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.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Government Disaster Relief Policies Encourage Moral Hazards

"When these natural disasters strike, whether it is a tornado, an earthquake, a wildfire, or a Superstorm, it should be treated as a national disaster and not left to state and local officials to deal with alone.  When our fellow Americans need help, we all must step up.  That's why I have repeatedly pledged to do all in my power as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee to ensure that the suffering people of Puerto Rico, Texas, Louisiana, Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands get all the federal support to which they are entitled for their short-term relief and long-term recovery." – Congressman Frelinghuysen – October 27, 2017 
click on graphic to enlarge
Both the Atlantic hurricane season & the Eastern Pacific Ocean hurricane season end this coming Thursday, November 30.  Hurricanes Harvey & Irma are the first two entries on the above graphic for the 2010s decade.
The problem with the above quote & graphic is not the natural disasters that resulted from the hurricanes tabulated in the graphic but rather is the man-made disasters resulting from the false promise of the Frelinghuysen quote that the federal government is the answer to every (misnamed) national disaster problem people might have – a statist position & movement that has brainwashed & misled the American people away from liberty, self reliance, & common sense for decades. 
A case in point is John Stossel's famous account that he brazenly broadcast to the nation regarding his ripping off tax payers when the first floor of his four bedroom beach house was destroyed by a northeastern storm.  Actually it was not just Stossel that ripped us off but thousands of people who owned properties that had repeatedly been flooded & who had seen their properties restored by taxpayers each time their property was damaged. 
Stossel broadcast on national TV "If the ocean took my house, Uncle Sam would pay to replace it under the National Flood Insurance Program.  Since private insurers weren't dumb enough to sell cheap insurance to people who built on the edges of oceans or rivers, Congress decided the government should step in & do it.  So if the ocean ate what I built, I could rebuild & rebuild again & again -- there was no limit to the number of claims on the same property in the same location -- up to a maximum of $250,000 per house per flood (in Stossel's case – see graphic below for million dollar plus properties).  And you taxpayers would pay for it."
Insurance issued by the National Flood Insurance Program is dirt cheap – a few hundred dollars per year.  This in turn Stossel says "encourages more people to build on the edges of rivers & oceans" & in flood plains.  Stossel adds "subsidized insurance goes to movie stars in Malibu, to rich people in Kennebunkport (where the Bush family has its vacation compound), to rich people in Hyannis (where the Kennedy family has its), & to all sorts of people like me (Stossel) who ought to be paying our own way."
To prove Stossel's point please look @ the graphic below.  The map portion of the graphic shows that 87% of the U.S. properties with repetitive losses are in the Northeast states, the Gulf Coast states, & Virginia & the Carolinas.  The remaining 13% is spread throughout the country.  Taxpayers pay for these repetitive losses as indicated on the bottom two graphs below.  The lower left side graph shows that 14.8% of all property payouts were for $1-million of more.  The lower right side graph shows that there were 4, 5, 6, & even 7 payouts per each property on a combined 10,815 properties.
  click on graphic to enlarge
With regard to the flooding of Harris County, Texas & its county seat Houston – property development has been so large & rapid that there is not only no enforcement of zoning regulations there are virtually no zoning regulations @ all.  Between 1992 & 2010 nearly 25,000 acres of natural wetland infrastructure was wiped out amounting to almost 70% of the wetlands in Harris County.  Source Texas A&M University.  (This would be criminal in New Jersey.)
Texas A&M University Professor John Jacob says "Almost all of the flooding in Houston is the result of poor development decisions" & Rice University Professor Jim Blackburn adds "If Houston does not change, it will not survive from an economic standpoint."  Developers paved over tracts of prairie land that once acted as a sponge for flood waters.
There are currently extensive projects in Harris County to raise thousands of houses on pillars to new desired Flood Protection Elevations (FPE) using Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money.  Of course this has involved government bureaucratic red tape delays & some houses have been flooded again while the approval process played out.
Some homeowners who want to stay in the Houston area & had the foresight to recognize the potential flood danger elevated their houses using their own money.  Flood levels did not reach the first floor of these houses which stayed dry during the trillions of gallons of water that Hurricane Harvey dumped on Harris County.  But even if your house stays dry, someone wanting to remain in the area certainly has to take into account the disruption & hassle of their surroundings being flooded.  But @ least they are paying for what they want themselves without duping the federal government & taxpayers into providing financial protection in what is clearly a moral hazard – i.e., an individual who is willing to take risks because they know they will not have to bear the cost of their action.
The five year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy devastating houses on the NJ & NY shorelines just passed last month – over 365,000 houses in NJ were damaged.  Click here, @ the 2:38 mark, to hear NJ Governor Chris Christie, who worked through the losses of Sandy, explain why an affected locale should not rely on the federal government for disaster assistance.  Christie explains that the federal government bureaucracy is so hard to deal with that local elected officials have to "stay on top of the federal government every minute of every day" in order to get some help & concludes that people affected by natural disasters should not "solely depend on the government – (they should) look to non-profits, look to friends & family."
After every disaster there are people who come from all over – everywhere - who want to help distressed people.  Some of these people are professional storm followers who work to rebuild & clean up affected areas.  Add them to friends, family, neighbors helping neighbors, police, firefighters, the national guard under the control of the governor not president, & non-profits & you have an army of people who act quickly, not saddled with the federal government red tape as described by Christie in the above video.  There are 4 non-profits per thousand people in both NJ & Texas which works out to 42,111 non-profits in NJ & 106,770 in Texas.  Source – National Council of Nonprofits.
In addition philanthropic & charity giving is another worthwhile & helpful endeavor.  See September 6 written statement below of President Trump & First Lady Melania donating $1-million to twelve nonprofits whose excellent disaster relief work they witnessed first hand during their visit to Houston after Hurricane Harvey made landfall.
click on document to enlarge
Federal government responses to natural disasters are another in a long list that need a mindset change.  The meaning of the general Welfare portion of the Spending Clause of the Constitution has been completely changed from its original understanding in that "general" originally meant applicable to the whole country not particular parts like Houston after a hurricane or special interests like John Stossel's vacation home ruined by a northeastern storm.  "The salient point is that its (the general Welfare portion of the Spending Clause) implications are negative, not positive – a limitation of power, not a grant of power." – The Heritage Guide To The Constitution, page 43.
"The First Congress refused to make a loan to a glass manufacturer after several Members expressed the view that such an appropriation would be unconstitutional, & the Fourth Congress did not believe it had the power to provide relief to the citizens of Savannah, Georgia, after a devastating fire destroyed the entire city." Ibid. Page 93
President James Monroe, my favorite president, vetoed spending bills he thought unconstitutional because the bills overreached Congress's power by trying to spend on local or state benefits – not the general or national welfare of the entire country.
President Monroe's two terms in office were known as the Era Of Good Feelings & he won reelection to his second term receiving all but one electoral vote & that was because that single elector thought that George Washington should be the only president ever unanimously elected.  People worked in their communities to solve their own problems & elected officials like James Monroe were appreciated because they were strong leaders who followed the Constitution & whose very being epitomized strength & respect for America.
Chicago was rebuilt after its fire, as was Galveston after its hurricane, & San Francisco after its earthquake, all without a dollar of government money.  The philanthropy & charity of the American people, coupled with the free market capitalistic system that has made America the envy of the world restored those cities.
Instead of this type of self-reliant individual responsibility today, we have people moving into hurricane alleys in trailers with the mistaken notion that government will take care of them when disaster strikes.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Thanksgiving Proclamation In The Year Of Independence Of The United States The One Hundred & Twenty Eighth

Below is TR's Proclamation 508 – Thanksgiving Day, 1903. 
The words of our 26th President in the Proclamation below are not the normal words we hear today – the mention of liberty is no longer common place; in fact it has virtually vanished from the political lingo of our leaders & citizens don't mind because they have mistakenly come to take liberty for granted in 21st century America.
And the idea that we may not be worthy of the blessings we have received flies in the face of people like Joe Biden & Hillary Clinton telling crowds of people they are the salt of the earth - for merely being here.
By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

The season is at hand when according to the custom of our people it falls upon the President to appoint a day of praise and thanksgiving to God.

During the last year the Lord has dealt bountifully with us, giving us peace at home and abroad and the chance for our citizens to work for their welfare unhindered by war, famine or plague. It behooves us not only to rejoice greatly because of what has been given us, but to accept it with a solemn sense of responsibility, realizing that under Heaven it rests with us ourselves to show that we are worthy to use aright what has thus been entrusted to our care. In no other place and at no other time has the experiment of government of the people, by the people, for the people, been tried on so vast a scale as here in our own country in the opening years of the 20th Century. Failure would not only be a dreadful thing for us, but a dreadful thing for all mankind, because it would mean loss of hope for all who believe in the power and the righteousness of liberty. Therefore, in thanking God for the mercies extended to us in the past, we beseech Him that He may not withhold them in the future, and that our hearts may be roused to war steadfastly for good and against all the forces of evil, public and private. We pray for strength, and light, so that in the coming years we may with cleanliness, fearlessness, and wisdom, do our allotted work on the earth in such manner as to show that we are not altogether unworthy of the blessings we have received.

Now, Therefore, I, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, do hereby designate as a day of general thanksgiving Thursday, the twenty-sixth of the coming November, and do recommend that throughout the land the people cease from their wonted occupations, and in their several homes and places of worship render thanks unto Almighty God for his manifold mercies.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington this 31st day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and three and of the Independence of the United States the one hundred and twenty-eighth.


By the President:


Secretary of State.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Senator Tom Cotton's Constitution Day Celebration Speech

Tom Cotton official Senate photo.jpg 
Thanks to Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn for sending the October issue of Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College with over 3,700,000 readers per month – this edition of Imprimis is adapted from a speech given by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton (photo above) on September 18 in Washington, D.C., @ Hillsdale's Eight Annual Constitution Day Celebration. 
Student's of the Constitution are well aware that this past September 17 marked the 230th anniversary when the Constitution was unanimously passed by all the states represented @ the Constitutional Convention thereby starting the ratification process that made the Constitution the supreme law of the land – one of the greatest gifts God ever gave to man.
The speaker @ the above mentioned Hillsdale College event, Tom Cotton, was elected by the voters of Arkansas to the U.S. Senate in 2014 where he serves on the Senate Banking Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, & the Senate Armed Services Committee.  In 2005 Cotton enlisted in the U.S. Army but did not pursue a commission as an officer @ the rank of Captain in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the U.S. Army that someone of his education would normally aspire to; instead he pursued a route with his recruiter that guaranteed his enrollment in Officer Candidate School after which as an Army officer he deployed to Iraq with the 101st Airborne & to Afghanistan with a Provincial Reconstruction Team.  His military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, & Ranger Tab.
In short, Senator Cotton is a good guy as the following excerpts from his Constitution Day Celebration speech indicate: 
1.  Citizenship is the most cherished thing our nation can bestow. Our governing class ought to treat it as something special. We ought to put the interests of our citizens first and welcome those foreigners best prepared to handle the duties of citizenship and contribute positively to our country.
2.  The word naturalization implies a process by which foreigners can renounce their former allegiances and become citizens of the United States. They can cast off what accident and force have thrust upon them—race, class, ethnicity—and take on, by reflection and choice, a new title: American.
3.  Government now takes nearly half of every dollar we earn and bosses us around in every aspect of life, yet can't deliver basic services well. Our working class—the "forgotten man," to use the phrase favored by Ronald Reagan and FDR—has seen its wages stagnate, while the four richest counties in America are inside the Washington Beltway.
4.   For years, all Democrats and many Republicans have agreed on the outline of what's commonly called "comprehensive immigration reform," which is Washington code for amnesty, mass immigration, and open borders in perpetuity.
This approach was embodied most recently in the so-called Gang of Eight bill in 2013. It passed the Senate, but thankfully we killed it in the House (where Cotton served for one two- year term), which I consider among my chief accomplishments in Congress so far. Two members of the Gang of Eight ran for my party's nomination for president last year. Neither won a single statewide primary. Donald Trump denounced the bill, and he won the nomination.
Likewise, Hillary Clinton campaigned not just for mass immigration, but also on a policy of no deportations of anyone, ever, who is illegally present in our country. She also accused her opponent of racism and xenophobia. Yet Donald Trump beat her by winning states that no Republican had won since the 1980s.
5.  While we wish our fellow man well, it's only our fellow citizens to whom we have a duty and whose rights our government was created to protect. And among the highest obligations we owe to each other is to ensure that every working American can lead a dignified life. If you look across our history, I'd argue that's always been the purpose of our immigration system: to create conditions in which normal, hard-working Americans can thrive.
Look no further than what James Madison said on the floor of the House of Representatives in 1790, when the very first Congress was debating our very first naturalization law. He said, "It is no doubt very desirable that we should hold out as many inducements as possible for the worthy part of mankind to come and settle amongst us, and throw their fortunes into a common lot with ours."  "The worthy part," not the entire world. Madison continued, "But why is this desirable? Not merely to swell the catalogue of people. No, sir, it is to increase the wealth and strength of the community."
"To increase the wealth and strength of the community." That's quite a contrast to today's elite consensus. Our immigration system shouldn't exist to serve the interests of foreigners or wealthy Americans. No, it ought to benefit working Americans and serve the national interest—that's the purpose of immigration and the theme of the story of American immigration.
6.  The economy we're living in today is in no small part a result of the 1965 Act, which opened the door to mass immigration of unskilled and low-skilled workers, primarily through unlimited family chain migration. And that's not an economy anyone should be satisfied with.
Today, we have about a million immigrants per year. That's like adding the population of Montana every year—or the population of Arkansas every three years. But only one in 15—one in 15 of those millions of immigrants—comes here for employment-based reasons. The vast majority come here simply because they happen to be related to someone already here. That's why, for example, we have more Somalia-born residents than Australia-born residents, even though Australia is nearly twice the size of Somalia and Australians are better prepared, as a general matter, to integrate and assimilate into the American way of life.
In sum, over 36 million immigrants, or 94 percent of the total, have come to America over the last 50 years for reasons having nothing to do with employment. And that's to say nothing of the over 24 million illegal immigrants who have come here. Put them together and you have 60 million immigrants, legal and illegal, who did not come to this country because of a job offer or because of their skills. That's like adding almost the entire population of the United Kingdom. And this is still leaving aside the millions of temporary guest workers who we import every year into our country.
7.  Unlike many open-border zealots, I don't believe the law of supply and demand is magically repealed for the labor markets. That means that our immigration system has been depressing wages for people who work with their hands and on their feet. Wages for Americans with high school diplomas are down two percent since the late 1970s. For Americans who didn't finish high school, they're down by a staggering 17 percent. Although immigration has a minimal effect overall on the wages of Americans, it has a severe negative effect on low-skilled workers, minorities, and even recent immigrants.
Is automation to blame in part? Sure. Globalized trade? Yes, of course. But there's no denying that a steady supply of cheap, unskilled labor has hurt working-class wages as well. Among those three factors, immigration policy is the one that we can control most easily for the benefit of American workers. Yet we've done the opposite.
I know the response of open-border enthusiasts: they plead that we need a steady supply of cheap unskilled labor because there are "jobs that no American will do." But that just isn't so. There is no job Americans won't do. In fact, there's no industry in America in which the majority of workers are not natural-born Americans—not landscapers, not construction workers, not ski instructors, not lifeguards, not resort workers, not childcare workers—not a single job that over-educated elites associate with immigrants. The simple fact is, if the wage is decent and the employer obeys the law, Americans will do any job. And for tough, dangerous, and physically demanding jobs, maybe working folks do deserve a bit of a raise.
8.  But the harmful impact on blue-collar workers isn't the only problem with the current system. Because we give two-thirds of our green cards to relatives of people here, there are huge backlogs in the system. This forces highly talented immigrants to wait in line for years behind applicants whose only claim to naturalization is a random family connection to someone who happened to get here years ago. We therefore lose out on the very best talent coming into our country—the ultra-high-skilled immigrants who can come to America, stand on their own two feet, pay taxes, and through their entrepreneurial spirit and innovation create more and higher-paying jobs for our citizens.
To put it simply, we have an immigration system that is badly failing Madison's test of increasing the wealth and strength of the community. It might work to the advantage of a favored few, but not for the common good, and especially not the good of working-class Americans.
This is why I've introduced legislation to fix our naturalization system. It's called the RAISE Act: Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy.
The RAISE Act will correct the flaws in the 1965 Act by reorienting our immigration system towards foreigners who have the most to contribute to our country. It would create a skills-based points system similar to Canada's and Australia's. Here's how it would work. When people apply to immigrate, they'd be given an easy-to-calculate score, on a scale of 0 to 100, based on their education, age, job salary, investment ability, English-language skills, and any extraordinary achievements. Then, twice a year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would invite the top scorers to complete their applications, and it would invite enough high-scoring applicants to fill the current 140,000 annual employment-based green-card slots.
We'd still admit spouses and unmarried minor children of citizens and legal permanent residents. But we'd end the preferences for most extended and adult family members—no more unlimited chain migration. We'd also eliminate the so-called diversity visa lottery, which hands out green cards randomly without regard to skills or family connections, and which is plagued by fraud. We'd remove per-country caps on immigration, too, so that high-skilled applicants aren't shut out of the process simply because of their country of origin. And finally, we'd cap the number of refugees offered permanent residency to 50,000 per year, in line with the recent average for the Bush era and most of the Obama era—and still quite generous.
Add it all up and our annual immigrant pool would be younger, higher-skilled, and ready to contribute to our economy without using welfare, as more than half of immigrant households do today. No longer would we distribute green cards essentially based on random chance. Nor would we import millions of unskilled workers to take jobs from blue-collar Americans and undercut their wages. And over a ten-year period, our annual immigration levels would decrease by half, gradually returning to historical norms.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Enhanced ACTA Report Aids In College Selection Process

"The performance of our school systems is disgraceful.  I think roughly a quarter of the population never graduates high school.  We have a lower level of literacy today than we had a hundred years ago.  That's not despite, but because of the poor schools, particularly in low-income areas." - Professor Friedman 
Click on graphic to enlarge
The above graphic is another in a long list of statistics attesting to Professor Friedman's above remark – it is a disgrace that 48% or more of students, grades 3 to 7, do not meet expectations regardless of which test they take.  The results are even worse for high school students who took the above NJ test – for instance 25% of 10th graders met expectations while 11% surpassed them meaning 64% did not meet expectations.
I still wonder how you get to the 8th grade while reading @ a 3rd grade level?  In fact I am not the only one wondering about this because employers regularly complain about labor shortages due to skills gaps – a point made in interviews with employers after the October Unemployment Report was released Friday.  The NJ Business & Industry Association reported that a member survey found most entry-level employees had poor skills in critical thinking & math prompting one executive to say this "really hurts NJ's potential for economic growth."  See graphs below – the graph on the left shows the nationwide deficit for construction workers & the graph on the right shows that there are one million more job openings than people being hired in America.
Click on graphs to enlarge.
The skills gap helps explain why the average weekly earnings of a worker age 20 to 24 is $537 ($27,924 per year) while those 25 to 34 average $778 ($40,456 per year).  Source BLS. 
Remember that no one earns the average meaning that if a 24 year old graduate chemical engineer is earning $70,000 per year (& there are many of them all over the country earning that or more) others in the first cohort above are earning in the teens to make the average come to $27,924.  Also, a 34 year old should be reaching the highest earning years of their working life so having the average of the second cohort above being only $40,456 is not a good sign for a prosperous American citizenry – either during their working years or in retirement, if any.
Click here to see a vivid example of the poor critical thinking skills found in the NJBIA member survey.  Actually the college students in the link do not use any critical thinking (
the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment
) in this example & potential employers have recognized this as a common trait of young poorly educated adults.
But there is good news for the high school juniors & seniors who meet or exceed test expectations & are planning to select a college in the near future.
The American Council Of Trustees & Alumni (ACTA) has just issued the 2017-18 edition of their annual study entitled What Will They Learn?  I have recommended previous editions of this report as an excellent starting point to compare a student's perception of a school with the reality of what the school offers.  Over 1,100 institutions are evaluated in the above ACTA report providing unique information regarding what the schools expect their graduates to study outside their majors, the tuition cost, & the four year graduation rate.  The 24 (out of over 1,100) schools that are rated "A" are listed & they can all be put on a one page comparison summary for easy analysis.  Two thirds of the schools surveyed earned a "C" or below.
In addition to the usual excellent academic analysis that ACTA has always provided Dr. Michael Poliakoff, ACTA President, writes "this year we've partnered with Heterodox Academy to incorporate their Guide to Colleges' viewpoint diversity scores for individual colleges.  These scores, along with a school's Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) rating, should help students and parents determine how committed a university is to freedom of speech and intellectual diversity."
The above Heterodox Academy website also includes information on whether the listed universities endorse the Chicago Principles on free expression (i.e., without a vibrant commitment to free and open inquiry, a university ceases to be a university), the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) ratings of how welcoming a school is to conservative & libertarian students, & a Relevant Events rating that indicates the commitment by faculty, administration, &/or students to protect or protest free inquiry & viewpoint diversity.
Students & parents who are in the process of choosing a college will find the above information provides an indispensable start in the selection process even if it is only used to make a list of questions to be answered by the prospective schools considered.
Please do not hesitate to contact me for further detail or help.  I work with both ACTA & ISI on higher education for Americans – which is one of my two passions in this world.
The other is the FairTax.