About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Eliminating Gerrymandering Induces Term Limits

In 1988 President Reagan began his campaign against what he called the "national scandal" that has followed every constitutionally required decennial census since 1810 – namely the practice of Gerrymandering – the age-old antidemocratic un-American practice of legislatures drawing new congressionally mandated electoral district boundaries that distort & bend the shape of congressional districts for the purpose of ensuring the election of politically favored politicians.
The term Gerrymander was named after Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry who was instrumental in the redrawing of a state senate district that resembled a salamander – see cartoon below that appeared in the Boston Gazette newspaper on March 26, 1812 that satirized the odd shaped district that had been drawn to obtain every possible vote needed to ensure victory for the candidate preferred by the party in power.
click on cartoon to enlarge
Calling for term limits always rates high in political polls.  Working to replace the current politically manipulated redistricting system with a computer programmed to divide each state into congressional districts with the smallest perimeter possible produces compact districts without identifying the residents' party, gender, or race.  In other words such a change gives us a chance for unbiased elections & in essence term limits.  The computer would redraw the districts in each state after every decennial census so the boundaries of each district would change more as a function of people moving than politicians purposely rigging elections by drawing districts resembling salamanders.
It is important to understand that the primary goal of Gerrymandering is to place as many supporters of the party out of power into as few districts as possible meaning the party in power gets the maximum bump from their supporters in the most districts possible & therefore maintains political control.  This obviously takes a computer to program such districts so why not change the computer program to find the most nondiscriminatory geographically compact districts possible which has benefits for everyone except career politicians?  See graphic below.
click on graphic to enlarge
Gerrymandering is the root reason why people eligible to vote become disinterested.  For example – in NJ 91% of general election races for the House & 97% of state Senate races were won by greater than 10% margins & 75% were won with over 20% margin landslides.  These margins for 2012 are typical of previous elections & in 2020 the districts will be redrawn to protect preferred politicians thereby perpetuating the cycle of turning off people eligible to vote.  Today there are more people eligible to vote who do not vote than there are people who will vote for any presidential candidate.
I have always thought that primaries are more important than general elections – if you don't vote in the primary you are left with whomever someone else picks to vote for in the general.  Election laws in most states further exacerbate the voting predicament described above in that primaries become even less relevant.
For example in the 2012 NJ primary turnout was only 8.8% of registered voters.  Because of election laws that require people to declare party affiliation there were 2.62 million unaffiliated voters who could not vote in the primary – this represents 48% of registered NJ voters who were shut out from the electoral process not because of poll taxes or voter ID requirements but because of election laws favoring the two party system.  There are 1.79 million registered Democrats & only 1.08 million registered Republicans in NJ who decided the general election candidates with an 8.8% turnout.
Turnout in the 2014 Virginia district 7 primary was 13.7% – this is the race Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost to Professor Dave Brat 7.6% of registered voters to 6.1%.  There had not been one Virginia district since 2006 that had a primary turnout greater than 10% so this race that brought out an additional 20,000 primary voters showed the power of the people in a positive anomaly in that Dave Brat has not disappointed since being elected & Cantor always did when it counted. 
But the worst part of the current electoral system is that people realize more & more every day that there is no difference between the two parties – or put another way there is only one Big Government Party with a Republican wing & a Democrat wing who take turns being in office @ our expense as obviously illustrated by the salamander shaped districts.
For instance in 2013 following the death in June of incumbent NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg Governor Christie appointed NJ AG Jeff Chiesa to fill the Senate vacancy until an October special election.  On his first day in Washington Chiesa (a self described conservative Republican) voted to reauthorize agricultural programs (subsidies) through 2018 meaning there was no difference in the vote this Republican cast & the vote the deceased Lautenberg would have cast.  The bill was 1,150 pages long which makes me wonder if he, or anyone else, read it before voting.
Click here to hear a radio interview with Jeb Bush explaining that he thinks the best part of BO's administration the past six plus years is the enhancement of the NSA mega data program.  The announcer virtually had to put words in Jeb's mouth for him to say anything you would have thought would have rolled off his tongue when asked a question about a political adversary.  But in Jeb & BO we are talking about members of the one Big Government Party & this is highlighted in this brief radio comment.
Two more recent examples - Defense Secretary nominee Ashton Carter responded very poorly in his confirmation hearings yet was confirmed by the Senate 93 to 5.  And just last week Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch whose position on illegal immigration is as lawless as BO's was confirmed 56 to 43 by the Senate with Ted Cruz not voting.
Senator Cruz said "this nominee has given every indication she would continue the Holder Justice Department's lawlessness.  There are more than a few voters back home that are asking what exactly is the difference between a Democratic & Republican majority when the exact same individual gets confirmed as attorney general."
The Republicans have the Senate majority & both the cloture vote & the actual nomination vote for Lynch could have been blocked by this majority.  Instead Lynch was confirmed as AG as if the Democrats were the majority.
All Senate Democrats voted for Lynch.  The following Senate Republicans also voted for Lynch.
Ayotte (NH), Cochrane (MS), Collins (ME), Flake (AZ), Graham (SC), Hatch (UT), Johnson (WI), Kirk (IL), McConnell (KY), & Portman (OH).
The two schools of thought are – 1) a president is entitled to the cabinet personnel he nominates if the Senate confirms their qualifications for the position, & 2) each member of Congress is elected to represent his constituents & vote accordingly on nominees.
The first school of thought is for politicians to go along to get along keeping everyone happy (except ultimately the citizenry) while the second school of thought is another way to keep government under control by bottling it up – which pays dividends no matter whether Democrats or Republicans are in power.
Now if you are part of "more than a few voters back home" that have been repulsed by the American electoral system I hope you can see that the Gerrymander redistricting process vividly described hereinbefore ensures that it is no coincidence that we keep getting unsatisfactory candidates & electoral results that turn people off & away from participating in the direction our Republic takes.  Even more important it tilts the board in favor of the enrichment of the elite high energy politicians leaving many people who would like to contribute with a feeling of hopelessness.
Sadly President Reagan's illness did not let him carry out his plan of exposing & correcting the Gerrymander abomination – I had so looked forward to his leadership in this.  But if you see the importance of this matter you have access to your congressman & state representatives who can help.  Redrawing congressional districts via a computer programmed to find the smallest perimeter possible for each nondiscriminatory geographically compact district is far superior to the Gerrymander way & will correct one of the biggest connivances our nation faces.
Of course realizing the benefits of such a change will take the persistent urging & involvement of the citizenry & in an apathetic entitlement society where everyone is busy enjoying America, while they still can, it is never thought of.  In fact far too many people do not know what their district looks like or even who their congressman is. 
But click here to see the Columbia University Law School's report entitled Draw Congress: Redistricting and Gerrymandering which draws all 435 congressional districts following several different parameters such as 1) political subdivision lines, such as counties and cities, 2) maximization of political competition by creating as many districts as possible that are evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, & 3) attempts to achieve proportional representation by producing districts that are likely to reflect the underlying partisan division in the state.
I was glad to see that NJ's district #12 could be redrawn as one of the smallest districts in geographic area in the state instead of one that sprawls from sea to shining Delaware River like it has for years.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Freedom Of Association Dispels Homosexual Wedding Discrimination Claims

"When law & morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law." – Frederic Bastiat 
The enemies of America have been having a field day with duplicitous insidious attacks against the Indiana & Arkansas state versions of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) that was introduced in the House by then NY Congressman Chuck Schumer, in the Senate by the late Senator Ted Kennedy, & signed into law by President Bill Clinton.  There was a unanimous vote in the House & a near unanimous 97 to 3 vote in the Senate supporting RFRA.
RFRA provides a means for a religious objector to become exempt from applicable law & claims of discrimination.
For instance a landlord could ask for an exemption under RFRA if for religious reasons he objected to renting an apartment to an unmarried man & women even though state law prohibits marital status discrimination in housing matters.  Such a situation has been referred to as living in sin so this example of claiming an exemption has a religious basis for some. 
A more recent example was the Hobby Lobby case in which the Supreme Court determined in a 5 to 4 vote that employers are not required to provide female employees with no-cost contraception because of religious convictions to the contrary.
With the above as background the enemies of America have turned the matter into a clash over pretending to respect people of faith versus citing them for discrimination against homosexuals – examples include bakers, florists, & photographers who do not want to provide their services on religious grounds for homosexual marriage ceremonies. 
A simple question is what couple (homosexual or straight) would want to have a baker, florist, or photographer be part of their wedding ceremony if the service provider did not share in the happy occasion – if there was not another agenda or ulterior motive like undermining the founding principles of our country?
In the latest assault the media has added Memories Pizza of Walkerton Indiana to the list of bakers, florists, & photographers to be charged with discrimination against homosexuals after Memories co-owner Crystal O'Connor told a local news station that if a homosexual couple wanted to order pizzas for their wedding, "we would have to say no."  How many weddings or receptions have you been to that served pizza?  So why would the media interrogate a pizza store owner?
Of course the media driven brouhaha has nothing to do with discrimination against homosexuals & everything to do with destroying both individual rights & freedoms.  The late Harvard professor Robert Nozick, author of one of my favorite books – Anarchy, State, & Utopia – wrote that only a minimal state "limited to the narrow functions of protection against force, theft, fraud, enforcement of contracts. . ." could be justified without violating people's rights - & in this case involving RFRA & claims of homosexual marriage discrimination the principal right violated is the constitutional right of freedom of association.
The Constitution does provide anti-discrimination protection for age (in voting), citizenship (in naturalization), race (in voting), sex (in voting), & voting (no poll taxes).  Unlike the foregoing specific constitutional anti-discrimination protections there is no specific constitutional anti-discrimination protection for homosexual weddings.  This means that homosexual supporters who want to cite people of religious faith with discrimination against homosexuals must rely on the 14th Amendment to defend their actions – "No state shall. . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
The basis for disposing of this position regarding the current argument is found in The Federalist No. 78 where Alexander Hamilton wrote that the Constitution is the fundamental law that has the superior obligation & validity that takes preference over statutes. 
This means the law referred to in the 14th Amendment is the Constitution & in particular the First Amendment guaranteeing the free exercise of religion & the right of expressive association – that is there is a right to associate to engage in the activities protected in the First Amendment. 
Anti-discrimination statutes such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, or the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 do not take preference over any parts of the Constitution.  Accordingly, the religious rights & rights of association of the First Amendment take precedent over the aforementioned statutes.
This is not to say that the courts could not find against the Constitution - in violation of the justices' oaths - in ruling for their notion of the greater good of not promoting any perceived discrimination in America – of course a ruling in favor of forced participation in homosexual marriages in this case means a vote against the free exercise of religion of bakers, florists, photographers, & pizza pie makers.  With four left wing justices on the Supreme Court willing to find any statist presentation constitutional & three others of the nine reading the text of the Constitution as originalists means that every decision will be decided by either Roberts' &/or Kennedy's feeling that particular day.  What a terrible way to decide the issues in our country.
"We're not discriminating against anyone, that's just our belief & anyone has the right to believe in anything" – pizza maker Crystal O'Connor told a local news station.
Many businesses clearly display the sign "We reserve the right to refuse service to anybody."  Business owners who display such a sign try to enforce the words as they see fit but I don't know of any that refuse service to anyone that the aforementioned Civil Rights Act considers a protected class.  In brief, if they did it would be bad for business – most people would exercise their freedom to associate by not associating with bigoted business owners.
There are dress codes @ Saratoga Race Course, fine restaurants, golf courses, & businesses.  Bars regularly offer "ladies nights" where women are served @ a discount & students, veterans, & senior citizens are often encouraged to use certain products or services @ lower costs than the general public – there is nothing about students, veterans, or senior citizens that make delivering the products or services less expensive – it is simply a marketing ploy to make these people partake.
Stutterers can find it hard to get a job; older people are perceived as feeble; deaf people love to say they are deaf not stupid; & single sex schools do not admit people of the opposite sex – like the above these additional examples display forms of discrimination to one degree or another.  Even signs that say "no solicitations" can be considered discriminatory when all the owner of a business or medical practice wants to do is be left alone – similar to the no call telephone list.
How far we want to go with all of this should be carefully considered.  If we make or enforce rules so politically correct that they become burdensome we are in danger of creating unintended weapons against our entire way of life – if we haven't already.
RFRA was intended for such matters like disputes over whether or not Muslim prisoners had to shave their beards – the Muslim prisoner had to prove it was a religious hardship to shave his beard & if he did the government was then compelled to use the least restrictive means of achieving the state interest.  
RFRA enforcement has been expanded in the above homosexual wedding examples to require the religious objector to make his case explaining why he should be excused from an activity deliberately distorted to be portrayed as hurtful discrimination – this is a burden not freedom of association & accordingly it is not right in a free society.  People should not need a reason like showing how religious they are to not participate in something.  It is akin to being guilty before given a pass. 
We can see where this is going – we already have a healthcare law that requires people to buy a product or be fined (taxed) & a Medicare law that requires people to privately insure the government's single payer partial coverage if they want decent coverage.
Freedom of association as described above solves the dilemma of the cruel alternative presented by Frederic Bastiat above – unless someone is purposely looking for trouble.
Christine Upton summed this up when she wrote "How we perceive of the world around us determines the outcome of what it is we choose to see or not see."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Income Tax - The Base Of America's Road To Ruin

click on graphic to enlarge
The above graphic shows the result of an estimate by the Tax Policy Center (TPC) of the distribution of the shares of both income & federal income taxes paid in 2014 by all 325 million Americans divided into quintiles of 65 million people in each quintile.
Tax Report columnist Laura Saunders writes in the WSJ that "unlike IRS data, it includes information about nonfilers – both people who didn't need to file & people who should have filed but didn't.  The total also includes Americans living overseas & others, which is why it is greater than the U.S. Census estimate of 319 million."
Saunders adds "Another important difference: The income cited includes untaxed amounts for employer-provided health coverage, tax-exempt interest & retirement-plan contributions & growth, among other things.  This can be significant."
Yes, receiving employer provided healthcare insurance @ no out of pocket cost in an income tax system is quite a significant benefit for those who earn it as part of their total compensation.  Please be assured that no employer provides this benefit for any reason other than being competitive for talent in the labor market in their search for people whose education, training & experience meets the employer's needs.  So many people work just to keep healthcare insurance through their employer or are looking for work with good healthcare insurance & yet do not consider this benefit as income although if pressed they would have to admit it is a significant part of their total compensation that is earned.
Although the above TPC estimate is for federal income tax payments only, the overall distribution follows the same top quintile pays the overwhelming majority of federal taxes profile when payroll taxes of Social Security & Medicare are included.  It is the return of cash payments of these payroll taxes to people who do not pay any federal income tax that result in 40% of Americans' share of federal income taxes being negative @ –3.2% as shown on the graphic.  Even more insidious - the graphic shows that close to 80% of the people pay either no federal income tax or so little federal income tax that tax reform is of little or no interest to them meaning that America is stuck in a rut where statist politicians can present shams like income inequality, raising the minimum wage, & class warfare that hold back & actually thwart tax reform that would result in economic growth & prosperity for all.
In this regard I wrote two posts ago "Congressman Woodall learned in 2014 that the Joint Committee of Taxation has no methodology to properly evaluate the FairTax meaning that it will not come out of the Ways & Means Committee onto the floor of the House as it stands.  It is like the House statists have checkmated the FairTax into the corner of W&M where they plan to keep it."
With the FairTax bottled up in a bureaucratic dead end this leaves us some Republicans talking about an undefined flat income tax that stirs up some conservatives while others talk about tinkering around the edges of the current income tax code – falsely calling either meaningful tax reform.  Estimates of foregone investments and consumption resulting from the federal income tax system increase the deadweight loss to the economy every year – Professor Martin Feldstein calculates a recent fiscal year deadweight loss due to the federal income tax to be $385 billion or 2.55% of GDP.
The above 2014 distribution duplicates similar results for 2013 – the TPC determined that a middle class family of four paid only 5.3% (effective tax rate) of its income in federal income taxes & the CBO determined that overall federal taxes (income, payroll, excise, & imputed corporate taxes) for such a family were @ their lowest levels in decades.  See graph below for effective federal income tax rates for a middle class family of four.
click on graph to enlarge
So with the FairTax slowed down in W&M & no other compelling Republican tax reform message taking hold to date it is easy to see how far too many people in the bottom 80% of income earners consistently fall for Democrat tax the rich schemes that vilify millionaires & billionaires.  This 80% don't pay much in taxes & they also don't make much money if they are working @ all – the majority of these people are not happy & prefer to close any perceived income inequality by bringing the top earners down since they don't hold much hope for going up themselves.  Confiscation of wealth is @ the end of this road to ruin we are travelling.
But we need to recognize that it is not taxes but rather what we spend money on that is the enemy – namely Social Security, Medicare, & Medicaid entitlements, interest on the national debt, & the 126 welfare programs recognized by the Cato Institute.  These entitlements & programs take money from the high income earners & give them in one form or another to people in the lowest three quintiles.  For instance Scott Hodge of the Tax Foundation determined that the average middle class family receives over $7,000 more in benefits than they pay in federal taxes each year.  See table below to see what the top 20% of income earners pay – you have to reach the 90 to 95 percentile of income earners in order for the share of income to equal the share of federal income taxes paid.
This means that far too many people don't have skin in the game or think they don't.  But they do.  Their entire way of life is about to be changed forever, if it hasn't already, to one of government dependent socialism.  Trying to eliminate or reverse a welfare state that has taken hold in the apathy to dependence stage of an entitlement society like it has in America has always been a political loser throughout history & every Republican & Libertarian candidate for president is facing this losing compulsion.  Even President Reagan, 35 years ago, could only slow, not reverse this course.
Hillary Clinton opened her official campaign for president saying "the deck is still stacked in favor of those @ the top."  A more accurate statement would be "the Democrat deck is stacked against everyone who has not educated themselves properly to support themselves & who relies on government for nourishment & safekeeping" – namely the people who currently support her & can't see her programs will keep people down.
But the worst part of socialism to me is that it cheats people out of reaching the potential in life they were born to live.  They will never experience the thrill & triumph of high achievement - the highs of life that Ayn Rand wrote about in We The Living - so that to reverse paraphrase TR - everyone's place will always be with those cold & timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.  As such the true cost to any socialist society, namely the opportunity cost, is more than just enormous - it is literally unimaginable.
click on graphic to enlarge

Reference Post - Why Income Inequality Has Not Increased In America


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

History Quiz From The 50s

I know people love quizzes & I have been saving some up.  The one below was received from a long time subscriber of RTE.  Please let me know how you make out.  Unlike most quizzes on RTE I present the answers to this one @ the bottom.
Note – although some of the questions refer to the 40s the topics were still fashionable & not out of date in the 50s especially for middle class families.
History Quiz ...  
Everyone growing up in the 40s & 50s should have a pretty easy time
 taking this quiz. If you are under 50 you can claim a handicap.

It will test how much you really remember about what went on in your life. 

*** Get paper & pencil & number from 1 to 20...
****Write the letter of each answer & score at the end
1. In the 1940s, where were automobile headlight dimmer switches located?  
a. On the floor shift knob.
b.. On the floor board, to the left of the  clutch.
c. Next to the horn.

2. The bottle top of a Royal Crown Cola bottle had holes in it. For what was it used?
a. Capture lightning bugs.
b. To sprinkle clothes before ironing.
c.. Large salt shaker.

3.. Why was having milk delivered a problem in northern winters?
a. Cows got cold and wouldn't produce milk..
b. Ice on highways forced delivery by dog sle d.
c. Milkmen left deliveries outside of front doors and milk would freeze, expanding and pushing up the cardboard bottle top.

4. What was the popular chewing gum  named  for a game of chance?
a. Blackjack
b. Gin
c. Craps

5. What method did women use to look as if they were wearing stockings when none were available due to rationing during WW II.
a. Suntan
b. Leg painting
c. Wearing slacks

6. What postwar car turned automotive design on its ear when you couldn't tell whether it was coming or going?
a. Studebaker
b. Nash Metro
c. Tucker

7. Which was a popular candy when you were a kid?
a . Strips of dried peanut butter.
b.. Chocolate licorice bars.
c. Wax coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water inside.

8. How was Butch wax used?
a. To stiffen a flat-top haircut so it stood up.
b. To make floors shiny and prevent scuffing.
c. On the wheels of roller skates to prevent rust.

9. Before inline skates, how did you keep your roller skates attached to your shoes?
a. With clamps, tightened by a skate key.
b. Woven straps that crossed the foot.
c. Long pieces of twine.

10. As a kid, what was considered the best way to reach a decision?

a. Consider all the facts.
b. Ask Mom.
c. Eeny-meeny-miney-MO.

11.. What was the most dreaded disease in the 1940s and 1950s?
a. Smallpox
c. Polio

12. 'I'll be down to get you in a________, Honey'
a. SUV
b. Taxi
c. Streetcar

13. What was the name of Caroline Kennedy's pony?
a. Old Blue
b. Paint
c. Macaroni

14. What was a Duck-and-Cover Drill?
a. Part of the game of hide and seek..
b.. What you did when your  Mom called you in to do chores.
c. Hiding under y our desk, and covering your head with your arms in an A-bomb drill.

15. What was the name of the Indian Princess on the Howdy Doody show?
a.. Princess Summerfallwinterspring
b. Princess Sacajawea
c. Princess Moonshadow

16. What did all the really savvy students do when mimeographed tests were handed out in school?
a. Immediately sniffed the purple ink, as this was believed to get you high.
b. Made paper airplanes to see who could sail theirs out the window..
c. Wrote another pupil's name on the top, to avoid their failure.

17. Why did your Mom shop in stores that gave Green Stamps with purchases?
a. To keep you out of mischief by licking the backs, which tasted like bubble gum.
b. They could be put in special books and redeemed for various household items.
c. They were given to the kids to be used as stick-on tattoos.

18. Praise the Lord , & pass the_________?
a. Meatballs
b. Dames
c. Ammunition

19.. What was the name of the singing group that made the song 'Cabdriver' a hit?
a. The Ink Spots
b. The Supremes
c. The  Esquires

20.. Who left his heart in
San Francisco  ?  
a. Tony Bennett
b. Xavier Cugat
c.. George Gershwin
----------------------------- -------------------------------


1. (b) On the floor, to the left of the clutch. Hand controls, popular in Europe , took till the late '60's
to catch on.

2. (b) To sprinkle clothes before ironing..
Who had a steam iron?

3. (c) Cold weather caused  the milk to freeze and expand, popping the bottle top.

4 . (a) Blackjack Gum.

5. (b) Special makeup was applied, followed by drawing a seam down the back of the leg with eyebrow pencil.

6. (a) 1946 Studebaker.

7. (c) Wax coke bottles containing super-sweet colored water.

8. (a) Wax for your flat top (butch) haircut.

9 (a) With clamps , tightened by a skate key,  which you wore on a shoestring around your

10. (c) Eeny-meeny-miney-mo.

11. (c) Polio. In beginning of August, swimming pools were closed, movies and other public gathering places were closed to try to prevent spread of the disease.

12. (b) Taxi , Better be ready by half-past eight!

13. (c) Macaroni.

14. (c) Hiding under your desk, and covering your head with your arms in an A-bomb drill.

15. (a) Princess Summerfallwinterspring. She was another puppet.

16. (a) Immediately sniffed the purple ink to get a high.

17. (b) Put in a special stamp book, they could be traded for household items at the Green Stamp store.

18. (c) Ammunition, and we'll all be free.

19. (a) The widely famous 50's group: The Inkspots.

20. (a) Tony Bennett, and he sounds just as good today.


17- 20 correct
: You lived through most of the questions covered by the quiz & remembered those times.  You are definitely someone who should share your wisdom!

12 -16 correct
: Still impressive but maybe you are a little younger than the highest scorers.

0 -11 correct
: You are not old enough to share the wisdom of your experiences. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

America's Conservative Delusion

"According to a Gallup poll, nearly 40% of Americans say they are conservative thinkers; 24% say they are liberal." – Bill O'Reilly
  click on graph to enlarge
I can't remember when the conservative/liberal split in America was not in the 40% to 20% range – actually the 24% liberal figure reported above is the highest I have ever seen which is troublesome but not surprising.
This post will explain the apparent disagreement between the supposed consistent 40% conservative figure describing Americans & the negative Tea Party trend shown on the above graph.  How does the country stay largely conservative & yet the Tea Party support continues to decline?
The Tea Party movement started with support for Congressman Ron Paul in December 2007 & reached a high point just before April 15, 2009 when the Stimulus spending packages of both GW Bush & BO had proven hard to tolerate for many Americans.  The Tea Party is all about financial responsibility with calls for reductions in the national debt, annual deficits, federal government spending, & income tax rates.
The problem is that many people who were originally Tea Party supporters & demonstrators came to realize they were campaigning against government benefits they were actually receiving themselves.  By October 2010 many Tea Partiers were still with the movement in principle but were not willing to live by the actual practice of calling for reduced government spending when that meant curtailing or eliminating their own benefits.
This phenomenon is very similar to the human nature demonstrated by politicians wanting to keep their jobs by not doing what is best for the country but rather promoting government welfare programs that leave people dependent on government unable to take care of themselves. 
For instance Republican senators Rob Portman of Ohio & Susan Collins of Maine last week broke with Republican leadership & all of their fellow party men on a failed Senate budget amendment to raise the minimum wage - both senators are up for reelection in 2016 & chose the side of the issue they thought would help their reelection the most.  In a similar maneuver senators Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania & Ron Johnson of Wisconsin voted for another amendment to allow workers in businesses with @ least 15 employees to earn seven days of paid sick leave each year – again both senators felt this vote would pay dividends in their 2016 reelection races.
Of these three senators only Collins would not call herself a conservative.  Based on these votes I call all four opportunistic statists with vested interest in keeping their jobs @ our expense. 
Toomey is especially disappointing since he was the president of the Club For Growth for four years – the Club focuses on deregulation, cutting taxes, & supporting limited government, & backs candidates who adhere to free markets, free trade, & an anti-regulation agenda & yet one of its past presidents votes to tell businesses with 15 people how much sick time their employees should get.
I think we are getting the picture that people may call themselves conservatives when they really aren't.  This isn't surprising when you consider that over 100 million Americans received some form of federal welfare as of the second quarter of 2011 not counting Social Security & Medicare – see graph below.  When Social Security & Medicare entitlements are included well over half the people in the country receive a government check or benefit each month.
Now my criticism of the majority of the 40 million retired workers over 65 who receive Social Security retirement benefits or the same number that receive Medicare benefits – obviously some people receive both – is not that they receive these entitlements but is because they are unwilling to dare great enough to consider changing these two biggest of government programs that will overwhelm our finances in the not too distant future if nothing is done.  I have proposed nominal dollar (i.e., not increased for inflation) premium support as a permanent solution to wean Americans off Medicare over the decades thereby ending the deceptive program & changing the Social Security formula so that the initial benefit is based on the CPI rather than the wage index – the current formula guarantees a real (i.e., higher than inflation) positive return on the Social Security tax withheld for the average person – a guarantee no other investor has & an unaffordable luxury.
Please let me know if you would like details of a real life current example of the aforementioned not increased for inflation premium support solution to the Medicare problem. 
click on graph to enlarge
Turning to the Republican presidential candidates – unannounced as they may be – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker flip flopped twice on illegal immigration since the first of the year most recently @ a private NH dinner on March 13 in which he backed the concept of illegal immigrants staying in the country with a path to citizenship as opposed to his previous no amnesty position.  Walker had backed the pathway to citizenship amnesty position for years prior to his reversal earlier in 2015.  It is hard to get the current truth regarding Walker's position from either the NH Republican Party or Walker's staff.  Either way it is not a good sign for a man who has a lot going for himself but is obviously afraid of the following losing trend shown on the table below.  Why can't they just tell us what they believe & let the voters decide for themselves instead of trying to be everything to everyone?
   click on table to enlarge
But just a quick glance @ the following photo of Republican House Speaker Boehner kissing Democrat Minority Leader Pelosi tells you the next example of conservative capitulation is even worse.
Following an embarrassing funding bill vote that passed but barely avoided parts of the Department of Homeland Security being shutdown in February Boehner teamed with Pelosi to pass the so called "doc fix" legislation that revised the formula for determining Medicare reimbursements to doctors.  Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with doctors receiving proper compensation for taking care of us – something that would definitely happen without government interference in the healthcare field. 
The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, HR 2, passed the House 392 to 37.  Thirty three conservatives voted against the bill – not because they thought the doctors should not be paid the correct fee – but because of the estimated $200 billion cost over the next ten years 70% would be added to the deficit (paid by taxpayers) & most of the rest would be paid be increases in Medicare premiums to people classified as high income earners (paid by taxpayers).  
I do not see one thing that Boehner (representing conservatives?) received from the negotiation that would make any conservative happy.
The thirty three Republicans & four Democrats (in italics) who voted against HR 2 is below along with the four Democrats who did not vote.
Brooks (AL)
Graves (GA)
Johnson, Sam
King (IA)

---- NOT VOTING    4 ---
Smith (WA)
The passage of the House $3.8 trillion FY 2016 budget blueprint by a vote of 228 to 199 with 17 Republicans voting against it is just as woeful.  The budget calls for cutting $5.5 trillion in spending in the next ten years without specifying $1 of such cuts, balances within ten years relying on gimmicks & false assumptions like repealing ObamaCare while BO is still president – enough said about how preposterous this pretense is.  There is nothing conservative about this budget. 
Congressman Walter Jones (R, NC) voted against the House budget calling the increased spending "irresponsible" and "immoral."  Jones said "Frankly, I am tired — and I know the American people are tired — of the dishonesty in Washington.  We're fed up with the annual budget charade where Washington makes another empty promise to get tough on spending in future years, while spending more today. It's bankrupting America and it's got to stop."
We can see from the above that the idea that America is 40% conservative or a center right country is a delusion.  The idea of voting for a Republican as the lesser of two evils or even as the most conservative candidate that can be elected is a loser in the long run as we continue to slide down the Death Of Democracy stages – with this strategy we are just losing ground slightly slower than if Democrats were elected & our enemies are willing to wait us out while we slide closer to their totalitarian ways.
The problem is this Democrat-Republican system that is really the one big government party with two wings who take turns being in power @ our expense.  Three Republican governors (& potential presidential candidates) who claim to be conservatives expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare in their states – John Kasich in Ohio, Mike Pence in Indiana, & Chris Christy in New Jersey.  Medicaid enrollment is up 19% nationally since ObamaCare & spending on Medicaid has risen 21% largely because of ObamaCare – there is nothing conservative about this or these governors expanding Medicaid.
Nevada Republican governor Brian Sandoval – sometimes thought of as a rising presidential candidate star – has recently proposed the largest tax increase in state history.  Will Sandoval being a young handsome Hispanic overcome this anticonservative breach? 
Enter Ted Cruz last week @ Liberty University announcing he is running for President.  Click here to hear the entire speech in which Senator Cruz presents his vision for America in which Cruz imagines small businesses growing & prospering, college graduates coming out of school with four, five, or six job offers (like I did), innovation thriving as government regulators & tax collectors are kept @ bay, America becoming energy self-sufficient as millions & millions of high paying jobs are created, his repealing ObamaCare in 2017 after being elected president, healthcare reform that removes the government as a wedge between you & your doctor while making healthcare insurance personal, portable, & affordable, a simple flat income tax that is filed every year on a post card, abolishing the IRS, a president who finally secures our borders, an immigration system that welcomes people who come to achieve the American dream, & a federal government that stands for the First Amendment rights of every American. 
I challenge anyone to offer one point from the Cruz speech that does not honor America.
Although Senator Cruz is a FairTax cosponsor his vision imagined everything except the FairTax being enacted which is unfortunate because the only chance the FairTax has of becoming law is with an unwavering proactive endorsement by a presidential candidate who wins the election.  This is especially true since Congressman Woodall learned in 2014 that the Joint Committee of Taxation has no methodology to properly evaluate the FairTax meaning that it will not come out of the Ways & Means Committee onto the floor of the House as it stands.  It is like the House statists have checkmated the FairTax into the corner of W&M where they plan to keep it.
Based on all the information presented hereinbefore the number of conservatives is not anywhere near 40%.  The just under 20% shown on the above Tea Party graph – those with positive feelings toward the Tea Party - appears more accurate & that number includes conservatives & libertarians.  This means 80% of the population is for one degree of statism or another.
Many readers of RTE have already told me they vote for third party candidates.  I add to that those very few Republicans who earn your vote with a consistent record of accomplishment preferably not in government.  The current path that both Democrats & Republicans have put us on with their insidious gains against an unsuspecting & poorly educated citizenry is a dead end.  Voting for Tea Party candidates is a vote for the future – if America still has one.