This is not a political site. This is an anti-political site. We agree with the goals of individual liberty, free markets, and peace.

1/31/11

The American People Need A Waiver, It's Only Fair

Shortly after Americans waived goodbye to their right to make their own health-care choices they waived goodbye to scores of congressmen and women who voted to take those rights away from them and give them to government instead. Sixty- three net seats in the Parliament of Whores were switched to the party that voted against Obamacare. A goodly number were switched in the Senate as well.

Perish the thought that Republicans might become confused by the switch and become deluded into thinking people are pining for the "good ole days" when George W. Bush was throwing capitalism under the bus. I'm guessing people weren't enamored of the "compassionate conservatism" which preceded it either. But then I've always been an optimist when it comes to the legion of Rip Van Winkles awakening at last, so I might be wrong about that part.

Since that electoral cleansing is only partially finished, with repudiation 2.0 not scheduled out of beta release for two more years, some have been groping for a way to prevent the destruction of the whole health insurance industry before it's too late.

And the inspiration for a possible solution recently came to me from an odd place. It's the Obama administration's HHS department (not usually a very inspiring place) where they had already admitted that the whole scheme won't work by telling over two hundred unions, large corporations and other FOOs (friends of Obama) that they could have a waiver.

Of course the first exemption they gave was to themselves, as usual. But the major leak of "non-requirees" turned into a flash flood in the last few weeks when it was learned that another five hundred plus FOOs were added to the list of organizations who were allowed to opt out. When 773 different organizations and over two million people are exempted from a law it's fair to make the case that the law should have never been made. If it's such a good law why isn't it good enough for everyone? (Including congressmen and other political opt-outers.)

The "progressive" movement is about nothing if it's not about "fairness." So just as it was when we were kids and were taught that the rules were for everyone, most Americans don't see much fairness now that it's clear that only some of us will be forced into this nightmare of lost rights and future lost loved ones.

So it's my recommendation that we all line up outside the office of HHS Czar Kathleen Sebelius and demand our waiver, too. All 311,987,238 of us (minus the two million already waived) should ask her why she is pro-choice on abortion but no-choice on all other "health-care" decisions.

If we all get waived, maybe we can wave goodbye to the biggest government power grab in this nation's history without wasting two more years while the clock ticks off the last moments before a total repudiation occurs.

1/28/11

Credits Could Lead To An Armistice in The School Wars

The only K-12 education I ever received as a child was provided at so called "public" schools. And any failure to become "educated" at those schools falls squarely upon my shoulders, not those of the many fine teachers who worked hard to pound some knowledge and reasoning skills into my thick skull.

Of course there were good classes and bad as well as competent and incompetent teachers but since none of the schools then or now were located in Utopia it was to be expected. I learned at least as many useful life lessons from the bad teachers as the good ones because it was obvious even to a dimwit kid that if you see mistakes being made you try to avoid them yourself in the future. So for me the government schools worked out OK even if I never became a rocket surgeon or a brain scientist.

Some of the better teachers taught me to always question things even if they seemed obvious. And I have spent the rest of my life questioning everything that the majority has already decided was elementary. It makes me a pain in the ass to many of my friends who nevertheless suffer me gladly.

One of the elementary things I have always questioned was the need for "public" schools in the first place. I accepted the given reason for government provided schools was to make sure that those too poor to educate their own children would not have uneducated kids. But what I couldn't figure out was why the government was providing a "free" education even to those who could afford it on their own. (Leave aside for the moment the fact that even though my family had very little money, in my neighborhood even the kids who were way "poorer" than us went to private schools.)

It never made sense to me that just because some people couldn't afford it everyone was provided with a government paid education. Even "rich" people. Why shouldn't the government just give the poor people a subsidy so they could send their kids to the schools all the other people sent their kids to? That way no kid would be left out just because his parents were too poor, lazy, drunk, stupid or some combination of that list. It had to be cheaper to make an education available that way than building lots of schools and hiring duplicate administrators, teachers, custodians and the like.

Back in those days it never occurred to me that perhaps the government schools weren't primarily designed to be for the the purpose of educating poor kids. But back then I was actually in one of those institutions so maybe it wasn't the plan for that to occur to me.

It's only been in the last few decades there has been a lot of debate about this concept so I must not have been the only one to have simple concepts not occur to them. Of course the past debates were/are usually about what gets taught in the schools and other issues, but now that children in this country have fallen so far behind much of the rest of the developed world, folks are starting to debate all kinds of things to remedy that problem. George Will wrote a piece that appeared in today's issue of the Investors Business Daily which addresses that issue with facts and figures and I highly recommend reading it. It can be found here.

In the meantime, the following video has some interesting concepts about how to pay for education and improve it at the same time that haven't gotten too much press coverage from a media obsessed by ever expanding government influence on our lives. You may agree or disagree with the concepts and as always you are encouraged to leave your thoughts on it in the comment section below.

1/27/11

Shovel Ready Projects From The Stimulus Program


Hat tip to Leah
 This financial crisis is forcing State and local agencies to make some tough decisions. If things continue for much longer, there's a real risk that we may have to lay off Jose.

1/26/11

What Rational People Think About The State of the Union Speech And Why

Many have seen the President's State of the Union Speech and the Republican response to it, but not too many have seen a non-political "what we think and why" assessment of it yet. So here is what a group of the most rational people I know of think about it.

1/25/11

The Ghost Of Thanksgiving Yet To Come

The following article comes under the heading of "I wish I had written that." It came to me by e-mail today via my good friend "Homer" who many of you may remember from past posts on this site. I have been getting more and more material from readers in the last year and when it ends up here I like to give kudos to those who send it.

The Ghost Of Thanksgiving Yet To Come
By Arnold Ahlert Wednesday, November 24, 2010 (From the Canada Free Press)
Reprinted with permission of the author

Winston, come into the dining room, it’s time to eat,” Julia yelled to her husband. “In a minute, honey, it’s a tie score,” he answered. Actually Winston wasn’t very interested in the traditional holiday football game between Detroit and Washington. Ever since the government passed the Civility in Sports Statute of 2017, outlawing tackle football for its “unseemly violence” and the “bad example it sets for the rest of the world,” Winston was far less of a football fan than he used to be. Two-hand touch wasn’t nearly as exciting.

Yet wasn’t the game that Winston was uninterested in. It was more the thought of eating another TofuTurkey. Even though it was the best type of VeggieMeat available after the government revised the American Anti-Obesity Act of 2018, adding fowl to the list of federally-forbidden foods, (which already included potatoes, cranberry sauce and mince-meat pie), it wasn’t anything like real turkey. And ever since the government officially changed the name of “Thanksgiving Day” to “A National Day of Atonement” in 2020 to officially acknowledge the Pilgrims’ historically brutal treatment of Native Americans, the holiday had lost a lot of its luster.

Eating in the dining room was also a bit daunting. The unearthly gleam of government-mandated fluorescent light bulbs made the TofuTurkey look even weirder than it actually was, and the room was always cold. Ever since Congress passed the Power Conservation Act of 2016, mandating all thermostats—which were monitored and controlled by the electric company—be kept at 68 degrees, every room on the north side of the house was barely tolerable throughout the entire winter.

Still, it was good getting together with family. Or at least most of the family. Winston missed his mother, who passed on in October, when she had used up her legal allotment of live-saving medical treatment. He had had many heated conversations with the Regional Health Consortium, spawned when the private insurance market finally went bankrupt, and everyone was forced into the government health care program. And though he demanded she be kept on her treatment, it was a futile effort. “The RHC’s resources are limited,” explained the government bureaucrat Winston spoke with on the phone. “Your mother received all the benefits to which she was entitled. I’m sorry for your loss.”

Ed couldn’t make it either. He had forgotten to plug in his electric car last night, the only kind available after the Anti-Fossil Fuel Bill of 2021 outlawed the use of the combustion engines—for everyone but government officials. The fifty mile round trip was about ten miles too far, and Ed didn’t want to spend a frosty night on the road somewhere between here and there.

Thankfully, Winston’s brother, John, and his wife were flying in. Winston made sure that the dining room chairs had extra cushions for the occasion. No one complained more than John about the pain of sitting down so soon after the government-mandated cavity searches at airports, which severely aggravated his hemorrhoids. Ever since a terrorist successfully smuggled a cavity bomb onto a jetliner, the TSA told Americans the added “inconvenience” was an “absolute necessity” in order to stay “one step ahead of the terrorists.” Winston’s own body had grown accustomed to such probing ever since the government expanded their scope to just about anywhere a crowd gathered, via Anti-Profiling Act of 2022. That law made it a crime to single out any group or individual for “unequal scrutiny,” even when probable cause was involved. Thus, cavity searches at malls, train stations, bus depots, etc., etc., had become almost routine. Almost.

The Supreme Court is reviewing the statute, but most Americans expect a Court composed of six progressives and three conservatives to leave the law intact. “A living Constitution is extremely flexible,” said the Court’s eldest member, Elena Kagan. “Europe has had laws like this one for years. We should learn from their example,” she added.

Winston’s thoughts turned to his own children. He got along fairly well with his 12-year-old daughter, Brittany, mostly because she ignored him. Winston had long ago surrendered to the idea that she could text anyone at any time, even during Atonement Dinner. Their only real confrontation had occurred when he limited her to 50,000 texts a month, explaining that was all he could afford. She whined for a week, but got over it.

His 16-year-old son, Jason, was another matter altogether. Perhaps it was the constant bombarding he got in public school that global warming, the bird flu, terrorism or any of a number of other calamities were “just around the corner,” but Jason had developed a kind of nihilistic attitude that ranged between simmering surliness and outright hostility.

It didn’t help that Jason had reported his father to the police for smoking a cigarette in the house, an act made criminal by the Smoking Control Statute of 2018, which outlawed smoking anywhere within 500 feet of another human being. Winston paid the $5000 fine, which might have been considered excessive before the American dollar became virtually worthless as a result of QE13.

The latest round of quantitative easing the federal government initiated was, once again, to “spur economic growth.” This time they promised to push unemployment below its years-long rate of 18%, but Winston was not particularly hopeful.

Yet the family had a lot for which to be thankful, Winston thought, before remembering it was a Day of Atonement. At least he had his memories. He felt a twinge of sadness when he realized his children would never know what like was like in the Good Old Days, long before government promises to make life “fair for everyone” realized their full potential. Winston, like so many of his fellow Americans, never realized how much things could change when they didn’t happen all at once, but little by little, so people could get used to them.

He wondered what might have happened if the public had stood up while there was still time, maybe back around 2010, when all the real nonsense began. “Maybe we wouldn’t be where we are today if we’d just said ‘enough is enough’ when we had the chance,” he thought.

Maybe so, Winston. Maybe so.

Arnold Ahlert was an op-ed columist with the NY Post for eight years, currently writing for JewishWorldReview.com and FrontPageMag.com.

1/19/11

What's the Difference? It's Obvious

We all remember the old jokes that always started with the line "What's the difference between a blank and a blank?" Or the reverse, "how is a blank like a blank?" Most of them weren't too funny. The current philosophical (dare I say?) battle isn't that humorous either.

After a semi-political exchange in the comment section of a Face Book post by a largely non-political acquaintance the other day, I got to thinking about the differences between Democrats and Republicans.

The issue being commented upon isn't important because any other "us vs them" issue would have had a similar ring to it. And since I'm not a Republican and I have no idea if the other commentators are Democrats, it really was just one more discussion about nothing of true importance. Such discussions are getting more frequent than they used to be and they seem to be more about which "side" you are on than anything else.

It didn't take me long to remember that the differences between those two political parties weren't as important as the similarities of those groups, so it was a nonstarter. You probably couldn't find a single member of either of those parties that would agree with me on that premise. They have too much emotional energy invested in their "teams" and I'm sure I will come under equal scorn by both.

Then I tried for liberals and conservatives. The differences were starker and more numerous, but when it comes to the governance part of those ideologies, they started to run together as well. From my perspective they both are interested in using government power to advance their own particular agenda for the country. (Or for the whole world for that matter.) George W Bush's "compassionate conservatism" agenda is ample evidence for that. As is the Clintonian "moderate liberalism" model.

I finally decided that the big differences are between the ideologies of big government "progressives" and freedom minded "classical liberals." (Today largely known as libertarians) It is in these two belief systems that the differences and the friction lies. I count myself among the latter group so I have a bias when describing the differences.

In a short essay such as this just a few of these differences can be counted, but who knows, maybe other essays will follow that describe the many others.

First there is the purpose of government itself.
One group views it as a necessary means to defend the rights of the people and very little else. Thomas Jefferson and I are among that group. (It's really fun to link myself to 'ole Tom even if you aren't falling for it.) The "progressives" of today think that the purpose of government is to solve societal problems and implement policies which reflect the vision of some angelic elite group who possess superior intellect.

So laws are to defend rights or to right wrongs. (It only sounds confusing.)

Next is taxes to run government.
One group thinks the purpose is just that, to run government. To raise revenue. The other group thinks taxes are the best method of promoting "fairness." Another way to describe it is to "spread the wealth" as Barak Obama explained it to Joe the plumber. The same is true of the argument over the spending of tax revenues, so it doesn't deserve it's own category.

These things are fundamental to many of us so you may be wondering why I have taken the time to point out the obvious. It's because when both sides of the philosophical aisle start to bicker about whose fault it is when some whack job kills a bunch of innocent people while trying to assassinate a US Representative all of the real differences get lost in the battle between people who largely agree on the big issues even if they don't realize it.

To me the differences are obvious even if this list is abbreviated. Can't we all just get along?
Umm,, no.

1/14/11

Illinois Internet Tax is Set To Begin Driving More Business Out of State

The following is a continuation of the recent practice of this site to highlight the work of the Heartland Institute, particularly on issues of interest to citizens of Illinois.

Seeking to plug a $15 billion budget deficit, Illinois legislators are contemplating the implementation of taxes on online purchases, which they estimate could raise up to $150 million. Companies impacted by the tax, however, say it will result in out-of-state companies severing their affiliation with Illinois-based partners.

The Internet tax is an amendment to Illinois House Bill 3659, and calls for a 6.25 percent use tax on online purchases. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is expected to sign the bill, which would allow the use tax to begin July 1 of this year.

Illinois companies affiliated with Internet merchandisers outside the state, however, predict these suppliers will terminate their business partnerships rather than pay the tax. For example, online merchandisers Overstock.com and veterinary products distributor Drs. Foster & Smith terminated business dealings with affiliates in New York when that state passed a similar law.

Brent Shelton, spokesperson for Rockton, Illinois, online merchandiser FatWallet, stated the new taxes will not only force Amazon to sever its relationship with his company, but may force FatWallet to relocate in another state. “We are affiliated with many retail partners outside of Illinois,” he said. “And if these retailers are required to collect taxes from affiliate partners in Illinois, they’ll respond, ‘If that’s the law, we’re not going to have a partnership with FatWallet.'"

Read the rest of Bruce Edward Walker's essay
at Heartland.org

Bruce Edward Walker is managing editor of InfoTech & Telecom News.

Filed by Grant Davies

1/12/11

Illinois - Forty Eighth on It's Way To Fiftieth

The Illinois legislature in the wee hours Wednesday passed – without a single Republican vote – a tax package that increases income taxes by 67 percent and corporate taxes by 46 percent. The following statements by budget and tax experts at the Chicago-based Heartland Institute may be used for attribution.
________________________________________
John Nothdurft, director of government relations, The Heartland Institute:

“Today Democratic lawmakers in Illinois forfeited the tax code’s lone competitive advantage by raising the income tax to 5 percent – a hike of 67 percent. It is no surprise that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels have been so vocal in their pleasure about today’s actions.

“These actions by the legislature will substantially hinder Illinois’ ability to bounce back from the great recession on what many economists see as the eve of economic recovery. This is utterly reckless policy that will cost the state taxpayers as well as jobs – and further proof the state should consider eliminating lame-duck sessions.”
For additional comment, contact John Nothdurft at jnothdurft@heartland.org


Steve Stanek, research fellow for budget and tax policy at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Budget & Tax News:

“It’s hard to know what to say after watching this spectacle in Springfield. Not a single Republican voted for these outrageous tax increases, showing the absolute contempt of Democrats toward not just their Republican colleagues but the millions of citizens they represent.
“Reckless spending got Illinois into this mess, yet there was virtually no talk of cutting spending. Illinois already ranks 48th in net population growth, 48th in job growth, and 48th in economic performance, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council. Look for Illinois to soon rank last in the nation in every one of those categories.”
For additional comment, contact Steve Stanek at sstanek@heartland.org

Filed by Grant Davies

1/11/11

Quinn and Madigan Chat About the Tax Increase

Today is the last day that the "Illinois Combine" can shove the tax increase down your throat with the old batch of elected geniuses. Just as they arranged for you to receive your real estate tax bill until after the election, they are scurrying to get this screw job passed before you can do anything about it.

It's all about timing in Illinois.


1/10/11

In The Company of Heroes - God Speed Dick Winters

Dick Winters 1918-2011
There are heroes. I have written about some of them on this blog in the past. In fact, if you search this site for posts tagged "heroes" you will find those essays. And I've met many of them during my life, and so have you even if you didn't know it.

Some are unsung and unknown and some are quite heralded. One rather unknown one was listed in the Tribune death notices today. His name was Arnie Marzullo and I knew him and played golf with him for quite a while before I knew about his service in WWII. I shall miss him a lot.

And he wasn't the only one like that. One man I used to play a lot of golf with once told me he didn't fly. I've never been crazy about it myself so I thought I understood why he didn't do it. It was only much later that I learned the reason he no longer flew. It took someone else to tell me that he was a ball turret gunner on a B17 during the war and had spent enough time in the air to last him the rest of his life. My uncle, Bert Davies, piloted that same kind of war plane so I was familiar with the danger involved in that activity. My uncle never returned from one of those dangerous missions. He was a hero, too.

I'm sure I have met many more heroes and never knew it. They all have one thing in common, they don't consider themselves heroic.

So today I was particularly saddened when I heard of the passing of Dick Winters last week in Pennsylvania. He was 92 years old. He was a hero, but like the rest, he never thought of himself as one.

Some of you who have seen the excellent movie Band of Brothers recognize his name. He was the central character in Steven Ambrose's historically accurate story of the men and events of the 506th paratroop infantry regiment of the 101st airborne division during WWII.

To grieve for and honor such a man does nothing to denigrate the heroism of so many others who have served, not only in that war, but in all the other conflicts in which our young men have found themselves embroiled because of the desire of some people to rule the lives of others.

Humble to the end, a true leader who should be an inspiration to other American leaders, not only for the things he did in war, but in the honest way he lived his ordinary life.

Dick Winters was ordinary, in a special way. God speed Dick, we owe you more than we can pay.



1/6/11

Getting Numb To The Dumb

Recently, as the inanity of government policies has increased exponentially, our capacity to get used to the nuttiness has also increased.
Seemingly, we barely notice anymore. I guess you can get used to anything after a while. We get numb to the dumb.

Like some half hour TV sitcom, silly things happen all the time but within a few minutes of its ending, we forget what happened and move on to the next show. Lately, it's kind of like that with current events. But for me it's hard to shrug off some things, even when I'm in that mindset.

If you live in Illinois and you didn't get a little cross-eyed last week when newly elected Governor Pat Quinn announced that his plan for dealing with the impossibly huge debt the state is collapsing under is to borrow another 15 billion dollars, you have a better pair of glasses than I do.

But I haven't heard a peep from the "peeps." They must be numb from hearing that kind of stuff. It's so preposterous that it stretches the imagination, even in a state that sets the standard for preposterous schemes. It's your government at work.

Then there is the dumb notion that feeling up or taking nude pictures of granny at the airport will somehow make it harder for the "underpants bomber" to burn his crotch off if he ever gets out of prison. Your government at work.

Or take the case of the two airline pilots who are suing the government because they are forced to go through the full body scans and/or pat downs themselves, even though they are going to be the ones actually flying the plane. If they are themselves federal air marshals who carry guns into the cockpit (as many are), doesn't it seem just a tad dumb to be searching them first to look for weapons? And all the while the cleaning crews merely have to swipe a card to gain unsupervised access to the planes. It's your government at work.

Or how about the two guys who were rescuing a drowning deer with their own equipment when the local Natural Resources Police officers (who declined to help) decided to fine them each $90 for not wearing their life jackets while performing the dastardly deed? It's your government at work.

Or the decision of the know-it-all nannies in the St. Paul Minnesota School District who have declared a "sweet free" zone to deal with the obesity problem there. While the health implications on obese children are a problem worthy of attention, TV, video games, the Internet and poor parenting leading to sedentary kids are much larger causes of  that problem. The idea that childhood obesity can be solved in this manner without taking it to its logical police state conclusion is dumb. It's your government at work.

Next up is the "gang" that was disciplined at Battlefield High School in Virginia for handing out tiny candy canes in their Christmas sweaters. The ten had to do detention because, as one school administrator explained, "not everyone wants Christmas cheer." It's your government at work. *

And the list can go on and on. What is even dumber, but cannot go on much longer, is the idea that the debt disaster which looms can be solved without any plan except more borrowing and spending. And while the above examples are actually somewhat humorous in their stupidity, the last problem is deadly serious.

According to Lewis M. Andrews of The Yankee Institute for Public Policy, three large dumb states, California, New York and Illinois are already "delaying payments" to vendors. In other words, they are currently unable to pay their bills. And with Illinois spending in 2011 projected to be 140 billion dollars more than expected revenues, anyone who thinks that Governor Quinn's plan to fix the problem by floating a 15 billion dollar bond issue will work, is truly dumb enough to buy the bonds.

The national debt has gone from 13 trillion dollars to 14 trillion dollars in just the last year and the costs of Obamacare have yet to be added to the nightmare scenario of default on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid obligations. We are nearing a point where the whole house of cards can come crashing down at any moment. A crash that will make the housing crisis look like a smallish blip on the economic radar screen.

So the question is, can this stupidity continue on much longer just because we are getting numb to the dumb? You don't have to be smart to know that that's dumb.


* Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute recently wrote a blog essay which I featured at The Humble Libertarian highlighting the dumb things that some agents of government have been doing lately. So a tip of the hat to him for inspiring this piece and the links that go with it.

1/4/11

Two Page Law Proposed to Overturn Obamacare

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) uploaded the text of the repeal measure the House Republicans are likely to consider within the next ten days, and its simplicity stands in stark contrast to the two-thousand-page behemoth of legislative hubris which passed the Chamber last year. You won’t have to pass this one to know what’s in it:

Read the rest of  Benjamine Domenech's post and the extremely short measure itself at SomewhatReasonable.com

 Benjamin Domenech is a research fellow for The Heartland Institute.

Filed by Grant Davies