- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
"That's one of my favorite quotes by Lincoln," Ben Raines said, returning the sheet of paper to me. "I'm glad you opened the interview with it."
WWJ: So Lincoln is one of your favorite presidents?
Ben Raines: Lincoln was a good man put in a hard bind. He didn't want a civil war and at the time the war started, he was in negotiations with the leaders of the South to avert it. Lincoln was a politician who knew the value of compromise; unlike those assholes in Washington just before the Great War and the recent splitting up of the Union into countries within a country.
Ben Raines is not a difficult man to interview, but he is an uncommonly blunt one. Unlike most (if not all) politicians, Ben Raines does not dance around with words. He says exactly what's on his mind. I find it very refreshing.
WWJ: So you admit to being a politician?
Ben Raines: I guess I'm somewhat of a politician. I've had to be over the years. At least when the movement was just getting started.
WWJ: But you've said many times that you dislike politicians.
Ben Raines: I dislike a certain type of politician. Especially those who attempt to try to please all the people all the time.
WWJ: You said the movement a few seconds ago. It was your movement; your idea?
Ben Raines: I coined the phrase Tri-States. The people started the movement. It came out of a book I wrote a few years before the Great War. The book was titled Out of the Ashes. It created quite a stir.
WWJ: Did the book get you in trouble with the government?
Ben Raines: Not at first. It was the books that followed that got the liberals, the left-wingers in Washington all upset.
Ben Raines: Because the Tri-States philosophy calls for a government whose laws are based on common sense. Liberals don't have any common sense. They can't think for themselves. They depend on the government to do their thinking for them ...
WWJ: Oh, come on, Mr. Raines. That's a bit extreme, isn't it?
Ben Raines: No. Not at all. Study the liberal doctrine, compare it to a very conservative one, do it fairly, and judge for yourself.
WWJ: Go on.
Ben Raines: A conservative political agenda, which the Tri-States philosophy certainly is, for the most part, allow—really, demand—that to a very large degree, the individual take responsibility for his or her own destiny.
WWJ: As opposed to? ...
Ben Raines: As opposed to society being blamed for the individual's mistakes and failures. Which is horse crap.
WWJ: Many people say the Tri-States philosophy is a complicated one.
Ben Raines: Quite the contrary, it's very simple. But one has to have at least a modicum of common sense to understand it.
WWJ: Give me one example. We'll come back to it often, I'm sure. But give me one example.
Ben Raines: Well, there are many. For instance, here, any adults with valid I.D.s can walk into any drugstore and buy antibiotics over the counter. Sign their name, pay for the merchandise, and leave. If they go home and swallow the whole bottle and drop dead, that's their fault. They accept total responsibility when they sign their name in the pharmaceutical book. The drugstore can't be sued, the clerk can't be sued, the company who manufactured the drug can't be sued. The individuals were not forced to purchase the drug. They were adults. They did so of their own free will. Manifest destiny.
WWJ: Manifest destiny?
Ben Raines: That is correct.
WWJ: Let's go back a few years, back before the revolution, back before the Great War. Did you ever dream that your—and it is your—political philosophy would come to be a reality?
Ben Raines: Truthfully, yes, I did. But I didn't think it would come to be in my lifetime. Rumblings of a second revolution had been building for years before the Great War ...
WWJ: Rumblings the government never took seriously.
Ben Raines: Not until it was too late. However, there were a few members of Congress, to be fair, on both sides of the aisle, who saw the writing on the wall, so to speak. They did make a few halfhearted attempts to reason with their colleagues on the hill; to warn them that trouble was brewing throughout the land. Most just brushed off the warnings as nonsense.
WWJ: What was the mood of the nation just before the Great War?
Ben Raines: Every human emotion ranging from quiet dissatisfaction with their government to boiling hatred. Little pockets of resistance were forming everywhere. People were arming themselves; buying ammunition by the case. Government agents were running all over the country, infiltrating, or attempting to infiltrate every group they could find. And killing people.
I left that last sentence alone for the moment.
WWJ: I only have vague memories of the Great War and practically no memories at all of the internal struggle before everything collapsed. Newspaper and magazine accounts have been destroyed or turned to dust ...
Ben Raines: We have them all on both computer and microfilm. Reproduced many times. The accounts are available in every school and university throughout the SUSA. We want our students to see how the government of the United States allowed a once fine and wonderful nation to deteriorate into open rebellion by millions of its citizens. I'll have a computer put in your quarters, and you can pull up whatever you want and read at your leisure.
WWJ: Thank you. We may be getting ahead of ourselves here, but why such hatred and rage among so many millions of Americans before the Great War?
Ben Raines: Because they were paying the bulk of the taxes and receiving damn little for it. Just before the Great War, Americans were paying something like 50.4 percent of their income in taxes. Over half of a citizen's income was going for various taxes: city, county, state, federal. Millions of Americans just got tired of it and started a rebellion movement.
WWJ: Were you part of that movement?
Ben Raines: Not openly. You have to understand that I was being watched closely by federal agents. My phones were tapped. I had to move very carefully.
WWJ: And you came to the attention of the federal government because of your books?
Ben Raines: Yes. I had been a critic of big government all of my adult life. And while I had many acquaintances who were liberal in their thinking, and even had a few good friends who were liberal, I despised the philosophy. It ruined America.
WWJ: Are you saying friends of yours turned you in to federal agents?
Ben Raines: They didn't do it knowingly. They wouldn't have done it knowingly. A skilled agent doesn't have to be that obvious.
WWJ: Explain that, please.
Ben Raines: You go to a party and strike up a conversation with a guest. The guest gently moves the conversation over to politics, and says something like: "Did you read the column by so and so? He really let the federal government have it, didn't he? He's almost as outspoken as the writer, Ben Raines. Now I really enjoy his work."
WWJ: And I say, "Oh, I've known Ben Raines for years. Now there is a man who really hates the federal government."
Ben Raines: That's right. That's all there is to it. The agent takes it from there, feeding you cue words and lines and all you do is fill in the blanks. That is just one way the government gets information on its citizens. It didn't take them long to compile a complete dossier on me.
WWJ: But couldn't you have gotten all that through the Freedom of Information Act?
Ben Raines: No. The feds were not required to give you any information gathered about you if the investigation was still ongoing. The Freedom of Information Act looked good on paper. It placated a lot of people. Even if the investigation was closed—and files are seldom closed by the fed—it might take a citizen years to receive any information. And if the investigation came under the heading of national security ... forget it. If that was the case, any pertinent information would be blacked out. The Freedom of Information Act was a crock of crap.
WWJ: That's incredible.
Ben Raines: That's the way big governments work. And because I used to do contract spook work for the government, they knew I knew all about the system. I knew I was under surveillance, and they knew I knew. It was a very interesting way to live. My greatest fear was that the government would manufacture evidence linking me to this, that, or the other, and they would use that against me.
WWJ: The government manufactured evidence? You mean, they would lie about a case just to silence a citizen?
Ben Raines: Sure. Nothing new about that. The feds had been doing it for years. They would swear out a warrant and threaten to make the citizen prove his or her innocence in court, knowing the legal fees alone could put the citizen in bankruptcy. And they would be sure to point that out during a face-to-face with the citizen. That's just another way of shutting up a critic of the government.
WWJ: I can but assume there were other ways.
Ben Raines: Oh, hell, yes. They could and would use the IRS against a citizen. We'll talk more about the IRS later. I'm in too good a mood right now to start discussing that goddamned agency of the government.
WWJ: You really hated the IRS that much?
General Raines fixed me with a look that I felt right down to my toenails. He stared at me for a long, long time. Finally he nodded his head.
Ben Raines: I hated the goddamned IRS so deeply I cannot express in words my loathing for it. Now let's drop the subject for the moment. As a matter of fact, let's take a break and walk around some.CHAPTER 2
"A person had to have a license or a permit to do anything before the revolution," Ben said.
During the walk around General Raines's neighborhood, a quiet, upscale, but certainly not a fancy or pretentious area of the town that was known only as Base Camp One, the few people we met treated the general almost as if they were meeting royalty. It was clearly embarrassing to General Raines, and I decided not to comment on it. Perhaps later.
He dropped the latest statement on me before I could get settled and turn the tape recorder on.
WWJ: And you were, are opposed to that?
Ben Raines: I was opposed to the manner in which the citizen had to go about obtaining the various licenses or permits. And the oftentimes officious and petty people one had to deal with. Sure, we have building permits here in the SUSA. Probably tougher ones than anywhere else. But citizens don't have to take a day off from work to get one, and they don't have to deal with people who are overly impressed with their own dubious self-importance. You can write, call, or stop by the office. You see, to a great extent we operate on an honor system here.
WWJ: That would be a unique experience. I mean, from what I've been able to read about the system before the revolution, getting permission to do anything which required any type of approval by a ruling body was ponderous, at best; impossible at worst.
Ben Raines: Government doesn't rule its citizens here. Not in the manner of old. We don't have large cities, so that helps a great deal ...
WWJ: I noticed there were no cities. What happened to them?
Ben Raines: We destroyed them, or are in the process of destroying them. Cities are very difficult to govern and create a bloated bureaucracy which leads to corruption. Base Camp One is the largest community in the SUSA. It's the hub of our central government. Cities also attract undesirables, and crime is more likely in the cities. We didn't just set out willy-nilly to do away with cities: there were years-long studies before we reached that decision.
WWJ: And it's working?
Ben Raines: So far. The citizens seem to like it. The atmosphere is looser and friendlier. People tend to socialize more, they get to know one another, and that leads to people helping people. And that's what a community is all about. And smaller towns are easier to defend.
WWJ: That's important?
Ben Raines: Very. The Western United States, the Northern United States, the Eastern United States, and the little satellite states who are trying to go it alone, are on the verge of collapse, and when that happen—probably sooner than later; probably within a matter of month—they'll reunite and move against us. The decision to move against us will be a bad mistake on their part.
WWJ: I noticed the SUSA seems to be an armed camp.
Ben Raines: It's much more than that. Every resident is a member of the army. We can have hundreds of thousands of people mobilized into units and ready to fight in a few hours' time. Every adult citizen is fully equipped to move into action, combat ready, without having to report to a depot to receive orders or draw equipment ...
WWJ: Men and women?
Ben Raines: Men and women. In case of hostility, everyone knows their job and how to do it. There is no one in the SUSA who won't fight to preserve our way of life. That's one of the prerequisites for becoming a resident. There is no such thing as a free ride in the SUSA.
WWJ: If you will forgive my saying so, it sounds very similar to socialism.
Ben Raines: It's the furthest thing from it. Here, you fail or succeed on your own abilities, or lack of them. The government isn't here to prop a person up. But we don't have all the useless and bureaucratic paperwork and petty nonsense that governments outside our borders seem to thrive on. We don't burden the small business owner or self-employed person with tons of paperwork and endless lists of do's and don'ts and rules and regulations, enforced by jerks who, at least on the surface, appear not to have the sense to be able to get a real job.
WWJ: One thing I've noticed about you, General, one glaring trait of yours is that you seem to have a very low opinion of people who are employed by any type of central government.
Ben Raines: I suppose I do. Men and women may go into government employment with the best of intentions. But some are soon turned into mindless, paper-shuffling automatons ... those are the ones I used to have to deal with. And to be fair, that is probably not their fault, but rather the fault of the system. But it's been proven time and again that if any stand up and say, "This is wrong. This is wasteful. This is costing the taxpayer too much money," they lose their jobs, they're demoted, they're shunned, they're transferred into the boondocks and forgotten. In the SUSA we reward people for honesty. We don't punish them. Everything that might affect the lives of our citizens is done out in the open here. We have very few full-time politicians here. Most have regular jobs. When they do meet, they aren't paid enormous salaries with generous benefits upon retirement. They meet for a few weeks each year and then go home and go back to work for a living.
I had to laugh at the expression on General Raines's face. It was very obvious that his near-legendary dislike for politicians was no myth.
WWJ: What soured you so on politicians, General?
Ben Raines: The whole system soured me. Politicians because they're so mealy-mouthed. The vast majority were more interested in getting reelected than in serving the people who elected them. I hate liars and I hate hypocrites, and politicians are the epitome of both.
WWJ: Strong words.
Ben Raines: But true ones.
WWJ: And the system?
Ben Raines: The system didn't work because politicians screwed it all up. It was as near perfect as a political system could be when it was drawn up. Then the damn politicians started tacking on amendments and screwing around with the law, and a wonderful system turned into what you find at the bottom of a toilet before you flush it.
WWJ: Isn't there even the remotest chance that the same thing might happen here in the SUSA?
Ben Raines: No. And here is where the SUSA takes a sharp turn away from the democratic system of government. Those of us who first settled the territory, 'way back when, drew up the laws and the rules and the regulations. Those laws are set in stone. They cannot be changed or amended. And in many ways they are quite different from the laws outside the SUSA.
WWJ: And people must agree to abide by these laws before they are allowed to become residents?
Excerpted from From the Ashes: America Reborn by William W. Johnstone. Copyright © 1998 William W. Johnstone. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted May 21, 2014