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The 545 People – Charley Reese

August 25, 2011

George Carlin once said…”If you don’t like your elected officials, take a look in the mirror!

100 Senators, 435 members of the U.S. House, 1 President, and 9 Supreme Court Justices. = 545.

Meet Charley Reese.

Charley Reese (born January 29, 1937) was a syndicated columnist known for his plainspoken manner and conservative views and was associated with the Orlando Sentinel from 1971–2001, both as a writer and in various editorial capacities that was published three times a week. Charley is retired now.

Reese, a registered Democrat, is a conservative, with many libertarian views, but has written explaining why he is not a libertarian. He has been previously a Republican as well. Reese has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics and he served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner.

In his December 26, 2005 column he writes he was a Democrat but went Republican after JFK got in office; he thought JFK was a lousy president and his harshest presidential criticisms are reserved for Jimmy Carter. After the presidency of George H. W. Bush (1989–1993), he returned to the Democratic Party, citing that the senior Bush brought the “Rockefeller Wing” into control of the GOP.

Reese strongly supported Pat Buchanan for President in the 1996 election. And, although he supported George W. Bush for President in 2000 (and his endorsement was seen as having been helpful to Bush’s victory, given the closeness of the Florida election numbers), he became an outspoken critic of the Bush administration and an opponent of the War in Iraq. In 2004, he supported John Kerry’s presidential campaign.

Besides defending the South’s position in the Civil War as a common theme of his writings, another recurring theme in Reese’s columns was his defense of American’s Second Amendment rights against gun control. He is a member of the National Rifle Association [NRA].

In a column dated September 15, 2005, titled “Basic Premises” he writes: “What follows are a few of the basic premises on which I base my thinking”:

1. Government is inherently incompetent, and no matter what task it is assigned, it will do it in the most expensive and inefficient way possible.

2. The American government is corrupt from top to bottom.

3. If you rely on the mass media to inform you about your community, state and nation, you will, with rare exceptions, be woefully ignorant of what is really going on.

4. The universal franchise is a bad idea. The notion that the destiny of the nation should be put in the hands of ignoramuses, parasites, boobs, party hacks and idiots is absurd on its face.

5. Public education in America is a failure and is so flawed it cannot be reformed.

6. Not much has changed in the past 5,000 years of human history.

He continues on…. All of that might sound cynical, but it really isn’t. True conservatives have argued for years that government, even a benign one, is like a clumsy, retarded giant, and therefore you have to be careful to limit what tasks you assign it. I will link the whole article here.

An article written by Reese for the Orlando Sentinel newspaper on March 7, 1995 under the title “Looking For Someone To Blame? Congress Is Good Place To Start” was widely read and distributed in modified form via e-mail during 2008 United States presidential campaign under the title “The 545 People Responsible for America’s Woes”.

He wrote a similar article in 1983, listing 546 people, including the Vice President in that version. The article commonly forwarded in 2008 was slightly modified from the 1980’s version, substituting Pelosi [then Boehner] for Tip O’Neil and adding a reference to Iraq.

On August 30, 2008, Reese wrote his final column, citing health reasons for his retirement. I caught the raw version some years back and thought it would be a good idea to reprint the man’s last words of wisdom.

Mr. Reese’s parting thoughts are extremely salient in our current climate of hyper-partisan rhetoric. You may have seen it as it became a chain e-mail. Its clear and easy to understand as it can be. Non-partisan, as both party’s claim the vain of glorious righteousness. He defines clearly who it is that in the final analysis, must assume responsibility for the judgments made that impact each one of us every day.

As he said good-bye to his readers on a blog, he wrote: “My goal as a columnist has always been to stimulate and, if necessary, provoke people into thinking for themselves. If we fail to do that, a free society won’t last. I wish you all a fond farewell.”

His final column… By Charley Reese:

“Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? John Boehner. He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red.

If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it’s because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation,” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.

They and they alone, have the power.

They and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses.

Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees.

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

What you do with this article now that you have read it… is up to you.

This might be funny if it weren’t so sad & true.

Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table,
At which he’s fed.

Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the rule.

Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He works for
peanuts anyway!

Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.

Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to think.

Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries
Tax his tears.

Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways
To tax his ass.

Tax all he has
Then let him know
That you won’t be done
Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers;
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till
He’s good and sore.

Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in
Which he’s laid…

Put these words
Upon his tomb,
‘Taxes drove me
to my doom…’

When he’s gone,
Do not relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance tax.

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax
Gross Receipts Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge Tax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Sales Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax


Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago & our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What in the heck happened? Can you spell ‘politicians’?

I hope this goes around THE USA at least 545 times!”

This article was first published by the Orlando Sentinel Star newspaper.

Let’s all hope Charley is enjoying his retirement.


Original short version written in 1985.

Past articles by Charley Reese on

“Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.” – Charley Reese

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2011 12:26 am


  2. Manuel permalink
    September 17, 2012 10:58 am

    And if I may add, these behave like a FOCUS OF EVIL


  1. The Un-545 People « Furthermore
  2. Is there not ONE Democrat on this site who will admit that this mess is..... - Page 9 - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum

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