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The American Heritage Dictionary defines kleptocracy as a government characterized by rampant greed and corruption. Because the U.S. Constitution has not been replaced with a document setting up an organized kleptocracy, America is not officially a kleptocracy. However, there is little question that the vast majority of politicians that govern America are kleptocrats.

Power hungry politicians no longer feel restrained by Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which enumerates the powers and responsibilities of the federal government. The politicians have expanded the role of government for the benefit of themselves, their sponsors, and their supporters to the point that they can hardly deny being kleptocrats.

President Bush recently unveiled a budget of $2.568 trillion for fiscal year 2006. This amounts to $8,690 for each person in America, based on a population of 295.5 million, or $26,070 for a household of three. According to the White House, the budget is almost 20% of GDP, although what the GDP for 2006 will be is unknown.

This budget has a planned deficit of $390 billion. If history is any guide, the deficit will actually be higher. The government continues to insist that the deficit for fiscal year 2004 was $412 billion, yet the national debt increased by $596 billion (over $2,000 per person) during that fiscal year.

The national debt has steadily increased since 1960, when it took a slight dip. It is apparent that the kleptocrats have no intention of ever paying down the national debt, even as the intereset on the debt consumes more and more of the budget.

The national debt was $7.629 trillion on February 10, 2005. This amounts to a debt of $25,817 for each American, or over $77,000 for a household of three. The national debt in 2003 was over six times what the national debt was in 1981. By comparison, a dollar in 1981 would buy what cost $2.13 in 2003, according to government inflation figures.

Many people who actually buy groceries and pay rent might argue that it cost more than $2.13 in 2003 to buy what used to cost a buck in 1981. Regardless, inflation is an insidious hidden tax that is caused almost entirely by the Federal Reserve Bank increasing the money supply. In the past five years, the price of gold has gone from about $275 per ounce to about $422 an ounce. Many economists argue that it is a devalued dollar that has contributed to this dramatic increase in the price of gold.

Inflation is also a tool of the clever kleptocrats that allows them to pay off debt with dollars that are worth less and less over time. Foreign lenders who buy government debt are aware of this. To the extent that the inflation rate exceeds the interest paid on government debt, the lender actually loses money. It is unlikely that foreign lenders will continue to fund American kleptocrats at a loss for much longer.

The kleptocrats will then be forced to stop borrowing (and reduce spending) or increase the interest rate (and increase inflation) they are willing to pay. The U.S. dollar has already been declining against the Euro as more foreign lenders have reduced the amount of U.S. debt they hold.

It is clear that the kleptocrats in Washington have no intention of limiting the activities of government to the role prescribed in the Constitution. It is equally clear that they have no intention of spending less on pork projects and entitlements to buy votes. They surely have no intention to end corporate welfare as that would reduce the amount of campaign contributions (bribes) they receive.

It is also clear that Americans will not hold their elected officials accountable for fiscal irresponsibility or the failure to comply with constitutional restraints on government. It is clear that Americans don't mind saddling their children with a massive debt load. It is unfortunate that most Americans accept being ruled by kleptocrats. Hopefully, Americans will not wait until there is economic chaos resulting in social disorder before they decide to demand accountability.

The desire of kleptocrats to turn America into a surveillance state may force many people into an underground economy. Those who can no longer afford to pay taxes will not be able to obtain credit or have a bank account. They will not be able to work for businesses that are agents of the government. Currently, most businesses act as agents of the government by withholding taxes for the government and reporting to the government who their employees are and how much they earn.

Once large numbers of people are unable or unwilling to participate in the economic system set up by the kleptocrats, crime will most likely increase and tax revenues will decrease. This will increase the burden of those who continue to participate in the system only to cause more people to go underground in order to survive. Under this scenario, economic collapse is likely to occur.

A peaceful revolution at the polls could avert the disaster that economic collapse would bring. Americans will probably not choose this course in the near future. Instead, the government will be on the verge of collapse before most Americans even are aware of any problem. But by then, it might be too late.

History informs us that during vulnerable times, people are most likely to elect fascist or socialist dictators that promise radical reform but deliver tyranny and war. Whatever course Americans choose to take, they should brace themselves for radical change in the future. It would be far better to begin dismantling the kleptocracy now through peaceful means than wait for economic collapse followed by a totalitarian police state.

This article contributed by Tom Blanton of Richmond, Virginia.