Friday, December 27, 2013

Do Nothing Congress – A Good Thing?

I have to begin by asking – are we worse off if congress never showed up for work? The 113th Congress is being touted as the least productive in history. If that is the case then I declare a partial victory for America. A good year for congress would be if no new laws were passed and many were repealed. Speaker Boehner said much the same thing, but his actions tell us otherwise.

The Constitution requires only that each house of Congress meet once per year. Congress was never intended to be in session for most of the year. Being a Senator or Representative was never intended to be a full time job. It is because governing has become a full time job that they become corrupt. Politicians spend more time in Washington, DC than they do in their home districts. This is why they lose touch with the people for whom they were elected to represent.

Because they continuously live and work in DC, the Lobbyist become their friends and a part of social groups. It has reached the point that Congress is judged by how long they are in session and and by the number of new laws passed. With each Congress government grows. For those who want central planning this is a good thing. For those of us who want more power reserved for the states as designed by the Constitution – more Congress is a bad thing.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Government Command and Control Farming

Belgium dairy farmers dumping milk in protest.
As Europe clawed its way out from under the ravages of World War 2, the one thing they desperately needed was food. Farmers had to reclaim farm lands and put it back into production. In an effort to speed the process, European governments began giving financial support to farmers. Their plan worked and they managed to rapidly end hunger.

Seventy years later, and long after formation of the 27 nation European Union, the practice continues. Through subsidies and tight regulation the EU has been able to produce cheap affordable food. Enter 2013 and we find Belgium farmers dumping milk on fields in protest of too low milk prices. Unless something is done many EU farms are threatened by bankruptcy.

By the 90's EU farms were over producing. Reports of wine lakes and mountains of butter – as described by the EU press – made some think it was time to have a more free market approach to agriculture. When the world wide recession hit, and driven unnecessarily deeper by the US government created housing bubble, world food prices dropped dramatically because people were buying less.

Progressive types believe they can control the economy by thinking they know what's best for everyone. Simply because someone is elected to office doesn't make them effective economists. It is only when faced with disaster such as the one in Europe will government back away from certain practices. A looming disaster is forcing EU officials to rethink their policies and follow a more free market approach.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Slavery, Yesterday and Today

I was just reminded about Irish slavery, something about which history rarely speaks. Slavery is alive and well in today's world. We all know about Uganda slaves, but the largest slave market might currently be the one for women and children. This is typically known as the white slave or sex trade.

I can never forget the tale of a Russian teen during the 90's. She had dreams of being a European model. The young beauty signed with some company and managed a visa to leave Russia. She arrived at the address given to her and was immediately taken into captivity. For some time she was used as a prostitute in Europe. She was eventually sold to someone in the USA. Her captives planned to bring her through the southern border with fake documentation. She sat nervously in the back seat as they were questioned at a border checkpoint. Finally, one of the border guards looked at her paperwork and ask the Russian captive a question. Despite speaking fluent English, she decided to reply in Russian. The cold war was still fresh enough in everyone's mind that this made them look more closely at her and the paperwork. The guards took her from the car to some place where she could be questioned alone. It was then she revealed to them who she was and that she had been kidnapped. The kidnappers were arrested and and she was given asylum in the USA.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Manipulation of Economic Figures

I follow many different people on twitter, some of which are progressives. I find it informative to know all sides of the conversations. Occasionally something comes my way that I find amazing. Someone posted an article bragging about how the democrats have brought down the deficits leaving the Tea Party and GOP without a platform on which to run.

To the left you find one of those charts. I first noticed that it's inverted. In typical charts high figures are at the top. Although the chart is correct math-wise, the brain can often get the opposite impression. Now let's look at the labels. We must first note that it's a graph of debt per GDP(Gross Domestic Product). If the deficit remains steady or increases at a slow rate, and the GDP grows, the percentage will drop. As of 2012 the GDP was $15.6 trillion. At the end of the same period the total deficit was approximately $16 trillion. This would put the deficit at nearly 100% of GDP.

Looking at the charts we will see a slight decline of debt to GDP ratio. This is because debt has been growing annually at a pace lower than GDP growth. Sounds great, right? Let's look at actual debt. At the end of 2013 we now have more than $17 trillion in debt. Now let's look to why debt is growing at a lower pace. Budget spending has increased only 1.4% annually since 2009. This is because of T.A.R.P.(Toxic Asset Relief Program) that was placed into the 2009 budget. This alone increased the budget by $700 billion.

There hasn't been a budget passed since 2009. Each year government has practiced baseline budgeting – meaning discretionary spending of the current budget is increased 5%. This accounting trick made it look like annual spending increased only 1.4%. By doing this they were able to keep T.A.R.P. level spending while making the numbers look good. Because of budget Continuing Resolution battles deficit spending has dropped somewhat, but deficits still range from $500 billion to $1.5 trillion in 2009 as a result of T.A.R.P.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Duck Phil Platypus

Duck Phil Platypus is the perfect title for this piece because the Phil Robertson story is one of the ugliest I have seen in a very long time. I'm not sure if by the time this fades into the twilight of news that anyone will have been correct. For the most part this is much ado about nothing. But since it has become something there is a lot that needs to be said.

Let's start by quoting some of his comments:

Phil On Growing Up in Pre-Civil-Rights-Era Louisiana
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field.... They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

Phil is referring to the days of share croppers and where blacks lived on the farms where they worked. Farms varied greatly, as did the houses in which the black workers lived. Some houses were relatively nice, while some were no more than roughly built shacks. This sounds to also be during the days of Jim Crow laws. Were southern blacks happy? Likely for the most part, but we must ask – Were they equal? Not even close.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Quantitative Easing and Inflation

Recently I was looking at inflation rates and reading what some progressives had to say on economics. I knew inflation rates were low and in part that was due to cheap imports. Imports alone couldn't account for $4 trillion in Quantitative Easing inflation dollars. For the past few days I've been looking for these answers and here are my conclusions.

The answer is far simpler than I imagined, and it also answers a question I had last year. Where are the missing $3 trillion Fed dollars? Today that question would, should be changed to—Where are the missing $4 trillion fed dollars? The answer is that it's stored at the Federal Reserve in the form of bonds, Treasuries. and Mortgage Backed Securities(MBS), or at least should be.

The US government has been attempting to practice Keynesian economics. The basic principle of John Keynes economics is that the government pumps money into the economy. That money can come from either borrowing or printing. In the age of computers that money can be created through digital information. In this case it seems the Federal Reserve has been borrowing the money. It's not important how the Fed got the money for QE. What's important is what happens to all that money.

Right now the Fed is sitting on $4 trillion in bonds, securities and treasuries accumulated over almost five years of Quantitative Easing. It's hard to determine what the value of those bonds will be at the time they are sold. The eventual problem will be how to inject that money back into the economy without causing hyper inflation. The Fed could simply hand over that money to the US Treasury and be placed into the general fund. The Fed banks could simply keep the money and pay the US government their 6% interest as determined by the Federal Reserve Act.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

America The Offended

Everyday I face a world where I find person after person who is offended over this or that. The political right often points to the left as examples of those most using offensiveness. I find that no political ideology has a monopoly on being offended.

Eric Bolling of Fox News interviewed the head of an Atheist organization. Bolling repeatedly stated how he was offended by the billboard pictured to the left. It's fair to state when you are offended by something, even though the billboard wasn't directed at Bolling personally. It becomes hypocritical when you often demand others not be offended. Free speech demands we have a thick skin and stop being offended by another person's free expression.

This is no different from the attacks on Megyn Kelly for saying that Santa Claus was white. The origins of the jolly fat man comes from the Nordic culture. Sorry, but those people were and are white. Santa has been depicted as white since the jolly old man's inception. This doesn't mean you can't have a black, Indian or Arabian Santa. It's a free country, decorate your home as you please. Have whatever Santa you want in your places of gathering. What must stop is being offended and using offensiveness to attack others.

Religion, holidays, flesh color, heritage, lifestyle, and many other things are being used to divide us for political and profitable gain. We are all forced to live on this ball of rock and must find ways to get along. I have spent hours watching Atheist and Christians argue over who is correct. It's insanity to believe either person is going to change their mind. Belief or non-belief isn't wrong as long as it's not used to harm or forced on another. Each have reasons for strongly embracing their belief or non-belief.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Economic Truths

Today we hear a lot about economic and social justice. There seems to always be talk of raising the minimum wage in order to have it keep up with inflation. We hear about the great wealth divide where the gap between wealthy and poor widens. This is spoken as if there is a limited numbers of dollars and if one person gets wealthy they must be taking it from someone at the bottom. This is a fallacy.

Today, we have a global market. There is massive trade between countries. Goods and services are exchanged between countries. I could give you the total global accumulated wealth, but that changes daily. The amount of a country's currency changes daily. The USA is creating $84 billion a month. This doesn't include dollars created out of thin air that is loaned to banks. Even if that currency is temporary, it becomes temporally a part of total currency. Gold and other commodities are converted to cash through Rehypothification in the form of bonds.

Each day wealth is taken and returned to the government. Currently the death tax (estate tax) is 40% of assets above $5.5 million. When the government takes that money it's often returned to the economy in various ways. Eventually that money becomes available to be earned once more. To be sure, this isn't in support of the death tax, but just an explanation of how currency moves. This does show, especially under the current taxing system, the rich cannot accumulate wealth to the point that the poor can have no chance of moving to the middle class.

Death isn't the only way that wealth trickles down to the poor. Much of the wealth lies with business – be it small or large. Most businesses are always looking to expand. They will spend money on building facilities in which to produce more products or services. When expansion happens, more workers are hired. Careful thought is given to the number of employees needed. In order to make that decision they must look to see how much of their budget can be set aside for labor. They, then, look at the labor market and decide what is the lowest wage that can be offered to attract the necessary labor. Skilled labor always comes at a premium, while manual labor is usually easier to find at a lower cost.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Anarchical Societies vs Libertarianism

Anarchist Utopian is an oxymoron if there ever was one, right?  Maybe not as much as one thinks. Utopia was this fictional society where everything was perfect. We typically think of communist or socialist societies as false Utopias. I think to expand the definition to any society that is filled with absolutes and infringes on the liberties of others.

We must ask, can an Anarchical society that believes in absolute individual liberty infringe on the liberties of others? Any society that deals in absolutes forces their beliefs on others. To understand this we must understand why we have towns and cities. We can start this with “Once upon a time.” Yes – we go that far back. The earliest humans were. by nature. social creatures.  Unlike animals, they didn't abandon their family once grown. Because of this nurturing instinct, humans began to share common resources.

In time, they found that forming close knit societies helped them survive the ravages of nature and enemies. As time went on and small communities grew, they found that it helped if they selected a few to make some of the day to day decisions for all. They would select villagers thought to be the wisest and most educated to make decisions for the community. People found they couldn't leave fields to vote on each small decision needed to be made. Of course there were some who didn't agree with the decisions and they would leave the community. They would sometimes form their own communities with a different set of rules. There was one thing all communities had in common, they had an individual or group to make decisions for the collective.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The War on Monsanto

Freedom Tax

Most days I get at least one tweet or Facebook post telling me about the evils of Monsanto and GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms ). It usually accompanies a link to one of the conspiracy sites. When I research something I look for education websites or journalist I trust. I have spent the past decade trying to learn as much as possible about climate change. I must admit that I haven't put as much time into researching Genetically Modified Organisms. I do try to understand enough to know if the foods I'm eating are killing me. I'm sure most things we do in life affect life span in some way.

The one thing we know for certain is that people are living longer than ever. We also know that is mostly due to hygiene, medical care, home environment, and an abundance of food. I'm sure most of us learned in history about the 1930's dust bowl. That was when a large portion of the plains states were trapped in cloud of dust because of bad farming techniques and a drought.

A dust bowl of today is much less likely, not because there aren't droughts, but because of better farming techniques and drought resistant crops. Some of those crops are a result of hybridization and some from genetic modification. Because of hybridization and genetic modifications we can grow far more food per acre than in the dust bowl era.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dog and Pony Show Revisited (DAPS)

I have written before about the dog and pony show that plays out before us each day. If the problem of the day is Obamacare, the media and the democrats will talk about immigration. Each problem is huge and blown out of proportion. Once again we were faced with shutdown of government and once again it was going to be a huge disaster. In the latest one I had driven 4,000 miles to see the Grand Canyon and wasn't sure I would be allowed in. (They did open it three days before I arrived.)

Each time they want the debt limit raised we are told the government will default on our debt if they don't get their way. While a few political and economic junkies know this is a lie, the rest of the country isn't sure. Most of the country has become numbed by the constant flow of lies. A few cling to the lies of their favorite party and happily pass them along to anyone who will listen. Too many, either out of ignorance or just happy to tow the party line, are willing participants in the dog and pony show.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Progressives Versus Corporations

I recently had a day long twitter exchange with a progressive. As usual it always came down to the evils corporations do. Are there corporations that place profits over common morality? Of course. There are corporations doing things that can be seen as crimes against nature, but they typically do them in countries like China.

I tried explaining to the progressive that taxes and government regulations force these companies to move jobs to countries like China where sweat shops thrive. In some cases the poor in China are happy to have jobs even if they are in deplorable conditions. This isn't an excuse for consumers and corporations that ignore the plight of foreign workers—it's just one symptom of poverty and an out of control Chinese government.

In the USA we have a long list of jobs that the left calls, “Jobs that Americans won't do.” For those jobs we import workers from south of the border who are happy to have any job. Those people are so desperate for even the lowest paying American jobs that they sometimes risk their life coming to this country. This is despite such trade agreements like NAFTA that has driven American jobs across the southern border. NAFTA decimated many rural textile communities such as the one in which I live.

A Look at The Gettysburg Address

Today is the anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Many see this speech as a great day in history, but every story has two sides. President Obama is being slammed for not mentioning God in his recitation. The reason could be simple, be chose one of the versions that didn't include the word 'God.'

I'd like to add a little commentary before listing the different versions below. Some of us don't see the Gettysburg Address as something great. Some of us in the south never saw this as a civil war. From the southern perspective it was an attack from another nation. I bring this up because either by force or choice we are today all Americans and we must always remember this period in history isn't always seen with the northern perspective.

Some might ask why this is important. The very words of Lincoln tell us why this is a topic that needs discussion, especially in today’s turbulent political environment. He said, “a new nation, conceived in Liberty, “ We must understand the meaning of liberty. True liberty is the right to secede. If states lose the right to secede there can never be true liberty. For a state held at the point of a gun there is no true liberty. This was no different than attacking nations in order to force our brand of democracy on them.

Today, we have states threatening to divide, at least one seceding and joining Canada. There are others with threats of secession. If any of these secessions come about, will more people die while trying to achieve true liberty? Will the heavy hand of the US government use armed force to stop the will of the people?

The Three Little Pigs Meet Government

Glenn Beck inspired me to write my own fairy tale about the three pigs.

A week before, a hurricane destroyed the first little piggy’s home in which he had barely been able to make payments, much less buy expensive federal flood insurance. Once the water receded he began to gather piles of straw that had been left scattered by the storm. He used that straw to construct a small comfortable home. He was proud of his little house and found it to be very dry when it rained, and warm on cold nights. Even though it wasn’t near as nice as the home destroyed by the storm, he was happy and there were no monthly payments.

One day the piggy had just come home from work when there was a knock on the straw door. He opened it to find a man wearing a suit and a frown on his fat face. The man asked unpleasantly, “Is this your straw house?”

The pig, proud of all his hard work, squared his shoulders, and replied, “It sure is, built it myself.”

The man pushed the pig out of the way and began looking around the small straw house. He stopped, began writing on a sheet of paper, and said, “This house doesn’t meet our stringent hurricane building codes. If we were to have a hurricane this house would be destroyed.”

Voting "None of the Above"

Jack, a member of America Chooses, had a fantastic idea. He suggested that on all election ballots we add another option, “None of the above.” I've been giving that some thought and came up with a few ideas on how this could be done effectively.

If “None of the above” receives the most votes then the law should state that a new election be held within six months, or possibly the next year, and that none of the candidates in the previous election would be eligible to run. In the mean time the governor would select an acting US Representative or Senator, or whatever the office may be. In the second election “None of the above” likely wouldn't be on the ballot.

We could possible use this to at least temporarily override the 17th Amendment and have the state legislature appoint the Senator. It might be possible to always have “None of the above” on the Senate ballot. That would leave the power to circumvent the 17th Amendment in the voters' hands.

This doesn't make it perfect, but it at least pushes out the party favorites that no one likes. This could also work for other elections as well. On the county or city level the mayor or council could choose an acting office holder until the next election could be held.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Healthcare: A Republican Alternative

Healthcare is the topic of today. It's likely to remain that way for some time to come. We are learning more and more about the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, while we know little about Republican alternatives. Some question if Republicans have an alternative.

There are some Republican alternatives which range from lifetime health savings accounts to simply letting the free market take over. As long as we have Medicare and other federal insurances we will never have a free market in healthcare, for that reason simply leaving it to the free market isn't a plan. Federal health insurance mandates guidelines for treatment. Medicare is a topic unto itself.

For now let's talk about an answer for when Republicans are ask what do they suggest other than Obamacare and Medicare. People won't settle for broad replies that point to no clear plan. How should a Republican deal with healthcare? The first step would be to remove the federal government from the loop. If we leave such things as Medicare or Medicaid solely to the state that at least removes federal involvement. Even state run insurance leaves some free market because there is competition among the states.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Conservatives vs libertarians: The Divided Tea Party

I was reading the college thesis of Washington Times reporter, Jessica Chasmar, and she reminded me of the day I stood with thousands of people on the Capitol lawn on 9/12, 2009. That day I saw a movement that I believed could change the country forever. That was one of the proudest moments of my life. I had finally become a part of something great.

Today, late 2013, the progressives have full control of government. We see far left policies as norm of the day. We are witnessing one of the greatest government takeovers (Affordable Care Act) go into effect with, so far, disastrous results.

What happened to the Tea Party? It's being torn apart by those who use its name for money or power. It's being torn apart by those who believe it is a conservative movement. If you are not a social conservative, you are often ostracized.

The Tea Party was originally the accretion of people who came together because of TARP and other fiscal matters. For once, the social agenda had taken a backseat and the Tea Party managed to make significant change in the 2010 House.

Today, the Tea Party is unpopular and is often viewed as racist, or filled with bigots. There are instances of both, while I still believe there is a silent majority that are not either of those things. There are Tea Party websites that allow comments that can only feed negative views of the movement. It's time we stand up to those segments that put the Tea Party in a bad light.

Monday, October 28, 2013

When is a Conservative liberal?

We have political liberals and political conservatives. We can break this down to liberals wanting more government with conservatives wanting less. Yet in life we find many conservatives who are very liberal in their life. Many conservatives are smokers, while we have liberals who are for smoking bans.

A political liberal might be more the party type, while at the same time calling for stricter laws on alcohol. A political conservative might or might not be a partier. Both conservatives and liberals are guilty of calling for bans, although each might call for the ban of books or movies on opposite ends of the spectrum.

We can be sure a political liberal isn't always liberal thinking and a conservative isn't always conservative in how they live their life. Some see conservatives as people who spend their lives in church and are teetotalers. You would think they didn't smoke, wear short skirts, or expose cleavage, but we find many conservatives that do these things. Not all conservatives are social conservatives.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Are you an Interventionist or a Non-Interventionist?

Some days a light goes on in your had and you begin to see things in a different way. Today is one of those days. For too long we have argued over who someone is politically. The Democrats say they are doing what's best for the country, while Republicans and libertarians say the same. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in a party that we forget to think. There is a simple solution.

We are all interventionist or non-interventionist. It doesn't matter if it's social politics or foreign events, the terms can be applied. Can it be this cut and dry? Can we be an interventionist on something and a non-interventionist on others? Remember the age old adage, “Mind your own business.” Our ancestors have passed those wise words along through the ages. The non-interventionist is simply the same thing.

The interventionist uses the power of government to do their bidding. They don't want other people to eat certain foods so they elect people who are also interventionist. Interventionist believe most people aren't capable of self governance. There are some people who are, and will always be, dependent on others. Even a non-interventionist believes in helping those who ask for help. The interventionist doesn't wait for them to ask for help, but forces help on those in need as well as those who aren't.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Winning America through education

Too frequently I find myself in debates with the typical Democratic voter and they will repeat the same rhetoric they get from peers and the 6 pm news.. Five minutes into the conversation they have the doe in the headlight look. Once I begin explaining basic finance and use words like Quantitative Easing and Rehypothification, they run away.

If they do stick around past that point, the moment I mention the free market they point to what they believe are faults in capitalism. They tell me how it was capitalism that caused the crash of 2007, and how the greedy bankers are taking people's homes. They tell me how companies like Monsanto are poisoning everyone. I could go on, but you get the message. Everyone knows all the arguments.

I must then explain to these people we have not had a free market in modern history. Not since Wikard versus Filburn have we come close to a free market. This opened the door for federal regulation of almost everything produced in America. All the problems mentioned above, and then some, are done with cooperation from the overseer government.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

NSA spying—The modern Panopticon

A panopticon was a prison design created by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The design was circular and allowed for prisoners to be in view at all times. His design allowed for the elimination of bars and locks. Bentham saw this form of imprisonment as mind on mind control. New prisons of today sometimes use the panopticon design.

There was an outcry about Bentham's design because the prisoner never had privacy. Today we monitor prisoners 24/7 using CCTV cameras. Some still argue that watching people 24 hours a day is not healthy and possibly abuse. Today's prisons go even farther by placing RFIDs on prisoners so that if one wanders into an area off limits an alarm will activate.

Today, we are living in a panopticon world. We have the NSA doing 24/7 surveillance of our communications. This isn't something new. It has come to light the NSA monitored notables such as Martin Luther King and Mohamed Ali. They weren't spied on because it was believed they were potential terrorists – it was simply because they spoke openly about their political beliefs.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Perils of Laws and Perceptions

I wrote this in response to an article about new tobacco taxes and the reasons for them. A respondent stated there were no conspiracies behind most things done by government. It has often been said that money is the root of all evil—coupled with the desire for power and you have the answer to most of the world's problems.

You are right, there are no conspiracies. If we follow the money we always find the force behind many of the things you mentioned(drug and alcohol laws). Statistics are padded and ignored to bring about the results wanted. A statistician will tell you he or she can support any belief.  Even when we ourselves look at raw numbers we can't be sure of the truth. I have looked deeply into  DUI statistics. They will tell us how many people are killed each year in alcohol related accidents, or how many people are killed by drunk drivers.

What the statistics and proponents of laws don't tell us is that a DUI caused accident doesn't mean the drinker was the cause of the accident. They don't tell us that speeding or reckless driving was the cause. We aren't told the road was covered in ice and it was truly just an accident.  When a beer can is found on the roadside, or a weeks old empty in the floorboard, the accident becomes alcohol related. If the attending officer can smell what he/she believes to be alcohol, even if it's cough medicine, it becomes an alcohol related accident.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Knowing History—The Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance is something I thought little about as I stood in my grammar school class each day repeating the phrase. My only thoughts were that my nation was something about which to take great pride. I feel no differently today. The only difference today is that I often have to seek out corrections to history as taught by our schools and perpetuated by the different political ideologies. The simple Pledge of Allegiance is one of those things.

Where did the pledge originate?

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist, Baptist minister, Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth's Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped the pledge would be used by citizens in any country. Years after the Civil War had ended the nation was still divided. This was an attempt to bring the nation together under one flag.

The pledge in its original form:
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Friday, September 13, 2013

The lowercase libertarian

In today's political environment more and more people are identifying with libertarianism. This often confuses some when they look at the Libertarian party and it's members. To some extent the Libertarian Party has been hijacked by anarchist and communists. It would take an article unto itself to fully explain how communists find their way into the Libertarian Party. True communists believe they can create a libertarian styled society and replace government with some board of elders. They fail to see that the board of elders is simply government under a different name.

When we hear the term libertarian tossed around we must pause and look to see if they are a true libertarian. Capital 'L' libertarians are those who belong to the party and can have varying political beliefs. The lowercase 'l' are those like me who believe in all cases limited government is the best road to travel. We don't want the elimination of government or a major change in how government operates. We simply want less government and the right to self govern.

I believe the founders intended for society to operate on the edge of anarchy, but far enough from the line of chaos that it doesn't become only the strongest survive . Any society needs rules by which people must live, but there must be limits placed on those rules and rulers. We too often elect someone to power and then turn our backs as they pass regulation after regulation. We then are shocked when we receive a parking ticket for parking in our own driveway because of an ordinance that prevents anyone from parking within thirty feet of the road. You might think this sounds ridiculous, but it actually happened in a Pittsburgh neighborhood.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

2013 EPA RFS: The road to starvation

The EPA has finished finalizing the 2013 Renewable Fuel Standards(RFS). The biggest of those changes is to increase Ethanol content in gasoline. The current standard  requires all gasoline have at least 10% Ethanol. The new standard will raise this to 15%, and will now also include diesels.

Under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the RFS program was expanded in several key ways:
  • EISA expanded the RFS program to include diesel, in addition to gasoline;
  • EISA increased the volume of renewable fuel required to be blended into transportation fuel from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022;
  • EISA established new categories of renewable fuel, and set separate volume requirements for each one.
  • EISA required EPA to apply lifecycle greenhouse gas performance threshold standards to ensure that each category of renewable fuel emits fewer greenhouse gases than the petroleum fuel it replaces.

The source for most of this Ethanol is soybean and corn—two main staples of our food supply. Each of those can be found in many of the processed foods we eat. Because of the USA's abundance of accessible fertile lands we produce much of the world's supply of food.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lost in Paradise

Amy Lee and the goth-metal band is for me no doubt the greatest ever to create music. I know most my age would not agree—that's beside the point. I was just listening to the song “Lost in Paradise" and thought this describes how I feel at times about my country.

Not since the so-called Civil War has this country been so deeply divided by political parties and ideologies. Americans fight vehemently in the name of their political parties. Even war is divided by party. Each party believes their war is the only one that's just. American people are too often sold a bill of goods in order to fight their supposed just war. If someone speaks out against war they are called an isolationist or pacifist. We repeatedly elect politicians that play those types of word games.

I awoke today to hear Mayor Bloomberg attacking his white opponent for posing with his black wife, saying he is racist for posing with her in a photograph. This couldn't have ever happened in paradise. There is no doubt we will hear one talking head after another justifying the mayor's comment.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

When Church and State Collide

There has been a major debate over a small time bakery and other businesses that refused service—based on religious belief—to gay couples preparing for marriage. In some cases suits were filed and won by the gay couples. This is not about the cases themselves, but the dangers that lie ahead.

Let's begin by my stating that I do believe a business has the right to refuse service for many reasons. I think businesses that don't want to serve gays should put up a sign to indicate their desire. This would give gays and their supporters notice to not spend money with these businesses. The greatest part of being American is the right to make choices, especially informed choices.

We often wonder from what vantage point a person writes, so I want to state that I personally don't believe government should be involved in marriage because all Americans should be equal under the law. Because government chose to interject itself in personal relationships, a dangerous door was opened.

Monday, September 2, 2013

We learn politics through sports

I came to realize last night while talking with a friend just how politics and sports are similar. I remember the day I stopped being a NASCAR fan. Dale Earnhardt had just wrecked and his car sat on the grass with flat tires. This accident should have put him out of contention because, according to NASCAR rules, the car would have had to be towed to the garage area. It is only then the car can be worked on by the crew.

As the rollback truck backed up to the race-car and began attaching the cable, Dale began shouting and frantically waving his arms. He stopped the track crewman from further actions, all the while shouting that loading the car would cause further damage.

Moments later, Dale's pit crew appeared carrying tires and a jack. While in the infield grass they put tires on the car and Dale was soon back on the track three laps down. He came back to win the race while fans screamed loudly.

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Boy and the Diner

It was a typical Friday night family outing at a small family owned diner. After placing their food order the parents were talking as 8 year old Timmy was watching the various activities you typically find in such a setting. Timmy's father, Tim, felt someone tugging at his shirt and looked to find his son looking at him quizzically. Timmy pointed to a boy his age cleaning off a table and asked, “Why is that girl doing that?”

Tim knew some details about the diner and replied, “That's the owner’s daughter and she helps out after school.” He then turned his attention back to his wife, thinking little about the question.

A moment later he felt the tugging once more and turned to see the same quizzical look on his son's face. Timmy asked, “Does that girl get paid? Is it like a real job?”

Tim knew that his son would never understand child labor laws and decided on the simple answer, “I guess you could call it a job and I think they would pay her something.” At that moment Timmy excused himself from the table. Dad assumed it was for a bathroom break.

Ten minutes later his son returned. A moment later the diner owner walked over to the table and asked, “Are you Timmy's parents?”

The couple nodded and the man about Tim's age with a touch of gray in his hair asked, “Could I speak with one or both of you for a moment?”

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Death of Islan Nettles

For more than a year we have heard how Trayvon Martin was gunned down by a white racists who turned out to be Hispanic. He is being compared to Emmett Till, which was a case of true racism and no doubt a race crime. We watched as the Sharptons and Jacksons paraded before the cameras to shout about racial injustice.

We then hear the other side turn around and point to possible race crimes against white people, which have some merit. Everyone is screaming my crime is more unjust than your crime. Emotions over crimes are too often divided along ideological lines.

Then there are crimes about which neither ideology talks unless it can further a cause. There is black on white crime, white on black, black on black, and white on white crime. Take your pick, there are a lot of crimes about which we can talk. Today, I am going to introduce you to one that's rarely heard about on television as we are told how safe it is in New York City because of Stop and Frisk.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Stop and Frisk—The Police State

I first apologize that this might get lengthy because of quotes. Please bear with me because this might be one of the most important legal arguments this country faces today. New York city has a law named Stop and Frisk. It seems this law allows police to randomly stop people with only a reasonable suspicion and frisk the surface of the person. Many of us believe this law comes into conflict with the 4th Amendment, which states that police must have probable cause to search Americans without a warrant and protects against unreasonable searches. I guess the first thing we must do is understand the difference between the two words.
reasonable  (rea·son·a·ble) [ree-zuh-nuh-buhl, reez-nuh-]
1. agreeable to reason or sound judgment; logical: a reasonable choice for chairman.
2.not exceeding the limit prescribed by reason; not excessive: reasonable terms.
3.moderate, especially in price; not expensive: The coat was reasonable but not cheap.
4.endowed with reason.
5.capable of rational behavior, decision, etc.

prob·a·ble [prob-uh-buhl] adjective
1.likely to occur or prove true: He foresaw a probable business loss. He is the probable writer of the
2.having more evidence for than against, or evidence that inclines the mind to belief but leaves some room for doubt.
3.affording ground for belief.

un·rea·son·a·ble [uhn-ree-zuh-nuh-buhl, -reez-nuh-]
1.not reasonable or rational; acting at variance with or contrary to reason; not guided by reason or sound judgment; irrational: an unreasonable person.
2.not in accordance with practical realities, as attitude or behavior; inappropriate: His Bohemianism was an unreasonable way of life for one so rich.
3.excessive, immoderate, or exorbitant; unconscionable: an unreasonable price; unreasonable demands.
4.not having the faculty of reason.

4th Amendment
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized
The basis of the Stop and Frisk law stems from an incident in Ohio that eventually led to a 1968 Supreme Court decision. In short, a police detective saw John Terry and another guy standing in front of a store. The men appeared to be casing the store for a potential robbery. These men were approached by the detective and frisked. John Terry was arrested on a gun charge.
Stop and Frisk according to the online law dictionary:
stop and frisk n. a law enforcement officer's search for a weapon confined to a suspect's outer clothing when either a bulge in the clothing or the outline of the weapon is visible. The search is commonly called a "pat down," and any further search requires either a search warrant or "probable cause" to believe the suspect will commit or has committed a crime (including carrying a concealed weapon, which itself is a crime). The limited right to "stop and frisk" is intended to halt the practice of random searches of people in hopes of finding evidence of criminal activity or merely for purposes of intimidation, particularly of minorities.
I dare say the detective was correct and these men were likely up to no good. In this case the detective might have had probable cause and was not unreasonable in their pat-down of the men that led to finding the weapon. What has puzzled me is if an officer operates within the 4th Amendment, why do you need a specialized Stop and Frisk law?

Some don't like the law because they say it targets minorities and there is some evidence that can support that belief. The police are also targeting high crime areas, which is largely minority. Let's not concentrate on the racial aspects, but what makes this law so different from normal police operating procedures? In NYC they say they are doing these random searches to remove guns from the street. If this is the case we must look at another SCOTUS decision.

The Court somewhat retreated from their John Terry decision in Florida v. J. L. (U.S. 2000), in which it ruled that an anonymous tip identifying a person who is carrying a gun is not, without more reason, sufficient to justify a police officer's stop and frisk of that person. The U.S. Supreme Court concluded that the tip, stating that a young black male was standing at a particular bus stop, wearing a plaid shirt, and carrying a gun, lacked sufficient reliability to provide reasonable suspicion to make a Terry stop.

It would appear that if we leave these decisions to a policeman's reasonable belief, we are opening ourselves up to severe infringement of the 4th Amendment. For that reason we must look at the entire Amendment and not a few words. It states that the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. We know that the police must be careful when entering a house. They usually are very sure there is an ongoing crime, or they ask for permission to enter the home. If permissions is denied they might seek a warrant.

Our persons should garner the same respect under the law as our home. SCOTUS rules that a simple pat down, such as the ones by the TSA in airports is not a search. I beg the difference and the difference between a TSA pat-down and one by a police officer on the street is permission. By knowing we could possibly be patted down while boarding a plane, we give implied permission. The same applies if you knowingly go into an event that has a security line. Merely walking down the street offers no implied consent.

When self proclaimed conservatives and libertarians argue Stop and Frisk makes the city safer, they have just crossed over to the left where police states lie. The Constitution doesn't guarantee safety—only liberty.

Here is the statistic I have been looking for. I had heard that only about 6% of  the stops resulted in guns being found. This tells me the searches weren't reasonable under the concept of the 4th Amendment. I would say the stops and guns found should average above 50% for the majority of the searches to be reasonable.

(NY times)The most obvious reason is the brute numbers. For every 100 individuals stopped and frisked, only about 6 are arrested, often for minor offenses like marijuana possession. The success rate for finding a gun borders on the nonexistent: 1 in every 1,000 stops. In fact, purely random stops have produced better results.

Since when do males officers have the right to feel up random women on the street?
Last year, New York City police officers stopped 46,784 women, frisking nearly 16,000. Guns were found in 59 cases, according to an analysis of police statistics by The New York Times.
While the number of women stopped by officers in 2011 represented 6.9 percent of all police stops, the rate of guns found on both men and women was equally low, 0.12 percent and 0.13 percent, respectively. Civil rights leaders have argued that the low gun-recovery rates are a strong indication that the bulk of stop-and-frisk encounters are legally unjustified.

Now that you have been presented with all the facts, how do you feel about such laws and searches? Watch for updates to this article.

Monday, August 19, 2013

"The government always has"

Frequently we hear people say, “The government has always done it this way.” when we hear that we should stop and take pause. That statement alone exemplifies the problems in this country. We have reached a time when the Constitution no longer matters and government picks and chooses which laws to enforce.

I was recently told that we should support flawed Bills and that the Executive Branch has always picked and chosen which laws they enforced. The argument to the latter was there are only so many resources and they must be allocated according to need.

Click to enlarge
If we have more laws than can be enforced, then that should tell us one thing—we need less laws or more enforcement. Enforcement is expensive, so that leaves only one thing, which is to have less laws to enforce. The chart shows we imprison more people than almost any country in the world. Many of these incarcerations are drug related. Too often violent criminals are freed through early parole in order to make room for drug offenders.

No matter whether you are for drug legalization or not, the country has reached a crisis point. Enforcement doesn't have the manpower to sometimes go after potential terrorists who entered the country illegally. We have Justice Department officials deciding which laws to enforce, and too often that decision is guided by political and ideological beliefs.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Push for fewer children

Let's begin this by saying that life should hold no mandate to have children. Now that's out of the way, let's add the 'but.' I wrote previously how the progressive agenda is being driven by the environmentalists and the population control crowd. I see no problem in having no children, since that was my choice in life. I didn't do it because of some environmental concern, or for career paths, it was just a personal decision.

We, at times, see the choice of having no children glorified. As someone who made that choice, there are times of regret at having made that decision. If I could turn back time, that might be one of the many different choices in my life.

My point is that we must make these decisions based on what we feel is best for ourselves at the time. From some one who made the no children decision, I warn you to not listen to the progressive and environmentalist voices. One can propose many logical reasons to have or not have children.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Stand Your Ground

The president of the United States, the head of the NAACP, and various other democrats are saying we need to remove all stand your ground laws. They tell us to prevent there being more Trayvons we must stop profiling. The left believes we shouldn't have guns with which to protect ourselves.

Let's look at how the events in Florida might have played out if Trayvon had done what Obama and others want. Trayvon would have saw Zimmerman watching and following him. In this case I would have run. If I was really in fear I would have called 911. If Trayvon had fled this would have only been an obscure 911 call. Humans, when faced with an unknown situation, their instincts will take over, which are fight or flight.

In the America Obama envisions no one would have guns, or if they did there would rarely be a legal use. We know that crime is rampant in this country. We know that most of the crimes are done by repeat offenders. We know that criminals are often simply given a slap on the wrist. We know that police response times average about 9 minutes. I dare say that is a very low number. If you live in a rural area you know it can take far longer for an officer to respond to an emergency, especially at night when many police departments operate with reduced personnel.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

31st Amendment

This is in continuation of my article Eliminate the Tax Scam. The only way to solve the problem of runaway central power is take the one thing needed to support power, the right to collect taxes from the masses. The central government can force individuals at gun point to pay any amount of taxes they decide appropriate. I believe that gun would have less effect on state government.

I believe this is something people of all political persuasions might like. This doesn't eliminate many things the progressives like. A progressive state would be free to operate as they always have. This also goes for libertarian and conservative leaning states. If this country is to survive as a whole, power must be taken away from the central government.

Some are talking about opening an Article V Constitutional convention. If states are to take that route, the 16th and 17th Amendments are at the top of the list to be repealed. I'm not sure that enough states would agree with the repeal of those amendments. I do believe that if the 16th is repealed with my 31st Amendment, then more states might be agreeable.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Boy Scouts Admit Gays

The Boy Scouts of America has made the decision to allow openly gay scouts. Since the beginning scouts have had sexually active gay boys in the organization. Allowing the boys who are openly gay to join the scouts is the correct thing. I think It would be better to know which boys were gay so that on outings they aren't allowed to share tents and cabins. This would be essentially the same as separating sleeping arrangements by gender.

The people running the scouts still will not allow gay leaders. For some reason too many people believe gay adults are pedophiles, while statistics show otherwise. The anti-gay people point to a 1988 study (Erickson et al. (1988). Behavior patterns of child molesters. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 17, 77-86 ) that says 86% of the men found molesting boys were gay or bisexual. I dare to argue that a straight male won't molest young boys, but they will molest young girls. We can apply the same statistic that 86% of the molesters of young girls are male. All stats bare out the fact the majority of child molestation comes from males. If we apply the logic 86% of child molestation comes from men, then maybe the scouts should allow only female scoutmasters.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Moral Atheist

Each day we are all faced with "moral" decisions. We see this word tossed around by all people, but is there a single definition of morality? Christians see gay marriage as a moral issue because it goes against their religious teachings. The bible tells us about many things that mankind shouldn't do, which are labeled immoral.

If morality is based on religion, then that means non Christians can't be moral. That would mean those who came before Christianity couldn't be moral, yet they were. It's for this reason we must define morality.

Since mankind became a social creature they seemed to have lived under certain rules. If everyone stole from one another, the social order would quickly break down. The same thing could be said for murder. Morality seems to come down to protecting possessions and family.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

What happened to the 4th Amendment?

For the past few days as I watched events unfold in Boston, my mind was a jumble of thoughts. I watched as innocent people suffered at the hands of terrorists. I watched as Americans tried to rally against those terrorist who would make us afraid to leave our homes and to gather in mass to follow American traditions.

As time passed, I watched the news and tried to to pick real facts out of a maze of distortions cast by the media and the police, themselves. I cast no blame for that misinformation because I know some was done by accident and some for good intentions. I suspect it might be a long time before we have all the true facts of the story, and it's for that reason I tread lightly.

I spent my life trying to understand the how and why of all things. In this search I have seen a lot of rights and wrongs. I have come to the conclusion that the greatest question we can ask is, what is right? There are many perceptions of right and wrong, of moral and immoral. Sometimes the path to enlightenment lies in the questions themselves. So let's ask some questions.

Who is correct, the political left or right? I think both sides are correct, but it's in the solutions where the differences lie. Not long after the Occupy Wall Street event, I spent all night talking to both organizers and participants. I found them to be greatly divided on solutions, in part, because we all think differently. Part of the reason for their differences was that some of the organizers were out for power and money, while participants were average citizens wanting a voice.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Eliminate the Tax Scam

Each year we watch a parade of politicians promising us everything in order to gain our vote. We know that most of these promises will never be fulfilled. We also know that they will blame those failed promises on the other party. I am here to talk about the promises they do keep.

We have amassed a $16.5 trillion dollar debt. We have some telling us that the debt doesn't matter. I m told it won't matter until we reach $20 trillion. At the rate of debt growth we can see this happening in at least four years. We have one side telling us that we need to stimulate the economy. We have the other side spending more and wanting to raise taxes on the rich. That same side also tells us that we need to stop subsidizing certain industries, while increasing subsidies for others. For those who are unclear, a subsidy is no more than a tax exemption on certain aspect of that business. This is done to move the businesses in certain directions.