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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Washington's Farewell Address

From The Avalon Project - Yale Law School

Washington's Farewell Address 1796


Friends and Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety, and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it
In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the productions of the latter great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and, while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior communications by land and water, will more and more find a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and, what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any other tenure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connection with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same governments, which their own rival ships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the Union as a primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our Western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head; they have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Mississippi; they have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with Great Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them everything they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the Union by which they were procured ? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a constitution of government better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that for the efficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it - It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue ? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils. Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government. the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing (with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them) conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.
How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.
In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of the twenty-second of April, I793, is the index of my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your representatives in both houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.
After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.
The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.
The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without anything more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.
The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.
Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.
Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

Geo. Washington.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

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Rockport Conservatives

VDH discusses European vs American Morality

Victor Davis Hanson knows so well how to say what anyone with a sense of decency innately knows. From NRO:
A Teachable Moment on American-European Faultlines
By Victor Davis Hanson
The full story is not out on Dominique Strauss-Kahn and he is innocent of forcible sexual battery until proven guilty, but already the case has exposed an ancient abyss between European elite and American popular cultures — accentuated by the differences between New York’s rough-and-tumble media and legal worlds on one hand and IMF technocracy and French privilege on the other. There are also questions of race and asymmetrical power in play, as well as the notion that an IMF head should adopt at least a fa├žade of probity and sacrifice, given that his organization lectures tens of millions on fiscal sobriety and belt-tightening.

So far what confuses Americans the most, superficially at least, is that a man of the Left like socialist Strauss-Kahn should seem so comfortable with the elite tastes of the damnable aristocracy — the astronomically priced suits, the $3,000-a-night suite, the Air France privileges, and the medieval Norman baron’s sense of entitlement regarding an immigrant housecleaner — while the supposedly neanderthal, right-wing Americans and their primitive “accusatory” legal system (read the French press on all that) so far are treating the rights of a maid as equal to a Eurocrat’s.

The wonder about the French cultural furor over the incident is not that they consider us parochial and “hung up” on sex, but that the press and its op-ed writers are so blatant in their expressions of class snobbery and national chauvinism. For all the Euro-lectures about Western imperialist colonialism, this story (fairly or unfairly) casts the Americans as the everyman and the French as the haughty technocrat furious that rules of equality under the law apply to him — not to mention modern notions of feminism, about which one would have expected a sophisticated Frenchman to be sensitive.

One also might have thought the French press would have taken more note of the angle that a foreign national accused of committing several felonies is drawing on considerable power, influence, and money in his legal contest with an immigrant maid from Africa. Instead, in French press accounts, one distills a veritable caricature: “How dare those backward Americans do this? Do they have any idea of who Strauss-Kahn is and what he represents, or how we civilized and sophisticated Europeans deal with these dime-a-dozen sort of low-rent sexual accusations against men of culture from mere chambermaids?”

A book also needs to be written about the psychology that drives elites to push for socialism or statism for others even though it would eventually end the easy affluence that they assume as near birthrights for themselves. A Strauss-Kahn suit, a jaunt to Vail, Martha’s Vineyard, or Costa del Sol — these are not only at odds with the notion of a state-mandated equality of result, they are themselves just dessert fruits of capitalism that would wither on the vine if socialism were fully enacted.
What is it that gives powerful people who think we should all provide for others, on their say so, yet they are so arrogant.

A Rose by an other name....or a Death Panel by any other name

Well, it won't smell as sweet as a rose, but it will still be a death panel.  We may be older folks but we aren't stupid. Read this from Investor'
Will Congress Kill 'Death Panel 2.0'?
In the year since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, the individual mandate requiring Americans to buy insurance or pay a fine has attracted the most attention.

Another key ObamaCare feature has received little notice, but could end up just as controversial.

It goes by the mundane name of the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

A growing and bipartisan array of critics says it will end up rationing care for seniors and is pushing to scrap IPAB entirely. Some of its fiercest opponents have even resurrected the "death panel" label.

Under the law, the president would appoint 15 experts to the board. Starting in 2014, it would be charged with making sure Medicare hits specific spending targets. Because IPAB can't touch benefits, deductibles or co-payments, those cuts would largely focus on provider fees.

Once the board has made up its mind, its cuts would automatically take effect, unless Congress agrees on an alternative package or can get a supermajority to block IPAB's plan. And IPAB decisions would be immune from administrative or judicial review.

By insulating IPAB from politics, it can more effectively manage Medicare costs, the argument goes. Prominent backers include Obama. But several Democrats have come out against it.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., has said the IPAB risks "the health of America's seniors and people with disabilities." Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., in April "strongly" urged her colleagues to sign onto a GOP-led IPAB repeal bill.

The head of the pro-ObamaCare AARP told the New York Times recently that "relying on arbitrary spending targets is not a good way to make health policy, especially when decisions may be left to the unelected and unaccountable."

Groups from the Healthcare Leadership Council to the National Retail Federation back repeal.
You can read it all here.

The essence of Newt

I hate to admit it but I think a Washington Post editorial by Richard Cohen just put how I feel about Newt into the words I could not find.  I disagree with them that their Fact Checker "is possibly the most powerful force for good since Clark Kent encountered a phone booth. "  But buried in the article on Newt Gingrich, a hard hitting, get Newt article (and they do, as have many others) is the essence of what I have been feeling about Newt Gingrich. 

I have never been a fan of the man and now I realize this is why:
There is more than a little Richard Nixon in Gingrich — the same lack of place, the same keen intellect, the same petty fights and imaginary enemies, the same hallucinatory grievances, the same willingness to lie, exaggerate and smear. On a given day, Newt Gingrich could be a brilliant president. On any night, he could be a monster.
He gives a lot of examples of his lying, read the whole editorial.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Gateway Pundit is Shocked, Shocked I tell you!

And Well they should be -  look at this:
Stunner. Muslim Brotherhood “Reformer” to Run for President in Egypt
Posted by Jim

Well, who could have known? That is, who in the President's orbit. The rest of us knew all along the Muslim Brotherhood was not good news in the Egyptian uprisings.
from The Strata-Sphere by AJStrata
Obamacare Fails – Big Time!

There is a
striking story from the AP today, which does not seem to be getting much attention. It turns out Obamacare’s ignorant, naive and overly complex Rube Goldberg solution to ‘fix’ the best health care system on the planet has run into a major problem. It has been rejected by 90% of the premiere health organizations as impossible to implement:
Just over a month ago, the administration released long-awaited draft regulations for “accountable care organizations,” networks of doctors and hospitals that would collaborate to keep Medicare patients healthier and share in the savings with taxpayers.
But in an unusual rebuke, an umbrella group representing premier organizations such as the Mayo Clinic wrote the administration Wednesday saying that more than 90 percent of its members would not participate, because the rules as written are so onerous it would be nearly impossible for them to succeed.
When premiere providers of health care conclude the nonsense produced by a community organizer who thinks in simpleton, primary colors is pretty much guaranteed to fail, that is one heluva rebuke!
He wrote several paragraphs more but the gist of the story is wrapped up in the last sentence,
"Time to scrap that trillion dollar mistake and start over."

Links to Victor Davis Hanson's writings from National Review Online

The World Turned Upside Down -- Again 
Amid global upheaval, our leaders have forgotten how strong America really is.

Tough Times for Radical Islam
Osama bin Laden's world of terrorism no longer exists.

A Weird Sort of Hate
I think it is time to move beyond the Pakistani "alliance": quietly and without fanfare cut off all aid, and wish them well as they seek their own path without the United States.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Both parties wanted to divide and conquer

Those parties would be the Democratic Party and Osama bin Laden via Al Queda. Read this from American Thinker.
Osama Bin Laden's strategy sounds familiar
Phil Boehmke

Wait just a minute, captured documents reveal that Osama Bin Laden wanted to use race and class warfare to weaken America? Isn't that what the Democratic Party has been doing for the past half century? ABC News reports:
Osama Bin Laden aspired to damage the United States not only through persistent terror attacks, but also by attempting to inflame race and class tensions in hopes of tearing down the country from the inside out, according to officials briefed on the evidence trove recovered from the al Qaeda leader's Pakistan compound.

According to materials in the cache of documents recovered in the U.S. Navy SEAL raid that brought down the terror leader, bin Laden planned to specifically recruit African-American Muslim converts to carry out attacks on the homeland. The goal was to not only kill and maim in the actual operations, but to create a divisiveness that would cause more damage than al Qaeda could ever hope to do on their own.
For some reason Jeremiah Wright's post 9-11 "God damn America" sermon springs to mind. OBL must have been heartened by the election of Barack Obama, which looks suspiciously like the crowning achievement of his strategy. Still, it would be wrong to view the race-baiting and class warfare tactics of the left as an outgrowth of some grand al Qaeda strategy.
To see what Al Sharpton thinks about this go here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

So much to post, so little time......

So you are getting links in a big bundle.

Mirroring the Canadians in the UK, Conservatives win
Election results 2011: Lib Dems suffer worst losses in a generation

I guess they just didn't know it before.
Pakistan Forces Arrest 40 Suspects Connected to Bin Laden

This is not surprising. I know some very good teachers who do not vote with the union, but....
Nation's largest union asks members to back Obama’s reelection

Just for the record, Al Queda has admitted their blessed leader is dead
'Your happiness will turn to sadness': Al Qaeda admits Bin Laden IS dead - but vows bloody revenge

I saw a headline yesterday saying Ahmadinejad had stepped down.  I am not posting that one but it did have to do with the fact that some of his key men have had some very strange accusations made against them and have been ousted from his cabinet. I expect he is on his way out and this is why. I had not planned to post more than headlines but this is just a very good example of what century these people are living in.
Ahmadinejad allies charged with sorcery

Iranian power struggle between president and supreme leader sees arrests and claims of undue influence of chief of staff
Close allies of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have been accused of using supernatural powers to further his policies amid an increasingly bitter power struggle between him and the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Several people said to be close to the president and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been arrested in recent days and charged with being "magicians" and invoking djinns (spirits).

Ayandeh, an Iranian news website, described one of the arrested men, Abbas Ghaffari, as "a man with special skills in metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds".
So that seems like a good enough review of what I am reading today.  A large and varied roundup.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Is the hoped for "bump" turning into a dip?

I've had many emails back and forth with friends and other conservatives about the dissembling going on within the administration on exactly what happened during the raid that ended in the death of bin Laden.  I cannot believe that anyone is feeling more trust and love for the president and his fellow Democrats unless they already felt great trust and love.  You may have realized this but I don't feel that trust and love. I want to know what really happened.  I want the rest of the world to be able to believe the USA when we say something. 

Now via PJ Tatler I find that even Time magazine's Mark Halperin is not exactly feeling the trust, even though it would be very hard for him not to feel the love.
Five Mistakes the Obama Administration Has Made in the Aftermath of Bin Laden Killing

Aftermath can be heck.

The White House's brilliant conceptualization and execution of the plan to bring Osama bin Laden to justice has, in the last 48 hours, been complicated by mistakes.

No one can question the heroism of the US military, the doggedness of the intelligence community, or the cajones of the President in making the call. But the administration has since made real errors, some with political costs, some with substantive costs, and some with both. (See pictures of Osama bin Laden's Pakistan hideaway.)
Actually Mark, this blogger can question those cojones, I've read the stories of his delaying tatics on the raid.
The major errors so far:
1. Not getting its story straight: Was bin Laden armed or not? What woman served as a human shield? Who actually was killed beyond the main target? The administration deserves mountains of credit for its painstaking, conspicuous effort to brief the world on the mission, knowing a lot of information would have to be held back to protect sources, operatives, methods, and sensitive data. Which makes the carelessness of the errors somewhat surprising. The costs: the media coverage sours, the President's opponents (especially on talk radio) go crazy, other details of the mission unfairly get called into question, and the wild theories of global enemies and conspiracy seekers get a foothold.

2. Not giving George W. Bush enough credit for helping bring bin Laden to justice: Even if the White House believes the previous occupant had nothing to do with OBL's ultimate demise, it would have been better for national unity and Obama's own political fortunes if he had gone out of his way to thank 43. His invitation to Bush to join the event Thursday at Ground Zero (an offer declined) was the right idea, but belated. (Watch "President Obama on the Death of bin Laden.")

3. Letting the photo debate get out of control: The decision about whether to release images of a dead bin Laden is not an easy one. But the administration's conflicting statements and public agonizing has created an extended distraction. The White House has stumbled by violating one of Washington's iron rules: when something becomes famous inside the Beltway for not being released, the pressure from the media to release it becomes unrelenting.

4. Letting the debate about the war in Afghanistan get out of control: There are signs that some of the president's advisers are looking to scale back the commitment in Afghanistan sooner rather than later. But by failing to go on the offensive in defining and defending whatever policy the President wants to pursue, the White House has allowed those pressing for an end of the war to use bin Laden's death as rhetorical leverage. (See pictures of Osama bin Laden's life of terror.)

5. Letting the debate about Pakistan get out of control: The congressional and media demand for a radical change in America's relationship with Pakistan is burning like wildfire. The administration knows that a shift in policy is complicated and compromising, and not necessarily in the United States' interest. Stoking the problem: executive branch officials, publicly and privately, are expressing incredulity that the Pakistanis were unaware bin Laden was hiding in plain sight in their country. There should be and will be a debate about all this, but the administration's actions and inactions is making it less likely it will be on their terms.
So, Mark Halperin has listed some of the reasons we have all been discussing.  This tells me he knows this has been a major mistake in handling what could have been a very good political play on the president's side.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My opinion as well

From Four Block world:
Wartime Leaders

Victor Davis Hanson on the Bin Laden kill

From National Review's online Journal:
Bin Laden Fallout
I think there will be repercussions from the hit, and most of them will turn out to be good in terms of the War on Terror.
1) The world must now realize that the domestic antiwar movement is dead, kaput; it cares not a whit whether we assassinate bin Laden or a son of Qaddafi or go into Libya. Everything is on the table now and there are no self-restraints, no snickers on The Daily Show, no quirky insider winks on Letterman, no Barbara Streisand crazy faxes. A Nobel peace laureate is now the Left’s totem and he can send quite deadly Americans on quite deadly missions as he sees fit — and without worry about a New York Times op-ed barrage or an ACLU lawsuit. That gives the U.S. newfound advantages, a veritable blank check, from keeping Guantanamo open indefinitely to using a Cheney “assassination” team and valuable water-boarded intelligence wherever it wishes to. A Harold Koh is not going to be filing any more lawsuits against his government — he is the government.
2) For all the talk of “leading from behind” and the quagmire in Libya, the truth is that the U.S. military remains preeminent and transcends the administration in power at any given time. It won the Iraq war, and could easily, if unleashed, take out Qaddafi. The odds are still that it can stabilize Afghanistan. It is hard to imagine another country pulling off an operation of the sort that killed bin Laden. A “post-America” is simply a choice not to utilize its resources and power in a way it most certainly could with dispatch and success — as we see, in contrast, from the agonizing efforts of the British and French in Libya, or Russian anti-terrorism incompetence.
3) There is much talk of a payback to come. But the triumphalism of unapologetically celebrating the death of bin Laden also conveys a newfound confidence, or perhaps even fatalism, a sort of Bring it on, let’s get it over with once and for all. I think we will see that ‘whatever’ attitude with Pakistan, whose yelps about violation of its airspace will soon give way to the reality that American public opinion considers it not an ally, not even a neutral, but a veritable enemy that has done more harm to this country than Cuba, North Korea, or Venezuela ever dreamed of. Should Obama wish to deal toughly with the Pakistanis, he has public support, and of course the option of much closer relations with India, in and outside of Afghanistan. The public wants the Pakistan two-step to end.
4) Radical Islam has been incrementally and steadily weakened over the last decade. It has not repeated a 9/11-like operation. There are Bush-era antiterrorism protocols in place, embraced or expanded by Obama, that make terrorism far harder. We have killed thousands of Islamists in Anbar Province and in Afghanistan. The Arab world is fragmented, in open revolt, and the Arab Street is incapable of voicing, as it once did, solidarity with bin Laden. Obama knows this better than anyone, so talks of ‘reset’ even as he keeps the Bush antiterrorism protocols unchanged. Whether the trigger for this wave of Middle Eastern unrest and rebellion was the removal of Saddam and the establishment of a democracy in Iraq, or a Soviet-like implosion of failed autocratic government throughout the Middle East, it matters little. At least for now, Middle East dictatorships in extremis are claiming as their one saving grace their antiterrorism and anti-al-Qaeda credentials, and, likewise, those in the streets seeking to destroy these Middle East authoritarians are claiming just about the same. Both groups are probably lying, but their rhetoric at least is predicated on the fact that bin Laden &; Co. are now losers in a way they were praised as winners between 2001 and 2003.

Whoops! the Washington Post has some criticism of Obama's Slowness Strategy

Editorial Board Opinion
A strategy of slowness?

THE DEFINING characteristic of the Obama administration’s response to revolution in the Arab world has been its slowness. When protests first erupted in Egypt in January, the administration’s first reaction was to publicly pronounce Hosni Mubarak’s government “stable”; President Obama did not support the demonstrators’ demand for the dictator’s resignation until days before his departure. When Moammar Gaddafi launched an attempt to crush Libya’s uprising by force in February, Mr. Obama was the last major Western leader to speak out in opposition. Three more weeks passed before the White House agreed to military intervention to protect civilians.
Syria has been another case of extraordinary U.S. passivity. The first protests in the southern city of Daraa were five weeks ago, and on March 23 the first of many massacres of demonstrators by security forces was reported. Yet on March 27 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was still referring to President Bashar al-Assad as “a reformer.” Not until Friday — when at least 42 more civilians were reportedly gunned down — did the administration finally take its first, tangible steps to pressure the regime, by bringing Syria before the U.N. Human Rights Council and imposing sanctions on several officials. It still has not backed the protesters’ demands that Mr. Assad give up power.
This pattern of torpidity has sometimes appeared to be the product of Mr. Obama’s caution about adopting major changes in foreign policy; or disputes among his advisers over the proper course; or conflicting U.S. interests. Up to a point, the confusion is understandable. It is not easy to abandon long-standing alliances with Arab regimes or bet on the unknown in a country such as Syria, even when the reward may be a democratic transformation or a body blow to U.S. enemies.
Recently, however, some of Mr. Obama’s aides have sought to portray slowness as a considered policy. Last week The Post’s Scott Wilson quoted one official saying, with respect to Syria, that “we very much see our role in these things as one that is behind what voices in the region are saying.” The New Yorker magazine quoted an aide as describing the president’s actions in Libya as “leading from behind.” (ed note: can you believe that? lead from behind?)
Could it be that American passivity is a virtue, worthy of elevation into doctrine? The record in the Middle East so far suggests that it is not. The administration’s response to Egypt was not well received by Egyptians — a plurality of 39 percent said in a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center that the impact of the policy was “negative.” Sixty-four percent said they had little or no confidence in Mr. Obama — five percentage points more than a year ago. In Libya, opposition leaders have joined U.S. NATO allies in expressing disappointment at Mr. Obama’s refusal to commit more U.S. aircraft to the fight — a posture that almost certainly has prolonged the war and Libyans’ suffering.
By insisting on following “voices in the region” on Syria, Mr. Obama effectively deferred to countries such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey about whether to take a stand against a regime that has deployed troops and tanks against unarmed citizens. That is an unprecedented yielding of U.S. global leadership on matters of human rights and democracy. It is more likely to increase than lessen anti-Americanism in the Arab world. In both practical and moral terms, “leading from behind” is a mistake.
I've posted the whole editorial, but here is a link.

Good news from Canada

In spite of the mainstream media and journalists trying to douse our hopes for the future it seems the people of Canada are also on a conservative bent. From Yahoo News Canada:
Canada's Conservatives score massive election win

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Conservatives stormed to a decisive victory in Monday's federal election, winning 54 percent of the seats in Parliament and securing a stable four-year term in power after vowing to focus on the economy.

The Conservatives grabbed 167 seats in Canada's Parliament, well above the 155 they needed to transform their minority government into a majority, according to provisional results. They won about 40 percent of the vote, beating expectations.

The victory, a relief for Canadian financial markets, left support for the separatist Bloc Quebecois in tatters and the party's leader without a seat. Bloc Quebecois advocates independence for the province of Quebec.

The Liberals, who have ruled Canada for more years than any other party, were reduced to a dismal third place showing with their worst ever seat haul.
Read it all here.  I don't know about you, but it gives me great  hope. Also read this from the BBC for more on this election. 

Stephen Harper's Conservatives win Canadian election

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative Party has won a majority of seats in a historic election that saw the left-leaning New Democratic Party become the official opposition.

The Conservatives won 167 of the 308 electoral districts, earning 40% of the vote, Elections Canada reported.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) claimed 102 seats, while the Liberals took 34.

Mr Harper, who took office in 2006, has previously won two elections but never before held a majority government.

Canadians voted on Monday in the country's fourth general election in seven years.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Obama doctrine: Leading from behind - The Washington Post

When Charles Krauthammer is on, he's on! Leading from behind is such an oxymoron that reading it as the initial writer used it makes my head spin. Once again I feel like I'm living in an alternate universe...

The Obama doctrine: Leading from behind - The Washington Post

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Obama Project: The Case For Change - Page 1 - Hugh Hewitt - Townhall Conservative

Hugh Hewitt has compiled a list of reasons President Obama should not be reelected. This is a true must read. And truthfully he hasn't listed ALL the reasons, I can think of a couple myself that aren't on there, and so can the commenters.
The Obama Project: The Case For Change - Page 1 - Hugh Hewitt - Townhall Conservative

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mommy Patriots.

Sorry for the original post about the Mommy Patriots, I really do know better.

So, now that I've cleaned it up, please go take a look. It's a way of sympathizing/supporting/being one with all us mothers that are patriotic but aren't quite Mama Grizzlies or Tiger Moms.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Traveling in Texas and Happy Easter greetings.

I am taking time out of Rockport to visit family in other parts of Texas.  First my brother in Clifton; now I am at a sister's home in Longview.  I was just treated to a wonderful dessert of dewberry cobbler with ice cream.  Don't you wish you knew my baby sister?

We are a family of seven siblings. The oldest, a brother, passed away in January.  Even though we have always been a close knit family it makes those of us who are left behind even more dear to each other.

We had planned to do this trip in the fall but so much got in the way we are only now taking the time to do it.

I am not up to what all is going on in the country politics wise, so it up to you, my readers to let me know if something important happens. Post a comment here to tell me what is happening where you are. Post a link, post your thoughts.  We will see if we get some replies.

And those of you who have posting rights, please use them.

Happy Easter to you all.

Monday, April 18, 2011

More on Taxes on Tax Day.

Just two - like they say about some poker hands, "read em' and weep."
Nonpayers Complicate Republican Effort At Overhaul of U.S. Tax Code
By Richard Rubin

More than 45 percent of U.S. households won’t owe federal income taxes for 2010. That stems from decades of tax cuts and, in the minds of some Republican lawmakers, it’s also a problem.

Policies designed to ease the tax burden of lower-income Americans and offer targeted tax incentives have pushed millions of people off the income tax rolls. That has bolstered an argument that these households don’t have enough of a stake in the political system because they don’t pay income taxes.

“As a matter of fairness, wouldn’t it make more sense if all citizens paid at least something in income taxes?” asked Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, at a March 30 hearing. “I am convinced that it would help us in our fight against excessive federal spending. You get a lot of takers when you ask people if they want more of something and you tell them it’s free.”

Requiring everyone to pay some income taxes could shift more of the burden onto low-income workers at a time when income and wealth are more concentrated at the top of the economic scale. It would also come as Democrats are trying to allow income tax rates for the top two brackets to rise.

“Just as a political matter, it’s really hard to make somebody who’s paying nothing pay something,” said Bruce Bartlett, an economist who worked for Republican presidents and who has been critical of recent Republican policies. “It’s easier to get people who are paying something to pay more.”
Why People Don’t Pay

Lawmakers often cite a 47 percent nonpayer figure from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington, which it calculated for tax year 2009, said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the center. The figure declined to 45 percent in 2010, and a comparable figure for 2011 is not yet available. It’s likely to be lower, because the $400 per person Making Work Pay income tax credit from the 2009 stimulus law expired at the end of 2010.

Any attempt to add people to the income tax rolls requires examining the reasons why some people don’t pay.

Nonpayers typically have low incomes or are retired and living off their savings. In tax year 2010, a married couple with two children earning $26,000 would pay no income taxes because of the standard deduction and personal exemptions.

Beyond that threshold, the earned income tax credit, the child tax credit and other similar provisions can generate tax refunds for people who pay no income taxes. The introduction of the 10 percent bottom tax bracket as part of the 2001 income tax cuts sought by President George W. Bush also pushed people outside the income tax system.
Read the rest of this article here.

And now for an example of only one pair of taxpayers who pay nothing. In this case, however, they are providing a service to the community. I think this is a rare exception of those who pay no taxes.

Five little Wards are IRS darlings

SMITHFIELD -- This morning, when she kisses all five of her beautiful deductibles on the cheek, straps on their backpacks and nudges them out the door for the school bus, Thelma Ward will relax and wait for her reward in the mailbox - all $54,242.

This year, the federal government is sending her family such a whopping refund that it has turned her and her husband, David, into nationwide tax celebrities, landing them on CNN with all of their adopted children.

When her accountants did the ciphering, they figured the calculator was broken, maybe adding an extra zero. They even sent the Wards home to Smithfield while they totaled the gigantic sum another 10 times.

But it's true. Five figures. All at once. The reason: a change in the tax law allows credits for special-needs adopted children - which the Wards pack into three of their four bedrooms - to be collected as a cash payment even if no taxes are owed. And it's retroactive, H&R Block explained to Thelma.

"I said, 'For real, girl?'" recalled Ward, 44. "I just started shouting. The pictures on the wall were turning sideways."

The Wards are a religious couple. They don't expect compensation for good deeds. But it's hard not to see a greater hand at work here. For months the world has reeled at the idea that General Electric paid no income taxes - which doesn't appear to be true - but to say the very least, the government has been good to them.
Read more here.