The Consent of the Governed

Mon, Nov 25, 2013 - 2:12pm

“Government has become a paramecium, an amoeba whose prime directive is to grow and consume and multiply without knowledge of what it is supposed to be doing other than expanding. Or maybe the better metaphor is the zombie. The groping State smells those still alive and then plods and claws itself toward the few remaining living, in a mindless effort to incorporate or devour them. The zombie likes best the scent of the pizza franchiser or masonry contractor, not the welfare recipient or the Facebook executive.” (Link)


I have a neighbor who is a small farmer, and in addition to growing feed corn and raising beef cattle, he raises healthy, free-range chickens and sells a few hundred fresh eggs a week at farmers markets and “buy local” Co-ops. That is, he used to. He quit last year when new regulations for food safety (instituted at the behest of factory egg farms) required all sorts of new certifications, inspections, and expensive equipment to comply with the laws. Paying for all the things the new laws will require was only cost-effective for a large operation (thus driving small farmers out of the market, which was precisely why the large operations lobbied for the bill). Rather than do all that work for virtually no gain, he butchered his flock and just stopped producing.


Healthy young people, finally waking up to the fact that they are the financial pack-mules for Obamacare, have refused to sign up for the program in numbers that come anywhere close to balancing those they are supposed to subsidize. One wonders what they will do if they ever take a good, hard look at Social Security and Medicare: A double-earner couple (making the US median wage) who retired in 2010 will receive $310,000 more in benefits than they paid in to the system over the rest of their lives. The same couple, if the household was a single-earner married couple, will receive nearly half a million dollars more ($446,000) in benefits than they paid in during their lifetimes (Link). Just like Obamacare, the young are expected to produce in order to subsidize these costs. It will be interesting to see what happens if they ever figure this out.


Taxpayers, particularly successful middle and upper-middle class business owners, are deliberately managing their income levels by working less and precisely calculating how much they need to give to charity in order to fall below Federal tax thresholds. Many have simply decided that, given increasing taxation and regulatory burdens, it is no longer in their interests to run a business at all and have closed-up shop entirely (Link).


There is a property I particularly admire that I pass on my drive to work- beautiful fields, groves of woods along the property boundaries, and the whole thing gently sloping to the banks of a bend in the river. It used to be a working farm, but the family that bought it a few years ago realized that if they registered with the state as a farm and rented out the acreage, they would be subject to all sorts of restrictions and laws. Worse, the new “Food Safety Act” which is set to become law next year has granted unelected bureaucrats in numerous Federal agencies (from the FDA to the Department of Agriculture to the EPA) unprecedented control over privately held farmland, in particular the ability to force landowners to comply with expensive restrictions without recourse or appeal (Link). The choice was easy for the folks who own that farm- don’t farm anything, and don’t get on the watch list of half a dozen federal agencies. I think about how much that prime land could have produced as I drive past it. But I suppose there is a silver lining: eighty tillable acres that have been left fallow look quite pretty when the weedy grasses turn a golden tan in the fall.


California’s productive middle class, realizing that the social compact constructed by Sacramento over the last few decades is one where they have enormous financial obligations and regulatory burdens and receive precious little in return aside the privilege of contributing even more, have left the state in droves: you could literally populate the state of Montana three times over with the number of middle-class earners who have left the People’s Republic of CA over the last 20 years (Link).


Tri-City Herald, Kennewick WA: It took Bob Bertsch 25 years to build his construction business and just a day for it all to go away. Bertsch’s Ashley-Bertsch Group went on the auction block Friday at 9 a.m. By 4 p.m., Booker Auctions had sold off almost two dozen vehicles and trailers, tons of power tools and supplies, even the gas-fired fireplace in the office. Bertsch, 65, said he is down-sizing because the tax burden got too expensive to stay in business.

“I am tired of carrying all the tax load,” Bertsch said. “I renew 13 licenses here every year just so I can spend money in this city.” Bertsch makes no attempt to conceal his frustration with the costs government imposes on small businesses like his. “Government is killing small business. We used to have 24 employees at our peak. Now, all of those people who used to work here are in unemployment lines,” he said. (Link)


What does any of this have to do with precious metals investing? I am of the opinion that it has quite a bit to do with it, actually. In each of the above cases, you see a two-part dynamic at work. Part 1 is a political system and its allied bureaucracies treating the earnings, property, and labor of the citizenry as its piggy bank and plaything- a government/state which bases its very existence on successfully conducting a continual process of plunder in order to fund a continuous expansion of its own power. Part 2 is the response of individuals to the particulars of this process, the quiet refusal to play the role of serf to the feudal lords of the state. In each case, from closing a business to working/earning less to letting productive farmland lie fallow, the dynamic is the same. The state says “Your productivity is mine” and the individual quietly responds “No, it isn’t” and changes their behavior accordingly. These people are, in a very practical way, refusing to aid and abet this process. They are withholding their consent.

The ‘consent of the governed’ isn’t created simply because a political party manages to make enough promises to enough special interest groups to bring in enough campaign cash to buy enough political ads to deceive enough people to squeak out a narrow electoral victory. It doesn’t result from the ability of unelected bureaucrats to use the coercive power of government and law to enforce their will. At the core of it, the ‘consent of the governed’ rests on each individual citizen consenting (or not) to go along with the demands being placed on them. Refusing to consent doesn’t require armed resistance, or showy protests and signs, or loud confrontations. It doesn’t require breaking the law or going to jail. All it takes is a refusal to participate in the activity being controlled.

At this moment, western central banks are engaged in a process of funding massive expenditures through monetizing (directly or indirectly) government debt. They create more Euros or Yen, or Pounds, or Dollars out of thin air and each time they do, they devalue your paycheck, pension, retirement account, and the change in your pocket. I understand they have the legal right to do this. I understand they are appointed by the elected representatives of the people and that this supposedly gives them the moral and practical authority to do so. But I have not been asked and did not give my approval to this process. My money is nothing more than a marker for my productivity and saved value, my efforts and risks, and indeed a significant portion of my life – and these things are mine. I do not consent to them being plundered in this way. So I remove my money from their system, as much as I am able. I buy gold and silver.

More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called “Irish Democracy,” the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people, than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs. –James Scott, Two Cheers for Anarchism (Princeton University Press, 2013)

Dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence.

Sounds good… I’m in.

About the Author


Nov 25, 2013 - 3:38pm

I'm lost

or perhaps after learning about derivatives, hypothecation, re-hypothecation among other things, this sh-t is just to0 mind blowing.

This can only mean a world financial collapse is inevitable. Am I wrong, or should I practice my return to sheeple exercises?

Chart Of The Day: How China's Stunning $15 Trillion In New Liquidity Blew Bernanke's QE Out Of The Water

Mr. Fix
Nov 25, 2013 - 3:40pm

10, I went Gault when Obama became president.

His agenda was obvious then, he intended to destroy the productive, while propping up the unproductive, until the whole system collapses. Every single decision has made his bend towards that end goal.

I am mildly concerned, that he is not on board with the “one world order”, because his recent actions indicate that he does not intend to be a part of it. I have no particular love for the Israeli leadership, but he just screwed them royally, and the banking cartel has become fractured.

I can't be sure how much longer the “endgame” can play out, but the current plan appears to leave nothing for America in the next chapter of world history.

Although the amount of backstabbing seems to be accelerating, the only constant is the demise of America.

Nice post Pining,

It seems to me that all options other than war are being taken off the table, And America will be handed over to its enemies, or simply annihilated.

Nov 25, 2013 - 3:45pm

Luxury tax notices sent out by Greek authorities

Notices for an increased luxury tax are being sent out this week by authorities, who are seeking to collect up to 130 million euros from the levy.

Owners of cars with an engine capacity of 1,929 cc or over, swimming pools, gliders, helicopters or airplanes are among those who will have to pay an extra tax.

The tax was first introduced in 2011 as a one-off but since then the levy has doubled and will now remain as a permanent fixture in the country’s tax code.

No, that won't lead to going Galt. No siree Bob.

Nov 25, 2013 - 3:47pm

But, Have WE LET Them

Do it to us? After all, we are supposed to be the "Great Experiment" of self-government. Is that concept beyond humanity's ability to achieve? Clearly, we, (collectively all who have lived as a citizen in this country), are at fault for letting it go this far down this "series of wrong turns". Many a "good man" has done nothing, (and many have fought to stop it, too), and so evil has prospered.

Now, how best do we repair the damage? I will not give in, so I must do what is best. But what is that? For each of us, the answer will be different, as we're all individuals, in unique situations. But collectively, we can be a powerful, constructive movement for repair of the damage, that for generations has slowly encroached on our lives & freedoms. Surely, it will take generations to reverse the damage & put us on the right road. That implies that we need to get involved with the education of our children and grandchildren, and our school systems. They are a train wreck, & so are only turning out economic slaves. Very few of our schools teach kids to think today.

"It's a job that's never started that takes the longest to finish."

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892 - 1973)

Great one, P4. Thank you.

"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship Of The Ring

Sorry for the font size. How do I change that?

Nov 25, 2013 - 3:47pm

Tempted to go Galt

Your stories are quite sad, Pining, and oh, so common. My wife's real estate business was on the verge of hiring our first employee some years back before the 08 crisis began. We held back. Today it would be impossible. So we put our rental homes with a manager and are happy to get the small check left over each month.

I am privileged to live in a "green" town where self-sustenance is considered a virtue and a fair percentage of the population are actively trying to break free of some part of the system.

My wife just completed her master gardening class and we are planning to build a small bug-out home near a river about an hour away, plant orchards, and build greenhouses. I think I really could cut back to earning a poverty level salary once we have our small home built and the gardens up and running. In effect, we could drop out of the system while staying in plain sight.

I have become 100% sold on the idea of having a home paid off before this experiment ends. Otherwise, my family is subject to the whim of bankers or landlords. Even my state job at the University could get axed when the money presses stop the flow.

Nov 25, 2013 - 3:50pm


Are you John Galt?

"Pining Shrugged" . . . . .

Nov 25, 2013 - 4:01pm

Thank you Pining

Your article does a good job of explaining the process that I think is already occurring in this country, and that is likely to accelerate. Thank you Sir.

I've currently got a good job with a comfortable income. In about two or three years I expect to quit it, at the age of only 53 or 54, and start a lifestyle more in harmony with the land, something like Katie Rose's.

That'll deprive the government of hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes they would have gotten if I had worked to my retirement age of 67. And I'll be much happier, eating much better from produce I grow myself, and living a much less stressful life.

The key line, IMHO:

. "The state says “Your productivity is mine” and the individual quietly responds “No, it isn’t” and changes their behavior accordingly."

Best Regards,


Nov 25, 2013 - 4:09pm

@Pining re: withdrawal . . .

"Dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence. Sounds good… I’m in."


I have been "in" for awhile. I was already making plans by 1998, as I was uncomfortable the way things were going then.

I starting surrendering my IRAs and 401-k monies, as well as my wife's (she thought I was ever-loving nutso, but went ahead) accounts in 2003, and used proceeds to 1. pay taxes and penalties; 2. buy physical gold and silver. We each still have one IRA apiece, but that, too will soon be withdrawn--and we are now beyond the penalty age. Unfortunately, all the metals were lost in a tragic boating accident some years ago; I hope to learn how to dive so I can retrieve them a bit at a time later on, when they are recognized as money again.

We also sold our suburban yuppie style home in 1999 and bought 40 acres on which we built a home, drilled a well, put up a solar electric system, planted a perennial vegetable/fruit garden, and rent to a local farmer who plants tomatoes, squash, pumpkins and sweet corn on it. We can take all the produce we want for ourselves, as per our rent agreement. We have a propane tank, a diesel storage tank, a diesel generator, and we have about 5 acres of woods which we trim for firewood.

I also planted an acre of hazelnut bushes, which gives us all the nut protein we want. I am thinking of having a couple dozen chickens as well, but haven't done it yet.

My 4 kids, 3 son/daughter-in-laws and 2 grandkids all live nearby. We have stocked away a lot of food, but not near enough for 11 people for an extended period, but hopefully, the gardens can provide.

We are trying to return to how Americans were able to earn a subsistence living similar to the early 1900's.

sierra skier
Nov 25, 2013 - 4:18pm

I have been in the Process For Years Now

I started several years ago to reduce my support towards feeding the beast. We are now ready to retire out of the liberal world of California. Though we love our incredible small town in the mountains it is located in California and has become more than we desire to handle. It is time to move on to a place where more like minded folks will be our neighbors. As much as I don't wish to leave 40 years of wonderful living we are being chased out of the state by those who run the place.

Great post Pining.

Swift Boat Vettyberious
Nov 25, 2013 - 4:24pm

P4 Count me in too

I'm sure with you Pining. I've spent my whole working life self employed. If this country was anywhere near like it was a couple 3 or 4 decades ago, I'd start another business (What, I'm not sure) for myself and my youngest son, so he could just ease me out in a few years and I could maybe have that fancy "Emeritus" hung around my name. (???) As it is, we are both just stacking for the future. A reset should shrink government down to an almost non-pestering size. (hopefully)


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