2012 Year End Report

Was Downsize DC a good investment for you in 2012? Our budget (as of December 2) was less than $238,000. Organizations several times our size would envy what we've achieved with that sum. Here's our case, including our...

  • Increased influence in Congress.
  • Precedent-changing legal briefs!
  • Powerful NEW assault on campaign finance laws, helping your favorite challengers.
  • Progress with the NEW Zero Aggression Project.
  • Progress with the NEW Deny Consent.
  • Plans for a focused NEW Downsize DC that will make you more powerful.
  • Exciting NEW software tools that will expand your influence.

Isn't it thrilling that through Downsize DC you have...

  • The One Subject at a Time Act introduced in the House, with nine co-sponsors?
  • Read the Bills, One Subject at a Time, and Write the Laws all introduced in the Senate
  • New working relationships with members of Congress?

This would probably be enough to satisfy some K Street lobbying firms. But your influence also extends to the Judicial Branch...

One Subject at a Time
Read the Bills
Write the Laws Act

You helped us file the ONLY brief in the Jones case arguing that the Court should restore the property rights basis for Fourth Amendment Rulings (instead of the privacy standard that had ruled since the 60s).

Your argument prevailed! Together we turned 4th Amendment jurisprudence in a new direction!

Now the benefits of this warrantless spying victory are spreading to other cases. We're exploiting the Jones decision to argue that you have a property right in your electronic communications, just as you do with your mail and your cars (warrantless automobile-tracking was the issue in the Jones case).

Huge chunks of George W. Bush's embryonic police state could come tumbling down if the Court stays consistent with Jones.

That's not bad for a budget of less than $238,000. But our Judicial Branch influence doesn't end there.

With our legal briefs, you've also influenced rulings in other cases.

We've been the ONLY organization to make a freedom of the PRESS argument in campaign finance cases...

  • The speech argument has failed, because no money is needed to talk.
  • But money is needed for a PRESS.

Our press argument is gaining traction, with mentions in minority opinions. We're confident it will prevail eventually. But it won't be our only contribution to this fight.

We are, right now, drafting a new brief that will hit the campaign finance laws on yet another front...

Undermining the Doctrine of Compelling State Interest

The Supreme Court created balancing tests in 1944. These tests claim to balance the supposed “needs” of the “government” against the rights of individuals. The Court invented such a “test” to rationalize the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Since this original sin, similar “tests” have been used to justify most of The State's unconstitutional actions, including the campaign finance laws. But no concerted effort has ever been made to challenge the validity of these tests.

Your next brief will attack balancing tests with multiple arguments, including one contributed by our own Perry Willis. Our attorneys love his argument that the Constitution already provides a means for demonstrating “compelling state interest,” and it does NOT involve judicial fiat. Instead...

If an interest is truly compelling, The State must undergo the stress of amending the Constitution. This leaves no room for judicial balancing tests.

This is another example of our unique value to you.

Downsize DC legislative proposals, legal arguments, and strategic and tactical ideas are unique. Does any other organization match our level of strategic and tactical innovation?

And we haven't even finished describing your legal victories. You got what you asked for in...

The Chris Hedges challenge to the NDAA legalized kidnapping provisions.

The Obama Administration claimed they didn't need to justify their desire to detain people without due process. Your brief countered them. Your argument prevailed and Hedges won a temporary stay in this case.

The Obama Administration was defeated again when they claimed journalist Christopher Hedges and his co-plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the detention power. For that, the stay was made permanent. Well, at least for a few hours, because...

An Appeals Court judge lifted the stay. Now the case will be heard by a three judge panel. As I write this report, we're less than ten days away from filing a brief in that case too!

The Hedges's attorneys have noted how helpful your briefs have been.

Even in the midst of all this success...

We're still not satisfied.

We think our efforts have been too much aimed at Washington and too little aimed at the real center of power...

The American Mind

We want to learn how to consistently...

  • Recruit people who agree with us
  • Move people who disagree in your direction

More importantly, we want to find methods that are...

  • Easy
  • Repeatable
  • Measurable

Doesn't this way of thinking make us unique, and uniquely valuable?

We know of no other group that thinks in terms of making recruitment and education easy, repeatable, and measurable.

It's true that many groups have more supporters and reach more people than we do. But this seems to mainly come from varying aptitudes in major donor fundraising or some non-repeatable circumstance.

But as far as we can see...

  • No other group is even seeking to learn how to educate and recruit in an efficient, repeatable, measurable way, and to obtain a goal you must first seek it.
  • We are UNIQUELY determined to continue innovating until we learn how to recruit and persuade on a mass basis.

We've conducted many experiments already. Our experience shapes what we'll do next. We're launching major new initiatives designed to...

  • Focus on a neglected moral argument that's a lot like the Golden Rule.
  • Discover and recruit people who already agree with you.
  • Give you new persuasion tools to move people toward your position.

The Zero Aggression Project

Every similar organization that we're aware of focuses on (get ready to yawn) the practical consequences of public policy. This has been true of Downsize DC too. But...

Ask those in our movement, “What's the central principle?” Most would probably respond with some version of the Golden Rule inspired, non-initiation principle...

      No one should initiate violence or fraud against another person.

But WHERE is the organization devoted to promoting this supposedly foundational axiom?

Zero Aggression Project

It doesn't exist. So we're creating it. This is another budding fruit of our 2012 labors.

The Zero Aggression PROJECT will promote the Zero Aggression PRINCIPLE using powerful new interactive software that will MEASURE how much the reader moves in our direction.

More importantly...

We've chosen a ground of argument where you have a natural advantage.

Practical questions of public policy often boil down to personal preferences. They become a competition between different sets of cherry-picked data. Think about your own experience: Such arguments are time consuming and difficult to win, right? This may explain a lot about why our movement has grown so slowly. But...

Everyone lives their daily life according to the Zero Aggression Principle.

People only deviate from the ZAP when it comes to politics and The State. So...

Wouldn't it make sense to point this out and challenge the contradiction. Isn't this where all of our “political” discussions should start? If you do this, then...

Those who want to make exceptions for some statist scheme must now argue from a defensive position. Wouldn't that place you in a strong position from the outset?

We think this approach will open wide avenues for rapid social change. We'll no longer have to convince everyone of everything in order to make progress. In many cases, we might not need to convince them at all...

Creating cognitive dissonance and doubt are actually crucial steps in the right direction. And that's easy to achieve using the Zero Aggression Principle as your starting point.

You'll even be able to measure this progress — this incremental changing of minds — using our new polling software. And that will be encouraging!

We've also tied the Zero Aggression Principle to a mode of organized action, inspired by Thomas Jefferson, who wrote that...

      All government rests on the CONSENT of the governed.

Every other service, including contracts, employment, or club memberships, come with the ability to remove your support. The State offers no such liberty. Instead...

You're stuck having to do politics to persuade a majority of your fellow citizens to give you permission to live by your own conscience.

Do you even like politics? After all, the rules and the incentives of politics are rigged against you!

Every form of political action confers legitimacy on The State. Voting and lobbying assume that the results are legitimate. In the end...

You had your say. You lost. Now you must submit! Again and again and again. Soon you start thinking...

Why even fight? You always lose so why bother? Public choice theorists call this...

Rational Apathy.

It's been our GREATEST ENEMY causing an appalling attrition rate among our activists. Yet, like Sisyphus, we keep doing the same thing!

Sisyphus was the Greek god doomed to push the same rock up the same hill for eternity.

  • Take partisan electoral politics. You push the rock up the hill, an election happens, and then you and your rock are back at the bottom again.
  • Trying to influence legislation is the same way. Here's what I've learned: There is always another bill to support or oppose.

Rust never sleeps and neither does Congress!

Denying consent is different. Declaring that you deny consent might seem like a small act. The resulting loss of legitimacy the staff suffers may seem really small, but...

The total impact accumulates constantly.

As more people apply the ZAP with more consistency, an accumulating loss of legitimacy results.

Deny Consent

This has proven fatal to other regimes in other countries, often WITHOUT the need for elections or lobbying.

You see, we have a power we've NEVER actually used.

Denying Consent focuses on The State's soft spots: Its moral legitimacy and the true source of its power.

  • Our goal? De-legitimize The State.
  • Our strategy? Turn the focus away from politics. Instead...

Focus on winning the battle ground of your neighbor's mind, the district of their heart,
and the precinct of their conscience.

People who've reached a state of moral disgust no longer do things like waste their vote on the lesser of two evils. They simply can't do it. In other words...

Electoral politics and lobbying should become more effective as more people extend the ZAP to more aspects of The State and Deny Consent to more state actions.

Mental change is the precursor to political change, NOT the other way around.

But we're after something even greater than political change. We believe there are necessary steps for social change, which till now, have been COMPLETELY OVERLOOKED...

  1. Induce a state of internal doubt — cognitive dissonance — about the violence inherent in The State. For this, we use the Zero Aggression Principle.
  2. Encourage internal reform in each human conscience, by which the cognitive dissonance is resolved in favor of moral consistency.
  3. Persuade people to formally deny consent to statist criminality. For this, we'll use the new Deny Consent website and a lineup of new software tools.
  4. Begin finding ways to live a deny consent lifestyle.

Even in Step 1 many persons will stop being a part of the problem. And by Step 3 they will start becoming a part of the solution.

Each time someone uses our system to deny consent to some aspect of The State...

Deny Consent
  • You gain a little strength.
  • The State loses a little legitimacy.

Isn't this what you really want? ... an easy, repeatable way to pile up small victories? Each small victory will be encouraging, rather than discouraging. Say goodbye to rational apathy!

Our two new websites, the Zero Aggression Project and Deny Consent, will use interactive software to...

  • Discover people who already agree with you.
  • Recruit and mobilize those who agree to help us delegitimize state violence.
  • Begin to cause incremental mental change where there is DIS-agreement.
  • Measure the encouraging extent of that mental change.
  • Turn this mental change into additional lost legitimacy for The State.

Meanwhile...

Downsize DC itself will focus more closely on its own legislative proposals, as opposed to the previous, constant reaction to pending legislative threats. We will do this because...

Our legislative proposals are specifically designed to address the problem of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs — another major problem only Downsize DC has made a serious attempt to address. We want to...

  • Raise the price politicians pay for expanding State criminality.
  • Reduce the burdens individuals bear for resisting this criminality.

In other words, our proposals provide leverage to you, the individual. So...

That's what we'll call our proposals going forward — The Downsize DC Levers.

These Levers are also...

  • Tools for recruitment.
  • Challenges to the Establishment's legitimacy.

We don't think we've maximized the recruitment potential of our proposals. Let's be blunt: We feel our recruitment efforts have failed.

We believe that focusing on these bills will help us renew and maximize the recruitment potential inherent in each of these proposals. Besides...

Responding to Congressional initiatives is defensive.

We want to play more offense and less defense. Don't you?

New software tools will once again aid this strategy.

We want to force every member of Congress to take a firm yes or no position on each of our bills. No lukewarmness can be tolerated. We'll need new software to succeed at this.

  • This software will allow our supporters to record the results of their calls to their reps.
  • Our supporters will ask each of their reps for a firm yes or no on each bill.
  • When a member of Congress says yes, we'll get a new sponsor
  • But when a member of Congress says no, we can publicize that fact in his or her district, thereby increasing the pressure.
  • More software will facilitate local coordination, so you and your neighbors can devise and deploy even greater pressure tactics.

Our Downsize DC Lever proposals are so reasonable and common sense that saying NO to them will constitute another justification to Deny Consent.

Conclusion

Any one of the strategic and tactical ideas described in this report would probably give other organizations enough to crow about for a whole year. But we have dozens of such powerful ideas already in motion.

And we're doing all this by spending less in a year than many organizations spend in a month.

But I haven't told you the entire story. We've had some major donor retirements, along with others who've had setbacks. Perry and I absorbed this cost personally, wrote it off, and kept going.

I didn't want us to stop our forward progress. I didn't want to stop executing our mission to spend more time doing fundraising.

We're excited and committed. We can continue making progress, so long as we don't have to keep repeating these kinds of sacrifices.

Please imagine what we could do if we had more resources!

Here is my New Year's wish for 2013...

We're looking for a few new patrons to replace the major investors we've lost. These persons are capable of writing checks for $5,000 or $10,000 per year. Are you that person?

Contributions of $2,000, $1,000, and $500 will make a huge difference at this point too.

But not everyone can give at these kinds of levels. Donations of other amounts can add up quickly to make a real impact, so all kinds of support is necessary. We've always been proud that regular people, each doing a little bit, is what makes our forward progress possible. We need you!

And I'm pleased to announce that we're just shy of a record in monthly pledges. Just over $500 more per month and Downsize DC would have a record-level of monthly pledges. Can you push us over the top?

There are two ways to support these efforts.

  • Contribute to DownsizeDC.org, Inc. Your contribution will NOT be tax-deductible, but this contribution gives our team the greatest, legal flexibility to allocate resources where they are needed.

Contributors to DownsizeDC.org will get their names posted at the new Deny Consent website Founders Committee, unless you want your name to be marked private. But HURRY, this committee closes December 31st at midnight.

OR...

  • Donate to the Downsize DC Foundation. Here, your donation IS tax-deductible if you itemize. Besides cash, checks, and credit cards you may donate appreciated securities. Just send back the form requesting a call from me to work out the details.

Donors to the Downsize DC Foundation will get their names posted at the new Zero Aggression Project website Founders Committee, unless you want your name to be marked private.

Both Founder's lists are presented on the web in rank order according to the size of your contribution. Monthly pledges are counted by their twelve month value, so that's the most leveraged way to climb the ranks.

May your 2013 be pleasant and prosperous, full of new, wonderful memories.

Thank you for your continued confidence and support,
Jim Babka
Jim Babka, President
Downsize DC Foundation
& DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

P.S. I've never sent a report this long. But we had this much good news to share! Remember, we increased your influence in Congress, funded precedent-changing legal briefs, launched a powerful NEW assault on the campaign finance laws, made progress with both the NEW Zero Aggression Project and the NEW Deny Consent, started a more-focused Downsize DC that will make you more powerful, and started creating exciting software tools that will expand your influence. Do you think we've been worth the investment? We can do even more next year if we have increased funding. Can you match or increase your investment in Downsize DC?

What our Supporters Say...

  • This is getting really exciting. Thank you for all your amazing dedication and hard work. I think these new changes are going to be a big success, and I'm sure they have the potential to give us the leverage we need. — W.S., CA
  • I'm very glad to see that you're striking at the moral root of the political problem. — D.M, CA
  • I've been on your email list for a long time and you guys have always been the Voice of Reason when it comes to strategizing about how to deal with the burgeoning government. Still, everything you've said up to now pales in comparison to this new initiative, the Zero Aggression Project. I think you've got it exactly right, now . . . The way of explaining that you do -- the concept of the "Post-State environment" -- will take a long time to bring about, but seems to me to be the most worthy political attempt in our world's history. . . (I've) long been looking for an idea that cuts across all the various issues facing our world now, so that my outer world can synchronize with the inner world I have paid so much attention to for the last ten years. I believe that this is such a idea. Not one person or entity I have ever read about (and I'm pretty well-read) has ever formulated such a wonderful, simple and elegant solution to the issues that face us in the modern industrialized world. . . . I think that the ideas we hold to make us powerful, even when they are humble and not well known yet. . . . I will do my bit to impart these beautiful principles in my students and apprentices as I move forward and I look to helping people realize such a clear vision as you have created. (reduced from a longer letter) — R.C., WA
  • You have it EXACTLY right. I talk like this all the time - and more and more people are starting to think this way . . . — C.C., AK
  • I'm excited by this new direction you are going. Keep up the good work!! — D.H., WV
  • I agree that we need to use moral principles more often in spreading the message of liberty. Thank you! — G.P., FL
  • Keep up the great work! You guys are awesome! . . . The ZAP is a great idea!! — W.K., NY
  • You do good work, and the "The Zero Aggression Principle" finally says it all! Thanks for all you do! — E.W., PA
  • Downsize DC has always been good, but you've finally hit the nail on the head with "ZAP". . . (I've) never really seen the concept pushed . . . Its simplicity makes it attractive to people of all political philosophies, yet its implications lead to one simple conclusion: very limited government and totally free-market capitalism (the only economic "system" in which force is not a part). I'm so happy and excited that Downsize DC has chosen to focus on "ZAP" that I was motivated to contribute. — J.B., MO
  • This is by far the best step we can take. Thank you for making the effort on ZAP. — S.O., MD