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.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

An Analysis Of Jobs - Past, Present, & Future

"Sadly, when you believe the government is the solution to America's economic problems. . . then you're forced to talk about things like minimum wage instead of the maximum potential for Kentucky women." - KY Senator Mitch McConnell responding to Democrat Senate opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes who has criticized McConnell for opposing proposed federal minimum wage increases.
  click on graphs to enlarge
Over the past five years RTE has posted one labor report after another to illustrate that BO's administration has not provided one point to help the economy.  Of course the only thing we really need is for the government to get out of the way & not be a hindrance.  The above two graphs illustrate the points: 1) the graph on the left shows how the unemployment rate – employment-population ratio tracked each other until 2009 & 2) the graph on the right shows how the unemployment rate (U3) tracks the broadest unemployment measure U6 including in 2009 when both rose dramatically. 
It has been hard to find a truly accurate measure of the jobs condition in America since BO came into office – we just know it is terrible.  U6 includes the total unemployed (U3), plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force including discouraged workers who have stopped looking for work, plus the millions working part time who want full time employment.  I have recommended a U7 category.  My proposed U7 would include all of U6 plus those employed full time who make a fraction of their former pay.  U6 & U7 give the most complete picture of those relying on their wealth spend down to live on which is an excellent measure of the unhealthiness & misery of today's job market.
Far too many Americans have seen their lives ruined in the last five years; but the stage was set years before with such things as the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 that was not rigorously enforced until the 1990s & early 2000s when the government required banks to make loans to unqualified borrowers as per the terms of the original act.  People in their 50s & 60s will never work again @ a satisfactory level to make a living & savers in their 70s, 80s, & older have seen their CD interest income decline to an almost nonexistent level. 
But the poor conditions of today's labor picture described above only gets worse when we look into the future - if we make no changes.
At the beginning of the year The Economist presented an engineering report of a study of 702 different detailed occupations in order to estimate the susceptibility of these occupations being eliminated by computerisation – i.e., job automation by means of computer controlled equipment.  The study resulted in an estimate that 47% of total U.S. employment is @ risk of being automated during the next twenty years & that occupations with low incomes & low education requirements are the most probable of being eliminated.
The conclusions of the engineering report were confirmed by the results of a recent Business Roundtable survey in which nearly half of the CEOs said they planned to increase capital spending on automation & only 37% said they expect to increase hiring.  Forty-four percent see no increase in hiring in the next six months.
The above past & present conditions illustrate the hardship people over 50 already have making ends meet & the conclusions of the aforementioned engineering report shows the impracticality for many in their 40s receiving the costly technological retraining necessary to maintain employment.  In essence, if you are not already properly trained when you are in your 40s it will be too late to start.  I knew a man 40 years ago who started retraining for a new career when he was in his mid 40s – he stopped when he realized he would be 55 when his studies were completed & thought no one would hire him then.
Please let me know if you would like to read the entire engineering report & I will send it to you.
ObamaCare's impact on future employment has also been a topic of concern for sometime.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) added to the dismal employment picture when in February they released a report that concluded ObamaCare would reduce the number of jobs in America by 2.5 million full time equivalent jobs in the next ten years – with 2 million of these full time job equivalents reduced by 2017.  To be clear - the CBO report said it expected total employment and compensation in the whole economy to increase over the next 10 years but "that increase will be smaller than it would have been in the absence of" ObamaCare.  The reduction in work will occur because people voluntarily choose more leisure time in order to maximize government-provided subsidies that are an integral part of ObamaCare.   The CBO knows that people will come to realize the less they earn, the higher the government subsidy & the more they earn, the lower the subsidy, if any.
Members of BO's economic team spun this reduction in work as a good thing because people would have the leisure time to promote things they preferred to do like write poetry or paint (& I don't mean houses) – they no longer would be tied to a job just to hold on to their healthcare insurance because everyone would have ObamaCare.  At the start BO's messengers seemed embarrassed presenting this foolishness but after a very few days of repeating it often enough they looked like they believed losing the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs was indeed a positive economic development for America. 
This work reduction does not promote the long term economic health of the country – right in line with BO's plans.
The ObamaCare employer mandate kicks in for employers with over 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees.  Once a business exceeds 50 FTE employees they are required to provide healthcare insurance for their employees or pay a fine (known as the "Employer Shared Responsibility Payment") thereby incentivizing employers to keep their FTE employees below 50.  FTE equals the total number of full-time employees plus the combined number of part-time employees hours divided by thirty – the number of hours per week considered full time under ObamaCare.
It is obvious that the employer mandate could not have a positive effect on employment but a careful analysis is required to see who will be affected. 
Employers look @ fines much like a stock investor looks @ dividends & taxes – they are considerations but the overwhelming driving force of their endeavors is the growth & commensurate appreciation of the business or stock.
Accordingly, employers with many high paid employees will find the fine a negative value & will start to provide healthcare insurance if they currently don't.  These employers can reduce cash wages by the amounts of the premiums & thus not increase their total cost of labor – businesses look @ the total compensation (cash wages & benefits) of their employees & those businesses who already provide healthcare insurance to their employees have taken this balance into account – as they do the cost of every benefit.
Employers of high paid workers are also not likely to play games by turning such workers into part timers to avoid the fine.  Such a strategy would discount the value their newly created part-time workers & future part-time hires have for healthcare insurance.  To maintain a sufficient number of part-time employees cash wages would have to be increased to amounts higher than the premiums that are trying to be avoided in the first place – part timers needing to buy healthcare insurance from their cash wages would pay higher premiums in the individual markets than the employer would have paid in the business-group market which also is favorably treated by the income tax system.  This analysis does not include higher management costs of supervising more employees or the cost of turnover & in turn finding more skilled workers that command the high wages.
It is employers with many low paid workers, who don't have the flexibility to balance the increased labor cost of healthcare insurance premiums with lowering employee cash wages below the statutory minimum wage whose employees will feel the effects of the employer mandate.  These are the employers who are much more likely to reduce hours to below the FTE threshold of ObamaCare rather than employers with many high paid workers.  It is low paid employees who will be affected by the employer mandate either by having their hours reduced to part time status or losing their jobs altogether.
Couple the above long term employment impediments with Democrats pushing increased minimum wage laws, extensions of unemployment benefits for the long term unemployed, & the latest attack on entrepreneurship of compelling employers to pay managers hourly overtime pay – thereby trying to stifle human potential & discouraging young people from going into management & the commensurate higher pay that follows – & you can see the tremendous sway toward the temporary relief that government programs offer the hopeless & deteriorating employment market that BO has purposely induced.
Now people other than statists should be way beyond asking why we put up with this government manipulation of our lives or what kind of country do we want?  What you see is the country the majority of Americans want.  Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, separate studies by the CBO & Tax Foundation each conclude that the vast majority of Americans receive more back from government in spending than they pay in taxes, & the graph below indicates that 67% of voters are more likely to prefer congressional candidates who bring home the pork than candidates who advocate spending cuts.
 click on graph to enlarge
Although America has a terrible current case of job market misery & deterioration government opposition & resistance to the creative destruction needed to move a society forward is nothing new to the history of the world.  Except in America, from the time of our founding to the Civil War, government leaders have been more apt to trust themselves & prefer the status quo than to encourage human ingenuity & the inevitable increases in the standard of living that progress brings.  Our current situation is the only one I can think of where the President is intentionally working against the best interests of his proclaimed country – BO obviously wants America to fall to the level of a semi-failing European state for starters. While I disagreed with most of them on most points - from FDR to GW Bush I never had the feeling any President was intentionally undermining or not trying his hardest for America.
To break out of the government dependent mindset that is log jamming employment opportunities people will have to dare great enough to have the faith & passion to believe in themselves once again – to realize that they make out of life only what they strive for - to see the importance of entrepreneurs & innovation for economic growth & accordingly an enhanced future for themselves far superior to being on the government dole.  We have to return America to the liberty to abundance stage of our history where people exercise individuality and self responsibility that lets a free enterprise capitalistic system thrive. 
But the worst part of a mixed economy (part capitalist & part socialist) like America has been for years is that it cheats people out of reaching the potential in life they were born to live by nature of their humanity.  They will never experience the thrill & triumph of high achievement - the highs of life - 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.
To have any chance to return to the excellence of the prosperity of our founding we have to throw off the collectivist veil that has been put upon us & once again "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves & our posterity" that allow us to cherish individual rights that are the bedrock of America as defined in our Constitution.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Constitutional March Madness

Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse has come up with his own March Madness brackets - no not college basketball but rather brackets where you pick BO's worst constitutional violation
The RTE readership includes many who consider themselves students of the Constitution & Sasse's brackets present thirty-two violations along with specific URLs for further explanation of each topic – an excellent summary of BO's maneuvers over the past five years.
The May 13 primary for Nebraska's open Senate seat is heating up between Ben Sasse & Shane Osborn.  Sasse has been billed as "the national anti-ObamaCare candidate" & claims to have actually read the 2,300 page law.  The innovative constitutional brackets is an example of his creativity & timeliness.
Sasse is a champion of the unborn, knows BO is more interested in turning Texas into a Democrat state than solving illegal immigration problems, believes the federal government's primary role is to protect our citizens from enemies both foreign & domestic, & along with his wife homeschools his three young children. 
Do your own study of the two Nebraska candidates to see if either one warrants your support – both time & money – especially if you have no candidate in your district or state you think is worthwhile.
I can tell you that Sasse is endorsed by Senators Tom Coburn & Mike Lee as well as Dick Armey, Mark Levin, Sarah Palin, the Club for Growth, Family Research Council, Gun Owners of America, Nebraska Right to Life, National Review, & the Senate Conservative Fund.  Osborn is unofficially endorsed by Mitch McConnell & the establishment Republican Party.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Judge Pirro's Compelling Case Regarding The Benghazi Murders Of September 11, 2012

Judge Jeanine Pirro is becoming famous for her riveting opening statements on her weekend FNC program Justice.  Click here to hear Judge Pirro's opening statement from a January program regarding the Benghazi murders on September 11, 2012.  Judge Pirro makes a compelling case for Hillary's culpability in this event.  I just hope we don't have to wait until the next presidential campaign for justice to be done. 
But it is patriots like Judge Pirro who keep the Benghazi issue alive just in case the American people ever have enough sense to care about it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Millennials & Huckabee @ CPAC

"There are a lot of D.C. consultants who say there's a choice for Republicans to make: We can either choose to keep our head down, to not rock the boat, to not stand for anything, or we can stand for principle. They say if you stand for principle you lose elections. The way to do it — the smart way, the Washington way — is don't stand against ObamaCare, don't stand against the debt ceiling, don't stand against nothing.  I want to tell you something — that is a false dichotomy."  - Texas Senator Ted Cruz speaking @ the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in MD last week

click on graph to enlarge
I love it when the questions & comments proceed the post – in this case "Hi Doug - Did you watch the CPAC speeches?  Who impressed you?  They all hammered ObamaCare but all failed to offer an alternative.  That will hurt them down the road" was a message I received from a long time reader of RTE.
Let's start with a breakdown of the CPAC attendees:  there were 2,459 attendees in 2014 @ the conference compared to 3,742 as recently as 2011 – not a good sign for people who identify as conservatives, 42% were students with 46% aged 18 to 25, 78% were interested in reducing the deficit through spending cuts only, 52% believe it is time for our European, Asian, & other allies to provide for their own defense, 78% opposed the NSA's data collection, & 41% believe that marijuana should be legalized for recreational & medical use & taxed.
With this profile of attendees it is no wonder that KY Senator Rand Paul won the CPAC straw poll by an even larger margin than he did in 2013. 
Although the total number of attendees is down @ the latest CPAC meeting the number of young people represented @ the conference is demographically top heavy compared to the entire U.S. population. About half of Millennials— people between the ages of 18 and 32 with no chronological end point yet set for this age group (the key characteristic is that a millennial was first eligible to vote in 2000 or later) — do not identify with political parties & this is very good on the surface.  Fifty percent of Millennials claim to be Independents but actually vote overwhelmingly Democrat – just look @ the above graph.  Millennials today are still the only generation in which liberals are not significantly outnumbered by conservatives – another bad sign.  My own observation is that people who claim to be Independents, regardless of their age, really lean one way or the other & most are really Democrats – what would you expect from young people just leaving college who claim to be Independents?
As the above pre-post comment noted "they all hammered ObamaCare but all failed to offer an alternative."  The problems with ObamaCare will be the central focus of Republicans going toward the 2014 midterms & most of them feel presenting an alternative could be dangerous politically for them – i.e., the hell with you & the country.  Judge for yourself how safe or foolproof this Republican strategy is regarding winning the controlling majority of November elections when you consider that the Democrats will continue to counter with the income inequality & class warfare themes that have proven very effective for quite some time.  For instance the Democrat theme of raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour is supported by 81% of Democrats & 58% of all voters while only 47% of all voters support repealing ObamaCare.  Source WSJ/NBC News Poll March 5 to 9.
Our first guidepost is the results of Florida's special election on Tuesday where Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink by less than 3,500 votes – a very underwhelming victory in a district where a late Republican incumbent (who won by over 50,000 votes & 57.6% of the total in 2012) held the seat for 43 years before his death in October.  Jolly was the former general council for the deceased long time representative.  Jolly blasted Sink for her support of ObamaCare all the way to a less than two point victory.  Hardly a victory that would make me confident of Republican prospects in other mid-term contests.
It is safe to conclude that ObamaCare hurt the Democrat somewhat in that it motivated Republicans to the polls for this 40% turnout special election.  The aforementioned poll showed that respondents were just as likely to back a Democrat who wanted to keep ObamaCare & fix it as they are to back a Republican who wants to repeal it – the full effect of ObamaCare has not been felt & BO's politically motivated delays make people unaware of what's coming their way.  The safest bet is that BO has already started to plan how to counter the result of the special election.  The following graphs make the point to me that Republicans have very little room for error between now & November. 
click on graphs to enlarge
Tea Partiers should not fall for the Democrat line "ObamaCare is our plan so what is yours" as if they need to produce a plan that is centered on government involvement – you automatically lose if you fall for this trap, it is just a matter of how badly.  The Tea Party plan in all concerns is one of limited government, self responsibility, & free enterprise whether it is healthcare insurance or any other issue.  Click on The Solution To America's Healthcare Problems if you want a plan.
But back to CPAC – there were many excellent presentations this year including Sarah Palin's, Jim DeMint's, & Tim Scott's.  TX Governor Rick Perry got high marks.  I met Governor Perry in 2012 & he is authentic in listening & learning.  I rated him head & shoulders over Romney & Santorum who I also met in 2012.
In 2004 I told the very first Republican reader of RTE that he better enjoy Bush winning the presidency because Republicans would never win another national election again "if Democrats ever get organized" & that was before any of us knew what a community organizer did.  We are so badly outnumbered that one former solid red state or district after another turns blue just like we saw in Florida's special election district described above – a former solid Republican district (43 years worth) has been turned competitive by statist newcomers moving in.  Do you know of one blue state that has turned red by conservatives moving in?  Texas is the statists' ultimate prize & if they win that it spells curtains for the Republic as a capitalistic system.
With this backdrop I believe that Mike Huckabee was the only speaker @ CPAC last week that has a chance to win the presidency against MO, Hillary, or whomever the Dems put up.  I worked for Governor Huckabee in 2008 when he was one of the last four presidential candidates standing.  Unlike Dole, McCain, Bush, or Romney he can talk & this by itself will throw the Democrats off.
Click here to hear Governor Huckabee's CPAC speech where he talked about the free exercise of religion exactly as it was described in the last RTE post, honoring veterans in a very special prioritized way, family, hammering Hillary on Benghazi, standing up for Israel, & building a strong military.  He also called for abolishing the IRS by enacting the FairTax, continuing high risk healthcare pools to service catastrophic medical emergencies like described in the above referenced healthcare plan, & explaining correctly that the Second Amendment was written into the Bill Of Rights so that the citizenry would have a constitutional means of protection against an oppressive government.
Now as interesting as these issues are to most readers of this blog they still are only the A to Y reasons why a Republican can't win a national election when the principles of Death Of Democracy are the dominant issue & real opponent – i.e., government dependent people are not interested in any of this because their sole issue is handouts & candidates who will promise them more handouts.  In the words of H.L. Mencken it boils down to "those who work for a living & those who vote for a living."  A sixty year old who dropped out of the labor force after being unemployed for three years is not thinking about Benghazi Libya or the benefits of a new tax system.  This is part of the dependent state Democrats have put Americans in – their thoughts are back to basic instincts like food instead of increasing the standard of living or improving the economy.
Complete the alphabet with Z is for the zero chance any national Republican has unless he can reach out to Romney's 47% of the people who will vote for MO, Hillary, or other Dem no matter what – this 47% are dependent on government, believe they are victims entitled to government handouts, & pay no income tax. 
Reaching a few percent of these people @ a time is the start to a new mindset & return to excellence for America.  I believe that Huckabee has the demeanor & style to best reach these people – Mitt didn't try even after correctly identifying them.  Huckabee also endorses the FairTax which gives the entire country a fresh start.  All of the others balk to one degree or another in supporting the FairTax.
When Democrats start with 47% of the population on their side & the assured electoral votes of California & the rest of the northwest, New York & the rest of the northeast, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, & Delaware the Republican opposition better come close to running the rest of the table to have any chance @ all.  Couple this electoral slant with the fact that 54% of the electorate was women in 2012 – a duplication of this statistic in 2016 makes matters all the more impossible.  Twice in the last six presidential elections that ended in 2008 the voting age population exceeded the actual number of voters by over 100-million people (in 2008 it was 75-million people) – source author Andy Andrews.  The 60% of the voting age population who votes in presidential elections tilts Democrat to begin with but BO has an additional advantage in that he has a larger target in trying to pick off more of the aforementioned 75-million non voters – this group would certainly overwhelmingly favor Democrats if they could be organized which of course is BO's specialty. 
Many of the older Millennials form a special portion of Mitt's 47% in that they have wasted the first quarter of their wealth creating years & have neither nothing to show for it or any promise of a better prospect.  At least people in their 50s & 60s who have been bludgeoned by BO have a lifetime of wealth to spend down even @ a lower standard of living than they were used to. 
Megyn Kelly ran a special on FNC in November which featured the problems of many Millennials & their parents – in summary, student loans to repay & no quality jobs.  There were people on Megyn's panel who were 29 & 31 years old who had not used their education @ all in earning a living & they were sticking with Democrats in general & BO in particular.  These people are the ones a Republican presidential candidate has to reach for starters.
But there is a lot to undo & every day the current mindset gets more entrenched.
Now that you know all of this what do you do with it?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Veto Of Arizona Bill SB 1062 & The Constitution Of The United States

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." – Free Exercise Of Religion Claus of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
"No state shall...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." – Equal Protection Claus of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
"Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is non-discrimination." – part of a statement from Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer in late February after vetoing SB 1062, a two page bill passed by a Republican controlled state legislature that opponents of the bill claimed would have allowed owners of businesses the right to deny service to homosexual customers on religious grounds.
Just when Democrats thought they were safe "making a political living" out of the Constitution's Commerce Claus & Equal Protection Claus cited above as the only parts of the Constitution that mattered or they needed or intended to follow along comes another case in Arizona to challenge this simplistic view.
Despite the Founders obvious intentions to the contrary Democrats have for decades interpreted the Commerce Claus to mean that politicians could, would, & should regulate commerce – not promote it - to the point of no sense.  The Equal Protection Claus has been used to cover political & social issues that benefit the poorest, most unskilled, & least educated people that could be stirred up to vote Democrat.  This is so detestable I can't even say it is a nice try.
The Commerce Claus is mentioned only for illustrative purposes – this post pertains to the religious freedoms of the First Amendment & how the Equal Protection Claus can be used to mix things up so badly that homosexual marriage is considered covered in every & any context by the Equal Protection Claus.
In the referenced case SB 1062 was an Arizona bill to amend an existing law – the 15 year old Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was modeled after federal legislation passed in the 1990s under Clinton - pertaining to the free exercise of religion.  Opponents of the bill found much to dislike in this politically correct country including discrimination of homosexuals.  Although the bill itself does not contain any reference whatsoever to homosexuals opponents interpreted it to allow owners of small businesses to refuse service to homosexuals on religious grounds.  Read the entire two page bill to see for yourself.
Governor Brewer's statement above pits the two sides in contention – religious liberty versus non-discrimination.
Opponents carried their examples as far as bringing up the specter of the restoration of Jim Crow law principles applied to homosexuals such as separate but equal status pertaining to public schools, public places, and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains.  All this from a two page bill that did not mention homosexuals.
Other opponents of the bill were concerned about the bill harming the Arizona economy and that it could lead to discrimination lawsuits & boycotts.  Apple, American and Delta airlines, Marriot Hotels, Intel, PetSmart, Yelp, The Coca-Cola Company, IHG, Major League Baseball, & the Super Bowl host committee were all opposed to the bill.
Politicians ran from the bill including three Arizona legislators who voted for its passage & were later pressured to encourage & endorse Brewer's veto.  So too Senators McCain & Flake called for the bill's veto.
So we see that all of the concerns of the bill's opposition focused on political correctness & not hurting the Arizona economy.  But there was no concern regarding the protection of religious rights of owners of businesses who have been forced against their religious beliefs to take photos, arrange flowers, or provide wedding cakes for homosexual weddings.  (In NJ, under similar legislation, the Mayor of Somerville had to give up conducting marriage ceremonies because his religious beliefs opposed homosexual marriage – did he have no choice but to give up his marriage authority?  His ceremony was as beautiful as any I have personally ever seen.)
After being subjected to ObamaCare we don't have to wonder if the government can compel a Jewish baker to deliver a wedding cake on a Saturday.
Many readers are familiar with the Star Transport incident of the Morton Illinois trucking company being sued by BO's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after Star fired two Muslim employees who refused to deliver alcohol in their trucks even after signing a contract. The EEOC came down on the company and said they had failed to accommodate the religious beliefs of the two Muslim employees.  Neither BO nor the EEOC has expressed similar concern regarding the photographer, florist, or baker mentioned above.
Now a reasonable person would ask why would Muslims sign a contract to deliver alcohol if they considered it against their religion or why would homosexuals getting married not obtain the services of a photographer, florist, or baker who had no religious objections to provide their services?  In the examples cited in the news media why did the homosexual couples report the photographer, florist, & baker to the authorities for disciplining?  When you ask these questions the answers become obvious.
But what is missing in all of the concerns about the Arizona economy & securing the Super Bowl for the state is the question I have not heard asked by opponents or supporters of the bill.  What does the Constitution say about this matter?
Take as a given that the Equal Protection Claus ensures everyone with equal protection of the laws - so if you stop with just this general point with no further detail you can conclude that the photographer, florist, & baker who would not provide their services @ homosexual weddings were not in accordance with non-discrimination laws.  But this position shows how badly our marvelous Constitution is ignored when you look a little deeper.
The non-discrimination laws are statutes written by the Peoples' agents – acts proceeding from the legislative body - while the Free Exercise Of Religion Claus of the First Amendment proceeds directly from We the People of the United States who ordained & established the Constitution & as such is superior to the statutes.  Both the non-discrimination statutes & the Free Exercise Of Religion Claus of the First Amendment are laws that come under the Equal Protection Claus & accordingly clearly shows that the religious freedom that has been denied in any of the above examples is in violation of the Constitution that so many of the opponents of SB 1062 swore to support. 
Just one more thing to add to the list as our entire way of life is being taken from us little by little without a whimper.
In spite of all the above, the potential for fireworks comes when Muslim photographers, florists, or bakers refuse to provide their services @ homosexual weddings.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Protecting Against Credit Card Fraud & Identity Theft

Thanks to a long time reader of RTE for sending a version of free advice that started circulating on the internet in January 2002 regarding how to protect against credit card fraud & identity theft.  I posted two of the versions – one in 2006 & the other in 2007.
All of these messages contain common sense prudent steps to take to avoid fraud being committed against you.  In this post I combine the best points below from all of the versions I am aware of including some points from the 2007 post regarding medical ID theft – none of the other internet versions included this because it was presented by a member of the e-mail club that preceded RTE. 
With regard to the points in the write up about making copies of the contents of your wallet – this list has to be safeguarded just like your wallet.  Although it is important especially if you are miles from home to have this information handy another problem can arise if this list is itself stolen – think ahead to determine what to do in that event.
Over the years I have followed some of the points from the previous versions & give myself a passing grade although not an "A".  I am going to make a real effort to do all of them - not just some.  In this case I know I will because Carol told me she will organize the information so we have it if we ever need it – heaven forbid.
Medical ID Theft
As these reports indicate the first thing most people do when their wallet is lost or stolen is to call their credit card companies.  But if health-care ID or pharmacy cards are among the missing items, you should also alert your medical insurer.  Medical ID theft is on the rise with @ least half a million people affected.  The WSJ documents one man who racked up $144,000 in medical bills in five hospitals before he was caught as a medical ID thief. 
But even a bigger problem than erroneous bills is that victims of medical ID theft can receive the wrong medical treatment based on fraudulent information in their medical record - e.g., you are allergic to penicillin & the imposter wasn't.  In addition, medical ID theft can cause victims to fail pre-employment medical exams or become uninsurable (before ObamaCare).
At a broader level, healthcare fraud leads to higher insurance premiums, higher taxes, & higher co-payments.
Credit Card Fraud & Identity Theft
1.  Do not sign the back of your credit cards.  Instead, put 'PHOTO ID REQUIRED.'
2.  When writing checks to pay your credit card accounts, do not put any information on the memo field of the check including the last four numbers of your account.  The pre-printed slip you detach & return with your check is all the credit card company needs to credit your account.  Anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to any account information that could cause you trouble.
3.  Do not print your work phone # or your home # on your checks – if a telephone # is ever required for a particular transaction you can write it on the check for that particular instance.  If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address on the checks.  If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address.  Never have your SS# printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary.  But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.
4.  When you check out of a hotel that uses cards for keys (and they all seem to do that now), do not turn the "keys" in.  Take them with you and destroy them. Those little cards have on them all of the information you gave the hotel, including address and credit card numbers and expiration dates. Someone with a card reader, or employee of the hotel, can access all that information with no problem whatsoever.  I heard this tip on the Neal Boortz radio program several years ago & have followed it ever since.
4.  Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine.  Copy both sides of each license, credit card, etc.  You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel.  Keep the photocopy in a safe place & take it with you when you travel.  Losing your wallet while away from home could be trouble that leaves you helpless.
Some people also carry a photocopy of their passport when they travel either here or abroad.  We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in stealing a name, address, Social Security number, or credit cards.  In case your luggage is lost, take another list in your carryon bag, especially if you are abroad and need immediate access to those numbers.
Thieves work quickly.  Examples include ordering an expensive monthly cell phone package, applying for a VISA credit card, having a credit line approved to buy a computer, receiving a PIN number from DMV to change the owner's driving record information online, applying for credit over the Internet in your name, & more.
But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:
5.  We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately.  But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call.  Keep those where you can find them.
6.  File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc, were stolen.  This proves to credit providers you were diligent, & this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
But here's what is perhaps most important of all: (many people never even think to do this.)
7.  Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency.  The fraud alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.  This step looms large in stopping many criminals.
Here are the numbers you always need to contact if your wallet has been stolen:
1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
3.) Trans Union: 1-800-680 7289 1-800-680 7289
4.) Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – 1-877-438-4338
This post gives you a good start – use it as you see fit for your particular situation. To learn more click here to read a Snopes report which in turn contains additional helpful links.