Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Second Vermont Republic Strategic Alliance

The Problem: The American Empire is the largest, wealthiest, most powerful, most materialistic, most racist, most militaristic, most violent empire of all-time.  It is owned, operated, and controlled by Wall Street, Corporate America, and the Israeli Lobby.  It has lost its moral authority and is unsustainable, ungovernable, and, therefore, unfixable.

Opportunities:

  1. The Vermont Mystique. Classic red barns, covered bridges, the picturesque patchwork pattern of small farms, black-and-white Holsteins, tiny villages, little rivers, ridges, hollows, valleys, and dirt roads.
  2. The Vermont Village Green. A place where people meet to chat, have a coffee, a locally brewed beer, a glass of wine, or a bite to eat; read a newspaper; listen to music; smell the flowers; and pass the time away.  A place which is all about the politics of human scale – small towns, small businesses, small schools, and small churches.  The village green is neat, clean, democratic, radical, nonviolent, noncommercial, egalitarian, and humane.  A mirror image of the way America once was but no longer knows how to be.
  3. David and Goliath Image. What could be more absurd than tiny Vermont, the second smallest state in the United States in terms of population, confronting the most powerful empire in history?  The image of Vermont as an underdog is not likely to go unnoticed.

Challenges:

  1. Neoconservatives. The Republican Party, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and CNBC.  Governor Jim Douglas, Lt. Governor Brian Dubie, the Ethan Allen Institute, and True North Radio.
  2. Neoliberals. The Democratic Party, most of the national media including ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, PBS, and NPR.  Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Patrick Leahy, Congressman Peter Welch, and their political supporters.

Objectives: The peaceable return of Vermont to its status as an independent republic and the peaceable dissolution of the American Empire.

Goals:

  1. Political independence by 2015.
  2. Dissolution of the American Empire by 2020.

Strategies:

  1. Moral Authority. Challenge the moral authority of the U.S. Government, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Patrick Leahy, Congressman Peter Welch, and all of their collaborators.
  2. Swiss Model. Unabashedly embrace the socio-economic, political model of Switzerland, the most sustainable nation-state of all time.
  3. Imagine…Free Vermont. Launch a new political party whose aim is to elect state government officials and members of the legislature committed to Vermont independence.  Once the party has a majority in the legislature, a motion will be introduced calling for a statewide convention to consider articles of secession.  After these articles of secession have been approved by a two-thirds majority of the convention delegates, negotiations will begin with the United States Government for the peaceable departure of Vermont from the Union.
  4. Vermont Commons. Develop the economic, agricultural, energy, and environmental foundations necessary to support a sustainable, politically independent Free Vermont.
  5. Radio Free Vermont. Sow the seeds of peaceable rebellion against the Empire through Vermont based music produced by Vermont musicians.
  6. Outreach. Through the Middlebury Institute, the website SecessionNews.com, and other networks, reach out to other independence movements in the United States and elsewhere.
  7. Finance. Utilize modern, Internet based social network technology to raise money to finance the activities of the SVR Strategic Alliance.

Imagine…Free Vermont

Thomas H. Naylor

March 20, 2010

Neoliberalism: Neoconservatism Without a Smirk

It has become increasingly obvious that the only difference between Barack Obama and George W. Bush is that the famous Bush smirk has been replaced by the Obama smile.  The neoconservatism of Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Bill O’Reilly has given way to the neoliberalism of Bill Clinton, Timothy Geithner, Bernie Sanders, and Chris Matthews.  The differences between neoliberalism and neoconservatism are similar to the differences between Coke and Pepsi, virtually nil.

Neoconservatism is best defined by its foreign policy agenda which includes full spectrum dominance, imperial overstretch, nuclear primacy, the right of pre-emptive strike, and unconditional support for the State of Israel.  Although neoliberals are much less bellicose in their rhetoric than their neoconservative counterparts, they passively acquiesce to the neocon foreign policy paradigm.  They do little or nothing to end the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the annihilation of Palestine carried out by our close ally Israel.  Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo was little short of a global call to arms couched in the language of the doctrine of “just war.”  Although neocons make it abundantly clear that they are military hawks, most neoliberals are closet hawks as well.

Consider the case of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the darling of the Left, who pretends to be a socialist, which he is not.  Not only does Sanders support all military appropriation bills and military aid to Israel, but he is currently promoting the opening of a satellite facility of the Sandia Corporation in Vermont.  The Sandia Corporation, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Company, develops, creates, maintains, and evaluates nuclear weapons systems.  Sandia’s roots go back to the Manhattan Project in World War II.  Just what peace loving Vermonters need, a nuclear weapons manufacturer located in their own backyard.

Both neolibs and neocons are apologists for globalization and are steeped in the ideology that bigger, faster, and more high-tech make better.  In their heart of hearts neolibs and neocons know that only the federal government can solve all of our problems, failing to realize that the federal government is the problem.  Both embrace corporate socialism, socialism for the rich, and the social welfare state while pretending to be opposed to publicly financed social welfare.  It’s all about people of the lie.

Neoliberals pretend to be concerned about inequities in the distribution of income and wealth.  Neoconservatives make it abundantly clear that they couldn’t care less.

Both neolibs and neocons are authoritarian statists each with their own definition of political correctness.  Politically correct neolibs are expected to be pro-abortion, pro-gay-lesbian, pro-affirmative action, pro-Israel, pro-gun control, anti-clerical, pro-big government, and pro-American Empire.  Anyone who does not conform to this litany or who associates with those who do not, is at risk of being attacked by a left wing truth squad such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and accused of the likes of homophobia, racism, anti-semitism, religious fundamentalism, or even hate crimes.  Politically correct neocons are more likely to be pro-life, anti-gay-lesbian, anti-affirmative action, pro-Israel, anti-gun control, pro-clerical, pro-big government, and pro-Empire.  Both are vehemently opposed to secession.

Above all, what neoliberals and neoconservatives have in common is that they are technofascists.  Benito Mussolini defined fascism as “the merger of state and corporate power.”  Technofascism is the melding of corporate, state, military, and technological power by a handful of political elites which enables them to manipulate and control the population through the use of money, markets, media and the Internet.

Neoliberals and neoconservatives alike march to the beat of the same drummer – the largest, wealthiest, most powerful, most materialistic, most racist, most militaristic, most violent empire of all time.

Ultimately the differences between neoliberalism and neoconservatism are purely cosmetic.  You may either have your technofascism with a smirk or you can have it with a smile.

Imagine…Free Vermont

Thomas H. Naylor

February 16, 2010

Could Free Vermont Lead the World Back to the Gold Standard?

When Vermont becomes a free and independent republic, financial integrity and sustainability will be among its highest priorities. Since it will be free of the Federal Reserve Bank, the U.S. Treasury, and the U.S. Government fiat money printing press, Vermont will be free to choose its own form of currency. At least initially, it might choose the Canadian loony or the Swiss franc.

However, over the long run, Vermont should seriously consider a precious metal based currency such as the gold standard. A country is said to be on the gold standard when it will redeem any of its money in gold and when it agrees to buy and sell gold at a fixed price. A gold backed currency would give rise to a more disciplined, stable financial system based on accountability, integrity, and trust rather than wishful thinking and pie-in-the-sky. The gold standard would check inflation, restrain government spending, and stabilize currency exchange rates among countries that use it. The disadvantage is that it might prevent necessary adjustment in domestic currency supplies and international exchange rates.

For centuries gold has served as a store of value and as a safe haven during periods of uncertainty. Its imperishability and liquidity make it an ideal form of money.

The return of the gold standard could inject a degree of sanity into a global economy which consists of a complex international network of investment banks, hedge-funds, derivative contracts, credit default swaps, exchange-traded-portfolios, and subprime mortgages – an economy which no one seems to know how to fix. It could restrain runaway government spending, government bailouts, stimulus packages, and tax increases.

Is it possible that tiny Vermont might lead the way out of global economic chaos by offering itself as an example of New England discipline and financial integrity?

How might Vermont’s state government pave the way towards the gold standard even before it officially cuts ties with the United States?

First, the state’s Treasurer should begin converting substantial amounts of the state’s cash into gold. Conventional investments in U.S. Treasury bonds should be replaced by investments in gold. The state should start accumulating a stock of gold to be available when the transition to the gold standard occurs. Few investments have performed as well as gold over the past decade. When President George W. Bush declared victory in the war in Iraq on May 1, 2003, on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, the price of gold was $320 per troy ounce. By December of 2009 the price was over $1,200 per troy ounce.

Second, the Governor should appoint a Gold Standard Commission to plan the orderly transition to a gold backed currency. The commission should include economists, bankers, business and labor leaders, and attorneys.

Third, as an act of defiance against the federal government, the state of Vermont might begin issuing its own unofficial gold trading tokens to be used by Vermonters as they see fit. Such tokens could easily take on a life of their own.

When confronted by an omnipotent global empire, there are few peaceable options available to a tiny state like Vermont. Two such options are secession and the gold standard.

By peacefully seceding from the Union and embracing the gold standard, the people of the indomitable Green Mountain State could lead the American Empire into disunion.

In the words of President Calvin Coolidge, a Vermonter, “If the spirit of liberty should vanish in other parts of the union and support of our institutions should languish, it could all be replenished from the generous store held by the people of this brave little state of Vermont.”

Imagine…Free Vermont
Thomas H. Naylor
March 1, 2010

Imagine Free Vermont, The Switzerland of North America

If Vermont were to secede from the Union and become an independent nation-state, how could it possibly survive as a separate republic? How would it function? Are there any examples of smaller, sustainable nation-states which might serve as a role model for a state like Vermont, should it decide to leave the Union? There is at least one such nation that might serve as a viable model for an independent Vermont: the Swiss Confederation.

When Julie Andrews mesmerized millions with her lilting lyrics as she sang “The hills are alive with the sound of music,” she was singing about the Austrian Alps not far from the Swiss border. But she might very well have been singing about Vermont’s Green Mountains, which have far more in common with their taller Swiss and Austrian counterparts than many realize. Could Free Vermont become the Switzerland of North America?

With a population of only 7.3 million people, a little larger than that of an average American state, Switzerland is one of the wealthiest, most democratic, least violent, most market-oriented countries in the world, with the weakest central government and the most decentralized social welfare system. Founded in 1291 near Lake Lucerne, the Swiss Confederation may be the most sustainable nation-state of all-time.

Situated in the heart of Europe, Switzerland has always existed in a state of tension between opening and closing its borders to the outside world. Even today it has nearly one million so-called “guest workers.” For centuries it has been an area of settlement and a transit region of European north-south commerce. The country’s economy has long been geared to processing imported raw materials and re-exporting them as finished goods, such as specialty foods and pharmaceutical products.

The Swiss enjoy state-of-the-art technology, and their banks and financial institutions are among the most stable and financially secure anywhere in the world. The same is true of the Swiss franc.

Swiss Federalism. Over the past seven hundred years or so Switzerland has developed a unique social and political structure, with a strong emphasis on federalism and direct democracy, which brings together its 26 cantons (tiny states), with populations ranging from 14,900 to 1,187,000, and its four languages and cultures – German, French, Italian, and Romansch. The Swiss cantons enjoy considerably more autonomy than do American states. One finds a host of local and regional cultures and traditions melded into a patchwork of sights and events that are considered “typically Swiss.” There appears to be less tension among competing cultures, religions, and cantons than one finds in the United States.

As Austrian economist Leopold Kohr once noted, the Swiss have solved their minority problems by “creating minority states rather than minority rights.” Switzerland has a coalition government with a rotating presidency, in which the president serves for only one year. Many Swiss do not know who of the seven Federal Councillors in the government is the president at any given time, since he or she is first among equals.

Direct Democracy. In Switzerland a petition signed by one hundred thousand voters can force a nationwide vote on a proposed constitutional change and the signatures of only fifty thousand voters can force a national referendum on any federal law passed by Parliament.

Several cantons still follow the centuries-old traditions of Landsgemeinde or open-air parliaments each spring. Others are experimenting with voting over the Internet.

However, it is at the commune level that Swiss democracy is most direct. Within the cantons, there are 2,902 communes in the Swiss Confederation, each run by a local authority. Just as the cantons enjoy a high degree of independence from the national government, within the cantons many of the communes also enjoy a high degree of independent authority and decision-making.

Swiss Neutrality. Switzerland has not been involved in a foreign war since 1515, and although it is heavily armed, it has remained neutral since 1815. It has never been part of a larger empire.

Swiss foreign policy is based on four premises: (1) Switzerland will never initiate a war. (2) It will never enter a war on the side of a warring party. (3) It will never side in any way with one warring party against another. (4) It will vigorously defend itself against outside attack.

According to the Swiss constitution, every Swiss male is obligated to do military service; women are also accepted into the military service on a voluntary basis but are not drafted. In case of an attack on the country several hundred thousand men and women can be mobilized within a few days.

Even though Geneva is home to many agencies of the United Nations, only recently did the Swiss vote to join the U.N. Although the Swiss do trade extensively with member nations of the European Union, the Swiss citizenry has consistently rejected membership in the EU, even though the Berne central government favors membership.

Neutrality does not mean non-involvement. In terms of foreign aid contributed to Third World countries, the Swiss contribute nearly three times as much, as a percentage of the Gross National Income, as is contributed by The United States.

Infrastructure. Despite their fierce independence, Swiss towns, villages, and cantons do cooperate on major infrastructure projects involving the general public interest, including railroads, highways, tunnels, electric energy, water supply, and pollution abatement.

Many Swiss villages are linked by a network of passenger trains. Through efficient, high-quality railroads, village residents have easy access to neighboring villages as well as the larger cities such as Geneva and Zurich (both consistently ranked among the ten best cities in the world in which to live). The railroads provide a sense of connectedness to the rest of the country and to Europe as a whole.

Humane Health Care. In the highly decentralized Swiss health care system it is possible for patients, physicians, clinics, hospitals, and insurance providers to be in community with one another. Unlike in the United States, 95 percent of all Swiss citizens are insured against illness by one of four hundred private health insurance funds. The Swiss health care system is second to none, as is demonstrated by the fact that the Swiss infant mortality rate is among the lowest in the world in contrast to that of the United States which compares favorably with Eastern European countries like Hungary, Poland, and the Slovak Republic.

Quality Education. Although the Swiss constitution stipulates that “the right to sufficient and free primary education is guaranteed,” there is no federal or national Department of Education. Rather, education is governed by the 26 different cantons. Swiss children are required by canton law to attend school. Kindergarten is voluntary and free. Some 99 percent of Swiss children attend kindergarten for at least one year, 63 percent for two. Instruction is given in the local national language, but each child also has the option to learn one of the other national languages. Those who plan to attend a university may go to one of three kinds of high schools specializing in either Greek and Latin, modern languages, or mathematics and science. Students who attend one of the seven public universities pay no tuition.

Decentralized Social Welfare. Swiss children are taught in small schools the virtues of self-sufficiency, hard work, cooperation, and loyalty to family and community. Since public assistance is funded locally, it pays off in visible ways for the community to discourage welfare dependency.

Aid plans are custom-designed with strict time limits. The objective is to help the client get back on his or her feet. For a few francs one can obtain any individual’s tax return – no questions asked. This helps keep welfare clients honest. Thus the Swiss practice what conservatives preach but rarely practice – complete decentralization of the responsibility for social welfare.

Alpine Villages. Scattered throughout the Swiss Alps and neighboring Austria, Bavaria, and Northern Italy are dozens of small villages. In most of these Alpine villages there is an inexorable commitment to the land. A gift of land from one’s parents carries with it a moral obligation of continued stewardship. Few would think of selling their land and leaving the village.

The church is often the center of village spiritual life, as well as social life. Friends meet at the market, the pub, the inn, the post office, and the churchyard to catch up on village news. The severe winters create an environment encouraging cooperation, sharing, and trust. The extraordinary beauty and the severity of the winters provide the glue which holds these communities together.

In these villages, in stark contrast to the rootless mobility that characterizes American life, one finds a sense of continuity where the generations are born, grow up, remain, and eventually die – a mentality which pervades all of Switzerland. Sustainable agricultural policies have made it financially viable for families to remain in the countryside. Conspicuously absent is the dilapidation, deterioration, and decay found throughout the American countryside – particularly in the rural South.

Swiss Agriculture. Even though only 4 percent of the Swiss people still live on farms, they manage to produce two-thirds of the foodstuff consumed annually by the entire country. So important is agriculture to Swiss culture, Swiss tourism, and ultimately the Swiss economy, that the Berne government has devised a creative system of direct payments to farmers over and above the income they receive from their produce. These payments remunerate the farmers for the services they are considered to provide to the population as a whole. These services include managing the rural landscape, managing the natural heritage, ensuring food supplies, and encouraging decentralization. Payments are made to farmers only if farm animals are kept under animal-friendly conditions, reasonable amounts of fertilizer are used, a suitable area is set aside for the maintenance of environmental balance, crops are rotated, soil quality is perfected, and plant protection products are used sparingly. The sophisticated payment formula also takes into consideration the farmer’s age and income level, as well as the farm size and the number of farm animals. In Switzerland, sustainable agriculture is neither left to chance nor to the market alone.

Since small Swiss farms use fewer nitrates, pesticides, and herbicides, the Swiss wells and streams are much less likely to be contaminated than those in the United States. Swiss farmers have been pioneers in the field of environmental-friendly production methods, and serve as examples for other countries to follow. For example, recently Swiss voters passed a five-year ban on the use of genetically modified plants and animals in farming.

Environmentalism. Not surprisingly, there are not nearly as many federal government environmental regulations in Switzerland as there are in the United States. Concern for the environment originates at the village and canton level in Switzerland, not in Berne.

Although acid rain has taken its toll on Swiss forests, water pollution – with a few notable exceptions – is rare. However, Switzerland and France have experienced disastrous Alpine road tunnel fires. Environmentalists oppose reopening these tunnels, arguing that heavy truck traffic pollutes the air and harms people and trees in areas of great beauty visited by many tourists. They insist that freight should be hauled in containers carried on trains rather than barreling through the Alps in convoys of polluting trucks.

Per capita energy use in Switzerland is only 46 percent of that in the United States in spite of the harsh winters experienced in the Swiss Alps.

Conclusion. Switzerland is not Utopia, and certainly the Swiss are not without their critics. Some view them as arrogant, narcissistic, secretive, sexist, and xenophobic, — the latter despite the fact that they live together peacefully with many foreigners, currently nearly 20 percent of the Swiss resident population.

Swiss banks came under attack in the 1990s for the way they handled deposits of World War II Holocaust victims as well as Nazi gold deposits. Zurich has big problems with both drug abuse and AIDS. The bankruptcy of Swiss Air was a major embarrassment, as was the air traffic control mishap over Swiss airspace which resulted in the midair collision of two jets.

The Swiss are under pressure from the European Union to join the Club. Wall Street bankers don’t like the fact that Swiss banks don’t play by their rules. Washington recently fined the Swiss megabank UBS for allegedly aiding its American clients circumvent American tax laws through the use of secret Swiss bank accounts. UBS was coerced into providing U.S. officials with a long list of such accounts. Needless to say, the Swiss were unamused

The inescapable conclusion engendered by a visit to Switzerland is that Switzerland works. It works because it is a tiny, hard-working, democratic country with a strong sense of community. An independent Vermont could do a lot worse than unabashedly emulating the Swiss model with the aim of becoming the Switzerland of North America.

Twelve Swiss Based Principles for a
Sustainable Free Vermont

– Small is beautiful
– Gold backed currency
– Fiscal responsibility
– International tax haven
– Swiss federalism
– Direct democracy
– Neutrality – avoiding entangling alliances
– Decentralized health care
– Swiss railroads and infrastructure
– Locally controlled schools
– Decentralized social services
– Sustainable agriculture, energy, and environment

Imagine…Free Vermont
Thomas H. Naylor
March 1, 2010