Originally published at Renew America on December 17, 2011.
"An ancient Sage valued himself upon this... he knew how to make a great City of a little one. The Science that I, a modern Simpleton, am about to communicate is the very reverse." — Benjamin Franklin, Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One
The following is addressed to those in the United States Government who, rightfully or not, wield the most influence and are, as a result of their positions, most apt to affect, by the careful enactment of the following recommendations, the transformation of this land of opportunity into one of hindrance.
I. To begin with, please take into consideration that a great republic, like a great family, is most effectively broken at its pocketbook. Act then upon the finances of the citizenry — that as you place command first over this front, others may submit in procession.
II. The most useful of contrivances through which your end may be happily attained is the establishment of a centralized banking institution that might, if you so allow it, multiply the existing supply of paper money. First, however, the people must be led to believe in fiction rather than in fact. You are therefore to use whatever means to convince them that money is the symbol of wealth, and that an expansion of the symbol is an expansion of that which is symbolized. This will illicit the proper effect. The people, everywhere surrounded by the results of an increased money supply, will begin to realize that these symbols, of which they are now in bountiful possession, represent something quite the opposite of what they had supposed them to, and that the central bank which was to be their benefactor foments not fortune, but destitution. If the invasive actions of this institution should happen to manifest a discoordination in the economy, a disruption of market processes, or rampant malinvestment — all the better. Time will certainly demonstrate that your encroachment into this area will have left in disarray what was, before, in order.
III. Knowing that the patriot is never more apt to shrink from conviction than when he is forced to choose between reverence for his country and food for his family, you are to levy a broad and crippling corporate tax. This tax is to be onerous enough so as to have your nation's good and responsible businessmen relocate to countries abroad solely so that they may seek the reasonable comfort of profiting from the services that they provide to others. This undertaking would prove fruitless, however, if, after effectively banishing them, you did not portray these citizens as enemies of national labor, traitors, or capitalists. After exiling all but the privileged producers, it is advisable for you to punish the consumers. Have them pay a fair amount for imported goods. Nothing will serve better your aim of disassembling the republic than to protect the right of a number of your nation's producers to have the whole of its consumers pay more for goods where they might otherwise have paid less.
IV. Of your actions that might have the republic attached less firmly to its foundations, none affect as much as ably as making public that property which is private. To this end, it is recommended that you coercively withhold the income of your citizens — granting them access to the fruits of their own labor only after having first relegated their property to the satisfaction of your ends. In this way an atmosphere of resentment, adequate to secure your goal, may have occasion to develop among the people.
V. That such agitation may be extended, ensure next that these laws of taxation are, to a substantial extent, applied inconsistently; that they affect, however arbitrarily, some subjects more severely than they do others. This will elicit the worthiest of results. By regarding supposedly equal citizens in a fashion so openly unfair, you will (to keep the simile of the family) behave as a partial mother, favoring one child over another. By this means, the desired degree of rivalry might then breed among the social classes so as to drive what was once in harmony toward disunion.
VI. It would indeed be a sorry consequence if the nature of your republic has had the unfortunate effect of causing you, the wise masters, to be valued as something short of royalty. If such is the case, it may be appropriate for you to proceed as though your government of representatives is nothing more than a factory of regulations. Behave in a manner so as to suggest that the measure of your emoluments and terms of office ought to be extended in proportion to the degree to which your orders, laws, decisions, and rules constrain the lesser citizens and deplete both the nation's treasury and its promise.
VII. Justly appointed judges and administrators — having not simply received the consent of the people, but also their esteem — may work with integrity to empower the nation entire. Officials of this type are therefore to incur your disaffection. If you can find inexperienced academics, recommend them for justices; for they will be keen to rid the bench of any standard of prestige. Activists too are desirable, as they would have the high court reformed from a hall of justice into one of passions; the very impulses responsible for its empathy, responsible also for its wrath. For supervisors and cabinet directors, the chief executive is to appoint only ideologues, awash in favors and expert solely in partisanship, to serve at his pleasure. If these appointees are radicals, or are otherwise corrupted — even in the fields which they have been assigned to oversee — so much the better. Such officials, managing their great and growing dominions, are indeed fit for a republic whose bureaucracy would have it frustrated into dissolution.
VIII. In order to make certain that you are provoking your republic toward division, it may become necessary to closely monitor and manipulate the behavior of its people. Forget that they have any reasonable expectation of autonomy, privacy, or due process of law. Involve yourself in their personal communications. Suppose their presumption of fair and equal treatment to be baseless, and claim of this presumption that it is trivial or, otherwise, idealistic — that it derives not from right, but from your sole and arbitrary discretion. Adherence to such a method, effectively, will have you assuming the role of parent and treating the people as though they were children. Experience attests to the suitability of this strategy — as children tend to tire of supervision, as it becomes more and more invasive, so too might a people grow weary of the actions of their government.
IX. To safely guarantee this outcome, and further its impression, wherever there exists poverty, hunger, or homelessness you are to profess the product of your meddling as the only just remedy. A number of your citizens will most likely complain to your legislature that it is government intervention in these matters that is sustaining their prevalence and that, if only they were not so heavily taxed, these citizens, through expressions of fellowship and voluntary donation, might be capable of better addressing these ailments. It will become necessary, then, for you to label such citizens as haters of the poor, and to trivialize their unbidden contributions. Such a program, it is hoped, will serve to impede not simply the people's ability, but also their willingness to charitably give.
X. If the people are wise they will have beforehand established a contract through which they might foresee and counter the reach and whimsy of your encroachments. It may be necessary — in order to properly attend to your purpose — to, by all resources available, diminish the significance of this contract. Its provisions are therefore to be dismissed as mere process, and its scope as insufficient. If, in any way, this contract or its amendments should serve to draw the boundaries of your authority, you are to deem these boundaries limitless. If its framework should happen to narrow the functions of your government, you are to have these functions at length extended. In this manner and with hope, an environment will surely arise in which the contract is, by you, disregarded and, by the people, in want of renegotiation.
It is likely, if you have observed these few excellent rules, that all of the constituent states of the republic, and its people, will, at last and for all time, rid you of the trouble of governing them, and free you from the burden of further attending to any destructive and abusive actions that would have them longing for safety, security, and reorganization.