Many of us look at the landscape of government, the government bureaucracy, the reach of lobbyists and corporatists, and the diminishing impact we have on our elected officials, and we wonder if there is anything that we can do to restore accountability to civil authorities. We want change, yet time after time those we elect turn around and simply disappoint us.
Unfortunately, change is not going to happen in Washington, D.C., no matter what kinds of campaign promises were made. Change must come from the bottom up, within our states, within our cities, and from the gathering of communities at the local level. We need men and women who will stand up and be counted, who will not shrink back in the face of vociferous opposition, and who have the fortitude and qualities to help others realize that they can make a difference as well.
Off The Grid Radio
Released: March 23, 2012
Bill: Greetings and welcome everybody. This is Bill Heid today with Off the Grid Radio and my guest is Joel McDurmon. Joel, welcome to the show today.
Joel: Thanks for having me back, Bill.
Bill: You bet. It’s always a pleasure to have you. You’re embarked on a deal now at www.AmericanVision.org where you’re sort of launching a program and it’s one of great necessity and I think the title of your concept is “Restoring America One County at a Time.” And so why don’t you give us a little background about why this is so important at this point in history and just what theme that you’ve got and what approach you’ve got?
Joel: Well this project started a couple years ago when I was writing my book God Versus Socialism and that book is primarily critique. And one day I was sitting in my office with Gary North and Gary DeMar and we were all talking about this and they said, “Well now you’ve got a critique out there.” And of course everybody out there has a critique of the Obama administration and all the socialism and the tea parties and everything else like that. And they said, “Well now you need to write the book to tell people the positive side of things—what we need to do.” And I was like, “Well you know, that’s right.” And we realized at the moment that’s the number one question we get at all of our conferences and emails and stuff like that. People always say, “I agree with what you’re saying so what can we do?”
Bill: Yeah, how then shall we live, right? Everyone’s got that.
Joel: Yeah, exactly. And Gary North says, “Well you know, that’s how the Marxist movement got so popular under Lenin. He had this newsletter called “What Shall Be Done?” And gave practical steps.” I’ve seen a plethora of books out there: Restore America, Take Back America, Take Back Freedom, Restore America’s Greatness, military, fill in the blank on 100 permutations. And when I read many of those books, I agree with the critiques and then I get to the action plan and there’s usually just not much substance there. It’s, “We need to have principal over pragmatism” or “We need to pray more,” “We need to… fellowship of likeminded people.” We’re doing that. We’ve been doing that for 40 years. We could probably go back further than that.
And so I wanted to write a book where it was just very candid, “Here is where we want to get with freedom. Here is where we are now. And here are the steps to get from A to B. And they’re not easy steps.” Some of them are easy but they’re difficult to do because they require personal time, personal sacrifice, equip so much entertainment and put your effort into this. And it’s something that you’ve got to plan long term for. It’s something you may not realize in your lifetime but your children and grandchildren will. And the operative theme through the whole book—I cover ten major topics in American Life—and the operative theme running through all of them is “decentralize.”
You have got to take power and control—that is, responsibility—back to the local level and really back to the family level, if possible. And so I’ve designed this entire course around that theme in ten areas of life and we can talk about those in a minute. But we have to have these principles. We have to be willing to sacrifice. We have to think locally. We have to think about personal responsibility and practical steps that we can do, using our time wisely and we have to think long term, planning for our grandchildren. And I think those four spiritual values, if you will, kind of run through the whole thing and they are what we need to get back to.
Bill: Practical efforts, locally focused, personal sacrifice and long term vision.
Bill: Okay. So with that in mind, let’s do like a Letterman thing, like the Top 10 List. When we say “get it back to,” I think I’m always a little bit reluctant because sometimes you say, “Well the good old days” or “I want to get it back” and you realize, “Is there a period of time that you’d like to go to when there wasn’t problems? When there wasn’t sin? When there wasn’t graft in government?” And you go into Washington’s administration and Jefferson’s and you see… For those people that want to go really go through the details, you find out, “Wow. They had some problems.” As great a man as Washington was, there were some huge issues. People had sin natures there too. And so I kind of like saying “take it back” but I kind of don’t…. Do you know what I’m saying? I kind of have a “always reforming.” Always “let’s try to see if we can improve on something.” So these are like the top ten issues that we can have a more Biblical… Would that be a frame? —a more Biblical rule?
Joel: Well that’s my view of it. How do we get back to a Biblically free society?
Bill: There you go. Great phrase.
Joel: I know there are a lot of people in the Ron Paul and the Liberty Movement who aren’t Christians and in fact some of them are just outright atheists. But if you’ve read Murray Rothbard, who was an agnostic himself, most of the principles he espoused were principles straight out of the Bible applied to civil life and I think that‘s a discussion we can have later. But yeah, from my perspective it is Biblical freedom. It is getting the civil government off of people’s backs and allowing families and local governments, if you will, take care of matters instead of one large, centralized government.
Bill: Sure. So let’s look at number ten because we’ll have to zoom through these pretty quick. You and I could talk all day. You could do a conference on these ten and not get through the materials so let’s look at number ten. Number ten, you’re talking about intranational tyranny—treaties and executive orders.
Joel: It’s important to say up front why I organized these the way I did. I started off with those things I thought people could do most readily and have the greatest impact.
Bill: So we’re going to work our way up. So stay tuned, right? Because we’re going to work our way to the number one thing that you can do.
Joel: Right. But the thing is, when I got to number ten, I realized they kind of circle around because treaties and executive orders have been the primary means through which the national federal government has tyrannized local governments. The United Nations and globalist agendas have been used to affect local governments in many ways through Agenda 21 and things like that in nature.
Joel: But when you study the power of executive order and how it came about in society, you realize this was just piecemeal– slowly… crisis by crisis and that’s one of the key things—that were used to gradually seed power from local to state and then finally to the federal government and it was really solidified under FDR. And then after that, you get the National Emergencies Act. And really, by the time you get to Clinton, Clinton is waging war, sending our troops and planes over to die in Kosovo with no authorization from Congress whatsoever, completely by executive order. Well now how in the world did the President ever come to be that powerful? Well, it didn’t happen overnight.
It happened step by step. And of course you get into the issue of military there as well. So you have to look at these things and you have to begin to say, “Wait a minute. Let’s go back to something more like a local vision.” And you have to get people organized at the local level to realize, “We don’t want to seed those powers to Washington. We want to take those powers back.” Now, this is one of the most difficult things to undo at this point and that’s why it’s number ten on the list but it has to be discussed. What are some of the things that we can do locally? And that is to spread awareness and to oppose measures like Agenda 21, the use of environmentalism and things like that to change local laws to conform with globalist agendas.
Bill: And Joel, I think before we move into number nine, I think all you’ve got to do right now is look at Europe and look what happens to anytime you seed your power away to a bunch of bureaucrats… Europe has now a handful of bureaucrats and so the productive elements of society—maybe Germany and France in this case—are now hostage to bureaucrats who want to incorporate all of the lowest common denominator of the society. So you have to pay Greece’s bills off, theoretically. And so you can see what happens when you do that. The theater is yours. Just go watch Europe. Those people gave away their rights. Right now as we speak—You probably saw it in the news—they’re trying to make it against the law to wear a cross if you go to work in England. And what’s interesting is where is the battle being fought there? As I read that article, I found it interesting. They’re fighting that battle in Brussels and other places, whether or not English people can wear a cross to work.
Joel: Yeah, it’s unbelievable. And not only are they bureaucrats, they’re unelected bureaucrats, which is even worse. But we have the same thing here in America already. It’s just not as visible. The IRS employs 100,000 people. Think about it. Here’s a group that is not subject to court jurisdiction. They can bring a case against you and you have to fight it in their court, against their tax lawyers. It’s just unbelievable the tyranny from that one organization. And of course we have dozens of organizations like that.
Bill: Dozens and dozens. Let’s go to number nine. This is a tough one, Joel, because this is the one where you’re going to get the most blowback from FOX News Republicans because they watch Sean Hannity. They watch the old Pentagon Channel. And listen, we both know that there are some great men and women in service—so that everybody understands Joel and I are not saying that we don’t support troops on some level. So don’t write to us and tell us that. That’s not what the issue is.
Joel: Well that was a curiously chosen—a very well chosen word—blowback. That plays into the whole theme very well. And actually, this chapter—I got so carried away with Chapter Nine on war and the military that I actually spun off another book just on that chapter. And that’s actually coming out in a couple weeks. It’s called The Bible and War in America. And I had to condense it to fit into the main book. War has been one of the things that has consistently been used to take away our freedoms. Over and over again, there is a crisis, there is an escalation—and it’s solved by a military venture. Out of that, we went from being a nation that was organized very loosely, along Biblical lines of local militia only that were called up for defensive wars into a nation that has the largest standing army in the world, just about and certainly the largest defense budget in the world, by far.
And if you go back simply—and the Christians especially need to study this—go back to in Deuteronomy 17, Deuteronomy 20. Read God’s laws for a king and God’s laws for warfare and these were the things He was most concerned about. Of the few things He said the king can’t do, these were the things He said he can’t do. He can’t multiply offensive weapons. He can’t have a large treasury. Why? Because a standing army and a lot of money on the side means you’re going to go to war for some reason. The temptation to go to war is always going to be there. And so I lay out those Biblical principles and then I just show from day one in American history how that has played out, all the way up until now. Of course we’re spending billions of dollars in Afghanistan and I guess we’re leaving Iraq but slowly and we’re pondering more war. And in fact just the other day, Lindsey Graham says, “A permanent presence in Afghanistan would be a wonderful thing.” And I’m thinking, “Are these guys crazy?” This is nuts and certainly un-Biblical.
Maybe I won’t convince the FOX News Pentacrats or whatever you call them but if I could convince the Christians to go back and study their Bible and what happens to nations that turn toward man and standing armies, if you just read the book of 1 Samuel, you’ll see it. The decline in American life can be blamed on that as much as anything. And it’s not un-American to stand up against unjust wars and things like that. It was originally American. If you go all the way back to the founding of this nation—and I’m talking about in the 1600s, early 1700s—the Massachusetts Body of Liberty said no man could ever be forced to go fight in a war if he didn’t want to. And we ridicule that mentality today. We call those people weak and spineless and chickens and all this kind of stuff and that’s just completely un-Biblical. In reality, it’s unmanly to try to make someone cower in fear so that they have to go fight. That’s ridiculous.
Bill: Sure. And Joel, don’t you think it also sort of places the locus of a nation’s success? It’s kind of a rationalistic principle. In other words, if we don’t trust in God but if we have more tanks and a better Navy, then that’s what gives me security when I go to bed at night. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t have those things so you have to understand the argument. We should have a Navy and we probably ought to be able to defend ourselves but to equate military force with whether or not you’re going to stay free and ignore what God’s Word says about that—you’re no different than the far left. As a matter of fact, you’re probably worse in some ways because you’re placing your trust someplace where it doesn’t belong and history shows over and over and over where that misplaced trust takes a nation– Always to slavery, always to destruction.
Joel: And it’s for a reason that the proverb says, “A horse is a vain thing for safety.” Actually that’s in the Psalms but the point stands. Because a horse was an offensive weapon in those days so people don’t realize that.
Bill: It doesn’t matter how many tanks you have or how many fighters you have or how many aircraft carriers you have. If you shake your fist at God, watch out. It just doesn’t matter and boy, that’s the thing. If we could convince our friends that watch the channel I’m referring to of that, we would have done a lot Joel, but all we can do is sate our case, right? And you’ve got your book coming out…
Joel: At this point, what practical steps can a person take? It would be don’t get in the military. Don’t join the military because it’s an ungodly structure at this point. I’m not saying I don’t support some of the people that are in there for different reasons but at this point, now that you know, joining it would be a sin against conscience, unless of course there’s an invasion and there’s a reason to go fight. But that’s one step. Another one is don’t support political candidates who are in support of foreign policy that is aggressive. That’s ungodly and God is judging this nation for it and He has been for 200 years. But I lay all that case out in the book and even more in my book on the Bible and war in America. But then that’s just one of the ten chapters—one of the ten chapters where there are very challenging lessons that the Bible presents us with that we have to grapple with psychologically before we’re going to be able to take freedom back and that’s a message to all Christians everywhere.
Bill: And it’s a good one. Let’s look at number eight, judicial tyranny. A couple comments on that?
Joel: Well judicial tyranny, I believe began… There was a great book that came out a while back by Angelo Codevilla. It got a lot of attention from Rush Limbaugh. It was called America’s Ruling Class and it blamed a lot of the mentality we have today on the Wilson era and that liberal progressive era coming out of the early 20th century and forward and really culminating in FDR and the Johnson administration and being recapitulated in Obama. And I said, “Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Back up. If you want to see the real force behind the judicial tyranny, you have to go all the way back to John Marshall.”
And people get exercise there because John Marshall and Alexander Hamilton—they’re the great icons of Federalism and the Federalist Party is supposed to be the great icon of the Republican Party. And so the Republicans blasted me for saying these things but it’s very clear. Even the liberal progressives today, for their judicial doctrines, go back to things that John Marshall said, that it is the court ultimately that decides what the law is and using the court to advance agendas from the bench, essentially to legislate from the bench the things that his party wanted, including a national bank. I encourage people to go back and read—you can download it online—read the court case McCulloch versus Maryland. Now it’s about 50 or 60 pages. It’s going to take you a while. But what’s interesting about that is it preserves the argumentation from both sides. And remember this court case was about the state of Maryland had tried to impose taxes on the national bank, that the guys in DC had opened up a national bank branch in Maryland and so the state tried to tax its income. And the feds said, “No, you can’t do that. We’re above state law.” And so you had this lawsuit, which was basically a showdown between states’ rights and the power of the federal government. Well the court case goes all the way to the Supreme Court and guess who decides it?
It’s John Marshall, who is best friends with Alexander Hamilton, who is the guy that wrote the national bank doctrine to begin with. So of course he’s going to side with the national federal government. And in doing so, he goes through both sides of the argumentation. He gets all the way down, directly… He covers two issues. Number one, is it okay for Congress to delegate authority to unelected board members running the bank? And he says, “Yes, it is,” which is complete nonsense. But most importantly, he comes to the issue of the 10th Amendment explicitly. The 10th Amendment was supposed to be the great safeguard for states’ rights, right? And he comes to that specifically and he says, “Yeah, that’s there but there’s one word that prevents it from stopping me and that word is ‘expressly.’ Yes the powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved for the states.” But he says, “It doesn’t say the powers expressly delegated,’ which leaves it an open question whether any given power that we discuss is delegated or not. And in this case, I’m saying it is.” So in other words, he just blew through the 10th Amendment like it wasn’t even there.
Bill: Which is what happens when sinful men and women… You can’t find them with paper. They have to have the desire to be lawful in their heart, I suppose.
Joel: So what’s important here is to remember that this is the icon of the conservative side today. It’s still enlightenment. It’s still tyranny. It’s still top down control. And all of the anti-federal… all the people who were more numerous by the way at the time, who opposed the Constitution in the form that it was in, predicted that this would happen. They said it explicitly and it did happen. Well it just set a precedent that kept being used all through the 19th century and into the 20th century. And by the time Wilson and his administration gets a hold of it, the game’s lost. You don’t have freedom anymore. You have a top down bureaucratic control from Washington. So what can be done about this? Well at this point, you have to—Christians especially—really have to step back and take Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 6 and that is, “Settle disputes in private courts.” That’s one thing and then there’s the arbitration and mediation. There are a lot of variations of this. But if we begin to practice this within the Christian community, we begin to set a precedent. We begin to realize how law and the judiciary is supposed to work in society. Against the tyranny side of it—I’ve got to mention this before we move on.
Joel: Probably the most important thing to learn is about jury nullification. Now you probably know about this. I bet most of your listeners do too but the ones who don’t need to do a Google search on jury nullification. There is a society that’s been promoting this for years and years. They offer all kinds of resources including a package for a Sunday School course. In jury nullification, the jury is not just judging the facts of the case. They also sit over the law of the case. And today and especially since the early 19th century and forward, judges have been allowed by the Supreme Court to lie to the jury and say, “You don’t have the right to judge the law.” But that is an absolute lie going all the way back to English court precedent and all the way through American history. Juries do have the right to judge law. If they think the law is wrong on any particular case, all it takes is one juror to say, “I don’t believe he’s guilty.” Doesn’t have to explain why. Is not accountable for why. All he’s got to do is say, “He’s not guilty.” And that one juror can advance liberty in that case.
Bill: That’s a great point. Yeah. And you’re right. Judges will take juries, kind of with a hook in their nose, the same way a superintendent will take a school board. The school board members think that they’re on the school board but they just do what the superintendent says and juries basically get coached by judges more often than not and that’s what you’ve got. It’s more of the same. It’s tyranny.
Joel: It’s a tyranny. And again, it’s a psychological hurdle. You don’t have to be bold and disrespectful but you have to have courage, knowing the truth that you can stand up for the truth and you don’t have to be intimidated and bullied by a judge or a prosecutor or anybody else.
Bill: Let’s go to another one Joel because we’re going to run out of time here. Like I said, this is a seminar unto itself.
Joel: Yeah. Let me just go through several of them quickly here.
Joel: Five, six and seven—they all kind of go together. It deals with taxation. Six deals with money. Seven deals with free markets. You have to get back to a Biblical federal view of taxation. We’ve progressed so far in taxation it’s not even funny. In a Biblical model, no civil government would be able to take more than 10% from you total. And if another level of government above that wanted to tax, it would have to tax the next level of government– not the people. And so people would never be liable to the civil government for more than 10% of their income because taking more of that would be a claim to be a god. God requires a tithe of us. When the civil government says it’s entitled to more, it’s essentially saying, “We’re higher than God. We’re more important that God.” And so the Biblical view is that civil governments take less than 10% and in my view, way less than 10%. But taxation is not really the end all be all, unless you have sound money.
And I’m sure most of your listeners are on board with the “End the Fed” campaign and the idea of fiat money being evil. And it is. Biblical doctrine for money is just weights and measures. It’s a set amount. It doesn’t change. And certainly no single bank in the nation has the power to change it at its will. And once you begin to set those principles in money, that’s got to flow directly into markets. And of course markets are only free as long as governments aren’t being involved and regulating and awarding contracts to certain people. And of course I explained in the book how those manipulations in the market affect business and create special interest groups and create voting blocks, especially in pertaining to big business and the military industrial complex. So all of those things—finance and business—all gets covered from that perspective.
Bill: Joel, what do you say to people—and I know a lot of very sharp atheists, libertarians, guys like Doug Casey and others I know, I read… I just got Doug Casey’s new newsletter and he… As an atheist he calls printing of excess money and the way that we’re doing it is a form of stealing. But it’s interesting that as an atheist, he calls it evil. What do you say to atheists who want to set up standards? Who want to crawl up a Christian ladder and then kick it off and say, “Don’t need the ladder”? But the term evil… He has to have a standard by which he’s judging inflationary policy.
Joel: I think it depends on what I’m drinking at the moment how I address him. If I’ve had too much coffee, I might go into my apologetics mode and say, “Look, you can’t do this because you’re borrowing capital from the Christian worldview, etc., etc., etc.” But if I was a little more congenial– say we were having a beer together—I might say, “Where do you get the idea that it’s evil?” It’s probably the same issue but in a little more genteel way. If you only believe everything’s matter in motion ultimately then we’re all bags of protoplasm, then what big deal does it make if this guy over here is printing money? That’s not evil. He’s just competing. And really, if you want to get really down to the atheistic view of free markets—the law of the jungle, so to speak, the Spenserian view of social Darwinism—you have to face that. This guy is over here. He’s somehow climbed himself up into the seats of power so that he can print money and benefit himself and his buddies. Well that was all just the results of competition in society. He just happened to have a better starting point than you did. That’s not his fault. It’s not evil. It’s not good. It’s just the way it is. As Alexander Pope said, “In a naturalistic world, whatever is is right.”
Bill: Yeah, Nietzsche loved that and so did the Marquis de Sade. I have to tell you this too. You’d smile at this. This is a little tangential but you’d find it interesting. In the evangelical world, I found myself in a small room a week ago with Michael W. Smith, the great Christian musician. And we were discussing things and he was talking about his… He was doing the discussing for the most part but he was talking about his beliefs and kind of some of his background material and what he liked and what he didn’t like. I found it cute someone said to him, “What’s your favorite song?” And he said, “Hey Jude.” And I think there were groupies wanting him to say one of his own songs but he moved quickly onto the Beatles there. I think that’s his favorite song. But he said this Joel, which takes the Christian side of it too. So the Christian and the atheist, I think, in many cases kind of end up in the same team in one respect. He was mad at Obama printing a lot of money, okay? But he wasn’t mad at President Bush for doing that. When President Bush did that—this is what came out in the conversation—it was a good thing. When President Obama printed money, Michael W. Smith said, “This is evil.” How do you…?
Joel: I think it’s interesting how he would justify the difference. It’s stealing in principle. It’s devaluing the money. It’s what Isaiah talks about in Isaiah 1—“Your wine has become water and your silver as dross.” You’re diluting the money supply, which is stealing from everybody for the benefit of one particular group who gets the money, which in our case is the banks. So why is it good if…? Who does that? If it’s a Democrat or a Republican or a Christian or an atheist—Anyone doing that is breaking God’s law. So I don’t know how you could justify either way. It’s the same law.
Bill: But we just want to kind of do that with…
Joel: You don’t justify an action based on the person doing it. You justify it on the basis of the law, which is God’s law.
Bill: Yeah, well there’s another case of someone wanting to place the locus of evil outside the group that he’s in, which is a common thing for tribes to do, for families to do, for countries to do, whatever. I think that’s the history of mankind is trying to assign evil in someplace other than on himself.
Joel: Yeah, or in our case today it is maybe we’re not assigning… Maybe we say, “Yeah, we’re not perfect either but at least we’re better than those guys.” And that’s the argument allegedly for voting for Romney or one of these other guys.
Joel: But I don’t play that game. I can’t in conscience go down that road and support someone, push a button that says, “I vote,” which comes from the Latin votus, “I will, I wish, I desire” to have this guy. I can’t do that in conscience.
Bill: Yeah. Well anyway, with respect to him, he’s a humble man and a very nice man and there is lots that I’ve learned from just listening to him. That wasn’t the only thing so it’s not coming off as being a big thing. But you find that in Christian circles as well, where the line of antithesis is placed conveniently someplace else instead of going right back at ourselves. Like the old Negro spiritual, “It’s not my mother, my father, my brother, my sister—It’s me.” That’s what I see is missing everywhere. Why did those African Americans get it right and why does everyone else labor so much with this concept?
Joel: And that all ties right back into my project because one of the goals I have all through it is to expose these little spiritual hang-ups we have— the hypocrisies, the lazinesses—things like that that we have to get over the hurdles in order to get this type of free society back. It’s not just going to happen by voting the right guy in. And in fact, my argue that by voting whatever guy in at the national level is not going to make any difference because they’re not going to have what it takes to change the system in the way that it needs to be changed to bring back local control of things.
So my third and fourth chapters are really about the political side of things—the localism and the states’ rights, which are levels of Federalism to protect you against national tyranny. And so I discuss that. In this book by the way, every chapter—and this is kind of an important detail—every chapter is laid out on the same pattern—each one of these topics. And it is three questions: How was America once free or at least how does the Bible describe freedom or what is freedom? Number two, how did we lose it? And number three, how do we get it back? What are the steps? And so in these more political, federal chapters, there’s a lot of American history in this book, especially in these chapters, showing the confrontation that happened around the Constitutional era.
And I argue that the Constitution– however much better it is than what we have today and it would be nice to get back to it—it in itself was the first great centralization of power in this nation. It was by leaps and bounds from the perspective of the time. All you’ve got to do is read the people who were opposed to it, including Patrick Henry, the great American statesman, and see what was going on then. And you realize that the pattern was set from that point on for greater centralization. They gave the tools. They put the tools in place for what we have today. And so my argument focuses a lot on what was it like before that. Anyway, those are those two chapters and like I said, there’s a lot of history in there.
Bill: Well talk a little bit about Chapter Three before we move up to the other ones because I think you’ve really hit it there with this local sheriff concept and I think that’s something that is tractionable. In other words, I think that’s something that a lot of folks might start to pay attention to with your book coming out—is the role of the sheriff historically.
Joel: Yeah, if you go back to the whole idea of what are counties? Get into the early American history about how this nation was settled. And it was settled by counties basically. And de Tocqueville noticed this when he comes over in the 1830’s. He says, “Every local community is basically a republic to itself. They don’t need the state. They don’t need the national government. They don’t need these things because they are essentially self-sustaining, legally speaking.
Taxation happened locally for the most part, at least until the Constitution came. Criminal law, civil law was all local law. And religion was local. Values were local. And you didn’t worry so much about what was happening in three counties over from you or two states over from you. If they were going off the deep end, that’s bad and you would help them if you could but you’re not going to march an army up there and conquer them. That was just never heard of. And in order to keep your neighbors in check against you, that’s where the whole idea of the local sheriff came from. The icon here, so to speak, is Robin Hood. That’s not to support Robin Hood’s economics by any means. But if you remember in the old Robin Hood stories, who was the enemy? He was the sheriff.
Bill: Sheriff of Nottingham, yeah.
Joel: Well this is ancient English history that was true as far as the structure of it that was basically transported when America was settled. Our county is the equivalent of an English shire. And the word “sheriff” comes from the “shire reef.” The reef was an agent of the king. So you had the shire reef or the sheriff. And in the English version, which was for many years there top down government, the sheriff was an agent of the king, who came out to visit your local shire, your local county, and collect the taxes that were due.
But in the American system it was flipped around and more rightly so because of the Calvinist theology that pervaded America– the Federalist theology, if you will, that pervaded America. And the sheriff was an agent of the county. He was elected or appointed locally and if he collected taxes, for the most part they stayed local and he was there as a protection against outside governments and for law enforcement within as well. But he was an agent of the locals. He was not an agent of the king. So an entirely different way of viewing things and it gets back to the thing we talk about all the time in the tea parties and in everything else. It is grassroots localism. Instead of having a government at the pyramid, sending orders and commands down to you.
Bill: Yeah but it takes strong and courageous men to say, “No.” Let me give you a little brief example of kind of a microcosm of a sheriff in action. We live up here. You’ve never been up here to our place. We’d love to have you some time. But we have this prison up here and it’s where they wanted to bring the Gitmo prisoners and so it’s empty. I think Blago Blagojevich wanted to make it a prison and we ran out of money. And so now this prison’s right in our little town and it’s supposed to hold the worst of the worst, a very tough security, high security prison. So we had this big meeting, Joel. It would have made you smile. And it was a couple of business leaders in the area. Well, there’s like 500 people in our town and so it’s me and a couple other guys. But it’s all full of a whole bunch of politicrats [sp] from here and there, Durbin’s team and everything and they wanted to get this. And our local sheriff is there, who is a reasonable man on some level. I would not say that he’s not. He’s not a ne’er do well or any of that. But when we went to the question and answers. We were talking to Harley– I can’t remember his name– that runs the federal prisons and we’re all kind of able to just… Because they were going to bring the Gitmo prisoners here.
He couldn’t wait—the sheriff—he wanted bulletproof vests and tanks. In other words, here is a good guy but when the opportunity came, he was licking his chops at federal dollars to get armor piercing bullets or whatever he wanted. I don’t remember what it all was. But you see what I’m saying? It’s going to take a different kind of man or woman or whatever you want to say—a different kind of leader to say, “No.”
Joel: There are some of those guys but you’re right. The tactics are never or rarely the federal government marching in saying, “This is how it’s going to be.” The federal government says, “We can provide you this—this amount of funds or this amount of equipment or whatever, these benefits—if you will accept our regulations and allow us to do this and this and this and this.” And then of course they’re just bought off is what it is.
Joel: That’s been going on for a long, long time on many levels. And you’re right. It takes a special type of person to stand up to that. It also takes a special type of populous, that when a guy does stand up like that and he comes up for reelection and so and so says, “Well, he voted… We didn’t need this and we didn’t need that and he’s not tough on crime because he wouldn’t accept this money and take all these great advantages…”
Joel: It takes a populous that sees through that and says, “No, we stand with this guy because instead of selling out to the feds, he stood for us and for our freedoms. That’s the kind of guy we want.”
Bill: So it’s not just a Biblically educated, historically educated leader but you’re not going to get a Biblically or historically leader unless you have a Biblically or historically educated populous.
Joel: Yeah, that’s a tough sell, right? As long as you have a majority of the population who can be persuaded by benefits from above, benefits from the feds, then this will not happen. But if we can teach this message about individual responsibility, about a fiscal responsibility, about independence and things of this nature… You know, the first Declaration of Independence in this nation was not 1776 with Jefferson. It was published a year before by a single county. You may know the story of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
Bill: No I don’t. Tell it. Tell it quick here.
Joel: That in 1775, they got together and they saw what was on the horizon and they declared their independence from all British courts and laws and everything else and formed an interim government of their own saying, “Until the rest of the nation catches up with us and declares its independence, we will rely on this administrative board we’ve temporarily put together. But yeah, Mecklenburg County. It’s called the Mecklenburg Resolves and it’s in historical documentations, probably online actually. You probably could look it up. But yeah, it was a single county who got together and said, “We’re not going to stand for it. “
And my project is to inspire groups in at least one in every county in this nation– and there are 3,000+ counties in the United States—to form groups and to start discussing these topics. You don’t have to agree with me on every point but look at the topics, discuss the issues and begin to stand and develop a local mentality like those people in Mecklenburg, like these various sheriffs we see standing up to the FDA and the raw milk raids and stuff like that. There are some of them in Indiana and California. Like the people in Maine who stood up and wrote their own resolution that said, “Federal food laws don’t apply in our community,” in Sedgwick Maine.
This stuff is beginning to happen across the country and if we can inspire more people to get more involved in it, I think we can begin to take America back. But it has to begin locally; it has to be at the grassroots level and has to have a radical commitment to personal sacrifice, to time and to a long-term vision to get it done.
Bill: Well the radical sacrifice, Joel, as we go to the last two—now you’re talking about radical sacrifice because you’re talking about ending our dependence on the welfare state and as much as Conservatives, Christians, Libertarians would like to think that their not hooked to this umbilical cord, boy, if you start to turn the faucet off, you hear the screeches and it goes everywhere from business owners to good folks that are farmers and everybody, folks that have their grandparents and state operated with public aid for nursing homes and right down the line. And we’re all guilty. I’m not pointing any fingers. They’re all pointing at me. But I’m just saying that’s something we’ve got to really– this welfare state thing—really think through about what it means.
Joel: Absolutely. It has its tentacles in every area of life and for the most part, most people are dependent on it to some degree. Now I can say to a large degree—and I think my generation and back to a large degree can say—we’re not dependent on it yet. We are somewhat invested in it because they take taxes out. They don’t call it taxes but it is a tax. And our money is there. But there is a growing number of people—you see this at the Ron Paul rallies and the Liberty Movement rallies and a lot of the tea parties even—that people are standing up saying, “We want a privatized Social Security system. And if that means I have to lose some of the money I’ve put in, I’m willing to do that if you give me the option to opt out.” And we can find a way to phase the system out, to take care of the seniors who are heavily invested and dependent on it.
Meanwhile let the younger generation begin saving and planning for themselves so that we can have a day where we’re back to private savings and private old age benefits, which of course brings in the dependence on the family again. Of course you can’t have this in a nation where the family is destroyed. But it’s very important that we allow the option. And that’s my point. I’m not saying, “Let’s go to Washington and change…” Of course it’s not going to happen at Washington. But we can’t change it from the top down overnight. That would be ridiculous and it wouldn’t work and a lot of people would starve to death. But you phase it out and you give the younger generation the chance to opt out. And once they do, once they do, they’re out. And they’re dependent on themselves and the consequences.
And the image I look to here. There is a group that has done this consistently, all through American history and that is the Amish. Now you don’t have to go live like the Amish in order to have your own private savings for old age, by any means. But in one way, it does kind of symbolize that the type of commitment you have to have to make it work. Here is a group of people whose religious beliefs were so strong that they, in the beginning, suffered persecution—legal persecution from the feds—and fought it in order to preserve their system. And it happened because of two things.
Number one, they had a strong religious belief that it’s wrong. And it is wrong. It’s redistribution of wealth, it’s a ponzi scheme, it’s immoral. But they had a strong religious belief that it was wrong and they stood by that and they wouldn’t compromise. And number two; they had a viable alterative in place already. So they could tell the feds, “We don’t believe in your system and we don’t need your system.” And if we can begin to start a society like that—at least start groups in our societies like that on the local level, that are private, that are family to the point where we can say, “Look, we don’t need your system. We don’t want to be a burden on the system. We don’t want to take from the system. We don’t believe in it”—then I believe that system… because it’s on the books…
There are religious exceptions and I believe if we plan and have groups like this, we can begin to maybe move toward changing those laws to exempt other groups that are similar. This is not a pipe dream by the way. When the Obama Care Law was being passed, groups—and I think they’re right up there near you in Illinois—Samaritan Ministries said, “Look, we’ve got a viable plan in place and we’re religiously opposed to this.” It was a mirror image of what the Amish did with Social Security in the ‘30s and ‘60s. And they said, “We don’t want it.” And even the bureaucrats and the ruthless Obama administrators gave an exemption to Samaritan and groups like them that had a religious commitment against it.
Bill: They had built something up. It’s a wonderful thing, yeah.
Joel: Right and it’s a great, great ministry.
Bill: Well let’s talk lastly about the great bastion of humanism. Now here’s the deal with number one on your list. This is Letterman’s Top Ten and now we’re at number one. Here’s the problem in this scenario. The East Westchester North Stars play Central on Friday night and my daughter is a cheerleader, right? How do I escape that world?
Joel: The football and cheerleading issue is a big one and it’s education. But it really… It’s like someone who is addicted to television. It seems like they can’t live without it. What are they going to do? If someone who is stuck in that—and there are lots of people stuck in that by the way—it seems like their life but almost the moment that you take them out of it and give them something to do that’s profitable, give them a week doing that and it’s like they’ve walked into a new vista—a whole new world that they’ve realized, “I never needed that. Why was I stuck with that? Why did I think it was so good?”
And I think we’re kind of at that place, we’re lulled to sleep by these athletic and extracurricular programs in public schools that we accept the immorality of public schooling on many levels so that we can have these perceived benefits. But in reality, they’re not benefits. They’re opiates. And I know hundreds, thousands of homeschoolers who are not involved in those things, who have vibrant social lives, who have vibrant lives as musicians. I know two girls over here in Alabama at a church I preached. They’ve gotten the top scholarships at a university over there for piano and voice. These people are hugely talented and they have great extracurricular activities. They never went to public school. They never had all these benefits. And I know tons of homeschooled people who would say, “You know what? I’ve never missed that in my life. I never cared to go play football. I never cared to be on the public school basketball team or cheerleading or whatever.”
There are many, many ways to take care of those social needs in the private side of things without assuming that your neighbor’s property should be taxed to pay for it so that you can do it. But education is number one. And remember I prioritized these things based on the thing that you can do right now to have the most impact, the easiest. And number one is pull your kids out of public school. There is no reason any Christian should have their kid in a public school, anytime, anywhere. And that applies across the board. I discuss many scenarios in this chapter—single parents even. I know a single mom. She homeschooled her daughter all the way through her teen years even and was very successful. It’s a wonderful family. The daughter grew up and got married. She’s having a baby now. It’s a wonderful family. It can work. It just takes… It goes back to that issue. What are you willing to sacrifice to have a godly society?
Bill: Well and it does take a little sacrifice and it does take a paradigm shift. Full disclosure—you know Tracy. Tracy, my daughter, went to public school. By the time I kind of got through my thick skull, my youngest children had most of their education in a Christian school. But it took me a while. So when I say that, I’m not saying it barking from some distant tree or anything. I’m saying as someone that has experience both sides. And I have to concur with what you say. There is very little there. It’s against the law to even teach that Christ even existed. So if people want to come back and say, “Well there are a lot of good teachers,” I have to say, “Listen. Even if you’re an atheist, why would you want to have your kids in a school where they couldn’t even teach the true history of our country?”
Joel: Yeah and many other subjects. And I was public schooled myself and a lot of people say, “Well you’re smart. You’ve written all these books. You went to public school. Obviously didn’t hurt you any.” And I can say, “I can promise you that what education I have did not begin until well after I was out of high school when I started reading and learning and then of course I progressed into Biblical thought and Biblical worldview and it completely revolutionized everything I’d ever thought of.”
Bill: And don’t you find out sometimes… You find out when you were taught something incorrectly and then you find out that that wasn’t true… So there’s a natural for some of us maybe who are a little more cantankerous—It makes us work harder to find out… You never learned about that Declaration of Independence in that county at… You probably barely learned about the Declaration of Independence in your school.
Joel: Oh no. I went through the entirety of school. We never read the Declaration in its entirety. We never read the Constitution in its entirety. We never read the Federalist Papers and we certainly never read the anti-Federalist Papers, which are much better. And I can go on and on on that list. And you’re right. There is this natural reaction to the status, “I’ve been lied to” or “I was deceived” or “I was not given this opportunity and should have been.” And you want to go pick up the books and then learn and it’s kind of like taking the red pill or whichever it was to go into the matrix and have the veil lifted off your eyes. It’s a journey for most of us.
And thankfully guys like you and I and RJ Rushdoony and Gary North and many other guys in the movement go before us and pull back the curtain for us. And we’re kind of starting with a jumpstart. I just think this is important and especially on the education level. And this all ties into education and localism, taxation. It’s one thing to learn those bits of history that are important. It’s another thing also to learn how it’s financed. Why is the property tax even justified to begin with? How is it legally justified? How can a school board essentially float a bond of tens of millions of dollars to finance whatever it wants to do and float that on the backs of future taxpayers?
Bill: It’s for the children, Joel. It’s for the children. Doesn’t anybody care about the children? That’s what they’ll say.
Joel: They don’t even really need to get to that point because in many cases they can push the vote into a dark corner somewhere where a tiny percent of the population turns out to vote for it and it only takes a majority of that tiny percentage. And so in reality, only a few percent of people in your county can vote for something and have millions and millions of dollars of debt imposed on you. This is a tragedy and when you get into the dark corners of public finance and all the tactics these people have to use to advance their leftist, socialist, godless agendas and to think that there are Christians who will not only not know what’s going on but will know what’s going on and will actively fight to keep it.
To know that is just one of the most discouraging things on the one hand but it’s also one of the things that keeps me fighting. And I want to just pull back those curtains for everyone I know to see and as many people as possible to see because I think when people really see what goes on, they will begin to realize this is immoral. This is un-Biblical. And we need to come up with a good alternative. But the thing is to have that alternative in place so that there’s not this huge, painful paradigm shift for people to have to make at that point.
Bill: Yeah, it’s very painful. One other little quick story before we kind of go on, that I think you’ll find amusing. When I finally put my kids in Christian school, I ran into one of the guys that started our school. And he was an older guy named Jake Lizengae [sp]. He was over 100 years old. And guess where he was from? Holland. And so he started the Christian Reform school here in this little community.
Joel: Yeah of course, the Dutch Reform school. They always did their own schools.
Bill: Yeah. And so when I got on the school board, I took it seriously and I said, “You know what? I want to have the original vision.” So I went down and interviewed this guy and it’s a long interview and I’ll tell you privately the story sometime. It’s a long interview but the interesting thing that he told me…. He said, “Bill…” And he couldn’t hear very well so he kind of yelled it. He was over 100 years old but he still, Joel, he had a twinkle in his eyes because he was Kuyper’s offspring. So he lived during that period in a little town outside of Voliden [sp]. And he remembered the day when they boarded up the public school because the Dutch Reform people built their schools and the Christian Reform people built their schools. And he said—he’s 100 years old—and he said, “I’ll never forget the day when they boarded up the pubic schools.” They literally came and put boards over the windows and the doors and nailed it shut because there wasn’t anybody there. Everybody went to the other two schools. So don’t anybody say that it can’t be done. It can be done. But it’s going to take, as you say, a lot of sacrifice.
Joel: And here’s the deal. Even if I can’t shut down the public schools, I at least want to encourage Christians to homeschool or at least private school and fight locally for tax exemptions for people who don’t use the system. And I think that’s one key to a greater exodus from that system. When people realize the amount of money that goes into it that’s taken out of their pockets…. Just my little house and my little property, the taxes I pay, for that couple thousand dollars, do you know what I can do for my children educationally with $2,000 a year? And the state is bringing in federal money and state money and spending $10,000-$11,000 a student for a year and they get this low quality dump of an education. And I’m thinking, “Man, just give me my $2,000 back. Let me get out of the system.” If I just fought for that that would be…
Bill: But if you get your $2,000 back, who is going to pay the superintendent $225,000 a year to destroy the other children? That’s my question for you.
Joel: Oh yeah. Then you start realizing the real problems.
Bill: Who is going to pay him that money? So yeah, you’ll get a little bit of a fight. The new Chalcedon has an article by a friend of mine, Paul Dore…
Joel: Yes, Paul’s a great guy.
Bill: Yeah, and he’s really… We’ve had him on the show and he’s really doing some… He is a demolition wrecking ball. He goes in and finds them. And I think all these groups, Joel… As these groups set up, I think the groups could have Paul come in and speak and say, “How do you win in your county?” So we’ve only got a couple more minutes. What are your thoughts? What are you going to call your groups? Ron Paul’s already got meet up groups. What are you going to call your group name?
Joel: Well I don’t have a name for them yet. As far as our projects go… By the way, this is a book. It’s a series of articles online. The whole book—what’s going to be the book essentially—is already online for free. You can go read it all. Just Google “Restoring America McDurmon” or “county rights” and you’ll get a link to the master index of all the articles. There is about 30-32 of them, something like that. And it’s also a video series. There are also scripts for a video course. There are about 30 videos, each one about 20-30 minutes and that will all be on DVD soon and most of it’s already online on YouTube and on our website.
We’re trying to put this out there in every possible way, in print and in video, and inspire people to do this. And then once we kind of get that phase up, then we’re going to concentrate some work on some type of a template for meet up group websites all across the country—some downloadable thing. We haven’t quite figured it out yet but we will get there. So we haven’t got a name per se yet but it will probably be something around restoring America or county rights or something like that. The phrase County Rights, of course, is a play off the idea of states’ rights but taking it back to the level of county. As my father in law says, “States’ rights are for sissies. Give me county rights.”
Bill: That does sound like something he would say and again, congratulations. Speaking of your father in law, he’s the one that kind of taught me—not directly but indirectly through his writings—that you can’t go around blowing up dams and not replacing what was there. And so I really applaud you on what you’ve done, in terms of actually putting something in. We don’t want to just be critics. We want to actually go give people operative techniques and strategies that they can go replace this great humanism, this great lie that’s been forced us, this cup of lie wine that we’ve drunk. So I really want to say thanks for what you’ve done and look forward to more. I’d love to have you on again when the Bible book comes out on the Bible and the military.
Joel: On the war, yeah we’d love to do that. Well thanks Bill for having me.
Bill: You bet. Thanks a lot Joel.
Joel: All right. Bye-bye.
Bill: Take care. And remember, thank you folks for hanging in there with us. We know that your time is very valuable and we really do appreciate the fact that you’ve spent some of it with us today. So for everybody here at Off the Grid News, thank you again.