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  • Trust Is Government’s Most Important but Disregarded Asset

Trust Is Government’s Most Important but Disregarded Asset

William L. Kovacs

October 2022

Trust Is Government’s Most Important but Disregarded Asset

Trust is a simple concept; it is the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. In simple terms, it means the person or institution does what it states it will do. The United States government has a hard time persuading a majority of its citizens to trust it. The lack of trust in the federal government is seriously eroding its creditability. If it continues to grow, it will impact the federal government’s ability to govern the nation.

The government of the United States has massive assets. It owns 27% of all the land in the country, and through the use of eminent domain, it can acquire whatever other lands it desires. It has trillions of dollars to spend on its wishes while passing its debt to future generations, so it does not burden the current “taking generation.” It controls a well-armed military and an overly arbitrary Federal Bureau of Investigation, to keep any dissent in its place, down to parents at school board meetings. Through the doctrine of sovereign immunity, the Supreme Court holds the federal government “can do no wrong,” therefore it is immune from suit and accountability unless it allows some commoner to sue it.

Yet, having these many powers and riches to do what it wants, and to be free of legal challenges, is not making the lives of citizens  better.

The Pew Research Center’s study of trust in government from 1958-2022 found only two in ten Americans in 2022 trust the government in Washington. In 1958 seventy-five percent of Americans trusted the federal government to do the right thing almost always or most of the time.

Trust is the foundation of democracy. The philosophical theories underlying democracy believed that it was only by persuading man to trust the benefits of civil society (primarily the protection of property) that man was willing to abandon his state of nature, that wild, primitive state untouched by civilization. When trust in government is lost, it is hard to ensure the continuation of democracy.

In a civil society, humans renounce individual power and comply with the rules of the community by trusting the community will safeguard them and subject offenders to punishment. When the bonds of civil society break, people no longer feel protected from their enemies, which can include government.

As a radically polarized country, Democrats have more trust in government when they control government, just as Republicans have more faith in government when they control it. This situation leaves half the nation in perpetual distrust of those who rule the country.

The seeds of this distrust are sown by those who seek public office. These office seekers do not seek office to be our servants. They seek it to be our masters. They do not have loyalty to the Constitution and the rule of law. Their loyalty is to their brand, and the political party and interest groups that help elect them. To these office seekers, being a federal office holder is about being a ruler of the people, not a trustee of the Constitution. This misguided loyalty destroys our Constitutional structure by ignoring the separation of powers mandate to ensure each branch of government is an independent check on the other branches to limit the powers of government.

Institutional integrity is lost when the powers of the several branches of our government become blended due to party affiliation. Once in this situation, the rights of the people are only protected by Republicans or Democrats, depending on who is in power and who they want to protect. In this situation, Congress generally diminishes itself by allowing the Executive to legislate through Executive Order, rulemaking, arbitrary enforcement, or non-enforcement of the laws.

As our public officials abandon strict adherence to the separation of powers structure of the Constitution, government separates itself from the people. The new structure replaces the sovereignty of the people with the authority of government officials.

Our government officials:

  • saddle future generations with such massive amounts of debt; they are placing these generations into involuntary servitude to the government;
  • enforce a two-tier system of justice in which justice is administered according to political beliefs, not according to the actions of individuals;
  • mislead, misinform, and lie to the public so frequently that the public can no longer decipher facts from conspiracy theories;
  • impose laws on the people that they do not follow; as such citizens observe hypocrisy, not leadership; and
  • by rewarding friends (saving Hunter Biden) and punishing enemies (raiding Trump’s residence), one-half the public views only corruption.

How can citizens have faith in a government that acts in this manner? John Locke believed these government actions put it in a state of war with its people. Locke writes, “Whensoever, therefore, the legislature [government] shall transgress this fundamental rule of society… [by] this breach of trust they forfeit the power the people had put into their hands for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the people who have a right to” establish a new government.”

Today the government of the United States is in a perpetual state of war with half the people of the nation. The United States truly depicts Lincoln’s “House Divided.” While a congressional election in a few months may restrain some of the hostility directed at many citizens, it will not be sufficient to heal the nation. Over the next few elections, the country needs to elect representatives who seek to be our servants, not our rulers. Only when citizens elect Representatives who pledge to serve as fiduciaries to the nation and trustees of the Constitution, will we have a government that restores trust in the government.

While the government must have the trust of the people, the actions U.S government are at war with fifty percent of its population. This makes trust impossible.

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  • Reform the Kakistocracy: an essay

Reform the Kakistocracy: an essay

William L. Kovacs

July 2019

Kakistocracy, a term describing what our government has become: a government controlled by “leaders” who are the least able or least principled citizens.

Over the last five-plus decades the kakistocracy transformed our federal government from one of limited powers to one of immense power. Most troubling, the transformation occurred without any changes to the Constitution. This decades-long transformation dramatically limited the powers of Congress, produced an extraordinarily powerful executive, and allowed the courts to become super-legislatures. These changes directly impact how each branch of government is able to fulfill its most essential role as a check on the powers of the other branches.

How did this transformation occur? First and foremost, Congress, our primary law-maker delegated massive amounts of authority to the Executive, which very gladly accepted all the powers delegated. The Executive using the bureaucracy and regulatory authority, implemented the delegated authorities to accumulate immense power over most aspects of society.

The courts not satisfied deciding just real disputes between adversaries; accumulated more powers than given them by the Constitution or Congress through rulings that extended their authority from the parties before the court to broad-based policy decisions and nationwide injunctions. The National Environmental Policy Act, (“NEPA”) is an excellent illustration of how the courts create legal rights never authorized by Congress.  This six-page statute requiring federal agencies to consider the environmental implications of their decisions was judicially expanded to provide environmental groups the right to bring lawsuits against any agency to force proposed environmental impact statements to be more and more comprehensive, sometimes thousands of pages.  NEPA alone can stop any project in the nation.

Another example is the transformation of the Clean Air Act, a law designed to regulate specific, powerful pollutants harmful to human health, into a law that governs almost any industrial activity in the country.

The result of the transformation of our government is decades of policy failures, harmful wealth inequality, a health care system costing two times more than in other industrialized nations, more than a few undeclared wars and the imposition of such massive amounts of debt that citizens will eventually live in involuntary servitude to the federal government. The share of the debt owed by every citizen of this country is approximately $64,000, and for every trillion dollars of new debt accumulated by our government, each of us will owe another $3000.

Reforming the kakistocracy will not be an easy undertaking in a politically divided nation. Presently most members of the kakistocracy give their loyalty to the political party that put them in office. Unfortunately, by them giving more loyalty to a political party than to the Constitution and the branch of government in which these individuals serve, they have destroyed the ability of the respective branches to be both a constitutional check on each other and reasonable adversaries working to find solutions to the problems of the nation.

Our Constitution does not even mention political parties which are nothing more than associations of individuals, organized to take control of our government. However, our Constitution clearly states the responsibilities of the three branches of government and requires every officer of the United States to take an oath to the Constitution. Taking such oath means every official must act as a fiduciary to the Constitution and the branch of government in which they serve and not to the political party that supported them.

The most fundamental change now needed to control the kakistocracy is for members of Congress to abandon their abiding loyalty to the two major political parties and work as fiduciaries to the Constitution, and the institution of Congress, in addressing the issues facing the nation. This approach requires conforming the actions taken by Congress with the constitutional limits imposed on it. By acting as fiduciaries and not as political parties, Congress will function as an institution to do the peoples’ business rather than as a political club doing the bidding of the special interests.  This change opens up ways for Congress: to address the federal deficit; reduce the massive regulatory structure created to manage the administrative state; ensure there are no more wars unless declared by Congress and to devolve to the states many of the powers taken from them, by the federal government, over the last fifty years.

As citizens, we must always be mindful of two facts. First, we elect individuals to run our country, not political parties. Political parties are special interests, not fiduciaries. Why do we trust them to run our government? The alternative is for individuals to seek election on the promise to serve as fiduciaries and we could elect them.

Second, it is the natural tendency of government and those who benefit the most from it, to continuously grow it. The more government grows, the more resources are available to those in control for redistribution to the beneficiaries of their choice. The only way to control government is to streamline it, a process that will have many positive benefits. Less government means it will need less of our money to function. When the government has less money, lobbyists and politicians will have less interest in government since there will be less to take from it.

Citizens cannot expect the government to control itself. In a democracy, it is only citizens who can control their government by determining who runs it. The brilliant part of our Constitution is that it allows us to participate in a legal, political revolution on a regular basis.  This legal process, called voting, makes it possible for us to completely replace the “leadership” of our government in a four to six-year period.  Its time citizens elect citizens who commit to serving as fiduciaries to the Constitution and the institution in which they serve; not politicians whose loyalty is to a political party.

This article was originally published in Reality News, June 2019

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  • Why Would Someone of My Age Start a Blog on Government Reform?

Why Would Someone of My Age Start a Blog on Government Reform?

William L. Kovacs

May 2019

Why Would Someone of My Age Start a Blog on Government Reform?

Insanity, ego, to fill my time, to convince myself I am useful, concerned about the direction of my country, having something to do other than watching reality TV, which includes news and commentary, wanting to appear young and cool, to embarrass my kids, or just to be profound or just to be stupid. The best answer is that common saying – “It’s complex.”

I do not have an answer as to what puts me at the computer every day to turn out material on reforming government, a topic which has a small audience on the best of days. However, I do know that the government of the United States has separated itself from the citizens of the United States. We need to find a way to get it under better management if we want to avoid putting our country into a barrel and pushing it over the waterfalls. This is my only explanation of why I am starting a blog at my age.

Starting it has been the learning challenge of my life since I did not grow up with technology and have never been comfortable with it. While at work there was always someone to handle my technology issues. So, I had to learn the basics of computers, websites, blogs, mobile applications, and many terms to get simple ideas into public space. Acquiring such knowledge gave me a great appreciation of the many talents possessed by the people at work who assisted me and the unique value of a great team when trying to achieve the assigned goal.

Knowing that my effort would be an uphill struggle I needed to focus on my passion of wanting to make government work for people who can’t always participate in it due to work, family affairs, or a lack of resources.

When I worked on policy issues, I was somewhat successful. With my counsel, Congress enacted the nation’s first law to regulate hazardous waste and the reorganization of the Penn Central Railroad into Conrail that kept the freight lines operating in the United States. I wrote an early and lead law review to spur recycling efforts throughout the country. In other endeavors, I lead key coalitions to enact Brownfields legislation, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and permit streamlining legislation for large infrastructure project needing federal environmental review.

Unfortunately, even with significant resources, I failed in my multi-year effort to have enacted the Regulatory Accountability Act which would have required federal agencies to implement the intent of Congress; not the intent of the Executive. The people elect Congress every other year. Each member of Congress is our representative in government. Congress is constitutionally required to make the laws, not the President and indeed not the courts. The one passion I have is to do whatever I can to help Congress reclaim its legislative powers from the Executive and the courts and to ensure it operates as the check on the powers of the other branches of government.

In simple terms, this means we citizens need to elect members of Congress who act as fiduciaries giving their loyalty to the Constitution and the institution of Congress; not the political parties that support them. Political parties are nothing more than self-interested associations organized to gain control of our government. We citizens need the protections provided by the Constitution that mandates strong institutions that act as a check on each other. Relying on political parties to protect us is a fool’s errand since the goal of a political party is to gain control of the government and by extension the wealth and resources of the nation.

Our Framers gave us a Constitution that allows ordinary citizens, in a short time-frame, the right to start a legal revolution by changing the entire government of the country. If we are genuinely as upset with our government as polls suggest, it is time we exercise our legal right to revolt. By voting, we can start a constitutionally sanctioned revolution. 

At my age I am secure enough to state my opinion, to listen to the views of others, accept criticism and to hopefully interest ordinary citizens in adopting and implementing some of the proposed reforms on the unfolding pages. My goal is to generate a discussion on how ordinary people can reclaim the management of their government.

I solicit your ideas and I hope you will send them to me. Your comments will be read and if well-written, thoughtful articles, will be placed on the blog with full credit to you. My goal is to get the ideas for government reform into the marketplace. With this background, the readers will be able to decide why someone of my age would start a blog on government reform.

Follow Bill @WilliamLKovacs