion GPS’s involvement before Congress, which, assuming Sperry’s sources are correct—and he has a good track record—would make the national security advisor a likely perjurer.
This is the same Sullivan, of course, who has been keeping us up to speed on the administration’s Afghanistan’s policies, such as they were or are.
But it is not that extraordinary fiasco that interests me here.
Sullivan has the kind of pedigree that many would envy and is often seen in our highest officials in the State Department and elsewhere—Yale bachelor and law degrees with distinction, Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, on the second place team at the 2000 World Universities Debating Championship in Sydney, Australia, no less, and so forth.
How could such a person get involved in activities that at best are extremely shady and at worst actually treasonous?
I imagine, or in any case hope, that if you asked the young Jake Sullivan while on his Rhodes at Magdalen College whether he believed in “the ends justify the means,” he would give an educated disquisition on the subject but end by saying a clear no. The ends justifying the means is immoral and an idea that, taken to its logical conclusion, allowed Stalin and Mao to become the greatest mass murderers in history.
But, not very deep down, that is also the basis on which not only Sullivan but all those who engaged in the scurrilous, to say the least, Trump-Russia smear acted. They believed what they were doing was for the “greater good,” no matter what that meant for our democratic republic or what evil was perpetrated on the innocent (Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn and, really, everyone of us).
What other explanation could there be other than that hoary Marxist apothegm? What other reason to have made up so many lies?
So how did Sullivan get from the highly-promising young man at Yale and Oxford to a willing prevaricator for Hillary Clinton? What were his “travels”?
The easiest explanation is Lord Acton’s—that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. No doubt that’s some of it.
But I think there is something else at play that I described in my 2016 book “I Know Best,” a moral narcissism that has created in the United States our own version of the Soviet nomenklatura (the list of those approved to rule).
Nomenklaturas are a new version of aristocracy and frequently work in opposition to the democratic republic envisioned by the Founders.
They are highly statist and globalists and would substantially, although not fully, intersect with the Deep State were you to do a Venn diagram.
Such nomenklaturas, especially ours, are filled with moral narcissists—what I defined as those who evaluate and regard themselves (almost always highly) by the supposed goodness and virtue of what they proclaim and pronounce, not by the actual results of those pronouncements, that are often bad and therefore largely ignored
The current administration is filled with such people, not just Jake Sullivan. Alejandro Mayorkas, the homeland security director who, until quite recently, kept insisting the border was closed, is but one salient example.
A hallmark of these nomenklaturas, and of moral narcissists in general, is an overwhelming conformism. They rarely go off the reservation of accepted views their brothers and sisters are espousing.
If they do, the results are nowhere near as drastic yet as they were in Stalin’s Soviet Union where the apostates were sent to the Gulag or worse, but non-conformity is a one-way ticket to career suicide.
On the contrary, if you “play ball,” another member will help you out, even when you are in serious trouble with the law or close to it.
The Trump-hating adulterous Lisa Page of Strzok-Page fame may have gone a few text messages too far to remain in the FBI, but is reportedly now in-house attorney for Twillio, a mammoth company that, in collaboration with Amazon’s AWS, provides an API to send and receive SMS, MMS, OTT text messages globally. (Ms. Page is undoubtedly making more from texting than she ever did at the FBI, as has, in all probability, another, yet bigger, ex-DOJ attorney, James Baker, already been achieving as counsel for Twitter.)
Importantly, being a conforming moral narcissist is the key to staying a member of the nomenklatura.
Jake Sullivan knew this consciously and/or unconsciously and probably in his soul. It put a new light on “the ends justify the means,” making it almost reasonable and easy to swallow, if not to name. He knew how to behave. He had “traveled” in his way.
He assumed when asked to testify before Congress if he stayed on the Hillary team good things would continue to happen even if, as Sperry’s sources allege, he bent the truth. And look what did happen. He is, as of now anyway, Biden’s National Security Advisor.
So being a conformist to the nomenklatura paid off… until John Durham came along.
Where that goes, we shall see. Perhaps what Sperry has written is just a leak, but I doubt it. No matter what happens, few will look at Jake Sullivan the same way in the future.
He will no longer be the fair-haired boy from Yale. His “travels” were not as productive as John L. Sullivan’s in Preston Sturges’ film.
“Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Roger L. Simon
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Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, co-founder of PJMedia, and now, editor-at-large for The Epoch Times. His most recent books are “The GOAT” (fiction) and “I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already” (nonfiction). He can be found on GETTR and Parler @rogerlsimon.

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America Evacuates From Afghanistan, the CCP Evacuates From Hollywood

Commentary
Lost in the din of the greatest American foreign policy debacle since World War II, a mysterious and very positive dénouement occurred with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence operations. Under concealment from the focus on Afghanistan, the CCP has essentially withdrawn from Hollywood and the financial infusion of cash that has kept the legacy motion picture production industry alive for almost 20 years.
In true Sun Tzu-ian fashion, the CCP choreographed a complex, disciplined, and orderly Dunkirk-like withdrawal from Hollywood, as opposed to the deadly, shameful, haphazard rout overseen by the Biden administration.
“Unlike the U.S. in Afghanistan, the CCP achieved exactly what it set out to do,” said Lance Crayon, Hollywood writer and documentary filmmaker.
So far, there’s barely been a blip of coverage on this topic. After years of relentless CCP influence operations in the United States, and specifically in the Los Angeles area, the Hollywood beachhead has become well known and part of an overall surge of CCP influence operations in the United States. Why the sudden withdrawal?
I would suggest three major reasons. First, in accordance with their market sector takedown strategy, the CCP will surge to learn, understand, overwhelm, and supplant the American providers of the goods and services. In this case, it’s the legacy motion picture production facilities in and around Hollywood. I would suggest that market sector flagship CCP influencers such as TenCent have achieved their strategic end state in motion picture production and have now supplanted their American hosts. They’re consuming the cadaver of legacy Hollywood and have taken over. Just like textiles, electronics, consumer drones, and light and medium manufacturing, TenCent and other Chinese media firms have completed the takeover cycle. Part of the takeover cycle is moving production back to China—which they essentially have. They don’t need Hollywood anymore
There are two other reasons in play. The first is the simple numerics of audience base. The U.S. population is roughly 330 million. The Chinese population is roughly 1.4 billion. If you were going to make China-centric films, which audience would you go after? The choice is intuitive. The second reason: The Chinese are short on cash to deploy for influence operations. If they have achieved their strategic objectives and are retrograding production to China, no need to deploy influence funds to Hollywood any longer. The CCP is showing increased central control of several market sectors and personalities, so the Hollywood situation is just one of the tentacles of CCP civil-military fusion action, and they can downsize the cash flow to support this effort—the mission has been accomplished.
A Bigger Trendline
The CCP Hollywood withdrawal is part of an even bigger trendline—possibly one that’s positive for those of us working to stare down the CCP.
Xi Jinping’s takedown of the Ant Group initial public offering in November 2020 was a tsunami in several ways. It was a baffling takedown of the leading economic force and personality in China, Jack Ma. For a small, valiant group led by Roger Robinson, it was manna from heaven.
“To our surprise, Xi turned out to be a one-man wrecking ball for Jack Ma and much of China’s tech sector vis-à-vis the capital markets,” Robinson said.
It was stunning—but it was the first of many. Why in the world would Xi conduct a ransacking of his leading flagship companies?
Xi is trashing the house he lives in. He’d rather take out personalities that could possibly challenge his rule than see China thrive.
With the Didi fiasco—largely unobserved by most, BlackRock, led by the unabashed virtue signaler and poster child for Woke executives, Larry Fink, has lost a not insignificant amount of wealth. George Soros has come out aggressively against China, both economically and also as the greatest threat to the liberal, democratic, republics of the world. What an odd comment coming from the worldwide creator of intrigue, but sometimes odd bedfellows are necessary.
Overall, the economic indicators have now turned south on China. Xi is willing to accept economic pain in return for security and unassailable power. Possibly, after years of irrational exuberance, the Chinese Economic Miracle, foisted upon the world by the CCP, is being revealed for what it is—ruthless totalitarianism.
So How Do We Capitalize Upon This Victory?
As we attempt to make sense out of the Biden administration’s nonsensical foreign policy in the wake of the shameful Kabul episode, the question for the future is what is Biden’s view on Chinese military and civil-military fusion adventurism? The Afghanistan debacle is very reminiscent of the way in which Biden directed an Iraq pull-out with no negotiated Status of Forces Agreement in 2011, which allowed the rise of violent bloodshed in Iraq and Syria and the unleashing of ISIS.
Hopefully, the current administration focuses on an international alliance to constrain China from lashing out. The new nuclear agreement with the United Kingdom and Australia is very promising, but we should also expand participation and agreements to include India and Japan. A more formal “Five Eyes Plus” is in order—I advocated strongly for this when I was in office.
The CCP Hollywood withdrawal removes the thin veneer and exposes the dry rot of totalitarian China. In many ways, America and the world gets a “twofer.” CCP-led China is under immense, self-induced duress and exposing its vulnerabilities, and we are also somewhat liberated from the clutches of woke crazed Hollywood and their relentless virtue signaling and lecturing. Hollywood has been pushed out the door and left on the street corner without their primary investor and patron for the last 20 years. Good riddance to both.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

John Mills
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Col. (Ret.) John Mills is a national security professional with service in five eras: Cold War, Peace Dividend, War on Terror, World in Chaos, and now—Great Power Competition. He is the former director of cybersecurity policy, strategy, and international affairs at the Department of Defense.

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Taper Tantrum

Commentary
On Sept. 22, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell suggested during the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) press conference that the FOMC board was very close to tapering its purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities. Initially, bond prices rallied on the news, then were slammed lower over the following two days as investors changed their view on how a balance sheet taper might affect bond prices.
Investors now fear that without the Fed’s intervention in the bond market, that Treasury yields can and only must go higher. The conviction among investors that rates must go higher is the strongest it has been in the past 40 years.
It’s now a foregone conclusion that after a 40-year secular decline in Treasury yields, we are on the cusp of a 40-year secular rise in interest rates. Much of this view has to do with a large amount of government debt and the persistently rising deficits.
It has been long believed by Americans that one day the United States will be forced to pay higher interest rates for its reckless spending. Yet, as the amount of government debt rises, peculiarly, Treasury yields continue to fall.
It’s not coincidental there’s a relationship between the total amount of government debt and Treasury yields. The reason Treasury yields continue to fall as the government debt rises is due to the negative impact government debt has on the broad economy.
Excessive government borrowing crowds out the private sector, which is responsible for the creation of new money. Money is created by the commercial banking system when the private sector borrows money. Money is not created when the government borrows money, as it borrows from the existing supply of global dollars.
The reason interest rates fall as the total amount of government debt rises is to entice the private sector into borrowing more money. With the government expected to run even larger deficits and take on even more debt, they are going to further crowd out the shrinking private sector.
A shrinking private sector will need interest rates to fall even lower to spur credit creation. With credit growth of all loans in leases at commercial banks in contraction on a year-over-year basis, it suggests interest rates are currently too high. When interest rates are too high, it can cause financial conditions to tighten.
The more likely outcome of tighter financial conditions is the Fed will end up doing more quantitative easing as the economy rolls back over into a double-dip recession. Without ongoing fiscal support, the economy is more likely to contract under tight financial conditions in the months and quarters to come.
The fear that Treasury yields must rise without the Fed’s support is completely untrue. There’s no historical evidence to suggest without ongoing quantitative easing that Treasury yields must rise. As long as Congress is committed to running persistently larger deficits, Treasury yields will continue their secular decline, regardless of whether the Fed is engaging in quantitative easing or not.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Steven Van Metre
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Steven Van Metre, CFP, designs and manages unique investing strategies. Steven has a YouTube show where fans across the globe tune in to hear Steven’s thoughts on the global economy, monetary policy, and the markets.

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Cynicism and Dishonesty in the Current Tax Proposals

Commentary
I have written for years about Washington’s bipartisan fiscal policy—chronic overspending and a consequent inability to balance the federal budget. Neither party knows how to balance the federal budget. Today, Democrats are in the spotlight, because they are the ones proposing new taxes in a totally partisan (i.e., with zero Republican support) fashion.
Two of the major claims that Democrats have made in defense of their proposed tax hikes are that they are designed to make the rich pay their “fair share,” and that the new taxes will cover the costs of the huge spending increases that Democrats are seeking.
First, fairness: A familiar refrain used by President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), et al., is that the rich must pay their “fair share” of taxes. Fine, but it would help if politicians who invoke this phraseology would specify what a “fair share” is. Currently, the top 1 percent of earners pay over 40 percent of the federal personal income tax. Should they pay 50 percent? 75 percent? If so, why, and what would make that particular percentage a “fair share”?
Apart from the obnoxious vagueness of the term “fair share,” there are at least three very prominent aspects of the Dems’ tax proposals that present a very bad look for the “social justice” crowd.
First, there’s the economic illusion that raising taxes on corporate profits is an effective way to raise taxes on the rich. From a tax standpoint, corporations actually are little more than unpaid tax collectors. Abundant economic research shows that workers bear the brunt of corporate taxes, which is why, when Congress cut corporate taxes four years ago, the lion’s share of benefits accrued to America’s workers as wages and employment received a noticeable boost. Raising corporate taxes socks it to Americans workers far more than to “the rich.” Is that what social justice warriors mean by “fairness”?
Second, the very politicians chanting the mantra about making the rich pay their “fair share” are trying to carve out some generous tax breaks for upper-income taxpayers. Most infamously, they want to gut, or at least reduce, the $10,000 cap on the federal deduction for SALT—“state and local taxes.” This proposal clearly is a tax break skewed toward richer Americans, since taxpayers of more modest means don’t pay anywhere near $10,000 in income taxes to state and local governments, nor do they live in super-expensive houses subject to five-figure property taxes. According to the Brookings Institution and the Tax Policy Center, 57 percent of revenues that would be lost to Uncle Sam by repealing the cap on the federal SALT deduction would go to the top 1 percent of filers—an average tax cut exceeding $33,000. Another provision would give households earning up to $800,000 per year $8,000 to buy electric vehicles. All the talk of making the rich pay their fair share is nothing more than hollow sloganeering.
Third, according to a Heritage Foundation study, Biden has flat-out lied every time he declared that he wouldn’t increase taxes on taxpayers with annual income under $400,000. In actuality, under his tax proposals, the Joint Committee on Taxation says that taxes will go up for families earning as little as $50,000 per year. No wonder people are cynical about politics!
Now let’s see if the numbers add up. A word of caution here: It’s virtually impossible to predict how much revenue a change in tax laws will generate, because it’s impossible to predict how taxpayers will alter their behavior to reduce their tax liability. Economists can only offer guesstimates.
That being said, media reports on the tax proposals have been largely unhelpful. Many have simply regurgitated Democratic talking points. Indeed, some of the reports have been real head-scratchers, such as the Politico report that concluded, “$2 trillion in tax increases … give Democrats an entirely plausible plan to completely pay for $3.5 trillion in new spending.” Huh? That must be new math, because my calculator doesn’t show any way for $2 trillion in revenue to cover $3.5 trillion in spending. However, it isn’t just reporters making that reckless claim. Biden boldly proclaimed that the new taxes would fund more than $4 trillion of new spending.
Let’s look first at the spending side of the budget equation. How much new spending are Democrats aiming for this fall? They have settled on a $1.2 trillion spending plan for infrastructure. That total is spread over five years and includes $550 billion of new spending beyond ongoing projects, or $110 billion per year in new spending. They also have proposed a $3.5 trillion plan comprised of multiple social spending and climate change projects. This is a 10-year plan, or $350 billion of new spending per year. (Here we should note that it can be just as difficult to predict what a federal program will cost as it is to predict how much revenue will result from changes in the tax code. Most government programs end up costing more than originally stated [remember FDR’s promise that Social Security would never cost American workers more than $30 per year].) Some analysts calculate that the actual price tag of the ostensible $3.5 trillion spending package could exceed $5 trillion—that is, over $500 billion per year. But for now, let’s take the given figure at face value. Thus, adding $110 billion additional annual infrastructure spending to $350 billion annual “other” additional spending, we arrive at a total of $460 billion of annual new spending.
Now, the revenue side of the budget: To pay for an additional $460 billion per year of new spending, Democrats have proposed several dozen changes to the tax code, both on corporate and personal income. The official revenue guestimate is, according to Yahoo! reporter Denitsa Tsekova (one of the few journalists who seems to have done her homework on this—hats off to her): “Overall, the House Democrats tax plan is estimated to raise $2.2 trillion over a decade, with $1 trillion coming from tax hikes on high-income individuals, $900 billion from corporate and international tax reform, and additional revenue from increased tax compliance.”
You can do the math. $2.2 trillion divided by 10 means that the Democrats expect to raise $220 billion per year with which to fund $460 billion per year of new spending. And that’s even before we factor in the possibility of scaling back the SALT cap, electric vehicle tax breaks, etc.
According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, “restoring the full SALT deduction would cost the U.S. Treasury $88.7 billion in lost revenue for 2021 alone,” Bloomberg reports. That would lower the expected additional revenue from $220 billion to $131.3 billion to fund $460 billion of new spending.
Bottom line: the numbers don’t add up. In fact, new tax revenues may fund way less than half of the hoped-for new spending. The claim that new taxes will cover new spending is simply not true.
Also, let’s not forget that the federal budget is already hemorrhaging serious red ink even without adding new spending. Annual federal deficits were $665 billion in FY 2017, $779 billion in 2018, and $983 billion in 2019, before exploding to well over $3 trillion in FY 2020 due to COVID-19. The deficit is projected to be approximately another $3 trillion for FY 2021 that ends on Sept. 30. Setting aside the enormous fiscal response to the pandemic, we would anticipate the Treasury running approximately a one-trillion-dollar deficit in FY 2022 even without any new spending. The Democratic tax/spend proposals would only swell that deficit. No wonder Washington—and Democrats in particular—are sweating about the debt ceiling.
There is, of course, an obvious way for Democrats to lessen the damage to our already broken budget process: Don’t pass the $3.5 trillion wish list of progressive fantasies and don’t negate whatever tax hikes are enacted with special handouts to the rich. We can always hope, can’t we?
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Mark Hendricksoncontributor
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Mark Hendrickson is an economist, who retired from the faculty of Grove City College in Pennsylvania where he remains fellow for economic and social policy at the Institute for Faith and Freedom. He is the author of several books on topics as varied as American economic history, anonymous characters in the Bible, the wealth inequality issue, and climate change, among others.

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Hundreds of Billions of Dollars of New and Unlimited State and Local Tax Deductions for Wealthy Taxpayers Have Already Been Passed

Commentary
From the moment of passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Democrats from high tax states began to whine that the capping of the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) at $10,000 was unfair and unwarranted. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have been insistent that wealthy taxpayers are entitled to an unlimited federal tax deduction for high taxes these wealthy individuals pay in their home states.
The conversation regarding the appropriateness of an unlimited SALT deduction has continued unabated and is an item of controversy as Congress is discussing both the $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion “budget” proposal.
Apparently missing from this conversation are legislative actions that have already taken place in high tax states that will allow individuals with non-corporate business income to achieve unlimited SALT deductions beginning in their 2021 federal income tax returns. These already completed legislative actions will not cost the individual states passing such legislation a penny.
Legislation passed in 2021 in high tax states allowing unlimited SALT deduction on business income will likely cost the federal government as much as (a reasonable guess) $35 billion to $45 billion in 2021 and $175 billion to $220 billion over the next five years. The legislation would leave only employees and those with interest and dividend income limited to a $10,000 SALT deduction.
The often-published estimate of the cost of eliminating the $10,000 SALT cap for 2021 is $88.7 billion. This often-repeated estimate was made by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in December 2019 before any states passed legislation to allow individuals with business interests to deduct their SALT without limitation. All of this legislative action took place in 2021, more than a year after the CBO published its estimate of the cost of restoration of the SALT deduction as $88.7 billion. This $88.7 billion estimate for the cost of a restoration of an unlimited SALT is obsolete.
As the Trump administration wound down, in November 2020, the Treasury issued a notice stating that if a state taxed a business with more than one owner directly rather than through the owner’s individual tax return, the state taxes applicable to the business would be deductible against the income of the business without limitation. Over the next 10 months, legislatures (mostly Democratic legislatures in high tax states) trying to help their wealthiest residents avoid the $10,000 limitation for SALT gave them the opportunity to pay their state taxes applicable from their businesses through their businesses. This results in full deductibility on their individual federal tax returns. While costing the Treasury billions, these legislative actions did not cost these individual states one penny. In California, the legislation passed unanimously.
Like tax shelter salesmen of yesteryear, the state legislatures have referred to these new opportunities for more than single owner entities as “work-arounds.” The mere change in where an individual’s tax payment is mailed will reduce the federal tax on the individual. The combined impact of these states passing such legislation for their wealthy residents could be considered as the largest tax shelter program in the history of the United States.
There has been little, if any, mention of these state legislative actions that could cost the Treasury hundreds of billions of dollars over the next five years.
It appears unlikely that this loss of funds to the Treasury, which is already in place, is being considered in concert with the infrastructure and budget proposals. It’s sad, but possible, that a loss of hundreds of billions of dollars of federal tax revenues is of no interest in Congress.
The president and Congress each have choices with respect to both the unlimited SALT deduction and the recent legislative actions in high tax states. The president could direct the Treasury to withdraw Revenue Notice 2020-75, which resulted in the high tax states’ legislation and direct the IRS to challenge any individual taxpayer who deducts SALT beyond $10,000 regardless of whether the state taxes were paid through their businesses to state taxing authorities. Congress could include in either the infrastructure bill or the budget language to codify that the state taxes paid by individual businesses is limited to the $10,000 cap. Either of these actions would restore the $10,000 cap on SALT deductions.
With state legislative changes and what will probably be very aggressive use of the individual state legislation, the remaining number of individuals impacted by the SALT limitation will be composed almost solely of exceptionally highly paid employees. And this has the taint of being grossly unfair.
Congress could restore the unlimited SALT deduction. With existing state law, it would appear to be terribly unfair that individuals owning businesses can avoid the SALT limitation while employees would not be entitled to this opportunity. Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors will earn $46 million in 2022. He will be limited to a $10,000 SALT deduction for his roughly $5.5 million of SALT. A hedge fund partner also making $46 million would be entitled to a $5.5 million SALT deduction, reducing his federal taxes by about $2.2 million relative to Curry. How can this be the goal of federal law?
Congress could restore the unlimited SALT deduction and increase tax rates to reflect this increase in SALT deductions for wealthy taxpayers. Note again, state legislatures have already passed legislation that will cost the Treasury in the neighborhood of $175 billion to $220 billion. If this is ignored, the deficit will increase by this amount.
Or Congress could ignore the issue and allow business owners a tax break while punishing high income employees, many of whom are high-profile athletes.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Hank Adler
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Mr. Hank Adler is an associate professor at Chapman University. He was in public accounting for almost thirty-four years, the last twenty as a top partner at Deloitte & Touche.

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A Rot Pervades America’s Institutions

Commentary
At the end of his magisterial book “How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower,” Adrian Goldsworthy compares the fate of imperial Rome with contemporary America.
The dominance of a civilization, he notes, depends not only on resources and military prowess but also on “culture,” that hard-to-define yet palpable mixture of confidence, savoir-faire, and commitment to foundational principles beyond the calculus of individual profit or aggrandizement.
Beginning in the third century, Goldsworthy writes, Rome began to turn away from that cultural compact and decline wove itself into the sinews of Roman society.
“The rot,” Goldsworth observes, “began at the top, and in time a similar attitude pervaded the entire government and army high command.”
I predict that future historians, seeking to understand the decline of the United States, will settle on the annus horribilis of 2021 as the terminus a quo. 
Immersed in the moment, it is often hard to disentangle the main story from the cacophony and chatter of mere events.
But can anyone who is not Jen Psaki contemplate America’s leadership and not discern the rot at the top?
Goldsworthy mentions the army high command. Take a look at the American high command, beginning with SecDef Lloyd “stand down” Austin and Mark “White Rage” Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
A lot of ink has been spilled trying to assess them both, their surrender to identity politics and to the corrosive sentimentality of political correctness.
General Milley’s treacherous effort to circumvent the chain of command and pretend that America’s military answered first of all to him, not the President, has attracted some measure of the obloquy it deserves, but he continues on in his position instead of being courtmartialed.
I doubt that he will be able to remain for long in the army—public sentiment against him is strong and growing—but I also doubt that he will be disciplined.
The rot that he himself embodies is too widespread to require it.
Indeed, “rot at the top” describes our situation to a T.
At the pinnacle we have an erratic practitioner of glossolalia whom everyone, friend and foe alike, understands is well on the road to senility.
Then cast your eye down the line of succession: Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, President pro tempore of the Senate Patrick Leahy, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellin, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
A depressing cavalcade, isn’t it?
But the rot is not confined to political figures.
What Robert Frost called “the slow smokeless burning of decay” has installed itself in the heart of many of our most cherished institutions.
I already mentioned the military. What about our intelligence and crime fighting institutions?
Roger L. Simon, writing in these pages recently, got it exactly right about the FBI.
It must be dismantled, and not just the leadership “but the whole organization and everyone in it.”
With every passing week, its role in concocting and disseminating the whole “Russia Collusion” narrative against Donald Trump becomes more obvious and more disgusting.
And note well that its activities on that front are not done and over with.
Christopher Wray, the Director of the Bureau, is assiduously pursuing the successor to the Russia Collusion Narrative: the Jan. 6 insurrection hoax, according to which American citizens exercising their Constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech are branded as “domestic extremists” and hunted down.
The closer you look at that institution, the worse it looks.
Even the mild mannered Holman Jenkins, writing in The Wall Street Journal, argues that the Bureau “should be scrapped and something new built to replace it.”
Recent revelations about the Bureau’s role in planning and abetting the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer as well as the Jan. 6 protest at the Capitol—even The New York Times had to acknowledge that—underscore the depth of the rot at the once-respected institution.
And what about other institutions, higher education, for example? It speaks volumes, I think, that Harvard’s new chaplain, Greg Epstein, is a self-professed atheist.
Reflecting on the experience of Rome, Adrian Goldsworthy notes that when “governments or agencies forget what they are really for, then decline will occur.”
Moreover, he writes, “bureaucracies are stubborn” and “tend to expand on their own and develop their own agendas.”
The rot that was likely yesterday becomes inexorable tomorrow.
Can the trend be reversed? Maybe. But Goldsworthy is right. “If the trend is to be reversed, then this process needs to start at the very top.”
What do you suppose the prospects of that are?
Perhaps it is an illustration of Franz Kafka’s mordant observation that “there is hope, but not for us.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Roger Kimball
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Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “Who Rules? Sovereignty, Nationalism, and the Fate of Freedom in the 21st Century.”

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Will China’s Real Estate Crash Trash the Global Economy?

China’s second largest development firm struggling to meet domestic loan payments
Commentary
Is China’s real estate-based economy on the brink of collapse?
A big part of it just might be, if not all of it.
Evergrande, China’s second largest real estate developer and the world’s most indebted property developer, is in danger of defaulting on loan service payments. Much of the debt is held by Chinese banks, driving concerns of a collapse in China’s huge and heavily indebted financial sector.
But that’s not all. A significant amount of Evergrande’s debt ($800+ million) is held by foreign interests as well. Given China’s extensive economic ties with the rest of the world, the fear is that the collapse of such a large firm will have economic consequences for both China and its foreign bondholders.

Neither are unreasonable fears. Parallels have been drawn between the financial crisis in 2008, which was triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a notable Wall Street investing firm that was supposedly “too big to fail.” But when it did, other firms began to as well, requiring massive government bailouts in the trillions of dollars amid a deep recession.
That same fear of economic contagion may be part of what drove financial asset prices to tumble last week. Some financial experts think the fallout from the Evergrande default could be far worse than that of Lehman Brothers.
Observers have known that the Chinese real estate market has been in a bubble for decades. As for Evergrande, it’s the poster child for China’s long-overheated real estate-based economy. A year ago, the headlines were very similar to today’s when the real estate firm faced a $120 billion debt service crisis.
But somehow, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) was able to work things out—at least for a while. But this time, the outcome may differ. In fact, Evergrande isn’t alone in its financial struggles; other heavily leveraged Chinese property developers such as Sinic Holdings and others are also in trouble. On Sept. 20, Sinic crashed 87 percent in Hong Kong.
A Distorted Market Exposes Weakness–Eventually
Evergrande and other highly leveraged property firms’ problems stem from China’s overreliance on real estate assets to drive economic growth and employment. That’s due to the fact that the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) main claim to legitimacy is economic growth and high employment. The Party’s biggest fear is civil unrest, and property development is easy to create and deliver.
That’s why, over the past three decades, real estate development has been used to satisfy all three of these goals. The financial process can be boiled down to a simple equation. State-owned banks lend money to state-owned companies and/or local Party officials, who then build apartments, shopping centers and other urban structures, and then sell them to private Chinese investment groups, who then re-sell them to private individuals, investment pools, and other private investor entities. Often times, the builder sells them directly to the public.
Construction has stalled at the unfinished Oceanwide Plaza in Los Angeles, Calif., on Jan. 25, 2019. It is one of the biggest real estate development projects in downtown LA where the Beijing-based Oceanwide Holdings conglomerate said the hold-up was due to a recapitalization of the project, with work due to resume by the middle of February. China has been a major investor in real estate projects in downtown Los Angeles for a number of years. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
The CCP has relied on real estate development—regardless of market demand—as a way to keep employment high. To keep demand and prices high, investment options for private citizens have been relatively limited compared to the United States or Europe. That’s one reason why long term Chinese household savings rates (over 40 percent) are much higher than in the United States (about 8 percent), but also why housing prices relative to household income are also much higher, 30 times or even more.
To protect the banks providing funding for the land and construction, the PBOC would just refinance existing loans and interest owed into new larger loans. Bonds would also be issued to fund new developments, fueling a domestic bond bubble of $52 trillion. Since the CCP controls the PBOC and the valuation of the yuan, market distortions and massive debt are allowed to occur and worsen year after year, decade after decade.
A Symptom, but Not the Disease
But like all structures, physical or financial, distortions become weaknesses, limits are reached and collapse follows. That’s what’s happening with Evergrande, and as noted above, it is not alone, nor is it atypical. Most, if not all, of China’s real estate development market looks like Evergrande. One of the results is the scores of vacant cities that have been built as “investments.”
The problem is that no one lives in the thousands of empty apartment buildings that have been built. No one shops at the empty malls or rides metros or occupies the office buildings of “ghost cities.” Consequently, there are no rents, no mortgages, no returns on the building of ghost cities that have been constructed solely to maintain the hollow claim of the CCP’s legitimacy.
The financial sector, of course, is directly tied to the development firms and is in no better shape. Decades of bad loans made and remade, adding up to tens of trillions of dollars of bad debt. The failure of one firm, of one bank, could lead to more, as we saw during the global financial crisis of 2008-09.
China’s Central Bank Takes Everybody Down?
One of the ways that the PBOC has tried to lessen or even avoid a default is to lower bank reserve requirements. This frees up money in the financial system, which can then flow to Evergrande so it can meet its debt obligations. But they’ve already done this several times before. It remains to be seen how effective it will be this time. It is particularly instructive to note that at the time of writing, China has paid domestic bondholders, but foreign bondholders have yet to be paid.
The rationale may be that the CCP wants to stabilize the internal situation to shore up its own credibility by “sticking it to the foreigners.” The last part may hit U.S. and European equity markets. It could also dampen the booming U.S. real estate market, since Chinese buyers are a significant factor in West Coast housing and other markets. Or worse, China’s popping real estate bubble could trigger a broader avalanche of fear in the global markets, leading to falling asset prices around the world.
That domino effect is certainly possible. We’ll soon see.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

James GorrieWriter
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James R. Gorrie is the author of “The China Crisis” (Wiley, 2013) and writes on his blog, TheBananaRepublican.com. He is based in Southern California.

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Huawei Executive Meng Was a Loser in Trudeau’s Election Gamble

Commentary
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wasn’t the only loser in his gamble to call an early election. Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei CFO who was spinning her wheels in Canada since her 2018 arrest at the behest of the U.S. Justice Department, is also a loser, and a bigger one.
Unlike Trudeau, whose status as leader of a minority government remains largely the same, Meng is now damaged goods, compelled to accept a de facto plea deal that brands her as a liar and a fraud. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may have staged a hero’s welcome for her upon her return to China, but that charade will be short-lived. Because she is now a national embarrassment, the CCP will throw Meng, and possibly her father (Huawei’s founder), under the bus.
For almost three years in her captivity in Vancouver, Meng clung to her claim of innocence while her legal and public relations teams in Canada and the United States fought on all fronts to avoid her extradition to the United States. Then almost immediately after Trudeau’s failure to secure a majority government, Meng swiftly capitulated, admitting to her criminality to secure a quick exit from Canada. To make the capitulation complete, the Chinese regime also released the two Michaels they had arrested, eliminating the pretense that they were anything but hostages in the negotiations over Meng’s release.
Why would Trudeau’s electoral failure lead Meng, and the CCP, to throw in the towel and agree to the U.S. Justice Department’s deferred prosecution agreement, which lists in voluminous detail her serial deceptions in furthering an illicit trade deal with Iran? A Trudeau majority government would have put Canada’s China-friendly Liberal Party in power for another four years, allowing it to release Meng from her confinement in Vancouver without fear of an immediate political blowback that might topple it from power. With Trudeau’s failure, in part the result of the Canadian electorate’s disapproval of his weak-kneed approach to China, the CCP lost its ability to pressure Canadian authorities, who to the surprise of many was continuing to resist China’s pressure.
At this point, the CCP decided to cut its losses by having Meng accept the same bargain that she could have had years earlier. The CCP decision in part stemmed from fear that it would continue to look impotent in its years-long failure to bully Canadian authorities into releasing Meng. More worrying was a looming court decision. In October, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of British Columbia’s Supreme Court was due to announce the date at which she would reveal her decision on whether to grant the U.S. extradition request.
The embarrassment to China of having the CFO of one of its national champions abjectly admit to serial deception is as nothing compared to a plausible alternative scenario—that the Canadian justice system would have agreed to the extradition, followed by a refusal of the Trudeau cabinet to overturn Holmes’s ruling.
In Vancouver, where Meng has lived in the lap of luxury in her mansions, attended to by her Huawei staff and servants, the Chinese regime could portray her proudly, accorded the dignity befitting a giant in the corporate world. Upon landing in the United States following her extradition, where publicity-seeking prosecutors might have staged a perp walk, the world would have seen a Chinese icon humiliated and the CCP ridiculed as toothless.
That outcome, which China’s extensive intelligence network in Canada may well have determined to be in the works, would have been too damaging to China’s image of itself to countenance. Better to end the drama, spin Meng’s return as a victory now, and dispense CCP justice later. Beijing took down Jack Ma and other titans of Chinese industry when they failed the CCP. Huawei’s leadership, whose failure to cover their tracks in their illicit dealings with Iran redounded negatively on the CCP, will be no less immune.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Patricia Adams
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Patricia Adams is an economist and the President of the Energy Probe Research Foundation and Probe International, an independent think tank in Canada and around the world. She is the publisher of internet news services Three Gorges Probe and Odious Debts Online and the author or editor of numerous books. Her books and articles have been translated into Chinese, Spanish, Bengali, Japanese, and Bahasa Indonesia. She can be reached at patriciaadams@probeinternational.org.

Lawrence Solomon
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Lawrence Solomon is an Epoch Times columnist, author, and executive director of the Toronto-based Consumer Policy Institute.

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Fashionable Contempt

Commentary
Twenty-five years ago, I heard for the first time of a fact that in the last few years has become a central feature in American life.
A few months before, I had left academia to work as a low-level political appointment at the National Endowment for the Arts in the Bush administration. I hadn’t been away from academia for any of my adult life, never working anywhere off-campus except for short-term, part-time jobs during graduate school to grab enough money to cover the rent. Now, I was in DC, a whole other atmosphere, where being a scholar or an intellectual or researcher had a different meaning. In academia, in my area of the humanities, what mattered was how smart you are, how up-to-date on the latest theories, plus a wary respect for political correctness. Show that you are au courant and bien pensant, and do so with a little verve and precision. That made you a hit at a conference or in a job interview.
In DC, however, those things didn’t matter so much. Be smart, yes, and informed and current, but focus more on your work product, not on yourself. People inside the Beltway wanted to know if you had actionable intelligence, not IQ intelligence. Do you have ideas, research, evidence, or strategies that they can use? That was the question. Can what you have come up with help get a law passed, a policy implemented, a regulation validated. Therein lay the basis of their judgment. They weren’t interested in watching you think out loud. They had practical demands, and their own audiences were not made up of other academics. They wanted to appeal to donors to congenial institutions, readers of their magazines, staffers on Capitol Hill, journalists in specialized areas, lobbyists, and anyone else involved in the formation and popularization of policy.
I met several of these people in the first few months in town, some of them at think tanks, others writing for and editing major magazines, as well as other political appointments in the cultural agencies in W’s administrations. They had a different approach to things and to peers. There was less vanity, less preening. They didn’t monitor one another, no “Hey, so-and-so just got an offer from Princeton—what are those people thinking?” Gossip was a waste of time, and they didn’t bother with envy. Too much was happening every week from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other for small stuff to become big.
It was refreshing to hear, though I don’t want to idealize discourse in DC circa 2003 overmuch. There was always the danger of a free thinker producing something that helped the other side, or offended a powerful congressman or the administration, or rubbed a think tank sponsor the wrong way. That narrowed the range of what they could argue and study. Because they aimed to produce actionable intelligence, they had to consider what actions their intelligence would license. In that sense, their work was thoroughly political. But it was a political constraint I took as more honest and lenient than the political correctness of academia. Added to that, the ones I met had a directness and honesty, along with a form of plain speaking, that were conspicuously absent in academic settings. They said things that opened my eyes.
This brings me to the opening point. One day over dinner with two of them, the issue of the gigantic land mass between the East Coast and West Coast came up. I may have mentioned that when I finished graduate school a dozen years before and went on the job market, I prayed that I would get an offer from a school in a nice cosmopolitan center, though I would have taken any tenure-track offer that came my way. One of my new friends, Peter, replied that he’d been traveling across America for various meetings in recent months and had taken the chance to talk with average Americans about the state of things.
“One thing I can say, Mark, is that these people recognize quite well what the people on the coasts think of them. They feel it acutely: the contempt, the condescension.” That was the statement, and I recall it clearly two decades later. By “people,” he meant Hollywood celebrities, Ivy League academics, New Yorker writers and New York Times columnists, TV journalists, contemporary artists and architects …  The ones he talked to in the midwest and elsewhere were small business owners, professionals in small towns, and ordinary concerned citizens. Nothing profound here, just an observation about a state of affairs.
We moved on to other subjects, but the point stayed with me. I accepted what he said as entirely true, and I instantly got the moral of it: How obtuse is it for coastal sophisticates to hold the middle-class masses in contempt, yet not realize how solidly those masses recognized it? I’d heard academics trash the stupid folks in Utah who kept sending Orrin Hatch back to the Senate—I’d done the same thing myself, joined in with fervor—and never considered for a second how those folks would respond to the ridicule. They couldn’t respond, I assumed, they couldn’t get it, they’re too stupid. I remember watching the 1984 election with a bunch of fellow grad students, all of us a chorus of dismay as the results poured in, frustrated that so many Americans should be such idiots to vote for another idiot, cowboy Reagan. We fumed and commiserated. It made us feel better. We lost, yes, but at least we were smarter than them, by a long sight, and more thoughtful and caring, too. It never occurred to me that the hoi polloi would ever know what I thought of them. Their very ignorance of what the intellectuals thought was merely further proof of how stupid they were.
Peter’s remark popped that assumption, but not in the way you might think. You see, intellectual contempt for the rest of America is obvious, but it isn’t openly admitted by the intellectuals themselves.  It doesn’t go with their self-image as liberal and broad-minded and tolerant. Contempt is a nasty emotion. Superior people are supposed to feel pity and sympathy for their inferiors, not loathing and distaste. That’s why Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” remarks was such a mistake. Liberal elites certainly believe every word she said, everyone knows that, but they’re not supposed to say it, at least not in mixed company. Of course, it’s true, intellectuals tell themselves, but we needn’t voice it in the public square.  We don’t want to hurt them by informing them of their deficiencies so directly. The contempt isn’t so bad if the objects of it don’t know that they are actually the objects of it. If the average American goes about his unenlightened business incognizant of how he appears to his betters, you can’t say that his betters are doing him wrong. He’s not a victim. Keeping the scorn subtle lets the liberal sophisticate experience two contrary emotions at once, contempt and innocence—nice!
But that combination is no longer possible. Peter’s remark convinced me of that, and the response to supporters of Donald Trump in 2016 and after convinced everybody else. When the benighted middle- and working-classes had no champion—the Bushes, McCain, and Romney didn’t come close—the liberal elite could keep their disdain muted. The populist threat wasn’t a worry. But when Trump won, the alarm went out, the mute came off, and contempt gushed out, spiced by fear and trembling. It’s all in the open now, loud and clear. Trump is gone, but the contempt can’t go away. It was too strong to dissipate. It has, however, found a new justification, the vax. What else should we feel but contempt for and fear of the “deniers”—they’re putting our lives at risk!
This is where we are now, and I don’t think the elites regret it. One can almost see the relief on the faces of the scolds at having the filter removed. They like the disdain—as I said, it makes them feel better. Indeed, I am not sure I can impart how important this peculiar contempt is to the liberal mindset. That mindset is in a fragile condition—liberal assumptions about sex, race, family, education, and popular culture aren’t faring so well. Liberal institutions from the universities to the mainline Protestant churches to the film industry are collapsing. Look at what has happened to those Protestant churches as they have drifted left: the pews have emptied. As the academic humanities have gone big on identity and victimology, undergraduates have abandoned them. And when was the last time Hollywood produced something close to “Vertigo,” “Dr. Stangelove,” or “The Godfather”? Most telling of all is the way in which liberals have failed to stand up against the militantly illiberal Woke crowd. They no longer have the strength, the confidence, to stare down the left, as they did in former times.
And so their contempt for the populist masses is all the more necessary. It is essential to their image of themselves as soldiers of progress and enlightenment. The more they bend the knee to hard identity politicians, the more they must compensate by deploring the deplorables. They want their contempt to signify their enduring superiority, but in truth it is a sign of insecurity, and as with most expressions that issue from insecurity, it doesn’t do what they want it to do, that is, end the insecurity.
No, this won’t end well for the sophisticates. However superior they believe themselves to be, and however accurate that belief (they do, indeed, have above-average word and number skills), they can’t prosper without the support of Americans with average and below-average skills. Hollywood and the NFL need audiences. Colleges need applicants. That’s the tragedy for the upperrungs. Elites are in the awkward position of despising the riff-raff upon whom they depend for their perks. This is why the lower orders’ awareness of elite contempt changes the whole game. It’s a class struggle that can’t be framed in the old left versus right way. It’s not even primarily about competition for resources, though that is going on as well. It is, rather, a contest over moral status, a pairing of judgments: “We despise you” versus “We know you despise us.” The first one has been around for a long time. The second one is fairly fresh, and it’s spreading and evolving. In fact, we may call it a budding revolutionary consciousness.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Mark BauerleinProfessor
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Mark Bauerlein is an emeritus professor of English at Emory University. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Post, the TLS, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Avoiding Secession Through an Amendments Convention

Commentary
The national divide has gotten so deep that even the brilliant Roger Simon has broached the subject of succession: “I never thought I’d be writing about secession or anything close. Not in a million years,” he wrote.
After reciting his love of country, Simon continues,
“But the times being what they are and the man occupying the presidency being who he is, not to mention those surrounding him being who they are, plus the issues that divide us … I feel compelled to discuss secession or division as if they were a real possibility worth considering.”
Simon has picked up on the secession talk I’ve heard bubbling through the grassroots:
“… I know I’m not alone in thinking about what was once unthinkable. Indeed, from what I’ve heard, even in the halls of Congress there are those so concerned with the inability of the red and blue to speak or reason together, who see a gulf between both sides so wide it will never be bridged, that some of our politicians are beginning to whisper about secession or the like as well.”
Secession movements are responses to national policies imposed over strong objections from particular regions of the country. The first major secession movement arose in the New England states during the War of 1812. The federal government, then dominated by officials from other states, had declared war on Great Britain. The war destroyed the New England fishing and commercial economy.
The second major secession movement was, of course, the exodus of Southern states in 1860 and 1861. The South resented federal tariffs and feared the central government would act against slavery. The immediate trigger was the election of a president whose party had pledged to end slavery in the federal territories. If that happened, the slave states would be hemmed in and their “peculiar institution” potentially doomed to extinction.
Like previous secession movements, modern secession sentiment derives from regional dissatisfaction with national policy. However, the current sentiment differs from previous movements in at least four ways:
First: In previous movements, the national policies causing dissatisfaction were few in number. Today there is much more to complain about: The central government has been forcing all states and citizens (except those with political pull) to bend the neck to arbitrary and stupid diktats governing health care, immigration, education, marriage, social policy, land use, and many other subjects.
Second: During the War of 1812, New England contained only five of the 18 states. (Maine was still part of Massachusetts.) In 1860–61, only 11 of 34 states—containing just 27 percent of the population—seceded.
Modern dissatisfaction is more geographically widespread. In recent years, a majority of states have sued to upend Obamacare, vaccination mandates, and other federal policies. In 2020, half the states voted for Donald Trump. Sixty percent of the states have Republican legislatures and a majority have Republican governors.
Third: It was awkward to make a moral case for New England commerce and particularly difficult to do so for slavery—although some people tried. By contrast, many of the policies now issuing from Washington are deeply offensive to traditional morality.
Fourth: The centralized policies of 1814 and 1861, wise or not, were constitutionally legitimate: The Constitution grants Congress power to declare war and (despite the absurd ruling in the Dred Scott case) power to govern the federal territories. By contrast, many current national policies are, under any honest reading of the Constitution, far outside federal authority. Some of them, such as the Biden administration’s failure to enforce immigration statutes, actually defy federal law.
One might argue that these four differences make secession more practical than in 1814 or 1861. But a better way of looking at it is that those differences give the dissenting states certain advantages, and more viable options, than merely submitting or seceding. The best option—and the key to saving the country—is decentralization.
The Founders understood the advantages of decentralization. That’s why they created a federal, rather than a unitary, government. History had shown that free republics endured only if they govern small territories. Republics occupying large areas degenerated into despotism, because holding together regions with disparate interests and cultures required a strong man or military oligarchy. An obvious example was the Roman Republic, which could not adapt to territorial expansion, and therefore degenerated into autocracy. Another example is Russia today.
John Dickinson in his “Fabius” essays and Alexander Hamilton in “Federalist” No. 9, pointed out that the Constitution met the challenge by creating a decentralized system. The overwhelming majority of policy issues would be resolved at the state or local level; divisive national controversies would be limited to tariffs, foreign affairs, the post office, and a few other subjects.
We have ignored this wisdom and the Constitution that enshrined it. Federal functionaries and their media/special interest allies have nationalized every issue. That is the leading cause of our bitter divisions: We fight over everything because the feds try to control everything.
How do we restore decentralization? The Constitution gives us a tool for the purpose. Article V of the Constitution permits two-thirds (34) of the state legislatures to force Congress to call a convention for proposing amendments. At a convention for proposing amendments, each state has an equal voice: It is one species in a larger class of assemblies called “conventions of states.” State lawmakers can direct this assembly to propose amendments limiting federal power, after which the states then decide whether to ratify them.
This is the procedure the Founders recommended for correcting central overreach. George Mason, Constitutional Convention delegate from Virginia, insisted on it as a remedy in case the central government became “oppressive.” Samuel Rose, a leading New York ratifier, noted that the procedure “prescribed for the states a mode of restraining the powers of government, if upon trial it should be found that they had given too much.” Tench Coxe, the author of some of the most-widely read essays in support of the Constitution, explained:
“The sovereign power of altering and amending the constitution … is vested in the several legislatures and [ratifying] conventions of the states, chosen by the people respectively within them. The foederal government cannot alter the constitution, the people at large by their own agency cannot alter the constitution, but the representative bodies of the states, that is their legislatures and conventions, only can execute these acts of sovereign power.
“… [A]s the foederal legislature cannot effect dangerous alterations which they might desire, so they cannot prevent such wholesome alterations and amendments as are now desired, or which experience may hereafter suggest. … If two thirds of those legislatures require it, Congress must call a general convention, even though they dislike the proposed amendments, and if three fourths of the state legislatures or conventions approve such proposed amendments, they become an actual and binding part of the constitution, without any possible interference of Congress.”
The number of states with Republican legislatures (governors have no role in the process) already approaches the necessary two thirds. Because the Biden administration’s power lust is matched only by its incompetence, after the 2022 election, the tally of GOP legislatures may soon be higher. Surely a convention dominated by conservative state legislatures can draft amendments popular enough to be ratified by 38 states. There are, after all, sensible liberals appalled by federal excess and the danger of national breakup.
We have everything to gain from a convention of states and nothing to lose. (Claims that an amendments convention is uncontrollable or could be controlled by Congress are myths without historical or legal basis.) We have, accordingly, a moral and legal obligation to employ that constitutional tool before splitting up the country.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Rob Natelson
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Robert G. Natelson, a former constitutional law professor, is senior fellow in constitutional jurisprudence at the Independence Institute in Denver, and a senior adviser to the Convention of States movement. His research articles on the Constitution’s meaning have been cited repeatedly by justices and parties in the Supreme Court. He is the author of “The Original Constitution: What It Actually Said and Meant.”

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EpochTV Review: The Specter of Forced Organ Harvesting

Commentary
In this episode of “Crossroads” entitled “State-Sanctioned Killing for Organs Could Spread Beyond China If Not Challenged: Dr. Torsten Trey,” the host Joshua Philipp interviews the founder of DAFOH (Doctor’s Against Forced Organ Harvesting).
For years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has engaged in the practice of forced harvesting of human organs. Dr. Trey reviews this practice and its foray into the issue of the violation of human rights.
The Europa Health Journal released a report regarding this practice which chronicled the survival stories of people who were forced to endure this persecution. These included people that were forced into detention and labor camps. The reason that this practice is so common in communist China is because organ donor numbers are down, so this is the CCP’s solution to the problem of providing human organs for Chinese natural citizens.
State-Sanctioned Killing for Organs Could Spread Beyond China if Not Challenged: Dr. Torsten Trey | Crossroads [Full Episode]

Watch the full episode here
Organ Tourists
Another piece to this disturbing puzzle is that China allows people from other countries to come into China to purchase these organs. The China Tribunal in 2019 conducted an independent investigation and found plenty of evidence to support these claims and ruled that crimes against humanity had been committed against these victims. This report was also presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The host begins the interview by posing the question to Dr. Trey of how widespread this practice is in China. Dr. Trey answers that forced organ harvesting is happening all over China especially in its detention camps, which are located throughout the country. This is controlled by the government, and they seek out people of all levels of society to be involved in this practice. The host calls this “genocide for profit” and Dr. Trey readily agrees. The people who are having these crimes committed against them are considered enemies of the CCP and this is one way of eradicating them. The CCP has been trying to get rid of these “enemies of the state” since the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Since incidents like Tiananmen Square are looked upon with criticism from other countries, the CCP uses the organ harvesting as a more hidden way to commit the genocide. He also reveals that the most persecuted of the groups are Falun Gong practitioners. Falun Gong is an ancient Chinese spiritual practice consisting of simple, slow-moving meditation exercises and teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. This repels the state-sanctioned practice of atheism, deceit, and violence by the CCP, so these people along with other groups are persecuted for their beliefs.
The host then asks Dr. Trey to describe the process as related by survivors. The doctor then tells of people being forced to undergo medical tests and then taken from detention centers to hospitals where their organs are harvested. Many are killed on the operating table after the removal of the organs. Also reported by people were instances where they were called to detention camps to identify family members that they were told had passed away, however they were healthy with no issues the day before. The relatives also said that some of the organs were missing. Dr. Trey also explains that the practitioners of Falun Gong have been tortured in prison camps for years and many of them died as a result. The reason that they started using these people for organ harvesting instead of just killing them is the money that the CCP can make off of the sale of the organs, whereas before there was no financial incentive.
In the next segment of the video, the fact that the media turns a blind eye to this practice is discussed. Dr. Trey says that this is due to ignorance and silence, because the CCP is bribing the media and others to keep this quiet so that no one challenges China and the practice can continue. There has been some international support to stop organ harvesting. Congress passed House Resolution 343 and the European Parliament passed a written declaration in 2016 condemning the practice. There has also been a petition to present to the United Nations Council. The petition has 3 million signatures so far. Now, all of these people and nations that are against this practice need to come together to get China to stop. The evidence is more than sufficient for direct intervention on China’s soil.
How Does This Affect the Rest of the World
So, how does this affect other nations? First of all, China’s main objective is to dominate other countries and put them under CCP control. In this case, they want to be the major player in the field of transplants. In the West, we follow ethical medical practices with the good of the patient at the forefront. Unfortunately, this can cause delays for those who need organs and they must be placed on a waiting list. Because China bypasses all of the steps that are taken for consensual transplants, it makes it impossible for the West to compete with them in this field. This puts China in a position to be a trendsetter in doing transplants. This is very disturbing considering the disregard for ethics that China has. This would lead to a collapse of the ethical standards that are valued now. Dr. Trey also reveals that many medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies are being pulled into the business of transplant tourism, which continues to be on the rise.
The video concludes by the host explaining that “large-scale genocide” is going on in China. People are being killed for their organs and China is being financed by foreign businesses. While some government officials acknowledge that this is happening, nothing is being done to stop it on a large scale. If this continues, this practice will most likely spread to other countries as China rewrites the standards of organ transplants. Dr. Trey and his organization are holding a summit to memorialize the victims of organ harvesting and to introduce standards to bring world leaders together to stop these crimes against humanity and lift the silence by giving the victims a voice.

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Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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Lacy Hall is a native born Texan and lives in South Texas. She earned a bachelor of science degree in English/Education from Howard Payne University. She enjoys research and has a passion for writing entertaining, informative, and relevant content for her readers.

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