Sunday, December 19, 2010

Movie Review: Tron Legacy

Personally I liked the new Tron movie better than the original. I will grant you that part of that is because after 28 years the special effects have come a long way. However the new Tron movie doesn't have the Red "Dictorial" Communist vs Blue "Free" America theme to it that the 1982 movie had which in my opinion tended to date the original movie to the 1980s.

There were a couple things which I didn't like about the new movie though. I believe these could have been improved on and perhaps will be utilized if a third movie is made. The first of these is the existence of a character early in the movie who is introduced as the son of Ed Dillinger (the human world villain of the original Tron movie). He is portrayed as having more influence than he should have in the set of scene he is actually in than he should have for such a minor character to the rest of the film. I expected that he would play a larger role in the film but after his introduction he is completely dropped from the storyline never to be seen or heard from again. In my opinion it was pointless to even bring this character into the movie and anyone could have played that role without having to have any relation to Ed Dillinger.

The second thing is regarding the character Tron. Near the end of the movie, he turns against CLU and when he falls into the water you see his color change from red-orange to blue but then he disappears from the storyline as well and is never seen or heard from again. He never after that meets up or interacts with the protagonists of the story. He could have died and it would have made no difference to the plot. There was no reason to show him change back to blue in that scene as that scene advanced the plot of the story in no way whatsoever.

Those are the two main things I didn't like about it and thought could have been better written and handled. I suspect they may be remnants of earlier versions of the script that were changed by the director in rewrites or editing and thus the scenes that would have made them relevant were subsequently dropped from the movie but the set up scenes creating the problems that I mentioned were overlooked and left in the movie rather than being edited out as well. I would be curious to see the original script and see if these problems existed in the original version of the Tron Legacy story.

A third thing that kinda bothered me on a personal note is that at one point in the movie, Quorra mentions how she would like to see a sunrise, but then at the end of the movie the only experience she has at seeing it is while riding on a bike through the city and never gets a clear view of one. Granted I'm sure she got to see a full sunrise from a good location on her second day in our world but I would have thought the sunrise she saw would have been handled differently.

Some things I did like about the movie is that the protagonist and antagonist of the story were fairly equally matched. Something that doesn't occur in a lot of movies as of late. That I thought was refreshing. The villian CLU was also honest in his intentions and true to his purpose. He literally was just doing what he was created to do which gave him a good guy quality.

Something else I liked was that although Kevin and Sam Flynn were both users in the grid, only Kevin actually used the power of the user to influence the grid world. Sam relied upon his natural abilities rather than resorting to "superhero" type powers. This made sense since Sam wasn't a programmer like his father. It also kept the movie balanced between protagonist and antagonist without it becoming too one sided which would have ruined the movie.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Is Your Vote an Act of Treason?

By Matthew Collins

Whenever a candidate who is not a Republican or Democrat runs for an office, they are always faced with the false belief that a vote for them is a wasted vote. But is this true?

The purpose of voting in a democratic system is for the people to choose the best candidate of the available choices by voting for the candidate that they believe best represents their beliefs and interests. This requires that the electors be knowledgeable about the form and powers of their government but also of where the candidate stands on the issues and how likely it is that the candidate will follow through on their promises.

Yet today we find the common belief that a vote doesn’t count unless it is for a Republican or a Democrat…even when neither of them best represents the desire or will of the people! I don't see where they get that idea from, every election I have looked at every candidate received votes, some more than others, but every vote (at least in theory) got counted. If there is ever any objection the candidate has a right to a recount. As a result of this belief that a vote for anyone other than a major party candidate doesn't count, the people vote for the so-called “lesser of two evils”. When it is pointed out that the lesser of two evils is  still evil, it is shrugged off as “well I don’t want to waste my vote so I’m going to vote for a candidate that can win.”

To this I feel compelled to ask you, the people of Kansas, a simple question. Is the purpose of voting a contest where you personally win a prize if the candidate you vote for is elected into office? Do you receive some form of personal compensation for casting a winning vote? Are you given a tax credit or receive special coupons you wouldn’t have received if you vote for a losing candidate? Does the candidate send you a check? Does it increase your chances of winning the lottery? Do you get a free box of Girl Scout Cookies? What? Please tell me! What special reward or privilege you personally receive for picking the winner of an election?

If you receive no special benefit or privilege for helping to vote in to office the winning candidate, and the candidate you vote for does not actually represent the principles you stand for, then why does it matter to you that that person actually wins? More importantly, if you vote for a candidate that does not actually represent you, the values you believe in, the principles you stand for, and who you believe , if elected, would be the best person out of ALL of the candidates running for that office, then isn’t that the definition of a wasted vote?

If you are going to vote for someone, it should be a candidate that truly represents your principles and values. Anything less is a waste of your vote and you and your community would be better off never voting rather than continually voting into office candidates that you do not, in good faith, actually want.

This November 2nd, I ask you not as a candidate, but as a citizen of this State. If you are not going to go to the polls and vote for the candidate who’s views you agree with most, out of EVERYONE that is running, major and minor political parties and Independents as well. If the candidate you vote for does not best represent YOU personally. Then I ask you, …in fact I implore you… do NOT go to the polls and do not waste your vote on a candidate that you do not truly believe in.

You have a patriotic, constitutional duty, not only to yourself, but to your fellow citizens to choose the best candidate out of everyone running for each office. If you are not willing to consider all of the candidates on an equal standing and select the best out of all of them as your selection to perform the duties of their office, then you have absolutely no business casting any vote at all and you owe it to yourself, your family, your community, and your State, not to waste your vote by casting it for anyone less than the best of ALL the choices.

An election is not a popularity contest. It is not Survivor, you are not voting anyone off the island, you are not voting for the next American Idol. You are not voting for the biggest loser. You are voting for the best citizen from your community to run our government and if you are going to waste it by voting for someone who you don’t really like and don’t really believe in but think they have the best chance of winning, then whether you vote or not, you are NOT fulfilling your obligation to your State, to your community, to your friends and neighbors, to your family or to yourself. You know it, and I know it, you only deceive yourself in thinking that by voting for the lesser of two evils you are fulfilling your patriotic duty to your country.

If the truth be told, a vote for the lesser of two evils is an act of treason against the people of our country and you are primarily responsible for our destruction and all of the evils we suffer because you have violated the sacred duty entrusted in you by the people of our nation when they authorized you to be one of our electors. By voting for evil (regardless of the degree of evil) you are still supporting the destruction of our nation and our society. This is an act of war against the People of our State and our Union.

Any act of war against the State or the Union of States, or the giving of aid or support to our enemies is an act of treason. If you vote for anyone who has violated and supports policies that violate our constitutions or who are in favor of laws that are outside the scope of governmental powers as defined by our constitutions, then they are traitors of the State and the United States and your vote for them to install them in office or to continue their political careers is likewise a treasonous act! If you vote for them, you are assisting the enemies of the State in subverting our sacred and honorable governmental institutions by installing into offices those who will do the most destruction and are giving them the power to carry out their evil designs.

The only way you can properly fulfill your patriotic and sacred duty as an elector of government officials, is to vote your conscience and vote for the best candidate even if it be an Independent or 3rd Party Candidate. If none of the candidates truly support and are willing to defend our constitutions without resorting to violations of them, then you are duty bound to either refrain from voting entirely or to write in the name of someone else to show your dissent! Only then can you honestly hold your head up high and say with a clear conscience “I have faithfully fulfilled my obligation. I have voted, and my vote was NOT wasted!”

This Election Day, November the 2nd, are you going to faithfully fulfill your duty as a citizen of Kansas or are you going to commit treason against US All? Either way, the future of our government lies solely in your hands. Live Free or Die.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The EV-1 and the Collapse of the American Reality

(Originally published in issue 2010 #1 of the “Free Kansan”. Republished here with permission.)

by Matthew Collins

The EV-1 was an electric vehicle (EV) produced by the General Motors Company in the 1990s. GM would later round up and crush almost every EV-1 it produced refusing offers of money from satisfied EV-1 drivers who wanted to keep their cars and buy them from GM rather than have them destroyed. … GM refused and destroyed their EV-1 fleet anyway. But, this is not a story about the EV-1. Nor is it a story about electric cars. This is not the story of who killed the electric car. This is not even the story about over a century of suppression of electric vehicle technologies to keep us enslaved to oil. This is not that kind of story.

Rather, this is a story about government interference in the marketplace. It is the story of the reaction by businessmen to government interference. It is also the story of what happens when governments step outside their proper role of protecting life, liberty and property. It is the story of the American automotive industry’s federal bailout. It is the story of GM’s new prototype, the Chevy Volt. It is the story of what could have happened and that which actually did happen.

GM and the Rebirth of an Electrifying Idea

A century ago, EVs were the “car of choice”. They were quite, could be recharged at home and easy to maintain. Gasoline powered cars by contrast were noisy, had to be hand cranked, and produced exhaust. Gas cars also have a lot of parts that wear out and need to be replaced. In time, the assembly line, electric starters, and cheap oil tipped the balance in favor of the internal combustion engine (ICE) and EVs silently slipped into history.

Then in 1996 American automakers began producing electric cars and distributed them in California. General Motors launched this movement by releasing a prototype car that it had kept secret by building it entirely in California called “the Impact” (later renamed the “EV-1”). The Impact made its debuted to the world at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January of 1990. It was built and distributed through GM’s Saturn division. But this was not the first electric car that GM had been involved with in recent years.

GM had been struggling financially (as had other automakers) in the 1980s and one of the rules of free market economics is that a company will either be innovative and improve thus taking the lead or continue following outdated policies and die being replaced by competitors that are innovative and adapt better to the marketplace. GM’s struggles forced it to look for alternatives. GM turned its attentions to AeroVironment and contracted with them to build an electric car for a race, the Australian World Solar Challenge in 1987. The goal set by GM was “can you build an electric car, entirely powered by solar energy that can win a race crossing 1900 miles of the Australian outback?” AeroVironment took up the challenge, and sponsored by GM, produced a one of a kind car. The result was the “Sunraycer” which won the race with a course record that as of 1994 was still standing (I do not know any updates from this information).

In the wake of the success of the Sunraycer, GM’s President turned to the same design team with the goal of creating an all electric general purpose commuter vehicle. This became known as the EV-1. These two electric cars gave GM a competitive advantage in this technology and an estimated 2 to 3 year head start compared to the other automakers.

“What’s interesting,” said John R. Dabels, former EV Marketing Director for GM, “I had worked with the program manager who had called me and said ‘would you like to be on the electric vehicle program?’ And I said ‘that’s fine, what do you want me to do?’ He said ‘very simply, develop demand for electric vehicles world wide’ and I said ‘do you have any instructions?’, and he took a blank piece of paper and he shoved it in front of me and said ‘No instructions. You go figure it out.’ And at that point I joined the program.”

Other automotive giants began producing their own versions of the EV-1 (often conversions of their gas powered vehicles). Ford produced the Ford Th!nk® and Ford Ranger EV. Toyota produced the RAV-4 EV. Honda came out with the Honda Plus EV, and several others cars by various auto companies were manufactured.

Some of these are still around but by 2006, all of the EV-1s, and many of the other electric cars produced by these companies, were gone. But why? The documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car” goes about answering this question. But I began this article by saying this is not a story of the electric car nor of who “killed” it.

In the late 1980s California had the worst air quality in the United States (and still does for that matter). Asthma rates and cancer rates increase in areas where smog is present for long periods of time such as in the bay and port areas. In addition, lung development in children is affected when there is not sufficient clean air to breath. “In 1989, a study found that one out of four 15 to 25 year olds in Los Angles County had severe lung lesions and chronic respiratory disease.” CO2 gas, a component of smog, is emitted as a byproduct of the internal combustion engine when petroleum gasoline is burned. As a result there is a direct correlation between gas powered cars in a given area and the air quality of that area. In heavily populated areas where the wind tends to stagnate due to mountainous terrain such as exists in parts of California, and where the predominant mode of transportation (both by land and by sea) is achieved by the burning of petroleum producing high amounts of CO2 gases, the production of smog occurs and leads to an increase in health problems for the people living in those areas.

Enter CARB

It is in 1990 that our story begins, shortly after the début of the Impact (prototype for the EV-1) by GM. A regulatory agency, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), did what regulatory agencies do best. They had been charged with the job of reducing CO2 emissions in the California air. With GM’s planned launch of a mass-marketed electric vehicle in the near future, EV technology became CARB’s “poster child” in a sense and CARB seized upon the new electric vehicle technology as the “technology of choice”. CARB latched on to the EV-1 and took an unprecedented authoritarian step by passing what became known as the “Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate” (ZEV Mandate) in 1990. Now if automakers wanted to continue to sell new cars in California, some of those vehicles would have to produce no emissions. The ZEV Mandate required 2% of the cars sold in 1998 to be zero emission vehicles (ZEVs). Then that number had to grow to 5% in 2001 and to 10% in 2003. Put another way, 40,000 ZEVs by 1998 and over 500,000 by 2003. California was quickly joined in this action by the northeastern States and by 1994, a little over 50% of the automotive market in the United States was being forced to comply with California’s ZEV Mandate or similar such mandates in other States.

This was a very strong handed approach. At the time of the mandate, there was no electric vehicles produced by mainstream auto manufacturers on the road and no one knew for sure if anyone would be interested in them. Now the automakers, before the first EVs even went into production were being required by the force of law to produce between 2% and 10 % of their vehicles as EVs or they would not be allowed to sell any of their new cars in California or other States that adopted these mandates! If the general public (i.e. the marketplace) did not accept the EV-1 and its sister EVs, then the ZEV Mandate could bankrupt the auto industry! This would spell disaster for Detroit and could have brought an end to the American Auto Industry if EVs were not wanted by the buying public.

It is at this point that government interference in the marketplace, specifically CARB’s ZEV Mandate, would set into motion a chain of events that would bury the wave of electric cars that was beginning to break on America’s western coast. The ZEV Mandate took away the automakers ability to respond to the demands of the marketplace in the event that the public rejected EV technology. It also took away the automakers flexibility to respond accordingly to market demand if the public did accept EVs but their acceptance was not as fast as what the ZEV Mandate required. Either of these two scenarios, the out right rejection of EVs or, alternatively, a slower acceptance of EVs than anticipated by the mandate, would result in a misallocation of resources that would be detrimental to the American Auto Industry from a business stand point. This would mean that much needed capital would be wasted conforming to the ZEV Mandate and as a result, car prices would rise in proportion to the needs of the businesses to maintain functional operations just so that the Detroit automakers could remain in business.

In the event that history had taken a different turn of events and CARB had not created the ZEV Mandate, GM (and other companies) would have been free to produce the EV-1 (and the other models of EVs) in whatever quantity market demanded. In addition, if the EV-1 was rejected, GM (et. al.) could cancel further production of the vehicles and replace it with other vehicles that better fit what the market demanded. Furthermore, without the ZEV Mandate, GM and other automakers would not have been threatened with the loss of ALL of their revenue from a particular State should the EVs not gain sufficient acceptance by the general public. If this was not enough, the creation of the ZEV Mandate increased competition in a newly emerging market beyond what that market was capable of holding at that time while still allowing that project to be profitable. The ZEV Mandate forced every auto manufacture to develop and produce at least one (if not more) EVs to sell into the marketplace in an attempt to meet the requirements of the ZEV Mandate.

Had there never been a mandate, GMs competitors would not have been forced into producing EVs that competed with the EV-1’s niche in the marketplace. This would have allowed the EV-1 to fill its own niche without as many competitors by other companies taking away the EV-1 market share. Without the ZEV Mandate, other competitors of the EV-1 would have refrained from entering into the EV marketplace at the time they did because they would have seen that the market wasn’t demanding EVs in sufficient quantity to warrant the investment of capital resources into an EV program at that time. This created a financial strain on the automakers which now, not only had their normal operating expenses but, thanks to the ZEV Mandate, had to increase their financial obligations in developing, designing and building EV alternatives to their internal combustion engine models. The sudden increase in EV competitors caused by the ZEV Mandate reduced the EV-1 profit margins and helped keep it from going into mass production. The disadvantage there is that the cost of manufacturing a vehicle (or any product for that matter) goes down per unit, with the number of units that are produced. Had the EV-1 been mass produced in larger numbers it could have become much more profitable than it was while being produced at only four cars a day. This small level of production was in part due to the fact that the EV market had been saturated with one or more EVs suddenly hitting the market place at once from every automotive manufacturer wanting to continue to sell cars in the American marketplace. All of these economic forces spelled disaster for the EV programs of GM, Ford, Chrysler and other auto companies, both foreign and domestic.

“Every Action Has an Equal and Opposite Reaction”

The push by CARB and other agencies in other States was in itself a very strong and unprecedented move on the part of government. It is no wonder than an equally strong reaction occurred among the very companies that the mandate was directed at. General Motors and other car companies were faced with the ZEV Mandate and had two choices. They could comply with it, or they could fight it.

At first they took the only choice they had. They had to comply with the mandate. This was a necessary step because time was of the essence. It takes time to design and test vehicles and get them certified by the government for general production. Once that occurs, they still have to go into production with all the computer systems, molds, etc. being designed and readied for launch. If the efforts to alter, amend or repeal the ZEV Mandate failed, then the mandate would stand and any automaker that hadn’t taken the necessary steps to comply would be behind its competitors and faced a very real possibility of going the way of the Studebaker.

At the same time however, the car companies had an even bigger issue on their hands. While they were preparing for the worst case scenario, that the mandate would stand unchanged, they were hard at work attacking the mandate and fighting for its repeal. From the point of view of a company, the first step is to protect the business. In this case, that involves pressuring the lawmakers to make the mandate more competitive with real life circumstances. The ZEV Mandate had to be market driven so the car companies could still make money and continue to operate. Detroit automakers could not remain in business if they were cut off from selling into over half of the American auto market! The auto industries entered into negotiations with CARB concerning the terms of the ZEV Mandate. Automakers wanted the requirements adjusted so that if the EVs didn’t sell in the numbers required by the ZEV Mandate then the automakers could still continue to sell the ICE automobiles that they already knew people would buy.

CARB Chairwoman Jananne Sharpless (served from 1991-1993) said “California was faced with the prospect of ‘what do you do if the car companies don’t comply?’ and so rather than do brinkmanship about what would happen if they didn’t comply and stick with it, they started negotiating certain flexibility in the mandate.”

As is often the case with regulators, they didn’t have experience in the field they were regulating. Rather these were often politicians that knew little about the automotive industry or even how to run a business that is in direct relation to the economic rules of supply and demand. John R. Wallace from the Ford Th!nk® Program commented “[w]e had to help with the regulations, the regulatory people knew nothing about this stuff; and, we began to get the eerie feeling that we were going over a cliff. It wasn’t going to be possible.”

CARB and the automakers reached a compromise. CARB adopted a memorandum compromising between the original mandate requirements and the demands of the automakers. One of the new terms of this compromise was a Market Based ZEV Launch where the car companies would produce specified numbers of ZEV that were warranted by consumer demand. If the car companies didn’t want to be required to produce high numbers of ZEVs they had to prove there was no demand for the ZEVs.

Catch 22

When given a choice between being told what to do and how to do it or having the freedom to choose for oneself what to do and how to do it. Most people would choose the latter condition. There is nothing irrational about that. Following this principle, the auto industry, having been forced to comply with a law that threatened their continued existence and having been successful at getting that law changed to be conditional by market demand, were now faced with an interesting and somewhat paradoxical opportunity.

Although GM and the other auto manufacturers had been successful at making changes in the ZEV Mandate, they had failed to eliminate the mandate entirely. “For the regulation we felt needed to be changed drastically and there were some movement that way but it didn’t go away.” said John R. Wallace. This meant that if GM and other automakers continued with the production of EVs, the terms of the mandate would still apply and there was no guarantee that since the mandate was in place, that more conditions wouldn’t be added or changed later causing even more problems for automakers.

GM CEO Roger Smith (1981-1990) had introduced the Impact Prototype at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 1990 stating that “[t]his is going to represent a great step forward for people in terms of commuting to work/from work if you don’t have to go more than 120 miles a day.” GM had done this trying to advance itself into a new market where it would be profitable and put itself ahead of its competitors thereby improving its financial condition from where it had been in the late 1980s. In addition, GM had also instructed their marketing director to create a market for EVs worldwide. But, having now been threatened with the prospect of being put out of business by the force of law and having been successful at negotiating more favorable market-driven terms within that law, GM and the other automakers now had a choice to make. They could either continue with the EV-1 program and continue to be held under government control or they could kill their EV programs, wait for the ZEV Mandates to die, and then pursue EVs or other options that may be available at a later date, should they ever decide to go down that road again.

Within the mandate, automakers had to build ZEVs in accordance with consumer demand. At the time EVs were the best ZEV available. But according to the mandate, if the automakers no longer wanted to produce their EVs they had to prove there was no market for them. In a report put out by the US Automakers Association, it was stated that the problem they faced in proving there was no demand for EVs was “growing consumer acceptance of electric vehicles”. But how could an automaker prove there wasn’t a market for an EV when there was a growing demand backed by waiting lists to prove it?

“Top 5 Ways to Kill Your Product”

1. Bad Advertising: Bad advertising can be defined a lot of ways. Many people remember the Taco Bell Chihuahua commercials. They were enjoyed by many viewers and were very popular. I don’t know if they were “award winning” but if you were to conduct a quiz asking participants to name their favorite fast food icon, the Taco Bell dog would probably be among the icons frequently mentioned and maybe the most loved (certainly better than the Dairy Queen talking lips).

But from an advertising perspective, those commercials were a dismal failure. They were loved by TV viewers but they didn’t achieve the goal of business advertising…to increase sales. GM’s advertising for the EV-1 was “Award-Winning Advertising”. But if you look at EV-1 commercials and GM commercials for their ICE vehicles, there is a marked difference. The EV-1 was always portrayed distant from the viewer. One ad showed it in the parking lot with shadows of people rather than people around it (the people were off camera). Another had a scarecrow in a field looking at an EV-1 as it drives along the edge of the field off in the distance. None of the EV-1 ads answered the three questions being asked by consumers in the showrooms: “How far?”, “How fast?”, “How much?”. If you want a consumer to buy something, they need to be able to see themselves in or with the product…not looking at it as some unattainable or unreachable curiosity that appears to be always “just out of their reach”, as was the EV-1 was portrayed. Further, EV-1 ads, had no attractive people draped over the car or anything that would create a favorable emotional response. Emotion drives sales, not analytical reasoning…ask any salesperson.

2. Limit the Supply: By creating an unnatural scarcity (building only 4 cars a day in the case of the EV-1) then the streets will not be flooded with visible reminders of the car. The car can’t serve as it’s own advertisement. Since people tend to want what everyone else has…the “keeping up with the Jones’” also known as the “herd” mentality, preventing the product from getting into the hands of consumers by restricting the supply line will prevent the car from producing its own demand through the force of personal envy. This has another effect. When the supply line is limited in this manner, then it is easier to justify the reason to not build the cars. This helped GM avoid the conditions of the mandate.

3. Create Red Tape and Make the Sale Difficult to Complete: EV-1 drivers, before they were able to lease an EV-1 had to submit an application to prove they warranted a car. Chelsea Sexton, a former salesperson for the EV-1 stated “We had to ask permission for everyone we gave a car to. By the end we were low on cars, we had to write case statements! … I had to write a resume for Mel Gibson and what he had done and accomplished because the people I was talking to didn’t believe he warranted a car.” Mel Gibson who was one of the celebrities who leased an EV-1 said “I was wondering ‘why do I have to fill this out?’ You had to tell them where your birth marks were. I mean it was everything, ‘Have you recently had a proctoscope inserted in your…’ ‘...well … no.’ You had to get really specific about a whole bunch of things.”

4. Describe the Limitations of Your Product: GM at first denied there were waiting lists for the EV-1, but they did finally acknowledge that waiting lists of around 4,000 people who said they would like to be an EV-1 leasee existed. However GM added that they contacted each one of them and by the time they had explained all the limitations of the vehicle only 50 would sign up. Any sales person will tell you that if you truly want to sell your product, you don’t start of by describing all of your product’s limitations! Rather it is the benefits that add value to the product and people want to buy value, not problems. Limitations are problems.

5. You May Rent, But You Can’t Buy: GM never sold any of their EV-1 fleet. Every EV-1 produced was leased. GM refused to sell any of their EV-1s to the public. This option simply wasn’t available. This immediately limited a main part of the buying public who prefer to buy their cars rather than lease them. For the record almost all of the auto companies leased their EVs and didn’t offer to sell them. However, when the companies rounded up their EVs to destroy them, some companies such as Ford, did agree to sell the EVs rather than crush them.

It was these five tactics performed by GM, along with other tactics performed by other auto makers, oil companies, the federal government and supporters of one of the EVs competitors in the ZEV market that would lead to the destruction of the EV programs.

Enter the Feds

While the automakers were fighting CARB in court over the mandate, they found a new ally…the federal government under the Bush Administration. Shortly after joining the fight President George W. Bush announced in his 2003 State of the Union address “Tonight I’m proposing 1.2 billion dollars in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean hydrogen powered automobiles.” A newly appointed chairman of CARB also had a hand in this new “hydrogen economy”. Four months before the CARB vote that killed the ZEV Mandate, Alan C. Lloyd was appointed as Chairman of the California Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership. Hydrogen was and is being backed by both automakers and oil companies because it continues the relationship the two industries have with one another now, something that would not necessarily be possible if EVs were the alternative of choice. On April 23, 2003 California Air Resources Board killed its ZEV Mandate.

The Federal Government had a hand in promoting the Hummer which it was using to replace its aging Jeep fleet. GM bought Hummer from AM General in December of 1999 and then closed its EV-1 plant one month later. The Federal Government introduced a tax deduction for 6,000 lbs + vehicles which began at $25,000 and climbed upwards to a maximum of $100,000 that same year. This deduction was part of President Bush’s Economic Stimulus Package in 2003. This deduction was enough that a taxpayer could buy a Hummer for the tax break. To be fair, the year before in 2002, there was also tax break for EV drivers. If you drove an EV, your maximum tax credit you could get was a whopping sum of $4,000.

Our tax system has been manipulated since its conception to steer the choices made by Americans. Everything from encouraging charity by making donations tax deductible, encouraging marriage between a man and a woman by offering Married Filing Joint as opposed to Married Filing Separate or the dreaded “Single” status, and promoting single parent families with the Head of Household status to tax credits and deductions on whether or not you put solar panels on your roof. Let’s not forget the promotion of low income families being encouraged to have more children they can’t support by offering an Earned Income Credit! In what direction was President Bush trying to steer the American people by offering Hummer drivers a $98,000 advantage over the drivers of EV-1s? This was about the same time that President Bush announced the idea to drill for oil in Alaska’s Wildlife Refuge.

However the Federal Government had been involved in the auto industry long before this. In the 1970s for example, President Carter introduced CAFÉ standards during the United States fuel shortages. This resulted in increased fuel economy during his administration. President Regan supported by the oil companies took office in 1981 and deregulated many things and at the same time period the OPEC nations lowered the price of oil dramatically to prevent any alternatives from being developed as a result. Due to the deregulation, fuel economy didn’t improve much during the 1980s. When Clinton took office he once again, like Carter before him, wanted to improve fuel economy, however the lobbyists on behalf of the automakers and oil companies were still very strong and were opposing change. The Clinton Administration struck a deal with the oil companies and automakers. The Clinton Administration agreed not to pursue fuel economy standards and the automakers agreed to look into hybrid vehicles spending about $9 billion in research and development of hybrid vehicles over an eight year period. However, once Clinton left office, the American automakers walked away from hybrid vehicle technology having not put a single hybrid vehicle on the roadways in spite of the $9 billion in taxpayer dollars that had been given to the automotive giants for that purpose.

Enter the Japanese

Japanese automakers were scared of losing competitive advantage to the US automakers with the Clinton inspired Hybrid Vehicle Program. The Japanese were not aware that the US automakers had no real interest in developing hybrid vehicles or that the US hybrid vehicle program was a political bait-and-switch to avoid the development and reintroduction of EVs and the ZEV mandates that had plagued car companies a few years before. Since they were unaware of this, they actually did devote time, money and energy into developing practical hybrid vehicle technology. The result would help tip the balance away from US automakers and help cause the financial destruction of the US automotive industry that resulted in the automotive bail out under the last Bush Administration.

US hybrid vehicles in 2006 got 25 mpg. Comparatively, Japanese hybrid vehicles got an average of 42 mpg. This created a waiting list for the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight shifting the US consumer’s former demand for EVs and fuel efficient vehicles to Toyota and Honda and away from US automakers in favor of the hybrid alternatives they were offering. Ironically Honda and Toyota both had and continue to have waiting lists for their hybrid vehicles which in turn has made it nearly impossible to buy a new hybrid for less than the list price and helps maintain a high resale value of used Toyota and Honda hybrid vehicles. (Remember GM denied for a long time that it had similar waiting lists for its EV-1s and then contacted all of their potential customers and described the limitations of their product before asking the customers to make their purchases.)

It is at this point that we are starting to see the other hand that government intervention has in the marketplace. Where on one hand, CARB used the force of law to compel the adoption of certain technologies and were the instigators of violence against free markets, the federal government’s practice of ignoring the limitations of its specified powers resulted in the creation of incentives to waste taxpayer money on programs that were for political reasons not intended to produce a real result. In the former case with CARB this practice caused a retaliation on the part of automakers just so they could continue to survive and in the latter case, allowed special interests to make laws that work in their favor and created motivation of foreign competitors to research and produce a superior product that would later bankrupt the American Auto Industry. Both CARB and the federal government used their law making power for purposes other than for the protection of life, liberty and property that allowed such things as the oil and automotive lobbies to gain so much power in Washington, the loss of a competitive edge in EV technology, and the creation of a superior foreign product. If the Federal and State governments remained within their proper function of protecting life, liberty and property, then there would not be CAFÉ standards, a ZEV Mandate, incentives to purchase a Hummer or drive an EV. Had the Federal Government under the Clinton Administration not created the hybrid vehicle program, taxpayers could have saved $9 billion dollars and the Japanese automakers most likely would not have been prompted to develop hybrid vehicles vastly superior to their US counterparts. It is possible that the EV-1 would have evolved into the EV-2 and EV-3 by now. EVs could be more affordable and wide spread in the United States lessening our dependence and need for Middle Eastern crude oil. Countless lives, US, English, Iraqi and Afghani could have been spared. The US might not have had such a tarnished reputation overseas and with our European Allies when Bush left office. This is a world we will never know and it is impossible to imagine all the alternatives that could have been had government remained within its proper roles. Not only in regards to the auto and oil industries but in every sphere of our lives that it has enjoyed infiltrating. Such a world without government interference would be virtually unrecognizable to anyone living today. But where do we go from here?

Looking Towards the Future

Chrysler didn’t entirely abandon its EV program. Chrysler Corporation still owns and operates the GEM plant producing Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) which go a top speed of 30 mph. GM on the other hand has taken a slightly different approach installing in there ICE vehicles technologies that were learned from the EV-1.

However today, GM once again finds itself in a bad financial situation similar to where it was in the 1980s when it began its research into EVs in the first place with the Sunraycer and EV-1. This company, although I think it has made some very bone headed moves in the past (although I admit, looking from their perspective, I might have done the same thing just for the mere principle involved), once again stands at the doorway of possibly becoming an industry leader. It once again is going back to the technology and advances it made with the EV-1 and releasing a new EV. Although not the same kind of all electric EV like one might expect. This time it is learning from its past experience and making a petroleum dependent EV, although it isn’t a hybrid in the traditional sense.

GM, this time, is giving its EV program to its Chevrolet division with the new Chevy Volt. The Volt is an EV in that it is propelled by an electric motor rather than a gas burning ICE. However, unlike the EV-1 produced by GM’s Saturn division, the Volt contains a gas powered electrical generator on board. In the Volt, the driver fills a gas tank which powers an electric generator. The electricity from the generator is then sent to the electric motor which in turn drives the wheels. This differs from a typical hybrid where both the electric motor and a gas engine both power the drive wheels in tandem. The Volt is similar in design to diesel locomotive engines. The way a locomotive works is diesel is used to turn a diesel powered electrical generator onboard the locomotive. The electricity created by the generator is then used to turn an electric motor which then propels the train down the track. This is the same process used in the Chevy Volt that is scheduled for launch in 2010 with models available for purchase in 2011.

Chevrolet’s website, when talking about the Volt, states “The Extended-Range Electric Vehicle that is redefining the automotive world is no longer just a rumor. In fact, its propulsion system is so revolutionary, it’s unlike any other vehicle or electric car that’s ever been introduced. And we’re making this remarkable vision a reality, so that one day you’ll have the freedom to drive gas-free.

“Chevy Volt is designed to move more than 75 percent of America’s daily commuters without a single drop of gas. That means for someone who drives less than 40 miles a day, Chevy Volt will use zero gasoline and produce zero emissions.

“Unlike traditional electric cars, Chevy Volt has a revolutionary propulsion system that takes you beyond the power of the battery. It will use a lithium-ion battery with a gasoline-powered, range-extending engine that drives a generator to provide electric power when you drive beyond the 40-mile battery range.”

The Chevy Volt is a plug in electric vehicle and has a range of 400 miles (100 miles further than the EV-1 would be capable of even if it were powered by Lithium-ion batteries (an option that was never offered by GM but was possible near the end of the EV-1 program)). Whether or not government intervenes in the production and distribution of the Volt either though introduction of a new mandate or their involvement of special interest groups remains to be seen. But the technology of the EV-1 lives on in the Volt.

Would You Care For Some Tea?

(Originally published in the May 2009 issue of "The Free Kansan". Republished here with permission.)

An Editorial by Matthew Collins

Anyone who paid attention to early American history in school will remember how the Sons of Liberty adorned themselves with war paint and feathered headdresses late one night. They stormed aboard the British ships docked in Boston Harbor, seized its cargo of tea and thrust it overboard into the ocean waters below in vivid protest of the tax laid upon tea imported into the American Colonies by an Act of the British Parliament in London. In effect, those colonists were asking their King and the Parliament of London “would you care for some tea?”. They took a stand against government usurpation and cast the tea overboard “sticking it to the man”; rather than consume the tea which they would be required to pay a tax levied by a legislature foreign to their jurisdiction and unacknowledged by their laws.

Then as now, Boston was not alone in its act of rebellion and similar “Tea Parties”, as they became known, occurred all along our Eastern Seaboard. The colonists protested the tax on tea using the battle cry “no taxation without representation”, not because the colonists wanted to be represented in the Parliament of London, but because each colony already had a parliament or other legislative body of their own and the Parliament in London was acting outside of its proper jurisdiction. To put it in perspective, it would be like the Canadian Government passing a law that laid a tax on all wheat grown in Kansas and exported to Missouri. It wasn’t that the tax was too high; it was that there was no authority for it.

Last month in Wichita, various groups held a “tea party” to protest taxes. Wichita was not alone in this as many States and communities across America have held similar Tea Parties on various dates across the country. In addition to this, many people have mailed the string and tab of a tea bag to their Congressmen (if they mailed the tea bag itself it wasn’t being opened) to further symbolize this modern day tax protest.

However as similar as our modern “Tea Parties” are to those of our early citizens, there are some profound differences. Many of these modern day Tea Parties (if not all) have obtained permits from the government in order to assemble and hold their protests. In Missouri, permission was obtained from the local authorities to actually dump a small hand full of tea (emptied out of the tea bag) into the river as a symbolic gesture. As you recall, the original Tea Party was done under cover of night and was a secret until it occurred taking the authorities guarding the docks by surprise. Our modern Tea Parties by contrast are planned and advertised and notification is not only given but permission granted by the governing authorities well in advance of the event.

It is true that anyone caught in the late 1700s participating in those Tea Parties would have been arrested and subject to criminal charges and punishments. I understand the desire among modern organizers to keep as many people out of jail as possible and see no one is harmed in the process. However, I have to ask “how much effect does a protest against government abuses of power have when the protest itself is granted permission to occur from the government being protested?” Now I realize that technically speaking, the local city and county governments are the ones granting permission for the protests to occur and it is the federal government being protested and these are two different governments.

But when the federal government has converted State Governments into fund-addicted fiends then the federal government has significantly more control over the actions of the States. The State Governments, as a result of their addiction to federal funds, readily submit, sacrificing the State’s well-being, for its ability to get its next “fix” from its federal “pusher”. Kansas for example piggy-backed onto the federal agenda when it came to income taxes, as did many other States. Further this is not the only issue that States adopted federally-driven legislation into their own State law codes. Such things apply to seat belts, speed limits, drug laws, alcohol drinking ages, driver’s license and ID card requirements, healthcare regulations, energy distribution, and so on. That doesn’t mean some of these laws passed by the States are not good ideas or were beneficial but it should have been within the sovereign power of the States themselves to decide whether or not to adopt those policies without being coerced by the federal government.

Here in Kansas, our Bill of Rights expressly states that “[t]he people have the right to assemble, in a peaceable manner, to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, for the redress of grievances.” As a result, as long as the people of Kansas assemble in a peaceable manner to instruct their representatives and to petition the government in protest to an issue that concerns them, then the people are protected by the Kansas Bill of Rights. A problem we find is frequently the courts have interpreted the Bills of Rights of the States as containing the same rights as the Federal Bill of Rights. However there are differences between the rights preserved in the State Bills of Rights and those preserved in their federal counterpart.

The Federal Bill of Rights states that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,… or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” In the federal version of this amendment, there are no rights expressly reserved to the people; there are only prohibitions upon the types of laws Congress may pass. This makes sense considering the structure of the federal constitution. However, compared to the State version, there is no right expressly reserved to the people or the States to “consult for their common good” or to “instruct their representatives”. Further the Kansas version specifically declares that the people have these rights so that there is no doubt as to whether these are rights or privileges.

Now in the federal version it can be argued that these rights are implied in the First Amendment but such an argument could come under fire when the principle of strict construction is applied to this amendment. The danger, of course, is that if implied powers are permitted, then the restrictions and prohibitions in the Constitution and its amendments become almost meaningless and subject to constant interpretation. If strict construction is the rule, then the rights are limited to only those expressed in the amendment.

On the other hand, it could also be argued that these rights found in the State version but not in the federal, are contained in the Ninth Amendment which states “[t]he enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparate others retained by the people.” Personally, I would agree with this as that was the intent of this amendment, however, what rights are covered by the Ninth Amendment itself is subject to modern interpretation (rightly so or not is irrelevant given the fact that it is being done routinely by the courts) as to what constitutes a “right inherent in the nature of mankind” and what constitutes a “privilege granted by the government”. Common sense would say that a person has a right to their income but given the fact that the federal court has ruled that Congress has the power to tax 100% of a person’s income and that it is by their generosity that they permit a citizen to keep any of their income makes this very frightening and illustrates the great importance of properly defining what a ‘right’ and a ‘privilege’ are, rather than leaving it at the discretion of the government!

In today’s world where our governments (federal, state and local) routinely involve themselves in “extra-curricular activities” beyond the scope of the document defining the scope and powers of that government (whether it be a constitution, city charter or some other type of document), it is very important that “we the people of the United States” learn, know and act within our sovereign power to check our government when they try to step out of their designated authority and educate those persons elected or appointed to represent us in our government. Whenever we find our representatives disregarding the duties of their office and abusing our rights as citizens, then it becomes obligatory to replace them with another candidate at the next election and return them to the general population to remind them from where they come or if it is too dangerous to wait till the next election, to recall them immediately and appoint another in their stead to complete their term.

There is no excuse for any lack of choice in candidates during any election. It is the obligation of those who know to step forward and take responsibility for their community and run for office to represent their community so that government functions properly within its clearly defined limits. It is also the duty of those people who are not, themselves, qualified for office to organize themselves and promote the people within their district who are qualified, whether that individual takes the initiative or not, and do everything in their power to see that the person they know to be honorable and educated in the proper role of limited constitutional government is elected in place of the incumbent. Failure to do so leaves the offices of our representative system open to scoundrels and scallywags who know nothing about true liberty and the proper function of government which leaves the door wide open to passing any legislation desired by special interests or those possessed with personal aspirations and delusional aspirations for political power.

We as a citizenry must take back our government. We must educate ourselves on the form and structure of our governments. We must learn and understand the full extent of the limits of the delegated powers within their proper context in which those clauses of the constitutions of our State and federal governments were framed. But this is not enough. We must also acknowledge it when our elected leaders abuse the powers of their office and take responsibility for their actions. Once we have taken personal responsibility for the actions of our elected representation, we have to act upon our knowledge and find solutions to those problems. Knowledge without action is apathy. We must not be afraid to ask our governments, “would you care for some tea?”!

10th Amendment Resolutions: Are They All Bark and No Bite?

(Originally published in the May 2009 issue of "The Free Kansan". Republished here with permission.)

By Matthew Collins & Joel Gibbs

The Tenth Amendment. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This simple amendment established decisively that the full extent of federal power was limited exclusively to those powers that were expressly stated as belonging to the federal government. It further established that all governmental powers that were delegated to the federal government of the United States, were originally powers that the people of each State had previously delegated to their own State Government or retained as a power reserved to themselves as citizens of that State. The effect of this is that the people and the States may at any time reclaim any or all powers that they had previously delegated without permission from that agent to which those powers had been delegated.

It must be remembered that each State established itself as a sovereign State in and of itself prior to being admitted into the federal union of sovereign States known as the United States of America. There is no provision within the federal Constitution for the admittance of any territory or possession into the union, only the admittance of States is provided for; therefore, each territory or possession before entering the federal union of the United States must first, for however brief of a time, organize itself as a sovereign State and adopt its own constitution in the form of a representative republic before it can even be considered for admittance into the union of States by the Congress of the United States. This means that every State that now makes up the United States of America had established itself first as a sovereign, free and independent Nation-State prior to petitioning the Congress of the United States for admittance into our American league of equal States by delegating some of the powers of the State to the federal government and agreeing to certain terms limiting the sovereign powers of the State for the preservation of the federal system.

Because of the nature of our federal system, the Tenth Amendment is each State’s protection from any and all usurpations, tyranny and abuses of delegated powers by the federal government against the sovereignty, jurisdiction and rights of each State that makes up the federal union. Each State has the inherent right to decide for itself the limits of the powers it delegated to the federal government at the time the State acceded to the federal Constitution. This makes sense since each State had to decide for itself to what extent its own sovereign powers were delegated to the federal government when it agreed to the terms and conditions of federal union.

With the right of each State to decide for itself the proper extent of federal power firmly established, whenever the federal government enacted legislation infringing upon the rights of the States, the States drafted resolutions that nullified that federal legislation within the boarders of the State drafting such resolutions. This was an act of State sovereignty asserting the State’s right to govern itself within its own boarders. Perhaps the most famous examples of this are the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions passed in 1798 by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison respectively, in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts. These types of resolutions passed by some States were usually enough to cause the federal government to repeal such legislation or to back down from its assault upon the rights of the States and the rights of the people thereof. Resolutions such as these caused other States to examine the laws and forced the federal union to reach a consensus on the constitutionality of those laws.

Occasionally resolutions weren’t enough and States threatened to reclaim all of their rights that they had delegated to the federal government and return to their previous condition as an independent, free and sovereign Nation-State apart from the federal union by announcing their secession from the United States and renouncing their consent to union. In most cases, this comprised of mere threats to secede; although several States in the Northeast who were opposed to the War of 1812 met in convention with the expressed intent of secession. Although it was an established right of each State, recognized as such in both the northern and southern States equally, it wasn’t until 1861 that South Carolina actually made good on its promise and carried through with the threat of secession. Prior to this date, the States in the Northeast had threatened on three separate occasions to secede from the South and it is ironic that it would turn out to be the South that would actually be the first to exercise this right previously threatened by the North. In most cases though, the threat of secession served as a wake up call to the federal government that they were overstepping their bounds and needed to return within their properly defined and enumerated powers found in the constitution. The right of secession is a State’s last resort for self-defense against federal usurpation, tyranny and abuse of governmental powers. Any State compelled by the use of force (military or otherwise) to remain a part of a union of States against its well (or against the will of the people thereof) is the antitheses of liberty and wholly destructive to the principle upon which the United States, and each State, are founded: -- namely government by the consent of the governed.

With this history of State’s rights and the Tenth Amendment, how do modern day Tenth Amendment Resolutions compare with their older counterparts from over a century ago? Do they still have the same affect on controlling the federal government and keeping federal powers within their properly defined limits as the writers of the Tenth Amendment intended?

To examine this question, let’s look at a Tenth Amendment Resolution that has been passed by Oklahoma. It is similar to others that have been proposed by some of the States of the Union in recent years. We will see if they are all talk and no bite and examine their effectiveness as checks against abuses of federal power.

The text of Oklahoma’s Resolution is given below:


1st Session of the 52nd Legislature (2009)

House Joint Resolution 1003 By: Key


A Joint Resolution claiming sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over certain powers; serving notice to the federal government to cease and desist certain mandates; providing that certain federal legislation be prohibited or repealed; and directing distribution.

WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."; and

WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being that specifically granted by the Constitution of the United States and no more; and

WHEREAS, the scope of power defined by the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states; and

WHEREAS, today, in 2009, the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government; and

WHEREAS, many federal laws are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment assures that we, the people of the United States of America and each sovereign state in the Union of States, now have, and have always had, rights the federal government may not usurp; and

WHEREAS, Article IV, Section 4 says, "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government", and the Ninth Amendment states that "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people"; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in New York v. United States, 112 S. Ct. 2408 (1992), that Congress may not simply commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states; and

WHEREAS, a number of proposals from previous administrations and some now pending from the present administration and from Congress may further violate the Constitution of the United States.


THAT the State of Oklahoma hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.

THAT this serves as Notice and Demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.

THAT all compulsory federal legislation which directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.

THAT a copy of this resolution be distributed to the President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate of each state's legislature of the United States of America, and each member of the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation.

52-1-5082 <11/17/08>

As is customary with resolutions, it starts out with a list of facts or evidences. These sound strong and are in fact strong and sound footing from a Constitutional sense. In this first part, the State has done a lot of “barking” and laying the foundation for its case and what comes next.

After that it goes on to state “…be it resolved by [the State Government]: That…”. And this is where the State lays out its plan of action and states its demands and details what the State will do if its demands are not met. These are the terms and conditions of the resolution.

So what are these demands? First, the State of Oklahoma claims its sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment. Next, Oklahoma gives “notice” and demands that the Federal Government cease and desists its mandates that are beyond the scope of its constitutionally defined powers. After that, Oklahoma demands that federal legislation infringing upon State rights, be repealed or prohibited. Then lastly, it states that a copy of this resolution be distributed to all the States and to the heads of the legislative and executive departments of the Federal Government.

Now there is a lot of “bark” in this resolution. However, what does Oklahoma plan to do if the Federal Government decides to file the resolution away in the recycle bin and disregard Oklahoma’s demands? Where is the bite?

It is foolish to believe that a “Government Gone Wild” will suddenly act within its clearly defined role when it has a long history of acting outside of its proper jurisdiction, simply by being told “I’m tired of this and you need to straiten your act up and fall in line”! Anyone who believes that obviously doesn’t have kids nor any experience being around anyone who has stepped out of line. Parents would be grateful if all they have to do is say “stop that” when their kid has been acting up for years without any discipline and have their child fall back in line immediately. It is more realistic to believe that that child needs a good spanking before it will pay attention to anything the parent says who has been very lax in its duties and in effect ruled and controlled by the child.

Our Federal Government is an adolescent teenager that has manipulated its parents (the States) and it has been used to getting by violating the rules. We now have a struggle on our hands to bring our child (the Federal Government) back under our “house rules” and teach it some manners. Simply saying “stop that” isn’t going to work. These resolutions need to be coming out and supported with very strong consequences if the Federal Government fails to act in accordance with the demands of its “parental” States!

If we are serious about returning our federal system to its proper form, then it is time for the States to get some backbone. It’s time for our States to start naming the consequences for the Federal Government’s failure to respond to the demands of the States. And it is time for the States to grab a switch from the nearest tree and take the Federal Government behind the woodshed for some old-fashioned “quality time”!

The Federal Government is Not Sovereign

By Matthew Collins

Let’s take a quiz.

These questions are very easy to answer so don't worry, you wont strain your brain that much.

I would like for you to consider two flags. In America, there are typically two flags that fly in front of the court house: the American Flag and another flag below it known as the State Flag.

Question 1. Which flag is the flag of our State?
Question 2. Which flag is the flag of our country?
Question 3. Which flag is the flag of our nation?

Take a moment to consider your answers and we’ll discuss them momentarily.

Consider this. In 1776 thirteen British Colonies along the eastern seaboard of North America unanimously declared that each of them was a separate, free and independent State. Each of these States entered into a confederacy under the Articles of Confederation where, as a term of their union, it was declared that “each State retains it sovereignty, freedom and independence.”

Later King George, III acknowledged in the Treaty of Paris that each of the United States were separate, free and independent States just like the States of England, Spain and France were separate, free and independent States.

Then in 1787, a new constitution was written and submitted to the States for their approval. Upon the ratification of nine States this new constitution went into effect among the States who ratified it. Thereafter, it was quickly amended reserving the following two rights.

First that the naming of certain rights in the Constitution did not deny or disparage other rights that the people also possessed and secondly, that all powers of sovereignty that were not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution were reserved to the people, and that the State government of each State was free to exercise all powers of sovereignty that they did not specifically agree to abstain from exercising as a term of the agreement of their union with one another.

With this understanding, it should be clear that the States are still the true possessors of all sovereign authority of the United States. It should also be clear that the federal government possesses no sovereign powers whatsoever. This is contrary to popular belief and popular teachings but it is the truth. What the federal government does possess, however, is the authority to coordinate and act on behalf of the several States that make up the union, exercising their sovereignty in all interaction between the States of the Union and foreign States, as well as the coordination of the foreign powers of the several States in relation to each other as members of the union.

In short the federal government of the United States is not itself sovereign, but is rather the agent representing the sovereignty of the member States. As an agent, the federal government is nothing more than a common slave of the State governments that created it. Remember the States created the federal government; the federal government did not create the several States. The States had existed for eleven years prior to the writing of the Constitution and it would take another two years before that Constitution, and the federal government it created, took effect.

As a term of their mutual agreement, the States agreed that the federal constitution, all laws made in accordance with federal constitution, and all treaties made under the authority of the federal constitution, would be considered binding upon all of the States regardless of the constitution or laws of any respective State in the union at the time to the contrary. This is the meaning of the federal constitution’s supremacy clause.

It must be understood that any law or treaty made by the federal government without a specific authorization in the federal constitution is not made in accordance with the federal constitution, nor is it under the authority of the constitution, in spite of the fact that the process outlined in the constitution was followed. If the constitution does not authorize the federal government to take a specific action, then no matter how closely the federal government follows the process outlined in the federal constitution, the law or treaty is itself void because it was enacted without any authority from the States which the federal government represents.

In this case, the law or treaty is void from the beginning and has no effect whatsoever. No matter how many congressmen voted for it! The fact that such legislation may have been signed by the President of the United States and used as a basis of a United States Supreme Court decision likewise renders no support to its constitutionality. The simple fact remains that if the federal constitution does not specifically authorize federal involvement, then there is absolutely no possibility that any such law or treaty is constitutional or in actual effect. There is absolutely no obligation upon any State to obey or comply with any such law or treaty nor is such a law or terms of such a treaty in any way binding upon any American or any State.

Let us return to the quiz at the beginning of this article. How did you answer those three questions? Were your answers different? The correct answer to all three questions is the Kansas Flag. Kansas is our State. Kansas is our country. Kansas is our nation. The American Flag is not the flag of our State, nor of our country, nor of our nation. What the American Flag is, however, is the flag of our Union.

The German Flag, the French Flag, the Italian Flag, the Spanish Flag, the Belgium Flag, et. al. are flags of States, countries and nations. Just like our fifty State Flags are flags of States, countries and nations. Senator Daniel Webster testified to this fact when he stated “the States are nations.”

The European Union Flag is a blue background with twelve five-pointed stars arranged in a circle. Similarly, the flag of the American Union once had a blue background with thirteen five-pointed stars arranged in a circle upon it as well adjacent to thirteen alternating red and white stripes; we call this flag the “Betsy Ross” flag. In time we added both stripes and stars for each new State that joined our union and then decided to just add the stars and leave the stripes at the original thirteen. In Europe, they decided to leave the stars at twelve regardless of any change in union membership.

This lack of understanding of the nature of our own country and of our own union is necessary for the introduction of a North American Union. This is because the North American Union is a union between three separate nations, Canada, Mexico and the United States of America. But this is a fallacy that can only stand when the people are ignorant of their own governments. There is no need for a North American Union. We already have one!

If Mexico, Canada and the United States want to join together under a single government, the course of action is very simple. Canada and Mexico just have to submit a request to the congress of the United States for admittance as the 51st and 52nd States of the United States. As long as they agree to abide by the terms and conditions of the federal Constitution of 1787, there is no reason these two foreign States could not become accepted members in to our American Union under the United States Constitution.

Mexico is already a constitutional republic so very little change would be needed to adapt its constitution to fall inline with the terms of our mutual agreement to which our 50 States have already consented. Canada has an issue in that they would have to alter their constitution adapting the executive branch from that of a constitutional monarchy to a constitutional republic. This is because the federal Constitution of the United States guarantees to every State a republican form of government therefore a monarchy such as Canada is strictly prohibited. Once that is completed, they would be able to be admitted without any problem.

In a future article I will discuss what powers these two States would have to surrender in order to join the United States and some of the other terms and conditions of such a union. I will bring this up because it is important to understand that these restrictions are the only restrictions upon the exercise of a State’s sovereign power while remaining a member of this American Union under the Constitution of 1787. It is only by understanding the powers that are restricted as terms of union, that you can understand the full extent of sovereign powers still retained by each of the 50 States and which can be exercised by them, or each of them, today.

I would also like to add that I am not advocating that Canada and Mexico join the United States. That is a choice that must be initiated by them and I see no evidence that either State has a desire to actually do so. Furthermore it is not the job, responsibility or business of the federal government of the United States to actively seeking the admission of new States into the Union, nor is there any delegation of power authorizing the federal government to engage in that activity. Rather, they are to only consider the requests presented to them for their consideration and if they find the petition for admittance acceptable are authorized to accept the new State into our union of freely associated sovereign States. I merely bring it up to point out that we already have in our possession, and already belong to, a North American Union and have since 1776! There is no need for a new North American Union and no reason for the United States to surrender any rights, freedoms or sovereignty in order to form such a union when we are already members of one.