The Economic Motive for America’s Current Wars

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

Russia has long been the chief seller of energy — mainly gas and oil — in the world’s largest energy-market: the EU, or Europe. This means that U.S.-based energy companies, such as Exxon and Halliburton, aren’t the ones who dominate in supplying oil, gas, pipelines, and other energy-supplying needs, to the consumers and businesses in the world’s largest energy-market: Europe.

Around half of Russia’s gas and oil into the EU is transported there via pipelines that traverse Ukraine, and this is a major reason why the Obama Administration (which was in service to the owners of the U.S.-based international corporations and even to the Koch brothers who heavily fund the Republican Party against Obama’s Democratic Party) started, by no later than 2011, its preparations for a coup in Ukraine, which occurred in February 2014, to overthrow the democratically elected President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who, as had been planned and expected by the U.S. government, turned down the EU’s offer of membership because the highly uneconomic arrangement that the EU was offering would have cost Ukraine an estimated $160 billion. The U.S. government knew he’d turn it down, which is why, when he did say no, on 21 November 2013, the Obama regime had everything prepared to launch, that day, the ‘anti-corruption’ demonstrations on the Maidan Square in Kiev, starting the execution of the Obama Administration’s coup-plan. (Though it was an ‘anti-corruption’ and ‘pro-democracy’ ‘revolution’, to overthrow the democratically elected President of Ukraine, one of the key demands by the U.S. and the EU had been the release, from a Ukrainian prison, of America’s preferred leader of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, who had been convicted on corruption-charges — and this demand was, of course, a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and taken by Ukraine’s government to be an insult, which was yet another reason why Yanukovych had to reject the deal.) The EU nations weren’t eager to take that $160B burden onto themselves, it was laid entirely upon Ukraine, take-it-or-leave-it, and Ukraine rejected it — and so rejected the rest of the U.S. team’s offer. But Obama’s agent who handled Ukraine continued to run into resistance from the EU, because EU leaders weren’t as fascist as today’s U.S. leaders are. On 4 February 2014, in a phone call to the U.S. Ambassador in Kiev, Obama’s agent on Ukraine said “F—k the EU!” about Europe’s concerns, and to impose atop the post-coup government “Yats” or Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who would do what the U.S. government wanted and would ignore the needs of either Ukrainians or Europeans. “Yats” received the appointment 18 days later, and, immediately, accepted the EU’s uneconomic offer; so, Ukrainians were doomed. (And Crimea, which had voted 75% for Yanukovych, broke off from Ukraine, and so too did Donbass, which had voted 90% for Yanukovych.)

But those pipelines still ran through Ukraine, and the Ukrainian government received from Russia the transport-fees, and Ukraine already was $3 billion behind on its payments to Russia for its own gas-supplies from Russia. Russia, in any case, has been trying to rearrange its pipelines so as to supply Europe without depending so heavily upon Ukraine for transport.

NATO pretended that it had other reasons for seeking to bring Ukraine into the U.S. alliance, not missile-bases there against Russia, and mentioned the pipelines-issue as if it were only an aside and said that NATO wasn’t even an alliance against Russia.

However, Obama also had come into office in 2009 hoping to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, because, ever since at least 1949, the U.S.-Saudi oil company Aramco was trying to be allowed to build through Syria pipelines for Saudi oil and Qatari gas into the EU so as to grab that energy-market away from Russia.

Consequently, “What’s Behind Lower Gas-Prices and the Bombings of Syria and of Southeastern Ukraine” is a U.S.-regime effort to grab market-share in the world’s largest energy-market.

The Sauds’ main boots-on-the-ground inside Syria to replace Assad with a fundamentalist-Sunni ruler like themselves has been Al Qaeda, which provides the leadership for numerous jihadist organizations — all of them likewise fundamentalist Sunnis — that are trying to overthrow Assad. And the U.S. regime has been protecting Al Qaeda there.

In order for the U.S. regime to make its public accept the burdens of empire, paying the taxes and shedding some blood and organizing others — such as jihadists in the Middle East, and nazis or racist-fascists in Ukraine — to serve as the boots-on-the-ground to carry out such operations, the propaganda-line is that the U.S. government wants those foreign governments to be more democratic and less corrupt, and wants to protect their populations from being subjected to barrel bombs and sarin gas attacks, etc., as if the U.S. itself doesn’t do even worse to the populations in foreign countries it invades. (Furthermore, the Assad government is doing — whatever it’s doing — to jihadist gangs inside its own country, gangs that are supported by the U.S. and other foreign governments trying to conquer Syria; whereas, the U.S. is strictly a foreign invader there and elsewhere; so, any analogy between Assad’s methods, and the methods that are employed by the U.S. government, would be fundamentally false, inapplicable.)

NOTE: This news-report is being submitted for publication to all U.S. newsmedia that cover international news, including all of the major U.S. newsmedia, and will, presumably, be published by all of them that wish their audience to know the information that’s presented and documented (via the links) in this report, which is a news-report because the information that’s presented here is news to almost all Americans, even though what it reports is actually history, not merely today’s events. Suppressed history is news until it is no longer suppressed; and the present article is not news-commentary; it’s only news, nothing but news, straight news-reporting, all based only upon extremely reliable sources, which the reader is furthermore here encouraged to click onto directly (and/or indirectly via links in the linked-to articles) to examine and evaluate for oneself. The great advantage of reading an online news-report such as this, over obtaining one’s news via print or radio or TV, is that the reader can access the sources, via the links, and can therefore evaluate, on one’s own, their credibility (or lack thereof). One cannot do that with the traditional print and broadcast media; and, so, the traditional print and broadcast media are far less trustworthy than this, because they fail to supply the public with access to their sources.

However, of course, any online newsmedium that fails to link through to its source on each and every challengeable point, is, on that point, no better than the traditional ones are. Only the online newsmedia that are punctilious about supplying the public with clickable access to their sources, are different from the print and broadcast media in this crucial regard. Presumably, the online newsmedia that publish the present news-report will be the ones whose owners want their audience to have access to the information that’s contained and linked-to herein. Those will reasonably be considered the trustworthy newsmedia, because the media that don’t publish it have received it but are continuing to hide this information from the public. A reader can web-search this article’s headline in order to find which newsmedia are honest. This is a method to determine which newsmedia are honest, and which are not. Very few newsmedia in the U.S. have published any of the facts that are documented here. The reason isn’t that these facts are less well-established than others; it’s that these facts are too damning and contradict the standard storyline.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Trump-diculous and Hill/Hell-arious: tragic-comic ‘leadership’ killing millions, harming billions, looting trillions. Will ‘We the People’ demand .01% arrests for Wars of Aggression/Crimes Against Humanity, or enable WW3 on Syria, Iran, Russia?

“Claim everything. Explain nothing. Deny everything.”  ~ Prescott Bush, 1966 (oligarch, father and grandfather of US Presidents)

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”  ~ Three weeks before W. Bush’s election for a second term in 2004, Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, chiding Pulitzer-winning journalist, Ron Suskind.

Among themes I present for public consideration, this is central:

With more of this history here, contemporary to Julius Caesar, the Roman historian and government insider Sallust blasted the decline of virtue in government, which may be appropriate analysis of the characters of our .01% that include Trump and the Clintons:

“To those who had easily endured toils, dangers, and doubtful and difficult circumstances, ease and wealth, the objects of desire to others, became a burden and a trouble. At first the love of money, and then that of power, began to prevail, and these became, as it were, the sources of every evil. For avarice subverted honesty, integrity, and other honorable principles, and, in their stead, inculcated pride, inhumanity, contempt of religion, and general venality. Ambition prompted many to become deceitful; to keep one thing concealed in the breast, and another ready on the tongue; to estimate friendships and enmities, not by their worth, but according to interest; and to carry rather a specious countenance than an honest heart. These vices at first advanced but slowly, and were sometimes restrained by correction; but afterwards, when their infection had spread like a pestilence, the state was entirely changed, and the government, from being the most equitable and praiseworthy, became rapacious and insupportable.” – Conspiracy of Catiline, The Argument

Lies for illegal wars on Syria, Iran, Russia while Trump & corporate media distract to talk about sexual/physical attractiveness

James Corbett’s sharp 16-minute report and analysis of recent “official” lies for war on Syria, Iran, Russia:

The US State Department’s previous tragic-comic press conference performances sparked their new appointment of Heather Nauert this month. Two minutes of her denial and lies after an excellent question from Caleb Maupin:

This article explains, documents and proves Trump’s criminal lies and threats that continue illegal Wars of Aggression and Crimes Against Humanity of Presidents Obama and W. Bush (further history here, and my article series of such “official” fake news for war on Iran; explore here for Syria). Further helpful reporting here, here, here, here.

Meanwhile, Trump tweets about a corporate media personality’s assumed facelift while insulting her colleague and her intelligence and sanity. The target, Mika Brzezinski, previously claimed it’s corporate media’s job to control what the public thinks (44 seconds):

Corporate media cornered as serial liars and distractors?

“When we now know that all claims for war with Iraq were known lies as they were told (and verbally explained here), and CNN provides similar innuendo for war by an unsourced alleged report with concerns of what might occur in the future allegedly stated by an unnamed US source reporting on an unnamed foreign source, this is propaganda and not news.”  ~ My 2010 analysis of “fake news” reporting from CBS, ABC, CNN to lie Americans into illegal war on Iran.

In 2015 I was asked to write and deliver a professional academic paper for ~2,000 people at an international conference hosted by The Claremont Colleges. This updated article contains that academic paper to document how corporate media is the required propaganda arm of US .01% power.

For recent helpful reports on corporate media distractions and infighting: here, here, here, here.

In contrast, telling the truth and making friends

Oliver Stone’s stunning three minutes at the 2017 writer’s guild to encourage media to tell the truth about US rogue state empire:

And three minutes of the world’s most prominent religious leaders encouraging all of us to make more friends with different peoples:

Demanding arrests as the required and obvious public response

The categories of crime include:

  1. Wars of Aggression (the worst crime a nation can commit).
  2. Likely treason for lying to US military, ordering unlawful attack and invasions of foreign lands, and causing thousands of US military deaths.
  3. Crimes Against Humanity for ongoing intentional policy of poverty that’s killed over 400 million human beings just since 1995 (~75% children; more deaths than from all wars in Earth’s recorded history).

US military, law enforcement, and all with Oaths to support and defend the US Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, face an endgame choice:

In just 90 seconds, former US Marine Ken O’Keefe powerfully states how you may choose to voice “very obvious solutions”: arrest the criminal leaders (video starts at 20:51, then finishes this episode of Cross Talk):

3-minute videoPolice, Military – Was your Oath sincere?

George Washington’s final public message was for “We the People” to recognize if the US devolved into a rogue state

In the cumulating message of his 45 years of service with his Farewell Address, George Washington wrote an open letter to the American public.

Please give George two minutes of your attention:

“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…

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.”

George’s admonition of “impostures of pretended patriotism” to “direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities” is exactly what the US has become: a rogue state, and requires public voice for lawful arrests to end its vicious destruction.

It is also what Benjamin Franklin predicted would be the eventual outcome of the United States. On September 18, 1787, just after signing the US Constitution, Ben met with members of the press. He was asked what kind of government America would have. Franklin warned: “A republic, if you can keep it.” In his speech to the Constitutional Convention, Franklin admonished: 

“This [U.S. Constitution] is likely to be administered for a course of years and then end in despotism… when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.”  – The Quotable Founding Fathers, pg. 39.

Independence Day

With historical context, two imagined conversations with US central Founders with how they would respond to tragic-comic descent from American ideals in 2016: here, here.

My 2017 and 2015 essays on the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and three from 2014 (here, here, here).

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Note: I make all factual assertions as a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History, with all economics factual claims receiving zero refutation since I began writing in 2008 among Advanced Placement Macroeconomics teachers on our discussion board, public audiences of these articles, and international conferences. I invite readers to empower their civic voices with the strongest comprehensive facts most important to building a brighter future. I challenge professionals, academics, and citizens to add their voices for the benefit of all Earth’s inhabitants.

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Carl Herman is a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History; also credentialed in Mathematics. He worked with both US political parties over 18 years and two UN Summits with the citizen’s lobby, RESULTS, for US domestic and foreign policy to end poverty. He can be reached at Carl_Herman@post.harvard.edu

Note: Examiner.com has blocked public access to my articles on their site (and from other whistleblowers), so some links in my previous work are blocked. If you’d like to search for those articles other sites may have republished, use words from the article title within the blocked link. Or, go to http://archive.org/web/, paste the expired link into the box, click “Browse history,” then click onto the screenshots of that page for each time it was screen-shot and uploaded to webarchive. I’ll update as “hobby time” allows; including my earliest work from 2009 to 2011 (blocked author pages: here, here).

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NYT Finally Retracts Russia-gate Canard

By Robert Parry, the investigative reporter who many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. Originally published at Parry’s Consortium News (republished with permission).

The New York Times has finally admitted that one of the favorite Russia-gate canards – that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies concurred on the assessment of Russian hacking of Democratic emails – is false.

On Thursday, the Times appended a correction to a June 25 article that had repeated the false claim, which has been used by Democrats and the mainstream media for months to brush aside any doubts about the foundation of the Russia-gate scandal and portray President Trump as delusional for doubting what all 17 intelligence agencies supposedly knew to be true.

In the Times’ White House Memo of June 25, correspondent Maggie Haberman mocked Trump for “still refus[ing] to acknowledge a basic fact agreed upon by 17 American intelligence agencies that he now oversees: Russia orchestrated the attacks, and did it to help get him elected.”

However, on Thursday, the Times – while leaving most of Haberman’s ridicule of Trump in place – noted in a correction that the relevant intelligence “assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”

The Times’ grudging correction was vindication for some Russia-gate skeptics who had questioned the claim of a full-scale intelligence assessment, which would usually take the form of a National Intelligence Estimate (or NIE), a product that seeks out the views of the entire Intelligence Community and includes dissents.

The reality of a more narrowly based Russia-gate assessment was admitted in May by President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan in sworn congressional testimony.

Clapper testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on May 8 that the Russia-hacking claim came from a “special intelligence community assessment” (or ICA) produced by selected analysts from the CIA, NSA and FBI, “a coordinated product from three agencies – CIA, NSA, and the FBI – not all 17 components of the intelligence community,” the former DNI said.

Clapper further acknowledged that the analysts who produced the Jan. 6 assessment on alleged Russian hacking were “hand-picked” from the CIA, FBI and NSA.

Yet, as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you “hand-pick” the analysts, you are really hand-picking the conclusion. For instance, if the analysts were known to be hard-liners on Russia or supporters of Hillary Clinton, they could be expected to deliver the one-sided report that they did.

Politicized Intelligence

In the history of U.S. intelligence, we have seen how this selective approach has worked, such as the phony determination of the Reagan administration pinning the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II and other acts of terror on the Soviet Union.

CIA Director William Casey and Deputy Director Robert Gates shepherded the desired findings through the process by putting the assessment under the control of pliable analysts and sidelining those who objected to this politicization of intelligence.

The point of enlisting the broader intelligence community – and incorporating dissents into a final report – is to guard against such “stove-piping” of intelligence that delivers the politically desired result but ultimately distorts reality.

Another painful example of politicized intelligence was President George W. Bush’s 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s WMD that removed State Department and other dissents from the declassified version that was given to the public.

Since Clapper’s and Brennan’s testimony in May, the Times and other mainstream news outlets have avoided a direct contradiction of their earlier acceptance of the 17-intelligence-agencies canard by simply referring to a judgment by “the intelligence community.”

That finessing of their earlier errors has allowed Hillary Clinton and other senior Democrats to continue referencing this fictional consensus without challenge, at least in the mainstream media.

For instance, on May 31 at a technology conference in California, Clinton referred to the Jan. 6 report, asserting that “Seventeen agencies, all in agreement, which I know from my experience as a Senator and Secretary of State, is hard to get. They concluded with high confidence that the Russians ran an extensive information war campaign against my campaign, to influence voters in the election.”

The failure of the major news organizations to clarify this point about the 17 agencies may have contributed to Haberman’s mistake on June 25 as she simply repeated the groupthink that nearly all the Important People in Washington just knew to be true.

But the Times’ belated correction also underscores the growing sense that the U.S. mainstream media has joined in a political vendetta against Trump and has cast aside professional standards to the point of repeating false claims designed to denigrate him.

That, in turn, plays into Trump’s Twitter complaints that he and his administration are the targets of a “witch hunt” led by the “fake news” media, a grievance that appears to be energizing his supporters and could discredit whatever ongoing investigations eventually conclude.

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If We Don’t Change the Way Money Is Created, Rising Inequality and Social Disorder Are Inevitable

Everyone who wants to reduce wealth and income inequality with more regulations and taxes is missing the key dynamic: central banks’ monopoly on creating and issuing money widens wealth inequality, as those with access to newly issued money can always outbid the rest of us to buy the engines of wealth creation.

History informs us that rising wealth and income inequality generate social disorder.

Access to low-cost credit issued by central banks creates financial and political power. Those with access to low-cost credit have a monopoly as valuable as the one to create money.

I explain why in my book A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology and Creating Jobs for All.

Compare the limited power of an individual with cash and the enormous power of unlimited cheap credit.

Let’s say an individual has saved $100,000 in cash. He keeps the money in the bank, which pays him less than 1% interest. Rather than earn this low rate, he decides to loan the cash to an individual who wants to buy a rental home at 4% interest.

There’s a tradeoff to earn this higher rate of interest: the saver has to accept the risk that the borrower might default on the loan, and that the home will not be worth the $100,000 the borrower owes.

The bank, on the other hand, can perform magic with the $100,000 they obtain from the central bank. The bank can issue 19 times this amount in new loans—in effect, creating $1,900,000 in new money out of thin air.

This is the magic of fractional reserve lending. The bank is only required to hold a small percentage of outstanding loans as reserves against losses. If the reserve requirement is 5%, the bank can issue $1,900,000 in new loans based on the $100,000 in cash: the bank holds assets of $2,000,000, of which 5% ($100,000) is held in cash reserves.

This is a simplified version of how money is created and issued, but it helps us understand why centrally issued and distributed money concentrates wealth in the hands of those with access to the centrally issued credit and those who have the privilege of leveraging every $1 of cash into $19 newly created dollars that earn interest.

Imagine if we each had a relatively modest $1 million line of credit at 0.25% interest from a central bank that we could use to issue loans of $19 million. Let’s say we issued $19 million in home loans at an annual interest rate of 4%. The gross revenue (before expenses) of our leveraged $1 million would be $760,000 annually –let’s assume we net $600,000 per year after annual expenses of $160,000. (Recall that the interest due on the $1 million line of credit is a paltry $2,500 annually).

Median income for workers in the U.S. is around $30,000 annually. Thus a modest $1 million line of credit at 0.25% interest from the central bank would enable us to net 20 years of a typical worker’s earnings every single year. This is just a modest example of pyramiding wealth.

Next let’s say we each get a $1 billion line of credit which we leverage into $19 billion in loans earning 4%. Now our net annual income is $600 million, the equivalent income of 20,000 workers. We did nothing to improve productivity, nor did we produce any goods or services. We simply used the power of central banking and fractional reserve lending to skim $600 million in financial rents from those actually producing goods and services.

Note that we are not uniquely evil or avaricious in maximizing our private gain from the central bank system; we’re simply responding rationally to the system’s incentives.

The system concentrates wealth and subverts democracy not because participants are different from the rest of us but because they are acting rationally within a perverse, exploitive system. Would you turn down $600,000 a year? How about $600 million a year?

It makes no sense for banks and financiers not to maximize their gains in this system. Those who fail to maximize their gains will be fired.

I hope you understand by now that the current system of issuing money and credit benefits the few at the expense of the many. The vast privilege and the equally vast inequality it generates is the only possible output of the system.

This inequality cannot be reformed away; it is intrinsic to centrally issued money and private banking with access to central bank credit.

The problem isn’t fiat money; it’s centrally issued money/credit that is distributed to the few at the expense of the many. If we want to limit the subversion of democracy and reduce wealth inequality, we must decentralize and democratize the issuance and distribution of money.

In the current system, money isn’t created to reward increasing productivity. It is created to increase the wealth and power of the privileged.

If we want to connect the creation and distribution of money/credit with productivity, we must issue new money directly to those creating value and boosting productivity, bypassing the privileged few in central and private banks.

By concentrating wealth and power, centrally issued and distributed money doesn’t just subvert democracy. It also optimizes inequality, monopoly, cronyism, stagnation, social immobility and systemic instability.

The status quo “solution” is Universal Basic Income (UBI), a form of subsistence designed to quell the righteous urge to throw off the monetary yoke of the privileged financial Elites. If scraping by as a debt-serf on UBI is the New American Dream, we need a new economic/social system. 

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The Over-Criminalization of American Life

While the corporate media devotes itself to sports, entertainment, dining out and the latest political kerfuffle, America has become the Over-Criminalization Capital of the World. The proliferation of laws and administrative regulations, federal, state and local, that carry criminal penalties has swollen into the tens of thousands.

The number of incarcerated Americans exceeds 2.3 million, with the majority being non-violent offenders–often for War on Drugs offenses.

Holly Harris has written an important summary of this profoundly destabilizing trend: The Prisoner Dilemma: Ending America’s Incarceration Epidemic (Foreign Affairs, registration required).

The over-criminalization of America is a relatively recent trend. As Harris notes:

It wasn’t always like this. In 1972, for every 100,000 U.S. residents, 161 were incarcerated. By 2015, that rate had more than quadrupled, with nearly 670 out of every 100,000 Americans behind bars.

The over-criminalization of America is rooted in federal laws and regulations, and state and local governments have followed suite. here is Harris’s account:

The burgeoning U.S. prison population reflects a federal criminal code that has spiraled out of control. No one—not even the government itself—has ever been able to specify with any certainty the precise number of federal crimes defined by the 54 sections contained in the 27,000 or so pages of the U.S. Code. In the 1980s, lawyers at the Department of Justice attempted to tabulate the figure “for the express purpose of exposing the idiocy” of the criminal code, as one of them later put it. The best they were able to come up with was an educated guess of 3,000 crimes. Today, the conservative Heritage Foundation estimates that federal laws currently enumerate nearly 5,000 crimes, a number that grows every year.

Overcriminalization extends beyond the law books, partly because regulations are often backed by criminal penalties. That is the case for rules that govern matters as trivial as the sale of grated cheese, the precise composition of chicken Kiev dishes, and the washing of cars at the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health. State laws add tens of thousands more such crimes. Taken together, they push the total number of criminally punishable offenses in the United States into the hundreds of thousands. The long arm of the law reaches into nearly every aspect of American life. The legal scholar Harvey Silverglate has concluded that the typical American commits at least three federal felonies a day, simply by going through his or her normal routine.

Federal policies reward states for building prisons and mandating harsher sentences:

…federal incentives for states that safely decrease their prison populations and reconsider ineffective sentencing regimes…would represent a stark reversal of legislation signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, which did just the opposite, offering federal dollars to states that imposed harsher criminal penalties and built more prisons, which contributed to the explosion of incarceration rates during the past two decades.

How did we become a Gulag Nation of tens of thousands of laws and regulations and mandatory harsh sentences for non-violent crimes–a society imprisoned for administrative crimes that aren’t even tried in our judiciary system? I would suggest two primary sources:

1. The relentless expansion of central-state power over every aspect of life. As I describe in my book Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change,the state has only one ontological imperative: to expand its power and control.There are no equivalent mechanisms for reducing the legal/regulatory burdens imposed by the state; various reforms aimed at reducing the quantity of laws and regulations have not even made a dent in the over-criminalization of America.

The second dynamic is the political reality that the easiest way for politicos to be seen as “doing something” is to pass more laws and regulations criminalizing an additional aspect of life. The state and its elites justify the state’s relentless expansion of power and control by claiming problems can only be solved by centralizing power further and increasing the number and severity of penalties.

Criminalization is the ultimate expansion of the state’s monopoly on coercive violence. As the state expands its power to imprison or punish its citizens for an ever-wider range of often petty infractions, increasingly via a bureaucratic administrative process that strips the citizens of due process, another pernicious dynamic emerges: the informal application and enforcement of formal laws and regulations.

In other words, the laws and regulations are enforced at the discretion of the state’s officials. This is the systemic source of driving while black: a defective tail-light gets an African-American driver pulled over, while drivers of other ethnic origin get a pass.

This is also the source of America’s systemic blind eye on white-collar crimes while the War on Drugs mandates harsh sentences with a cruel vengeance.When there are so many laws and regulations to choose from, government officials have immense discretion over which laws and regulations to enforce.

Prosecutors seeking to increase their body count will use harsh drug laws to force innocents to accept plea bargains, while federal prosecutors don’t even pursue white-collar corporate fraud on a vast scale.

The over-criminalization of America has undermined justice, the rule of law and the bedrock notion that everyone is equal under the law, i.e. legal egalitarianism.

The over-criminalization of America breeds corruption as the wealthy and powerful evade the crushing burden of over-regulation by either buying political favors in our pay-to-play “democracy” (money votes, money wins) or by hiring teams of attorneys, CPAs, etc. to seek loopholes or construct a courtroom defense.

Meanwhile, the peasantry are offered a harsh plea bargain.

The over-criminalization of America is one core reason why the status quo has failed and cannot be reformed. That is the title of one of my short works, Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform, which explains why the ceaseless expansion of centralized power leads to failure and collapse. 

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