Tag Archives: taxes

“Everything Seems Upside Down!”

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A friend lamented to me recently, “The whole world seems upside down. What should be considered bad is now good, and vice versa.” He went on to detail how laws of economics are violated domestically, expecting an outcome different than the natural law of cause and effect would dictate. I concurred with him, and found myself reflecting on some of the wisdom of yesteryear that is ignored, thought impertinent to a new “enlightened” era, or not applicable to our advanced society.

UnknownCertainly some of the challenges facing our nation and our society currently can be seen through the lens of proven wisdom. In this light I thought I’d pick a few of those nuggets of anecdotal verity that have been validated by history to provide a little sagacious insight for the context of what our politicians have been inflicting upon the nation.

Winston Churchill once declared, “For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” With 20 new taxes added with the passage of Obamacare, and the significant increase of six other taxes with the passage of the “fiscal cliff” Continuing Resolution two years ago, it seems our government is attempting what Churchill described, with incredulity. Even the great communist Vladimir Lenin understood this principle. “The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.”

For a quasi free-market economy, we’re stuck in a moribund GDP growth rate that is constrained by the yearly removal of over $3 trillion of capital from the citizenry. The surefire way to reduce activity is to tax it, which not only stifles the respective economic activity (such as the investment of capital) but removes significant assets from the private sector. In light of government’s spending and taxation excesses of the past few years, Churchill’s statement seems, well, “Churchillian.”

quote-government-s-view-of-the-economy-could-be-summed-up-in-a-few-short-phrases-if-it-moves-tax-it-if-ronald-reagan-151737The “great communicator” Ronald Reagan, observed the practices of government, and summarized, “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” If that doesn’t capture the mindset of our government over the past several years, I don’t know what does. The spendthrift ideology that gave us a decimated Detroit, a nearly bankrupt California, and bankrupt cities across the nation, has sought to impose the same centralized governmental control on a national level in the name of “social justice,” with devastatingly destructive results. If America is to return to financial greatness, it will be by reversing the expansive trend of economic fascism, where government has control of the means of production.

The brilliant Austrian economist, Friedrich Hayek understood this threat. Said he, “While an equality of rights under a limited government is possible and an essential condition of individual freedom, a claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers.” The best thing government can do is create an environment that is conducive to growth, with reduced taxes and a regulatory environment that facilitates private sector growth. That is far from our present reality.

George Bernard Shaw, although a self-avowed socialist, was nonetheless bright enough to observe, “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” That is until Paul runs out of money, as Margaret Thatcher’s logical postulate avers, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” Since economic fascism is just a few steps removed from socialism, the outcome is only separated by a few degrees of economic ruin.

In his inimitable cynical style, writer and journalist P.J. O’Rourke once wrote, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free!” Although Obamacare fell short of the drafter’s goal of a single-payer plan, we’re observing the results of our massive step toward it. As the Washington Times reported in October, “The Affordable Care Act was supposed to make health care more affordable, but a study of insurance policies before and after Obamacare shows that average premiums have skyrocketed, for some groups by as much as 78 percent.”

quote-government-big-enough-to-supply-everything-you-need-is-big-enough-is-big-enough-to-take-everything-thomas-jefferson-370415Thomas Jefferson warned over 200 years ago, that, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have.” It appears increasingly that’s the kind of government we’re headed toward. He further warned, “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” This bodes ill for us all with the increasingly strident notion that the government should regulate every aspect of our lives, from what we drive and what we eat, to how much energy we consume.

Perhaps the best idea for governing was uttered over 2000 years ago by Cicero. He said, “The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.” I wonder if Roman leaders wish they would have listened to him.

My friend was regrettably correct; the whole world does seem upside down. If we fail to learn from history, and the wisdom of yesteryear, are we destined to repeat the failures and collapses of history? It’s entirely up to 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].

Something Wicked This Way Comes

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As we approach the dreaded tax filing deadline of April 15th, many Americans are ill-prepared for the news they are going to receive from their tax preparers or tax preparation software. Between three and six million people are going to be affected by penalties, an “Individual Shared Responsibility Payment,” associated with the Affordable Care Act. And most of those affected have no idea how much financial pain they are going to feel.

When the Obama Administration was selling Obamacare to the American people – you remember, “It’s not a tax,” “If you like your healthcare plan you can keep it,” “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it,” etc. – they alluded to the existence of penalties for those Americans who did not purchase ACA compliant health insurance. The amount for the first year non-compliance penalty was routinely quoted as $95. For many the choice was clear: keep the non-compliant health insurance, pay the $95 penalty (read: non-compliance tax), and hope that a Republican-led Congress would affect relief for the taxpayer as soon as they took control in Washington, DC.

But that scenario doesn’t impact this tax cycle. And while three to five million people have received subsidies through the Obamacare marketplaces to offset the cost of ACA compliant health insurance (still many more will qualify for exemptions), the penalty – or Individual Shared Responsibility Payment – for most of the three to six million Americans who opted to pay the fine and go without is going to be substantially more than they think.

Contrary to the commonly referred to fine of $95 for non-compliance, that amount is the least amount that can be imposed on an individual. The calculation used for the overwhelming majority of the non-compliant will be the higher of either one-percent of your household income above your filing threshold or a flat dollar amount up to $285 ($95 per adult, $47.50 per child). The important words to consider here are “household income.”

In the scenario where one spouse is covered by employer-sponsored health insurance but the other spouse is not – where one spouse is non-compliant, the Individual Shared Responsibility Payment is still based on the total of the household income; the compliant spouse is still entered into the penalty equation through the use of the household income as a defining integer. The idea that the ACA compliant individual cannot be adversely affected at tax time is a fallacy.

For example, let’s examine what the penalty (read: tax) would be on a Virginia household consisting of a man and a woman who, combined, made $150,000 for the year 2014. The woman is covered through her employer by ACA compliant health insurance, but the man is an independent contractor and chose to attain what used to be known as catastrophic health insurance, thus acquiescing to what he thought was going to be a $95 penalty. Using the Individual Shared Responsibility Payment calculator from HealthInsurance.org, the assessed penalty would be $1,297. A full $1202 more than the $95 for which they had planned. By contrast, a non-compliant single person making $75,000 in 2014 would have been assessed a $648.50 penalty. This means that the penalty for the “crime” of being from a household earning $150,000 with a single non-compliant spouse is $648.50; the penalty for being married to a non-compliant spouse is $648.50. The irony here is that the non-compliant spouse was still covered in the event of a medical emergency, even if he wasn’t ACA “compliant.”

The reasoning used by the Progressives and Democrats when arguing for the passage of the Affordable Care Act was that relief would be given to the healthcare system by virtue of the fact that everyone would be covered by health insurance; that everyone would be paying into the system. But having “passed the bill” so we can now “see what’s in it,” the reality of the matter is this. Obamacare was never about healthcare. It was never really even about everyone being covered by health insurance. And it wasn’t ever about everyone paying into the system. It was about creating two new revenue streams: one for the health insurance companies who now have a captive client-base, and another for the spendthrift federal government through the extraction of what the US Supreme Court has now identified as a tax.

And a heck of a tax it is…especially for the non-compliant and their compliant spouses.

The Danger of Granting Lerner Immunity

The House Oversight & Government Reform Committee has voted to advance a Contempt of Congress charge against Lois Lerner, the former Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division. The vote was 21 to 12, brought about by Ms. Lerner’s refusal to provide information about the IRS’s targeting of Conservative advocacy groups vying for 501c3 tax-exempt status, especially during the period before the 2012 General Election.

To say that this very legitimate issue has been politicized would be an under-statement. Both Republicans and Democrats – not to mention Progressives – see political capital to be gained from this issue. Democrats and Progressives will continue to advance the canard that any action against a member of the Obama Administration is based on racism and hate, while Republicans, Conservatives and TEA Partiers will continue to point out that crimes have been committed against the American people; crimes directly affecting rights guaranteed in the United States Constitution.

While committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), stated, “This is not an action I take lightly… [lawmakers] need Ms. Lerner’s testimony to complete our oversight work and bring truth to the American people,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (P-NY), rebutted, “Guilty or innocent, Ms. Lerner has a constitutional right to remain silent on this issue,” and Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), said smugly that the case would be “laughed out of court.”

To the latter points, yes, Ms. Lerner has the right not to incriminate herself under the Fifth Amendment rights afforded her in the US Constitution, but I seriously doubt that the political targeting of American citizens’ First Amendment rights to redress government would be “laughed out of court.” As to the hypocrisy of Ms. Lerner seeking protection from the US Constitution, even as she disregarded the protections the US Constitution affords her fellow Americans, that she should be rewarded with a pension and/or benefits stemming from her 32 years of federal employment – including service with the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission, two positions that prove she knew better than to do what she is accused of doing – is a scandal in and of itself.

There are those who are willing to allow Ms. Lerner to “get away” with her politically-based ideological attacks on her fellow Americans by granting her immunity to testify, perhaps in an effort to spotlight others who may have been involved in the crimes committed. Many suggest that she is shielding US Attorney’s General Eric Holder, who himself has been held in Contempt of Congress for his unyielding obstruction of several investigations led by the House of Representatives: “the people’s house”; the direct voice of the people in federal government. Others suggest that Ms. Lerner’s direction originated in the White House, possibly by super-secret special adviser, confidant and political handler Valerie Jarrett. Of these two accusations we cannot be sure, purely for the fact that Ms. Lerner and her complicit underlings refuse to answer questions about their actions, their direction and their motives.

Those in favor of granting Ms. Lerner immunity, with the caveat that she gets to keep her pension and benefits if she provides information, say just such a move will facilitate the information necessary to determine where the order to violate the citizenry’s constitutional rights, in deference to political advantage, originated. But there is a huge flaw in that thinking…and perhaps two.

Should Ms. Lerner be granted immunity to provide information related to this crime against the American people, there would be no guarantee she would tell the truth. She has already proven that she cannot be trusted to do right by the American people on two levels. First, the very fact that she would oversee the usurpation of the citizenry’s First Amendment rights proves, in enough measure, that she is willing to deceive to achieve; she is willing to break the law to achieve a political outcome. And second, she has proven, through her refusal to cooperate with a congressional investigation, but, in defiance, cooperate with a rigged investigation by the US Department of Justice (and please, the Holder DoJ has proven time and time again that they are politically and ideologically motivated), that she will seek the safe haven of the corrupt over admitting to wrong-doing and serving the best interests of the people of the United States.

Additionally, should congressional negotiators be naïve enough to offer immunity to Ms. Lerner, should she perjure herself in the immunized testimony, she will most likely claim immunity to prosecution if found out. This very point almost entices the corrupt and the politically and ideologically motivated to “re-write” the history of the events in question, if not to save their sorry hides, to affect the very political and ideological “change” that was the goal in the first place. And, if you even have a cursory understanding of the Progressive Movement, you know they are prone to re-writing the facts and history to facilitate their narratives.

(As an aside, a good example of Progressives re-writing history to suit their immediate needs comes in President Obama’s lionization of LBJ as a great and insightful leader; the one who burned political to achieve Civil Rights legislation. The truth of the matter is that President Eisenhower, a Republican, first floated Civil Rights legislation only to have it derailed by three Democrat Senators; Sens. Strom Thurmond, D-SC, John F. Kennedy, D-MA, and Lyndon B. Johnson, D-TX. Further, the only reason LBJ was able to steal credit for Civil Rights legislation was due to overwhelming Republican support. Democrats stood in opposition to the bill. Yet today, Mr. Obama re-writes history to extol the greatness of LBJ, the man who ensconced us in Vietnam.)

The intentional and systematic usurpation of our citizenry’s constitutional rights is, to put it mildly, unacceptable. Ms. Lerner – and all involved – should be made to pay an incredibly high price for their misdeeds. But depending on the Eric Holder-led US Justice Department to affect justice in this case is just as much a fantasy as Obamacare being a beneficial legislation for the total of the American people.

Perhaps – just perhaps – Mr. Issa and his crew can do some outside the box thinking on this matter; crafting an effective course of action to affect truth and justice in this case. Perhaps they can figure out a way to empower this investigation to extend beyond the 2016 General Elections, when an Attorney’s General might be seated who would actually care enough about the law to pursue a legitimate investigation into, and subsequent legitimate prosecutions of, the violation of the citizenry’s constitutional rights.

Of course, that would mean that Republicans – and many establishment Republicans at that, would have to dispense with ego to better serve the people…and we don’t see a lot of that these days, from either party.

Roberts Rules Again…Poorly

Now comes news that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has doubled down on his middle finger to the American citizenry by turning away – without comment, which the SCOTUS gets to do – an emergency stay request, filed by the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons and the Alliance for Natural Health USA, to block the implementation of Obamacare.

In an almost ignored story, FOX News reports:

“Chief Justice John Roberts turned away without comment Monday an emergency stay request from the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, Inc. and the Alliance for Natural Health USA.

“They asked the chief justice Friday to temporarily block the law, saying Congress had passed it incorrectly by starting it in the Senate instead of the House. Revenue-raising bills are supposed to originate in the lower chamber. They also wanted blocked doctor registration requirements they say will make it harder for independent non-Medicare physicians to treat Medicare-eligible patients.

“Still pending is a decision on a temporary block on the law’s contraceptive coverage requirements, which was challenged by a group of nuns.”

With an overwhelming number of Americans standing against the implementation of this law, an ever increasing realization of consequences that make the law he most expensive entitlement program ever launched, and the Obama Administration’s unconstitutional manipulation of the law’s provision via executive caveat, Chief Justice Roberts had a golden opportunity to rectify his atrocious ruling that allowed for this law to become binding to the American people. Again, Mr. Roberts has cheated the American people from the benefits of constitutional justice.

Article I, Section 7 of the US Constitution states clearly:

“All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills…”

That The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) originated out of the US House of Representatives as the Service Members Home Ownership Act (HR3590), which has absolutely nothing – nothing – to do with health insurance mandates or so-called reforms. Per the Obama Administration’s own Justice Department rebuttal to a suit brought on the same subject by the Pacific Legal Foundation:

“…attorneys for the Justice Department argue that the bill originated as House Resolution 3590, which was then called the Service Members Home Ownership Act. After passing the House, the bill was stripped in a process known as ‘gut and amend’ and replaced entirely with the contents of what became the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“Using HR3590 as a ‘shell bill’ may be inelegant, but it’s not unconstitutional, according to the government motion.”

So, the Obama Administration admits that the bill was foisted on the American people disingenuously and nefariously, Justice Roberts ruled it a tax, and yet Roberts refuses to allow the Supreme Court to hear a case that examines and rules on the constitutionality of exactly the unconstitutional aspects everyone says exist.

The big question is this. Why is Chief Justice John Roberts running interference for the Obama Progressives?

Article III, Section 1 of the US Constitution states:

“The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.”

One has to ask, with the caveat that Supreme Court Justices “shall hold their offices during good behaviour” we should all be asking – and asking our elected officials: What shall be done about Chief Justice Roberts; “bad behaviour”?

American Capitalism & The Illusion of Laissez Faire

To draw from an opening phrase, in the beginning, there was capitalism. More accurately, at the beginning of our Constitutional Republic, government was committed to limiting – drastically – it’s footprint in the new American marketplace. Americans were free from the tyranny of government interference leveled at the former colonists at the hand of King George III. Our Founders and Framers sought to secure the right of the individual not only to property, but to commerce in a form lightly touched by government. My, how far we have fallen from the Framer’s original intent.

The original intent of the Framers where commerce was concerned – and especially under the Articles of Confederation – was to leave the new American people to reap the benefits of their crafts and labors. The Framers embraced a laissez faire system of capitalism. Laissez faire capitalism is defined as:

“…a doctrine opposing governmental interference in economic affairs beyond the minimum necessary for the maintenance of peace and property rights.”

A system of government’s only responsibility in a laissez faire capitalist system, where commerce was concerned and if adhering to the original intent of the Framers, was:

“…to protect the rights of the individual, by banning the initiation of force, thus making all relations between men peaceful, i.e., free from the threat of violence and fraud…

“…a system of checks and balances so ordered to protect the rights of the individual, from criminals and most importantly from the democratically elected voices who claim to speak for the ‘public good.’”

Today’s American “free market system” is actually anything but a laissez faire capitalist system; a free system.

Starting a small business today requires that the aspiring entrepreneur incur significant start-up costs including fees, costly regulatory acquiescence, licensure requirements, taxes, tariffs, diversity quota hiring and other associated costs, taxes, actions and/or fees. Add to that the impossible task of acquiring necessary to-market development capital from a financial institution – many of which were afforded lifesaving financial infusions of taxpayer dollars, courtesy of crony capitalists in Washington, DC – and you have a formula for a stagnant economy and high unemployment for the “producers,” and the selective enrichment of the connected, the elite and the “chosen few.”

This was not the case so long ago. And as little as 30 years ago, starting a small business meant reaping the rewards of ingenuity and hard work. Someone with a dream; someone with a “good idea,” was able to acquire capital to launch small business initiatives based on that tangible idea; based on a well-crafted business plan and model. Sadly, today, no one “invests in ideas” anymore. Financial institutions and capable venture capitalists balk at the “good idea”; recoil from the uncertainty of start-up entrepreneurship because of the non-guarantee of return on investment, even as many of them have been deemed “too big to fail” when they make bad business decisions of their own, only to receive government-funded (read: taxpayer-funded) bailouts. This all happening while the “good idea” start-up concepts wither on the vine for lack of start-up capital.

Additionally, many a creative entrepreneur is neutered – or hamstrung – by the fact that the “powers that be” have declared they did not jump through the traditional “educational hoops”; did not attain the necessary piece of paper and the required student loan debt to be considered “competent” or “intelligent” enough to conceive of the “next big thing.” Of course, this certainly must come as a surprise to Bill Gates, or to the late Steve Jobs, two pioneers of the computer age who dropped out of college. So, too, must is be shocking news to the many “gangsta” rap moguls who possess a depth of language proficiency usually reserved for those with a single or low double-digit intelligence quotient, and most of whom know the assembly of automatic weaponry better than algebraic theory.

And while the successful navigation of the “educational hoops” does not guarantee entrée into the realm of the financially anointed, sometimes the connections and friendships acquired at many upper-echelon secondary education establishments can serve to circumvent the ties that bind “producer Americans” to the grind of the average. Yes, I am talking about elitist crony capitalism.

Case in point: Toni Townes-Whitley.

According to TheDailyCaller.com:

“Toni Townes-Whitley, Princeton class of ’85, is senior vice president at CGI Federal, which earned the no-bid contract to build the $678 million [failed] Obamacare enrollment website at Healthcare.gov. CGI Federal is the US arm of a Canadian company.

“Townes-Whitley and her Princeton classmate Michelle Obama are both members of the Association of Black Princeton Alumni.”

Coincidentally, George Schindler, the president of CGI Federal’s Canadian parent CGI Group, became an Obama 2012 campaign donor after his company gained the Obamacare website contract. What a coincidence…

What does all of this have to do with laissez faire capitalism? Well, actually, nothing. It has nothing to do with laissez faire capitalism. And that’s the point.

Considering that our economic system has turned into a fiscal bordello of short-cuts for the Progressive chosen few, bailouts for the “too big to fail” financial institutions, and a playground for the crony capitalists, is it any wonder the financial markets have ceased reflecting the health of the American economy? How are investors supposed to know when the next major economic disaster is approaching when risky investments and questionable financial schemes are always rewarded in their failures and losses with government-backed (read: taxpayer-funded) bailouts? For the “chosen ones,” where is the “risk”?

The original intent of the Founders and Framers was to have an “American capitalism”; a system of commerce and investment based on achievement, investment, hard work, production and, yes, failure. The American system of capitalism was designed to leave the evolution of society and the decisions about the “common good” to the people. Today’s “anything but free market system” is a disingenuous scheme establishing pre-determined winners and losers; a manipulation of the laissez faire capitalist purity that promotes equality in outcome over an equality of opportunity: economic and social justice.

In an economic system enslaved by the Progressive ideology, economic and social justice is of a paramount importance, trumping the small business, the innovator, the entrepreneur and the producer; trumping and extinguishing opportunity for all, opportunity guaranteed in the United States Constitution.

An economic system enslaved by the Progressive ideology dictates who will win and who will lose; who will acquire wealth and who will live just above poverty, all according to an oligarchical elites’ idea of what is fair, what is not and who is worthy.

Under a Progressive economic system, opportunity is dead and the American Dream, but for those chosen by the Progressive masters, swings from a rope off a branch of a socially engineered (read: Socialist) tree, long-standing on the Progressive plantation.

“Not houses finely roofed or the stones of walls well builded, nay nor canals and dockyards make the city, but men able to use their opportunity.” – Alcaeus

House GOP Has Nothing to Offer Conservatives

GOP surrenders principlesHere’s the situation: You’re in a high–stakes negotiation with an untrustworthy opponent. The opposition has violated every agreement the two of you have made in the past. Enforcement mechanisms are weak or non–existent.

In other areas of mutual interest your opponent regularly violates the law and dares you to do something about the violation. Your weak and vacillating leadership can’t be counted on in a pinch. And finally, the opposition lies shamelessly to the state media, doing its best to paint you as a fanatic and pathological liar.

So what do you do?

Bomb Iran is a good answer, but it’s not the answer for this question, because I’m talking about negotiating a budget deal with Democrats.

The Republican House leadership decision in this case was to sell out their conservative base in a brazen attempt to insure their own re–election at the expense of the nation’s fiscal future.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R–WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D–Sneakers) have presented us with a plan that shatters the spending ceiling that was the main result of the bruising sequester fight, dilutes the small budget cuts from the sequester and raises taxes (Ryan calls it a “fee” but if the feds get more money and it comes from our pockets it’s the same as a tax).

Ryan even has the gall to say the deal will balance the budget in ten years and sidestep the threat of government shutdowns in January and October 2014.

And those dates are what are really important for craven House negotiators. In fact, the real motivation for the deal is Ryan’s shutdown statement. House Republicans still think they suffered a near–death experience in the recent government shutdown. But instead of seeing Jesus and a bright light, they saw a Mayflower moving van and a bright white resume. For them if it’s a choice between selling out to the Democrats and losing their cushy Congressional job, sellout is just another word for job security.

The risk of a potential shutdown in January and October of an election year was simply too much uncertainty for these stalwarts to bear. So instead of simply passing a continuing resolution as has been done for the past few years and keeping the sequester savings, Ryan decided to remove all uncertainly and cave in this year.

Ryan and Speaker Boehner (R–Risible) think they can get away with this lie to conservatives because the result of increased federal spending and budget busting won’t have the personal impact on voters that Obama’s insurance lie had. You don’t get a letter from the government cancelling your future. You get a Chinaman repossessing the Washington monument.

The rationalization for this total surrender is threefold according to our betters: The agreement restores some defense spending reduced by the sequester, cuts the budget and brings the entire budget into balance in ten years.

Let’s start at the top. Ace negotiator Ryan was able to restore $2 billion in Pentagon spending next year in return for letting Democrats increase wasteful social spending by $ 22 BILLION! That’s a ratio of 11 to one in welfare to warfare spending.

The sequester was bad enough — defense took half the cuts, while social spending took the other half spread over countless pointless programs — but this disaster in multiplication makes that deal look positively prudent.

Second the budget cut. I admire Ryan’s poker face as he announced $26 billion in cuts over ten years. This means the federal government will be cutting $2.6 billion a year out of a budget that’s over $1 trillion! For comparison purposes, the city of Washington, DC spends more than $2.6 billion in four months. In 2012 the IRS issued $11 billion in fraudulent income tax refunds. In the same year the government wasted $95 billion in programs identified by the Government Accounting Office that duplicated other wasteful government programs.

In federal terms, Ryan’s $2.6 billion is pocket change.

Finally, the budget balances in ten years. This is not because spending will finally be brought in line with revenue, which is how individuals balance budgets. No, Ryan is hoping that federal tax revenues will grow enough through a recovering economy to finally match the spending right now. In the other nine years the deficit continues to pile up.

This is like a drunk driver careening the wrong way down the interstate hoping his blood will absorb enough of the booze for him to regain control before the car hits the bridge abutment.

David Stockman, Reagan’s budget director who saw firsthand how Republicans agreed to increase taxes for Democrat spending cuts that never came, says, “First, let’s be clear—it’s a joke and betrayal. It’s the final surrender of the House Republican leadership to Beltway politics and kicking the can and ignoring the budget monster that’s hurtling down the road.”

Earlier this week reporter Paul Kane of The Washington Post seemed confused that TEA party members were mounting challenges to incumbent Republican senators. The answer is simple; conservatives have no reason to support big government incumbentcrats, regardless of whether they are Senators or Congressmen. Keeping the likes of Boehner or Ryan or Orrin Hatch in office is not the be all and end all of our existence. If nothing else even an unsuccessful primary can be a wakeup call for these whited sepulchers.

Why fight for them if they won’t fight for us? Why waste the gas necessary to drive to the polls to vote for these weaklings?

The only difference between these Republicans and Nancy Pelosi is we go broke slower and there’s a slim chance we won’t have to attend a same–sex marriage ceremony to qualify for Social Security benefits.

Retreating to a compound in Idaho is looking better and better. And since Janet Reno is no longer attorney general, we might even survive until the Chinese foreclose.

How Obamacare Screws the Working Class…Hard

Now that it is becoming clear that the establishment House Republicans are about to capitulate to the Senate Democrats and Obama Progressives, it is clear that, short of Republicans taking the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016, Obamacare is set to sink into the flesh of the American entitlement system not unlike a bear’s claws sink into the flesh of its prey. Regardless of whether or not the federal healthcare exchange website functions adequately or not (get used to it, it’s government inferiority at work), the bureaucracy has just expanded and your wallets are about to do the opposite.

One of the things that people are going to have to come to understand is how the Internal Revenue Service – yes, the same Internal Revenue Service currently under investigation for targeting Conservative political groups – will be assessing the penalties (read: enforcing Obamacare) on those who choose not to “participate.” The fact of the matter is that it is both less ominous, yet more disturbing, than people think.

The penalties levied under the Affordable Care Act, under the usually heavy hand of the IRS, is not so much under the ACA. In fact, the pathway for extracting the Obamacare penalty from non-participants is exclusive to the garnishment of any federal tax refunds due. If one chooses not to acquire qualifying health insurance, the IRS will withhold the amount of the penalty that must be paid from any federal tax return refund that is owed an individual in violation of the statute.

According to BusinessInsider.com:

The IRS will not have the power to charge you criminally or seize your assets if you refuse to pay. The IRS will only have the ability to sue you. And the most the IRS can collect from you if it wins the suit is 2 times the amount you owe. So if you want to thumb your nose at the penalty-tax, the IRS won’t be able to do as much to you as they could if you refused to pay, say, income tax.

So, unlike when an individual fails to pay their federal income taxes, there won’t be a cadre of black uniformed federal agents armed with fully-automatic weapons kicking in your door in the middle of the night. You won’t be “frog-marched” out of your house in irons, past your disenchanted neighbors, to face the swift righteousness of redistributive social justice (I am being sarcastic, but less so than I would have been just a few years back).

But one question that eludes the thoughts of most people where this matter is concerned is this. What happens if you don’t “participate” in Obamacare but you aren’t due any federal tax refund? What if you are one of the 47 percent who does not pay federal income tax? What if you are über-wealthy and can afford a wizard tax attorney who can figure out how you can “zero out” on your federal taxes each year?

Well, the short answer is this. If you don’t pay federal income tax, technically, you don’t have to pay the fines under the Affordable Care Act. If you are one of the hard-working Americans who has federal taxes withheld from your paycheck – oh, you know, like Middle-Class, blue-collar and union workers not covered by the Executive Branch union carve-outs of the law – you will have to pay the penalty out of your tax refunds. If you are one of the 47 percent of the American public who doesn’t pay federal income taxes, you get to “skate” the Obamacare penalty. Ditto for the “One Percenters.”

One has to wonder whether H&R Block is going to be flooded with new clients trying to figure out how to pay their federal income taxes to the penny throughout the year so that they “zero out.”

And let’s be honesty, the IRS is not going to come after every person who “skates” the $95 dollar (or 1 percent of earnings) penalty being assessed in 2014, even if they did seek to hire upwards of 16,000 new IRS agents since the passage of this freedom-crushing law.

So, when one comes to understand this very stark reality, the obvious question is this. If the indestructible demographic (the 21 to 32 year-old demo) doesn’t sign-up for the Obamacare exchanges in droves – and droves upwards of 80% of their demographic, and 47 percent of the country doesn’t pay federal income taxes, who actually pays for the expanded coverage mandated under the Affordable Care Act? Who is on the hook for Obamacare?

The answer – again – is the Middle-Class, blue-collar and union workers not covered by the Executive Branch union carve-outs of the law…and new taxes on everyone. Again, BusinessInsider.com reports:

Here are some of the new taxes you’re going to have to pay to pay for Obamacare:

A 3.8% surtax on “investment income”( dividends, interest, rent, capital gains, annuities, house sales, partnerships, etc.) when your adjusted gross income is more than $200,000, $250,000 for joint-filers. What is “investment income?” (WSJ)

A 0.9% surtax on Medicare taxes for those making $200,000 or more, $250,000 joint. (WSJ)

Flexible Spending Account contributions will be capped at $2,500. Currently, there is no tax-related limit on how much you can set aside pre-tax to pay for medical expenses. (ATR.org)

The itemized-deduction hurdle for medical expenses is going up to 10% of adjusted gross income. (ATR.org)

The penalty on non-medical withdrawals from Healthcare Savings Accounts is now 20% instead of 10%. (ATR.org)

A tax of 10% on indoor tanning services. This has been in place for two years, since the summer of 2010. (ATR.org)

A 40% tax on “Cadillac Health Care Plans” starting in 2018.Those whose employers pay for all or most of comprehensive healthcare plans (costing $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for families) will have to pay a 40% tax on the amount their employer pays. (ATR.org)

A”Medicine Cabinet Tax” that eliminates the ability to pay for over-the-counter medicines from a pre-tax Flexible Spending Account. (ATR.org)

A “penalty” tax for those who don’t buy health insurance.

A 2.3% excise tax on medical devices costing more than $100. (Breitbart.com)

So those are some of the new taxes you’ll be paying that will help pay for Obamacare…

Note that these taxes are both “progressive” (aimed at rich people) and “regressive” (aimed at the middle class and poor people).

The cost of this program will not be affordable for the individuals – almost every story but for those who get taxpayer-funded subsidies is one of tripled premiums and deductibles, and it won’t be affordable for the country, especially when the bureaucrats and elitist political class put the price tag of the whole Obamacare ball of infected earwax at approximately $2 trillion dollars.

Now, President Obama is quoted as having said, in an interview with the Spanish-Speaking television network Univision, that:

Once [the budget impasse is rectified], you know, the day after – I’m going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform…And if I have to join with other advocates and continue to speak out on that, and keep pushing, I’m going to do so because I think it’s really important for the country. And now is the time to do it.

And as the “indestructible” demographic (21-32 years of age) fails to sign-up for the Obamacare exchanges, pro-amnesty Progressives will begin insisting that illegal immigrants (I’m sorry, I mean undocumented uninvited guests) be added to those eligible for Obamacare. Understanding that the 47 percent of those who do not pay federal income tax cannot be fined, and that the One Percenters can affords to have their taxes “zero out,” how long will it be until Progressives scream “crisis” and demand massive, Middle-Class killing. economy destroying, Cloward-Piven-styled tax increases?

Who is John Galt?

Skin In The Game



skin
Dear Leader Barack Hussein Obama, in January 2009, told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week, “Everybody’s going to have to have some skin in the game.”

What does that phrase mean? Well, my first stop was Investopedia.com , which says “… the best vote of confidence is putting one’s own money on the line just like outside investors!” I then went to UsingEnglish.com, which says “A person who has skin in the game has invested in the company they are running.” I then went to wikipedia.org, which says “To have ‘skin in the game’ is to have incurred monetary risk by being invested in achieving a goal.” And I consulted William Safire’s The New York Times 2006 article, which quotes Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) as saying “This bill will move us closer to a true consumer-oriented health-care system. H.S.A.’s (Health Savings Account) give consumers some ‘skin in the game‘ by putting them in charge of health-care dollars.”

So, combining those definitions with what Obama told Stephanopoulos, EVERYBODY, all US citizens, are going to have to sacrifice financially in order to accomplish an economic recovery. Obama preceded his “skin” remark with “Everybody’s going to have to give.”

There are only three little problems with what Obama said. First, all US citizens don’t “have skin in the game” because only 53 percent pay federal income taxes. Second, benefits paid by the federal government have actually increased under Obama. Third, to finance the benefits increase, the deficit has exploded.

According to Dr. Walter E. Williams, “Roughly 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax.” That means that about 47 percent of US citizens don’t “have some skin in the game.” Mitt Romney said, in September 2012, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.” I’m sure some commenter will explain how those people have (from the Obama perspective) skin in the game.

In order to overcome the “skin in the game” faux paux, Obama introduced the concept of “fairness,” that the rich should pay their fair share. But (and there’s always a “but” when Obama is involved) the “rich” pay much more than their fair share when it comes to income tax. Those “non-rich” (let’s say the bottom 50 percent of tax payers) paid, in 2009 (the most recent year for which data is available) 2.25 percent of all income taxes paid. As this chart shows, half of those who do pay income tax have very little skin in the game.

Income Percent Taxes Paid
Top 1% 36.73%
Top 5% 58.66%
Top 10% 70.47%
Top 25% 87.30%
Top 50% 97.75%
Bottom 50% 2.25%

Source: National Taxpayers Union

Remember, the above chart applies ONLY to income tax payers, those that “have some skin in the game.” The chart does not include the 47 percent with no “skin in the game” but still vote.

As Phil Izzo says in his Wall Street Journal article, “The increase [in benefits spending] in recent years is likely due in large part to the lingering effects of the recession. But even without the effects of the recession, there would be a larger reliance on government.” So, let’s examine benefits spending for “The Big Three”: Welfare, Social Security, and Medicare, and increases in benefits spending:

  Welfare Social Security Medicare
2009 $530 billion $650 billion $410 billion
2013 $580billion $800 billion $500 billion
Spending Increase 9.4% 23.08% 21.96%

Source: usGovernmentSpending.com

It’s interesting to note that welfare spending in 2010 was $690 billion, a 30.2 percent increase over 2009. By the way, the inflation rate for 2009-2013 is 1.7 percent. As the above table illustrates, government spending on benefits has increased. Some will say that the spending increases were due to increased recipients. That may be true, but WHY the number of recipients increased is a subject for a subsequent article. Plus, the above table is in terms of percentages, not numbers of recipients. Don’ compare apples to oranges.

Now let’s turn our attention to the deficit. Obama said on February 23, 2009, “I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office.” So, with that post-inauguration promise, let’s see what has actually happened:

Year Deficit Amount
2009 $1.413 trillion*
2010 $1.294 trillion
2011 $1.3 trillion
2012 $1.087 trillion
2013 $0.973 trillion*

Source: usGovernmentSpending.com

* – 2009 and 2013 deficits provided as reference

Half of $1.413 trillion is $0.7065 trillion, so if we say the 2012 deficit was amassed during the last year of his first term, Obama did not even come close. And he missed his target again in 2013. Some will say that deficit reduction progress is being made. But at what cost? The amount of deficit reduction will be of little consequence if we cannot defend ourselves. And, as Evan Soltas says, the Congressional Budget Office’s deficit forecasts are, at best, suspect.

Regarding the deficit, so what? Well, there is a major consideration here: the economy. As John Mauldin said in 2012, the five biggest problems facing the US economy are the deficit. The US will lose, if it doesn’t get its deficit under control, access to the global bond market at reasonable rates. An 2010, Communist China of (all countries!) lectured Obama about debt:

“Sovereign debt troubles in Europe underscore how important it is for the United States to control its own borrowing as its indebtedness reaches concerning levels, a senior Chinese official said on Thursday.”

And, we have already seen that access degradation happen, unprecedentally, in August 2011, when Standard & Poors downgraded the US credit rating to AA+ from AAA.

Debt can be viewed as accumulated deficits. Deficits themselves are not a problem most of the time. It is the total debt rather than the deficit that is the real problem. Deficits become a problem, however, when servicing the accompanying debt becomes a problem. As Dr. J.D. Foster said about debt (and therefore about deficits):

“Federal government debt has nearly doubled since President Barack Obama took office.”
“Recent and projected growth in U.S. government debt poses a serious hazard to the nation. At a minimum, high levels of government debt mean substantial government resources must go toward servicing debt – to pay interest. Further, theory indicates and a growing body of research suggests a consistent relationship between high levels of government debt relative to the size of the economy and abnormally high interest rates consistent with lower levels of domestic investment.”
“Current and projected increases in government debt, cutting into future economic growth rates, also mean slower future growth of government revenues.”
“Slower economic growth, higher interest expense, fewer resources for other priorities – these are the legacies of President Obama’s debt-based fiscal policies and of his and Congress’s refusal to deal with long-standing fiscal and programmatic flaws in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.”

“The U.S. economy is recovering from the Great Global Recession, but President Obama’s massive deficits, soaring debt, and tepid support for reforms to render America’s entitlement programs affordable pose a grave economic threat.”

Regarding the deficit as a percentage of GDP, I’ll be the first to say that George Walker Bush was no bargain. But, even including 2009, Bush’s average deficit from 2001 through 2009 was 2.88 percent of the US GDP. Obama’s deficit average has been 7.62 percent of GDP for 2010-2013. So, it turns out that Obama is an even worse bargain. Even using Obama’s (wildly optimistic) forecasts for 2014-2018, the average is 3.01 percent of GDP, still above Bush!

Have the above tables illustrated Obama’s 2009 “skin in the game” and “Everybody’s going to have to give” statements to be, at best, fraudulent? Die-hard Obama supporters will not admit it, saying that the economy is just fine and that unemployment continues to drop (artificially), but that’s not what’s being addressed here.

Sour grapes? Yes! That’s because those who have no “skin in the game” are taking those of us who DO have “skin in the game” down as well.

Sure, everyone pays taxes: sales tax, car tag tax, property tax (if they’re not renters), phone tax, and on and on and on. But the last time I looked, Obama was president of the United States. So, can his “skin in the game” remark be construed as talking about federal taxes, more specifically income tax? Perhaps it’s time that we took Obama literally, that it’s time for a 28th amendment to our US Constitution, one that specifically states that in order to vote one must be a tax payer, a contributor, must have “skin in the game.” But that will never happen because Democrats would lose their voter base. And one takes Obama literally at one’s hazard, as his recent Syria remarks illustrate.

But that’s just my opinion

The Flat Tax fantasy

fairtax

fairtax

In the wake of the recent IRS scandal, some well-intentioned but badly misguided people have begun touting the flat income tax (called the flat tax for shorthand) as a replacement for the current tax code. They claim it would be an antidote to the IRS’s abuses and curb that agency’s powers while also supercharging America’s economy.

But they are dead wrong. The flat tax is no solution at all. It would not solve any of the problems with the current tax code and the IRS, and it could be replaced with a progressive income tax by the next Congress anyway.

Here’s why the flat tax would utterly fail to solve the problem, and why the FairTax – a flat 23% consumption tax designed to replace all federal internal taxes (income, payroll, excise, gift, death, etc.) is the solution:

  • The flat tax would still be an income tax, and as such, would still punish hard work, wealth creation, productivity, and savings, taking away from people what they have earned. Making an income tax flat does not change the fact that it is still a punitive tax on INCOME. By contrast, the FairTax, as a consumption tax, would be levied only on retail sales, not on income, inheritance, or the sales of raw materials or unfinished products.
  • With the flat [income] tax, you would still have to file tax returns every year by April 15th, and be liable for any mistakes you make therein. With the FairTax, there would be no such problems.
  • Administering the flat [income] tax would still require having a large IRS with dozens of thousands of staff to receive and review tax returns, audit people and organizations, and punish cheaters, and the IRS would, of course, retail ALL of the awesome powers it currently has, all of its staff, and all of its budget – and would still retain all your financial records. By contrast, with the FairTax, the IRS would be abolished PERMANENTLY, and under the FairTax bill (H.R. 25), all IRS records would have to be destroyed within 2 years of the FairTax being enacted – the sole exception being records related to Social Security, but these would be turned over to the Social Security Administration, not retained by the Treasury.
  • Unlike the flat [income] tax, the FairTax would be administered by the states, who would then send the revenue (minus their costs of administering the FairTax) to the federal government. Thus, it would dramatically shift the balance of power in the US in favor of the states and against the federal government. There would only be a federal Sales Tax Bureau with 51 personnel to audit the states in rare cases of state malfeasance.
  • The flat [income] tax would keep the current tax code, although it would be somewhat slimmed down from today’s 70,000 pages. The FairTax would abolish the federal tax code completely and replace it with the simple 123-page FairTax Act.
  • The FairTax would provide sufficient revenue for Social Security, though not for the entire federal Leviathan that exists in Washington today.
  • The FairTax would be completely transparent – you would know how much you pay in taxes everytime you make a retail purchase. By contrast, even under the flat tax, you would not know how much you really pay in taxes.
  • The flat [income] tax would keep the 16th Amendment. The FairTax Act would jumpstart the process of REPEALING the 16th Amendment forever, and would sunset (i.e. expire) automatically 7 years after its enactment if the 16th Amendment is not repealed within that time. But once Congress passed a resolution repealing the 16th Amendment, the states would be eager to ratify such resolution, as it would shift the balance of power in their favor.
  • The flat [income] tax would keep tax exemptions and thus allow the IRS to decide who deserves them and who doesn’t. Conservative groups applying for such exemptions would still face IRS audits.
  • And last but not least, the flat [income] tax would not remain flat for long. The next Congress could repeal it and replace it with a progressive one. The evidence? The current monstrosity of a tax code started in 1913 as a flat income tax at a 4% rate. But just 4 years later, in 1917, it was a heavily progressive income tax, with a maximum 77% rate. Although the maximum rate was later cut under the Coolidge Administration to 24%, it was still a progressive income tax – and 24% was still a rate that not even the most fervent advocate of the income tax had hoped for in 1913. Similarly, when President Reagan and the Congress enacted the 1986 tax reform bill, creating only two low rates, it took the Congress and Reagan’s successor, George “Read My Lips” H. W. Bush, only 4 years to add two new, higher rates, and thousands of pages, gimmicks, exemptions, and loopholes, thus essentially undoing President Reagan’s tax reform in just 4 years.

The flat [income] tax is not a solution. It would not solve ANY of the problems with the current tax code, the IRS, the 16th Amendment, the income tax itself, or the US political system. Only the FairTax would do that – by doing away with the income tax, the IRS, and the 16th Amendment PERMANENTLY.

It is no coincidence that the FairTax bill now has over 70 sponsors and cosponsors in both houses of Congress (including such conservative stars as Sen. Ted Cruz and Congressman Tom Price), while the flat tax bill has only one sponsor in the Senate and no companion bill in the House.

The flat tax is not a solution to anything and should not even be considered.

fairtax

 

As We Approach 237

As we approach Independence Day 2013, this might be a good time to take stock on the American experience: where we are, where we came from, what we are supposed to be and what we have become, collectively, as a country. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the United States of America has become something other than what our Founders and Framers would have envisioned. In fact, it could be argued that the “old white guys in wigs” would not only be shocked for what we have become, but for our apathy in allowing our country to become what it is.

Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying:

“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.”

Today, the United States federal government is so large and so intrusive that it not only employs 4.4 million people, but holds a national debt of over $16.8 trillion dollars. This does not address a $124.6 trillion unfunded liabilities mandate. These numbers appear shocking because they are shocking. And when one takes into consideration that each year the US federal government operates “in the red,” even though they glean $2.902 trillion in revenue from various sources (individual income tax being the primary source at $1.359 trillion), one can only conclude that the federal government has taken on the role of the arrogant spendthrift, and one that disavows Benjamin Franklin’s sentiment, “When you run in debt; you give to another power over your liberty.”

But perhaps the whole of our modern American experience can be summed up in the end state of this quote by Thomas Jefferson:

“A departure from principle becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering…And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.”

Taxation
In the formative days of our Great American Experiment, the Founders and Framers set up a federal government limited in its authority and scope. In fact, in the early days of our Republic the federal government operated almost completely on revenues gleaned from tariffs and trade. It wasn’t until the 19th Century that the “income tax” would come to be and even then, until the passage of the 19th Amendment, the constitutionality of the income tax was held in question.

Today, thanks to an inequitable tax system – the Progressive tax system – we have a populace that is purposefully divided into factions: one that pays federal taxes, another that avoids paying federal taxes, and yet another that believes the taxes collected are due them. In a land where everyone is supposed to be equal in the eyes of the law (read: government), we have allowed those who we elect to office to literally create a class system, through which they manipulate the citizenry for political gain and the retention of power.

Religion
To say that the United States of America was founded on deep-rooted desire for the individual to be free to practice the religion of his or her choosing is to understate the importance of the issue. Truth be told, the issue of religious freedom delivered pilgrims to American shores centuries before. The Founders and Framers, being deeply reverent men – much to the opposite of claims by the secularists of today – understood all too well the importance of not only freedom of religion (the natural law right to worship in the dogma of choice) but the idea of recognizing something larger than self where government was concerned. As our founding documents – the Charters of Freedom – are predicated on the understanding and acknowledgment of Natural Law (the acknowledgement of a Higher Power), it is only the intellectually dishonest who argue religion did not (and does not) play a significant role in the government of our Republic.

To wit, The Declaration of Independence states:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” (emphasis added)

Yet, today, military chaplains are forbidden from even displaying a Bible on their government issued desks for the ignorance of history served up at the hands of Progressive and secular activists.

Today, because of an activist Judicial Branch (and at the urging of Progressive and secular activists), the innocent notion of a separation of Church and State, which in its original intent was meant to reassure one denomination that another would not be placed above it in an establishment of a “national religion,” i.e. the Church of England, has been grotesquely distorted to require the ever-increasing banishment of all religious symbols from the public square. And at the same time, the federal government – in the form of ever-expanding entitlements – seeks to replace the Creator as the Alpha and the Omega for the American citizenry.

Law
At our country’s inception, the Judiciary – the Judicial Branch and all federal courts in its charge – was to administer federal law in the context of constitutionality. Was it constitutional or what is not? Or was the question reserved for the States and the judiciaries of those States, per the 10th Amendment?

Today, our entire legal system – federal as well as the lessers – is held hostage to a system of precedent law; Stare decisis et non quieta movere, a Latin term meaning “to stand by decisions and not disturb the undisturbed.” This is understood to mean that courts should abide by decided precedent and not disturb settled matters, regardless of whether the decision was born of activism. If the judiciary produced judgments and opinions that had fidelity to the Constitution – as the Constitution mandates, then the notion of stare decisis would be a good thing. But those who serve in the Judiciary are equally subject to human intellectual infirmities as are those who serve in the Executive and Legislative Branches. Truth is, one decision based on ideologically; one activist decision, forever moves law away from the Constitution.

As Steven G. Calabresi, a professor of law at Northwestern University School of Law and a visiting professor at Brown University, opined in a paper titled, Text vs. Precedent in Constitutional Law, published the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy:

“The argument…is that the doctrinalists are wrong in arguing for a strong theory of stare decisis for three reasons. First, there is nothing in the text, history, or original meaning of the Constitution that supports the doctrinalists’ strong theory of stare decisis. Second, the actual practice of the US Supreme Court is to not follow precedent, especially in important cases. In other words, precedent itself counsels against following precedent. And, third, a strong theory of stare decisis is a bad idea for policy reasons…

“Both textualism and originalism supply arguments as to why following precedent is wrong. As for the text, it is striking that there is not a word in the Constitution that says in any way that precedent trumps the text.”

Yet, decisions on issues from voting rights to life-ending procedures, social issues to mandatory health insurance are continuously based on precedent law, or stare decisis. And with each decision that bows to stare decisis, we move further away from fidelity to the Constitution.

Self-Reliance
At the founding of our nation, our citizenry was comprised on those who wanted the freedom to build, to create, to glean the benefits of their labors based on the effort with which they sought success. Pride was not the product of artificially installed self-esteem, but a humble condition of dignity, arrived at through determination, education – sometimes, or most times autodidactic – and perseverance. The United States was a nation of strong individuals, determined to embrace the freedom – the liberty, that the New World afforded them; a nation of people with a commonality based on self-reliance and a brotherhood born of the love of liberty and justice for all, not just the oligarchic few.

Today, our country has devolved into a socialistic nanny-state, complete with an entitlement faction that will very soon not only outnumber Ayn Rand’s “producers” but a faction that celebrates its gluttony; its piggish appetite for entitlement, even as they scheme to avoid the responsibility of maintaining the Republic; even as they demand more from a government whose seemingly sole purpose is to concoct new ways to extract wealth from those who produce. Today, 47% of the nation’s people do not pay federal income taxes. Today, 23 million households are dependent on food stamps. Today, nearly 49 percent of the citizenry lives in a household where at least one member receives a direct benefit from the federal government.

That those duly elected to office exploit this societal malady for purposes of maintaining power is tantamount to a betrayal of the very principles held by those who gifted us the exquisite beauty of liberty. I wonder, if the Founders and Framers could confront the elitist oligarchs of today’s American ruling class, would they be strong enough to do so with temperance?

On this, the 237th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence, we would be wise to self-examine our national condition. Do we really want to be a nanny-state? Do we really want to admire a legal system that moves further away for the very basis for our freedom with each decision? Do we really want to support a government that increasingly steals from the producers to give to the dependent class of their own creation, and for purely ideological and politically motivated purposes? Do we want to be a nation that stands arrogantly in its belief that We the People – or They the Government – are the highest power to which we must answer, therefore abandoning our God-given right to acknowledge Natural Law?

In 1964, future president Ronald Reagan gave a speech titled, A Time for Choosing, in which he said:

“We are faced with the most evil enemy mankind has known in his long climb from the swamp to the stars. There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there is no fiscal and economic stability within the United States. Those who ask us to trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state are architects of a policy of accommodation.

“They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right….

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”

Today, my fellow Americans is Independence Day. Please, think about it.

What If They Held a Primary and Nobody Came?

VA Democrat Ticket: Two charisma–challenged white guys & a carpetbagger.

VA Democrat Ticket: Two charisma–challenged white guys & a carpetbagger.

The Washington Post finally got its primary and in typical leftist fashion, they approved of the candidate selection method that was both inefficient and cost taxpayers the most. Earlier this year the Posties criticized Republicans for using the convention method to choose their nominees — even though Lincoln was chosen by a convention and the Constitution was written at one.

The Post complained the 8,000 delegates that attended the Richmond convention were less than one percent of registered Republicans in the Commonwealth. And in fact, the editorial page was in such a snit over the Republican’s choice of a convention the page “did not make endorsements.” (Which explains all the black armbands on the convention floor being worn by former Bolling supporters.)

But an expensive Democrat primary where less than 3 percent of the voters bothered to make it to the polls is considered a triumph of participatory democracy on the Post editorial page. So now Virginia voters face the daunting prospect of a campaign spent listening to a lily–white ticket, composed of three middle–aged males that are obsessed with women’s reproductive organs.

And that’s just the Democrats!

Republicans in their “closed convention” somehow managed to choose the only minority on either statewide ticket, while a majority of Democrat primary voters refused to select either the Indian running for lieutenant governor (the sub–continent kind, not the Lone Ranger kind) or the black running for attorney general.

And talk about your social issue fanatics! Ralph Northam, the Democrat pick for lieutenant governor, ran a commercial before the primary where all he talks about is abortion. Northam declares, “There is no reason that a group of legislators, mostly men, should be telling women what they should and shouldn’t be doing with their bodies.”

Well that’s pretty definitive. But I have to ask: Does Northam’s declaration cover prostitution? Underage sex? Incest? Female–teacher–on–underage–male sex abuse? Flashing? Where, exactly does Northam draw the line?

Northam supporters keep mentioning that “he is the only physician in the VA Senate” as if that gives him special standing. But Northam is one of those doctors who have a loose interpretation of the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm. In Northam’s office you have to be large enough to hand over the co–pay before you are accorded the rights of a human being.

While Republicans Ken Cuccinelli and E. W. Jackson are talking about creating jobs and growing the economy, Northam advocates de–regulating abortion clinics and fighting passage of a bill that would grant “personhood” status to an unborn baby.

Northam’s ‘an abortion in every pot’ platform is particularly relevant when one remembers that the Posties have declared war on Jackson — who happens to be of the black persuasion — for his accurate, completely true remark that Planned Parenthood has been “far more lethal to black lives” than the Ku Klux Klan.

The WaPost responds by analogizing that, “Abortion rates in the United States are higher for African Americans and Hispanics than for other groups. That reflects the fact that those groups tend to have higher rates of unwanted pregnancies. To blame the incidence of abortion on the clinics that provide abortion services is like blaming stores that sell cigarettes for the fact that too many Americans smoke.”

This analogy is only accurate if the government is buying smokes for the underage and poor, while simultaneously discouraging abstinence.

At the victory celebration, Northam came this close to talking about an issue that would attract independents and soft Republicans, before he lapsed into pube–speak, “This state, in order to have business, in order to welcome people, we need to be inclusive. That starts with stopping the attack on women, the assault on the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) community.”

Northam’s obsession with divisive social issues, instead of pocketbook issues, means that if you’re looking for a job in an abortion mill, Northam’s your man, otherwise it’s time to start listening to the Republicans.

Mark my words, during this election the Republican ticket will be talking about jobs, taxes and transportation, while the Democrats travel the state brandishing the bloody coat hanger and accusing the GOP of concentrating on “divisive social issues.” Psychiatrists call it projection.

Meanwhile the WaPost will be doing it’s best to drive E.W. Jackson out of the race. Right now the focus is on financial problems. Jackson was behind on his taxes and has filed for bankruptcy in the past. He is now current on all his tax bills, which puts him ahead of the 1,289 Treasury Department employees who collectively owe $9.3 million in back taxes.

Jackson also regrets his bankruptcy, “It was painful. It was difficult. It was embarrassing. I don’t like the idea of not paying off debts.” Compare Jackson’s situation to that of Democrat nominee for governor, Terry McAuliffe. He convinced the taxpayers of Mississippi to give his GreenTech company $7 million in “growth and prosperity” tax exemptions and another $8 million in grants, loans and land in return for building a factory, creating jobs and manufacturing “green” cars.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “…GreenTech looks to be a lemon…there is no evidence the company is manufacturing any cars…(it) has yet to begin building its flagship factory in Tunica. GreenTech is the latest proof…the political class is adept at hooking up cronies and investors with taxpayer dollars. But creating jobs? No can do.”

Rather than be tied down by bad publicity and previous commitments, McAuliffe resigned from GreenTech and walked away from all obligations, while Jackson stayed to face his.

But Jackson’s real sin, as far as the Posties are concerned, is that he’s a Tea Party conservative. Jackson has escaped the Democrat Leftist plantation, once again pointing out the need for the Fugitive Minority Act (co–sponsored by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid) that would return ideological escapees to the Democrats for re–education and relieve the media of dealing with off–message minorities that do not support amnesty, abortion and alternate lifestyles.

Russia Eyes Higher Taxes, Price Controls to Curb Smoking

www.express.co.uk (cc)
www.express.co.uk (cc)

www.express.co.uk (cc)

Strict new guidelines on where Russians can and cannot smoke, which Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law late February, went into effect Saturday.

 BBC News reports:

Smoking will be banned at workplaces, housing block stairwells, buses and commuter trains and within 15m of train stations and airports.

From 1 June 2014, all cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels, shops, markets, shopping centres and long-distance journeys on ships and trains will become smoke free.
The sale of tobacco will also be prohibited at street kiosks and minimum prices will be set for cigarettes.

But a government official told Bloomberg.com that its goal of cutting smoking in half, in a country where 40 percent of the citizens light up, might require more encouragement:

 

“The health ministry will be pushing for faster excise-tax growth,” Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets said in an e-mailed answer to questions from Bloomberg. “Our goal is a radical reduction of smoking. That could be reached by economic measures.”

The Health Ministry proposed raising the tax to 4,000 rubles ($125) per 1,000 cigarettes by the end of 2015, from 510 rubles, according to a letter dated Sept. 22 from Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova to Golodets obtained by Bloomberg News.

The Government approved a Finance Ministry proposal last week with a tax as high as 1,250 rubles in 2015.

 

In its current form, the law has no teeth–  until lawmakers approve amendments sometime next month, police can’t give tickets or impose fines for public smoking.

 

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