Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Arizona's Request For Documentation

The new law in Arizona which so many are afraid will lead to a police state, simply gives the police the freedom to ask for legal status when a person is stopped for investigation for another crime or violation.  This has people outraged, but why?

Their fear that legal immigrants will be harrassed or thrown in jail for the failure to show their documentation is unfounded.  At least if the legal immigrants are following the requirements of their residency.  This is because it is a requirement of all those immigrants granted legal residence to carry their residency card with them AT ALL TIMES.  They must do so until they are granted citizenship.  Therefore, if they are fulfilling that requirement and are asked for proof of their legal residence, they'll have it to show and then be on their merry way.

I don't understand how identifying and deporting those people who should not be here is a bad thing.  I really don't.  I have to prove I have a lisence to drive if a traffic cop stops me, so how is this any different?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Real Reform Bill

In honor of the tax day tea parties and Bob Beckel's statement that he has not heard a single tea party person indicate how spending would be cut or the deficit reduced (I guess Bob's gone deaf) I am reposting this blog from December.

While on vacation I was discussing politics with my father, which I always do, and we came up with a Congressional reform bill. This bill was written by two process improvement specialists but we would love your input on it. If you like what we have come up with, please pass it along. If you have any suggestions on anything that needs to be added or changed, please leave a comment to that effect. I will be sending this bill to my Congressmen and encourage you to do the same.

To the purpose of Congressional reform, reduction of federal debt and elimination of wasteful, and unnecessary, spending the following provisions must be implemented.

Section 1: The Allocation of Dollars for the Federal Budget.

There will be no automatic budget increases for any department. All departments, excepting the department of defense, will initially receive a 20% budget reduction from their previous year’s allowance. There will be an additional 5% decrease each year for the next 5 years.

Any department or area under the Executive Branch which performs a function designated to the Legislative Branch by the Constitution will be immediately defunded.

The White House budget is included in the above reductions. All Czarships will be immediately terminated and any federal dollars allocated to those Czarships will be returned to the treasurey to reduce the debt.

No money designated for one purpose may be directed to another.

No funding request may be added to a bill less than 4 business days prior to the vote. Also, all funding requests must be directly related to the primary objective of the bill.

Any funding bill, or any line added to a funding bill, must be for the benefit all of citizens. Any item within a bill which directs federal funds to a single state or a pair of states is prohibited in all cases except for national disaster relief. However, the theory of man-made global warming does not now, nor will it ever, fall under the category of natural disaster. Any funding to address damage resulting from an act of war or a terrorist attack is to be considered for the benefit of all citizenry even if the damage is limited to a single state.

To enforce the aforementioned stipulations, there must be executive authority for a line item veto.

Section 2: The Reduction of the Size of the Federal Government

All government agencies created in the last 3 years will be immediately eliminated. There will be an additional reduction of 2 agencies per year for the next 20 years.

One agency may be combined with another agency to meet this reduction. However, in the event of combined agencies, their budget becomes 75% of the combined dollars.

No new government agency may be created without a two-thirds positive majority vote in both houses. The creation of the agency can only be raised for a vote when the first 5 years of funding has been appropriated and the method by which it will be funded must be included in the bill for the agency’s creation.

Section 3: Compensation for Federal Employees Including Congress and the White House

Congress may not exempt themselves from any law, mandate, regulation or legislation of any kind which they impose on the general citizenry.

Travel will be paid out of federal funds only when it directly relates to the people’s business. Family members may join Congress, the vice president or the president upon a business excursion, but no public funds may used for the expenses of the family members. Any exception to this policy must receive a unanimous vote from the Senate appropriations committee.

Congress will no longer be able to vote themselves a pay raise or an increase in their discretionary spending allotment. Their pay and discretionary spending allowance will be directly tied to the GDP of the nation. Their pay will be based on their performance and the growth of the organization they lead just as it is done in the private sector. Each year their pay will be evaluated against the GDP. If the GDP increased, their pay will raise at half the rate of increase. Should the GDP decrease, their pay will be reduced by twice the rate of decrease. For example, if GDP raises 6%, then Congress will receive a 3% increase in pay and their discretionary spending allowance; if GDP drops by 6% then Congress will receive a 12% reduction in pay and discretionary spending.

The pay received by federal employees may not exceed the comparable pay in the private sector by more than 10%.

All federal employees will be held to an increase of the lesser of 2% or the cost of living increase until the federal debt is paid. This excludes those whose current pay exceeds 10% of the comparable pay in the private sector as they will receive no pay raise until the private sector rises to their level.

Section 4: Elimination of the Federal Debt

All excess revenue either not designated to a department or not utilized by a department will be applied directly to the federal debt. The utilization of these funds for any other purpose will require a two-thirds majority vote in both houses.

Section 5: Taxation Protection

No individual making an income may be exempted from paying income taxes.  The tax rate will be immediately reduced to 11% across the board for all individuals and 12% for corporations.  This has been shown to generate the same revenue as the current method.

Section 6: Term Limits

A Constitutional amendment will be ratified which limits the Congressional terms to 3 in the House of Representatives and 2 in the Senate. Additionally, after meeting the limit in one house, they may not run for another position for at least 2 years.

I believe that these provisions would force our government to become more efficient and effective. Please let me know your thoughts and ideas.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Cost of Public Education

As many states face serious budget deficits and teeter on the edge of bankruptcy, the funding of public education has come under scrutiny.  While some cry foul and list education as a sacred cow, I'm all for looking at how this service can be delivered better, cheaper and more efficiently.

Recent statistics list the US as the third highest in spending for education with $7,764 per secondary school student.  However, in Math and Science the US student perform far below other countries that spend less.  We are 10th in those categories and a distant 10th at that.

I've been hearing a lot about paying teachers more and even had a conversation with a woman currently in school to become a teacher who was excited about Obama paying off her student loan.  When confronted with my objection to paying the balance of a loan she chose to take out, she replied that it was the least we could do for our children's education.  Poppycock!  The least we can do is give them a quality education which is currently not happening.

Let's do something unthinkable for a moment and really do the math on this.  If we're spending $7,764 per student and we have a classroom size of 30 students then we are spending $271,740 per classroom.  The teachers make about $30K per year but we can double that to include benefits and salaries for bureaucrats.  So that would leave us $211,740 per classroom.  We have the books that must be supplied but many of these are re-used.  Calculating a text book cost of $50 would still only be $1,500.  Then there are maintenance costs and the bus drivers and such but does that make up the remaining $210K per classroom?

Even for a moderately sized school of 250 students per grade, this would equate to $7 MILLION dollars for 4 years of students.  That is $7 Million spent on something other than the books and the teachers.  This means that only 22% of the money allocated to education is actually being spent on educating.  What in the world is the other 78% of the money being spent on?

The main focus of improving education and controlling spending should be around that 78% of the dollars.  Where's the money going, how is it being spent, is it adding to the quality of the education of the students, etc.  With the current situation we could throw more and more money at the problem and never have any of it trickle down into the actual classroom. 

We keep hearing that with budget cuts the government will have to cut teachers.  Really?  Why?  Especially considering that the teachers are only 22% of the budget.  Whey don't we do some serious cutting in the remaining 78%?  Why is it that when it comes to educating our children, the last consideration given is the actual process of educating them?  I'm all for paying great teachers more money, but that doesn't mean we should have to pay more in taxes.  It appears that there are TONS of places that the education budget can be slashed. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Poster Child For Obama's Injustice

In order to make his political points, Obama has trotted out one sob story after another, many of which turned out to be untrue.  He talks about redistribution and more justice in the tax code but I have a poster child of my own to display.  This is a person who represents everything that this country is supposed to be about and I ask you to make your own determination of whether Obama's policies are fair to her.

Let's call her Jane.

Jane is 29 years old and has worked hard her entire life.  She recently completed 2 different masters degrees at 2 different colleges in 2 different states simultaneously.  She did all this while holding down a job AND serving in the National Guard.  Nobody handed her the education, she worked her butt off for it for years after making the decision to improve her life.  Compare her to John who partied all the way through high school, has no ambition beyond his minimum wage job at which he does just enough to get by.  Instead of working to improve his situation he spends his free time out partying with friends or playing Nintendo.

Each of these two made their own decisions about what their life would be as each was free to do.  Now I ask you this, is it fair for Jane to have to pay taxes while John does not?  Is it fair that Jane now has to subsidize John's medical insurance?  Is it fair that Jane has to subsideze John's grocery bill through food stamps?  Is it fair that Jane's hard work will now fund John's apathy?

Is this really what we call justice in this country?

And yes, Jane actually exists.

Is It Possible For A Supreme Court Justice To Be Too Conservative?

With justice Stephens retiring there is a lot of talk about who will replace him and whether or not they'll be too liberal (high probability), but with this discussion came talk of the Democrats in the Senate objecting to nominees who were too conservative.  I had to ask myself if it's even possible to be too conservative in that position.

What is considered conservative in the Supreme Court?  That would be a strict adherence to the writings and intent of the Constitution and all it's amendments.  If that's the definition then how can they be too conservative?  If they read the Constitution so strictly that they interpret it to mean something it doesn't, then they're no longer conservative but liberal again. 

What I don't understand, and probably never will, is how appointing somebody who believes in the original intent of the Constitution to a job whose sole role is to interpret the original intent of the Constitution and determine whether a law falls within those guidelines or not can be a bad thing.  How is there any justification for a stance of hiring somebody for that job who DOESN'T hold to the original intent of the Constitution?  What's the point of having a Constitution if we can stray from it as long as the court says it's ok?

I admit that I'm a Constitutionalist and I believe the country would be in much better shape if the entire Supreme Court was now and always had been made up of justices that bordered on being too conservative.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Commerce Clause and the 9th Amendment

When the Constitution was originally drafted the anti-federalists opposed the document because it didn't list protections for the individuals.  The federalists who supported ratification didn't think a bill of rights was necessary because the powers of the government were specified.  They saw no reason to specify what would be protected when there was nothing in the Constitution that stated the government could regulate it.  The federalists feared that a Bill of Rights would specify only some rights and leave others with the interpretation that it was not a right and open to government influence.  In this debate, both sides have been proven to have valid points.

Alexander Hamilton stated that there was no need to specify a freedom of the press because there was no power given to regulate the press, but is there any doubt in anybody's mind that Congress wouldn't hesitate to invoke the commerce clause to regulate the press?  There's no doubt in mine.  Congress uses the commerce clause to justify absolutely everything they do.  Considering that newspapers are purchased in states other than where they are printed, Congress would view this as interstate commerce and available for regulation.  In this case the anti-federalists demands for a list of protected rights was absolutely justified.

However, we are also seeing where the government and the judges are interpreting the Bill of Rights to only grant those rights specified, so the federalists were right as well.  The 9th amendment was supposed to protect all rights not enumerated in the Bill of Rights by stating "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."  The intent of this amendment was to ensure that Congress or the president did not take one of their powers and interpret it to cover absolutely everything, but the courts pay little to no attention to the amendment because it doesn't specify certain rights. 

The courts, unable to determine what human rights are or should be, disregard the Constitutional amendment which is supposed to further restrain our government from infringing on our rights through expansions of their own power.  This is sad considering that the information on the intent of the amendment is easily found and interpreted, but then again, what influence does the intent of our Constitution actually have on our judicial system?  Not much.

So what are some of the unenumerated rights that the 9th amendment is supposed to protect?  The right to privacy is one that has been determined via this amendment, but how about the right to spend your own money how you want and on what you would like?  A government mandate on the purchase of insurance is a clear violation of the 9th amendment in that situation.

Isn't it funny how we have an amendment specifically designed to protect us from Congress' belief that they can regulate absolutely everything about our lives, and nobody pays attention to it?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A New Low in Legislation Marketing

We've been seeing more and more ads garnered to gather support or opposition to not just politicians, but for individual pieces of legislation.  I'm pretty hard to offend so most of these ads, even the most blatantly misleading, pretty much roll off my back, but I just saw one that has even me angry and disgusted with these marketing ploys.

The commercial starts out with a soldier awarded the purple heart in Iraq talking about what the soldiers are facing.  He then goes into a description of a specific ammunition designed to pierce military armour and that it was designed in Iran.  Next he begins talking about oil and that our dependence on foreign oil sends money to Iran to design and manufacture this ammunition and design others just as deadly.  Had this then gone in to an add for alternative energy sources I would have been fine with it, but instead of being about research for new sources of fuel, it went in to why we need the cap and trade legislation.

I was sitting alone in my own home and yet felt compelled to yell at the tv, "that's disgusting" though there was nobody to hear.  The idea of trying to drum up support for a bill -- which has already been attempted in England and was shown to actually increase carbon emissions and raise costs -- by stating that a vote against the bill is a vote to kill our soldiers is absolutely horrifying.

Can this be described as anything but disgusting?  So those who object to the liberal policies are cooks, racists, nut jobs, violent, stupid and now want to murder our soldiers?  Oh hell no.

Unfortunately I didn't catch who put out the ad because I have old eyes, but whoever they are they should be ashamed of themselves.

The Loss of an Honorable Man

My Uncle, Merl Wilhelm, passed away in the wee hours of the morning, and as with any loss, this has prompted me to re-evaluate my perspective.  I write often about the leaders of our nation, but today I realized that men like my uncle are the true leaders and that people like him, not a politician, are the ones who shape our lives and lead the way.

A man of strong and unwavering faith, Merl showed many the way to walk in the Christian faith.  He was a man of infinite generosity and had a capacity to love which was truly awe inspiring.  He and his wife, Ethel, opened their home to children in need by becoming foster parents and embraced each child as their own.  But you didn't have to move into the house to be pulled in as part of the family.  Merl embraced one and all and adopted them into his extended family.  His own family growing up was large as he was one of the youngest of 13 boys with a girl finally coming as the last child, but that family with all of it's expansion of nieces and nephews, even when added to the family he married into which was not inconsiderable, could never rival the size of his honorary family.

With a round belly and a long white beard, Merl was perfect to play Santa Clause and it was a role he gladly filled for as long as he was physically able.  He made such a great Santa that even out of costume children would walk up and ask if he was Santa and, with his generosity and love, it was the perfect part for him to play, but Merl went far deeper than that.  He was a true leader as he worked to show those of us in the next generation how to behave, what was expected of us, and most importantly that we were responsible for ourselves as well as those around us.  Though we were all greatly loved, we weren't molly coddled.  He knew that we needed direction and guidance if we were to grow into the adults that we needed to be, and he gave it.  He led by example but took a real hands on approach as well.

I was very lucky to have great people as my role models growing up and Merl was only one of them, but he was an important one.  I learned much from my parents and my grandparents and I would not dimish their influence on me for anything, but the loss of Merl has caused me to examine his influence on me and these are the things that I learned from this great leader of our nation. 

There is never a question of whether or not to help somebody in need, the question is only how.
It is amazing the wounds that a smile and a bear hug can heal.
Family is so much more than a blood tie.
Knowing there is someplace you are always welcome is sometimes all it takes to get you through a crisis.
A real Christian is neither pious nor self-righteous and seeks no recognition for the help he gives.
There is no such thing as too many people to love.
In order to help others you must first be able to take care of yourself.
Though you may disagree with the choices of the people you love, it is no reason to stop loving them.
Kindness is a commodity that will always be required and which we rarely have enough of.

Merl Wilhelm was a great man and a great leader who will be sorely missed by the hundreds of people whose lives he touched and influenced and my words are wholely inadequate to truly capture how great that was.  As a nation we need more people like Merl to serve as our leaders to shape the next generations. 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Capitol Punishment on Higher Education

The novel Capitol Punishment is set in the not too distant future and illustrates where we will be if we progress down the path of the last decade.  The novel actually addresses the current debate over the government taking over the student loans and attempting to socialize higher education.  Here is an exerpt from the novel as it describes what happens when the government takes this over.

"...When they arrived at the desired museum within the massive complex, Daniel prepared to just walk right on in as he had the last time he’d visited, but that had been years ago, when the museums were still free. They had been under Federal Government ownership for nearly three years, along with most other museums and all other parks in the nation.

City and state parks were all now considered federal land and any proceeds went to the Federal Government while the maintenance costs were absorbed by the state. Not surprisingly, the quality of the parks and museums had deteriorated. The Federal Government had made the argument that with the entrance fees added on to the current donations, the museums could help to fund the Promotion of Higher Education Act. Considering that museums promoted education, it was only right that their admissions should pay for the higher education that Congress had deemed a right to all.

Daniel had initially supported the idea of the government paying for college for all students, but as with any government program, the costs had skyrocketed, the quality of the education had plummeted, and fraud and abuse of the system was rampant. The schools no longer had to be competitive and the costs just continued to rise. Since neither students nor their parents were spending their own money for this education, the cost of it no longer mattered. When the program was found to cost three times what was estimated, Congress turned to the parks and museums as a source of revenue.

Eminent domain is what they had used to simply take over all of these places, and they had based the revenue gain on the current volume of visitors. It had never occurred to them, not even for a moment, that attendance for the Smithsonian would decline when it was no longer free. The admission fees had started out fairly low, but were periodically raised as the powers that be realized that revenue fell far below projected, while the cost of the new program continued to rise. So they’d adjust the ticket price, and even fewer people would go, and the revenue generated would drop even further.

Now it cost them eighty-four dollars each to enter the Smithsonian, and that was for a single museum. They could have purchased an all access pass for the low, low bargain price of two hundred forty-nine bucks. What a deal."

Senator Claire McCaskill and Jobs

I follow Claire McCaskill on Twitter because I just can't get enough of what passes for logic in her world.  Yesterday she posted a rather sarcastic message stating "Why do I get the distinct impression that some Americans will be disappointed if the job growth continues its recent positive trend? weird."

She actually believes that we should be happy that the vast majority of the jobs created are in the government?  The private sector has lost 3 million jobs while the government has gained 119K jobs.  Now there is definitely something to be excited about.

This is all at the same time that Obama and his lock-step administration are waging a war on corporations and spreading the message that profits are bad. 

After hundreds of billions of government spending to create jobs, we should all be grateful that the unemployment has stabilized at over 9%?  Do I have that right Claire?

All I can say is that I'm really sorry that this sorry excuse for a representative of the people isn't up for re-election this year. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Why Republicans Suck Too

The lefties trying to take over the country obviously don't understand the people they were elected to govern, but the Republicans are hardly an option we're happy to vote for.  The Republicans don't really appear to understand us either.

Though they'll tout the principles they think we want to hear, they don't make much of an effort to live by them and they are just as quick to forget they type of people that make up the majority of this great nation.  What made Reagan such an exceptional leader was that he got it, he understood.  He reminded us of what made us great and celebrated those unique and inherently American characteristics we possess, but this is not what the current Republican party is doing. 

How on earth can a politician believe that he can lead a country, a state or a district he doesn't understand?

I don't want to be lectured to, controlled or even pacified.  I want to be inspired.  I want somebody to stand against the current out of touch idiots in Washington and say that we are a nation who leads, not one who follows.  That we bow to no one.  That our Constitution is the greatest political document ever written and that, when adhered to, results in the finest form of government the world has ever seen.  That a people free to make their own decisions will always work together to improve their situation.  That a man in control of his own destiny will set a higher bar for himself than his government could ever set for him and is far more likely to achieve it.  That we are a nation of self-reliant, hard working people who do not need a nanny to care for them, but who are dedicated to caring for each other.  That we are a generous people and the individual citizens are better at recognizing worthy causes than a politician could ever be. 

I want somebody to show the glaring distance between where this administration is taking the country and where the majority of it's citizens reside.  However, I may as well want to win the lottery as my odds are better for the lottery than they are of finding a politician who actually gets it and can articulate it.  And I don't buy lottery tickets.

Instead of this inspiration we have a Repbulican party that stands as firm as milk toast and is even less appetizing.

Stranger Than Fiction

Congress has paid as much attention to their oath to protect and defend the Constitution as Jesse James paid to that fidelity clause in his wedding vows; and we need to follow Sandra Bullock's lead and kick the bums out.  But will we still be able to do that when our leaders have finished fundamentally transforming our nation?

As I watch what is unfolding in our nation I can't help but believe that our country has been flipped ass over tea kettle as my grandmother used to say.  Our elected officials now view themselves as our parents, the voice of authority telling us how we should live, what we should eat and how to spend our money.  The point they miss is that WE are the voice of authority.  They work for us and we are the ones given the power to punish them, not the other way around.  But punishing us they are.

If you dare to speak out you are villified.  If you tell the truth about the impact of legislation you are called before Congress for a "familly meeting."  We are fined for engaging in behavior that they believe is bad for us.  None of this is within their authority to do.  We are the equivalent of a parent with an out of control teenager and is it really any wonder considering that we've done little to discipline them in the past.  Now, as with a teenager, it may be too late.

Yes, we can vote them out, but they know this and are taking steps to fix it.  Do we really think wide spread amnesty and returning the right to vote to convicted felons is anything but a ploy to load the ballot box?  Just as FDR attempted to stack the Supreme Court in order to get his New Deal passed, the Obama administration is attempting to stack the vote to turn us into a totalitarian socialist nation which would make Hugo Chavez weep with joy.  Then what will happen?

We have millions of people out protesting now and they are being marginalized, disregarded, ridiculed and villified.  Unlike the lefties these are not people who protest as a hobby much as we would knit or read, but people who have to really be upset before they set aside the knitting, pick up a sign and head to the streets.  So when these patriotic citizens, desperate to preserve the Constitution and all that has made us great are denied their voice, what will they do?  That is a question that has plagued me for years.

I don't believe that Constitutionalists are the type of people who will take to the streets with guns and molotov cocktails, but neither are they a group of people who will sigh in resignation and just give up without a fight.  So what will happen?  My idea is that they will go underground.

Years ago I had an idea for a novel where a group decided that the only way to save the country was to wipe out Congress and start fresh.  As I watched events unfold I figured I'd better get off my ass and put it in fiction before it became fact.  I believe I barely made the cut.  In the novel Capitol Punishment a large group of people are determined to save the country in just such a way and have found the means to do it.

Geneticist Samantha Mallard has lived her life in a lab, separated from the world, sequestered in her shell and afraid of what would happen if she ever stuck her head out. Then an attempt is made on her life and she does the only thing she can do – she packs up her laptop, her suitcase and her three-legged cat and she runs. Praying for help, but fearing it will not come, she contacts the only man she has ever loved, tabloid journalist Daniel Callahan. While working to discover why Samantha, a timid scientist was targeted for murder, their investigation leads to something far more shocking; an imminent and potentially cataclysmic revolution.

The revolution is being waged by a subversive group of outraged citizens determined to punish our lawmakers with lethal force. They have issued a death sentence on corrupt, power hungry politicians and there will be no stay of execution.

Though unable to find assistance from any quarter, overwhelmed by the magnitude of their task and positive of their inadequacy to achieve it, Samantha and Daniel refuse to give up. Drawing upon strength they didn’t know they possessed, they persevere down a path that will teach them about life, love, each other, and most importantly themselves.

Can these ordinary citizens save Congress from the wrath of the people? Should they even try?

The novel is now available on Amazon and if you oppose big government, fear the direction the country is taking, wonder where we will end up and what we can do to prevent it, then you'll enjoy this novel.
I would love to see every member of Congress inundated with copies of this book and I'd be saying that even if I wasn't the one who wrote it.

It's The Constitution Stupid!

There's the famous sign that Bill Clinton had in his office that said, "it's the economy, stupid!"  Well, it's still the economy, but that's being nudged into second place by The Constitution and all I have to say is that it's about time.

What the government doesn't seem to understand is that though they may disregard the constitution and relegate it to a meaningless piece of memorabelia, the American people still believe that it is the cornerstone of who we are and what our government is supposed to be. 

The trampling of the constitution will no longer be allowed by the majority of the American citizenry so while the economy is still a driving force in people's opinions of their leaders, it is now also the Constitution, stupid.