Saturday, August 31, 2013

More emotional anti-science lawmaking in California

California legislators are required to consider facts and science when making laws related to wildlife conservation. They are deliberately rejecting facts and science in their laws regulating lead-based bullets because they know the facts don't support what they're doing and they know that most California voters are clueless enough to let them get away with making emotion-based laws instead of fact-and-science-based laws.

Metallic lead has extremely low toxicity. It is lead compounds, such as those found in lead-based paint pigments, that are toxic. The lead found in the tissues of sick and dead condors is inconsistent with the metallic lead found in bullets and shot. Any bullets or shot in carrion consumed by condors are very unlikely to be what's harming the California Condor. But, these facts don't support an emotion-based lawmaking process and will be ignored in California.

Emotion is a terrible way to make law.

It through is revenue generated by the self-imposed 1937 Pittman-Robertson tax on hunters and other firearm owners -- $8 million in taxes on firearms and ammunition every day -- that funds most wildlife conservation efforts including the recovery of the California Condor. Ironically, it is those same sportsmen who are the target of this misguided legislation. I believe that all Pittman-Robertson funds must be cut off from jurisdictions that infringe the rights of the sportsmen who pay that tax.

California needs smarter voters.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Conservatives waiting for "the call"

Who's gonna make the call? The Whitehouse? Congress? The Fed? The UN? The Red Cross? Liberals? RINOs? Hah!

Barry Soetoro (AKA Barrack Obama) won two presidential elections because Conservatives didn't want to vote for the Republican nominee -- the person most likely to beat Soetoro/Obama. So, they pouted and stayed home or voted third-party.

The same was true for the election of Bill Clinton. Unless Conservatives figure out from whence comes the "call" Colonel West speaks of, it will be true again for the election of Hillary Clinton and/or Joe "Shotgun" Biden.

Republican-party leaders need to come grips with the fact that Conservatism wins overwhelming votes as it did for Reagan. Pandering to Liberals is a failed idea.

More importantly, Conservative and Libertarian voters need to come to grips with the fact that we have a two-party system (I don't like it either). Every Conservative (Conservatives outnumber Liberals 2 to 1) needs to be actively involved in one major party or the other to help steer it in the right direction, nominate worthy candidates, and see that they win.

Waiting for the call that West speaks of is not a plan that's good for Liberty or the country. Conservatives must make that call themselves to themselves.

We need smarter voters.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Let's have a fair test of obamacare

It seems that only Democrats think obamacare is a good idea. So, here's my solution:

1 - Mandate obamacare and all its taxes, regulations, and other egregious warts only for registered Democrats, Democrat politicians and their staff, Democrat health-care providers, Democrat-owned/controlled businesses, and their entire families. They are the ones who want it, after all.
2 - Mandate that everyone else endure the extreme hardships of minimally-regulated, pay-for-it-yourself-or-through-charity, capitalist, free-market health care and minimally-regulated, pay-for-it-yourself, capitalist, free-market health insurance.
3 - Prohibit everyone from switching between these two plans.

Then, let's have a five-year test beginning 3 days from now to see whether Marx and Engells or Bastiat, Mises and Adam Smith have the best economic model for health care.

If my plan is adopted, my guess is that in about 3 days there will be absolutely no registered Democrat voters, Democrat politicians, or Democrat Party.

Common understanding of the Constitution vs judicial interpretation

When the nation's founders wrote our founding documents, letters to each other, and essays for public consumption (eg the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers and other writings such as Paine's Common Sense), they chose their words very carefully. They chose words of which the common man of the day understood the meaning.

To understand what the founders wrote, we must understand the meanings of those words as they understood them. It isn't rocket science. Most of the words they used have the same meanings today. The common meanings of a few of their words have evolved a bit and having a copy of Noah Webster's 1806 A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language and/or his latter 1828 dictionary at hand make it easy to understand what the writers meant.

Also, the founders seemed to have had a much larger vocabulary than most well-educated Americans have today, so even a modern dictionary can sometimes be helpful in understanding their writings -- even in reading the newspapers of the day.

Nevertheless, any American with the literacy we expected of a 9th-grader 100 years ago can read the US Constitution and interpret its original meaning.

Unfortunately, in 1803, US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison endorsed judicial usurpation of the sole responsibility and authority to interpret the US Constitution and all other federal, state, and local laws and to determine the constitutionality of legislation. "It is emphatically the province of the judicial department to say what the law is," he declared.

Because of the Marbury v. Madison opinion, the interpretations of the courts became supreme instead of the plain meanings of the words in the founding documents themselves. So, Christopher Langdell introduced his case law method in the 1870's wherein lawyers now study case law and must refer to libraries filled with legal precedents to divine what the courts "say what the law is."

Case law is based on what was opined by some judge somewhere in the past and often contradicts or overrides the legislated law and even the will of the People (both of which sometimes do need some overriding). Case law can be changed at the whim of any judge. Almost no law school teaches the Constitution (the supreme law of the land) anymore. They only teach case law which is nothing more than often-wrong, often-contradictory, and constantly-changing opinions of judges. Case law not a system of law that our founders understood nor would they agree with it. What case law does is protect an anti-Constitution power grab by imperialist judges.
Why should jurists feel compelled to defer to unconstitutional precedent that was born of the casting aside of constitutional precedent? — Selwyn Duke
Justice Marshall's statement that "It is emphatically the province of the judicial department to say what the law is" has become true only because of case law. The courts have so badly distorted and confused the true meaning of the Constitution with their own opinions, that it takes considerable research to learn what unelected imperialists in black robes want the Constitution to say. Most Americans are ignorant and/or lazy enough to allow the courts to get away with this usurpation of power -- even though they are often wrong!

Marshall's statement, which is accepted as the law of the land, conflicts with the US Constitution itself. The Constitution requires every officer of the federal, state, and local governments, whether elected, appointed, or employed, to swear an oath of loyalty to the Constitution and to defend it. Every public officer, every voter, and every member of a jury has a sacred duty and right to challenge, rescind, and/or nullify unconstitutional laws. Regardless of what Marshall and his adherents say, the court does not have final say in what the Constitution says. Yet, we meekly defer to Marshall's imperialist and arrogant usurpation.

That is not the heritage our founders created for us.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Phyllis Schlafly needs a bit of repentance

I have been one of Phyllis Schlafly's fans since I joined her in the fight against the so-called "Equal Rights Amendment" in the '70s. I treasure and read her books. I appreciate her daily three-minute radio commentaries on KSUB. I listen to every one of her Eagle Forum Live interviews. As usual, I enjoyed and profited from her latest interview with Jerome Corsi on why Romney lost the 2012 election. (I was an unwilling supporter of Romney's candidacy because he is far to Liberal.)

Although I value her priceless work, I am very troubled by a small portion of that Corsi broadcast which represents a too-frequent blemish in Mrs. Schlafly's otherwise terrific interviews: religious ignorance and bigotry.

As has happened multiple times in her past interviews, a caller commented on his reluctance to vote for Governor Mitt Romney because the caller believes we Mormons are not true Christians.

I am convinced that Mrs. Schlafly is sufficiently informed and wise to know that we Mormons are Christians. She surely knows that we Mormons depend on Jesus as our savior. She must know that we Mormons believe Jesus is the son of God. She knows that we Mormons accept and study the Bible as the word of God. Nevertheless, Mrs. Schlafly consistently allows callers and guests to perpetuate the myth that we are not Christians.

Mrs. Schlafly's apparently wilful failure to challenge the ignorance and bigotry of her callers and guests with regard to the Mormon faith is beneath her. It harms her credibility among those who know the truth and alienates priceless allies in her struggle for Liberty: Mormons.

Like Mrs. Schlafly, I have a few theological differences with persons of other Christian faiths. But I will never allow those theological differences to degenerate into bigotry and refusal to vote for, or support, good Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, and others with solid moral and political principles.

I urge Mrs. Schlafly to join the fight against religious bigotry by challenging and correcting guests and callers who allege that Mormons are not true Christians.

Monday, August 12, 2013

More tax credits for the "green" energy scam

I see that Representative Lowry Snow of St. George want to offer tax credits to those who buy electric cars.

I assume Representative Snow will generously pay for this credit out of his own pocket instead of forcing me (a taxpayer who cannot afford to buy a new car) to pay for it.

If electric cars and other so-called "green" technologies are truly viable products, they don't need subsidies.

If electric cars and other so-called "green" technologies are truly worthy of investment, every buyer should be willing and prepared to pay the full cost of purchase, operation, and maintenance (including replacement and disposal of exhausted batteries) instead of expecting me to help pay even part of the bill.

I oppose all subsidies and tax credits for any product or service. These subsidies and credits are simply another redistribute-the-wealth scheme which extracts money from one person to give to another (after skimming off a substantial portion to pay government bureaucrats to handle the transaction).

Any product or service that cannot succeed in a free market without government force -- including taxpayer subsidies and tax credits -- must be allowed to die. I urge overwhelming rejection of Snow's proposal and the prompt repeal of all other subsidies and tax credits including for CNG (Compressed Natural Gas).
Would you be willing to give up your favorite federal program if it meant never having to pay the income tax again? — Harry Browne

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Run-away-capitalism or run-away government?

Where do you draw the line, if there is any limit at all, on what you think taxes should be used for?

Where do you draw the line on what you think other taxpayers should be required to pay for your "quality of life" and that of your dog, if any?

Where do you draw the line on what you think you should be required to pay for my selfish "quality of life" or to pay for my mistakes or laziness?

Where is the limit, if any, on government providing non-essential services (essential services being protection of public health, life and limb, liberty, property) that are only used by a minority of the people and which should be involuntarily paid for by everyone?

At what point does a tax expenditure per individual benefited for non-essential services become unreasonable?

Where is the limit, if any, on government in general?

A neighbor answered, "The line with government spending should always be drawn within the budget."

Spending based on whatever the budget will allow is a horrible idea. But, that is what most politicians want to do! Unless we voters elect politicians with some powerful self-control (and we rarely do that), government budgets always expand to consume all the revenue plus a bit more. When budgets are based on revenue, setting spending priorities by whatever the budget allows invariably means spending on things we don't need.

When budgets are based on revenue, politicians persistently seek new forms of revenue (RAP tax, asset forfeiture abuse, RDA tax, hotel tax, restaurant tax, etc.) so they can spend even more. Why do the politicians want to spend more money? Because too many voters demand too many things that are not a proper role of government and/or that are better provided by private businesses, charity, neighborhood groups, families, and individuals themselves.

Instead of basing the budget primarily on revenue and spending as much as the budget allows, what we need to do is demand that politicians:
1 - identify what services the community (or state or nation) really needs,
2 - confirm that those needs are a proper role of government,
3 - set priorities on those needs,
4 - identify the cost,
5 - justify the cost to the voters, and only then,
6 - collect the revenue, and finally,
7 - complete the project.

Basing spending on whatever the budget allows does all of that backwards! For example, the RAP tax collects hundreds of thousands of dollars each year with a vague purpose: Recreation, Arts, and Recreation. Then, special-interest groups (which almost never represent a significant portion of the taxpayers or voters) bid for that money. The result is hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on projects and activities that most people would never approve if asked for an informed vote.

My neighbor asked me whether I use "government"-funded facilities and services.

Yes, I do use taxpayer-funded (they are not "government"-funded) facilities. Why? Because the injection of government into inappropriate areas pushes out charity and private enterprise so there are no alternatives to taxpayer-funded facilities.

For example, I use the aquatics center with maintenance and operating costs more than $9 per swimmer above what the swimmer pays to get in. I use the library with building, maintenance, and operating costs that likely amount to several dollars per book lent (I can't get an answer on that question from the library). I think that private enterprise could have filled both of those functions better at less expense. But, how can private enterprise compete with the deep pockets of a city with the power to tax?

I believe that many other local taxpayer-funded and subsidized functions would be better left to private enterprise including the golf course, Heritage Theater, Shakespeare Festival, skateboard park, and yes, a dog park.

Marx and Engels must surely be very proud of how dependent and demanding on government we have become.

I admit that I'm probably in a minority on the issue of limited government. I admit that none of the current candidates for municipal office agree with me. My stand on limited government and maximum individual liberty comes from years of studying the works of John Maynard Keynes, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Engels (they don't seem to agree with me, but with popular modern opinion and with our current municipal candidates) and Alexis de Tocqueville, Frédéric Bastiat, John Locke, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Ezra Taft Benson, (with whom I do agree), profoundly expensive and wasteful public works projects, and my overall tax liability.

My neighbor claimed that run-away capitalism is a more serious problem that run-away government. He thinks that there is a limited amount of wealth available and the greedy have hoarded all of it, leaving little for the rest of us.
History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition - Milton Friedman
I explained that wealth is constantly being created. Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations, described wealth as "the annual produce of the land and labour of the society". When anyone procues a product or service that another person needs or wants, he is creating wealth.

Unlike my neighbor, I don't see that capitalism per se is "monstrous". The greatest philanthropists were and are extremely successful capitalists. For example, the library I grew up using in Brigham City (and the books in it) was funded by that evil mega-capitalist Andrew Carnegie -- not taxpayer money. Carnegie funded libraries all over the nation. He did well, and he did good.

A proper role of government, as I mentioned before, is protection of civil rights. If an evil capitalist abuses an employee or a customer, it is appropriate for,
1 - the market to snub that business,
2 - a trade organization to censure that business and/or
3 - government to take appropriate steps protect the rights of the employee/customer.

To further protect civil rights, it is sometimes appropriate for
1 - an industry-controlled professional standards organization such as SAE, UL, or SAAMI (first choice) or
government (as a backup for choice #1)

to set and enforce reasonable standards for certain businesses and occupations.

For example, a demonstration of a certain level of competency should be expected of an engineer, airline pilot, or medical doctor and a license would be evidence of that competency. A business producing food or drugs should demonstrate proper methods of protecting public health and safety. Otherwise, those businesses and occupations need and deserve opportunities to succeed. Without capitalistic success, there is no employment, no wealth created, or even taxes to pay for dog parks and other government programs.

Money is a poor way of keeping score, but it is a far better measure of success than letting politicians and bureaucrats keep score and better better than leveling the income between achievers and non-achievers just to make it fair. Otherwise, what is the incentive for achievement?

My neighbor condemns the apparent unfairness of youth who graduate with 4 year degrees into $40k-a-year jobs. My answer: We have a surplus of college education. If we really needed all those college grads, there'd be jobs waiting for them.

Far too many college degrees are in fields for which there is little or no need (eg women's studies and other pity-me studies). Perceived "free" money in the form of federal student loans has encouraged the glut of worthless and surplus degrees and has been instrumental in the soaring cost of college education. As is usual, government meddling has only made things worse.

Instead of more college degrees (I have two of 'em, which I've never really used in the workplace, but I think that paying attention in classes like economics, physics, political science, chemistry, philosophy, history, geography, theology, etc. make me a smarter voter and distrustful of too much government), what we really need is more good tradesmen such as auto repairmen, plumbers, welders, cobblers, and carpenters.

College degrees and even graduate degrees are so common that they cheapen the accomplishment. Businesses and government agencies can demand college degrees when none is really needed. But, they pay the college grad only an amount commensurate with the profitability they produce for the employer. A college grad who cooks burgers because all the college-level jobs were taken by those with degrees that are in demand deserves no more compensation than the high school dropout doing the same job.

For example, I am an airline pilot. To get hired, I needed appropriate pilot certifications and a college degree. Do I really need a degree to operate a big truck with wings? No. A high school dropout with average intelligence and the proper attitude can learn to do what I do -- and I've worked with some of 'em. The degree is only required nowadays because somebody in HR said so. My qualifications as a pilot have no correlation with my college degrees.

Expanding on the differences between the haves and the have-nots, my neighbor said, "Then, on the other hand, you have individuals who inherit billions of dollars from their parent's hard work (Waltons) that are each capable of buying their own country." My response: That's their money. They earned it or inherited it. Their wealth does not stop the rest us from following their path with appropriate levels of talent and luck. Indeed, some of our current billionaires started their businesses with an idea and some room in the garage. It seems to me that it would be appropriate for my neighbor to review Exodus 20:17 ("Thou shalt not covet."). Exodus 20:15 ("Thou shalt not steal.") also applies to my neighbor in that we shouldn't expect government to do it on our behalf.

Unlike my neighbor, I believe that all should be taxed equally. Our incomprehensible tax code is based on two things:
1 - the covetousness of those who fail (see Exodus 20:17) and
2 - the desire of politicians and bureaucrats to manipulate behavior by giving some people tax breaks and passing the burden of funding government on to the rest of us.

Ten percent is good enough for God; it's more than enough to fund a combination of local, state, and federal government that stays within it proper roles (protection of public health, life and limb, liberty, and property). If we had that level of taxation, everyone would be free and able to
1 - keep more of his own money to buy goods and services from worthy job-creating capitalists,
2 - for parents who want to to leave the work force and raise their own children instead of shuttling them off to taxpayer-subsidized day care, and
3 - to donate to things like hospitals, libraries, Shakespeare Festivals, and dog parks of their own free will instead of by force.

There is no rational or fair justification for extreme tax rates for the wealthy just because the rest of us are jealous.

Somehow, we've got to get away from the idea shared by politicians, bureaucrats, and government-dependent voters that only they know how to best spend the money of hard-working Americans. We've got to stop expecting government to do what we should do ourselves through business, charity, neighborhood groups, families, and individuals.