Sunday, March 25, 2012

Concealed carry reciprocity

As of today, 49 states have laws in place that protect the right of their law-abiding residents to carry a concealed firearm in some form. Many states also protect the same gun rights of visitors. However, contrary to the US Constitution and many state constitutions, many states refuse to recognize the right of non-residents to carry a self-defense firearm.

Both S.2213 and S.2188 will protect the right of an individual who has met the requirements for a carry permit, or who is otherwise allowed by state law to carry a handgun, to carry a handgun in any other state that issues such permits or does not prohibit concealed carry, subject to the laws of the state in which it is carried.

Neither of these bills would affect existing state laws. State laws governing where concealed firearms may be carried would apply within each state’s borders. This would be similar to interstate recognition of drivers licenses. The legislation has already passed the house and is substantively identical to language introduced in 2009 and which received 58 of the 60 votes needed for passage.

Criminals, be definition, do not obey laws -- even gun laws. The arbitrary restrictions imposed by gun laws only affect the behavior of law-abiding Americans and do nothing to stop violent crime.

Of course, my preference would be for all jurisdictions in the United States and its territories to fully honor the Supreme Law of the Land -- the US Constitution, including the Second Amendment. S.2213 and S.2188 will help to mitigate the harm imposed on responsible gun owners by gun laws. I urge the Senate and the President to ensure either S.2213 or S.2188 become law immediately.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

What are the limits on what the central government may do?

I estimate that approximately 90-95% of what the central government does is unconstitutional. Well-intended, perhaps, but unconstitutional nonetheless.

Depending on how one counts the different central government roles as given in the Constitution, there are less than three dozen functions the central government should be doing. Here is my list:
1 - Lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises...but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States (Article I, Section 8);
2 - Pay the [national] Debts (Article I, Section 8);
3 - Provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States (Article I, Section 8);
4 - Borrow money on the credit of the United States (Article I, Section 8);
5 - Regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes (Article I, Section 8);
6 - Establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization (Article I, Section 8);
7 - Establish uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States (Article I, Section 8);
8 - Coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin (Article I, Section 8);
9 - Fix the Standard of Weights and Measures (Article I, Section 8);
10 - Provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States (Article I, Section 8);
11 - Establish Post Offices and Post Roads (Article I, Section 8);
12 - Promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries (Article I, Section 8);
13 - Constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court (Article I, Section 8);
14 - Define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations (Article I, Section 8);
15 - Declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water (Article I, Section 8);
16 - Raise and support Armies (Article I, Section 8);
17 - Provide and maintain a Navy (Article I, Section 8);
18 - Make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces (Article I, Section 8);
19 - Provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions (Article I, Section 8);
20 - Provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia (Article I, Section 8);
21 - Exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over [the District of Columbia] (Article I, Section 8);
22 - Exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings (Article I, Section 8);
23 - Make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof (Article I, Section 8);
24 - Guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government (Article IV, Section 4);
25 - Protect each of them [the States] against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence (Article IV, Section 4);
26 - Enforce the prohibition of slavery (Amendment 13);
27 - Enforce 14th-Amendment citizenship rights (Amendment 14);
28 - Enforce the right of citizens of the United States to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude (Amendment 15);
29 - Lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration (Amendment 16);
30 - Enforce the right to vote regardless of sex (Amendment 19);
31 - Enforce the to vote regardless of any tax liability (Amendment 24);
32 - Enforce the right of persons older than 18 to vote (Amendment 26).
Amendment 10 clearly prohibits the central government from doing anything else. Any role or authority not specifically granted to the central government must done only by the States or by the People themselves.

So, how's that going? Do you see your favorite government programs in that limited list of central-government roles? No?
Would you be willing to give up your favorite federal program if it meant never having to pay the income tax again? — Harry Browne
Just over one hundred years ago, when the central government was much more inline with its constitutional roles and limits, the central government only spent about 3-5 percent of what Americans produced. There was no personal tax of any kind imposed by the central government. No personal tax was necessary -- people got to keep everything they earned!

It was during those years up to about 1913 that the United States saw the greatest rate of growth in prosperity. Until the central government began imposing all its "social" programs, poverty was declining. With the advent of government attempts to help the poor, poverty stopped declining. (Amendments 16 and 17 and the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 were major factors in the rapid rise of the central government.)

Because we have allowed (and asked) the central accumulate unto itself unconstitutional powers, government now spends 46 percent of what we Americans produce! Forty percent of federal spending is funded by debt! And that debt-funded spending is growing exponentially! At our current rate of government growth, the Congressional Budget Office projects the federal debt to reach 90% of what we produce by 2020 and more than 200% in 2050! How much of your income will you let them take before you say, "Stop!"?
The primary reason for government growth (and the "incumbent advantage") is that we've yet to convince people to refuse to be bribed with their own money. — Boyd K.

Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone. — Frederic Bastiat

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. — Thomas Jefferson

The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife. — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Spencer Roane, 9 Mar 1821
We have our current bloated government because Americans are not studying the issues and vetting the candidates. Too many voters believe all of the half-true propaganda they get from politicians of their favored political party. They dismiss the true half of the half-truth coming from the other political party. And, those voters all think that they are 100% right and the rest of us are wrong. They refuse to listen to opposing views or to consider opposing candidates. They are willing to perpetually elect and re-elect some of the most corrupt members of our society only because of the "D" or the "R" next to their name or worse, because of the amount of pigment in their skin.

Americans need to get their faces away from the mindless drivel found on TV and the Internet and start paying attention to what's really going on, and listen to a variety of political opinions. Then compare everything with the Constitution. Following that document is all that's left to protect liberty in this nation. The way we've been voting up 'til now simply isn't getting us the government we need. Instead, we're getting the government we deserve.

Conservatives and the war of words

Conservative (Right): A person who believes rights and truth come from God (Nature) and promotes traditional political and social values and institutions such as limited government as defined in the US Constitution. Government exists only to protect God-given rights.

Liberal (Left): A person who believes truth changes with the times, is relative, and is found by experimentation; seeks changes to traditional institutions (calling it progress); believes the autonomy of the individual, and stands for the protection of political and civil liberties. Counter-intuitively, he considers government as a crucial instrument for defining and enforcing human rights and for inducing change.

Moderate (Centrist): A person who, on one or more issues, lies somewhere between Conservative and Liberal and between limited government and powerful government.

Liberals only comprise about 20% of Americans, yet we have government, a "news" media, and entertainment industry that are heavily controlled by Liberals. Because of this disproportionate Liberal influence, it's easy to assume that Liberals comprise at least half the population. Nevertheless, Conservatives outnumber Liberals two to one. Elections are decided by the Moderates who also outnumber Liberals two to one.

We conservatives are always preaching to the choir. Sure, it's important, but it doesn't win anyone to our side. Thanks to the Internet and personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham, and Michael Reagan, conservatives are good at validating the beliefs of people on the Right. But, it's not expanding the base.

Yet, I find that a large portion of Moderates and Liberals discover that they are, indeed, Conservative once they objectively compare their own values with those of Conservatism. In fact, whenever the Republican party puts up a true Conservative candidate (eg Ronald Reagan), he typically wins the Moderate vote. When the GOP puts up a Moderate candidate (eg John McCain), the Moderate vote usually goes Left.

Why do I say that many Moderates and Liberals are actually Conservatives? Thanks to effective Liberal communications and weak Conservative communications, a large segment of America is uninformed, another segment is misinformed, and another is both. Conservative communications strategy must focus on the message and must focus on conveying that message to the uninformed and misinformed.

Obviously, the "news" media and the entertainment industry aren't our friends. Relying on them to convey the Conservative message in an honest way is both stupid and lazy. Most main-stream "reporters", commentators, and entertainers are in bed with the Left. So, the message of the Left reaches everyone. They have no interest in spreading a complete, unbiased, and undistorted version of Conservative views.

So, what can be done differently?

Teach Americans where their values came from (the Bible -- although most non Judeo-Christian religions fit in as well), where their rights came from (God or nature -- not government nor even from the Constitution), and how our system of government was defined, authorized, and limited by the Constitution.

Teach Americans that, in the Conservative view, rights are inherent characteristics of mankind based on our status as sons and daughters of God. A careful study of the wording of the Bill of Rights shows that they are not a conferral of specific and limited rights -- the Bill of Rights simply prohibits the government form infringing on what Conservatives (and the founders) view as pre-Constitutional God-given rights. Rights are free -- they don't cost anyone anything except the will to exercise them. The list of human rights given in the Constitution is not conclusive (Amendment 9). Rights are bestowed by the government nor even through the Constitution. All human rights come through our humanity -- as children of God, created in His image.

Teach them that, on the other hand, Liberals view rights as creations of government and often come at the expense of someone other than the person exercising the right. Liberals such as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tend to view the Constitution as obsolete and inadequate because they misunderstand its treatment of rights describe above. They view the listing of rights in the Bill of Rights as limited gifts of government and they seek to define new man-made rights that involve taking from one person to give to another in order to be "fair." For example, a right to health care implies that somebody other than the recipient must pay for that care. A right to choose abortion implies that somebody must die.

Teach them that the proper role of government is to protect the rights of the people -- not to be their mommy nor to spend 46% of what they produce.

Teach Americans that if they want success, they must earn it. Receiving assistance from the government does not make one successful. It makes him dependent and deprives him of his dignity. He gives up his independence to the entity (government) which gives him aid. Acceptance of aid implies that the government may dictate how the recipient may live.

Teach them that the "the powers delegated by the...Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." (James Madison, The Federalist Papers #45) Depending on how one counts them, the central government has less than 3 dozen legitimate authorities. All "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it [the Constitution] to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." (Amendment 10)

Teach them that, according to Article VI, the "Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof (ie in compliance with the Constitutional); and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land" and "that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.... (Thomas Jefferson, 10 Nov 1798)

Teach them that, due to the protection of property rights after the adoption of the US Constitution, the nation enjoyed over 100 years of and unprecedented rate of growth in prosperity. The rate of poverty continued to decline until the turn of the 20th century when government anti-poverty programs caused decline in poverty to stop. The government has a horrid record in lifting people out of poverty. A few are lifted, it is true, but most who are in poverty today have been so for generations. The best way to help the needy is to stop restricting and punishing success. Successful people provide jobs. Successful people have the resources to help the poor in productive ways. Jesus taught that we, as individuals are expected to care for each other. He never gave that responsibility to Caesar.

Public figures such as Limbaugh, Hannity, Liddy, Ingraham, and Savage generally do a good job of explaining all these things. But, the Moderates and Liberals aren't listening -- mostly because of self-imposed ignorance, peer-pressure, or fear that if they had better information, they'd need to make changes in their lives.

Most of the self-described Liberals, Moderates, and Progressives I speak to change their label to Conservative once they see how their personal values. All Conservatives have an obligation to themselves, their neighbors and family, and their nation to explain what Conservatism is and how it changes lives.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sandra Fluke -- a symptom of what's wrong

A few days ago, Conservative Rush Limbaugh raised a major fuss when he called Liberal Sandra Fluke a slut. Fans and opponents alike objected to such harsh terminology. He lost advertisers. Liberal commentators and alleged "news reporters" were outraged. Obama called Fluke to let her know he cared. Limbaugh apologized. Fluke rejected the apology. (Which is the adult, apologetic Limbaugh or defiant Fluke?)

Several months ago, Liberal Ed Schultz called Conservative Laura Ingraham a slut. Liberal Barbara Walters thought it was funny. Obama did not call Ingraham to let her know he cared. Schultz did not apologize although he got a week off without pay.

Alleged comedian, Bill Maher, called Sarah Palin an unprintable crude name. Obama not only failed to call Palin about the incident, he accepted a $1 million campaign contribution from Maher! Maher, as is his no-class style, is unrepentant.

Liberal Air America (out of business due to scandal and no audience) commentator Montel Williams suggested Michele Bachmann slit her wrists back in 2009. Where was the outrage? No apology. No call from Obama.

I recently was asked why anyone would even listen to Limbaugh. Another person in the conversation suggested that Limbaugh listeners don't think for themselves.

Well, I listen to Limbaugh and many other commentators. Yes, even liberals -- although I dropped Bill Maher because he is such a bitter, dishonest little soul (I have to wash my brain out with soap after listening to him).

I listen to varying viewpoints to learn, but I filter what I hear based on core principles that I hold. Consequently, I disagree with every commentator on some issues. I agree on others. Everyone I know who listens to Limbaugh is the same -- we do think for ourselves. The Maher listeners I know, on the other hand....

The political divide in the US today has its roots in a blanket rejection of the other guy's opinion, especially by leftists such as Bill Maher, Nancy Pelosi, Rachel Maddow, Chuck Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Henry Waxman, and Chris Matthews. Ironically, it is always the left that calls for bipartisanship (meaning the right must compromise its principles and move to the left). Consequently, government has steadily moved to the left -- government force -- over the past 100+ years. I reject such compromise. One must never compromise with evil or with force of government.

I, on the other hand advocate, and try to practice, listening to, and learning from, the other guy's viewpoint. That is why I listen to people I don't always or usually agree with. Limbaugh-haters ought to try it some time. They'll probably find a lot of common ground -- without the need for compromise one's principles -- and maybe even learn something.

I think I am better able to form sound and correct opinions when I'm open to a variety of viewpoints -- but not so open-minded that my brain falls out. I refuse to be the kind of person who fails a Jay leno Jaywalking civics test. Sadly, most voters in both major parties would.

That's why I often say, we need smarter voters.

But, the Limbaugh-Fluke fuss is only a smoke screen for the real issue: Using the force of government to impose the values and expenses of one segment of society on another.

Fluke's personal crusade is contraception. For many -- perhaps most -- people, birth control is not immoral. For many others, including practicing Catholics, it is immoral.

The Sandra Fluke vs Rush Limbaugh controversy stems from her demand that the university she attends -- a Catholic university -- provide her with free birth control. A practice which Catholics find to be immoral.

While birth control may not be immoral to most people, it is immoral to force Catholics or Catholic employers to pay for birth control. That is exactly what current government policy requires.

In fact, it is immoral to require anyone to pay for anyone else's bills -- including birth control or abortion, or for child care should contraception or abortion fail or not be used.

Fluke gained Limbaugh's attention because she was speaking (not under oath) to an informal all-Democrat partisan panel of congressmen (led by Catholic and liberal Nancy Pelosi) concerning her personal crusade -- birth control. She claimed that it would cost her $3,000 for birth control for her 3-year course of study in law. She needs her Catholic university to pay for it even though birth control violates Catholic values. It's a good thing she wasn't under oath because she didn't reveal that she could just head to the nearest government clinic or Planned Parenthood office (there’s one less than two miles from her school) for free contraceptives. She also didn't reveal that pharmacies at Walmart and Target sell oral contraceptives for $4 for a 28-day supply -- about $150 for a 3-year supply. But, revealing such resources does not fit her agenda -- to get the government to force a Catholic university to violate its own values.

So, why should Fluke be on a crusade to force a Catholic university to give her free contraception when it is already available to her at no or low cost? It's all about using government force to accomplish one's agenda.

It's way past time for people to take responsibility for their own behavior and their own bills. True, some people need help. But, it is way past time for people to stop expecting government to fix all our problems -- especially problems that are already resolved by a free market (eg low cost contraceptives at Walmart). If we all did that, there'd be a lot more money left in everyone's paycheck with which to be charitable -- maybe even give to the causes that Sandra Fluke believes in.
Would you be willing to give up your favorite federal program if it meant never having to pay the income tax again? — Harry Browne

Monday, March 5, 2012

Honey bees and the law

Back in the early '60s a friend and I joined a 4-H beekeeping club in Box Elder County. Under the guidance of the club advisor, who was an experienced beekeeper, several of us youth in the area learned to care for honey bees and to harvest and sell honey.

At some point, I recall having to get a state beekeeper's license but I don't remember having any other required licensing or regulation to harvest, package, and sell my honey.

A typical bee hive will produce 40-100 pounds of honey above what the bees need for their own needs – far more than a beekeeper and his family can use. Therefore, even a small-scale hobbyist beekeeper must sell, give away, or discard much of that honey. The income from that hobby helped put me through college. I stayed with it until I graduated from college and began a career as an Air Force officer in 1974.

A few months ago, I volunteered to start a 4-H beekeeping club here in Iron County. In order to give the county's youth the best possible beekeeping experience, I set about gathering the necessary resources and studying all that has changed in beekeeping over the past 40-50 years.

Some of what I have learned is troubling. I've learned about new pests, parasites, diseases, pesticides, and genetically-modified (GMO) crops which appear to threaten the survival of the honey bee.

Pollination by the honey bee reportedly is responsible for one-third of the nation's food production. Even urban and suburban homeowners rely on unknown and unseen hobbyist beekeepers in their neighborhoods for pollination of their garden vegetables and fruits. Without honey bee pollination, California's almond crop would be cut by 90%. It is therefore essential that the honey bee be protected.

I am convinced that the backyard hobby beekeeper will be the salvation of the honey bee because large commercial beekeepers must place their hives where they face the intense use of pesticides and GMOs on large mono-culture farms. Certain commercial beekeeping practices necessary for pollination are extremely stressful for the bees. Therefore, the hobbyist beekeeper must be protected.

That leads to what I find to be most troubling: The government control over a successful beekeeping hobbyist.

Current law requires each of my beekeeping youth to have a state Beekeeper's License ($10 for up to 10 hives). If he or she is to sell any of his honey, he or she must also train for, and possess, a Food Handler Permit ($21 here in Iron County) and a state Cottage Food Producer License ($30). Add to that business licenses and business registration with various local and state government entities and a young 4-H beekeeper faces substantial bureaucratic obstacles to a small hobby that will likely result in a small amount of sales. The heavy level of licensing and regulation required of even a non-4-H hobbyist beekeeper who sells part of his harvest is daunting.

I have been advised by an employee of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food that,
"typically, when dealing with an organization like [a 4-H club], where the purpose is more educational and charity based than commercial, we would not require you to be officially registered. Charity bake sales don't register, for example."
That statement is comforting, but also troubling. There does not appear to be any statutory or regulatory exemption for "educational and charity based" sale of food products such as honey. All we have to go on is a statement by a government employee that the law isn't "typically" enforced in such cases. Does the above statement mean that all sales must be through the club, even though each member is keeping his own hive(s) and processing his own honey? Or, is he or she free to do everything on his own, from tending the hive through selling honey? Additionally, at what volume of sales would a 4-H youth attract the attention of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food or other regulatory agency? Is it really okay for me to tell a 10-year-old 4-H beekeeper that, since she "typically" won't be prosecuted, she may violate state law? What kind of civics lesson is that? There is a dangerous level of vagueness that can easily entrap a 9-year-old novice beekeeper and her 63-year-old 4-H adviser. There is no such "we won't enforce the law" protection for a small-scale non-4-H hobbyist beekeeper who wants to sell a few bottles of surplus honey.

To resolve this dilemma, I urge that, at a minimum, Utah Codes 4-5-9.5 and 4-11 and R70-560 be amended to clearly establish the beekeeper's license as including the privileges and rights of a Cottage Food Producer and Food Handler as well as the sole license necessary at all state and local levels for the hobbyist production and sale of honey for persons possessing or managing 10 hives or less. To ensure the safety of the product, I also suggest a restriction that juveniles should be monitored by a responsible adult while processing and packaging honey.

This regulatory and licensing relief is essential to make it easy for new beekeepers to get into the hobby and to avoid pushing existing hobbyist beekeepers into a honey black market. All other states should do likewise.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio and "birthers"

The most interesting part of this press conference is the response of the press. See my comments after watching the video.

Wow! Those alleged "news" reporters sure were defensive! They know darned well that the documents are fraudulent. They clearly don't care about that simple and obvious fact. All they care about is defending the apparent impostor they helped to get elected. Journalism has been in failing health for decades. Journalism finally died with Jack Anderson. The "news" media is the most dangerous segment of our society.

Not one "journalist" challenged the facts presented by Arpaio's "cold posse." All they did was attack his motives. On even asked why Arpaio would bother investigating an allegation from a mere 100 of Maricopa County's 4 million residents. Arpaio's response was on target -- he investigates all allegations of crime that occur in the county he serves.

Why should Arpaio have any investigational role in an allegation that Obama is ineligible to be president according to Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution ? Because, if an ineligible candidate is on a ballot in Maricopa County, Arpaio has jurisdiction and because Arpaio, like Obama and me, took an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

If Barrack Obama's presidency is legitimate, why produce a birth certificate and other documents that clearly have been manipulated or forged?

Why has Obama spent millions to avoid disclosing an untampered birth certificate and other evidence of constitutional eligibility for office?

Why did (does) not the press put in at least as much effort in examining Obama's past as it did regarding Sarah Palin?

Why are Obama's college records sealed? What is he hiding? Could it be that his college records reveal that he applied as a foreign student? If so, how did his status as a foreign student change to that of a full US citizen?

All that "birther" stuff aside, half of the nation's voters would have voted for Obama anyway because he is half-black (although he was raised in a white family) and because of the "D" next to his name was more important than any other criterion. We need smarter and wiser voters.

I have been asked why I hate Obama so much? My response is, and always has been, I don't hate anyone -- not even Obama or Henry Waxman or Harry Reid or Maxine Waters, all of whom are out to destroy liberty. In fact, I respect Obama. I respect him because he clearly is a good father. I respect him because he has, and is guided by, principles -- not polls and popularity. His principles are is direct opposition to mine and to those underlying the Constitution, but he has principles and bases all his decisions on them -- not popularity. I respect that. Far too few other politicians are guided by principles.

I urge Barrack Obama to produce proof that he is eligible for the office he holds. I urge all other Americans to likewise urge him to prove he is eligible and to withhold their vote for him until he complies. Let's resolve this issue so we can move on to more important things such as individual liberty and getting control of the nation's addiction to debt and spending!