Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Just Kill It, Already Revisited

In my previous series of posts, 'Just Kill It, Already,' I exposed three of ObamaCare's "popular" provisions and explained why they needed to go.  Showing that they still don't get it, the New York Times has a piece from Monday, July 30th, breathlessly reporting about rebates that Insurance Companies are forced to pay if they spent less than 80% of collected premiums on reimbursements.  They mention, in passing, that this will cost the insurance industry $1.1 Billion.  Yep.  That's a 'B' on that word.

Now, I have several problems with this little nugget, and we'll address them, but first I need to address a problem I have with Americans in general, or, at least, with those interviewed for this story.  The problem is encapsulated in this paragraph:

"It almost looked like junk mail," said Ms. Harkenreader, a tax accountant in Mountain Top, Pa., who said she did not love the overall law but was pleased with the unexpected windfall.  "If this is part of Obamacare, I'm happy that somebody is finally coming down on the insurance companies and saying, 'Look, let's be fair here.'"

Fair, Ms. Harkenreader?  Fair?  You want fair, how about you pay 100% of your own medical bills?  I'm willing to bet your patient responsibility plus your premiums is far less than you would pay in normal medical treatment each year.  If you think what you're getting charged is so "unfair," look for a different insurance company.  If that still doesn't work, then stop buying insurance and pay it all yourself.  You'll learn really quickly what "fair" looks like.

Now, then, that said, let's look at the problems with this policy.

Insurance Companies Need That Money
The first and foremost problem with this policy is that the insurance companies were actually using that money.  They were paying employees, yes, but they were also developing new products and strategies.  Many of them were adding it to savings accounts so they could remain solvent if something catastrophic occurred where they didn't make money for some reason.

Remember, Insurance is about risk.  The Insurance companies are accepting the risk that you will get sick, or will be injured, or any number of things.  Act of God exclusions aside, if something catastrophic occurs, the Insurance companies will be out a great deal of money.  They save up for just such an occurrence.  That's something I'd think we'd all support, given what happened to the Mortgage companies not too many years ago.

It Punishes Their Success
Name another industry that has to give rebates to its customers for successfully shepherding their investments.  Seriously, that's what this amounts to.  Even worse than that, though, is this: virtually every insurance company in the United States now has some "wellness" program which provides resources and incentives for its subscribers to get healthy- from losing weight, to smoking cessation programs.  When these programs (which cost money) are successful, claims decrease.  This policy provides a disincentive for continuing such programs.

It Makes Insurance Companies The Enemy
By forcing the insurance companies to make these ill-advised (for the reasons above, among others) payments, it fosters exactly the sentiments of the Ms. Harkenreaders of the world.  The payments are not a nice thing they receive because they didn't use as much health care.  Rather, they are something the insurance company stole from you.

This kind of divisiveness is the hallmark of Liberalism.  Liberalism cannot survive when people realize that they are responsible for their own behavior and circumstances, and that no "evil corporation" is out to get them.  Fostering this distrust is in the best interest of Liberals, because it then leads to people asking for "more regulation" and more laws.

It Makes Employers The Enemy
Hidden within these rules is the fact that most of these checks won't go out to individuals.  They will, instead, be issued to the employers who actually pay for the insurance.  What those employers do with the money is then up to them.

This puts employers in a Catch-22.  They can't count on those premiums, so they can't issue raises.  If they try to divide the rebates, someone will always be mad because they think they didn't get their "fair share."  If they keep the money, they're an "evil corporation" that is just in it for "the profit."  In short, no matter who wins, the employer loses.

It Misses The Point
It's quite obvious that politicians don't understand health insurance.  I was in the industry for years, and I only just scratched the surface.  The fact is that insurance companies still have to be competitive, even with the restrictions imposed upon them by the US Congress.  These restrictions include, but are not limited to, the inability to sell across state lines, and various coverage mandates.

Despite this, insurance companies, especially those catering to businesses, have to remain highly competitive.  Any that do not will lose subscribers, and eventually go out of business, just like any other business which fails.  So when an insurance company charges a premium, that amount is calculated fairly precisely to do three things.  First, to help spread the risk associated with the policy so that all legitimate claims are covered.  Second, to pay administrative costs like facilities, utilities, and payroll.  Third, to reinvest in the company, either through new offering R&D or by saving against future claims.

This policy completely ignores the third part.  Without that money, though, new products don't come to market.  Health Savings Accounts were not an invention of Government; the Government took an idea Insurance Companies had created and proven to work, and modified it to work for Government (for a given value of "work.")  Those same wellness programs previously mentioned cost money, but provide no revenue.  Insurance companies have to have a hedge against disaster.  The policy completely ignores all of these things in pursuit of the kind of divisiveness that Liberals love.

Rebates from insurance companies are not something to rejoice over, but yet another symptom of the disease that is ObamaCare.

The Growing Police State: Do As We Say, Not As We Do Edition

We all see the trite commercials from the cell-phone industry warning us about the evils of texting and driving.  We're told that even reading a one word text will lead you to flip your car and die.  Yet, across the State of Texas, police seem to be ignoring this accepted wisdom.

In some places, this is worse than others.  A distracted-officer crash in Austin maimed a Louis Olivier.  In Tarrant county, a deputy rolled through a stop sign and injured the driver of the SUV with which he collided.  Tarrant county disciplined the officer; their policy about distracted driving is apparently one of the most strict in the State.

That brings us to my home town.  The City of Arlington, TX is apparently immune to these kinds of things, so says Mayor and SCOAMT-in-training, Robert Cluck.  Apparently the training that the Arlington PD receives is so good, it allows them to drive while composing the Great American Novel on their in-car computers.

That's ridiculous enough.  But then we get to the "Police State" part of this equation.  You see, the City of Arlington is the only one in Texas with an outright ban on texting and driving.  Many municipalities have bans on the practice under certain circumstances- especially in active school zones- but it is a blanket ban in Arlington.  Never mind that we already have laws against running your car into people or things, and we could punish people under those rules, no, we also needed an additional revenue stream from the tickets that could be issued.

Yet Arlington Police Officers, while on duty, are exempt from this ban to the extent that they can even type on their dash-mounted computers while driving.  You'll excuse me if I think that's a bigger distraction than merely texting while driving.  Mayor Cluck displayed an incredible sense of "it could never happen here," when he said to the NBC investigation staff, "I just think our officers are above the fray there."

Even without my cynical hat on, that seems really stupid to me.  With my cynical hat on, it sounds exactly like something a petty tyrant would say in defense of one of his fiefdoms.  You see, whether they will admit it or not, the discrepancy in the rules here is one designed to signify status.  It sets the Rulers apart from the Subjects.  The mere peasants who pay the salaries of the city employees, including the Mayor and Police Officers, are assumed to be 'lesser,' in some way.  We are not capable of texting and driving safely. 

Oh, but the Police Officers, well, they're Picked Men.  They're positively superheroes capable of great feats of concurrent multitasking.  Merely completing fairly complex paperwork on a dash-mounted laptop which requires you to look off to the side instead of straight ahead while driving is positively menial.  They could do that, compose the Great American Novel, send cell-phone text messages, and drive safely all at the same time.  Or something.

This hypocrisy is the hallmark of the Police State.  It says that those who enforce the law are not subject to it.  If they are not subject to it, they are not the same as those who are.  There's a name for a social order where one class makes the rules for another to obey, we call it Feudalism (if we're being nice) or Tyranny (if we're not).  Either system says that one class of Men is superior to all others, and is owed fealty and obeisance.  Neither system is compatible with Freedom.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Because Voter Turnout is Racist

So Fort Worth, just like every other city in America this year, went through re-districting.  Because of the (almost certainly) Unconstitutional Voting Rights Act, Forth Worth (being in Texas) has to submit their redistricting plan to the Department of Justice, who will promptly throw it out and implement their own anyway.

In an 8-1 vote on Tuesday, July 24, the Forth Worth city council voted to approve a map which was opposed by the United Hispanic Council.  Their argument is that, despite the fact Fort Worth is now a Majority Minority city (or very close to it), that it "illegally dilutes Hispanic Voting Power."

Councilman Sal Espino seems to agree with UHC saying, "It's not just voting percentages.  You have to look at voting performance."

Wait.  What?

Yes.  The United Hispanic Council basically argues thusly:  District 9, even though Hispanics make up 57% of the vote in the district, supposedly dilutes the Hispanic vote because Hispanics don't vote in large numbers.

That is, even though the district in question is majority Hispanic, it is not *enough* majority Hispanic to overcome Hispanic voter apathy.  You'll excuse me if I'm not impressed.  When your demographic makes up 57% of the registered voters in a district, your demographic has only itself to blame when it doesn't get its way.  There's no two ways around that.

The Growing Police State: Produce of Your Labor Edition

H/T The Other McCain

In rural Virginia, about 50 miles west of Washington, DC, lies the village of Paris, VA.  Near this village sits the Piedmont Agriculture Academy LLC.  This Animal-Rescue farm is the latest victim of the Growing Police State.

In addition to rescuing animals, the farm produces a variety of products, from textiles to honey, which it then sells.  In June 2011, PAA received a business license for the operation of a "retail farm shop."  This was a fairly basic transaction, not unlike a variety of farms across the county.  However, the county apparently has decided they're not getting a big enough cut.

Enter the Police State.  Fauquier County's Department of Community Development (an incredibly Orwellian name), passed a retroactive Zoning Ordinance which amended their Zoning Code to include a "Farm Sale" use category which, in essence, invalidated the legally applied for and received business license of the PAA.  In short, a retroactive law has shut down the commercial operations of this Animal-Rescue farm.

This is yet another example of the ever-expanding Police State.  As Stacy McCain says, "Zoning is the closest thing to fascism most Americans will ever know, and it's remarkable how local governments use zoning laws to limit the rights of the little guy while rewarding the wealthy and well-connected."  Frankly, I think he's wrong.  It's not "remarkable" at all, local governments are often more corrupt than State Governments, because fewer people pay attention, and, under the guise of "resource allocation" local governments are often far less transparent.

The simple fact is that this ever creeping growth of the behemoth that is Government will only stop if we stop it.  In this case, I hope the people of Fauquire County completely repopulate the DCD with people who are pro-capitalism, not pro-corporation.  In general, I urge you to get involved with your city and county- to prevent exactly this kind of thing.

Reason 56,798 That I'm Glad I Don't Live in NYC

New Yorkers, when will you get rid of the meddlesome tyrant who is your Mayor?  Seriously, what redeeming qualities does this man have?  Do you just like being wards of the state with no Rights but what the Government grants?  Just hook up some jumper cables to the Founding Fathers, I'm sure they're spinning fast enough to power the entire Eastern Seaboard.

In his latest attempt to show you that The Government Knows Better, Mayor Bloomberg has enlisted over half of New York City's hospitals into a program to promote breastfeeding.  They will not supplement breastfeeding infants with formula feedings "unless medically indicated," they will track the number of formula bottles they use, they will cease handing out promotional samples of formula.  Further, while they won't deny a mother formula if she asks, said mother "will also be instructed on the benefits of breastfeeding."

Now, here's the deal.  When I was an infant, breastfeeding was verboten.  Formula was supposed to be so much better for an infant than that natural stuff.  Now things have shifted the other way.  That's fine.  What's not fine is the Government saying anything about it one way or the other.  It's not the Government's business if a woman breastfeeds, or not, so why is the Government getting involved?

Here in Texas, a bill requiring that mothers considering an abortion be administered and shown the results of an ultrasound, with an explanation of what they're seeing, was fought tooth and nail by the abortion lobby.  The law already provided that the mother could sign a form waiving viewing or hearing the description, but she had to actively make that choice.  Feminists were up in arms over this law.  It was the worst anti-abortion law ever.  Yet these same feminists, who insist that the Government keep its hands of their bodies, are remarkably silent, or even supportive, of this expansion of Government power over their bodies.

And that this is Government expansion is hardly a question, is it?  Certainly, at the moment, this is "voluntary."  The 27 participating hospitals signed on "voluntarilly."  But from the Mayor who has banned trans-fats, salt, and "large sugary drinks," is there any question that he'll remove the "voluntary" label from this if he gets the chance?  Why ceede this man any more power?  Why ceede the Government any more power?

Friday, July 27, 2012

And the Media Dutifully Reported: "Look! Squirrel!"

So Mitt Romney is doing a world tour.  I, personally, am very "meh" on the whole idea, but whatever.  And it probably would have remained out of the news, especially if it had been an unqualified success, except for two things.  First, the Media's Boyfriend, Barack Obama, is still reeling from being bludgeoned (figuratively) about the head and shoulders for his "You didn't succeed on your own" comments.  As he should.  Second, Mitt Romney said something that offended the Brits.

When asked about the Olympics in London, Mitt Romney said (not quoting) that from what he'd seen it didn't look like they were ready.  Now, two things about this: One, he was asked his opinion.  If you didn't want his opinion, you shouldn't have asked.  Two, Mr. Romney has some idea what "being ready" to host an Olympic Games looks like.

Of course Londoners and Liberals here in the US decided this was the Worst Gaff Ever, especially since they could use it to distract from the Miserable Failure that is our President.  So everyone went completely nuts over it.

Never mind that Governors and Mayors here at home are trying to limit the Freedom of Speech.  Never mind a measly 1.5% growth in GDP.  Never mind the fact that Barack Obama is still lying about what he said in Roanoke.  No, the story of the day MUST be about how Mitt Romney offended the British with his comments.

And too many Conservatives are joining them.  It's a non-story.  Had Barack Obama said the same thing, most of these people would be defending him.  Even if they wouldn't be, that doesn't change the fact that someone who knows something about these things decided to give an honest assessment instead of the "diplomatic" answer.

What's important is right here at home.  Pathetic GDP growth.  Official Unemployment above 8% for 41 straight months.  Inflation.  Punishingly low interest rates which hurt investors and those saving for retirement.  A lawless administration legislating by executive fiat.  An unconstitutional (I don't care what SCCJ Roberts says) upheld by the Supreme Court which subjugates every American.  But Mitt Romney said something that the Left is going to exploit, so let's hammer him on that.


The Lawless Administration Strikes Again

No.  Not that "Lawless."  This "lawless:"

"Prosecutorial discretion for dreamers is solely based on the individual's claims. Our orders are if an alien says they went to high school, then let them go," he said at a press conference with GOP senators. "Officers have been told that there is no burden for the alien to prove anything. ... At this point we don't even know why DHS has criteria at all, as there is no requirement or burden to prove anything on the part of the alien.

"We believe that significant numbers of people who are not dreamers are taking advantage of this practice to avoid arrest," he said.

That's a quote from Chris Crane, the President of the Union which represents the officers with the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  He made the statement yesterday.

You may remember when the SCOAMT enacted the DREAM Act by Executive Fiat.  We were told, by the left, that this was just for good kids.  It was just for people who had come over as children, and who had never harmed anyone.  Well, it turns out that isn't necessarily the case.

"Crane cited one case in which, he said, an immigrant facing criminal charges was let go under the policy. Further, he complained that officers are "under threat of losing their jobs" if they defy the policy."

Whoops.  It looks like maybe, just maybe, Conservatives were right after all- this will be abused by illegals to stay in the country.  As I've said before, those who break the law, don't care about the law.  They're already here illegally.  If they cared about the law, they wouldn't have broken that one.  If they don't care about laws protecting US Sovereignty, why would we think they would care about laws protecting US Sovereignty?  Or, for that matter, personal safety or personal property?  They're already criminals, what's one more crime?

And, once again, I have to turn to the States.  The Federal Government, under both Republican and Democrat leadership, has turned its back on this issue.  Worse, they seem to greet illegals with open arms.  The States must assert their authority to be Sovereign within their own borders.  If Washington, DC won't let the States deport illegals, then we can bus them all to DC.  One way or another, this has to be stopped.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Real Problem Liberals Have with Chick-Fil-A

In the previous post, we examined the Truth of Dan Cathy's statements regarding gay marriage.  That is, yes, God (or "The Universe" if you prefer) defines marriage, not man.  Liberals have seized on his comments as an excuse to attempt to destroy the company- something I remember them doing for at least the last 20 years.

Yes, for at least 20 years Chick-Fil-A has been in the Liberals' proverbial gun-sights.  The thing is, same-sex marriage hasn't been an issue that long.  Or, rather, it's been no more than a fringe issue until just the last 8 - 10 years.  So, if CfA has been under Liberal scrutiny for that long, but this issue hasn't been a hot-button for that long, Liberals must actually have another problem with Chick-Fil-A.  What is it?

Simply put, and pulling no punches: Freedom.  Liberals' Orwellian label asside, they hate Freedom.  They hate that people disagree with them without negative consequence.  They hate that people succeed on their own.  They hate that people can live lives free from government "assistance."  They hate freedom of mobility (they hated cars long before "global warming" ever came up).  They hate Freedom of choice (just see how they treat women who "choose" to have babies against the Liberals' wishes).  They hate Freedom in any true sense of the term.

Chick-Fil-A represents everything they hate.  They are closed on Sunday- every one of their over 1,000 stores.  Yet, despite this voluntary competitive disadvantage (their competition is all open 7 days a week, after all), they are wildly successful and popular.  They give money to religious charities.  They are proud of their Christian heritage.  In every way they show that Liberals' view of the world is wrong, and Liberals can't stand to see that.

On Marriage

So, apparently Dan Cathy, current CEO of Chick-Fil-A Restaurants, made liberals cry the other day when he said that it was the height of hubris to believe that humans, not God, define marriage, and asked God to have mercy on us for believing otherwise.  Liberals decided this makes him a big meany, and that they should vociferously boycott Chick-Fil-A Restaurants.

First off- good, that means there might be enough fewer people at the CfA drive-through when I go to lunch today that the line doesn't wrap all the way around the building. 

Secondly, let's examine the idea he put forward- does Man, or God (or, if you prefer: The Universe) define marriage?

Now, to some extent, man defines marriage.  Inasmuch as there is a societal construct called "marriage" that has varied from society to society, and that many societies have put the force of law behind that institution, marriage is "man made."  We even call it "the marriage contract," for this reason.

However, if we examine nature, we find that God (or 'The Universe') defines marriage far more than man does.  As CS Lewis once pointed out, different societies may have differed on marriage in that they differed about how many wives one could have, or how easy it was to dissolve that contract, but all societies everywhere have believed it wrong just to "have any woman you liked."  Even animals, to one extent or another, follow these rules.

Now, much ado has been made about specific instances of "homosexual behavior" found in animals.  These seem to fall into two categories- the truly abnormal, and what might be called, for lack of a better descriptor, "critical thinking in sexuality."  Truly abnormal instances, like the so-called "gay penguins," are remarkable specifically because they are abnormal.  Even those who believe in Darwinian evolution must concede that if homosexuality were the norm in animals, we'd have a lot fewer animals. 

Liberals often, however, point to supposed "normal" homosexual behavior in some simian species, especially varieties of monkey.  Even there, however, they have to admit that in the vast majority of cases the issue is not that the moneys are actually "homosexual," but rather that they tend to be males who have no chance of breeding with the females.  One might say, "They have certain needs..." 

In neither case is it considered "normal" behavior.  It seems pretty clear that the "normal" mode of nature is heterosexual.  Inasmuch as marriage as we know it is simply putting some limits on otherwise base and animal behavior, then we could say that God (or the Universe) defines marriage, not man.

Of course, if you're religious at all, you don't need to go through that thought process.  God has spoken, and he defined marriage as a heterosexual union between one man and one woman.  We got to the same place, but much simpler.

All of this backs up what Mr. Cathy said.  Nothing Mr. Cathy said was discriminatory or bigoted.  He didn't pass judgment on gay couples, simply on society for enabling or encouraging the behavior.  As a social conservative, I must say I agree with him.  You'll even note he never said anything about banning the behavior, simply not condoning it- which are two very different things.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Growing Police State: Neo-Prohibition Edition

So New York City apparently takes an annual survey of resident behavior and positions.  I'm guessing most cities do, the city where I live does so.  They use it for city planning and political purposes, among other things.

This year is going to be a little different however.  It seems that Nanny Bloomberg has instructed that this year's survey be heavy on the questions about alcohol and drug use.  Health Department spokesman Sam Miller had this to say, "We routinely conduct surveys about important health issues to learn more about them, and underage and excessive drinking are serious health issues.”

Given that this is the same mayoral staff who brought you bans on salt, trans-fat, and large sugary drinks, does anyone think they won't also try to restrict your access to alcoholic beverages?  In the name of your health, of course.

Mayor Bloomberg, your city has real problems.  From a fleeing affluent class, to crime, to traffic congestion, there are far better things for you to be worried about than drinking habits of your residents.  The very fact you think you have time to address this issue just goes to show how big you think Government should be, and how afraid of you lovers of Liberty should be.

If This is Success, What Would Failure Look Like?

In comments at an Oakland fundraiser on Monday, Barack Obama claimed that his economic polices have worked.  Hit the link for his specific comments and example, but let's view the larger picture.

Official unemployment is 8.2%.  Real unemployment- the U6 number- is closer to 15%.  In places such as Oakland, the official unemployment number is 13.7%.  Official UE has been over 8% for 41 straight months.  Inflation is in double digits, when the staple items of fuel and food are factored in.  Gas is over 100% higher now than when he took office.  Between the Eurozone's ever-imminent collapse and the US drought, we can only assume food prices will continue their frenzied increases.  Manufacturing is down for two straight months.  Housing prices are dropping again, while foreclosures are increasing.

By any objective standard, Mr. Obama's policies have been nothing short of a miserable failure.  Yet he touts them as successes.  Mr. Obama would have you believe that, but for him, unemployment would be worse, deficits and inflation would be higher, and manufacturing would be even worse off.

I'm sorry, but I'm not buying what he's selling.  Neither will I buy that bridge in Brooklyn from you.  Contrariwise, every time tax rate cuts have been tried, they've increased revenue to the Federal Government.  They've also spurred investment and private sector growth.  Every.  Time.

Which makes me think, perhaps this is Mr. Obama's definition of success: decimation of the private sector, denigration of business owners, a sharply increasing dependent class.  They are all road signs on the path to Communism. 

That would be expected from the Neo-Marxist in office.

Update: From friend of the Ace of Spades HQ @anthropocon comes this awesome web-ad:

From the Minds of Liberals

Yesterday, I got my first cogent responses from a liberal (I presume they were all the same person; it's hard for me to tell via the Blogger interface).  Go back and read the comments (yes, I actually typed that) for the display, but this one, in particular, caught my attention.  I responded to it in the thread, but I thought it deserved a more fulsome response.

Here's the part of the comment I'm addressing (the rest of the comment was addressed to another comment):

"Your business idea was your own, the majority of the hard work and possibly the capital to start it was your own(but I doubt the capital really was) and certainly the risk of failure was all your own, but ....your success was not all yours alone..I am sorry to bust your bubble buddy. Without existing infrastructure, built from taxpayers money for decades previous to your success, without supply and transportation pipelines to ship and deliver the necessary components of your business's product, without customers and, most importantly, without competent and dedicated, hard-working employees...your success would never have happened at all. Sure, the President said something supremely stupid here but for all of you clowns who think that one person is responsible for an entire company's success? Time to wake up. Unless that business is a single owner/operator that deals in purely intellectual or informational products(and even then they use the discoveries and inventions of thousands before them) then your argument is as useless as your cries of tyranny and socialism."

This is, as you can see, pretty standard Marxist rhetoric, but let's break it down.

"Your business idea was your own, the majority of the hard work and possibly the capital to start it was your own(but I doubt the capital really was) and certainly the risk of failure was all your own, but ....your success was not all yours alone"

So, you had the vision.  You took the risk.  You found the capital (and, yes, buddy, it was "their own" in the vast majority of cases, or did you think loans were just free money?)  But, despite these things, "your success was not all yours alone."  Oh really?  Why?

"Without existing infrastructure, built from taxpayers money for decades previous to your success, without supply and transportation pipelines to ship and deliver the necessary components of your business's product, without customers and, most importantly, without competent and dedicated, hard-working employees...your success would never have happened at all."

Oh.  Right.  The People made it happen.  You don't actually get credit for your business because you're using "infrastructure," and you have vendors, and you have customers.  So, to liberals, unless you mined the ore used in the steel girders of your building yourself, unless you invented metallurgy to turn that iron into steel, unless you forged the girders yourself, unless you laid the roads, unless you wired the building, unless you bought your own product yourself like some perpetual motion machine- then you "owe" your success to others.

Sorry, Charlie, it doesn't work that way.  See, I'm a tax payer.  People who own small businesses pay a very large percentage of the taxes in this country, which means they've already paid "their fair share," and more, for that "infrastructure."  Yes it was the "taxpayers" money, but who are the taxpayers?  By and large, it's those small business owners.

As for needing "supply and transporation pipelines," well, yes.  And a business owner could invest in doing that himself, but other people already do it more cheaply and efficiently.  A business owner no more "owes" his success to his vendors than he does "the taxpayer."  He selected which vendors he's using; he pays them (or they don't continue to supply their goods or services). 

Employees?  I owe them nothing either.  I selected the right group of employees (and if I didn't I wouldn't be successful).  As their boss, I'm responsible for their conduct while acting as my employees.  I pay them their wages.  I don't "owe" them anything.  Surely them being good employees contributed to my success, but they weren't working for me out of the goodness of their hearts, they were working for a regular paycheck.

And Customers.  You're absolutely right that, without customers, my business would fail.  However, as a business owner, I can't simply sit and wait for customers to come to me.  I have to cultivate a customer base.  I have to provide a good or service for which they are willing to pay.  I have to make sure they know I provide said good or service.  I have to treat them right and have competative prices.  All of that falls on me.

My success is mine, and mine alone.  If I succeed, it is because I had the vision, gumption, smarts, and work ethic to make my enterprise work.  In most cases, that means I'm smart enough to use things already existing to help me.  I owe "the taxpayer," that abstract concept, no more of my success than I owe the cash register I use, or desk at which I sit.

The attempt to make business people feel that they "owe" others for their success is nothing more than class warfare, Marxist rhetoric.  The target isn't even the business owners, but everyone else.  You see, if that business owner wasn't "successful" on his own, then he does, indeed, owe "more" than others.  Why, he's built his success on the backs of others, how dare he!?  But it doesn't work that way.  That business owner has paid his dues, he built the business, he overcame the obstacles (and there are always obstacles), and he is the primary reason for the success of his company.

If you want to get into "owes," it's the working class who "owe" the visionaries who open and run businesses, who take all that risk, for providing them a place to work and a way to feed their families.  It's the customers who "owe" the businesses for providing them things they couldn't provide themselves.  It's government who owes those business owners for being the primary tax payers.  But even that is class warfare rhetoric.  In truth, no one "owes" anyone anything here.  My success is mine, and if I fail, that's mine, too.  I didn't succeed or fail because of "infrastructure" or "supply and transport pipelines," or "employees," or even "customers."  I succeeded or failed because of a vision, the courage to implement it, the smarts to plan properly, and the hard work necessary to bring it to fruition.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Growing Police State: Airport Pacemaker Edition

More and more I hate these petty tyrants.  The whole TSA needs to be disbanded. Assuming they're actually useful at all (they aren't), their tasks could be handled more efficiently and professionally by private security.

Case in point, Primo Meza is a resident of Florida who was in Des Moines to visit his sick sister.  While going through the security line to get to the terminal so he could board his flight, his pacemaker set off an alarm with the TSA.  They immediately leapt into action to save us from this deadly seasoned citizen.

Besides his pacemaker, Mr. Meza also requires a battery powered oxygen system.  While undergoing the gentle, understanding, and above all professional ministrations of these petty tyrants, the battery for his system ran down.  His daughter, traveling with him, attempted to intervene to recharge the battery on his machine.

"When I tried to walk towards him, they surrounded me and told me I couldn't touch him and I said I need... I told them like five times I needed to plug him in so that he didn't lose his battery life," she said in the linked report.  She was rebuffed.

By the time the geniuses with the TSA decided that the elderly man posed no threat, it was time to board his flight.  Unfortunately, with his battery nearly depleted, and no time to charge it, he was instead stuck in Des Moines.  The TSA, of course, claims no responsibility here.

The Growing Police State: Death Tax Edition

H/T Popehat.

Ileana Sonnabend was collector and seller of art created after 1945.  She died in 2007 leaving her collection to her family.  Among these items is Robert Raushenberg's "Canyon," a work which incorporates the body of a bald eagle.  While presumably legal at the time it was created, it is now illegal to buy or sell the work because the bald eagle, dead or alive, is under federal protection.

So, when several appraisers were asked to put a value on the work, they placed a value of $0.00 on it.  Value is not inherent, after all, but a function of the market.  Since, in this case, there is no legal market, there can be no legal value.  QED.

Enter the all-beneficent, all-caring US Government.  Specifically enter the IRS, ready to assess the "Inheritance Tax," on the late collector's estate.  Despite three separate appraisals for $0, and despite the fact it would be a Federal Crime to either purchase or sell the work, the IRS decided that it was worth $65,000,000.00.

There are those who claim that the inheritance tax is supposed to prevent institutional wealth.  That is, it's supposed to prevent any one family from amassing so much money they have undue political power.  I would like to direct them to the Kennedys, Rockefellers, and Bushs.  What the inheritance tax really does is confiscate wealth at an absurd rate, and prevents those who might break into the "fabulously wealthy" category from ever doing so.  Case in point: the estate was assessed an inheritance tax of $417 million initially- requiring the largest private art auction ever- and then assessed (including a penalty) a further $29.2 million just on that piece of art which cannot be bought or sold.

Just one more piece of evidence that the Death Tax is ineffectual at the goal its apologists proclaim, and should be completely and permanently eliminated.

A Red Herring

So, Mitt Romney came out with a very good ad last week, taking Barack Obama's "You didn't build that" comment (note: no, it's not taken out of context.  It is those who are claiming that it's taken out of context who are taking it out of context) and simply blowing it out of the water.  Here, watch.

Surprising precisely no one, it took the MFM almost no time to submit the subject of the commercial to more scrutiny than Barack Obama has received (in total) since 2007.  And they found the smoking gun.  Or not.

You see, the claim is that the owner didn't actually build the business himself because (gasp) he applied for and received government loans and has government contracts!  Hypocrisy!!!11!!Eleventy!

One problem- there's nothing hypocritical about it.  He never said he didn't take government money, watch the ad again.  It's about hard-work, which he did, and the risk, which he assumed.  So let's break this down.

According to this report, he received "tax-exempt revenue bonds" in 1999 from the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority.  He also received a Small Business Administration federal loan in the 1980s.  Hypocrisy?  No.  Those are loans.  Had he not paid them, he would have lost his business to repay them.  These weren't some grants that never had to be repaid, they were loans just like any other.  He happens to be in metal-work, which happens to have lots of National Defense implications.  And those bonds were state, not Federal funds.

Well, what about those government contracts?  Well, those apparently come out to a whopping $88,600 among three contracts: two with the Navy, and one with the Coast Guard.  Wow.  Color me stunned.  He had the Government as a customer, and he got paid for it.  Obviously he's a crypto-Marxist.

This is stupid.  What's next, A full 20/20 or 60 Minutes investigation?  Will they comb through his tax records to see if, just maybe, he's donated to political campaigns before?  Will they find out that *gasp* he might be a Republican?

This is Joe the Plumber all over again.  Rather than address the real issue- that Barack Obama made a full on Marxist Comment (and if they want context, I recommend they start looking where he said that if you're successful you didn't get there on your own, and that your success is not due to your own intelligence and hard work), they try to turn the issue into who was in the ad.  This is sick and reprehensible.  They can't defend their Boyfriend in Chief, so instead they attack the messenger.

I just hope people are smart enough to see through it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Welfare President

It shouldn't really surprise anyone that Barack Obama wants to expand the welfare state.  For one thing, it is positively Democrat Dogma that more welfare spending is necessarily a good thing.  For another, one cannot deny that, by and large, those who are assisted by various welfare programs tend to be Democrat voters.

On the other hand, we should be looking at the results of such spending before we decide to spend more.  Are welfare programs enabling independence, or dependency? Are welfare programs reducing, or increasing, the numbers of those in poverty?  In short, are welfare programs succeeding, or are they failing?

The first part of the problem, of course, is defining "success."  The federal government tends to view a program as a success when it has many subscribers.  The more people who are on a given welfare program, the more "successful" the federal government views it.  The problem with this paradigm is that welfare programs should be the opposite.  After initial subscriptions, the general growth trend in people using the services should be negative.  Every year fewer people should qualify for the program- not more.

The other part of the problem determining if a given welfare program meets the definition of success.  If you definition is the federal governments, then they're all succeeding beyond your wildest dreams.  Under President Barack Obama, more than 1 in 7 Americans are defined as Living in Poverty; that's the most in nearly twenty years.  If, on the other hand, you definition of success is that fewer people need services, and the ones who need them need fewer, it is a miserable failure.

It should be obvious to anyone who wishes to help the poor stop being poor that the modern welfare state is an abject failure.  Increased rolls show increased instances.  Increased spending indicate increased dependency.  If our goal is to assist those who are poor to elevate themselves out of poverty, we're obviously doing something wrong.

Yet, rather than reevaluate the efforts of the federal government, Democrats in general, and Barack Obama in particular, insist that increased spending and enrollment are the answer.  Rather than check their theories against the test results of reality, they insist that reality must be wrong.  Instead of deciding that something is wrong, and attempting a different tactic, the Democrats propose more of the same, and accuse Conservatives of being inhumane when we disagree.

Yes, Barack Obama is the Food Stamps President.  Not because he cares about the poor, but because his party has painted itself into a corner.  Any admission that they've been wrong for the last 50 years would set them back, politically speaking, for decades to come.  Continuing on the same course dooms generations of Americans to poverty which could be avoided.

The Growing Police State: Who's Watching You? Edition

On Thursday, in testimony to Congress, it was revealed that over 100 "Federal, State, and Local" government "entities" have had authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct unmanned surveillance of the Domestic US Population.  According to House Homeland Security Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Michael McCaul, there are around 200 active Authorizations covering over 100 entities.  His quote: "We are now on the edge of a new horizon: using unmanned aerial systems within the homeland."

I've covered before why this should be so troublesome.  Now it looks like, by the time we were even informed that government was looking into the possibility, they'd already been doing it for some time.  This should terrify any free people.  The Government has neither the right, nor the power, to spy on its own citizens without a warrant which specifically details the subjects and objects of the investigation.  Simply flying a drone to see what can be seen is a gross violation of the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution.  It is the move of a dictatorial regime more interested in keeping the domestic populace in line than in serving them and governing wisely.

Once again, I find myself compelled to appeal to the States.  The Federal Government obviously acknowledges no limits to its own authority.  If any limits are to exist, the States must set them and enforce them.  The States must say, "Not in my State, you don't.  Not over my residents."

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mourning in America

I would like to extend my condolences to those families and friends of the (last number I heard) 15 murdered in a Colorado theater early this morning.  Whatever the talking heads and pundits say, there is no reason for this monstrosity beyond the fact the shooter was a monster.  Any discussion of "why" simply serves to take the emphasis off the victims, both dead and the survivors, and lessens their suffering.

I pray that God will grant them peace and comfort.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Growing Police State: Mileage Tax Edition

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. -US Constitution, Amendment IV

What is it about the Constitution that these people don't understand?  Regardless of the "incorporation" doctrine (which was made up by the Supreme Court), the 4th Amendment refers to a Right of the People.  That is, no authority in the US is allowed to take it away (see also: Amendments 9 & 10).

In California, specifically around the San Francisco Bay area, law makers want to track your car via GPS to see how many miles you drive, and tax you accordingly.  Now, I understand why, really.  Electric, or even just hybrid, cars really do use less gasoline (even if the savings doesn't make up the price difference for the car) and gasoline taxes are a major part of the transportation budget.  I get that.  I understand its a problem that needs to be addressed.  But you do not address it by violating the constitution, and my right to be secure in my person, home, papers, and effects supercedes the government's right to tax me based on how much I drive.

The Government doesn't get to know where I go and what I do.  Not without a warrant issued only "upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."  That means they don't get to read my GPS to see how far I've traveled.

And that avoids the bad acting that is sure to go on: things like taxing people for miles driven out of state, using these records (because they're already state records) as evidence in criminal trials, and so forth.  I don't even have to go there because the idea itself is clearly ludicrous.

There are answers to the electric / hybrid-car problem.  Personally, I'd love to see the gas tax done away with entirely, and have that revenue generated some other way.  Perhaps as a calculated amount added to your yearly registration fee or something (not sure how that would work out, though).  The specific answer does not matter, however: this is clearly government over-reach and should be vociferously opposed.

Fast and Furious: Consequences for Whistleblowing

From the Washington Guardian comes this rather chilling piece.  It seems the federal prosecutor who was tasked with reforming the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives isn't so interested in reforming the organization as he is interested in people not blowing the whistle.

In a video to ATF Employees, he states, "Choices and consequences means simply that if you make poor choices, that if you don't abide by the rules, that if you don't respect the chain of command, if you don't find the appropriate way to raise your concerns to your leadership, there will be consequences."

How this can be perceived as anything other than a threat to silence whistle-blowers is beyond me.   The Acting Director, B. Todd Jones, was brought in specifically to rehabilitate ATF in the wake of the Fast and Furious Scandal (required note: Watergate did not have a body count).  The only reason we know about Fast and Furious is whistle-blowers who did not "find the appropriate way to raise [their] concerns..." 

In any organization, employees need someone who is outside their "chain of command," to whom they can take complaints.  Whatever the law says, retaliation is real, and employees who have legitimate complaints need a way to raise those complaints without risking reprisals.  This is especially true when your employer is a government agency and your "complaint" is that you believe your agency is conducting an act of war against an allied foreign power.

These comments show that ATF not only has not learned this lesson, but is trying desperately to avoid it.

Watergate did not have a body count.
Fast and Furious was an Act of War against an allied foreign power.

Focused Like a Laser, Alright


On Communism vs Capitalism

Over at the AoSHQ (linked in my side bar, as always) we got to having a discussion about how Communism has always failed everywhere, and everywhen, it has been tried.  I thought I'd share my thoughts here for any readers who don't go there.

First off, I should point out that I know of two instances where a group of people tried to practice "True" Communism- what previously was called "Utopian Communism."  That is, I know, from my own research and education, about two instances where everyone in a relatively small group really submitted themselves for the benefit of the group and where the group punished or exiled the small number of people who did not.  There may be others, but the two I know of are 1st Century AD Christians in Jerusalem, and the Reunion Colony in Texas where a portion of Dallas now sits.

This is important, because these two instance provide anecdotal evidence that, even if communists were right about human nature (they're not, but we'll get to that later), the world itself works in such a way that communism will fail.  See, in both cases, because of their communist societies, no one had any extra.  Those who had extra had already shared with those who did not.  That's a good and noble thing, but it's short sighted (as both groups found out).  First Century Jewish Christians had to give up their communist model when a drought and famine devastated the Middle East just a couple of years after Christ's ascension.  Because they had all shared everything equally, no one had any reserves to see them through the hard times.  They were reduced to surviving based on gifts from other Christians around the world.  The Reunion Colony did not have that support structure, so when they suffered a massive crop failure, the colony failed.

In neither case was human action to "blame," for the failure of communism.  The nature of communism itself makes it unlikely that there will ever be reserves of anything, so when acts of nature cause shortages, there's no way to make it up.  Weather and natural occurrences make communism unworkable.

What is also important in both of these models is that neither lasted very long, but they had problems from the get-go.  The Christians, quite famously, had Ananias and Sapphira.  The Reunion Colony had other bad actors.  Had they continued as communist communities, these would have become more frequent and more magnified.

But, you see, we don't need these examples.  Virtually every school day, somewhere in America, we have another perfect microcosm of the inherent problems with Communism.  Group Projects.  You remember group projects, right?  You teacher probably assigned the group, though if you were lucky you got to pick the group so you could be with your friends.  Then you were given an assignment on which everyone was supposed to work.  How many times did it work out that way?  In my entire school career, I recall twice- and both times I was grouped with my friends, and both times we were purposely subversive.  Yes, I was that way in High School, too.

In most cases, one or two people actually do all the work while the others, either out of incompetence or laziness, simply enjoy the fruits of the others' labor.  This happened far more often than actual group work, and the reasons are simple.  In most groups, you have one or two kids who care about their grades enough that the other kids know they'll drag the project over the finish line.  With only one or two of them working on it, it may only get a B or C, but that's passing, and that's enough for the others.  For their part, the hard-working kids know that if they don't do it, the best grade they can hope for is a C as everyone else phones it in, so they pick up that work because they do care about their own grades.

Both of these explain why communism will not, cannot, work.  First, because human nature is such that we are not communal by nature.  Every person thinks of themselves first.  Second, because nature itself requires that humans not be communal- communal living has less ability to forecast and plan for future conditions than the "greedy" or "selfish" capitalistic system.

In a capitalistic system, hundreds, thousands, millions, or even billions of people each work for their own direct good.  They each try to plan for the future- so when one gets it wrong, there are others who got it right and then have the resources to support the one who got it wrong.  But this system, to operate effectively, requires that everyone work.  It requires that society itself not assist anyone, but rather that it encourage individuals to assist each other.

In pure theory (it would never happen in the real world) a pure capitalist society, with each person working for his or her own direct good; where government ensured the rules were easy to understand and applied equally to all; where each person reaped the rewards of hard work, and dealt with the consequences of failure: in that purely theoretical world, a capitalist society would be every bit as "Utopian" as any communist society could ever dream.

In the real world, Capitalism leads to more freedom, more wealth- even at the "poverty" level- and more access to opportunity and even to justice than Communism ever will.  As flawed as it is, Capitalism is more grounded in the real world, and therefore a much better system than communism or socialism.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The President Has a Lot on His Plate

Which of course why he's too busy to meet with his economic advisory council, but not too busy to play 100+ rounds of golf.

By now, you probably know that the President's jobs council hasn't "officially" met in over six months.  This despite a "laser-like focus on jobs."  So, when asked about it in his daily press briefing today, Jay Carney had this to say:

"there's no specific reason except that the president's obviously got a lot on his plate."

Yes, he obviously has a lot on his plate.  He has golf to play and fund-raisers to attend.  Obviously what is not on his plate, however, are the actual job duties of the President.

Tell you what, Mr. Obama, if you're so busy you can't actually do your job, how about we let someone who will actually be President be President?

Midden Meet Windmill

Someone is killing IsraelisIsrael believes that the "someone" is Iran.

Not.  Good.

With All Due Respect, That's the Point

So, looking for some content, I found this article about this study by a Liberal Think-Tank about how "restrictive" Voter ID laws will "disenfranchise millions of eligible voters."  The core complaint seems to come down to two things: first, that having the documentation to get legal voter ID is expensive, and, second, that it is inconvenient.

I have the "expensive" claim first because it is so laughable.  The study points out that a copy of a birth certificate can cost up to $25, and a marriage license (for married persons whose names don't match their birth certificates) can cost up to $20.  So, worst case scenario, it can cost $45.00 for a "free" ID.  Here's the problem:  first, you should have a copy of your birth certificate anyway.  The reason you can get copies from your courthouse are because you might lose it, not because you shouldn't have it.  You need it for all kinds of things, and the government reasonably expects that you'll just keep a copy.  The same is true of your marriage license.  There are a reason these documents exist in the first place, and the government expects you to keep a copy.  So, I'm sorry if you didn't, but even for "those below the poverty level," $45 dollars is not really that hard to come up with.  It may take some planning, but it can be done.

Now, the "inconvenient" claim.  The authors of the study don't call it merely inconvenient, and would probably be incensed at the fact I'm characterizing it that way, but it's the truth.  Their metric is people without cars who live more than 10 miles (straight line) to the nearest office issuing the required photo ID.  Now this sounds like a good metric.  Right off the bat, one thinks, "Oh, that would be a huge barrier!"  But then one should think, "Registration drives and voter busing."  There are numerous groups all across the nation which go to people's homes to help them register to vote, and who bus voters to polling stations on election day.  Are you telling me these groups aren't going to help people get to the Voter ID office?  Seriously?

Now, here is the thing.  Voting is not, in fact, a Right.  Not in the way that Free Speech is Right.  Voting is a privilege.  You can lose the privilege by committing (and being convicted of) a felony.  You can lose the privilege by choosing not to register to vote.  You can lose the privilege by being in the military (or otherwise overseas) and your state not issuing ballots in time for absentee ballots to be submitted.  I don't hear these groups complaining about that.

Here is another thing: Voting is Important.  It is the way in which Citizens influence their government most directly.  It is the way we have a voice in the direction of the country.  If you can't be inconvenienced enough to find forty-five dollars and a ride into town, I'm convinced you're not taking the responsibilities involved with voting seriously enough that I want you to vote.

In fact, there are two points to voter ID laws.  The first and most obvious is to make it harder to vote illegally.  Requiring a Government Issued photo ID makes it harder to vote as someone else, or to vote when you're not here legally.  The second, though, is as a "minimum barrier to entry."  That is, making someone get a valid voter ID means they have to exert at least a minimum amount of effort to 'prove' that they are actually interested in voting.

The Growing Police State: FDA Spying Edition

I've known about this since Monday, but the only link I had was to the NYT (here).  There's nothing I can point to that's wrong with the article- from what I've read it seems to be fairly straight news reporting.  But it is a convoluted issue, and exactly "why" it was a big deal was hard to pin down.  I knew in my gut that it was bad, but the reporting didn't make clear exactly why I was so irked, though irked I was.

Today, via the almighty Vic at the AoSHQ, I have this better link to a FoxNews article.  It's a little easier to digest, and made it much easier to pin down why this is such a bad thing.

For those who don't know, the FDA has to approve everything from new prescription drugs, to generic formulations of drugs no longer protected, to new medical devices and changes to old medical devices.  This process has been highly politicized for as long as I can remember, with the "Big Pharma" companies routinely getting drugs approved via a "fast track" process; drugs which would later either be recalled or have their approval modified.  On the other side of things were the little pharmaceutical companies who would often have drugs languish in red-tape limbo for years, and Durable Medical Equipment designers.

At least six scientists working for the FDA decided there institutional, and probably legal, problems with this arrangement, and began working on getting it fixed.  They communicated with congress and with personal attorneys, as (it seems, though I'm not clear on this) with each other.

The FDA retaliated by installing monitoring software on their work laptops- software which captured confidential communications with members of Congress as well as with their attorneys.

Now, the criminal issue here is big, but the implications are actually wider than that.  Hit the NYT and FoxNews for the criminal angle. 

The major problem with this is the brazen, even cavalier manner in which the FDA acted.  Their actions speak of a culture that brooks no dissent- which should be antithetical to science generally, and especially to medical science.  Spying on employees who disagree with you is bad enough, but to then base retaliation (which is illegal anyway) on the confidential communications thereby attained is even worse.  It cannot have anything but a chilling affect on dissent, and dissent is necessary for science to work properly.  Contrary to Al Gore's beliefs, science is not now, and has never been, about about "consensus."

To so oppose dissent, even if it dissent about policy, means the FDA is putting politics above safety and people's health.  If policy is wrong about something- and sometimes even decently crafted and well meaning policies get something wrong- then it needs to be challenged and changed.  To oppose such means the FDA is more concerned with the status quotient than they are with doing what they are mandated to do: make sure drugs and medical equipment are safe for your use.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In Which Sally Kohn Completely Whiffs

On FoxNews.com today, Sally Kohn has a piece in which she espouses support for Barack Obama's "You didn't do that," comment.  It deserves some deconstruction:

First, this pair of statements:
"But there were things that helped my grandfather’s business that he didn’t have to pay for."
"...my grandfather paid almost 50% of his income in taxes to help make sure that good public schools and safe streets and the things we all need to succeed in America would be available for the next generation."

Ms. Kohn, don't you understand that the second refutes the first?  He did have to pay for those things- through his taxes.  He didn't "owe" anyone anything for their use, because he'd already paid for it.  No more do I "owe" Dell anything for the computer I'm using to write this: the computer has already been paid for.  You only "owe" someone for something when they've provided you a good or service for which you have not compensated them.  I couldn't work without this computer, or a mouse, or internet service.  I pay for all of them and therefore "owe" nothing for them.

"Today, hedge fund managers and big business CEOs pay lower tax rates than middle class families."

This is a fallacy you hear repeated quite often, and it needs to be refuted every time.  Big Business CEOs usually pay greater than 50% of their salary when local, state, and federal taxes are considered.  Just like your grandfather, Ms. Kohn.  You refer to the fact that many of the uber-rich subsist without a salary income, and live only on the interest from previous investments: thus, they pay a lower "capital gains" tax rate.  However, you miss two things: one, that money was taxed before it was invested and two, there is no guarantee that such investments will make money in any given year.  Yes, some investments are highly secure, but none that provide enough interest to be worth discussing are guaranteed.  Further, there is the fact that you would further harm businesses by increasing the capital gains rate.  People invest in businesses, especially new businesses, to earn a profit.  If the government makes that more difficult, fewer people will be able to invest, and those who still can will be less willing to do so.

Finally (and then go read the whole thing to point, and laugh, and mock)
"The president was clear:  We succeed because of our individual initiative but also because of the public investments that help springboard that success."

This is utter Marxist bovine defecation.  If the government was so instrumental in success, does it not then also get some of the blame for the (approximated 90%) of new business failures?  Of course not, and this goes back to the first point.  My taxes paid for those things.  There is no such thing as a "public investment."  First off, investments see returns, and nothing paid for by the government ever sees a positive return.  Secondly, "the public" is not an entity that can do anything.  To try, via slight of hand, to suggest it can is pure Marxist Collectivism.  The truth is that the Government does organize some things, and pays for them with your and my tax dollars.  Or, with funny money printed by the US Treasury- which is considerably worse.

In fact, when you begin to add in government bureaucracy, regulations, business taxes, and so forth, any business which succeeds does so in spite of government, not because of it.

Oh, and just to be clear- the Government didn't always build roads or schools.  Certainly major thoroughfare roads (like US Highways and the Interstate Highway System), and government run schools are actually fairly recent inventions in human history.  Many roads were built with private funds, and most schools were run by private (mostly Religious) institutions.  Did Ben Franklin owe his success to Government?  Certainly not.  If the Government weren't building the roads, someone would be.  And I'd have to pay for their use just like I do for those "provided" by the Government.

The Growing Police State: Credit Ratings Edition

Oh.  This will end well.  It appears the Federal Government is now going to be "overseeing" the Credit Reporting agencies.  Those would be the agencies which assess how risky it is to loan various entities, from private citizens, to corporations, to governments, money.  Yes, those people who downgraded, and then (under vast political pressure) re-upgraded US Debt.

Does the term "conflict of interest" have know meaning to these people?  How about "Tyranny?"

The Orwellian Named "Consumer Financial Protection Bureau" said, Monday, that it would begin supervising the top 30 firms that make up approximately 94% of the Credit Rating industry.  Of course, this is to make things more "fair" to "consumers."

Nevermind that credit rating agencies already have every incentive- just from the market place- to get the right answers regarding creditworthiness.  If they err too often on the side of lending money, no one will trust them and they'll all go back to doing their own underwriting.  That, or new agencies which get it right more often will arise.  If the err too often on the side of not lending money, the same thing will happen.  Banks and other lenders use the Credit Reporting agencies out of convenience, not necessity.

No, the only reason for this move is to prevent further embarrassment to national governments, or government agencies, from having their credit ratings downgraded.  This is a bald-faced threat.  This is a statement, "Remember who controls you."  Or, perhaps, "I'm altering the deal.  Pray I do not alter it futher."

Marxism, Pure and Simple

In a post yesterday, I asked whether the President is a demagogue or just stupid.  Frankly, I think the answer is "yes," but in regards to the specific comments he made regarding business success, I think there is a more appropriate answer.  He's a full out, Karl Marx Communist.  The line about business owners not doing it themselves, followed by the non sequitur about "everyone having their own fire response" or whatever, is pure Communist Manifesto.

Let me explain.  His comment was not simply saying that businesses rely on roads and infrastructure, which they do, but that because they rely on these things they owe their success to "The People."  Well, they can't pay back "The People," now can they?  Among other things, there would be no reasonable way to apportion any repayment (assuming such was needed- which it isn't).  Instead, these businesses must "repay" the Government.

That is, any successful business should be owned by the Government.  Which economic and political system espouses that, again?  Oh.  That's right.  Communism.

And, just like the Communist he is at heart, Mr. Obama then went with the public services fallacy.  This is the idea that, since things have to be organized, all things must be centrally organized.  That is: because cities maintain fire departments, instead of there being private companies that provide the service, and everyone needs that protection, everyone should be answerable to government because of that.  Apparently the Communists have never head of Volunteer Fire Departments.

This is important.  It is important to understand where the President is getting his ideas.  Whether or not he believes himself to be a Communist, that's where his heart and head are.  Whether or not he thinks of himself that way, his inclinations are to Nationalize everything.

In November you have a choice: a slightly out-of-touch, but pro-American and pro-Capitalism candidate, or a Crypto-Marxist.

Why Do We Enable Punks Like This?

I'm not sure what it is about professional sports, but they seem to have more than their fair share of punks.  Case in point: Cowboys talented (but over-rated) Wide Receiver Dez Bryant.  That article says he assaulted his fiance, the report I heard on the radio this morning says it was his mother.  In either case: he's a punk.

And it's not just the Cowboys, though they seem to have a habit of hiring punks, and it's not just Football (Basketball comes to mind).  And I have to ask myself "why?"  Why are punks so over-represented in professional sports?  Heck, the NHL and NASCAR have punks who deserve no success, let alone fame.

Now much of this is the fault of the punks themselves, and their families, friends, and supposed mentors.  There is no excuse for being a punk, and families, friends, and mentors should not put up with punk-ish behavior.  I know if I ever got an attitude with my dad, my face would have ended up on the back of my head.  I suspect that these punks had no such fear or respect for their elders when they were growing up.

But I also suspect much of this comes from the general coarsening of the culture.  Sure, celebrities have been punks, to one extent or another, for much of recorded human history, but we at least used to require them to behave themselves in public.  Whatever bad behavior Frank Sinatra and the boys had, they were expected to keep it out of the public eye.  When scandals occurred, they could be career-ending.  Now, we just shrug, and say, "well, yeah, but the boy can play, and we want that title!"  We've just accepted it.

And now it's migrated to Politicians.  From Eliot Spitzer being offered a national TV show, to Bill "Can't Keep It In My Pants" Clinton still being lionized by the media, to Anthony Weiner even being able to show his face in public, let alone run for office, we've just accepted that these people will behave badly.  So, knowing there won't be any lasting consequences for bad behavior, they behave all the worse.

Now, in the case of sports stars, we don't have much say.  Owners can hire whoever they want, and we can choose to watch or not.  One player's bad behavior is not enough to get me to stop watching my Cowboys play, so Dez Bryant is probably not going to get fired over this- however appropriate that may be.  Politicians, on the other hand, we can influence with our votes and with our attention.  It's time we remembered that, and enforced it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

#BrettKimberlin Update: Response from Rep. Joe Barton

I wrote an Open Letter to Congressman Joe Barton (TX-6) back in May regarding Brett Kimberlin, his Justice Through Music Project, and his Velvet Revolution organization.  Specifically, I requested some steps from Representative Barton.

Well, Mr. Barton has replied- for which I thank him, but I think he missed the point.  Reproduced here is his response (leaving out the salutation):

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about Brett Kimberlin. I appreciate hearing from you, and I am glad that you keep an active political blog.

Brett Kimberlin is indeed a dangerous man who has committed multiple crimes. You are correct in that Mr. Kimberlin has organized both the "Velvet Revolution" and the "Justice Through Music Project." According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Velvet Revolution is a 501(c)(4) organization and the Justice Through Music Project is a 501(c)(3) organization. 

The IRS is required to hold all tax-exempt organizations according to section 7801 of the Internal Revenue Code. More specifically, those organizations are required to disclose public documents to ensure that they are complying with the current law. For more information, please visit the following link: http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=135008,00.html. 

In your letter, you state that you believe the IRS should require organizations to not allow their principles, officers, or employees to engage in any type of harassment or hindrance of free speech. You also suggest that the IRS require organizations to not allow their principles and officers to represent themselves "pro se" in court. To ensure that the IRS is aware of your ideas, I strongly encourage you to file a complaint with the agency. Information on how to do this can be found by using the following link: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=178241,00.html. 

Mr. Barton: I appreciate your response, but my request was of you.  You see, the IRS is a singularly unaccountable agency.  Certainly I will be contacting the IRS about this issue, but that's all I can do, and they are highly unlikely to listen to me at any rate.

You, on the other hand, have a position of authority.  You can request, with the power of a Congressional Seat, that the IRS investigate, while my letter will languish on some desk for weeks or months.  You can read Mr. Kimberlin's record into the Congressional Record to stop his lawfare tactics cold.  Telling me what I can do is good- doing something for your constitutents would be better.

The Growing Police State: No Announcement Arrest Edition

"The bottom line is, you point a gun at a deputy sheriff or police office [sic], you're going to get shot."

That was the response of Lake County (FL) Sheriff's Office Lt. John Harrell to the fatal shooting by two deputies of an innocent man.

The deputies, who believed they were serving a warrant on a man wanted for murder, knocked at 3 AM but did not announce themselves as law enforcement.  The man, Andrew Scott, answered the door with a gun in his hand- and was shot dead by the deputies.

Harrell also described it as "a bizarre set of circumstances."

Not it's not, you idiot, and this is not the first time that no-knock or no-announcement arrest attempts have ended up getting someone killed.  So knock it off.  If you're so scared of someone, surround their home with a SWAT team and call for them on a bull-horn.  You can even hide behind that cool armored van a lot of SWAT teams use, if you want.

What you don't get to do is knock at someone's door at 3 AM, and then blame them for their own death when they answer the door armed.  You were looking for a suspected murderer.  It's just possible that he didn't live in the nicest part of town.  So it shouldn't really have surprised you when the door was answered by someone holding a gun.

These policies are getting innocent people killed, and they must stop.  Within his own home, a man is King.  If the government is going to usurp that authority, they must do so with due process- which includes telling him that they're doing it, why they have the authority, and the cause of them exerting that authority.

That sounds like a mouth full, but a simple, "It's the Police, open the door!" would have fulfilled two of the three requirements, and allowed for a peaceful opportunity to fulfill the last.  It would also have saved an innocent man's life.

Demagoguery or Stupidity?

Two weeks ago, my toilets quit flushing.  They didn’t back up, and they would eventually drain, so long as there was no solid waste in them, but they would no longer actually flush.  My wife called me at work about the situation.  I took a look at it when I got home and determined that we needed a plumber.

So we called a plumber, but this wasn’t precisely an emergency: even solid waste would go down with enough plunging, and I wasn’t about to pay emergency rates.  Fairly promptly the next day the plumber showed up.  In almost no time, he discovered the problem: a tree in the easement between my yard and the street had a root cluster which had grown into the drain-pipe.  It would have to be repaired.  As an emergency patch, he drilled a whole through the root cluster then he called the City of Arlington to schedule someone from the city to come out.

If the problem was actually in the easement, which is city property, the city has to pay for its repair, if it was technically inside my property line, I would be responsible.  So the city said we would receive a call on Thursday (this was Tuesday), to tell us when the city inspector would be out.  Thursday afternoon came with no call, so my wife called the city who had managed to lose our appointment.  They would send someone the next day.  At this point, it’s been nearly a week (the problem occurred on Monday), and we would be leaving for vacation (also without flush toilets, but that’s a different issue) that night.

They didn’t come out Friday, either.

Apparently they did come while I was on vacation, and my wife will be calling the city so they can work on the issue on Monday.  The city will then have 5 days to fix the issue, and another 15 to fix any “cosmetic damage.”

Let’s compare and contrast, shall we?  Had I demanded an emergency appointment, the plumber would have sent someone out on Monday night; I’m just a cheapskate.  They did send someone out the next day, and he arrived at the end of the window we were given, but he did arrive within that window.  He quite competently did his job, explained the issue to my wife well enough that she could explain it to me, and then proceeded to do all the steps that should have been necessary to get the City to look at the issue.  On the City’s side of things; they couldn’t be bothered to have someone check out a problem with my having a flushing toilet for two days, then they lost my appointment, then they still didn’t schedule someone to come out like they said they would.  I have no doubt that the City will use every bit of that 20 days they have allotted themselves when they finally get around to fixing the sewer problem.

Barack Obama would have you believe that business owners owe their success to people like the City, and not to people like the plumber.

In an address in Virginia on Friday, Mr. Obama stated that “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.”

So now I must question: is this pure demagoguery or is the President of the United States truly that stupid?  I would normally err on the side of “stupid” for Mr. 57 States, but the rest of his comments lend themselves to “demagogue.”  For instance, he once again brought up the lie that there are rich people who want to pay more in taxes.  This is utter bovine excrement, for if they wanted to do so, there is nothing stopping them from sending extra money to the US Treasury today.  They don’t want to pay more in taxes; they want you to pay more in taxes.

So let’s be clear, here.  Yes, to the extent that someone else physically built a road or a bridge, or that someone else invented the computer, or the automobile, or whatever, no one who is successful “did it on their own.”  However, the idea that, because they are using something for which someone else was compensated- often very, very well- and are successful that they somehow owe a larger percentage of what they make than those who make less is nothing short of Marxist Class Warfare.

Our Income Tax is already redistributive.  It takes more, not just in total numbers, but a larger percentage, from those who are moderately successful than from those who are not at all successful, or from the wildly successful- who can usually pay only the lesser capital gains tax rate, instead of the normal income tax rate.  This ignores the fact that many of those who make, on paper, $250,000 per year are small business owners who already clear something on the order of $70,000 or $80,000 per year themselves, but report their business earnings on their personal taxes.

But all this has been said before.  We all know this.  The President of the United States should certainly know this.  Yet either he doesn’t, or he pretends not to.

I’m not sure which would be worse.  In either case, he is- as ever- a stuttering clusterf*ck of a miserable tyrant.

Monday, July 9, 2012

See You Next Week

This week I'm on vacation.  Spotty cell service.  No Laptop or internet.  No politics (I hope).

I'm leaving all of the things that stress me out (well, except my kids) behind for a week while I go visit Cloudcroft, New Mexico to see views like this
And like this
And like this

So see you next week.
Until then remember: Barack Obama is a stuttering clusterf*ck of a miserable tyrant.  Watergate did not have a body count.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Why do Teachers Unions in California Support Pedophiles?

From the San Bernardino Sun comes this positively flabbergasting story.  The California Senate passed a Democrat sponsored bill which would have made it easier to fire teachers "accused of particularly egregious crimes - such as sex, violence or drug offenses involving children..."

Now, one would think this would a no-brainer.  It passed with strong bipartisan support in the California Senate, and it's a fairly obvious rules fix.  It is currently very hard to fire teachers who would prey on the children under their authority, and this bill would have fixed that.  Enter the Teachers Unions.

Rather than support the rights and safety of the children in their care, the teachers opposed this measure vociferously.  They claimed "there already are sufficient rules to protect children, that the bill lacks due process, and that the bill was meant to give cover to the LAUSD officials who are to blame for [the recent scandal which led to the bill]*."  Apparently someone even called this measure which would protect children from predators "UnAmerican."

What is it about unions?  What is it about Teachers Unions specifically.  Discuss making it easier to fire teachers and you're evil.  Talk about merit-based pay and you're evil.  Attempt to strengthen academic standards and you're evil.

We are supposed to, for some reason, completely revere teachers and worship the ground they walk on.  We're supposed to faint at the idea they might have to work a full 8 hours a day, five days a week for the whole year, instead of 6 hours a day for nine months.  And then they pull crap like this.

This is disgusting.  It is disgraceful.  The people of California should call up your state Representatives and demand that his bill be brought back to committee, passed out of committee, and passed by the full House.  

If we're going to treat our children as though they're not even human while they're in school, the least we owe them is safety from their wardens.

*-Read the article to find out about the specific scandal

By His Own Measure, He Has Failed Miserably

This gets said fairly often, but it deserves to be repeated.

Everyone remembers this chart, yes?
Take a look at that.  This is the chart that Barack Obama released in defense of the Stimulus bill in early 2009.  Basically, it shows the projected unemployment rates through Q1 of 2014 both with and without his stimulus plan.

Now, if you find Q2 of 2012 (right between Q1 & Q3) and see where those are, Obama claimed that we would be at about ~6.5% Unemployment by now without the stimulus bill.  His projection with the stimulus bill promised a little over 5.5%.

Unemployment- official unemployment, not real unemployment is at 8.2%.  That's higher than he claimed it would ever get if the stimulus was passed.  In real life, even with the stimulus, the numbers follow the basic line of the "Without Recovery Plan" projection only higher, having topped out at just over 10% before coming down to settle around 8%.

So, by his own measure he has failed.  His stimulus not only produced the promised results, it actually made things measurably worse than his projection if there had not been a stimulus in the first place. 

Even Barack Obama's defense admits his miserable failure.  His defense, though, makes him incompetent in another way.  He claims that he "didn't know" how bad things were when he made those projections.  Now, given that he'd been given that he'd been President for at least a couple of weeks- receiving daily briefings- and had actually been receiving briefings since he'd been confirmed as the Democrat candidate for President, the best that says for him is that he and his economic team are incompetent when it comes to economic forecasting.

In either case he is a failure and an incompetent.  Hardly the man you want leading us through these troubled times.