Monday, March 29, 2010

Revolution Now! Or at least in November...

Now that ObamaCare has been signed into law, Americans are wondering what they can do or where they can turn to find a roadmap out of this imperial quagmire Washington has foisted upon us. I would suggest picking up a copy of the Declaration of Independence. While the Declaration is not the document upon which our Republic is built, it provided the clarion call for our first revolution and it can do the same now for a second. Its second paragraph states:

Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these American citizens; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter our current government. If Americans have experienced anything over the last 60 years, it has been “a long train of abuses and usurpations.” All one must do is look at your daily life and it becomes clear that Americans have lost their freedom. Stop and really think about it… is there a single activity you participate in over the course of a day that does not have government involved in our lives? Do you ever eat? FDA. Do you ever talk on a cell phone or listen to the radio or watch TV? FCC. Do you have a job? OSHA, NLRB. Do you drive a car, use hair spray, breath? EPA. Do you have a kid in school or are you paying back a student loan? Department of Education. Do you have a credit card or even a bank account? FDIC and the Fed. The list goes on, not the least of which is with the IRS, who will now have 16,000 new officers to enforce ObamaCare.

I doubt if our founding fathers would recognize America today. Not because of the cell phones or televisions or computers, but rather because Americans are no longer free to enjoy those unalienable rights Jefferson wrote about.

While ObamaCare may be the most egregious usurpation of power by the imperial federal government, it is far from unique. For sixty years Americans have been making little Faustian bargains exchanging a bit more liberty for a bit more security. As Ben Franklin suggested, eventually we'll have nothing left of either. Yesterday it was retirement and income. Today it’s healthcare. Tomorrow it will be shelter. The next day it will be jobs. The following day food and drink. Once the government dictates the kind of healthcare you can get, where you live, the kind of job you can have and what you can eat, where can we expect to exercise our liberty? Second Life or FarmTown?

Don’t think it can happen? Don’t be so sure. I’ll bet if we could ask James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, if he thought his Constitution would give the government the right to take 45% of your income, decide what medical procedures your doctor can use to keep you alive, spend your money on exhibits featuring Christ floating in urine or Mary covered in elephant feces, my guess is he would say no. Liberty rarely disappears overnight.

If ObamaCare has a silver lining, it is this. It may spark a revolution. As Jefferson wrote, men will suffer abuses until they become unsustainable. American citizens and taxpayers have suffered at the hands of the imperial federal government for far too long. Smothering taxes, ubiquitous regulations and now, mandates on personal spending. Who knows what’s next? Americans may be deferential towards government, but they are not yet eunuchs. With the Constitution in tatters and our liberty gone, what will be left to defend? Fairness? “Spreading the wealth around?” Diversity? Social justice? I don’t think those ideas would have sparked a revolution in 1776, but they may do so in 2010.

Am I advocating revolution? Absolutely! Am I advocating violent revolution? Absolutely not! Unlike our forefathers, we have in our hands the instrument of our own salvation, the ballot box. We simply need to use it. We could throw out 100% of the House and 33% of the Senate in one day, with not a drop of blood shed.

A revolution at the ballot box is the only way to step back from this precipice. Vote for candidates who support repealing ObamaCare, cutting taxes, slashing government spending and getting the government out of the redistribution of wealth business. Only then, when government is put back in the Constitutional cage our founding fathers so carefully crafted for it, can Americans truly reengage our birthright of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A call to arms... or at least a call to the phone!

Tomorrow Congress is slated to take what will be the single most important vote that has occurred in your lifetime… Or at least since December 8th of 1941.

Barack Obama is a modern day Julius Caesar and ObamaCare is his Rubicon. Just as Caesar’s crossing of the fabled river foretold the end of the Roman republic, Barack Obama’s the passage of ObamaCare signals the eventual collapse of the American republic. That probably sounds like hyperbole… It’s not.

ObamaCare alone will not crush what’s left of the American spirit. Its passage however will signal exactly where America will be heading. The United States has been on a march towards a socialist paradise for much of the last 80 years. With ObamaCare we may finally find ourselves there, and if history is any guide, it will be far from paradise.

It will not happen in one fell swoop, where the day after it passes Americans are magically transformed into mind numbed robots. Rather, the day after ObamaCare is signed into law, it will mean that the Constitution of the United States has ceased to be the law of the land and that henceforth we are a nation of men rather than a nation of laws.

The problem here is fairly simple, and was captured perfectly by a newly installed President Gerald Ford in his first address to Congress: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.” With ObamaCare there is nothing else left to argue. If healthcare is a right, then food must be a right; a home must be a right; a job must be a right; education must be a right; furnishings within said home must be a right; fuel to heat said home in the winter must be a right; electricity to cool said home in the summer must be a right; a computer to create a resume must be a right; a cell phone where a prospective boss can contact you must be a right; transportation to the job must be a right… There is no logical end.

Not only will you not find these rights in the Constitution, but you will not find them in any of the “penumbras” surrounding the Bill of Rights as suggested by Justice William O. Douglas in Griswald v. Connecticut. Every right in the Constitution is a right of freedom or liberty. Freedom of Speech. Freedom of Religion. Right to Bear Arms. Right to a Grand Jury or the freedom from compelled self incrimination. None of these or any other rights requires the government to take from one citizen to provide them to another. Even in 1963’s Gideon v. Wainwright, the case that stated that the government must provide counsel for defendant’s unable to afford such, it was for the use in cases where defendants were in jeopardy of the government taking away one or more of those fundamental, explicit rights, up to and including their very lives. Nor does the power come from the “Welfare Clause” of the constitution. James Madison, the Father of the Constitution said: “With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

Equally important as the forging of entitlements into rights, is the explicit acquiescence of the notion that the government has the right to explicitly control the economy. While a government can never be fully disconnected from its economy, for much of our history government exercised fairly little control over the private sector. With Teddy Roosevelt and later the 16th Amendment (Income Tax) that began to change so that today there are few areas of our lives where there is not some government intervention. Think about it, how many times the federal government touches your life every day. Do you ever eat? FDA. Do you ever talk on a cell phone or listen to the radio or watch TV? FCC. Do you have a job? OSHA, NLRB. Do you drive a car, use hair spray, breath? EPA. Do you have a kid in school or are you paying back a student loan? Department of Education. Do you have a credit card or even a bank account? FDIC or the Fed. And then of course don’t forget about our friends at the IRS. With Barack Obama and the Democrats, what was left of the Chinese wall that separated regulation and control will simply evaporate. Given what has occurred with General Motors, AIG and the plethora of TARP banks that should not be much of a surprise. Explicitly in the ObamaCare bill they explicitly take over the student loan market. What is next? Will they build our houses, grow our food, and raise our children?

While the government does not yet control our lives from cradle to grave, we’ve been slowly moving in that direction for much of the last 60 years. With ObamaCare even the sheen of liberty will soon be gone. Nancy Pelosi said as much last week when she stated that Democrats were going to “Kick open that door, and there will be other legislation to follow.” If the machinations, legislative gymnastics and coercive tactics we’ve watched over the last couple of months prove one thing, it is that the Democrats in Washington will do whatever it takes to fundamentally transform the United States into their socialist utopia.

The world will not end on Monday if ObamaCare passes. The sun will still come up, the birds will still chirp and the leaves on the trees will still bristle in the spring breeze. The world will have changed however in that the freedoms our founding fathers enshrined in our Constitution and millions of soldiers fought and died to protect, will be on their last legs. The United States has done more for the advance of the human condition than any nation in the history of the world, and that is due to the combination of its Constitutional rule of law and free market principals. In one fell swoop ObamaCare is eviscerating the foundations of both.

It’s not a done deal quite yet however… There is still a glimmer of hope. If this e-mail has touched you and you would like to try and do something, I would like to encourage you to visit and call the congressmen who are either on the fence or have stated that they are going to vote for ObamaCare. If you live in their district you can tell them that you will vote against them. If you do not live in their districts you can promise that you are going to contribute to their opponent’s campaign.

While there is no guarantee of what the outcome is, I know what is at stake and I’m going to do everything I can to help save this Republic.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Who are you going to believe? Us or your lying eyes?

You’ve probably seen the cartoon where a woman comes home and finds her husband in bed with another woman? The man looks up and says “No, I’m not cheating!” and follows that up with his favorite Groucho Marx line: “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?” That is exactly what America is facing today with the Democrats and ObamaCare. They think that we should believe them rather than our own eyes.

The first example is their claim that this travesty will cut the deficit. They are right. It will… assuming of course you discount the fact that the claimed savings from separate Medicare cuts will never come to fruition. Ignoring that, how do they accomplish the Herculean task of saving money? By taxing us for ten years but only providing benefits for six. I have to imagine that if you were to ask your boss, “Hey boss, can I go on a schedule where I only work for 6 days but you pay me for 10?” the answer would be “Hell no!” Nor can I can’t imagine someone walking into a car dealership and saying “Hi, I’d like to start paying you for a car today but not start driving it until 2014.”

It must boggle the minds of the Axis of Audacity trio that we might actually know how to count, regardless of how many times they tell us 2 + 2 = 5. Not that that should be much of a surprise to anyone given that Democrats think Americans are too stupid to know how to do much of anything: Blacks can’t figure out who to vote for, New Yorkers can’t decide what foods to eat and people in Washington State can’t understand what the word poor means.

As if the underlying lie about the cost of their bill was not enough, now Obama, Reid and Pelosi are trying to pass it by telling Americans that we don’t understand how to read our own Constitution. This is the Democratic three-card-monty play:

1. Take the ObamaCare bill passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve.
2. Write a companion bill made up of all the changes that are necessary to convince a sufficient number of Democrats to sign on to the bill.
3. Put the two bills in one folder.
4. Have the House vote on the folder.
5. Open the folder.
6. Take the Senate’s ObamaCare bill out of the folder, declare it passed and send it to the President for his signature.
7. Take out the companion bill and send it to the Senate for debate and possible passage.
8. Implement ObamaCare and put another nail in the coffin of American liberty.

The name of this travesty is the Slaughter Solution. It is more like the Slaughter of the US Constitution. Audacity does not begin to properly characterize despicable nature of this act. Sticking with the auto metaphor, this is the equivalent of walking into an auto dealer’s showroom and seeing a new car sitting on blocks without wheels or an engine. The salesman tells you they are putting in a bigger engine and mounting some cutting edge tires. You agree to purchase the car on the condition that the wheels and the engine are in place. You return the next day to discover that his manager has agreed to allow you to purchase the car but has ripped out and will not honor the addendum dealing with the wheels and the engine. Nonetheless you’re the proud owner of a brand new car.

That scenario doesn’t make sense in the showroom and doesn’t make any more sense in Washington. A forth grader reading the Constitution would recognize that the Slaughter Solution doesn’t make the grade. “Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall before it becomes Law, be presented to the President of the United States;” This is something of a Congressional back door version of the Line Item Veto, which the Supreme Court struck down in 1998 in Clinton v. City of New York, stating a bill containing the "exact text" must be approved by one house; the other house must approve "precisely the same text."

If the Slaughter Solution were to succeed, it would signal the end of our constitutional republic and the beginning of the United States of Pork. Taken to its logical conclusion, essentially what would happen would be that any bill coming before either house could and would be loaded with myriad amendments (read pork). In conference the two bills would then be split into dozens or hundreds of smaller bills wherever there was overlap. The agreed upon parts would simply be considered passed and sent to the President’s desk without ever having to be voted on individually. Washington would become a pork and tax machine with even less accountability than it has now.

ObamaCare on its own is an insult to the intelligence of the American people. Add to it the unconscionable and unconstitutional machinations of the Democrats and you get the idea that America’s best days may well be behind her. I know it looks bad, but I’m not willing to throw in the towel just quite yet.

Monday, March 8, 2010

An American Greek Tragedy

Wouldn’t life be grand if it could show you exactly what your future was before you lived it, thereby giving you the opportunity to make adjustments before that reality played itself out? Imagine what you could do. You could turn Vegas into your own private ATM. You could learn all the answers to the questions on Jeopardy – is that show still on the air? If you were Eliot Spitzer you could have chosen to pay in cash rather than by money order…

Unfortunately life doesn’t typically do that. But sometimes we can get the next best thing. See what is happening to someone else and decide if we want to go down their path and share their fate.

Such is America’s situation today. Life has opened up a little window and shown us exactly what lay ahead in our future if we continue down our current path. In that magic window showing our future you will see Greece, the wellspring from which Democracy first flowed.

Today Greece is the basket case of the European Union. Its economy is anemic, it’s forced to pay twice the market rate to sell its bonds and unions are striking across the country. Earlier this year financial markets around the world (and the Euro) took a dive due to the concern that some sovereign states would not be able to repay their debt; Greece was at the top of the list. The country is an economic disaster. Its budget deficit is 12.7% of its GDP. It has a national debt of $395 Billion, which might sound pretty good compared to the US, but it represents about 120% of GDP. A quarter of the population works for the state. The government share of the economy is 52% and the remaining 48% is so rife with corruption and red tape that it’s becoming almost impossible to open a new business or to keep one operating. As if all of that were not bad enough, in the midst of the world’s lending crisis, it must refinance $75 Billion of its debt within the next 12 months.

On the positive side of the ledger for Greeks, they get 14 months of salary for 12 months of work and they get to retire in their late fifties. Oh, and they get to live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

While Greece is ostensibly a free market economy, in reality there is little freedom to be found. In the CATO Institute’s 2009 Economic Freedom of the World it came in 52 out of 141 countries, coming in just below Zambia, Botswana and the home of the fictional but funny Borat, Kazakhstan.

Fundamentally the problem in Greece is that the taxes are too high – which has driven 1/3 of the economy into the untaxed black market – state benefits are too generous and the government involvement in the economy is strangling what little private sector remains. Does any of that sound familiar?

In order to secure guarantees of assistance from the economic grown ups in the EU, Greece has had to begin to cut back benefits and services and raise taxes even more. The not surprising result has been paralyzing strikes across the country where unions are shutting down schools, airports and hospitals. The country is now between a rock and a hard place: Continued profligate spending (in which case they might be kicked out of the Euro zone) or implementing the austerity measures required to bring the fiscal deficit down to 3% from its current 12.7%. In either case the prospects do not look good. In a country where political stability is not exactly a time honored tradition, the ramifications from either path are likely heavily weighted with chaos and widespread civil unrest.

Today, in the very place from which Democracy emerged, we are seeing the ugly head of the medusa it can morph into when it becomes unchecked and unhinged:

  •  A government that promises voters the world assuming that the money to pay for those benefits will magically appear later.

  •  A government apparatus that grows and metastasizes until it overwhelms the ability of a free market to exist – something of a problem when the state is counting on the taxes from that free market to provide the benefits it has promised.

  •  A population that feels entitled to anything and everything they want and that someone else has to pay for it.

  •  Public sector unions, bolstered by the fact that the government controls much of the economy, that have the power and willingness to bring the country to their economic knees if their demands are not met.

This piece would retain most of its accuracy if you replaced every instance of the word Greece with the United States. This is indeed one of those rare moments in life where we get to see our future flash before us before it actually happens. As we watch the cradle of Democracy spin out of control and potentially become a failed state, a banana republic on the front steps of the European Union, we should keep in mind that this problem did not occur overnight and was the result of a citizenry demanding ever increasing handouts and Pollyanna politicians who could never summon up the courage to say no.

Like Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, we’ve been shown the Ghost of America Yet to Come. The question is, are we content to continue down this road so that the United States becomes just another failed state with an untended headstone in the graveyard of once great civilizations or are we going to leap from our beds, rip from their hinges the red rose colored windows of Progressivism that have been choking off the sun’s light and proclaim to the citizens of the world that we have decided to change our ways and that freedom and economic liberty will once again become the hallmarks of the American Experience. If we do, not only may Tiny Tim find a bounty on the table on Christmas morning, but eventually some inventor, entrepreneur or doctor operating in the free market may figure out a way to give him back the gift of his health so that he may be saying “God bless us, every one!” for many Christmases to come.