Mark Levin's Plunder and Deceit

Once again Mark Levin, the constitutional scholar and radio talk show host, has written an important book that should be in the library of every thoughtful conservative. But this book is different, in that thoughtful conservatives should buy multiple copies and bestow the extras on younger people they care about. For in its essence, this book is a call to arms for the generation that will inherit the wreckage being created by what Levin calls the “ruling generation” – the holders of political power and those who sustain them in office. The younger age cohorts are the people whose future has been “plundered” (Levin’s choice of title is apt) by the policies advanced by progressives and acquiesced to by establishment Republicans.

The “deceit” part of the title comes into play in the way that the plunder has been disguised through artful choice of labels (the Social Security ‘trust fund” that doesn’t exist), misdirection (focusing on the “rights” of those who trespass across our border) and unwillingness to face facts by the political class and the media and academic power structures.

Levin explains the plunder and vanquishes the deceit in a series of lucidly presented and meticulously documented chapters arranged by thematic topics. The first of these following the introduction, Chapter Two, is titled “On The Debt,” and explains to the rising generations how they will be in perpetual servitude to the debt being handed to them by generations that would rather spend and borrow than live within their means.  Levin presents this as a moral problem as articulated by Dr. Walter Williams: “We’ve become an immoral people demanding that Congress forcibly use one American to serve the purposes of another. Deficits and runaway national debt are merely symptoms of the real problem.” The ruling generation of the political class has, in effect, bribed voters to keep them in power, by mortgaging the future of those who have not yet woken up to what is being done to them by their elders. Included in this chapter is the burden students forced to borrow money for college, a subject he returns to in Chapter Five.

Chapter Three, “On Social Security,” looks at the monster that has been created out of a program always designed to exploit wage earners and benefit elders, but which has run into a demographic wall that will be fiscally fatal. Owing to the decline in the birth rate and expanding life expectancy, the burden is becoming unsustainable. Two pieces of data in this chapter startled me, even though I have been reading about the subject for many years.  The first is that Social Security expenditures totaled 0.22 percent of the economy during World War 2, and in 1983 accounted for 24 percent. The second was: “For the first time, people who are retiring today will receive less in benefits than they paid into the system in taxes.” The plunder has already reached such an extent that even those at the top of the food chain are getting a rotten deal.

Chapter Four, “On Medicare and Obamacare,” goes into considerable technical detail on the incredibly complex inner workings of these systems that force services into a complex standardized payment scheme, and accompanying system of medical codes that add hugely to the administrative costs for both providers and system administrators. The result is a system focused not on patient health but on ticking the right boxes and jumping through all the right hoops.

Chapter Five, “On Education,” was one of my favorites, and one that the intended audience of the book, the younger generations, should respond to most powerfully, for they are close to the subject. As Levin demonstrates, “America’s educational productivity has collapsed,” at least as measured by standardized tests, as costs, especially administrative costs, have exploded. The facts and figures he offers on the growth of student debt are astounding, and will eventually cause a crisis that will make the 2008 housing crisis look like a day at the beach. Naturally, plans are already in place to nationalize this debt and eventually taxpayers will be on the hook.

Chapter Six, “On Immigration,” takes a fresh approach to a problem that has concerned many conservatives. Levin posits and then demonstrates that, “the group most adversely affected by current immigration policies [is] the rising generation.” It is a stunning piece of work, and may be the most original contribution of the entire book.

Chapter Seven, “On the Environment,” shows how what poses as environmentalism today is really a “de-growth” movement that will impoverish future generations, diminishing not merely their standard of living, but their opportunities for productive lives. For younger people who have been indoctrinated on the subject in schools for their entire lives, the facts and reasoning here, which owe a well-acknowledged debt to Ayn Rand, could be the most startling of the book.

Chapter Eight, “On the Minimum Wage,” demonstrates how the bottom rungs on the ladder of work opportunity, are sawed off by this cruel policy masquerading as compassion for the people at the bottom of the skill hierarchy. Using facts and figures, Levin demonstrates how younger workers are the ones bearing most of the burden.

Chapter Nine, “On National Security,” is, quite honestly, a bit of punch in the gut, for the world we are leaving the younger generation is a mess, and due to the evisceration of our military capabilities, America may be unable to stand up to the threats which its weakness is provoking.  Russia, China, North Korea, and Islamism are all assessed. It is not for the faint of heart. But then again, ignoring it does no good whatsoever.

Chapter Ten, “On the Constitution,” deals with the remedies bequeathed us by our founders, as Levin addresses what is really at issue: despotism – a despotism clothed in the garb of compassion. As you would expect from a scholar of his depth and erudition, it is an extremely valuable lesson, especially for a generation trained that the most important thing about the Constitution is that slave holders numbered among its authors.

The capstone is in the Epilogue, “A New Civil Rights Movement,” which makes the case that a new form of oppression – generational exploitation -- demands a new civil rights movement. This is a very creative and convincing way to address the rising cohort of voters who, against what the Marxists would call their class interests, tend to vote for progressive candidates. I have little doubt that the timing and crafting of Plunder and Deceit were undertaken with a view toward the all-important election of 2016, which may be out last chance to save our constitutional republic.

I have given considerable thought to what I will say when I give copies of this book to my children and a few other people  some decades younger than I am. The first thing out of my mouth will be, “I am sorry!” The next thing will be, “I fought against this, but I failed you.” And the third thing will be, “Here’s a guide to what’s been done to your generation, and what we can join together to do about it.” 

Be prepared to be uncomfortable, outraged, and motivated, if you buy this book, as I heartily recommend.

Once again Mark Levin, the constitutional scholar and radio talk show host, has written an important book that should be in the library of every thoughtful conservative. But this book is different, in that thoughtful conservatives should buy multiple copies and bestow the extras on younger people they care about. For in its essence, this book is a call to arms for the generation that will inherit the wreckage being created by what Levin calls the “ruling generation” – the holders of political power and those who sustain them in office. The younger age cohorts are the people whose future has been “plundered” (Levin’s choice of title is apt) by the policies advanced by progressives and acquiesced to by establishment Republicans.

The “deceit” part of the title comes into play in the way that the plunder has been disguised through artful choice of labels (the Social Security ‘trust fund” that doesn’t exist), misdirection (focusing on the “rights” of those who trespass across our border) and unwillingness to face facts by the political class and the media and academic power structures.

Levin explains the plunder and vanquishes the deceit in a series of lucidly presented and meticulously documented chapters arranged by thematic topics. The first of these following the introduction, Chapter Two, is titled “On The Debt,” and explains to the rising generations how they will be in perpetual servitude to the debt being handed to them by generations that would rather spend and borrow than live within their means.  Levin presents this as a moral problem as articulated by Dr. Walter Williams: “We’ve become an immoral people demanding that Congress forcibly use one American to serve the purposes of another. Deficits and runaway national debt are merely symptoms of the real problem.” The ruling generation of the political class has, in effect, bribed voters to keep them in power, by mortgaging the future of those who have not yet woken up to what is being done to them by their elders. Included in this chapter is the burden students forced to borrow money for college, a subject he returns to in Chapter Five.

Chapter Three, “On Social Security,” looks at the monster that has been created out of a program always designed to exploit wage earners and benefit elders, but which has run into a demographic wall that will be fiscally fatal. Owing to the decline in the birth rate and expanding life expectancy, the burden is becoming unsustainable. Two pieces of data in this chapter startled me, even though I have been reading about the subject for many years.  The first is that Social Security expenditures totaled 0.22 percent of the economy during World War 2, and in 1983 accounted for 24 percent. The second was: “For the first time, people who are retiring today will receive less in benefits than they paid into the system in taxes.” The plunder has already reached such an extent that even those at the top of the food chain are getting a rotten deal.

Chapter Four, “On Medicare and Obamacare,” goes into considerable technical detail on the incredibly complex inner workings of these systems that force services into a complex standardized payment scheme, and accompanying system of medical codes that add hugely to the administrative costs for both providers and system administrators. The result is a system focused not on patient health but on ticking the right boxes and jumping through all the right hoops.

Chapter Five, “On Education,” was one of my favorites, and one that the intended audience of the book, the younger generations, should respond to most powerfully, for they are close to the subject. As Levin demonstrates, “America’s educational productivity has collapsed,” at least as measured by standardized tests, as costs, especially administrative costs, have exploded. The facts and figures he offers on the growth of student debt are astounding, and will eventually cause a crisis that will make the 2008 housing crisis look like a day at the beach. Naturally, plans are already in place to nationalize this debt and eventually taxpayers will be on the hook.

Chapter Six, “On Immigration,” takes a fresh approach to a problem that has concerned many conservatives. Levin posits and then demonstrates that, “the group most adversely affected by current immigration policies [is] the rising generation.” It is a stunning piece of work, and may be the most original contribution of the entire book.

Chapter Seven, “On the Environment,” shows how what poses as environmentalism today is really a “de-growth” movement that will impoverish future generations, diminishing not merely their standard of living, but their opportunities for productive lives. For younger people who have been indoctrinated on the subject in schools for their entire lives, the facts and reasoning here, which owe a well-acknowledged debt to Ayn Rand, could be the most startling of the book.

Chapter Eight, “On the Minimum Wage,” demonstrates how the bottom rungs on the ladder of work opportunity, are sawed off by this cruel policy masquerading as compassion for the people at the bottom of the skill hierarchy. Using facts and figures, Levin demonstrates how younger workers are the ones bearing most of the burden.

Chapter Nine, “On National Security,” is, quite honestly, a bit of punch in the gut, for the world we are leaving the younger generation is a mess, and due to the evisceration of our military capabilities, America may be unable to stand up to the threats which its weakness is provoking.  Russia, China, North Korea, and Islamism are all assessed. It is not for the faint of heart. But then again, ignoring it does no good whatsoever.

Chapter Ten, “On the Constitution,” deals with the remedies bequeathed us by our founders, as Levin addresses what is really at issue: despotism – a despotism clothed in the garb of compassion. As you would expect from a scholar of his depth and erudition, it is an extremely valuable lesson, especially for a generation trained that the most important thing about the Constitution is that slave holders numbered among its authors.

The capstone is in the Epilogue, “A New Civil Rights Movement,” which makes the case that a new form of oppression – generational exploitation -- demands a new civil rights movement. This is a very creative and convincing way to address the rising cohort of voters who, against what the Marxists would call their class interests, tend to vote for progressive candidates. I have little doubt that the timing and crafting of Plunder and Deceit were undertaken with a view toward the all-important election of 2016, which may be out last chance to save our constitutional republic.

I have given considerable thought to what I will say when I give copies of this book to my children and a few other people  some decades younger than I am. The first thing out of my mouth will be, “I am sorry!” The next thing will be, “I fought against this, but I failed you.” And the third thing will be, “Here’s a guide to what’s been done to your generation, and what we can join together to do about it.” 

Be prepared to be uncomfortable, outraged, and motivated, if you buy this book, as I heartily recommend.