Is There a Way Out?

According to a recent Fox News poll, 73 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the direction of the country, up 20 points from 2012. Americans sense that there’s a lot going wrong in our nation, but most don’t have a clue about the true nature of our problem. If they had a clue, most would have little stomach for what would be necessary to arrest our national decline. Let’s look at it.

Between two-thirds and three-quarters of federal spending, in contravention of the U.S. Constitution, can be described as Congress taking the earnings or property of one American to give to another, to whom it does not belong. You say, “Williams, what do you mean?” Congress has no resources of its very own. Moreover, there’s no Santa Claus or tooth fairy who gives it resources. The fact that Congress has no resources of its very own forces us to recognize that the only way Congress can give one American one dollar is to first — through intimidation, threats and coercion — confiscate that dollar from some other American through the tax code.

If any American did privately what Congress does publicly, he’d be condemned as an ordinary thief. Taking what belongs to one American to give to another is theft, and the receiver is a recipient of stolen property. Most Americans would suffer considerable anguish and cognitive dissonance seeing themselves as recipients of stolen property, so congressional theft has to be euphemized and given a respectable name. That respectable name is “entitlement.” Merriam-Webster defines entitlement as “the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something.” For example, I am entitled to walk into the house that I own. I am entitled to drive the car that I own. The challenging question is whether I am also entitled to what you or some other American owns.

Let’s look at a few of these entitlements. More than 40 percent of federal spending is for entitlements for the elderly in the forms of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, housing and other assistance programs.

The Office of Management and Budget calculates that total entitlement spending comes to about 62 percent of federal spending. Military spending totals 19 percent of federal spending. By the way, putting those two figures into historical perspective demonstrates the success we’ve had becoming a handout nation. In 1962, military expenditures were almost 50 percent of the federal budget, and entitlement spending was a mere 31 percent. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that entitlement spending will consume all federal tax revenue by 2048.

Entitlement spending is not the only form of legalized theft. The Department of Agriculture gives billions of dollars to farmers. The departments of Energy and Commerce give billions of dollars and subsidized loans to corporations. In fact, every Cabinet-level department in Washington is in charge of handing out at least one kind of subsidy or special privilege. Most federal non-defense “discretionary spending” by Congress is for handouts.

Despite the fact that today’s increasing levels of federal government spending are unsustainable, there is little evidence that Americans have the willingness to do anything about it. Any politician who’d even talk about significantly reining in unsustainable entitlement spending would be run out of town. Any politician telling the American people they must pay higher taxes to support handout spending, instead of concealing spending through deficits and running up the national debt and inflation, would also be run out of town. Can you imagine what the American people would do to a presidential candidate who’d declare, as James Madison did in a 1794 speech to the House of Representatives, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government”?

If we are to be able to avoid ultimate collapse, it’s going to take a moral reawakening and renewed constitutional respect — not by politicians but by the American people. The prospect of that happening may be whistlin’ “Dixie.”

More Than Just A Bad Idea; Obamacare Is Criminal

Many Americans are angry about the health care takeover that Congress and the Obama White House are trying to ram down their throats.

This is not surprising.

Many claim that the Obama scheme is a disaster and a very bad idea for America’s future. They say it will bring much suffering, sickness and death to you and to your family.

We agree that this is not only a bad plan, but also an unconstitutional one.

These, however, are not the same thing.

To say that something is a bad idea and unconstitutional is to say two different things.

Let me explain…

Suppose you invite me to your house for dinner and while I’m there I notice that your window treatments are shabby and that your furniture does not match your wall colors. So, the next day, while you’re not at home, I break into your house and change the windows and the walls. For the sake of argument, let’s say I actually make it look better than it did before I broke in.

I’m still guilty of the crime of breaking in, entering and trespassing.

Do you see that even if it was a good idea to change the décor, it was a crime because it was outside of my authority to do it.

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and millions of others are screaming that the government takeover of the health care system is a very bad idea. They are right, but even if it were a good idea it would be a criminal scheme all the same.

Because the Constitution does not grant the Federal Government any authority to meddle in our health care, it wouldn’t matter, even is their plan was a good one.

The operative clauses to look up in this situation are Article One, Section Eight and the Tenth Amendment. It will only take you about six minutes to read and understand that Obamacare is more than just a bad idea for American health care. It is a dangerous and tyrannical trespass into American homes and lives.

Video exposition of this Topic:

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by Michael Peroutka

“Quiet Campaign” to Get GOP to Punish Christians

The Washington Post is writing posts for some imaginary world where we don’t all already see that there is a massive push to get the Republican Party to abandon real marriage in favor of a doppelganger that includes same sex pretensions. Today: “Gay rights supporters wage a quiet campaign to push Republicans to the middle.” Quiet? Then how come we all know about it?

Newsflash: the Republican Party is already in the middle. Most Republicans I know of want nothing to do with reinstating anti-sodomy laws. Nor do they want to spend political capital preaching on the (im)morality of homosexuality. There are exceptions. But there are also Republicans who favor homosexual marriage. So why move the party further toward pro-homosexuality? How is that “the middle”?

But a powerful group of Republican donors, who see the GOP’s staunch opposition to gay rights as a major problem, is trying to push the party toward a more welcoming middle ground — where candidates who oppose marriage rights can do so without seeming hateful.

That last clause sounds hopeful. But I have to ask what rights do Republicans oppose? The only thing they can possibly be referring to is the right to force all other people in the nation to re-define marriage and to force businesses to conform to their will. There are still cake-decorators and wedding photographers in the United States who haven’t been forced to pretend that homosexual marriage exists and the Republican Party needs to get on board with hunting them down and punishing them. Isn’t America a great country?

And the last clause is deceptive. The homosexual lobby is committed to portraying all opposition and all Biblical Christianity as hateful. It isn’t something that the genuinely ethical Republicans (by “ethical” here I mean opposed to homosexual fake marriage) can fix on their part.

The behind-the-scenes effort is being led largely by GOP mega-donor Paul Singer, a hedge fund executive whose son is gay, and former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who revealed his homosexuality in 2010, long after he had left the GOP leadership.

Singer’s advocacy group, the American Unity Fund, has been quietly prodding Republican lawmakers to take a first step toward backing gay rights by voting for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The measure, which is expected to come to the full Senate for a vote as early as this month, would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

So that’s the “middle of the road” position. Force Christians to violate their consciences and use the legal system to punish them for their preferences. Don’t misunderstand. I think a Christian employer has the freedom to hire an unrepentant porn user, heterosexual philanderer, practicing homosexual, or anyone else with whom he believe he can work in a peaceful, tolerant, and cooperative manner (see First Corinthians 5.9-12). But that is his decision (just like an unbeliever should be free to hire fellow atheists and avoid hiring Christians), not the decision of judges or bureaucrats.

By including “gender identity,” the bill basically sets us up for thought control so that Christians are required to support the delusions and self-destruction of self-loathing people who want to mutilate themselves.  Welcome to legally protected restroom sexual harassment in every workplace.

That’s not a moderate position. It is slavery, totalitarianism, and hate. It ought to be tossed out of the GOP and out of the country.

Source: http://politicaloutcast.com/2013/10/quiet-campaign-get-gop-punish-christians/

Proposition 6: Drowning Us In Debt?

The state’s demand for water is undoubtedly growing.  The question is not if we need water.  It’s a debate regarding the most prudent method by which to fund the State’s Water Plan.

Conservatives are already frustrated by Republican legislators who sided with Democrats on key legislation, voting against their conservative campaign promises.  The 83rd Legislature spent $106 billion, or 26% more than the previous session.

Before reaching for the state’s emergency fund, basic services should have been funded first, either by ending revenue diversions or by reprioritizing a number of spending items.  Despite record spending and a record surplus, neither water nor transportation was addressed until the end of the 3rd special session.

Austin has its funding priorities backwards.

As a result, legislators are asking voters on November 5th to approve a constitutional amendment that would take $2billion from the Economic Stabilization Fund (aka the “rainy day” fund), and use it to supplement the financing of water projects.

The funds will back borrowing to assist local governments, already saddled with record debt, in issuing even more.  Some estimate the fund could support as much as $30 billion or more of new projects over the next fifty years, an amount that approaches the State’s total indebtedness to date (which has more than doubled over the last decade).

Texas currently has the second-highest per person, local debt in the nation. As of 2011, taxpayers were $233 billion in the hole, with 83% held locally by cities, schools and water districts.

The approval process to issue debt will be at the arbitrary discretion of the Water Development Board, which does not have statutory limitations requiring the funds be used only on projects that expand water production.

They can be used for low-interest loans, credit enhancement agreements, the deferral of interest obligations and other methods.  Proposition 6 advocates claim the scope of financing is limited to the 562 projects in the state’s water plan; but that’s somewhat misleading.

Thanks to Republican spendoholics like Charlie Geren (HD-99) in north Texas, districts charged with supplying water like the Tarrant Regional Water District, have been authorized to waste millions of your dollars on economic development slush funds. The TRVA, a subsidiary of TRWD, recently approved plans to build an outdoor ice rink! So much for water…

It begs a very important question: Why would we encourage more state and local borrowing when water districts are allowed to spend millions on projects not related to water production?

To protect taxpayers, Ron Simmons (HD-65) authored an amendment which garnered support from other north Texas conservatives like Giovanni Capriglione (HD-98), who both pleaded for basic transparency requirements that would have posted water project expenditures online for public scrutiny and accountability.  GOP moderates vehemently opposed it, similar to when they had joined Democrats in rejecting other debt-related transparency proposals earlier in the session.

We’ve previously criticized the lack of transparency in local bond proposals that are deceiving taxpayers as to the true cost of debt.  And now we’re being asked to trust that politicians won’t engage in similar shenanigans at the state level?

We cannot expect an unelected water board to limit itself.  Nor can we expect water districts to expand water capacity and frivolous “skating-rink” projects without incurring crippling debt levels.

Based on the structure of this proposal, it’s likely that Texans expecting lower taxes will be left out to dry.

If Republicans were serious about limiting government and expanding water capacity, they should have passed the relevant safeguards along with Proposition 6.  As Dustin Matocha recently reported, they’ve taken the easier route by launching re-branding campaigns hoping that baseless rhetoric and political platitudes will distract voters from challenging their irresponsible voting records.

Don’t be fooled.

Source: http://www.empowertexans.com/features/proposition-6-drowning-us-in-debt/

Pros & Cons of the Nov. 5th Constitutional Amendment Election

Pros & Cons of the Nov. 5th Constitutional Amendment Election

Proposition 1 (HJR 62) The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed in action.

PROS: The surviving spouses of service members killed in action are as deserving of a residence homestead property tax exemption as the surviving spouses of totally disabled service members, who were extended such an exemption just two years ago.

CONS: If the legislature continues to expand the categories of property owners who receive property tax exemptions, local governments may have to raise property taxes in order to generate the same amount of revenue.

Proposition 2 (HJR 79) The constitutional amendment eliminating an obsolete requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is operational.

PROS: Would shrink state government since both are defunct.

CONS: None

Proposition 3 (HJR 133) The constitutional amendment to authorize a political subdivision of this state to extend the number of days that aircraft parts that are exempt from ad valorem taxation due to their location in this state for a temporary period may be located in this state for purposes of qualifying for the tax exemption.

PROS: Texas is one of the few states that still assesses an inventory tax, a fact that places state businesses at a competitive disadvantage. Prop. 3 would extend the tax exemption period on storing aircraft parts in the state and provide more tax relief to aerospace manufacturers, which often hold parts in inventory for an extended period of time.

CONS: Instead of granting extensions, the legislature should consider eliminating the antiquated and punitive inventory tax.

Proposition 4 (HJR 24) The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization.

PROS: Prop. 4 would apply only to veterans who were disabled during their military service and who received a home from a charitable organization. This tax exemption would be appropriate considering the sacrifices made by these veterans.

CONS: Singling out specific groups for property tax exemptions could erode local property tax bases and undermine uniformity in taxation.

Proposition 5 (SJR 18) The constitutional amendment to authorize the making of a reverse mortgage loan for the purchase of homestead property and to amend lender disclosures and other requirements in connection with a reverse mortgage loan.

PROS: Texas is the only state in which seniors cannot get reverse mortgages. Under current law, seniors have to purchase a home with a conventional mortgage and then take out a reverse mortgage on equity in the new home. Prop. 5 would allow Texas seniors to combine these steps into a single transaction, thereby saving money on closing costs and allowing them to move into a new home without a mortgage payment.

CONS: Loosening these restrictions by allowing reverse mortgages for the purchase of homes could make Texans more vulnerable to future financial difficulties.

Proposition 6 (SJR 1) The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources.

PROS: Ensuring an adequate water supply is vital to the public health and continued economic well-being of the state. The amendment would create two funds to help finance key
projects in the state water plan by pulling about $2 billion from the Texas Economic Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund).

CONS: Taking $2 billion out of the fund could result in a credit downgrade and curtail the state’s ability to deal with a revenue shortfall. Spending Rainy Day funds for infra-structure projects that already have access to capital would be inappropriate, given that education and transportation are also taking from the fund. Instead the state should ease regulatory burdens that currently hinder the development of an adequate available water supply in the state.

Proposition 7 (HJR 87) The constitutional amendment authorizing a home-rule municipality to provide in its charter the procedure to fill a vacancy on its governing body for which the unexpired term is 12 months or less.

PROS: Would allow home-rule municipalities to choose how to fill city council vacancies. This amendment removes the requirement to hold a mandatory and costly special election for those positions.

CONS: Prop. 7 could increase the opportunity for corruption in local government by allowing city officials to avoid elections and appoint political allies.

Proposition 8 (HJR 147 and SJR 54) The constitutional amendment repealing Section 7, Article IX, Texas Constitution, which relates to the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County.

PROS: Prop. 8 would remove a provision in the Texas Constitution that sets the maximum tax rate for districts in Hidalgo County at 10 cents per $100 valuation of taxable property value. This rate is far lower than the rate available to other Texas counties. The 83rd Legislature enacted HB 3793, which includes procedures for Hidalgo County to create a hospital district with a maximum tax rate of 75 cents per $100 property valuation. The amendment would allow local officials and voters to create a sorely needed hospital district.

CONS: Prop. 8 could open the door to an increase taxes for Hidalgo County property owners.

Proposition 9 (SJR 42) The constitutional amendment relating to expanding the types of sanctions that may be assessed against a judge or justice following a formal proceeding instituted by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

PROS: Would authorize the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to use additional disciplinary actions–including public admonition, warning, reprimand or required additional training– against judges or justices after a hearing. The current law allows the SCJC to issue a public censure or recommend a judge’s removal or retirement.

CONS: Current constitutional provisions are appropriate because they help ensure that formal proceedings are used only in the most serious cases of alleged judicial misconduct. This protects the confidentiality of judges and shields them from public exposure resulting from unwarranted allegations and from those unhappy with the results of a case or from political opponents.

 

Destroying Household Jobs

Despite evidence from around the world that minimum wage laws can price low-skilled workers out of jobs, the U.S. Department of Labor is planning to extend minimum wage coverage to domestic workers, such as maids or those who drop in from time to time to do a few household chores for the sick and the elderly.

This coverage is scheduled to begin in January 2015 — that is, after the 2014 elections and nearly two years before the 2016 elections. Politicians show a lot of cleverness in protecting their own interests, even if they show very little wisdom as far as serving the public interest.

If making household workers subject to the minimum wage law is expected to produce good results, why not let those good results begin early, so that voters will know about them before the next election?

But, if this new extension of the minimum wage law opens a whole new can of worms — as is more likely — politicians who support this extension want to insulate themselves from a voter backlash. Hence artfully choosing January 2015 as the effective date, to minimize the political risks to themselves.

The reason this particular extension of the minimum wage law is likely to open a can of worms is that both household workers and those who employ them will face more complications than employers and employees in industry or commerce.

First of all, ill or elderly individuals who need someone to help them from time to time are not like employers who have a business that regularly hires people and may have a personnel department to handle all the paperwork and keep up with all the legal requirements when government bureaucrats are involved.

Often the very reason for hiring part-time household workers is that some ill or elderly individuals have limited energy or capacity for handling things that were easy to handle when they were younger or in better health. Bureaucratic paperwork and legal technicalities are the last thing they need to have to add to their existing problems.

The people being hired to do household chores also have special problems.
Often such people have limited education, and may also have limited knowledge of the English language.

Why make it harder for ill or elderly people to get some much-needed help in their homes, and harder for low-skilled people to get some much-needed jobs?

Despite all the talk about how we need more people with high-tech skills, there is also a need for people who can help clean a home or carry groceries or do other things that need doing, and which do not require years of schooling. As the elderly become an ever growing proportion of the population, there will be a growing demand for such people.

More precisely, there would be more jobs for such people if the government did not step in to complicate the hiring process and price potential workers out of jobs, with minimum wages set by third parties who do not, and cannot, know what the economic realities are for either the ill and the elderly or for those whom the ill and the elderly wish to hire.

Minimum wage laws in general are usually set with no real knowledge of the economic realities and alternatives for either employers or employees. Third parties are simply enabled to indulge themselves by imagining what is “fair” — and pay no price for being wrong about the actual economic consequences.

That is why countries with minimum wage laws usually have much higher rates of unemployment than those few places where there have been no minimum wage laws, such as Switzerland or Singapore — or the United States, before the first federal minimum wage law was passed in 1931.

Government interventions in labor markets have already created needless complications, and not just by minimum wage laws. The welfare state has already taken out of the labor market millions of people who could perform work that would be well within the capacity of inexperienced young people or people with limited education.

With welfare, such people can stay home, watch television, do drugs or whatever — or else they can hang out in the streets, often confirming the old adage that the devil finds work for idle hands.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is www.tsowell.com.