For those who are asking this question, here’s a video that’s worth a look:
My own approach to the vaccine question is this.
Whatever doesn’t kill you ultimately makes you stronger . . . if you survive whatever it is that’s trying to kill you.
[Of course, sometimes you don't survive.]
So I don’t get flu vaccines.
I figure the flu kills about 36,000 Americans a year — a bit more than car crashes. But almost all flu deaths are infants, the elderly, and the infirm. I’m a strong and healthy (as far as I know). So I figure the flu won’t kill me at this point.
I’d much rather survive it and become stronger for it.
All these vaccines and antibiotics have side-effects — many side-effects worse than the disease itself.
To know this, just listen to the disclaimers the pharmaceutical companies have to put into their advertisements.
Ritalin is frequently prescribed for kids with ADHD. Listed potential side-effects include . . .
- fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeats;
- feeling like you might pass out;
- fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash;
- aggression, restlessness, hallucinations, unusual behavior, or motor tics (muscle twitches);
- easy bruising, purple spots on your skin; or
- dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, seizure).
Potential listed side-effects of Amoxicillin (a commonly prescribed antibiotic) include . . .
- diarrhea that is watery or has blood in it;
- pale or yellowed skin, dark colored urine, fever, confusion or weakness;
- easy bruising or bleeding;
- skin rash, bruising, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness;
- agitation, confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior, seizure (convulsions);
- nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
- severe skin reaction — fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.
- white patches in your mouth or throat; or
- vaginal yeast infection (itching or discharge).
We’re also told that this is not a complete list of possible side-effects . . . because all side-effects are not knowable.
I’m no doctor. But, as a general rule, I would much rather put my trust in my own immune system (invented by God) than a pharmaceutical company.
I do, however, make some relevant exceptions to this rule.
Clearly, vaccines worked against Polio and Smallpox — two horrible diseases.
But consider this:
1) Did we have any vaccines against the Black Plague?
2) Did we have any vaccines against Scarlet Fever?
But these diseases went away because our immune systems figured out how to deal with them.
My question: Are these vaccines and antibiotics inhibiting our immune systems from developing defenses against disease?
There’s a lot of evidence that these antibiotics and vaccines are leading to the evolution of super-bacteria and viruses, just one of which could end up wiping out the human species.
My own approach is this. I will go to the doctor and accept an antibiotic prescription if, after one month, whatever illness I have hasn’t cured itself, or if I absolutely can’t function.
So far, these have been rare occurrences.
Keep in mind also that doctors can only prescribe what is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Doctors cannot prescribe what people have known for thousands of years to work (home remedies such as green tea) because these have not been proven to work in clinical trials.
Almost nothing has been proven to work in clinical trials because there’s not enough money to test everything. So, for example, a drop of salt water squirted into the nasal passage to alleviate a stuffy nose can’t be prescribed because there have been no clinical trials to prove that a drop of salt water works. Or better yet, just put some Tobasco sauce on whatever you are eating. That will clear out your nasal passages.
You also have to question the role of the profit motive in all this. These giant pharmaceutical companies have a lot of money for lobbyists, not to mention bribes to doctors.
I’m all for profit motive. But when it comes to your health, look at all of this with a jaundiced eye.
I am, by no means, anti-science. But I have a lot of faith in a healthy diet, regular exercise, and my own immune system combined with some old-fashioned home remedies.
I look to vaccines and antibiotics as a last resort.
By Ben Hart
Lost in the avalanche of Obama scandals over the past week (IRS-gate, Benghazi-gate, and reporter-phone-records-tapping-gate), was an admission by Barack Obama that, yes, he is indeed a socialist (at a minimum).
The admission appears in a report by the New York Times where Obama is quoted as telling his inner circle that he often dreams of ”going Bulworth.”
Here’s the revealing quote buried deep in the NYT piece:
In private, he has talked longingly of ‘going Bulworth,’ a reference to a little-remembered 1998 Warren Beatty movie about a senator who risked it all to say what he really thought.”
So what does Obama really mean by “going Bulworth”?
Bulworth is portrayed as a hero in the film because he came out of the closet and boasted that he was a socialist, out to destroy the capitalist system. He would be unhindered by pragmatic political concerns from pursuing his mission. To Bulworth, the enemy is capitalism.
When Obama tells his inner-circle that “going Bulworth” is what he really wants to do, he’s saying his facade of political pragmatism is a lie — a calculated lie for the purpose of winning elections.
But now that he no longer has to worry about elections, he’s free to do what he really wants.
Bullworth is Obama’s socialist hero. Now he’s “going Bulworth.”
Using the IRS to punish his political adversaries is part of Obama’s way of “going Bulworth.”
Obama’s agenda is Bullworth’s agenda — destroy capitalism and transform America into a socialist country, apparently by any means necessary.
This “going Bulworth” admission would be a lot like if President Reagan had said “I’ll be going Dr. Strangelove in my second term.”
Can you imagine if Reagan had ever said something like that?
It would confirm the liberal suspicion that Reagan was so anti-Communist, such a hardline Cold Warrior that he might welcome (might even start) a nuclear war against the Soviets.
This would be big news. We would wonder, with good reason, what his plans for us really are.
Of course, we had to wade through 17 paragraphs of non-news (fluff) before we reached Obama’s bombshell “going Bulworth” quote in the New York Times article.
Either the editors at the New York Times did not fully understand what “going Bullworth” meant. Or they did, and just didn’t want to draw attention to Obama’s statement.
During his 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised he would “fundamentally transform” America.
Now we know what he means by this. He means move America’s from a capitalist economic system (which has produced more prosperity than any nation in history) to a socialist system. Socialism always creates poverty and misery.
What’s unclear is the degree of socialism Obama and the fictional Bullworth want.
Is it French-style socialism where 57 percent of the economy is the government? Or is it Mao Tse Tung-style socialism, where 100 percent of the economy is the government?
Obama hasn’t told us.
By the way, even French-style socialism isn’t so good. We now learn some French citizens are being taxed at more than 100 percent of their income.
No wonder French millionaires are fleeing France in droves.
By the way, can you really love something you want to “fundamentally transform“?
This is what Obama says he wants to do to America.
If I were to tell my wife that my goal is to “fundamentally transform” her, would she take that as a compliment?
Most likely, she’d file for divorce.
Of course, constitutionalists have known all along what Obama’s true agenda is. His mom was a socialist. All his key mentors and associates throughout his life have been anti-American socialists and Marxists, including his mentor when growing up Frank Marshall Davis (Communist Party USA member); William Ayers (Weather Underground founder, bomber of the Pentagon and NYC police headquarters); his America-hating pastor of 20 years Jeremiah Wright.
Obama had the most left voting record in the U.S. Senate — to the left of the likes of Barbara Boxer and Ted Kennedy, to the Left even of the self-described Socialist Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders.
So the fact that Obama is a socialist (or worse) is no secret to anyone who has followed his life and career. Now that he’s no longer concerned about reelection, he admits it.
And he’s using the massive weapon of the federal bureaucracy he runs to make it happen.
We are just now learning that Obama’s use of the IRS and the Justice Department to target the Tea Party, conservative organizations, conservative donors, Christian organizations, reporters and journalists Obama doesn’t like, even Billy Graham, is the tip of the iceberg of what’s happening.
The IRS was targeting organizations that have the keywords “Tea Party,” “Constitution,” or “patriot” associated with them.
In the world of Obama and his IRS, it’s apparently suspicious if you’re a “patriot” who talks about the “Constitution.” And if you are a “Christian” “Tea Party” member who talks about the “Constitution,” you might as well turn yourself in to authorities for hard labor at a prison camp in northern Alaska.
It’s now clear Obama and his gang are using the full machinery of the federal government to crush dissent and punish his critics.
Obama is going way beyond anything Nixon tried. Nixon was a piker compared to Obama.
This chart illustrates some interesting facts.
First, note how federal spending has flat-lined and has even started to dip slightly since Republicans took control of Congress in 2010.
Second, note federal tax revenue has been increasingly steadily since we’ve started to see some economic growth — tepid though this growth is. Tax revenues are spiking up sharply without substantial tax increases. Yes, some ObamaCare taxes are starting to kick in. But this is not substantially affecting the revenue picture.
What does this prove?
It proves that Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp were right. If you really want to increase tax revenue to the government , grow the economy. That’s “supply side” economics.
Economic growth produces more revenue for the government because people and businesses pay more taxes when they have more income and bigger profits.
Now, we could and should be doing much better than this.
The so-called economic recovery we are in now is slogging along at half the growth rate of the average economic recovery in America following a recession. The Reagan economic recovery was three times as robust as the sluggish growth we are seeing now. The U.S. economy was growing at a 6 percent annualized rate during the Reagan recovery compared to less than 2 percent for this so-called recovery.
The big reason this recovery is so sluggish is ObamaCare. Businesses have no idea what ObamaCare will cost them, have no idea how much it will cost to add a new employee. So businesses are setting up their factories overseas where the labor is cheap, or they are waiting to see what the implications of ObamaCare really are.
Third, look at how much federal spending went up under President George W. Bush. Spending under Bush was increasing at almost the same rate as spending increased during the first two years of the Obama Administration, when Democrats controlled both champers of Congress. So Bush, it turns out, was one of the biggest spenders in history.
In other words, George W. Bush was a disaster in just about every conceivable way.
He was a rampant spender. He spent about $2 trillion on the Iraq War, a war we never should have gotten into. We found no weapons of mass-destruction (which was the supposed reason we went to war). Saddam Hussein, though certainly a very bad guy, was a bulwark against the even-worse Iran. He also hated al Qaeda and the radical Islamic terrorist groups. He killed a lot of terrorists.
So we spent $2 trillion on Iraq to get rid of this guy, and we’re worse off for it.
The result of Bush’s Presidency is that we now have eight years of Barack Obama and a $17 trillion debt, plus a lot of dead and wounded American soldiers.
Wouldn’t you like to have that $2 trillion back?
But the good news is the Republican leaders in the House have managed to control spending. I’d certainly like to see much more substantial spending cuts — not just hold the line against more spending, which is what’s happening now.
But even if all we do is hold the line against future spending increases, the increased tax revenues produced by economic growth will eliminate the annual budget deficit in a few years. Of course, then we’ll have to start paying down the $17 trillion (soon to be $20 trillion) national debt. At least we’ll be heading in the right direction.
Here’s another interesting chart — federal spending as a percent of GDP:
What’s interesting about this chart is that federal spending as a share of GDP is now going down sharply — thanks to a growing economy, sluggish though it is. After federal spending hit a high of 25 percent of GDP in late 2009, it’s been heading down steadily and now stands at 22 percent of GDP, just one percent higher than the 21 percent of GDP the federal government was spending at the end of the President Reagan’s eight years. (Of course, the cost of ObamaCare hasn’t kicked in yet).
Government spending as a share of GDP reached its low point in modern history of 18 percent under the Presidency of Bill Clinton.
The economy was booming under Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress — which curbed Bill Clinton’s desire to spend.
Reagan likely would have brought federal spending down to the 18 percent it was at the end of the Clinton Presidency, but Reagan had a Cold War against the Soviets to win.
So what’s the lesson here?
It could be that the formula for success is for Republicans to control the Congress and Democrats to control the Presidency.
Why might this be the case?
Because Congress spends the money, not the President. As long as Republicans control Congress (the purse strings), we should be able to keep spending in check and grow our way out of the deficit.
That’s what happened during the Clinton years. And it’s happening again now.
Democrat Presidents also like to take credit for bringing spending under control, even when they have nothing to do with spending. Even Obama is touting himself as a fiscal conservative and similar to Reagan. Of course, that’s a laugh. There’s no limit to what Obama would spend if he could.
But the Republican House won’t let Obama spend more. So Obama is happy to take the credit for bringing spending under control, just as Bill Clinton took credit when he was forced by Congress to rein in spending.
But when Republicans win the Presidency, their tendency is to want to spend like Democrats . . . because they want to please the media and get along with the ruling class. This was certainly the case with both George H.W. Bush (remember “compassionate conservatism”), when spending spiked up dramatically, and George W. Bush, when spending spiked up even more.
I can’t remember which Bush said he wanted to be the “Education President.” I think both Bushes said that, both misunderstanding the role of the federal government.
Now the Republican Establishment is falling in love with electing a third Bush to the Presidency, Jeb Bush.
No thanks. Frankly, I’d rather just continue with what we have now.
I am a William F. Buckely, Jr. conservative. This means I believe in limited Constitutional government.
I am not a libertarian. The Constitution is not a libertarian document.
The Constitution certainly has a presumption in favor of liberty. But the Constitution is also a practical charter for government.
The Constitution allows the government to put a road through your property if it serves the “general welfare” of the country.
This is why we are able to have Interstate highways that are straight, not winding all over the place.
Many libertarians are ideologues. They are hostile to government. They think everything should be done with private contracts — even the building of roads.
Conservatives believe government to be essential — essential, as the preamble to the Constitution says, to “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.”
Conservatives are anti-ideological. Conservatives are guided by principles — the principles outlined in America’s Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights.
Conservatives are also guided by facts — the empirical data. Conservatives favor what works best.
Conservatives defend Western Civilization because Western Civilization has produced, through time and trial and error, the best overall product in terms of human progress and respect for the individual.
The libertarian ideology advances the thesis that the free-market can solve all, or almost all problems.
But that’s clearly not the case.
Libertarians see government as the enemy. Libertarians would not have favored John F. Kennedy’s commitment to put a man on the moon within ten years. Libertarians would argue that the free-market would have achieved that . . . in time.
Libertarians don’t think government should be permitted to plow a road through someone’s farm. They think the private sector will build roads if roads are needed.
Of course, this is just not practical. This is why libertarians will never get more than one percent of the popular vote.
If we had to wait for the private sector to build roads, we would not have an Interstate highway system. We would still be an agrarian society, probably governed by local warlords — something like Afghanistan.
Libertarianism is just a silly ideology.
What William F. Buckley-style conservatives want are practical solutions. Conservatives want what works best for the country as a whole. I sometimes describe myself as a utilitarian tempered by Christianity and the Bill of Rights.
The utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and David Hume is that public policy should be determined by whatever produces the best results for the greatest number of people — or whatever is in the national interest. These philosophers happened to conclude that liberty generally works best — ordered liberty — that is liberty made possible by the “rule of law.”
But the guiding principle for them was “what works best for the greatest number of people.”
The problem with that principle is that “what works best for the greatest number of people” can (and often does) involve trampling on the rights of minorities, the government justifying the seizing of private property for the national interest, crushing freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the freedoms we cherish.
Utilitarianism can lead to an “ends justify the means” approach to public policy.
That’s why I say I am a utilitarian tempered by Christianity and the Bill of Rights. That is, I subscribe to the Bill of Rights even when it’s inconvenient to what I would like to see accomplished . . . because the Constitution, including the “Bill of Rights,” protects all of us from being trampled by the national interest.
The utilitarian part of my philosophy says that we should do “what works best” for the nation as a whole. But that must be tempered by a presumption in favor of liberty — the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights.
So America’s founders got it right.
The Constitution states that the primary purpose of the federal government is to “secure the blessings liberty.” But the Constitution also says the federal government should promote the “general welfare” — that is, the good of the whole.
So the Constitution was a practical document. It was not an ideological document. It left lawmakers a lot of discretion as to what constitutes the “general welfare” — too much discretion, in my view. But that’s another topic for later.
History has certainly shown over and over again that free-market capitalism creates the most wealth for the most people and that Socialism creates poverty and misery wherever and whenever tried. North Korea has universal health care, but spends $1 per year on each citizen. So the health care is not very good. North Koreans literally have to perform their own amputations. But it’s universal health care.
Health care in Cuba isn’t much better than in North Korea, but everyone has access to it.
So the verdict is in. Free-market capitalism works; socialism doesn’t.
But that doesn’t mean we should not have a Social Safety Net.
In my view, the modern American conservative movement is misfiring by becoming too closely aligned with libertarianism. Ron Paul makes some interesting points about the Federal Reserve and other issues, but his get-government-out-of-almost-everything philosophy can never get traction with a majority of Americans.
Conservatives Certainly Support a Social Safety Net
Libertarians, heavily influenced by Ayn Rand, don’t favor a social safety net.
But Americans overwhelmingly want and support a social safety net because we don’t want to see people starving on the street. We don’t want to see grandma thrown out into the snow.
Most Americans believe that we are a wealthy enough country to be able to provide an acceptable standard of living for those who cannot provide for themselves. Most people want to know that if they ever become too sick or disabled to be able to provide for themselves that they will still be able to eat, have a roof over their heads, have medical care.
There is much wrong with the current welfare state in America.
The incentives are all wrong, rewarding dependency.
There are more than 150 separate “means tested” federal welfare programs. How an uneducated poor person can even navigate this maze is anyone’s guess.
President Obama’s policy focus has been to increase the public’s dependency on government. He has expanded the number of Americans on Food Stamps by 50 percent. He has done this by heavily advertising and marketing the Food Stamps program in poor communities and even to college students.
He has created an entire new entitlement called ObamaCare. Today, more than 110,000,000 Americans are recieiving some form of “means tested” government assistance — more than one-third of the entire country.
That’s because Obama and the Democrats use welfare and public assistance to buy votes. Welfare and public assistance has become a giant vote buying operation. The more poverty and the more people dependent on welfare, the better politically it is for Obama and the Democrats.
The more people who have private-sector jobs and own businesses, the better it is for the Republicans.
So what we have in America is a battle between the party of government dependency and the party of self-reliance, and liberty.
But just because we, as conservative Constitutionalists, believe in self-reliance and liberty doesn’t mean we don’t believe in a social “safety net.”
And just because we find serious structural problems with the current welfare state, also doesn’t mean we oppose a social safety net.
I favor a social safety net — a limited social safety net — not the current “vote buying” version we have now.
The type of social safety net we should have is one that encourages able-bodied Americans to get off it.
Bill Clinton signed welfare reform into law that required able-bodied Americans on welfare to work.
Millions of Americans left the welfare roles for jobs as a result.
President Obama canceled the work requirement for those on welfare. The result: a 50 percent increase in the number of people on Food Stamps, and one third of the country on some form of “means tested’ welfare.
The difference between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama is that Bill Clinton saw it as an important public policy goal to wean people off welfare, while Obama’s primary goal has been to put more people on welfare, to addict as many Americans as possible to government assistance.
What a Conservative Social Safety Net Would Look Like
If I were to design America’s social “safety net” policy, it would look like this:
1) Assistance to the Unemployed Able-Bodied Adult
The unemployed would receive a maximum of nine months of unemployment insurance payments.
It’s significant that almost everyone receiving unemployment benefits manages to find work during the last month or so before their benefits run out. So many use their unemployment checks as a way to have an extended paid vacation.
So here’s the concept . . .
If after nine months, the able-bodied continue to need public assistance to survive, they would have to report to a facility that looks something like an army barracks and would be run much like an army barracks. Tenants there would be put to work, just like a “work release” program that prisons use for non-violent offenders. They would be expected to pick up trash along the side of the road, do whatever work is needed around the community, or go out to find work, or get schooling so they can qualify for work. They would be expected to be back in the barracks after work. It would be a spartan existence. They would have clean facilities and good nutrition, but very little freedom. Their day would be highly structured, with regular testing for drugs. They would be required to attend evening educational programs focused on developing marketable skills.
Some people might choose to live this way for the rest of their lives. Most able-bodied people would like to find a way to get out of the barracks, get their freedom back, and move back into the productive economy — which they are free to do at any time.
But so long as they are on public assistance (living in the barracks) every minute of their time is scheduled.
By the way, this is how dead-beat dads are treated. If you are a “dead beat” dad not paying your child support, you are jailed. You are then put in a “work release” program where you either find a job and go to work each day, or the jail gives you a job picking up trash on the side of the road, or whatever other job needs doing.
The government then confiscates your paycheck, which is then used to feed your kids.
You then get out of this situation when you persuade a judge that you’re ready to start paying your child support. Most find a way to start paying their child support again.
This Barracks-style welfare system, by the way, would just about eliminate the dysfunctional drug and prostitution economy of the inner-city. People engage in these underground, black-market activities to earn cash that’s not reported to the IRS so they can keep their welfare benefits rolling in.
This “tough love” barracks system, boot-camp-style of welfare for the able-bodied ends all that nonsense, and would likely put the drug gangs out of business.
If you are an able-bodied adult, public assistance must become a last resort, an emergency situation — not a way of life . . . and certainly should not be used by Democrats as a way to buy votes. If you are long-term unemployed, we’ll find things for you to do. We’ll structure your day for you.
By the way, this probably won’t be cheaper than the system we have now. But it would be far more effective.
And welfare should all be handled at the state level — with perhaps some block grants from the federal government to assist in areas of the country that have extreme poverty. There should be almost no federal administration of welfare on the principle that government works best when government is close to the people. Most of the governing in America should take place at the state and local level.
2) Crack Down Hard on Disability Fraud
The Barracks-system of welfare described above is for the long-term unemployed able-bodied adult who needs government assistance to live.
So this “tough love” welfare system would certainly create a big incentive for people to fake back injuries and the like so they could go on long-term disability. Clearly, we would have to step up enforcement of laws against disability fraud — increase penalties, and the like.
Again, this becomes easier if we shift responsibility for all welfare and poverty programs back to states and local governments — where local officials are on the scene and are in the best position to police disability fraud.
3) Social Security
Social Security is not a “means tested” welfare program, so really doesn’t belong is a discussion about the social safety net.
It’s supposed to be a supplemental retirement program. You pay for it throughout your life with your FICA payroll taxes. And you are compensated in retirement according to how much you’ve paid in.
If I were to start over again with Socialist Security, I would certainly set it up differently.
Social Security contributions would not go into the federal treasury for Congress to take and use for whatever it pleases. Social Security contributions would go into personal retirement accounts that would belong to each individual. Congress could not touch these accounts. And the individual would manage and direct their accounts, much like they manage their own IRA and 401-k retirement accounts.
Chile went this route, and it’s been very successful. Of course, it required a dictator to make it happen. Chile’s Social Security system was privatized by Augusto Pinochet in the early 1980s. This produced an economy in Chile that became known as the “Miracle of Chile.”
How Chile’s Economy Has Performed Since It Privatized Its Version of Social Security
Libertarians say scrap the Social Security system.
The big problem with that is people have built their lives around the system, have paid into Social Security their entire lives on the promise that the money would be there for their retirement.
We’re conservatives, not radicals. We look at life and reality as they are. The current Social Security system is here to stay.
It will be tough to change and reform in a Chilean direction because of all the demagoguery. And we aren’t governed by a dictator who can do what he wants, as Chile was under Pinochet.
He was a dictator who was sold on free-market economics by Milton Friedman. Chile has prospered enormously as s result.
Our Social Security system, far from perfect though it is, has also accomplished a lot of good.
It’s kept people from falling into poverty during their old age.
Most Americans see Social Security as a success. Most people don’t want to see grandma forced to eat dog food to survive.
Social Security now faces financing problems for two principal reasons:
FIRST, politicians have been using the Social Security Trust Fund for other government expenditures rather than to ensure the long-term health of the system; and
SECOND, people are living much longer today than they were when Social Security was enacted.
Both are simple problems to fix. Politicians must be stopped from using Social Security as a piggy bank to fund the rest of the federal government. Even Al Gore campaigned in 2000 on the idea of passing a “Social Security Lock-Box Law” that would stop Congress from doing exactly this.
Of course, the only way to have a true “Social Security Lock-Box” would be for each American to actually own their own Social Security account, just as you own your IRA and 401-k. Short of that, Congress won’t be able to stop stealing from the Social Security piggy bank to spend on other things.
When Social Security was first passed in 1935, the life expectancy for the average man was 58, for the average woman 62. Social Security benefits kicked in at age 65 — which, back then, was considered extreme old age. The purpose of Social Security was to assist those in extreme old age who were no long physically able to work. Only 54 percent of Americans in those days lived long enough to receive any Social Security benefits. And most of them would only receive benefits for a few years.
So financing this system was not a problem.
Today, average life expectancy has reached 78 years of age. The average baby born today will likely live into their 90s.
Clearly, Social Security can’t pay benefits to people for 30 years.
We must raise the retirement age.
Right now, retirement age to receive full Social Security benefits is 67. But you can start receiving benefits at age 62 if you want to accept 30 percent less.
The retirement age for Social Security should be raised to 72 and then indexed to average life expectancy.
That would take care of the Social Security financing problem.
The best way to protect and preserve Medicare is to repeal ObamaCare.
Like Social Security, Medicare is designed to provide good medical care in our old age — when we most need it. Health insurance for younger Americans can be purchased relatively cheaply (if government would mostly just out of the way).
As with Social Security, we have been paying into Medicare our entire lives on the expectation that the system would be there.
As with Social Security, Medicare also has a Trust Fund that Congress has been raiding to pay for other expenditures, having nothing to do with Medicare.
Now, ObamaCare is stealing $716 billion from Medicare in order to pay for ObamaCare.
Because of ObamaCare, doctors and hospitals are now scheduled to be paid just 33 percent for Medicare patients of what private insurers pay for the exact same treatments — again, because of the need to fund ObamaCare.
As a result, doctors and hospitals are increasingly turning away Medicare patients.
Health insurance premiums have risen 32 percent since ObamaCare passed into law in 2010. The IRS now estimates that the lowest priced health insurance plan for a family (a “Bronze Plan) will cost $20,000 per year in 2016, when ObamaCare fully kicks in.
How is this happening?
Well, because whenever government takes over an industry (in this case one-sixth of the U.S. economy) costs always go up, while quality and service decline. So now we have the equivalent of the Post Office managing our health care — except worse . . . because it’s the IRS that will be the enforcer of ObamaCare.
The best way to save Medicare is to repeal ObamaCare.
We can then talk about ways to improve and strengthen Medicare and America’s health care system generally, such as with . . .
- Expanding tax-free health care savings accounts
- Allowing health insurance costs to be tax-deductible for individuals, not just for businesses.
- Allowing health insurance companies to compete across state lines.
- Providing subsidies to low-income Americans and to people with preexisting conditions.
The Guiding Theme of American Conservatism
The guiding theme of American conservatism must be exactly what the preamble to the Constitution says: “to secure the blessings of liberty” and to “promote the general welfare.”
It is not government’s job to redistribute wealth. That’s Marxism. That’s inconsistent with liberty. The American idea has always been to allow people to achieve whatever they can achieve. We don’t believe in punishing achievement the way Obama does.
There should be no ceiling on success.
Furthermore, punishing achievers doesn’t work. The achievers can take their money and businesses elsewhere.
This was Ayn Rand’s great point in Atlas Shrugged — where she posits the question of: What would happen to society if all the producers, achievers, and innovators just quit, just took their marbles and went home? What would happen to America if all the producers got fed up and pulled a John Galt.
To a large extent, this is happening right now to America. The stock market is the only aspect of the U.S. economy right now that’s sort of working because large companies have figured out how to make money by building their factories overseas where the labor is cheaper. Apple devices are mostly built now in China — which is now more business-friendly than America. The U.S. now has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world.
What made America great has always been that the achievers were not punished, as they had been everywhere else — that, in America, we have an “unalienable” right to the “pursuit of happiness,” as our Declaration of Independence says.
That’s the American idea.
But, as conservatives, we also adjust our thinking in accordance with reality — to meet the facts.
We aren’t driven by ideology the way libertarians are. If the free market isn’t working in certain areas, we reserve the right to make adjustments, to patch it up, to make rules that make the economy work better.
The NFL changes its rules all the time — in the interest of making the game better.
Generally, the NFL has adjusted the rules to make it easier for offense to score and the quarterback to complete passes . . . because that’s what the public wants. Defense always eventually catches up to whatever the offenses are doing. So if the NFL was still playing with rules that were in place during the 1960s, the offense would never score. So the NFL had to adjust the rules, and is constantly tweaking the rules to solve this problem or that problem.
That’s the job of the lawmaker and policy-maker — or at least should be their job: To adjust the rules to make the system work better.
True Conservatism Must Be Grounded in Reality
As conservatives and as constitutionalists, we have a strong bias in favor of freedom.
Freedom produces more wealth, produces innovation. It’s great to live in freedom.
But what if freedom didn’t work? What if every time we tried freedom, it failed — and produced more poverty and misery?
As fact-based, reality-based conservatives, we would have to adjust our philosophy, our worldview, our principles.
Fortunately, this is not the case. It’s actually socialism that has failed so dismally. It’s actually freedom that works, for the most part.
But the free-market clearly does not work on its own in all areas. The free market could not work at all without government, without rules.
You can’t have a football game without rules.
You can’t hold an NFL football game without infrastructure. You need stadiums. And you need a governing body to set the rules.
The same is true for a civil society.
An ordered civil society is more than just whatever makes the economy work best.
People also want things that the free-market can’t provide.
People want clean air and clean water. We need rules to make sure that happens.
For the stock market and the economy to run well, we need transparent reporting requirements for publicly traded companies. We need an SEC to enforce these rules. Building codes are a good idea. I certainly want to know the house I’m buying isn’t going collapse due to shoddy construction.
The Hoover Dam was a great idea. It worked. It made life better for tens of millions of people.
There are lots of things I want government to do.
Conservatives believe in ordered liberty.
This is why I’m a conservative, not a libertarian. I am biased in favor of freedom. I have a strong presumption toward freedom. But I also want law and order and a strong national defense.
I don’t want a weak government. I want a very strong government where government is supposed to be strong.
I want a government that is strong enough to hunt down and kill terrorists.
The Patriot Act certainly infringes on my liberties, but I’m willing to put up with it because there are real threats out there. I don’t mind the TSA security system at the airports, as libertarians complain about. I don’t find it all that intrusive to have to take my shoes off and go through the scanners. I really don’t care if some government official sees my naked body in all its glory to make sure I’m not carrying a bomb on the plane.
The world is a dangerous place.
Video surveliance of the streets is fine by me if that helps us catch terrorists and criminals.
Libertarian concerns about that make little sense.
Conservatives believe in freedom, but make adjustments based on reality.
I’d also like to get back to having a JFK-style space program again. Why haven’t we landed a team on Mars yet — a half century after we landed on the moon?
And most Americans don’t want to see people starving on the street — won’t stand for it.
When I go to Third World countries, I see people starving on the streets. We don’t see that often in America. We see it some, but we’re shocked when we see it.
We pride ourselves in being a prosperous, civilized country where that doesn’t happen, or shouldn’t happen.
When we see a homeless person freezing and starving, we want to take action. We want to help.
What’s the libertarian answer to that?
Rely on private charities to step in? Churches?
Sure, these institutions have their role. But that’s not the scale of the solution Americans are looking for.
Conservatives make a mistake by sounding sometimes like they want to scrap the welfare state.
We certainly want to scrap or redo large sections of the current welfare state because it’s clearly not working and is counter-productive. It’s also being abused by politicians who are using expansion of the welfare state as a vote buying scheme. But we don’t want to sound like we are opposed to a social safety net.
That’s a losing proposition. We’ll never win elections standing for that.
Yes, people want freedom, want opportunity. But they also want safety. They want to know if they fall on hard times, if they fall through the cracks, someone or some system is there to ensure they don’t starve, freeze, or die of some easily-cured illness.
The question is not whether we should have a safety net. We certainly need one. The question is: what does this social safety net look like? Conservatives want a social safety net that works because fact-based conservatives want results, not just good intentions.
Conservatives also point out other considerations that limit what we might want to do — such as the $16.5 TRILLION national debt that threatens to collapse our economic system.
We can only do what we can afford to do. I might want a nicer car, but if I can’t afford it, I don’t buy it.
Politicians in Washington aren’t constrained by that common-sense rule.
The U.S. government today borrows 46 cents of every dollar it spends. We can’t continue long at this rate of borrowing and spending..
Every baby born today owes $55,000 on the national debt. Conservatives worry about this. Liberals, not so much.
Has the American economy performed better or worse as we’ve been adding all this new government spending and debt?
A reality-based conservative looks at the last 70 years or so and asks: When was America doing best?
Well, it looks like America was doing best from about 1944 through 2000 when federal spending as a percentage of GDP hovered in the 18 to 20 percent range.
Today, federal spending has spiked up to 26 percent of GDP. That is, federal spending is about 33 percent higher as a percentage of GDP than at the end of Bill Clinton’s term as President.
The economy was doing very well then, very poorly now. So let’s return federal spending to the level it was in 2000 — 18 percent of GDP.
And let’s have a law (preferably a Constitutional Amendment) that says federal spending must be capped at a maximum of 18 percent of GDP moving forward. I could even live with capping federal spending at 20 percent of GDP. Fine.
That’s what a reality-based conservative does.
We look at the facts. We look at history. We look at what has worked and what hasn’t worked. We then make proposals based on that, not ideology.
That’s what most Americans want. Most Americans are not ideological, not especially political.
Most Americans just want the country to work.
Most Americans know the country is not working well now.
If conservatives propose practical solutions to obvious problems that people sense and see, we can get back to winning elections again.
Ronald Reagan was great conservative. He was also a practical politician. Liberals accused him of being a war-monger, too quick to pull the trigger, a saber-rattler. But when a terrorist truck bomb blew up that Marine barracks in Beirut killing 299 American Marines, Reagan’s response was not to launch a war, as some might have expected. Instead, his response was to reassess why we had a Marine barracks there in the first place. His response was to pull back our military presence in the area because he did not see our presence there serving any practical purpose.
Reagan was a pragmatist, a realist — as true conservatives are.
Conservatives are not ideologues. Conservatives are anti-ideology.
Ideologues persist in their ideology even when the facts prove their ideology to be wrong. Conservatives subscribe to a set of principles — principles mostly derived from historical experience– that is, by looking at what’s worked and what hasn’t worked. But these principles can and must be adjusted by facts as we meet them — just as a scientist starts with a hypothesis, then tests that hypothesis, then adjusts the hypothesis in accordance with the facts.
This is why libertarianism is such a flawed ideology. This is why I’m a conservative, not a libertarian.
That’s why I sometimes describe my views as “utilitarian tempered by the Bill of Rights.”
Like most Americans, I just want America to work well.
That’s what patriotism is. Patriots want what’s best for the country as whole.
The goal of government is exactly what the Constitution says: to “secure the blessings of liberty,” “provide for the common defence,” “insure domestic tranquility,” and to “promote the general welfare.”
Not to use government power to steal from one group of people to give to another group; not to redistribute wealth; not to punish one group of people; not to use the federal treasury to buy votes or reward donors to political campaigns — but to secure liberty and make life better for the people as a whole.
We believe in equal treatment of all American citizens under the laws. We believe in the unalienable right to pursue happiness, as our Declaration of Independence says, not to be happy.
America’s Founders had principles, had strong beliefs. They were also practical statesmen who built a nation that worked — that allowed America to quickly emerge as the freest, most prosperous nation in human history. The American Civil War showed that what they built had to be tweaked some, had to be adjusted. The Civil War demonstrated a need for a stronger federal authority.
But America’s founders got a lot right.
Why Ideologues Are So Dangerous
My big problem with Obama is he’s an ideologue — a leftist ideologue.
And he doesn’t let facts get in the way of his ideology.
Average annual GDP growth under Obama has been 1.53% — the worst of any President since Herbert Hoover.
Only Hoover is worse.
A rational person would look at this and begin to conclude that perhaps his theories are wrong and proceed to make adjustments. But not Obama.
He proceeds with his socialistic schemes (most notably the implementation of ObamaCare) regardless of actual results. Facts never alter the thinking of an ideologue.
Obama rammed ObamaCare into law without a single Republican vote — not one. Not even Olympia Snowe.
That’s what ideologues do.
They don’t care what anyone else thinks or wants. They just do what they want..
No massive piece of legislation, such as ObamaCare, can succeed without a single vote from the opposition party
But Obama doesn’t care. He just wants what he wants — which is why I believe ObamaCare will soon become like the Iraq War for the Democratic Party.
Iraq was a mistake. There were no weapons of mass destruction — not that we could find. That was the premise behind that war.
Yes, Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator. He was also a counter to the even-worse Iran and a bulwark against al Qaeda, which he hated. We supported Saddam in his war with Iran. So the Iraq war was a huge error — a very costly error in terms of blood and treasure. America is worse off today because of the Iraq War.
Those are the facts.
The GOP paid dearly at the polls in 2006 and 2008 for that error.
I believe Democrats will pay dearly at the polls in 2014 and 2016 for the ObamaCare mistake — as this mistake becomes more apparent to voters.
Obama believes in using government power to redistribute wealth. He has said over and over again that this is his goal. He promised to “fundamentally transform” America.
This suggests that he’s no fan of America — at least not a fan of America as it was founded. He attacks capitalism. He attacks producers. He loves to point out all that’s wrong with capitalism. Rarely does he praise our free-enterprise system that has produced so much prosperity.
If I were to tell my wife that my goal is to “fundamentally transform” her, I doubt she would take that as a compliment. I doubt she would interpret that statement as any indication that I love her. Can you really love something that you want to “fundamentally transform“?
One tenet of conservatism is to be very careful to try to fix something that’s not broken. We believe in, first, doing no harm.
Conservatives tend to respect tradition more than liberals do because conservatives respect the accumulated wisdom of the ages.
We have learned a lot over the thousands of years of Western Civilization about what works and what doesn’t work. So conservatives are reluctant, for example, to change the definition of marriage.
We think marriage can only be between a man and a woman, that there are good reasons for that, and that this institution has worked well for thousands of years. But Obama and the Left want to throw all that out the window for what they think is right — to expand marriage to include gay marriage.
Now, perhaps not much harm will come from that. Who knows? But why throw thousands of years of tradition out the window on a whim?
The reason the state has an interest in marriage is because of children. If children were not the natural result of marriage, the state would not have much of an interest in the institution.
Conservatives are conservatives because we know we don’t have all the answers. We’re not ideologues. We look at what has worked up until now and we favor that, until another idea comes along that proves to work better.
But Obama is not that way. He says he wants to “fundamentally transform” the most successful nation in human history. Why?
Why not just tweak a few things here there to make America work perhaps a little better — like what the NFL does every year. Why “fundamentally transform“?
That’s the language of an ideologue.
The NFL owners don’t want to “fundamentally transform” football into a new game. They love the game. They try to fine-tune the rules here and there to make the game better, to preserve the game. Sometimes they succeed. Sometimes they fail and find they have to change the rules back to the way they were.
That’s the conservative approach to public policy.
Cut Defense Spending by One Third
It’s time for conservatives to stop reflexively screaming over even the most modest proposed cuts to the Pentagon’s budget.
We need to cut defense spending by at least one-third because we simply cannot afford what we’re spending now.
America now spends $950,000,000 a year on defense. That’s nearly $1 TRILLION, or about 26
percent of our $3.8 TRILLION yearly federal budget.
Right now, 43 percent of the entire world’s military spending is, well, us. We are spending six times more on our military than #2 China.
We are spending 14 times more than Russia. Both Britain and France spend more on their military than Russia.
Russia is really just a Third World country, no longer much to worry about.
There’s no Hitler on the horizon and aircraft carriers are not needed to kill terrorists.
Surely the 12 aircraft carriers we now have are enough.
No other country in the world has more than two aircraft carriers. China and Russia each have one aircraft carrier.
The main threat to us is terrorism. Aircraft carriers and enormous standing armies are not what we need to defeat terrorism. What we need to defeat terrorism are excellent intelligence, more special ops forces, more drones, and the like. But these are not high-ticket items, like aircraft carriers.
We are now building a tank that costs $500,000,000 apiece. The Army says it doesn’t need or want this tank, but Congress insists on building it anyway.
President Eisenhower (no liberal) warned America about the “military industrial complex” and the threat it presents to our liberty and wallets.
I think it would be fun to own a 100 guns to protect my family and home. I’d like to have AK-47s, grenades, M-16s, bullet-proof vests, night-vision goggles, tear gas launchers, percussion bombs, smoke bombs, all kinds of cool stuff. But I can’t afford all this. I’ll have to made do with two guns — a revolver and a shotgun. We can’t afford our trillion-dollar military industrial complex either.
We Need to Unwind our Foreign Entanglements
President George Washington had it right when he warned against foreign entanglements.
Here’s what he had to say on the subject:
- “Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.”
- “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.” -(George Washington, farewell address, 1796.)
- “I have always given it as my decided opinion that no nation has a right to intermeddle in the internal concerns of another; that every one has a right to form and adopt whatever government they liked best to live under themselves; and that if this country could, consistently with its engagements, maintain a strict neutrality and thereby preserve peace, it was bound to do so by motives of policy, interest, and every other consideration. (George Washington, from Letter to James Monroe, August 25,1796.)
- “Hence, likewise , they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.”
Wise words. What good has come from our decades of meddling in the Middle East? Has there been a single positive outcome from the trillions of dollars we’ve spent trying to “fix” the Middle East?
I can’t think of one. We’ve just made a lot of enemies.
There are about seven billion people in the world — about five billion of whom hate us . . . not because we are free and prosperous. Switzerland is also free and prosperous. But no one hates Switzerland. Most of the world hates America because of our meddlesome foreign policy.
As conservatives, we get plenty ticked off when our nanny-state government meddles in our lives.
So why are so many conservatives (mostly neoconservatives) surprised when people in other countries resent it when our government (not even their own government) meddles in their lives?
The British Empire collapsed because its empire was too expensive to maintain. This is why all empires end up collapsing. War after war after war to maintain order is just too costly.
We need to get out of the Middle East. Israel will have to defend itself.
Switzerland’s done quite well by staying out of foreign entanglements. Switzerland hasn’t been the target of any terrorist attacks. And it’s a whole lot cheaper to stay out of the affairs of other countries.
If a really dangerous Adolf Hitler type emerges, we take him out. We need a military that can do this. Hunting down and killing Osama bin Laden is fine.
But no more “nation building.” No more foreign aid.
And let’s get the heck out of NATO, the IMF, the World Bank, the World Court, and especially the United Nations.
We need a Navy that can protect our commercial ships and keep the sea lanes open and safe. We need a military that can take out the regime in Iran and the midget in North Korea if it’s in America’s interest to do so. Those are prudential judgments for a President and Congress.
Thomas Jefferson hunted down the Barbary Coast pirates in North Africa to protect our commercial ships and keep the sea lanes open. Good call.
We probably should have done more to stop Hitler earlier.
“How serious is the threat?” is always the question. ”Is a preemptive strike called for?” These are situational judgment calls we pay our President to make, in consultation with Congress. But the guiding principle must always be: Is a vital American interest at stake?
Pat Buchanan is right when we says we need a strictly “America First” defense and foreign policy. And there should be a heavy burden of proof on intervention.
It’s certainly a tragedy when 500,000 Rawandans are murdered by their own government and when the Syrian regime uses poison gas on its own people. But there’s no vital American interest to protect here. So there’s no job here for the U.S. military to perform.
I’m not suggesting we cut our military down to pre-World War Two levels. That would be dangerous, as we found out.
But do we really need 294 U.S. embassies? Do we really need 662 military bases in 38 foreign countries?
Not if we stop following the siren call of the neoconservatives to intervene in another Middle East conflict. Not if we stop being the world’s biggest busybody.
This is how we cut our military and foreign policy spending by at least one-third, if not 50 percent, and end up stronger, richer, and more free in the long run.
Immigration: A Huge Difference Between Conservatives and Libertarians
Libertarians don’t like borders. They think anyone who wants to should just be able to come to America.
This is beyond absurd.
America, of course, is a nation of immigrants. Conservatives are not opposed to immigration. But it must be controlled immigration.
You cannot move to Switzerland unless you bring a lot of money with you.
The Boston Marathon bombers illustrate the need to control immigration — to make sure new immigrants have assimilated into American life, to have actually become Americans. We want to make sure those who have green cards and who become U.S. citizens actually like America.
The older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, said that he did not have a single American friend, did not understand Americans.
Who were his friends? Clearly, not Americans.
Now it turns out the Tsarnaev family received more than $100,000 in welfare benefits.
Did American taxpayers help pay for the bombs they built to kill and maim all those Bostonians?
No, we don’t need loose borders or open borders, as Ron Paul and the libertarians want.
No nation can survive that doesn’t control its borders.
Look at Afghanistan. That’s a country that has no control of its border. And look what you get — a nation governed by war lords and tribal chieftains, al Qaeda and terrorists going back and forth at will between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Is this what we want — Mexican drug cartels (who are more powerful than the Mexican government) and terrorists going back and forth over the U.S.-Mexican border with impunity?
A recent Pew poll of Mexicans finds that 35 percent of Mexicans say they would move here if they could. At that point, of course, America ceases to exist. We basically become Mexico. And Mexico’s drug cartel crisis becomes our drug cartel crisis.
Rule of law becomes gang rule. Ordered liberty turns into a “Road Warrior” situation. All of America starts to resemble the worst parts of Chicago’s south side (at best). Perhaps we could rename this new country Americo or MexAmerica.
If you don’t have borders, you don’t have a country.
A country without borders is like house without a roof and walls.
Libertarians don’t really believe in America. They don’t believe in the nation state.
This is why I have very little in common with libertarians philosophically.
I appreciate their critique of socialism and defense of capitalism.
But we can’t have capitalism without laws and rules — and tough enforcement.
We need government to be strong, very strong, where it’s supposed to be strong – “to insure domestic tranquility.”
Taxes are the price we pay for civilization — for law and order.
Law and order includes securing our border and not rewarding the 11,000,000 Mexicans who broke into America illegally with a path to citizenship. The only path to citizenship for them should be to return to Mexico and go to the back of the immigration line.
As conservatives, we believe in the “rule of law” — not rewarding lawlessness.
Not only must we secure our borders. We also need an immigration policy that allows the rate of immigration to be at a level where we can be reasonably be sure new immigrants are truly ready to be Americans, understand what makes America special and different from the rest of the world.
We don’t want people here, like the Tsarnaevs, who hate America, who don’t understand America.
We want people here who love America.
What Conservatives Are Trying to Conserve
Conservatives see America as exceptional in world history.
America, in a very short period of time, produced unprecedented prosperity . . .
- because of America’s Constitution (including the Bill of Rights), which limits government power;
- because of freedom;
- because America’s founders (James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, George Washington, John Adams, and others) who designed our government were so brilliant;
- because of George Washington’s leadership (“The Indispensable Man“);
- because of the “rule of law” and the principle of “equality under the law” for all citizens;
- because Abraham Lincoln saved the union, abolished slavery, and brought the Bill of Rights protections to black Americans; and
- because of America’s “protestant ethic and spirit of capitalism” (as Max Weber called it in his classic book on why America was so successful so quickly).
America is exceptional because of the unprecedented freedom and prosperity created by this unique combination of circumstances, events, thinkers, and leaders.
Nothing like America had ever existed before.
It’s not arrogance to say this. It’s not that we are an exceptional people. We’re not better than anyone else. But we have had an exceptional system, a Constitution designed by America’s founders, but tweaked along the way with Constitutional amendments.
America is the first country in history to be founded on an idea — a proposition.
The American idea is this — set forth in our Declaration of Independence, penned by Thomas Jefferson:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Then the Constitution, adopted in 1787, underscores this by saying the purpose of the federal government is to “secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.”
Slavery was clearly a major blemish on what our founders had achieved in writing the Constitution and getting the Constitution ratified by the states. The Constitution, of course, was was the result of all kinds of compromises and tradeoffs. This is how laws are passed in a democracy.
The inherent contradiction between this and slavery was remedied by the Civil War (at a cost 750,000 lives on the battlefields).
The important point is: America was founded upon this proposition: that “all men are created equal” — not equal obviously in talents, but equal before the law.
Slavery was a contradiction that could not survive this moral principle.
By the way, America’s founders were well aware of this fact. They also believed ratifying a Constitution that tolerated slavery in some states was better than not having any law at all.
Most of them knew America would have to address this contradiction later.
Nevertheless, America’s Declaration of Independence, winning a seven-year war of Independence against the British Empire, and the ratification of the Constitution in 1787 were magnificent achievements that laid the groundwork for the abolition of slavery.
Slavery, of course, was the norm in the world at that time. It’s still the norm in much of the world today. But it was ended in America.
It was ended in America because it could not withstand the principles set forth in America’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution. The hypocrisy of allowing slavery to continue was too glaring.
In America, everyone would be treated equally by the law.
America was the first nation in history to be “conceived in liberty.”
America was the first nation in history to enshrine freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association as rights.
In America, criminals are presumed innocent until proven guilty unanimously by a jury of one’s peers. That was new. America’s Constitution prevents the government from entering our homes without a court-issued warrant (“unreasonable searches and seizures”).
In America, we can’t be forced to testify against ourselves (no torture, no forced confessions). We have the secret ballot. Government cannot take our property without just compensation and due process of law.
These are amazing achievements — still not found in 90 percent of the world.
We’re now losing these achievements.
Liberty (made possible by our Constitution and the “rule of law”) turned out to be the oxygen that fuels human innovation and progress.
The reasons for America’s stunning and rapid growth were chronicled brilliantly by Alexis de Tocqueville in his great work Democracy in America.
I also try to shed some light on this miracle called the United States of America in a book I wrote titled Faith & Freedom: The Christian Roots of American Liberty.
A few other countries have since been able to approximate America’s level of prosperity by imitating the key elements of the American system.
But most of the world still lives in abject poverty.
Most of the world would move here if it could — which is why we need a secure border and controls on immigration. We can’t handle most of the world moving here — not if we are to preserve what makes America exceptional in world history.
The United States of America — including our Constitution and free-enterprise system — is the civilization American conservatives are trying to conserve.
The Boston Marathon bomber events present problems to the liberal worldview on three policy fronts:
Skeptics of the Marco Rubio “Gang of Eight” immigration bill being put forth are not opposed to immigration.
America is a nation of immigrants.
The Boston Marathon bombers show the need to control immigration — to make sure new immigrants have assimilated into American life, to have actually become Americans. We want to make sure those who have green cards and who become U.S. citizens actually like America.
The older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, said that he did not have a single American friend, did not understand Americans.
Who were his friends? Clearly, not Americans.
Not only do we need to secure our borders. We need an immigration policy that allows the rate of immigration to be at a level where we can be reasonably be sure new immigrants are truly ready to be Americans, understand what makes America special and different from the rest of the world.
We want people here who love America.
2) Gun control
The Boston Marathon bombers showed how much murder and mayhem can be caused without guns. The al Qaeda magazine Inspire published an article titled “How to Make a Bomb in Your Mom’s Kitchen” that details how to make a powerful bomb with a pressure cooker — apparently the inspiration for these two young men.
Tim McVeigh and company blew up a federal building, killing 168 people and injuring more than 800 with a bomb made out of fertilizer.
This week, we saw the incredible devastation caused by the blowing up of a fertilizer plant in Texas. An entire community leveled. We still don’t know the number of dead and injured from that event.
So there are many ways to kill a lot of people without guns.
Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.
Guns aren’t evil. But some people are evil . . . and will find a way to kill you if they want to.
3) Radical Islam
The liberal-left were praying the Marathon Bombers were tax protesters or Tea Party types. But no. Predictably, the bombers were radical Islamists.
Salon magazine published a truly disgraceful article titled “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American.”
But the truth is there is something about the Islam religion that fosters violence.
Islam is not like other world religions. We don’t fear Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, or Christians.
We don’t fear Mormons, Scientologists, or Astrologers.
But there’s something at the heart of the Islam religion that is very dark.
Islam is the world’s most belligerant religion, the most warlike religion.
Certainly, not all Muslims are violent. I have some Muslim friends who are wonderful people who love America.
But I would argue that these Muslim friends of mine fall into the category of nominal Muslims. Much like nominal Christians consider themselves to be Christians but don’t actually go to church regularly, these nominal Muslim friends of mine are clearly not subscribing to the entire Muslim program.
In Muslim countries, we continue to see women stoned for adultery and lesser sins. We see Muslim converts to Christianity put to death.
Can Muslims who actually subscribe to Sharia Law ever actually assimilate to America?
Those who subscribe to Sharia Law (Islamic Law) believe those who do not convert to Islam must be put to death.
There is no such thing as religious freedom (or freedom of any kind) under Islam.
Sharia Law is incompatible with liberty — just as Nazism and Communism are incompatible with liberty and our Constitution.
Jesus Christ never told us to kill non-Christians — just try to convert them . . . through persuasion.
Islam believes in conversion through threat of the sword.
Hence Islam’s infatuation with beheading non-Muslims.
Jesus told us: “By their fruits we shall know them.”
The fruits of Islam have been poisonous.
Not much good has come from Islam. What scientific discoveries has Islam produced? What great works of art or literature? Who in their right mind would ever want to live in an Islamic country?
Every Islamic nation is an economic and human rights disaster.
With the exception of a few oil billionaires and sheiks, most people who live in these oil-rich Islamic countries live in abject poverty — on a sub-human level that makes the South Bronx look prosperous by comparison.
There is clearly something deeply barbaric about the Islamic religion — at least the pure Islamic religion.
The savage and ultra-violent nature of Islam presents a big problem for those (like Marco Rubio) who want a more relaxed path to U.S. Citizenship. We don’t need people here who hate America. We want people here who love America.
By Ben Hart
At a certain point, it becomes too expensive to keep using government money.
Think about the cost to you of using government money — the cost of using dollars.
Government takes about 40 cents of every dollar earned in America. For high-income earners, it’s closer to 50 percent, and is even higher than 50 percent if you live in high-tax states such as California and New York.
Add to this the fact that the dollar is devalued every day because the Federal Reserve is constantly printing new money to monetize the national debt. The federal government is today borrowing 46 cents out of every dollar it spends. The way it finances this debt is to print more money. It then pays its debt with devalued money (which doesn’t make creditors, like China, any too pleased).
When measured against the price of gold and silver, the dollar has lost more than 60 percent of its value since Barack Obama’s first day in office.
But the biggest cost for using government money is clearly the Tax Man — who takes 40-50 cents of every dollar you earn.
Alternatives to Government Money
Libertarians and most conservatives basically believe that the money we earn is ours, or should be.
We then willingly pay taxes — much like a condo or association fee — for common services we all want and need: law and order, national defense, roads and infrastructure, care for the disabled, etc. — tasks and functions that serve the “general welfare” of the people.
But the government has an entirely different view of the money you earn.
The government believes the money you earn is the government’s, and that the government is being nice by letting you keep some of it.
But, in a very real sense, the cash you earn at your job is the government’s money . . . because the government just prints it. U.S. currency is printed or minted by the government.
So if you want to be free (or more free than you are now) you must look for ways to stop using the government’s money, or at least reduce your use of the government’s money.
What’s the alternative?
Well, there are an almost infinite number of alternatives to government money.
Casinos use chips. Corporations often pay people with stock or stock options.
Prisoners use cigarettes as currency. Frequent flier miles also have a monetary value. Frequent Flier miles amount to an ethical bribe to keep you using the airline.
And then there’s the barter.
What I Learned from Karl Hess
When I was a student at Dartmouth College in the early 1980s, I brought a speaker to campus named Karl Hess.
He had been a speechwriter for Barry Goldwater. He wrote Goldwater’s most famous line: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
To hire him to speak, we had to pay him in the form of food and other basic staples (canned goods, bags of rice, toilet paper, gift certificates, clothing, etc). He had a long shopping list of what he needed that totaled about $2,500 — his speaking fee at the time.
Karl Hess was so anti-government that he would go to any and every length not to pay taxes, of any kind.
As long as you never receive cash, you can escape the Tax Man for the most part.
The way Hess paid his rent was to perform services for his landlord. He was a skilled carpenter, welder, and machinist. So he could perform whatever task was needed on his landlord’s property.
Hess had been an orthodox conservative and Cold Warrior. His radical libertarianism was apparently triggered by an especially brutal audit of his finances by the IRS.
Following the audit, Hess sent the IRS a copy of the Declaration of Independence with a letter saying that he would never again pay taxes.
The IRS answered by charging him with tax resistance, confiscated almost all his property, and put a 100% lien on his future earnings. So basically, the IRS was sentencing Karl to death. If you are forbidden by the IRS to keep any money, you can’t eat, can’t pay rent, can’t buy clothes.
Some sympathetic lawyers with libertarian leanings helped Hess get out of his legal situation with the IRS pro bono and in combination with some kind of barter arrangement. So he never spent any time in jail. After that, the IRS left Karl alone. Can’t get money from a stone.
Karl continued to live this way for the rest of his life — trading his services for physical goods: barter.
Hess said that if 10,000,000 Americans would have joined him in defying the IRS and refusing to participate in the government’s cash economy, we could have replaced the current tax code with something that makes sense — that’s consistent with liberty. And we could have restored America as the “land of the free.”
He said most people are terrified of the IRS, so cower in the corner praying the government won’t notice them and will just leave them alone.
Most people don’t want to live like Karl Hess — with no cash.
But it is a way to get through life without having the government always coming after you.
I’m a conservative constitutionalist, not a libertarian.
I believe we need government. We need a military, roads, infrastructure, sewage systems, law and order, ports, airports. We don’t want people starving on the streets. There are essential jobs we need government to perform. The Hoover Dam was a good idea. So was landing on the moon. Attending school should be mandatory. The government should be able to use its eminent domain power to build a road through your property, so long as you are compensated at fair market value. Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.
But there comes a point when the government starts to more resemble a mafia operation than an institution honestly looking out for the good of the country. When the IRS rules that Karl Hess is no longer entitled to have any money at all, we’ve gone way past that point.
Alternatives to the Karl Hess Strategem
There are ways, however, to minimize the cost of government money (the amount you must pay the Tax Man) without having to take a major hit to your quality of life.
More and more, people are looking for ways to do exactly this.
The key is to keep your cash income as low as possible and to look for other ways to get paid for your work, or to postpone payment for your work so you can be taxed at a lower rate.
Let’s say you are a car salesman and work on commission. Or you work for a base salary, plus you receive bonuses based on a percentage of what you bring in.
All you need is enough immediate cash to cover your living costs. Plus you want to maximize contributions to your 401k or IRA because that lowers your taxable income.
The rest can be paid in IOUs or stock equity in an effort to keep your income below the point where the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax kicks in.
The Best Tax Shelter
Now the #1 tax shelter is to own your own business because you can then decide how much cash to pull our of your business. You then use most of your money to keep building and expanding your business because you are not taxed until you pull cash out for yourself or have cash sitting in you company’s bank account (profit) at the end of the year.
Let’s take someone like me. I’m in the direct marketing business.
The currency in direct marketing is the list I build — my list of leads and buyers.
Each postal address or email address has a monetary value ranging from 25 cents each to $20 each depending on an array of factors. Marketers understand the value of an email address, a postal address, a first-time buyer, a repeat buyer, or a lead who has never bought anything from me or my clients.
So the way I build value is to build my email and postal address list — my database of buyers and leads. I know at all times exactly how much that list (database) of names and addresses is worth. It’s the equivalent of money in the bank.
The way I build my list of email and postal addresses is by mailing letters, sending email, or purchasing ads — the cost of which is a tax-deductible business expense. I can then convert this list of email and postal addresses to money whenever I need cash.
I can turn my list into cash either by mailing out a sales letter or by renting my list to other marketers.
The IRS can’t tax me until I convert my list to money that I then deposit in my personal bank account. So it operates exactly like a 401k or IRA. That is, I build my business with pre-tax money (by advertising) because business costs are tax-deductible.
The currency for companies like Facebook, Google and other Internet properties is the number of users these sites have because the number of users represent eyeballs for the ads they are selling.
A user has a specific monetary value to these companies. Facebook and Google knows exactly what the value of a user is to them. But the IRS doesn’t tax these companies by the number of users even though users equal money — only better . . . because they aren’t taxed.
All businesses operate this way. They build their value with pre-tax money. Their value is determined by their sales — their customer base or market share.
The money is in the value of the business — usually valued at 10 times annual earnings, but sometimes valued at 30 or even 50 times annual earnings or more (if you are a fast-growing hot tech company).
The stock market values Amazon at $124 billion even though it’s not turning an actual profit, or is barely turning a profit most years. The currency for Amazon is its number of customers — just about everyone in America who has an Internet connection. Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos is worth about $24 billion — mostly because of the Amazon stock he owns — even though Amazon technically is not turning much of a cash profit.
That is, not turning a profit in terms of the government money it’s accumulating in its bank account. For Amazon, market share is the currency of choice — the alternative to government money. But the IRS can’t tax “market share.”
And, of course, the IRS can’t tax Bezos on his $24 billion estimated net worth until he cashes in his stock.
This is why business owners have such an advantage over employees in terms of building wealth. The business owner might be cash poor, might not take much money out of the company at all for herself. Their real wealth is in the value of the business.
This is how Warren Buffett and Mitt Romney pay very little tax.
Plus, business owners can justify much of what they do in life as a business expense. Vacations can be called business travel so long as they actually do some business when they travel, etc. In today’s Internet world, your office can be anywhere.
I haven’t had to fight rush -traffic to get to a real office since 1990. I work in a virtual office — my computer with an Internet connection.
So owning your own business should be priority #1 — even if it’s just a side business and most of your income derives from full-time employment.
If that’s the case, consider converting your full-time job to contract work where your employer just pays your company for your services. Then you’ll be able to deduct much of your car, your fuel, your phones, the computers and gadgets you use, your travel and lodging costs, etc.
You’ll have to pay your employer’s portion of your FICA payroll tax and buy your own health insurance (through your business). But you do that with pre-tax money. And, very likely, you’ll come out way ahead — especially if your adjusted gross income at your full-time job is more than $125,000 per year. Depending on your situation, that’s about when the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax starts to kick in with a vengeance for many taxpayers and you begin to lose most of your deductions and exemptions.
For example, if you are a commissioned salesman who pays for your own business expenses, you can’t deducted your legitimate business costs once your income goes above about $125,000 (depending on your situation).
The only way to protect yourself from the Tax Man when you reach that level of income is if you are a small-business owner and have a way to keep most of your money working productively in your business.
Your business is like a bank. You can pull money out when you need it.
What’s really the point of making a lot of money anyway?
It’s to have enough left over for a rainy day — either when business is not going so well or when you want to retire, or when you are sick or injured and can’t work. But then you’ll be taxed at a lower rate when you pull some money out.
The Second Best Way to Shield Yourself from the Tax Man
But let’s say you really are not in a position to start your own business, or you don’t want to for whatever reason. Maybe you just like the company you work for. Perhaps you don’t have the entrepreneurial spirit.
Here’s an alternative to starting your own business.
Strike a deal with your employer to minimize your take-home pay.
If you are a high-income earner (let’s say $100,000 per year or more), this should be a pretty easy deal to strike with your employer — especially if you work for commission or a base salary plus bonuses based on how much money your bring into the company.
Give your employer the option to make a deal with you that goes something like this: “Just pay me $6,000 per month [or whatever figure you really need to live] and add x% interest per month on the unpaid balance and let it accrue.”
Many companies need capital, can’t borrow from banks because of the Dodd-Frank legislation, so will be happy to not pay you what they owe right away, use the capital, and pay you interest on the capital. This then just accrues, like a mutual fund.
You are then doing exactly what the owner of the business is doing. You are building equity in the business and pulling money out when you need it, thus avoiding having to pay confiscatory tax rates.
Of course, you have to have a good sense of the company’s financial stability to do something like this. And you must trust the company. But that’s a simple matter that can be accomplished with some due diligence and a contract or note. You can’t be taxed until the money actually changes hands. You can’t be taxed on what your employer owes you, only on what you are actually paid.
IOUs are just like money — better than money because they include an interest rate (which protects you from the dollar’s declining value).
So you wait until you really need the money to collect it. And then you’ll be collecting your money at a lower tax rate.
Or consider exchanging services: “I’ll do X for you if you’ll do Y for me” — the Karl Hess strategem.
Kids understand this concept: “If you buy me the Halo video game, I’ll mow your lawn.”
The key concept is to keep your cash income down to a minimum. You need a certain amount of cash to live. Then look for other ways to receive compensation other than immediate cash money.
Trading pay for equity in the company you are working for is a great way.
The Modern Economy Is Actually Built on IOUs . . . and That’s a Good Thing
When you think about it, most of the economy runs on IOUs.
There’s only about $1.6 TRILLION of actual currency (printed and minted money) in circulation in a $16 TRILLION U.S. economy. The $16 TRILLION U.S. economy runs on a vast web of interlocking promises that something will happen in the future — contracts, promises.
That’s how the $1.6 TRILLION in physical currency turns into a $16 TRILLION economy.
You need to look for ways to run your own personal economy this way because it’s really the cash that’s the fiction. And it’s cash transactions that are taxed.
The economy is running on a 10-times multiplier of physical currency in circulation to the actual annual GDP. This means if you are operating only in the cash economy, you are effectively short-changing yourself by a factor of ten.
Think about how banking works.
Banks can borrow money today from the Federal Reserve at a near zero percent interest rate. They then lend this money out at 3-7 percent or more. The banks are only required to keep 10 percent of deposits as cash on hand. As long as they do that, there’s almost no limit to what they can borrow for near-0% interest from the Federal Reserve.
So this is free money for the banks.
The banks then lend this money to people so they can buy homes and start or expand businesses. For home buyers, lenders always frontload your interest payments. Your payments for the first 20 years on a 30 year mortgage are almost all interest payments. Almost no principal is being paid until the end of the loan period. Those who sell their homes within five to seven years are thus paying an interest rate on the money they borrowed of about 30 percent, not the four percent you’d pay if you paid for the entire 30 years.
That’s how lenders get rich. Lending money is just about the easiest way to make money.
But you can operate your own personal economy this way. Become a lender . . . to your employer, to your clients . . . so you can keep your cash draw to a minimum. Accept payment in the form of IOUs or equity in the company.
I know some lawyers who have become part-owners of some sizeable companies by accepting payment for services in exactly this way.
More Alternatives to Government Money
Think about how a partnership works.
People usually form partnerships because they can’t yet afford the cost of hiring employees or they can’t afford to hire that employee. Simply forming a partnership is not a taxable event.
If the company you are working for gives you stock in lieu of cash payments for your services, that’s not a taxable event (if you play your cards right) — not until you cash out the stock. And if the company you are working for is growing and a good company, your stock is likely to be worth far more than what you would have been owed in cash.
Think of the founders of Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg did not have the money to pay all these people are the beginning. So he gave them a piece of the company. Many of them are not multi-millionaires and even billionaires. But they aren’t paying tax on their Facebook stock, unless they cash out.
If they wanted to diversify their holdings, they could conceivably trade some of their Facebook stock for something else of value — say bars of gold or real estate in Costa Rica, or perhaps guns, food, oil futures, or stereo equipment. The IRS tracks and taxes cash transactions.
As long as you are still holding your casino chips, the IRS can’t tax you. The instant you cash in your casino chips for government money (if it’s a large amount) is when the Tax Man takes his 40-50 percent cut.
So you want to create the equivalent of casino chips for people you do business with.
That, in essence, is what private money is. It’s the equivalent of prisoners playing poker for cigarettes. Gift certificates and coupons are other forms of private money. If you were paid in subway tokens and gift certificates, art work, coupons, and bags of rice, the IRS could not tax you.
Well, technically the IRS probably could if it wanted to devote a lot of manpower to figuring out how much all this stuff is worth.
I’m just scratching the surface here on alternatives to getting paid with government money. Just trying to get you thinking — helping you to see there are so many other ways to get paid.
I’m not offering tax advice here. I’m not qualified for that. So don’t just run off and do exactly why I’m suggesting here. Consult a smart tax attorney first to make sure it’s all legal and done correctly, or you’ll be in for a rude surprise. I’m just talking general principles here — providing some food for thought.
A smart tax attorney will show you how to do this correctly — the way people like Warren Buffett, Mitt Romney, and the super-rich do it to minimize the bite taken by the Tax Man. Isn’t it amusing that Warren Buffett (who is worth $54 billion) wants higher taxes for everyone else (for you and me), but fights the IRS tooth-and-nail to pay the absolute lowest amount of tax possible on his own income and assets?
The point is: The vast array of alternatives to government money is limited only by your imagination.
So why let the Tax Man take 40-50 percent of what you earn when there are so many alternatives to government money?
Imagine if you had to pay a 40-50 percent front-end load to invest in a mutual fund. That mutual fund would have a tough time finding any investors.
But that’s the load we are paying when we accept payment in government money.
You don’t have to go full-blown Karl Hess to push back against the government. If everyone just uses their imagination (and a smart tax lawyer) to push back a little against the government, positive changes will start to happen.
The idea with this article is to encourage you to provide some resistance to what the government is doing to you — within the law, of course. Be creative in finding ways to get paid other than with immediate cash money.
The Proliferation of Private Currencies
By some estimates, there are now more than 4,000 private currencies in circulation.
Communities across America (especially in senior citizen communities) are setting up what are called “Time Banks” are being established. So if you offer to drive a senior to visit the doctor, you establish credit in the Community Time Bank, which can be redeemed as services performed by someone else for you.
You have, no doubt, heard of the hypothetical case of the restaurant patron who did not have enough money to pay the bill so was enlisted to wash dishes. Same concept as the Time Bank, which is systemetized.
Time Banks keep a data base of community tasks that need doing. You accumulate Time Credits for doing these tasks. Your Time Credits are money in the bank.
Local banks in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts have issued their own currency called Berkshares. For $95, you can purchase $100 worth of Berkshares. More than 400 regional businesses have agreed to accept Berkshares as the equivalent of cash. The reason these banks are doing this is to encourage consumers to buy from local merchants. This helps keep business in the region, helps the local economy, and helps the banks which are lending to these business.
Berkshares operate much like the most famous private currency of all-time — the WIR in Switzerland. During the worldwide depression in the 1930s, the banks cut-off credit to businesses. In response, businesses issued their own currency (credits), which could be used to pay for goods and services at participating businesses.
The WIR cooperative was really just an accounting system — tracking debits and credits. According to the WIR cooperative’s bylaws, its purpose “is to encourage participating members to put their buying power at each other’s disposal and keep it circulating within their ranks, thereby providing members with additional sales volume.”
Because of the rise of the WIR, Switzerland was not hit nearly as hard as other countries by the depression of the 1930s.
Today, the WIR cooperative (a non-profit) has 62,000 members, assets of more than $3 billion and is considered a key pillar of Switzerland’s stunningly strong and stable economy.
Casino chips are a version of this. As long as you are in the casino, you can use your casino chips to pay for your drinks, pay your tab at the restaurant, buy clothing, buy anything in the casino’s shops, pay tips.
Online marketers are stepping up there use of digital currency in a big way — from Facebook credits, Nintendo Points, and Bit Coins to Amazon’s new “Amazon Coin.”
Amazon already allows you to pay with Digital Gifting and gift cards. Amazon’s Kindle Fire will have its own payment eco-system.
What Amazon is doing here is freezing out competitors — in effect creating its own currency that can only be used in the world of Amazon. Your primary incentive for using Amazon’s digital currency is discounts.
Part of this new Amazon economy might work something like the American Express “Rewards” program, where you accumulate points by using your AmEx card that can be redeemed for all kinds of products — “rewards” for your loyalty to AmEx.
But Amazon (because Jeff Bezos is so brilliant) will no doubt come up with many other ways for you to accumulate “Amazon Coins” (credits) other than paying with cash.
You can accumulate frequent flier miles by using your credit card. Surely, Amazon will be entering into these kinds of barter arrangements with credit card companies, airlines, restaurants, retail stores, gas stations, hotels, car rental companies, etc. to create its own Amazon “near-cashless” economy.
So the world (and smart people) are finding ways to move away from government money — have been for a long time. This trend will only accelerate exponentially.
What’s to stop a billionaire or consortium of billionaires from from creating their own competitor to the Federal Reserve, complete with their own currency that’s backed by gold?
It’s illegal for Americans to go into direct competition with the dollar by minting their own currency. So they would need to set this up offshore. Or they would need some smart lawyers to set this up in a way that this would not be a “competing” currency, but would be a “complimentary” currency. And they probably could not call it currency. They’d have to call it “credits,” or something.
Someone much smarter than me can figure out the nuances of how to keep it all legal.
Stockpile Physical Gold and Hard Assets
The Chinese mother of my wife Wanda was an expert at escaping totalitarian regimes.
When the Japanese took over most of China, she escaped to Laos with suitcases full of cash, gold, and silver.
Then when the Communists took over Laos, she escaped with her family (nine kids, including Wanda) to Thailand and then the United States. Wanda’s Laotion name is Vanhdalone — which she Americanized to “Wanda” when she arrived in the U.S.
Wanda’s mom was an expert on knowing the value of gold and silver. She was always looking for ways to pay cash for gold. People were always bringing her the gold and silver they had because they needed quick cash for food.
Wanda’s mom is a master barterer. But her goal was always to accumulate gold and silver.
When all Hell breaks loose, what you want is gold and silver, as well as stockpiles of dry, canned and vacuum sealed food products – which will only increase in value even if all Hell doesn’t break loose.
Wanda still has this mindset. She doesn’t like to keep money in the bank. She doesn’t
trust the banks. She’s seen first hand what can happen to a country overnight (in her case, Laos). Wanda’s even more radical than I am. She’s a big fan of Alex Jones — doesn’t think he’s the least bit crazy.
She says Obama, with his soothing promises and rhetoric (always promising free food, free health care, free housing, free education) sounds exactly like the Communists who took over her country.
Two of her relatives spent five and six years respectively in Communist labor camps. They eventually managed to escape (or would have died) walking for weeks barefoot through the jungle to get to Thailand.
Wanda says she wants to be sure we’re set up and prepared for a quick exit if the situation here really starts heading south.
The John Galt Option
What Wanda is suggesting is the John Galt option.
That is, taking all your marbles and leaving America for a more favorable tax and business environment. What John Galt did in the Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged was quit the system — much in the way Karl Hess did.
The country doesn’t need to go completely Communist or Socialist for that option to become attractive.
The John Galt character had been a spectacularly successful entrepreneur and innovator. The Rand novel contemplates the question: What would happen if every successful entrepreneur, business leader, and innovator got so fed up with being hassled by the government and punishing taxes that they simply quit the system?
What would happen to the economy if all the successful people, all the creative leaders, just up and left?
That’s what Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin did. He took his billions and moved to more tax-friendly Singapore. He said the confiscatory tax rates in the United States was a major factor in his decision to pull a John Galt and simply leave the USA.
So now Singapore has the benefit of Eduardo’s Saverin billions . . . instead of us.
Many millionaires and billionaires are doing exactly this — taking their marbles and moving elsewhere. If you are a multi-millionaire or billionaire, you can afford to live anywhere.
What do you think will happen to the U.S. economy if all the millionaires and billionaires simply left the USA — forever?
But that’s exactly what’s happening.
Why live in America, where you will be constantly assaulted by the IRS, hassled by government bureaucrats, and even vilified by the President of the United States for not “paying your fair share”?
Why not move some place that will welcome you with open arms? Why not move some place where the government will pretty much leave you alone, some place that has reasonable taxes — perhaps a place that only takes 30 cents of every dollar you earn instead of 50 cents or more?
Many political and economic commentators are asking the question: why is the stock market hitting new highsl, but the wider U.S. economy so poorly?
The answer is that the stock market is no longer the U.S. economy.
Corporations (like people) can set up shop anywhere. And they are setting up factories in places like China, India, and countries where the labor is cheap, taxes are lower, and the business climate more friendly.
Apple has 20,000 employees working oversees. But more than 700,000 people (almost all of them oversees) are working for contractors making and assembling Apple’s products. Apple has, in effect, pulled a John Galt. Most other sizable corporations that manufacture products are doing exactly this.
Detroit is gone now. The car companies have moved elsewhere to escape the labor unions and insane leftist economic policies.
So the stock market (as in the Dow Jones Industrials, the S&P 500, and the NASDAQ) has very little to do with the U.S. economy anymore. America could go away and the corporate world will do just fine . Corporations (though they might have been U.S. companies at one time) are now multinationals — global. They build their factories and provide jobs where the business climate is most favorable. The top corporate tax rate in the U.S. is now 35 percent. The USA has the highest corporate tax rates of any country in the industrialized world.
Socialist-leaning Canada recently cut its top corporate tax rate to 18 percent.
Then when you add the cost of ObamaCare and punishing labor laws into the mix, the question is: why would anyone want to set up a business in the United States anymore?
It’s not like the Cold War days when the U.S. was just about the only game in town for capitalism, when communism was on the march everywhere. Today, the Soviet Union is gone. Communism is not much of a threat. People and businesses are now free to go wherever they want. They have many options.
America is no longer the “Shining City on Hill” envied by the rest of the world. America used to be special, but really isn’t anymore. The American idea of liberty that made America the most economically successful nation in human history is over. So why not choose a place where it’s easy to do business and where the government takes much less of your money?
It’s not just using the government’s money that’s becoming so unattractive. Continuing to live in the United States is becoming increasingly untenable.
Obama’s Counter-Productive War on Achievers and Producrers
Of course, it’s the poor and the middle class who are hurt most by these confiscatory taxes and costly mandates and regulations. The rich can just pull a John Galt, pick up their marbles, and leave. Most Americans can’t afford to do that.
This is why Obama’s and the Left’s war on the rich is so silly, counter-productive, and harmful to the poor and middle class. The rich have many ways to protect their wealth and save themselves from socialism and Obama’s economic illiteracy. The rich did not get rich by being stupid. The rich are a lot smarter than Obama. The rich have off-shore bank accounts and offshore corporations to protect their assets from the Tax Man. The rich have teams of super-smart attorneys who they pay $1,000 per hour to figure out how to do all this.
Trillions of dollars in U.S. corporate cash is now parked oversees out of reach of the IRS, and doing absolutely nothing for the U.S. economy.
This is why the stock market is hitting new highs, while the U.S. economy is still stuck in the mud at zero GDP growth.
But Barack Obama is so locked into his 1960s-1970s neo-Marxist mindset that he has no clue as to why this is happening. He thinks he can control everything. He can’t.
In his arrogance, Obama thinks he’s smarter than everyone else. He isn’t.
You heard President Obama’s hysterical press conference yesterday about “catastrophic” spending cuts imposed by the sequester.
Note that federal spending still goes up every year under the sequester, even while household incomes continue to decline.
January posted the sharpest decline in personal incomes for Americans in 20 years, and the worst decline in after-tax incomes since 1959. American households have lost nearly $5,000 in annual income under Obama. But the federal government continues to grow and spend more regardless.
The federal government is now borrowing 46 cents out of every dollar it spends. If Obama were really concerned about the “children,” as he always claims, he’d be concerned about the mountain of debt he’s piling onto their backs.
Every baby born today in America owes $55,000 on the national debt debt. This number doubles every seven years at the current rate of spending.
If Republicans in Congress cave on this modest spending restraint mechanism known as the sequester, there really is no hope for the country.
Here was Obama’s presser on the sequester . . .
The low-information voter has triumphed.
48 percent support cuts for foreign aid. So almost half think foreign aid should be cut. That’s the lone ray of hope in this poll. But with that lone exception, support for spending cuts doesn’t reach 35 percent . . . for anything else.
So all these people who oppose any and all spending cuts must include a lot of people who regularly vote Republican, voted for Romney. Go figure.
Only 20 percent support cuts for farm subsidies (which mostly go to giant agribusiness). Just 21 percent support cuts for Solyndra-style energy subsidies and the U.S. Department of Energy — which should be renamed the Department of Energy Prevention.
The U.S. Department of Energy produces zero energy, just prevents energy from being produced.
Similarly, the U.S. Department of Education should be renamed the Department of Education Prevention.
Does anyone think the quality of education in America has improved since the U.S. Department of
Education was formed under President Jimmy Carter in 1979?
The national debt stands at $16.6 TRILLION. We have trillion-dollar annual deficits as far as the eye can see. The federal government now borrows 40 cents of every dollar it spends.
Every baby born in America today now owes $52,834 on the national debt.
We’ve just added a gigantic new entitlement program (the largest entitlement program of all time for America) with ObamaCare.
So government spending is just going to get even more out-of-control, if that’s even imaginable.
But the American people see no problem with any of this. They want to spend more, not less . . . just like Obama.
Americans overwhelmingly support the Lindsay Lohan approach to fiscal discipline.
How well do you think this story is likely to turn out?
Two straight quarters of shrinking economic growth means we’re back in a recession — yup, ye ole “double dip.”
For the entire year of 2012, official U.S. GDP growth was only 1.5%.
Most recessions are followed by economic growth rates exceeding 4 percent. So this so-called “recovery” is moving at about one-third the pace of normal economic recoveries. But now the economy is shrinking again.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate ticked back up to 7.9 percent, which means that the unemployment rate is now higher than on Obama’s first day in office.
Here are some more facts that should shock you . . .
- Since Barack Obama’s first day in office, 8.4 million Americans have left the labor force because they believe looking for work is a fruitless exercise.
- If the unemployment rate was calculated based on the portion of the population in the work force in 2008, the unemployment rate would be 10.2 percent.
- Under the Obama Presidency, the number of Americans on Food Stamps has risen from 32 million to 47 million.
- The Census Bureau informs us that 146,000,000 Americans (40 percent of the population) are now “poor” or “low income.”
- Under Obama, median household annual income has declined by $4,600.
- On Obama’s first day in office, the price of a gallon of regular gas was $1.84. Today it’s $3.51 on average across America (an all-time high for February).
- Electricity prices have risen faster than the rate of inflation every year of the Obama Presidency.
- Obama promised ObamaCare would reduce health care costs. But health insurance costs have risen 29 percent since Obama’s first day in office, mostly due to costs on insurers imposed by ObamaCare.
- Today, 77 percent of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck.
- In America today, 41 percent of all workers make less than $20,00 per year.
- Obama has added $6 TRILLION to the national debt — which now stands at $16.4 TRILLION.
But the mainstream news media keeps talking about this economy as in “recovery.”
And America reelected Obama for another four years. Apparently, most Americans are satisfied with the current state of the union.
Short of seceding from the union, the states can take strong action to counter an abusive federal government
The Red States should issue a “Declaration of Non-Compliance” with all unconstitutional Federal laws and regulations
For example, suppose a big state, such as Texas, declared itself a tax sanctuary — that no Texan will be required to pay an income tax of, say, more than 15 percent to the federal government.
It would cite the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments for legal justification.
The Fifth Amendment states that “Nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”
This is known as the “Takings Clause.”
The Fourteenth Amendment states that the government must not “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.“
This is known as the “Equal Protection of the Laws” clause.
The progressive income taxes violates both these Amendments.
If some Americans are taxed at a higher rate than others, they are being denied equal treatment under the law — a fundamental principal of common law and justice.
I should not pay a bigger fine for running a red light if I’m richer.
If the government is taking my money to give to someone else, clearly my property is being taken without just compensation . . . and not even for public use. So this is a violation of the “Takings Clause.”
So there is plenty of legal justification for Texas to simply declare (by passing a state law) that no Texan will be required to pay an income tax of more than 15 percent to the federal government.
The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution establishes the dual sovereignty doctrine. It states that,
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
According to the Tenth Amendment, most of what the federal government is doing today is unconstitutional.
If the federal government actually followed the Tenth Amendment, it would be about one-third the size it is now.
The Constitution set up a federal government to do certain very specific things –”establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
Clearly, the federal government has no Constitutional authority to take money from one American to give to someone else.
The Sixteenth Amendment states that,
Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”
But the federal government does not have the authority to tax some people at a 30 percent rate and others at a 10 percent rate (for the purpose of wealth redistribution) because that violates both the Fifth Amendment’s “takings” clause and the Fourteenth Amendment’s “equal protection of the laws” clause.
The Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly upheld the “dual sovereignty” doctrine of the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment.
Most recently, in the ObamaCare case, the court ruled that the states are under no obligation to comply with the ObamaCare law. That is, the states are under no obligation to use money from the state treasury to set up the ObamaCare “exchanges” or to expand “Medicaid.”
Thus, much of the financing mechanism for ObamaCare is gone if the states simply refuse to provide the funds and refuse to set up the exchanges.
James Madison and Thomas Jefferson both argued that the states have the right simply to refuse to go along with unconstitutional federal laws and decrees. After all, it was the states who created the federal government in the first place.
At North Carolina’s ratifying convention, James Iredell told the delegates that when “Congress passes a law consistent with the Constitution, it is to be binding on the people. If Congress, under pretense of executing one power, should, in fact, usurp another, they will violate the Constitution.”
In other words, the states would have the right to ignore any law Congress might pass that violates the Constitution.
So let’s say Texas declares that no Texan will pay more than a 15 percent rate on income to the federal government and that no Texan will be subject to arrest by federal authorities for refusing to pay more than this. What practically could the federal government do in response?
Well, the federal government could try to come into Texas to arrest the non-compliant Texan.
The state of Texas would then provide legal defense for the Texas taxpayer while the case worked its way through the courts, which could take years.
The state of Texas can just use the courts to tie up the federal government for years in litigation.
This would be taking a page from the ACLU’s playbook.
The ACLU has achieved a lot for the Left by threatening litigation and tying up the government in litigation.
Texas could take this approach with every abusive federal law, such as the Obama Administration’s plans to deny Americans their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, or all the unconstitutional regulations coming from the EPA.
In fact, the state of Texas could declare every federal regulation illegal that was not explicitly passed into law by Congress.
The federal agencies have issued hundreds of thousands of regulations that carry the force of law. You will pay fines and can go to jail for failing to comply with these regulations. But these regulations should carry no weight whatsoever because they were not actually passed into law by Congress.
Congress is the lawmaking body, not the Executive Branch.
And Congress has no Constitutional authority to transfer the lawmaking power to the Executive Branch.
So the state of Texas (or any state) could go through every federal regulation and declare it will no longer comply with these regulations.
What could the federal government do if Texas did that?
And what if this trend caught on in other solidly Red states? — such as Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Wyoming, Utah, Kansas, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Nebraska, Kentucky, the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho.
That’s a pretty sizeable chunk of territory that we might call the “Free United States of America” — in contrast to the “Enslaved United States of America.”
What could the federal government really do if this happened?
We would not actually secede from the union. These states would just refuse to comply with unconstitutional laws and regulations. They would continue to comply with Constitutional laws. We would want, for example, to continue to pay for national defense because that’s authorized by the Constitution.
The states can go through the federal budget and determine what they will pay for (the Constitutional items) — and NOT pay for (the unconstitutional items).
We will be happy to pay for all Constitutional federal functions of government.
Another area for the states to put their foot down is to say “no more seizing of private and state lands by the federal government.”
The states are perfectly capable of identifying places of true scenic beauty to protect.
What’s been happening is that the federal government has abused its eminent domain power to simply seize as much American land as it can for itself.
The federal government now owns 84.5 percent of Nevada, 69.1 percent of Alaska, 57.4 percent of Utah, 53.1 percent of Oregon, 50.2 percent of Idaho, 48.1 percent of Arizona, 55.3 percent of California, etc. — in other words, most of the Western United States.
The Obama Administration has mapped out a plan to seize millions more acres of valuable Western lands, putting many ranchers out of business.
The Red States need to say not only no more lands will be seized the federal government, but should begin taking lands back from the federal government.
Who is the federal government to say what Texas or Alaska can and can’t do with their own land — including their oil?
Kick the federal government out of the state.
And it really doesn’t matter what the Supreme Court rules because most of these federal laws and regulations are unconstitutional, no matter what liberals on the Supreme Court say.
The Supreme Court is not the supreme authority of the land. The Constitution is. If the Supreme Court ruled that it’s okay to kill all red-headed children, that would not make it Constitutional to do so.
There’s no mention of the Supreme Court in the Constitution as the supreme authority in the land. That did not happen until 1958, when in Cooper v. Aaron the Court declared that its rulings have exactly the same weight as the text of the Constitution itself.
But that’s a self-evident absurdity.
The Constitution very clearly states that the courts operate under the laws established by Congress. And Congress operates under the Constitution.
It’s then clear from the ratification debates on the Constitution that the states are supposed to be the final arbiters on what is Constitutional, or not. In fact, that was the entire promise in the ratification debates, or the Constitution never would have been ratified. The states were assured over and over again, that they would be the judge of the Constitutionality of laws enacted by Congress.
If the federal law is Constitutional, the states would and should be pleased to abide by the law. We all agree that sensible laws and rules are needed for the proper functioning of a civil society.
But under the American system, most of the governing is supposed to be handled by state and local governments.
Instead, the federal government that is the big usurper and primary lawbreaker America. It’s come more to resemble organized crime than a real government.
We have a rogue President, a rogue federal bureaucracy, and a largely rogue Supreme Court — a court that actually found an unalienable right to an abortion in the text of the Constitution — where no such right exists — thus nullifying abortion laws in all 50 states.
So if the Supreme Court can nullify laws in all 50 states, the states can counter by nullifying unconstitutional federal laws. We then have a stand-off — which is what happens when the government attempts to impose its will on an unwilling people. We’re supposed to be governed in America by the “consent of the governed.”
Since we do need courts, the “Free United States” can set up its own Supreme Court — a competing court made up of Constitutionalists.
Again, what could the federal government really do about this?
The feds could theoretically take military action.
But that’s not likely to happen unless the states actually secede from the union. But the states would not be doing that. We are not talking about attacking Fort Sumter here.
The states would just be enforcing their Constitutional rights — vigorously, on every front and in every way.
It would not be a Declaration of Independence, we would be issuing a Declaration of Non-Compliance – non-compliance with unconstitutional laws and regulations.
The Supreme Court has already given the states the roadmap for how to do this with its ObamaCare ruling — declaring that the states are under no obligation to comply with ObamaCare.
Its time for the Red States to reassert their Constitutional authority in every area — to take authority back from the federal government.
And it would good to formalize the Red State complaint against the federal government with a formal Declaration of Non-Compliance — following the same pattern of argument as America’s Declaration of Independence of 1776.
America’s Declaration of Independence made its case by cataloguing a long list of abusive behavior by the British government. It’s well worth reading this list, because so many of these complaints apply to our own federal government today:
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world . . .
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance . . .
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation . . .
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever . . .
A strong case can be made that much of this is happening now — only more so. The federal government has vastly over-stepped its constitutional authority in many areas — “has erected a multitude of New Offices [not envisoned by the Constitution], and sent hither swarms of Officers [bureacrats] to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”
Isn’t this happening today?
Let’s take ObamaCare as just one example.
ObamaCare sets up a Soviet-style health care bureaucracy that will destroy freedom in America and wreck our health care system if its allowed to take root and spread like a cancer into every area of American life. ObamaCare . . .
- Requires the hiring of 16,000 brand to IRS agents to enforce the 2,700-page law.
- Establishes 159 brand new government agencies to administer the program;
- Includes 21 new taxes and tax increases.
Barack Obama promised in his 2008 campaign for the Presidency that he would “fundamentally transform” the American system (his words) — including our Constitutional structure of government.
The engine that’s driving this fundamental transformation of our society is”ObamaCare.”
Communists and socialists have always known that the fastest and surest way to move a country to socialism is through socializing medicine — that is, by putting a country’s health care system under government control.
Vladimir Lenin, the founder and architect of the Soviet Communist state, said “Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the socialist state.”
Lenin and the Communists knew that once you control people’s access to health care and medical treatment, you control their lives. The Left here in America is well aware of this also.
When radio host Paul W. Smith asked liberal Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) why it will take the government until 2014 to fully set up the ObamaCare system, Dingell said this:
“It takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people.”
Source: News Talk WJR Radio with Paul W. Smith 3/23/2010
Does this sound like the America established by our nation’s Founding Fathers and described in the Constitution of the United States?
Is this really the purpose of our federal government — “to control the people“?
The Constitution says the primary purpose of government is to “secure the blessings of liberty” and to provide for the “common defense” – not to “control the people.“
Under our Constitution, people are supposed to be free to do whatever they want, so long as they are not harming someone else.
That’s called freedom.
America’s Declaration of Independence says the purpose of government is to secure our “unalienable rights” to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
ObamaCare is about none of this. ObamaCare is about the opposite of what described by our nation’s founding documents.
No wonder Cuba’s Communist dictator Fidel Castro hailed the passage of ObamaCare as “a miracle.”
In other words, when Barack Obama told us in 2008 that he was out to “fundamentally transform” America, he meant it. And he’s doing it primarily through ObamaCare — but also via the EPA, Executive Orders, and his administrative control of the vast federal bureaucracy.
His bureaucrats and regulators are issuing an avalanche of regulations on their own every week that carry the force of law — complete with criminal penalties and sanctions. All this is unconstitutional.
It’s time for the Red States to Declare Independence from all this — or rather Declare their Non-Compliance with a long catalogue of federal abuses by the federal government, very similar to America’s original Declaration of Independence of 1776.
This is not a proposal to go to war or to secede. It’s a proposal simply to refuse to comply with all federal laws and regulations that are clearly unconstitutional.
What could Obama and the Left do if the Red States actually did that?