Author Archives: Richard Larsen

Reject Obama’s Policies At All Levels of Government

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“I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle’s pretty happy about that. But make no mistake, my policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them,” said President Barrack Obama two weeks ago. There can be no doubt that the agenda of the past six years is a factor in the mid-term elections in two weeks, but for the president to so inextricably conjoin his policies with the election increases the significance and possible outcomes.

obamas-policy-bracketReactions to the president’s statement have been predictably mixed in political circles. The comment drew consternation from some Democratic Senate candidates who have been attempting to distance themselves from the president and his policies, even though they’ve historically been supportive. Some have reveled in the declaration believing that linking the president’s policies, and his now dismal approval rating, to the midterms increases the odds of Republicans extending their majority in the House and regaining control of the Senate.

Last Monday the president doubled down on his remarks in an interview with Al Sharpton on MSNBC. Speaking of those congressional and senatorial candidates attempting to distance themselves from his policies, the president said, “These are all folks who vote with me. They have supported my agenda in Congress. I tell them, I said, ‘You know what, you do what you need to win.’”

There are two significant revelations embedded in that counsel. The first is that those of the president’s party are supportive of his agenda, regardless of what they may say. That verity is bourn out by near 100% support of the president by his party member’s votes in congress. The second revelatory counsel is for them to do whatever they need to do to win. Obviously that includes deceit to appear to voters as not amenable with the president’s agenda.

Obama spendsThis should be immensely disturbing to voters, that their Machiavellian tactics would so blatantly based on dishonesty. Disavowing the president’s policies, while having actively supported and voted for them, is counting on voter ignorance for success, and is clearly deceitful. In other words, they have to lie to hope for success at the ballot box. This comes as no surprise to many of us, but for it to be so explicitly disclosed by the national figurehead of the party speaks volumes not only of him, but the Party he leads.

A senior Senate Democratic aid said this week, “The ineptitude of the White House political operation has sunk from annoying to embarrassing,” in reference to the president’s statements, and a series of other faux pas which are seen as damaging to Democrat’s election hopes. Another has called the president’s political team the “JV squad,” in clear reference to a January statement by the president when he referred to ISIS as a “JV” terrorist group. Even David Axelrod, Obama’s former senior adviser, said Obama made a big “mistake” tying his policies to the midterm election.

image001This increases in relevancy due to public perception of the president and his policies. Overall, his job approval numbers are between 39-42%, and his approval numbers on the economy are in the same range. They’re more dismal on his foreign policy, which range mostly from 31-35%. And of those polled on whether the country is headed the right direction, only 23-27% feel that it is.

According to YouGov Obama’s base is the only demographic segment that still supports him and his policies, even though that is somewhat waning. Nearly all of his 39% approval rating is coming from Democrats. Republicans and independents combined register less than 1% approval for the president. Which is not surprising in light of Gallup’s conclusion a couple years ago, “Conservative Democrats, Liberal Republicans Hard to Find.”

The dismal approval of the administration carries over to distrust of the entire government. According to a CNN poll just last month, only 13% of Americans agree that the government “can be trusted to do what is right always or most of the time.”

Clearly the president was right, that his agenda is on the ballot in November. His policies are the Democrat Party policies, and only they support them. This is undoubtedly what Bill O’Reilly was thinking when he said this week, “If a whopping 64% of Americans think the country is out of control under the Obama administration, why would anyone vote for a Democrat?” That is a superb question!

carson-on-undermining-usaThere is no discernable difference between the national party policies and those either implemented or supported at the state and local levels. Their core value, based on what they do, not necessarily what they say, is based in government solutions and control, at the expense individual liberty. This is manifested in all facets of governance from economic and foreign policy, to education and security, with but few exceptions.

If one is supportive of the direction the nation is headed now, it would be understandable to vote accordingly. But for all who are not pleased with the nation’s direction, Bill O’Reilly’s question is apropos, “Why would anyone vote for a Democrat?” Since we know where such policies lead, we might tenably add, “At any level.”

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

Same-Sex “Marriage,” An Illogical Counterfeit

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“Destroy the family and you destroy a nation,” has been an oft-repeated aphorism of unverified origin, that rings true from a common sense perspective. The family unit, after all, is the building block of all cultures and societies. And just as the law of unintended consequences manifests itself often glaringly when dealing with issues of a political nature, so likewise the unintended consequences of redefining marriage will likewise prove to be pejorative.

family-the-foundation-of-the-society-1-638The proliferation of “same-sex marriage” is based, both judicially and from a political correctness standpoint, on two major fallacious premises. The first is that marrying whoever or whatever one wants to is somehow a “right,” and the second is that marriage can be whatever we choose it to be.

Marriage to whomever or whatever one chooses to be is not a codified “right.” Even if it could somehow be so extrapolated, nowhere is it based on whom one professes love for. To the contrary, it is, based in natural law, lex naturalis, which is the system of law that is determined by nature, and is thus universal. Embedded also in nature’s law is the use of reason to analyze social and personal human nature to deduce binding rules of behavior from it. As fundamentally significant as marriage is to our culture, our society, and our civilization, the institution cannot be simply redefined based on fad or political correctness without negative consequences.

images-1Dr. Patrick Fagan, a sociologist and psychologist has said, “The family is the fundamental building block of society and predates the state and even the societies it builds…At the heart of the family is the mother and father who bring their children into existence.” This is a self-evident truth, regardless of who said it, and anthropologists, biologists, sociologists, and politicians have reiterated that very sentiment. The family is the building block of society and civilization, and the cornerstone to that foundation, or the genesis of it, is a mother and a father.

Foundations must be strong, and built to withstand the elements, corrosion, and the test of time. Otherwise, the structure built thereon will inevitably crumble. If a foundation is made with unmixed cement or just water, as same-sex marriage tries to do, the foundation is weak, and the structure (our civilization) built thereon will crumble. When we tamper with, and attempt to socially-engineer the foundational elements and institutions to civilization and our society, the results will be destructive.

Redefining marriage based on who one purportedly loves, is a spurious dilution of our societal foundation. At no time in human history, has marriage been legally based on who one loves, but has always been about perpetuating the species, and forming familial units that construct the foundation to civilization. Sometimes it has included multiple spouses, but always it has been based on propagational properties, whether age or fertility exceptions apply or not. Any semantic change to the definition is only that, semantic, and does not change the biological or anthropological verities etymologically embedded in the term. Such a change to accommodate same-sex “marriage” is therefore nothing more than creating a verbal counterfeit to the real thing. Referring to a snake as a swan doesn’t change it into something that it is not.

Family ConceptNor is there a “right” to marry whomsoever or whatsoever we please, or profess love for. Such a right is as most other “rights” claimed by those in our society who feel somehow shortchanged, slighted, or disadvantaged. The “right” is not codified in any legal document, much less our founding documents, just like the “right” to health care, or the “right” to a good job. Heterosexual marriage, however, is codified in natural law, as attested by biological and anthropological fact. The test is simple: try building a civilization or a society from scratch with anything other than natural law, heterosexual marriage. As an attorney friend of mine said, “there is absolutely no logical interpretation of the Constitution that can stretch sufficiently to include the definition of marriage as a judicially definable term.”

Founder of Liberty Counsel, Mat Staver, has warned that the door to what can be legitimized as a legal relationship is now wide open. “This doesn’t just stop at heterosexual marriage or same-sex ‘marriage,’ but it also will extend to bigamy and incestuous marriage and all kinds of situations. If the government doesn’t have any interest in [marriage], then polygamy is permissible, polyamory is permissible.  We would have group marriages. Incestuous marriages are permissible. Marriages with … children as young as 8 or 7 or however low you want to go on the list — all of that becomes a free-for-all.”

francis-gay-marriageDr. Charles Krauthammer makes the same argument. “Traditional marriage is defined as the union of (1) two people of (2) opposite gender. If, as advocates of gay marriage insist, the gender requirement is nothing but prejudice, exclusion and an arbitrary denial of one’s autonomous choices, then on what grounds do they insist upon the traditional, arbitrary and exclusionary number of two?”

Other factors now become arbitrary and exclusionary as well. A Missouri man feels he was discriminated against when the state disallowed his marriage to his chosen “partner.” He says of her, “She’s gorgeous. She’s sweet. She’s loving. I’m very proud of her.” He can now employ the same charge of “discrimination” that is precluding him from “marrying” his favorite mare, Pixel.

Doug Mainwaring, an avowed homosexual, has made an astute observation regarding marriage. “Two men or two women together is, in truth, nothing like a man and a woman creating a life and a family together…Marriage is not an elastic term. It is immutable. It offers the very best for children and society. We should not adulterate nor mutilate its definition, thereby denying its riches to current and future generations.”

UnknownWords have meaning, and marriage, as the cornerstone to civilization, is copiously imbued with it. I have yet to hear a logical or cogent explanation as to why a binding homosexual relationship must be a marriage as opposed to a civil union or legal partnership. Rather than weakening and diluting the foundation to our society, we should be strengthening and encouraging it. After all, our future, and stability, as a society is dependent on it.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

America’s Oligarchy – The Tyranny of the Federal Judiciary

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Two key decisions rendered by the Federal Judiciary this week severely challenge not only the foundational institutions of our society, but the fundamental operation of our republic.

Judicial_Tyranny-New_Kings.pngThe U.S. Supreme Court announced this week that it opted to not hear appeals by five states regarding their traditional marriage laws. Utah, Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma all had laws on the books defining marriage as a contractual institution including a man and a woman that had been appealed to the Supreme Court from lower courts. The net effect is that judicial decisions at lower levels against those state laws will now stand, opening the way for same-sex marriages in those states.

The Supreme Court’s rationale to not hear the cases may well have been portended by Justice Antonin Scalia last month in Bozeman, MT when he said, “It’s not up to the courts to invent new minorities that get special protections that are not subject to the usual rule that you have to get the majority to agree with it.”

Even more disconcerting is the decision by three judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding Idaho and Nevada’s laws supporting traditional marriage. A three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit, consisting of Judges Stephen Reinhardt, a Carter appointee from Los Angeles; Ronald M Gould, a Clinton appointee from Seattle; and Marsha S. Berzon, a Clinton appointee from San Francisco, struck down state laws reaffirming marriage between a man and a woman. Since the Supreme Court will not hear state’s appeals on the issue, same-sex marriage is a fait accompli not only for Idaho and Nevada, but inevitably in all 50 states.

tyranny3Our federal judiciary has become, arguably and disturbingly, an oligarchy. When they rule on the “constitutionality” of an issue it is assumed to be the final say in whether a vote of congress or the vote of the people via referendum or initiative is legitimized or annulled. This is not how the Supreme Court and its substrata of appellate courts were intended to operate, nor is it de facto the way it should be.

The federal judiciary, as it has evolved, has unchecked and unlimited power over the nation by either of the other branches, the executive or the legislative, or even the people. Its members are not accountable to the citizenry, since most of their appointments are for life, and they cannot be removed from the bench by a vote of the people they purportedly serve. Their ruminations and the results of their decisions are insular and they often trump the will of the people with regard to key social issues. Their decisions are presumed to be final, even though they may be at odds with the democratic majority of our citizens.

c2dc1f723d791ab0369b9fdaec38e810Herein lies the fundamental problem about the present construct of our federal judiciary as it has evolved since the founding. If, as stated in the 10th Amendment, all “rights and powers” not specifically itemized in the Constitution are held by the people collectively or by the states, what right does a court have to negate the will of the people? As it relates especially to key cultural issues like abortion, public religious displays, and definitions of marriage, should not the final court be the court of public opinion, rather than an oligarchy of judges insulated from, and not accountable to the citizenry? In most of these cases, state courts have ruled, and appeals are then made to the federal judiciary.

Thomas Jefferson portended this judicial despotism. “To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. Their maxim is boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem [good justice is broad jurisdiction], and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control.”

Justice Scalia said recently, “I question the propriety, indeed the sanity, of having a value-laden decision such as same-sex marriage made for the entire society by unelected judges.” That sentiment is echoed by Chief Justice John Roberts. “Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules. They apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire,” he said. Clearly, though, the judiciary is doing just that, making the rules, when they essentially legislate from the bench.

According to Reuter’s research published in January, 2014, Democrat appointees to the federal bench are a slight majority, at 50.5% of the total federal judiciary. In their book “The Behavior of Federal Judges,” researchers Lee Epstein, William Landes, and Richard Posner, document how Democrat appointees rule on the bench more liberally than Republican appointees rule according to strict constructionist interpretations. Given that verity, and the growing majority of liberal judges in the federal judiciary, the continued unraveling of “democratic rule” by the federal judiciary in America is perhaps a forgone conclusion.

JudicialActivismJefferson clearly understood the system of checks and balances on the respective powers of the three branches of government. As he said in a letter to Abigail Adams in 1804, “The Constitution… meant that its coordinate branches should be checks on each other. But the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch.” It has obviously become a despotic branch since it can overturn the will of the people as expressed even in referenda or initiatives.

Liberalism and progressivism have been able to successfully advance elements of their agenda through the judiciary that they have been unable to accomplish at the ballot box or through elected officials. Since federal judges are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, those positions should be recognized as the key to preserving the slight semblance of the American republic as envisioned by our founders. As it appears now, that vision is rapidly evaporating.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

Increasing Number of Youth Ineligible for Military

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P1-BQ573_INELIG_G_20140627175409At a time when dependence upon our military for safeguarding the nation and our freedoms is increasing, it’s disconcerting to learn that an increasing number of young people are ineligible for our armed services. The reasons are manifold, and often overlapping, but most of them boil down to behavioral obstacles. Many more who wish to join the armed services would be allowed if they made better choices. The same kinds of issues often limit opportunities, even outside of the military.

The military’s prime recruiting age is 17-24 years of age, and according to data released by the Pentagon, over 2/3 of young Americans in that demographic would not be eligible for service. By far the greatest reason for ineligibility is obesity, but other reasons for disqualification include physical appearance, physical health, lack of educational preparedness, police records, and drug use. There are over 34 million young people who would qualify by age, but a full 71% of them would be declined if they applied.

Enlistment requirements vary slightly depending on the branch of the military, but the candidates must be between 17-34 years of age; have a high school diploma or GED with some college credits; have no felony convictions; no persistent illegal drug use; no insulin-dependent diabetes; meet height/weight standards for their age group; be a U.S. citizen or foreign national with legal status; have no ADHD medication for the 12 months preceding application; have no ear gauges and no tattoos on the fingers, head, or hands.

3805908_GEvery year approximately 180,000 new recruits, or about .5% of the prime recruitment-age applicants are added to our military branches. If all other requirements are met, they must also pass the Armed Forces Qualification Test, which provides an assessment of their English, math, and science skills, as well as their cognitive abilities. According to the Pentagon, about a quarter of applicants, who have graduated from high school, or have their GED, can’t pass the Qualification Test. Major General Allen Youngman says, “They aren’t educationally qualified to join the military in any capacity, not just the high-tech jobs.”

Although the military doesn’t release figures on how many applicants are rejected for service, the Defense Department does indicate that only about 1% of prime recruitment-age young people are both “eligible and inclined to have conversation with” any of the branches of the military. Crunching the numbers indicates only about half of those ultimately are admitted.

Would you hire me?

Would you hire me?

Major General Allen Batschelet, who serves as the commanding officer of the Army Recruiting Command, told the Wall Street Journal in June that, “The quality of people willing to serve has been declining rapidly.” Because of this, they have avoided a “zero-defect” mentality, which means they often consider cases individually, which has still allowed them to meet their recruitment objectives in recent years.

There are many, both in the military and out, who see this as a threat to national security. This acknowledgment led to the formation of Mission:Readiness, a nonprofit organization comprised of 450 retired generals and admirals. The group claims that, “Investing early in the upcoming generation is critical to securing our nation’s future. These retired admirals and generals understand that whether young people join the military or not, we must increase investments so that all young people can get the right start and succeed in life – whatever career path they choose. To ensure that we have a strong nation and a secure future, we need to help America’s youth succeed academically, stay physically fit, and abide by the law.”

Retired Major Gen. Allen Youngman, speaking on behalf of “Mission:Readiness, said, “We’re trying to make decision makers see this is a national-security matter—and they need to prioritize it.”

An increasing number of candidates are rejected because of tattoos. Recruiters around the nation are reporting that many recruits don’t advance beyond the initial visit to the recruitment office, since their tattoos are visible and out of compliance with military policy. According to military sources, the objective behind the tattoo guidelines is to maintain a “professional-looking Army.”

Or would you hire me?

Or would you hire me?

Here’s where the broader cultural and societal interests of the nation intersect with the military’s objective. The same conduct that precludes so many from joining the military likewise presents obstacles to employment outside of the military. Aren’t all of these qualifiers important whether one intends to join the military or not? Aren’t all potential employers invested in the idea of having well-educated, physically healthy, and professional-looking personnel? Common sense would lead us to believe that the enlisting qualifications for the military are not all that different for life outside of it.

Young people can choose to drop out of high school or approach their educational opportunities cavalierly. They can choose to not be conscientious about their overall health, or disfigure themselves with piercings and gauges, and paint their bodies with tattoos, if they choose to. But they should realize that their future options are limited by doing so. They certainly limit their opportunities with the military, as well as many future potential employers. We can choose what we do, for the most part, but we’d better think through what the consequences and ramifications are.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

Islam Needs A Reformation and to Denounce Extremism

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It must be extremely disconcerting to Muslims to see their religion defined by the extremists of their faith. Regrettably, history is replete with examples of small minorities of adherents defining public perception of a sect. Christianity is often disparaged for the violent crusades of the Middle Ages. But Christianity went through a reformation, renouncing genocidal practices engendered and fostered by theological dogma. Likewise, at some point, the violent extremism within certain fringe groups who claim to represent the ideals of Islam, must be rejected by the whole if it is to ever be believed to be the “religion of peace.”

islam_religion_of_peace_022It’s critical to make a distinction between the faith of Islam, and Islamic extremism. Islam, as a religion, is faith-based, while the sectarian-defined extremism of the Wahhabist movement, or Salafi, is more of an Islamo-Fascist political movement. Even though it has its theological roots in Islam the religion, they are more of a politically ideological sect within Islam that goes far beyond what is reasonable in their interpretations of key scriptures in the Koran and the Hadith or sayings of Mohammed.

Abdallah Al Obeid, the former dean of the Islamic University of Medina and member of the Saudi Consultative Council, confirms that this is politically ideological, rather than sectarian. He calls this extremism a “political trend” within Islam that “has been adopted for power-sharing purposes.” He says it cannot be called a sect because “It has no special practices, nor special rites, and no special interpretation of religion that differ from the main body of Sunni Islam.”

Lt. General Thomas McInerney, who serves on the Iran Policy Committee, said a few years ago in an interview, “Islamic extremism is an ideology just like Fascism and Communism, and it must be fought in much the same way. The West has not acknowledged this and consequently we have not educated our population that it is an ideology rather than a religion. This is confusing people because of our tolerance for the diversity of religion.”

Islam-DominationGeneral McInerney declared in the same interview, “Islam needs a reformation just like Christianity had, plus they need a cultural renaissance to bring them into modernity. This must come from within driven by moderate Muslims.”

Dr. Tawfik Hamid, an Egyptian scholar and reformed terrorist, who maintains that his religion has been hijacked by the extremists, wrote a historically insightful book titled “The Roots of Jihad” in 2006, where he describes our challenge with the jihadists. He wrote that Islamic Terrorism has the support of the majority of Muslims and that Islam must be reformed to become a religion of tolerance. Muslims are killing more of their own people than westerners, and until the Muslim world acknowledges this and destroys this cancer from within there will be continued conflict that will continue to spread. This, he states, is catastrophic for the Islamic religion.

Dr. Juhdi Jasser, who heads the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, expressed his frustration last week in an interview. He expressed consternation that the talking points of the administration have been based on the oft repeated line that “the Islamic State is neither Islamic nor a state,” referring to ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). The President, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel have all reiterated the statement over the past week.

6a00d8341c60bf53ef014e60557d9c970c-600wiDr. Jasser takes umbrage at their fallacious premise. “Please, if anybody in the administration is listening, stop telling us Muslims what is Islamic. I mean, so he’s saying this is compounding the sin? How about when he shakes the hand and hugs the king of Saudi Arabia for their being the custodians of the Holy Mosque and yet they have imprisoned apostates, liberals, [and] Muslims. They’re a misogynistic nation that treats women as third class citizens. Or the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, or the Islamic Republic of Iran. Hundreds of millions of Muslims running governments all over the world that line their prisons and torture Christians and Jews and Muslims, and that’s Islamic? And ISIS sort of came out of thin air? ISIS is a by-product of those ideologies. And to deny it and dismiss it, they’re trying to bury us Reformers from having a seat at the table.”

Dr. Jasser continued, “The main laboratory that we can do our reform work against Sharian government and this draconian law that’s still in the 13th century is in the West. So if the West is too busy being labeled as ‘anti-Muslim bigots’ and is on the defense and we’re all victims as Muslims, you can never have this conversation. So moderate Muslims acknowledge that the Islamic State is a threat, that we don’t want to live in Islamic States. Moderate Muslims acknowledge that Sharia, as is interpreted today, is misogynistic, is anti-Western, anti-freedom. And the Islamists want to not have that conversation and want to marginalize us from the mosques and Islamist representation and our voices.”

Obama-With-MuslimsMuslims worldwide must eventually reject and foreswear the jihadists and their beheading, rapacious, and murdering tactics. The cry must be loud and strong from the faithful to reclaim their religion from the extremists who taint and tarnish it. Reformers like Dr. Jasser and Dr. Hamid must be embraced and supported by their Muslim brethren, as they attempt reformation, and adaptation to the Koran’s standards of moral behavior.

And this reformation must include educational curriculum as well, that teaches primary school children the terrorist mentality. They need to take the reigns of their faith, denounce the 72 virgin myth for martyrs, and expunge those who seek to murder and destroy. By so doing, they can reclaim the heart and soul of their faith. How best to show they are a “religion of peace” than by proving it.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

Article V Convention – Congress Will Not Act, So We Will

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Government debt continues to amass at a dizzying pace. The federal government has displayed no discipline in reining it in and reestablishing a more sound fiscal footing for the future of the country. Our founding fathers, however, had the prescience to include in our Constitution the means whereby the states, and the people, could force the government to do what they have no appetite to do, to require a balanced budget.

Growth-Of-United-States-Government-DebtJust since 2006, federal government debt has shot from $6.7 trillion, to nearly $18 trillion. The largest segment of that spending occurred over the past six years with five years of deficits exceeding $1 trillion. Our government has been spending 60% more than it’s been collecting in tax receipts.

Those figures do not even begin to address our long-term debt due to non-discretionary entitlement programs. According to the General Accounting Office’s (GAO) 2013 annual report, unfunded debt including Social Security and Medicare is over $76 trillion, an increase of 8% over 2012 levels. Our national debt increases by an estimated $8.2 million per minute, and about $350 billion per month.

The GAO was explicit in its warning to the policy makers about our spending. They said in the very first paragraph, “GAO’s simulations continue to show escalating levels of debt that illustrate that the long-term fiscal outlook remains unsustainable.”

Budget-chartFormer Comptroller General of the United States, David M. Walker, has been sounding the clarion call of economic disaster for the nation if spending is not reined in, and politicians refuse to deal with fiscal realities of unabated spending. He describes America as a “sinking ship” in a sea of our own debt. He points out that, “The US ranks near the bottom of developed global economies in terms of financial stability and will stay there unless it addresses its burgeoning debt problems,” based on the Sovereign Fiscal Responsibility Index.

Something must be done before the dollar and our entire economic system collapses entirely due to our calamitous accumulation of debt. And the solution could be nestled in Article V of the Constitution. That Article declares how the document can be amended.

Debt-Ceiling-Cartoon“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress.”

That second option, referred to as an Article V Convention, or Convention of the States, has never been utilized. It’s been attempted before, but never to fruition. It was added to the document after four earlier attempts at language that would have opened the door to a full constitutional convention. The precise and narrow limitations of an Article V convention only allows for adoption of amendments, not a complete “con con” which could facilitate mischief in rewriting our founding document. In Federalist Paper 43 James Madison explained, “It guards equally against that extreme facility, which would render the Constitution too mutable.”

cg536b7ae12610aThis is validated by Nick Dranias, Director of the Goldwater Institute’s Center for Constitutional Government, who has said, “Despite claims made to the contrary, the truth is that Article V does not provide authority for a foundational constitutional convention. The Founders specifically and repeatedly rejected efforts to substitute the current Article V language to allow for a foundational constitutional convention to be called.”

Currently there are active efforts to call an Article V Convention for at least two major issues: a Balanced Budget Amendment, and a National Debt Relief Amendment. Both are oriented toward forcing the federal government to get its fiscal house in order. The latter would disallow congress from increasing the federal debt without a majority of states approving an increase in the debt limit.

In order for such a convention to be convened, two-thirds of the states must pass resolutions calling for it, and then upon adoption of the specific amendments at the convention, three-fourths of the states must ratify. Therein lies the assurance that only viable and constitutionally sound amendments would emerge from such a convention.

Every citizen, and every state in the union has a stake in the solvency and fiscal stability of the nation, and should be actively embracing and supporting the Article V Convention process for these key issues. Hopefully an amendment will then be advanced for establishing term limits on congress, as well. Since Washington will not lead on these critical issues, it’s time for the people, and the states, to do so.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people”

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One of the predictable effects of the secularization of our culture and our society is the debasement of our collective moral fabric, our social mores. The absolute and fundamental matrix of values that form the basis of our Judeo-Christian society have steadily eroded, and at an accelerated rate over the past few decades. This erosion of traditional values has contributed to proliferation of a moral relativism that is profoundly evidenced by displacement of social standards and individual religious belief systems.

c45c6c37e8873f733f2bbba629d700685a861605a5252b951e200da2d32d574cThe late Alan Bloom, professor of philosophy at Cornell, Yale, and the University of Chicago, wrote, “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” If all truth is relative, all morality becomes relative as well, for the elimination of absolute truth claims absolute morality as its first casualty.

This moral relativism has coincided predictably with the secularization of our culture. Supplanting our Judeo-Christian value system, by effectively removing it from the public realm, has effectively left our society as a ship without a moral rudder.

Moral relativism ensues when ethical standards, morality, and positions of right or wrong are culturally based and therefore subject to a person’s individual choice. There are no absolutes. All morality is relative and up for individual interpretation. Fixed standards of value don’t exist aside from the changing whims of society, social trends, and sometimes even government regulation.

teaching-ethical-thinkingWilliam McGuffey, who authored the McGuffey’s Readers, which were the mainstay of America’s public school system for nearly a century, wrote: “Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man.” Today we witness the veracity of his statement with certitude.

Moral relativism weakens our collective cultural conscience. It weakens our ability to identify evil and our resolve to confront it as such. It leads to the perfidious exoneration of individual responsibility and culpability for perpetrators of evil, and seeks blame for such actions in social, parental, and educational failures. It prevents us from recognizing the evil in our midst that threatens our families, our neighborhoods, our culture, and our nation. And if allowed to continue unabated, it perpetuates the continued erosion of our entire civilization.

John Adams said, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

qq1sgMosesMoralityBenjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence said. “The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be [based] in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.  Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind.”

Noah Webster, for whom the Webster Dictionary is named, and often regarded as the father of American scholarship and education, echoed those sentiments. “The Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government. . . . and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence.”

The First Amendment to the Constitution assures the free exercise of religion, yet due to fear of lawsuits from the ACLU and other malcontents, religion has been nearly expunged from the public square. The freedom of exercise clause has been consequently whittled to a sliver, as religious expression and any semblance of religious morality has been systematically extirpated from society in general.

secularismWe have become such a paranoid secular society due to political correctness that even the establishment clause of the First Amendment is incessantly challenged. And when you think about it, by far the most coercive element challenging the establishment clause is secularism itself, which is little more than a godless belief system that substitutes God with human intellect. A student uttering a Christian prayer at commencement no more violates separation of church and state (which isn’t even in the Constitution) than a secular commencement address. Neither violates the compulsory prohibition as expressed in the establishment clause, which disallows a state-sponsored religion.

moral-choicesLast November Rev. Billy Graham presented his final broadcast to the American people. In it he declared, “Our country’s in great need of a spiritual awakening. If ever there was a time this country needed the intervention of God, it is now. We can and should pray for America as a whole, but remember that when God sets out to change a nation, He begins by changing people. It starts with individuals.”

Former LDS Church President Harold B. Lee uttered a similar statement. “This nation, founded on principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail…. I have faith in America. You and I must have faith in America.”

America was not founded as, nor was it ever intended to be, a godless country. Secularism is euthanizing the soul of the nation, challenging even the bedrock institutions of civilization. If we are to survive, it will be by turning to God and reaffirming the natural rights acknowledged and ostensibly assured by our classical-liberal founders, and by those of moral clarity and conviction being involved in the political process.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

GOP Must Move To the Right For Electoral Success

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It is always entertaining to witness the unsolicited counsel pontificated from the left, telling the Republican Party what’s wrong with it. Since many liberals don’t view Republicans as simply different-minded Americans, but as enemies to be vanquished, isn’t that a bit like the U.S. being counseled by Russia? Republicans should be listening rather to the groundswell of grassroots conservatives who see where the country is headed and fear for our future.

125120_600Unlike the querulous ones barking from the left’s sidelines who cheer the current transformation of America, grassroots conservatives are calling for a return to the classical-liberal precepts upon which the nation was built; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Not only is the country being fundamentally transformed into something it was never intended to be, but the economic and fiscal tipping points of debt and government intrusion are hastily approaching.

Republicans must disallow the liberals from dictating the premises of public discourse. When they shape public perception based on fallacious premises, the outcome will always to accede to the left. As it is now, rather than questioning whether we should have a deficit at all, it’s, “How much is too much of a deficit?” Rather than all human life is sacred and should be protected, it’s, “How many innocents’ lives are too many to abort?” Instead of government should not be bailing out any businesses, it’s, “How big is too big to fail?” And ultimately, instead of what government should be doing for (or to) us, it should be, “What is the proper role of government in a free republic?”

obama-media-bias-womens-vote-democrats-political-cartoonDemocrats do an excellent job of making promises to niche groups and demographics, and then, more often than not, failing to deliver. But they’re judged by their acolytes not based on results, but on their intent, and their expressed fealty to their objectives.

For example, the “Great Society” has redistributed trillions of dollars over the past five decades, and poverty levels remain, as a percentage of the population, about what they were when the “war on poverty” was declared. Promises to political niches are no more than efforts to buy votes, with someone else’s money. If Republicans want to win elections again, commit to doing what’s best for the country, and all demographic groups, rather than attempting to outbid for their votes, or dissect the electorate based on clichéd parsing of issues or catering to special interest groups. Return to the basic constitutional premise that government is to “promote” the general welfare of the nation, not “provide” it.

In our republic, government was intentionally granted specific, enumerated powers to maintain law and order, ensure our national security, protect life, facilitate interstate commerce, and preserve freedom. Government was never intended to be a panacea or balm for all the ills and travails of society. It was intended to provide a legal structure for the protection of liberty and rights that would allow individuals to get out of life what they were willing to invest personally into it. If Republicans are to succeed as a party, and save the nation from our self-destructive course, they must differentiate from the other side, based on correct constitutional principles, rather than competing to be “Democrat Lite.” Moving to the left will not save the Republican Party or the nation, but moving to the right will.

Question D3 on the bipartisan Battleground Poll conducted by George Washington University provides the evidence. It reads, “When thinking about politics and government, do you consider yourself to be… Very conservative, somewhat conservative, moderate, somewhat liberal, very liberal, unsure/refused.” Over the years the poll has been conducted, most Americans self-identify as conservatives. With just a point or two differential over the past ten years, 20% of Americans consider themselves to be very conservative; 40% somewhat conservative; 2% moderate; 27% somewhat liberal, and 9% very liberal; and 3% either didn’t know, or didn’t have a clue what the question even meant. Clearly, 60% of American voters consider themselves to be either very or somewhat conservative. Interestingly, these results were nearly identical in December 2012 after Obama won reelection, validating the obvious, that turnout of voter base is the determinant of electoral outcomes.

healthcarebillIn fact, according to a more recent poll by Harris, self-identified conservatives outnumber liberals in every state in the union, except for Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Republicans would succeed electorally much more if their appeals were based on constitutionally correct principles, and logically sound premises, rather than allowing the left to shape the debate.

Thomas Jefferson, who oxymoronically is heralded as the founder of the Democrat Party, succinctly stated, “A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.” That is not the message promulgated by the party that claims Jefferson as their founder.

If the constitutional and logical premises of “good government” are well articulated and marketed, there should be no election out of reach for conservative candidates. That’s what the data tell us.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

Obama’s “JV” Terrorists

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It is not uncommon to find inconsistencies and even contradictions in U.S. foreign policy. Usually a few years of separation are required to reveal our inconsistency, as in the case of Iran. Rarely do we see such striking contradictions in real time as we do today in the Middle East policies of the Obama administration.

isis-iraq-war-crimes.siISIS occupies the center stage of our current iteration of contradictory policy. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which subsequently changed their name to the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), apparently now wants to be known simply as The Islamic State (IS). This is the militaristic group that has emerged out of Syria, Al-Nusra, and merged with Al Qaeda of Iraq, to take over significant portions of eastern Syria and northern Iraq.

Threatening to violently take over all of Iraq and Syria, establishing an Islamic caliphate that would eventually cover the world, they have mercilessly spread their destruction from city to city. They behead or conduct mass executions against whoever opposes them (including American journalists), kidnap for ransoms to fund their operations, and have vowed to raise the ISIS flag over the White House. They are well funded from bank robberies, selling oil on the black market, and from kidnap ransoms. They are well trained, militant, and are well armed, predominantly with U.S. equipment.

rightThis is the Al Qaeda-linked group of terrorists that Obama referred to as “JV” (junior varsity) just a few months ago. In an interview with New Yorker magazine in January, the president applied a metaphor, saying of ISIS, that putting on a “Laker’s uniform doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” That “JV” group of militants, now figured to be 10,000 strong (including some westerners and as many as 300 Americans) is now perceived to be the greatest terrorist threat in the world.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, more than 32 times the president claimed Al Qaeda was “decimated” or “defeated.” To acknowledge their resurgence just two years later would not fit with his narrative as slayer of Osama bin Laden and vanquisher of his terrorist group. Consequently, their emerging threat had to be minimized.

But that’s just the tip of the ISIS iceberg for the administration. We have to realize that for the past few years the president has been actively engaged in toppling Middle Eastern regimes; Khadafy in Libya, Mubarak in Egypt, and Assad in Syria. In fact, just over a year ago the president was requesting $500 million to help the “freedom fighters” in Syria topple the Assad regime. The majority of those “freedom fighters” now go by the name ISIS, and the president was poised to fund them.

050913_ObamaBenghaziCoverUp_UFSCOLOREven worse, according to CNN last August, CIA sources have revealed that the Benghazi consulate attack of 9/11/12 was directly linked to a clandestine administration operation providing arms to the rebels in Syria. It wasn’t just the consulate compound in Benghazi that was demolished by the marauding jihadists, but the CIA facility two kilometers away, that housed the cash and weapons caches being smuggled into Syria. Jihadists got all of it.

This clarifies the need of the administration to fabricate a story about a YouTube video causing the “spontaneous demonstration” leading to the assassination of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others in Benghazi. In light of recent developments with ISIS, clearly the administration was displaying their naiveté, or, worse yet, intentionally downplaying the effects of surging jihadist groups, by willfully arming and funding them in their effort to displace Assad.

Clarifying the nature and ideological alignment of ISIS, last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that ISIS and Hamas are “branches of the same tree.” He explained, “Hamas is ISIS, ISIS is Hamas. They’re the enemies of peace. They’re the enemies of Israel. They’re the enemies of all civilized countries.”

RAMclr-062514-attack-IBD-COLOR-FINAL.gif.cmsThis brings us to current events, with the president now authorizing bombing of ISIS targets in Iraq, and leaving the door open to possible raids even into Syria. So now he’s bombing the same militants that he sought to legally fund through congress, was actively arming and funding through clandestine CIA operations in Benghazi, Libya, and that he has characterized as being “JV” terrorists. And let’s not forget that by leaving Iraq so hastily without a Status of Forces agreement, the administration created the vacuum facilitating the successful march of ISIS across northern Iraq.

Last week Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, “I think evidence is pretty clear when we look at what they did to Mr. Foley [the American journalist James Foley, beheaded last week by ISIS], what they threaten to do to all Americans and Europeans, what they are doing now, the — I don’t know any other way to describe it other than barbaric. 

They have no standard of decency, of responsible human behavior. And I think the record is pretty clear on that. So, yes, they are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else.” He concluded, “We’ve never seen anything like it before.”

"We are in your state. We are in your cities. We are in your streets."

“We are in your state.
We are in your cities.
We are in your streets.”

Those who maintain that the U.S. should embrace a non-interventionist foreign policy would have us believe that this is not a concern to us. In social media and elsewhere they promulgate an attitude of, “let them kill each other off.”

It could already be too late for that. Last week Texas Governor Rick Perry said, “There’s the obvious great concern that because of the condition of the border from the standpoint of it not being secure and us not knowing who is penetrating across, that individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states could be [crossing the border] — and I think there is a very real possibility that they may have already used that.” Our southern border is not secure, and clearly anyone of means or resources could easily breach it.

There are signs that they have already done so. ISIS has posted and tweeted photographs of their flag flying in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, with the message, “We are in your cities.” Just this week, the United Kingdom raised their terrorist threat assessment from “substantial” to “severe” in response to the rising danger ISIS poses globally.

In the 1990’s, Al Qaeda declared war on the U.S. We didn’t take it seriously and dealt with terrorist attacks as incidents for law enforcement. We all remember what that led to. And according to Secretary Hagel, this threat is greater. Attorney General Eric Holder announced this week that the FBI would investigate the beheading of journalist James Foley. Is history repeating itself, due to incompetence and an ideologically driven approach to assessing and addressing our exogenous threats? Regrettably, it appears so.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

Ferguson Violence Is Symptomatic of Moral Degeneracy

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There is only one injustice, thus far, that has occurred in Ferguson, Missouri. And it’s not the shooting of a boy, because the jury is still out (actually, it hasn’t even gone to a jury yet) on the events surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown. The injustice is being perpetrated by those who take it upon themselves to be judge, jury, and executioner against the innocent citizens of the town.

article-2727579-209B470900000578-273_634x354Two weeks ago, on August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, a 6’2” 300 pound 18 year-old, was shot and killed in the middle of the road in front of an apartment complex in Ferguson, Missouri. Police officer Darren Wilson, who shot the young man, has been placed on paid administrative leave as the investigation continues. No charges have been filed so far against the policeman.

“Eyewitness” accounts vary greatly about what transpired that hot afternoon on the Ferguson street. But we do know that Brown was stopped for jaywalking, not because he was suspected in a nearby store robbery. It is also clear that the youth was unarmed, since no other weapon was found at the site, and all six shell casings were from officer Wilson’s gun. One casing was found inside the squad car. The final, and apparently lethal shot, was about 35 feet from the car. Dr. Michael Baden, former chief medical examiner for New York City, who conducted an autopsy on behalf of the Brown family, said “This one [the fatal shot] here looks like his head was bent downward. It can be because he’s giving up, or because he’s charging forward at the officer.”

The response to the shooting has been understandably disturbing to many, and has resulted in two weeks of demonstrations, riots, as well as destruction and looting of local stores in and around the small Missouri town of 21,000 residents. What is not understandable, or condonable, is the violence that has dominated the news cycle 24/7 since August 9.

ferguson453723074I would be willing to wager that nearly everyone in the nation wants to see justice served. The problem is, at this point we don’t know what justice will look like. If Brown was shot while charging and threatening the officer, justice will look quite different than if Wilson shot the youth while surrendering with his hands in the air.

Neither judicial outcome justifies the idiocy of violence and destruction perpetrated against the town and its residents. The fact that charges have not been filed against Wilson heretofore is due to the judicial process being played out behind the scenes and gathering evidence for grand jury consideration, not because of prejudice or racism. Emotionally charged racial considerations should have no bearing on the expediency of due process, especially with the eyes of the nation so focused on the rulings made in the case.

While the cogs of justice are meshing forward, demonstrations are perfectly acceptable. In America, any demonstration, however fervent, should be the unabated right of any citizen. The impetus behind the demonstrations is inconsequential since it is a constitutionally assured right, whether protesting a cop shooting, or demonstrating against war or excessive government taxation. As an aside, the word “cop” is not a pejorative, which may come as a revelation to some, as it’s an acronym for “constable on patrol.”

WPTV_Ferguson_looting_damage_1408218776028_7402994_ver1.0_640_480But when demonstrations lead to riots, violence, and property destruction, law enforcement is justified in utilizing whatever force is necessary in quelling the mayhem, and restoring law and order. To deny them that function is to deny the most fundamental requirement of our constabulary.

Those closest to the victim have called for sanity and peace, while denouncing the perpetrators of violence and destruction. The father of the deceased said a few days ago, “We don’t want no violence. Michael would have wanted no violence. We need justice for our son.” His cousin likewise called for order to return, saying, “I just want everyone to know and understand that the stealing and breaking in stores is not what Mike would want, it is very upsetting to me and my family. Our family didn’t ask for this but for justice and peace…. Please let my family grieve in Peace (and) stop the violence in the street tonight, we don’t want this happening when we protest for justice for my cousin Mike Brown, please get this message out to the people that the Mike Brown family do not want this.”

mrz081714dAPCThe violence has nothing to do with justice being served, but everything to do with a level of moral depravity in the country that seeks to rationalize illegal and violent behavior as a proxy for real justice. In what sort of twisted sense of judicial propriety can violence be condoned or encouraged as a rational response to a perceived wrong having been perpetrated? In what bankrupt belief system is the destruction of property and attacks on others justifiable for a wrongful death? It would appear we as a society have learned nothing in the 22 years since the Rodney King Los Angeles riots. This is despicable behavior regardless of the age, orientation, or skin color of the perpetrators.

The days of leaping to irrational and unwarranted conclusions, based on the age or color of the victim, before justice has completed the investigative process, should be far behind us. Assumptions of guilt and innocence of all involved might justify demonstrations, but never riots and provocations to violence. For they are, after all, assumptions made without all of the facts on the table. The calm voices calling for peace and justice should always prevail over those whose lawlessness is an excuse for moral degeneracy.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

Paying Taxes Is Not “Patriotic,” Nor is it “Voluntary”

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Six years ago Vice President Joe Biden said that paying taxes is patriotic. Citing the need for the wealthy to pay more of their “share” of taxes, he said it was, “time to be patriotic,” even though the top 20% of wage-earners pay 93% of federal income taxes. The latest iteration of the “paying taxes is patriotic” meme came last month when Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden calling for a “new sense of economic patriotism.” The payment of taxes by a citizenry in a free society is not inherently patriotic, but such statements are not unexpected from those who conflate emotion with logic.

jack-lew-611x442The context of Secretary Lew’s letter is important, however. Dozens of American companies have made acquisitions or merged with other companies based in the United Kingdom, or more advantageously, Ireland, in order to circumvent the U.S. confiscatory 35% corporate tax rate, which is currently the highest in the world. By basing operations in Ireland, these newly migrated companies pay a relatively paltry flat 12.5% tax on profits. Nine of the top ten global pharmaceutical companies now have operations in Ireland, and some of the largest technology companies, including Google, Twitter, and Facebook, do as well.

The process is called inversion, and here’s how it works economically. A company acquires or merges with a company in Ireland (or Britain, Switzerland, or the Netherlands) and re-domiciles there for the cash savings from U.S. tax rates. The company then lends cash back to the U.S. creating tax-deductible interest payments to benefit American operations. And in the more elaborate variation, interest costs and royalty payments made to Dutch subsidiaries reduce the tax bill in Ireland to 6%. Royalties and interest payments are then funneled to Bermuda, which then cuts the tax in Ireland to zero since Ireland views it as a “Bermuda resident.” This creates a veritable “cash mountain,” as the UK’s Financial Times refers to it, allowing the newly reorganized Irish company to pay nothing in taxes. The Financial Times estimates the “cash mountain” built up through such inversions to be as high as $1 trillion.

The absurdity of our 35% nominal corporate tax rate is magnified when we realize that the $1 trillion sitting overseas is worth a paltry $16 billion in tax revenue to the treasury, as Secretary Lew said on CNBC last month. In other words, to save $16 billion in federal corporate taxes, formerly U.S. based companies have relocated $1 trillion in cash, and all of the economic activity, including jobs and manufacturing, that a trillion dollars of cash (M1) velocity can generate. Our inordinately high tax rates have exceeded the point of diminishing return.

corporate-tax-rate-600The reason the tax revenue can be so low as Lew’s estimate is because the average corporate effective rate is about 12% after deductions. Our tax code has become so porous through crony-capitalism that a company the size of General Electric with sales of over $120 billion, and net profit of $14 billion, could file a 57,000-page tax return for 2010 and pay no corporate income taxes. Our sieve-like tax code hemorrhages tax receipts to the U.S. Treasury.

It’s nothing short of duplicity for the administration to call for “patriotism” from entities they have been arguing are not people, and should not be afforded freedom of speech or freedom of religion rights. They have bemoaned the Citizen’s United case in which the Supreme Court ruled corporations have free speech rights, and the Hobby Lobby ruling affirming corporate freedom of religion, yet they claim such companies can have patriotism, which is an emotion and a trait that can’t be felt or manifest by inanimate objects or organizations. For logical consistency, they can’t have it both ways.

Even though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed a few years ago that paying taxes is “voluntary,” our taxes are collected from us based on principles of coercion. We pay our taxes under legal threat of fines and penalties, which could include jail time. Companies withhold a percentage of our income as a payroll deduction under threat of fines and penalties. This is also why paying taxes to “share the wealth” is not an act of magnanimity either, for coercion can never be mistaken for giving freely of our substance.

BstMy4OIEAAiQ_m.png-largeThe claim that paying taxes is patriotic is prima facie specious, even if some of the benefits from paying taxes are beneficial to us personally, for tax collection is facilitated by the threat of penalty, which is coercive. As such, it much more closely resembles extortion than patriotism. In a legal context, extortion refers to how the funds are expropriated, not in how they are appropriated. Extortion is forced, while patriotism is clearly voluntary. And since patriotism is attitudinal, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with harboring such sentiments whilst paying.

Taxes are an essential component to facilitate the operations of prudent and constitutional governance. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.” However, when tax code incentivizes the relocation of America’s engines of economic growth, its effect is deleterious to the nation. And taxation for reallocation is clearly immoral for our founders formed our system of governance to preclude the possibility of our government doing what would be illegal for an individual citizen to do.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Ron Wyden is correct to not take the band aid approach to closing the inversion loophole. His preference is to overhaul the corporate tax structure which currently incentivizes U.S. corporations to relocate headquarters and manufacturing elsewhere in the global marketplace.

The most efficacious means of repatriating that $1 trillion sitting in overseas banks would be to shred the entire corporate tax code and go to a flat corporate tax rate. That additional trillion dollars in monetary velocity could make a significant contribution to GDP expansion, as well as augmenting U.S. tax receipts.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

We Must Always Stand With Our Ally, Israel

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The state of Israel this past year celebrated its 66th birthday, one that it would not have been able to observe had it not been for the leadership and tenacity of one brave and principled American president. President Harry Truman, going against nearly the entire Washington establishment, made the United States the first nation to grant official recognition of the State of Israel a scant 11 minutes after they declared their state official.

Israel Gap Year Destinations MapIsrael is the only free country in a region that is dominated by monarchies, theocracies, and dictatorships that repress freedom, oppress women, limit educational opportunities, outlaw religious and racial tolerance, and sponsor terrorism against freedom-loving people. As such, the approximately 8 million citizens of Israel, living in an area about the size of West Virginia (our 10th smallest state) including Jews and Arabs who live within the Armistice Lines of the 1948 War of Independence, enjoy freedoms not available to the hundreds of millions living in neighboring Muslim dominated countries. They can express their opinions, criticize their government, worship according the dictates of their conscience, publish opposition newspapers, and hold free un-coerced elections. They are by far the most free people in the Middle East. In spite of criticism to the contrary, Israel provides more freedom to Muslim citizens than neighboring Muslim countries grant themselves. Both Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Israel and Israeli Arabs enjoy the same rights as their Jewish neighbors, have representatives elected to the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) and have positions as associate justices on the Israeli Supreme Court

IsraelRally-6535On May 14, 1948, the day the British Mandate over Palestine expired, the Jewish People’s Council gathered to declare their independence. In that document, they declared that the Land of Israel “was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance.”

“After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.

“Impelled by this historic and traditional attachment, Jews strove in every successive generation to re-establish themselves in their ancient homeland. In recent decades they returned in their masses. Pioneers, and defenders, they made deserts bloom, revived the Hebrew language, built villages and towns, and created a thriving community controlling its own economy and culture, loving peace but knowing how to defend itself, bringing the blessings of progress to all the country’s inhabitants, and aspiring towards independent nationhood.”

OBAMA CARTOONS, THROW ISRAEL UNDER THE BUSThis right to gather in Israel “was recognized in the Balfour Declaration (1917), and reaffirmed in the Mandate of the League of Nations which, in particular, gave international sanction to the historic connection between the Jewish people and Israel and to the right of the Jewish people to rebuild its National Home.” This right was reaffirmed in 1948 by the United Nations.

The declaration then states the principles upon which the new nation of Israel would be established. “THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

UnknownSince that time, Israel has struggled for its very existence, having fought military onslaughts in at least eight wars of self-defense against 22 hostile dictatorships and three major state-sponsored terrorist organizations – the PLO, Hezbollah and Hamas, and faced a determined terror-led attack that makes those against America pale in comparison. In the 18 month period following 9/11/01 alone, Israel suffered 12,480 terrorist attacks that killed more than 400; a per-capita death toll more than six times that of America’s 9/11 attacks.

It is with this historical backdrop that President George W. Bush addressed the world at Israel’s celebration of independence six years ago, where he declared, “You’ve lived too long with fear and funerals, having to avoid markets and public transportation, and forced to put armed guards in kindergarten classrooms. The Palestinian Authority has rejected your offer at hand, and trafficked with terrorists. You have a right to a normal life; you have a right to security.”

American and Israeli Flags over the U.S. Capitol - RTXL7AW.jpgThe President went on to say, “Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along.” Does anyone truly believe the bellicose leaders of Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, The Muslim Brotherhood, and Islamic Jihad, who all call for the eradication and annihilation of Israel, can be persuaded to change their minds?

The Middle East is home to the primary front lines of battle in the war against terrorism. Recognizing this, and the fact that Israel is a free democratic country, and an ally in combating the evil of terrorism, we must always maintain a resolute determination to stand by them and assure their defense, and not believe naively that Israel’s enemies can be appeased into pacifism. After all, they have sworn to wipe Israel off the map, and the rest of the world’s “infidels,” including us, are next on their list.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

Racism and Ignorance Abound in Gaza Conflict Coverage

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knell-report-15-7-pic-missiles-being-fired There are only two possible explanations for the anti-Semitic statements, tweets, demonstrations, and promulgations of the past few weeks after Israel began defending herself from the onslaught of missiles from the Hamas-held Gaza Strip; sheer ignorance or blatant racism. In some cases it could perhaps be a combination of both. Much of the culpability for the biased representation of the conflict in Gaza rests directly on the shoulders of the mainstream media who should know better.

The rationalized justification for the latest attacks on Israel traces back to an incident in June when three Israeli teenaged seminary students (one of whom was an American) were kidnapped, and subsequently killed, while hitchhiking in the West Bank. They disappeared on June 12 and their bodies were discovered eighteen days later in a field near Hebron. Hamas was blamed for the abductions and murders, and the night the bodies were discovered, the terrorist group began launching missiles into the heart of Israel. Nearly 1,000 missiles have been launched by Hamas against Israel since that fateful night, and Israel has responded by destroying the tunnels used by Hamas to infiltrate Israel, and by targeting the group’s missile and munitions storage sites, which are often strategically placed in schools, hospitals, mosques, and residential areas.

pc0264Clearly, Israel is fighting for her very existence, and fighting back against those who attack her. Self-defense is a natural human right, and the first responsibility of a nation to protect its citizenry. Yet in spite of these verities, Israelis are vilified for fighting back and refusing to turn the other cheek.

Mia Farrow has been posting pro-Palestinian comments over the past several days on Twitter, including, “What is Israel’s long-term plan for Gaza? They can’t kill everyone.” Madonna posted a photo with the comment, “These flowers are like the innocent children of GAZA! Who has a right to destroy them? No One!!!! CEASE FIRE!” Dozens of celebrities have been vocal in their anti-Israeli denunciations. There have been a few notable exceptions.

hamas_children_1594729iAcross the pond it has been even more strident, as typified by a letter from Spanish actor Javier Bardem that was published in a Barcelona paper last week. Bardem wrote, “This is a war of occupation and extermination against a whole people without means, confined to a miniscule territory without water and where hospitals, ambulances, and children are targeted and presumed to be terrorists.” A hundred Spanish celebrities, including Academy Award winners Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar, endorsed the letter.

European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor responded to Bardem’s letter, by stating, “The assertion that Israel is perpetrating genocide is not only patently false and detached from reality, but also inflammatory and outrageous at a time when demonization against Israel is fueling unprecedented levels of anti-Semitic violence in Europe…I would be interested in reading the opinion of the same Spanish celebrities after 2,500 rockets explode on Madrid or Barcelona.”

Palestinian Girls taught to fire rocketsAnti-Semitic demonstrations have dominated European news, coinciding with the anti-Israel public posturing of so many from the high-profile glitz and glamour crowd.

As if to not be outdone, American media have been denouncing Israel for “targeting civilians” with their retaliatory attacks, as MSNBC has been doing with regularity. NBC’s David Gregory on “Meet the Press” castigated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for such targeting, which brought a sharp rebuke from the PM. He said, “Hamas is responsible for the death of civilians. We’re not targeting a single civilian. We’re responding to Hamas action and we’re telling the civilians to leave. Hamas is telling them to stay. Why is it telling them to stay? Because it wants to pile up their own dead bodies. They not only want to kill our people, they want to sacrifice their own people.”

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????One major newspaper has printed over twenty articles on the current iteration of the Gaza conflict. But in all of their stories, not one mention has been made of the documented immoral placement of Hamas missile launchers and munitions in residential areas, schools, mosques and hospitals. Sometimes media bias is more blatantly evidenced by omission, than by commission.

Last year the Anti-Defamation League conducted its largest-ever worldwide survey of anti-Semitic attitudes. They polled 53,000 people in 102 countries, representing nearly 87% of the world’s population, and found 26% of the world is anti-Semitic. It’s difficult to come to grips with such blatant racism in this day and age when it is so pervasively denounced. Particularly inscrutable is the racism of the effete celebrity crowd and self-professed politically correct media personalities.

hamas_terror_academyHouse Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, made perhaps the most ludicrous comment this week in support of Hamas, also known as the Muslim Brotherhood of Palestine. She referred to them as a “humanitarian group.” The Hamas Charter states, “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it,” and it will be obliterated by “Jihad.” To most sentient people, that wouldn’t appear very “humanitarian.”

It is only by flagrant vacuity that some attempt to create a moral equivalency between a democratic nation defending itself and a terrorist organization that uses human shields to protect their weaponry. As Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of the founders of Hamas, said last week on CNN, “Hamas doesn’t care about the lives of Palestinians…And, by the way, Israel – the destruction of the state of Israel is not Hamas’ final destination. Hamas’ final destination is building the Islamic Caliphate, which means an Islamic state on the rubble of every other civilization. These are the ultimate goals of the movement.”

IsraelRally-6535Yet to Pelosi, Hamas is “humanitarian,” and for many in the media and of the celebrity elite, the terrorist group has been perched on moral high ground as victims, rather than denounced as the perpetrators of terrorism that they are. Such a perverted sense of misplaced indignation can only be attributable to abject ignorance of the relative facts, an intense racist bigotry against the Jewish state, or a combination of the two.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration.  He can be reached at [email protected].

 

How Smartphones are Dumbing Down Our Society

Business colleagues reading an SMS while in a line

Business colleagues reading an SMS while in a lineHow many times every day do you find yourself visiting with a friend or a family member and you feel like their phone or other electronic device is more important to them than you are? How often do you find yourself in a one-on-one or a group setting and the other person or individuals immediately pick up their phone with every chirp, beep, or ring-tone they emit? We have a society that is increasingly less humanly social, and have in some distorted way, become less connected sociologically and emotionally, and more isolated, precisely because of the electronic connectivity that has come to dominate our culture.

The smartphone is well on its way to creating a socially dumb society. According to eMarketer from a study completed last year, Americans now spend more time on their smartphones and other electronic devices than they do with anything else. The average American now spends over five hours every day tinkering, playing with, responding to, and interacting with their digital devices. Such over-reliance on electronic gadgets has now eclipsed watching TV as the single-most over-indulged time hog of the average American’s daily schedule.

Liam-Walsh-Cartoon-New-YorkerA CNN story last year calculated that by the time teens reach middle school, they text nearly 3,500 times a month, and spend more time with electronic media than they do with their parents or teachers. The report stated, “The impact of heavy media and technology use on kids’ social, emotional and cognitive development is only beginning to be studied, and the emergent results are serious. While the research is still in its early stages, it suggests that the Internet may actually be changing how our brains work. Too much hypertext and multimedia content has been linked in some kids to limited attention span, lower comprehension, poor focus, greater risk for depression and diminished long-term memory.

texting“Our new world of digital immersion and multitasking has affected virtually everything from our thought processes and work habits to our capacity for linear thinking and how we feel about ourselves, our friends and even strangers. And it has all happened virtually overnight.”

And that barely scratches the surface in terms of the social ineptitude fostered by such overt dependency on electronic devices. It’s virtually impossible to sit in a family, business, or even mealtime setting without someone being glued to their phones rather than visiting, interacting with, or communicating with the others who are present. The clear signal, via body language, is that the device, and whoever is texting or messaging on the other end of the digital conversation, is much more important than the living, breathing, cognitive beings in the room with them!

hfmbookRachel Macy Stafford was a young wife and mother who had an epiphany of sorts. She realized that her children, and other important people in her life, were being short-changed by the attention and devotion she paid to her smartphone. She started maintaining a blog of her observations and “confessions” of her own overuse of digital media.

One reader of her blog sent an email to her that was seismic in its impact. The reader said, “I can recall a time when you were out with your children you were really with them. You engaged in a back and forth dialog even if they were pre-verbal. You said, ‘Look at the bus, see the doggie, etc.’ Now I see you on the phone, pushing your kids on the swings while distracted by your devices. You think you are spending time with them but you are not present really. When I see you pick up your kids at day care while you’re on the phone, it breaks my heart. They hear your adult conversations. What do they overhear? What is the message they receive? I am not important; I am not important.”

On her blog, Handsfreemama.com, (and in her book by the same name) she has listed a series of introspective statements on “How to Miss a Childhood.” For those who have children at home, this is a real eye-opener. But to all of us, regardless of age or familial composition, the messaging is poignant with regard to our most treasured relationships.

She says that if you want to miss your children’s childhood, “Keep your phone turned on at all times of the day. Allow the rings, beeps, and buzzes to interrupt your child midsentence; always let the caller take priority.”

“Carry your phone around so much that when you happen to leave it in one room your child will come running with it proudly in hand—treating it more like a much needed breathing apparatus than a communication device.”

“Decide the app you’re playing is more important than throwing the ball in the yard with your kids. Even better, yell at them to leave you alone while you play your game.”

“While you wait for the server to bring your food or the movie to start, get out your phone and stare at it despite the fact your child sits inches away longing for you talk to him.”

gg58805038“Neglect daily rituals like tucking your child into bed or nightly dinner conversation because you are too busy with your online activity.

After listing many more such examples, the author concludes: “Follow this recipe and you will have: missed opportunities for human connection, fewer chances to create beautiful memories, lack of connection to the people most precious to you, inability to really know your children and them unable to know you, and overwhelming regret.”

If we are to avoid becoming a socially inept and illiterate society, we must learn to use our electronic devices not as proxy relationships, but as tools to broaden and enlarge our human experience, and with a sense of temporal balance, rather than as our veritable raison d’être or center of our existence. Perhaps it’s time to reintroduce social etiquette into our school’s curricula, before our anti-social behavior unravels our last few remaining threads of humanity.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

Obama’s Man-Made Disaster – Our Southern Border Invasion

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It’s impossible to avoid the coverage of the “immigration crisis” on our southern border. The media’s pervasive use of disinformation terminology and appeals to morality of a sentient populace is employed to shape public perception on the humanitarian tragedy unfolding daily in the news. The problems are manifold, but the creation of the crisis is causally singular. And the solution, at least to the cause, could be equally simple.

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.clsJust since October of last year, there have been nearly 60,000 children taken into custody for entering our country illegally. The majority of them are from Central America and unaccompanied by an adult.

The media report this as an “immigration crisis.” It is not. The government’s own definition of an immigrant is very precise: “persons admitted as legal permanent residents (LPRs) of the United States.” It would be more accurately described as an invasion, which is an “incursion by a large number of people.” As a friend sent me this past week, “Sneaking into a country doesn’t make you an ‘immigrant’ any more than breaking into a house makes you ‘part of the family.’”

Secondarily, the crisis with the children is man-made, and there is one man who is most responsible for it. Starting as early as August 2011, the administration started using “prosecutorial discretion” in applying the law against those who enter the country illegally. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a communiqué stating that removing illegal aliens was not an “enforcement priority” of the Obama administration.

article-2694606-1FB0BDB600000578-269_634x415Almost immediately after that initial statement, DHS memos evidence an even less subtle approach; a broader “administrative amnesty,” would be applied especially for young people who would have benefited from the DREAM Act, which was never passed by congress. One such DHS memo to the director of United States Citizen and Immigration Services, indicated, “In the absence of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, CIS can extend benefits and/or protections to many individuals and groups by issuing new guidance and regulations.”

Internal memos clearly identify the motive behind such moves to be political. One such internal memo, uncovered by Pro Publica, stated, “The Secretary would face criticism that she is abdicating her charge to enforce the immigration laws,” but expressed hope she would “be viewed as breaking through the Washington gridlock in an effort to solve tough problems at a time when providing Latino voters with something they can support will be a win-win for us all.”

Then for the icing on the cake, just five months before the 2012 presidential election, “Obama announced that he would stop deportations for a half a million people who were brought to the United States as children. For this, he was rewarded with more than 70 percent of the Hispanic vote,” as reported by Nationalinterest.org.

BsmLwovIEAAa0ioEach of these official and unofficial announcements have yielded the administration’s apparently desired effect of escalating the invasion of our southern border. News regarding the relaxation of U.S. restrictions against illegal entry into the country travels like wildfire especially through the “coyote” grapevine, those who transport people across the border illegally.

This relaxation of deportation and border security laws is borne out by the data. According to the Los Angeles Times, “the number of immigrants younger than 18 who were deported or turned away from ports of entry declined from 8,143 in 2008 to 1,669 last year. There were 95 minors deported from the entire interior of the country last year. At the same time, the number of unaccompanied alien children arriving from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras exploded from less than 4,000 several years ago to over 40,000 since last October.”

Last weekend Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), along with several other congressmen, met with President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernandez and President of Guatemala Otto Pérez Molina and their wives. According to Granger, the leaders “want their children back.”

“We found out that the president and the first ladies of Guatemala and Honduras want their children back and they’re willing to cooperate with us to send their children back as quickly as possible,” she said.

Flood-Gates-590-LAIn spite of claims the children are fleeing violence in their home countries, a new report indicates they’re coming primarily for amnesty. Two weeks ago the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), which is led by the DEA with cooperation from Homeland Security, reported, “Of the 230 migrants interviewed, 219 cited the primary reason for migrating to the United States was the perception of U.S. immigration laws granting free passes or permisos to UAC (unaccompanied children) and adult females OTMs (other than Mexicans) traveling with minors,” the report said.

Clearly the administration has created this humanitarian crisis by its own policies. If they wanted to stop the illegal migration, it wouldn’t take much effort. Rep. Granger indicated that the Central American presidents she met with said it would be “very helpful” if the president would reverse his stance. They said a great start would be for the president to simply state, “Don’t send your children to the United States illegally because we will send them back, they will not complete their journey.”

The president had a perfect opportunity to send such a message when he was visiting Texas discussing the issue with Governor Rick Perry. He created the crisis with administration policies, and he could end it, if he wanted to.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

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