Eliminating A Tax Break That Only Benefits The Rich

The class warfare that surrounds tax reform is bothersome. It’s not constructive and most of the information is false. The reason some tax cuts appear to benefit the rich is that the rich pay 80 percent of the taxes. They are the ones who need tax breaks. However, there is one tax break that generally impacts the rich that may disappear if the tax code is truly reformed.

Yesterday The Daily Signal posted an article about the elimination of the deduction for state and local taxes. The article explains how this deduction impacts the residents of California:

Yes, California has high state income taxes. For instance, the rate for millionaires is 13.3 percent. It’s not insanely lower for the middle class, either: A married couple making $103,000 or more would pay a 9.3 percent rate, and while $103,000 might go far in plenty of areas in the United States, California’s outrageously high housing prices ensure that such a couple wouldn’t have an easy time paying all the bills.

But those Hollywood liberals raking in the big bucks and paying the 13.3 percent rate? Well, they’re not actually paying the 13.3 percent rate, thanks to our current U.S. tax code, which allows deduction for state and local taxes.

Let me explain. Currently, if anyone files taxes with itemized deductions, he can deduct his state and local taxes. In other words, if Joe Random makes $250,000 a year, and pays $26,000 in state and local taxes, and then donates an additional $14,000 to charity annually, he could deduct $40,000 from his salary—and pay federal taxes on only $210,000.

This deduction has big benefits for wealthy Californians. According to The Heritage Foundation’s research, that deduction means the effective tax rate for rich lefties in the Golden State is 8 percent, not 13.3 percent.

Essentially the rest of the country is subsidizing California’s high tax burden.

The article further reports:

Furthermore, for individuals pulling in over $200,000 a year, the average benefit of the state and local tax deduction is $6,296, according to Heritage research. For those making in the range of $40,000 to $50,000, that benefit shrinks to $134.

And it’s not just California whose blue-state government is currently raking in the perks thanks to the tax code.

“Just seven states receive 53 percent of the value of the state and local tax deduction: California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Connecticut,” write Rachel Greszler, Kevin D. Dayaratna, and Michael Sargent in their upcoming report for The Heritage Foundation.

Why should Americans from red states and lower-tax blue states be subsidizing other states? If states like California want to embrace big government, that’s fine—but they should also have to finance it themselves, not ask for a handout from the rest of the country.

Ending the deduction for state taxes would help make the income tax more equitable for everyone. There will be loud cries from the states it will impact, but it still needs to be done. Hopefully the Republicans will have the courage to do it.

Does The Truth Matter?

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an article about the reporting of the recent shooting in Fresno, California.

The article reports:

The Associated Press edited the words of a Muslim man who allegedly killed three white people in downtown Fresno Tuesday afternoon and shouted “Allahu Akbar!”

The suspect, 39-year-old Kori Ali Muhammad, holds fervent anti-Trump beliefs according to his social media profile, and he told police afterward that he hates white people.

Rather than reporting the gunman’s literal words, however, the AP reported the gunman as saying “God is great.”

If David Duke made a racist statement saying ‘n***s are inferior’, would the media report it as ‘white people are wonderful’? I don’t think so. Yet that is essentially what the Associated Press (AP) did. By translating the phrase into English, the report misleads the reader into believing that some sort of Christian fundamentalist with a grudge against President Trump killed these people. There is no way an ordinary person would interpret this as an act of domestic terrorism by a radical Muslim (which it was) from the AP report.

If Our Leaders Don’t Follow The Law, Why Should We?

On Sunday, Breitbart posted an article about California State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon.

The article reports:

California State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Léon (D-Los Angeles) said last Tuesday that “half his family” was in the country illegally, using false documents, and eligible for deportation under President Trump’s new executive order against “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

De Léon, who introduced the bill, made his remarks at a hearing in Sacramento on SB54, the bill to make California a “Sanctuary State.

…Testifying before the Senate Public Safety Committee, De Léon defended the widespread practice by illegal aliens of using fraudulent documents to work and obtain taxpayer-paid benefits, dismissing any concerns California citizens may have about being the target of identity theft.

In an interview the following day on KPCC 89.3’s Air Talk with Larry Mantle, De Léon expressed outrage that President Trump’s executive order would include those who possess fraudulent documents or committed identity theft to obtain a Social Security number.

“Someone simply who received or purchased a [fraudulent] Social Security card down at McArthur Park, or elsewhere in my district would be eligible immediately for mass deportation,” De Léon said (at 11:45 in the link above).

Senator De Leon was interviewed by Larry Mantle, a talk show host after making the above statements.

Senator De Leon further explained:

Host Larry Mantle asked him: “… First of all, I just — I want to make sure I understand correctly: You don’t think purchasing a phony Social Security card and number should be a deportable offense?”

De Léon replied: “I don’t think so … the vast majority of immigrants — hard working immigrants — have done that.  I can tell you I have family members specifically who came here as undocumented immigrants, and they did the same thing. That’s what you need to do to survive in this economy.”

Mantle objected: “But of course the problem is, — and I know people too — who’ve had their Social Security numbers and identities stolen as a result of that….”

De Léon minimized the problem, saying it was not the same as “Russian” hacking.

So it’s okay to steal someone’s Social Security number if you are here illegally. Wow. That is the leadership in the California legislature. Just wow.

 

 

Voter ID Would Solve This Problem

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial today about the charge by Donald Trump that non-citizens voted in the last presidential election.

The article lists a few examples:

  • Election officials in a Kansas discovered that about a dozen newly sworn citizens had already voted in multiple elections when they offered to register them in 2015.
  • An investigation into a 1996 California House race in which Loretta Sanchez defeated incumbent Rep. Bob Dornan found 624 invalid votes by noncitizens in a race where Sanchez won by fewer than 1,000 votes.
  • A September report from the Public Interest Legal Foundation found more than 1,000 noncitizens on Virginia‘s voter rolls, many of whom had cast votes in previous elections.
  • A district-court administrator estimated that up to 3% of the 30,000 people called for jury duty from voter-registration rolls over a two-year period were not U.S. citizens.

The article also quotes John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky, who have both tracked voter fraud extensively,. They made the following statement, “we don’t know how big of a problem voter fraud really is because no systematic effort has ever been made to investigate it.”

The only way to know how much of a problem voter fraud is would be to investigate it and to purge voter rolls of illegal or deceased voters.

I believe President Obama encouraged illegals to vote. Here are some quotes from an interview President Obama did with the Latin-oriented YouTube channel mitu, millennial actress Gina Rodriguez asked Obama:

“Many of the millennials, Dreamers, undocumented citizens – and I call them citizens because they contribute to this country – are fearful of voting. So if I vote, will Immigration know where I live? Will they come for my family and deport us?”

Obama responded: “Not true, and the reason is, first of all, when you vote, you are a citizen yourself. And there is not a situation where the voting rolls somehow are transferred over and people start investigating, etc. The sanctity of the vote is strictly confidential.”

The video of that interview can be found here.

 

 

Some Common Sense Regarding The Inauguration Of President Trump

Holly Robichaud posted a column in The Boston Herald yesterday about the Inauguration of President Donald Trump that will occur this Friday.

The column states:

Failing to comprehend the mood of the country, Democrats have been working feverishly to undermine Trump in every way possible. In doing so they are holding back our country and further sabotaging any chance for a political comeback in two years.

Their collective tone-deafness emphasizes how out of touch and how much they are dedicated to the status quo of big government. Voters have had enough of the Washington political gamesmanship. That’s why the outsider candidate won the White House.

…Not only do Democrats need to give Trump a honeymoon, but so do establishment Republicans. They need to put aside their damaged egos. Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham are trying to hijack foreign policy and Marco Rubio is offering up some political payback. Being frustrated that Trump did what none of them could — win the presidency — is not acceptable.

The people deserve at least a 100-day honeymoon with Trump. I urge the Republican establishment and Democrats to work with our new president to get things done. The status quo is over! It is Trump time.

The thing to remember about the election of Donald Trump is that with the exception of parts of California and New York, Donald Trump won the popular vote by a wide margin.

This is the popular vote if you exclude California:

Popular vote total outside California:
Trump: 58,474,401
Clinton: 57,064,530
_________________
Trump: + 1.4 million

We have some serious problems globally and within America right now. Donald Trump has won the right to put his policies in place to solve them. Let’s at least give him a chance.

The Next “To Big To Fail”

On December 23, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about the problem with public employee pension funds. These future pensions are generally unfunded liabilities that municipalities take on when negotiating with public employee unions. What generally happens is that employees are promised great pension benefits instead of instant raises. That way the municipality does not have to raise its immediate budget–it looks as if it is being fiscally sane, and it quietly kicks the can down the road. In most cases (if not all) no provision is made to pay for these future benefits. Well, there always is a place where the can is no longer kicked down the road because the road ended. California is nearing that place.

The article reports:

Last week, the 85-year-old California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, slashed its official investment forecast going forward, meaning that state and local governments, police and sheriffs departments, and even school districts will have to spend billions of dollars more to CalPERS to support their future retirees. And, no doubt, it will mean higher taxes for all.

Sadly, this move won’t be enough. For years, the state has projected steady investment returns of 7.5% for CalPERS, the largest pension fund in the nation. But returns have been below that. So now CalPERS is trimming its return to 7% per year. But, given the pension fund’s mismanagement and poor performance, even that may be too high. Today the fund is a little over 60% fully funded, meaning it will have to raise billions of dollars more to be solvent. That means higher contributions for government workers, and higher taxes for average citizens.

It’s no accident. “CalPERS has … steered billions of dollars into politically connected firms,” wrote Steve Malanga in City Journal, back in 2013. “And it has ventured into ‘socially responsible’ investment strategies, making bad bets that have lost hundreds of millions of dollars. Such dubious practices have piled up a crushing amount of pension debt, which California residents — and their children — will somehow have to repay.”

That’s happening now. California’s famous Highway Patrol, for instance, has grossly underfunded its pensions. So it got the state to agree to a $10 hike in car registration fees to help make up the shortfall. No doubt, it will be asking for more soon.

It’s not just California. Across the country, pension funds have been underfunded, mismanaged and in some cases looted by managers. Today, according to the Fed, pension funds across the country are $2 trillion in the red — after being overfunded as recently as the year 2000. That means tax hikes are coming, like it or not.

This is a nationwide problem. This is also not a new problem. In 2010 I posted an article about the shortfall in union pension money. The close connection between many local politicians and local union leaders is a major contributor to this problem.

The Investor’s Business Daily article concludes:

In a scathing, just-released report, the American Legislative Exchange details how “rather than investing to earn the best return for workers, (politicians and fund officials) use pension funds in a misguided attempt to boost their local economies, provide kickbacks to their political supporters, reward industries they like, punish those they don’t and bully corporations into silence and behaving as they see fit.”

It’s quite an indictment. It’s time for a national commission to look into the misconduct and mismanagement — which pose a clear danger to the financial system — and answer the scariest question of all: Have public employee pension funds become too big to fail?

We have just elected a businessman to the Presidency. Hopefully he will have the skill and the knowledge to deal with this upcoming disaster. What is happening in California will eventually impact the rest of the country.

Why We Need Financial Accountability In Washington

On Monday, The Los Angeles Times posted an article about the Pentagon‘s request that California members of the National Guard pay back their re-enlistment bonuses.

The article reports:

The California National Guard told the state’s members of Congress two years ago that the Pentagon was trying to claw back reenlistment bonuses from thousands of soldiers, and even offered a proposal to mitigate the problem, but Congress took no action, according to a senior National Guard official.

The official added that improper bonuses had been paid to National Guard members in every state, raising the possibility that many more soldiers may owe large debts to the Pentagon.

“This is a national issue and affects all states,” Andreas Mueller, the chief of federal policy for the California Guard, wrote in an email to the state’s congressional delegation Monday. Attention had focused on California because it was “the only state that audited” bonus payments at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he added.

In the email, Mueller reminded members of Congress that the Guard had informed them about the issue two years ago. Whether members of Congress understood the scope of the problem at the time is unclear.

Nothing like punishing the little people for the mistakes of the bureaucracy.

The article goes on to report the following:

Army Master Sgt. Toni Jaffe, the California Guard’s incentive manager, pleaded guilty in 2011 to filing false claims of $15.2 million and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Three officers also pleaded guilty to fraud and were put on probation after paying restitution.

This is a disgrace. Promises were made, and even if those promises were made in error, they still need to be kept. To ask the members of the National Guard, who generally don’t earn much to begin with, to pay back thousands of dollars because the bureaucracy made a mistake is simply wrong. I also wonder why the California Congressional delegation chose to be quiet about the matter for two years.

I Am Told That This Is Not A Joke

At the bottom of the article I am about to mention, the Associated Press copyright appears. The article is from KPIX in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am not making this up.

The article reports:

California’s Legislature has approved regulations on cow flatulence and manure – both blamed for releasing greenhouse gases.

The measure was approved shortly before the end of the legislative session Wednesday after its author, Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens, agreed to give dairy farms more time to comply.

In 2014, The Daily Caller reported:

As part of its plan to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the Obama administration is targeting the dairy industry to reduce methane emissions in their operations.

This comes despite falling methane emission levels across the economy since 1990.

The White House has proposed cutting methane emissions from the dairy industry by 25 percent by 2020. Although U.S. agriculture only accounts for about 9 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it makes up a sizeable portion of methane emissions — which is a very potent greenhouse gas.

Some of these methane emissions come from cow flatulence, exhaling and belching — other livestock animals release methane as well.

I suspect that there may be some wives out there reading this that want to find a way to apply this law to their husbands. Just sayin’.

The High Cost Of Solar Energy That Isn’t Solar Energy

On August 12, The Daily Signal posted an article about Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a taxpayer-subsidized solar power plant in California’s Mojave Desert. Most solar power plants (if not all) are taxpayer-subsidized, so that is not unusual. What is unusual is what the power plant has had to do to compensate for the desert weather conditions.

The article reports:

Ivanpah is different. It uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight for generating steam that then drives turbines. These turbines produce energy in a similar fashion to that of traditional coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plants.

However, Ivanpah has a problem those technologies don’t: intermittency. Meaning the sun doesn’t always shine.

For Ivanpah, this is an even bigger problem than it is for plants that use solar cells, because at night the temperature in the desert falls dramatically and the water cools down.

So, the water must be reheated the next morning before power production can resume. Instead of relying on the sun to reheat the water, the Ivanpah plant burns natural gas.

A true description of Ivanpah, then, is that it is a hybrid solar-natural gas power plant. The electricity is not entirely solar produced, yet it is sold at the higher prices regulators allow for solar power, a benefit worth millions of dollars per year to Ivanpah’s owners.

This is how the solar scam works:

That’s how Ivanpah hits the “bad policy” trifecta that is all too common in today’s heavily subsidized renewable energy markets:

Rich consortium gets huge subsidies from taxpayers to build a plant. Check.  Regulators OK a contract that forces consumers to pay four to five times the going rate for its product. Check. And the product actually is nowhere near as “green” as people thought it’d be. Check.

The inconvenient truth is that Ivanpah uses a lot of natural gas to generate “solar” electricity, and neither the California Energy Commission nor the U.S. Department of Energy seems to care enough to come clean about it.

I am not opposed to solar energy. What I am opposed to is government meddling in the free market to the point where healthy competition is prevented from developing a product to generate energy that would be clean, efficient, and cheap enough to use. Since the dawn of science, scientists have been looking for a perpetual motion machine, and I wonder if the search for green energy is going to have the same amount of success. There are laws of physics involved in generating energy that control the process regardless of what the government, the power companies, or the consumers may want. Those rules are not variable and play a major part in our success in creating renewable energy.

Losing The First Amendment

Since the 1960’s (and possibly before that) our schools have been undermining the moral fiber of America. It began with teaching young children ‘situational ethics’ and introducing the idea that there really is not right and wrong–everything simply depends on the circumstances. The sexual revolution of the 1060’s further undermined the moral fiber of our culture. Meanwhile, colleges went from signing out of the dorm to go on a date to co-ed dorms. Many of the college students of the late 60’s had their traditional moral values destroyed during their college years. They then had children of their own and raised them accordingly. Our public (and at times, private) education system is largely responsible for destroying the moral fiber of America. Now California wants to pass a law that will accelerate the process and take away one refuge for parents who still believe in traditional morality and are raising their children that way.

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about a new law being proposed by the California legislature.

The article explains:

California is considering a new bill that would remove a longstanding exemption from anti-discrimination lawsuits for religious colleges and universities.

The bill could potentially expose schools to civil rights lawsuits from students and employees, according to a report in the Associated Press.

Opponents of the bill, which include some schools, say it is an attack on religious liberty as the exemption allows them to craft campus policies in line with their faith. Religious institutions can currently assign housing through sex, and not on gender identity, and institute moral codes that include sexuality provisions.

How about creating a safe space for people who hold traditional values? A student does not have the right to attend any college he chooses–the college has the final say on who is admitted. By the same logic, if a parent or student does not like the social or moral policies or a college, they have the option of attending school somewhere else. The idea that a school has to bend to the will of a small minority that does not share its values and probably would not want to attend that school is somewhat illogical.

This is an infringement on the First Amendment rights of private schools and colleges. The problem occurs when these institutions accept federal or state money–‘free’ money always comes with strings attached.

The article reports:

Heads of religious colleges told the AP that the legislation would prevent them from signing an agreement with the schools to get state funding for low-income students.

The bill comes as red states have considered or approved laws that conservatives say strengthen religious freedoms. Supporters say such laws enable people to deny services that would violate religious beliefs, while opponents say they enable discrimination against LGBT individuals.

The proposed law illustrates two problems–first, the strings attached to any ‘free’ money, and second, the assault on those Americans who hold to traditional values. It is not my desire to discriminate in any way against members of the LGBT community, but in return, I expect them not to discriminate against my beliefs as well. The First Amendment says that the government cannot limit my freedom to practice my religion. The 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act was supposed to further insure that freedom. The fact that Congress thought it was necessary to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act actually tells us all we need to know about the current direction of America.

 

How Many Dead People Will Vote In November?

This is a story from May 2016, but it is very relevant to today’s events. On May 25, 2016, Townhall.com posted an article about voter fraud in Los Angeles. The story illustrates why voter identification laws are necessary.

The article reports:

A comparison of records by David Goldstein, investigative reporter for CBS2/KCAL9, has revealed hundreds of so-called dead voters in Southern California, a vast majority of them in Los Angeles County. “He took a lot of time choosing his candidates,” said Annette Givans of her father, John Cenkner. Cenkner died in Palmdale in 2003. Despite this, records show that he somehow voted from the grave in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010. But he’s not the only one. CBS2 compared millions of voting records from the California Secretary of State’s office with death records from the Social Security Administration and found hundreds of so-called dead voters. Specifically, 265 in Southern California and a vast majority of them, 215, in Los Angeles County alone. The numbers come from state records that show votes were cast in that person’s name after they died. In some cases, Goldstein discovered that they voted year after year.

This one local reporter, using this one method, uncovered hundreds of dead voters in just one small corner of the country — some of whom “voted year after year” after their deaths.

I wonder how many dead people will vote for Hillary Clinton.

What Happened To Equal Justice Under The Law?

Yesterday The Navy Times reposted a story from last July.

Here are the highlights of the story:

A federal attorney announced Wednesday that Bryan Nishimura of Folsom, California, pleaded guilty to the unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials.

Nishimura, deployed in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008 as a regional engineer, admitted to downloading classified briefings and digital records onto his personal electronic devices. He carried the materials off base and brought them back to the U.S. when his deployment ended.

An FBI search of Nishimura’s home turned up classified materials, but did not reveal evidence he intended to distribute them.

He was sentenced to two years of probation and a $7,500 fine, and was ordered to surrender his security clearance. He is barred from seeking a future security clearance.

Note that he is barred from seeking a future security clearance because of the way he handled classified materials. If the law were enforced equally, would a President Hillary Clinton be allowed to have a security clearance? Should candidate Hillary Clinton be allowed to handle classified information based on the statements by FBI Director James Comey? Does the law apply to everyone?

It’s Time To Elect People Who Have Read The U.S. Constitution

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an article quoting a letter written by nineteen California legislators to the state attorney general.

The article reports:

California congressmen wrote a letter to state attorney general Kamala Harris claiming the freedom of speech “is not designed to protect fraud and deceit” of the likes being spread by oil company ExxonMobil about global warming.

Nineteen Democratic lawmakers told Harris her “investigation as to whether ExxonMobil lied about the truth of climate change and misled investors does not constitute an effort to silence speech or scientific research.

“The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, but it does not protect companies from defrauding the American people or improperly disclosing information to their shareholders,” lawmakers, including California Reps. Maxine Waters and Ted Lieu, wrote to Harris.

So these legislators want the attorney general to decide which speech is protected. Evidently they believe that only some speech is protected by the First Amendment. I think I have heard this story before in Animal Farm where all animals were equal, but some animals were more equal than others.

I Guess Representative Joe Wilson Was Right

The Washington Examiner reported today that California will ask for a waiver to cover illegal aliens under ObamaCare.

A Politico article posted last July explains how this works:

The California bill wouldn’t immediately open the state’s exchange to undocumented immigrants, who are primarily Latino. Instead, it would direct California to seek permission from the federal Department of Health and Human Services through an Obamacare waiver program that allows states to shape their own health care reforms.

However, the administration hasn’t spelled out the guidelines for the “state innovation waivers” program, which doesn’t start until 2017, and it’s unclear whether the White House would rethink its Obamacare coverage ban for undocumented immigrants. An HHS spokesperson said the department hasn’t discussed the California proposal with state officials and declined to comment on the bill.

Note that the waiver program was already built into the law. The Republicans in Congress have believed from the beginning of ObamaCare that the Democrat’s plan was to cover illegal aliens.

Wikipedia reminds us of an event that underlined that point:

On September 9, 2009, Wilson shouted at President Barack Obama while Obama addressed a joint session of Congress to outline his proposal for reforming health care.[35] During his address, Obama said: “There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”[36] In a breach of decorum,[37] Wilson pointed at Obama and shouted, “You lie!” twice.[38][39][40][41] Wilson attracted national and international attention for the incident.[42][43] He said afterwards that his outburst reflected his view that the bill would provide government-subsidized benefits to illegal immigrants.[44]

Then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel immediately approached senior Republican lawmakers and asked them to identify the heckler and urge him to apologize immediately.[45] Members of Congress from both parties condemned the outburst. “Totally disrespectful”, said Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) of Wilson’s utterance. “No place for it in that setting or any other and he should apologize immediately.”[46][47] Wilson said later in a statement:

This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President’s remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill. While I disagree with the President’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility.[48]

Obama later accepted Wilson’s apology. “I’m a big believer that we all make mistakes”, he said. “He apologized quickly and without equivocation and I’m appreciative of that.”[49]

What Joe Wilson did was a total breach of decorum, but he was the only one in the room telling the truth to the American people. It is obvious that the President was lying and the Congressman was telling the truth.

 

Wasting The Time Of The Local Deputy Sheriff

Yesterday The Conservative Tribune posted an article about an incident in Palmdale, California, that illustrates the erosion of free speech in America.

The article reports:

The boy, a student at Desert Rose Elementary School in Palmdale, always got an encouraging note along with a Bible verse packed in his lunch every day. Other students were curious about the notes, packed by his mother, Christina Zavala, and expressed that they, too, would like to have some.

Zavala was more than happy to oblige.

The above story is a very simple example of how little kids do things–if your mom puts something in your lunch box that is unique, the other kids want one too.

The story continues:

However, it didn’t take long for school officials to put an end to the sharing. On April 18, Zavala was told by a teacher that her son could no longer share the Bible verses at school, but he could share them outside the school gate after the bell rang.

Apparently that was not enough, and on May 9, the school’s principal banned sharing Bible verses on school property altogether, citing school policy.

And just to make sure the family understood the school’s firm stance, a deputy sheriff was dispatched to the Zavala’s home to reinforce the message.

What law was broken? Why would a deputy sheriff visit the child’s home? What is the school afraid of? Does the child not have First Amendment rights?

This is the correct response to the school principal‘s actions:

Attorney Richard Mast, who represented the Zavala family, told Fox News the visit was “outrageous and should shock the conscious of every freedom-loving American.”

“Apparently all the real criminals have been dealt with in Palmdale — and now they’re going after kids who share Bible verses during lunch time,” he added.

Raul Maldonado, superintendent of Palmdale School District, said he was reviewing the matter and did not answer questions regarding the sheriff’s visit to the Zavala’s residence.

Liberty Counsel has demanded the school stop suppressing and censoring the religious freedom of students. If they do not comply, they could face a federal lawsuit.

Little kids share. Let them.

 

Common Sense Rears Its Head

Breitbart.com posted an article today about a Los Angeles Times reporter who was surprised to find Latinos who are supporting Donald Trump for President. Robin Abcarian attended a Donald Trump rally in Fresno, California, and was surprised to find Latino supporters of Trump there.

The article reports:

It turns out that many of them are American citizens or legal immigrants who care about the country’s borders, and share the same views as fellow conservatives Republicans on a variety of issues.

His rhetoric about Mexicans doesn’t bother you, I asked?

“It’s about illegal aliens!” Jennings said. “Mom and I can’t go to Canada and just squat and get benefits. We couldn’t go to Mexico either without the proper paperwork. They’d put us in jail!”

“I’m Mexican,” Aderhold said, “and I understand that Mexicans do the farm labor, but there are a lot of legal ones. That’s how they should do it, the way my parents did.”

Note that these people were here legally. The people who have come to America legally do not want to see our borders erased–they want other people to stand in line and do things legally as they did. It is not a surprise to hear that many of them are supporting Donald Trump.

The Cost Of Paying A Higher Minimum Wage

Yesterday Twitchy reported that Wendy’s will be introducing self-service kiosks in their 6000 stores nationwide this year.

Investor’s Business Daily reported yesterday:

Wendy’s Penegor said company-operated stores, only about 10% of the total, are seeing wage inflation of 5% to 6%, driven both by the minimum wage and some by the need to offer a competitive wage “to access good labor.”

It’s not surprising that some franchisees might face more of a labor-cost squeeze than company restaurants. All 258 Wendy’s restaurants in California, where the minimum wage rose to $10 an hour this year and will gradually rise to $15, are franchise-operated. Likewise, about 75% of 200-plus restaurants in New York are run by franchisees. New York’s fast-food industry wage rose to $10.50 in New York City and $9.75 in the rest of the state at the start of 2016, also on the way to $15.

Wendy’s plans to cut company-owned stores to just 5% of the total.

There are some things those asking for significant increases to the minimum wage should keep in mind. Very few people are actually attempting to support families on minimum wage jobs–generally those holding those jobs are people attempting to enter the work force for the first time. These jobs allow them to develop basic workplace skills–showing up on time, being polite to customers, and showing up for work every day. Companies are in business to make a profit. If they do not make a profit, there is no reason for them to stay in business. No government has the right to determine what profit is acceptable–left alone, the free market will do that. Part of our current problem is that the government has interfered so much with the free market, that that normal checks and balances within the free market are not working as they should. The solution would be to get the government out of the marketplace–let businesses complete for workers and pay them what is necessary. It is also telling that because economic growth in America is currently slow, workers who would not normally be working in minimum wage jobs are working there.

Be Careful What You Support

Investor’s Business Daily is reporting that a week after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the state’s $15 minimum wage boost into law, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks sent a memo to employees announcing that 500 jobs were getting cut.

The article reports:

Those workers might want to have a chat with the folks at UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research, who just days before Brown signed the wage-hike bill released a study touting the minimum wage as a boon to low-income household breadwinners.

After that report came out, Ken Jacobs, chairman of the UC Berkeley center, told the Los Angeles Times, “This is a very big deal for low-wage workers in California, for their families and for their children.”

It is a big deal, as well, to those soon to be out of work UC Berkeley workers.

But why is anyone surprised about jobs cuts following a wage hike? It’s one of the most basic laws of economics. Any high school kid taking Econ 101 can explain it:  If you raise the price of something, demand goes down.

Keep in mind, too, that a $15 minimum wage is more than twice the federal minimum wage today. And it would set the wage floor higher than it’s ever been. On an inflation-adjusted basis, the minimum wage peaked in 1968 at just over $10 an hour.

In a strong economy, raising the minimum wage might not be as much of a problem, but in an economy that is not rapidly expanding, companies simply do not have a large enough profit margin to handle the increase in the cost of employees. The demand for an increase in the minimum wage also overlooks the fact that most of the people who hold minimum-wage jobs are people who are just entering the work force. It is in that entry-level job that new employees learn basic skills–such as showing up on time, following directions, being responsible, etc. Those minimum-wage jobs give young people the skills they need to move on to higher-paying jobs. Increasing the minimum wage to the point where there will be less minimum-wage jobs accomplishes nothing positive. Unfortunately, it has become a Democratic policy talking point, and because of that, more young people who support this idea will lose their jobs if they succeed in increasing the minimum wage.

How To Pass A Minimum Wage Hike Without Hiking Minimum Wage

Hot Air posted an article today about the recent fight in California to pass an increase in the minimum wage. Unions and business owners are supporting the increase. Each have their own reasons.

Under the new law, hotels that are unionized don’t have to increase their wages. Hotels that are open shops have to follow the law and increase wages. So a union hotel employee who pays $56.50 every month for membership in the hotel workers union does not get a raise, while his non-union equivalent gets a pay raise.

The article concludes:

The raison d’etre of unions is supposedly to arrange better conditions, compensation and benefits for their members, so why they would agree to that deal doesn’t jump out at you. But the reality is that not all of the hotels are unionized. The ones who run open shops fall under the new arrangement and have to pay their workers significantly higher wages. So how do they get out of this sudden spike in labor costs which could put them at a disadvantage with their competitors? (Cue the Jeopardy music…)

They can just unionize their work force.

It’s really a genius maneuver if you think about it. Getting a raise for some of the workers in the city who already belong to your union doesn’t really translate into that much more money in dues because they only collect a small percentage of the increase. But if you can suddenly enlist the workers at a whole raft of new businesses into your organization you get a piece of all their paychecks. It’s the perfect plan, really.

Of course, the people who get left out in the cold are the actual members of the union, particularly once they find out what’s going on. But that was never the real objective of the union in modern times anyway. What’s critical is enlisting as much of the workforce as possible and keeping the cash flowing in so they can continue to fund the political campaigns of Democrats.

It pays to read laws carefully and look at who is supporting them. In this case, those in the unions who have worked to pass the law assumed that they would gain by its passage. Those in the upper levels of the union had another idea. They supported a law that would cost union shops less while potentially increasing the number of union shops. This is only one example of the damage that the alliance of unions and politicians can do.

The Law Of Unintended Consequences At Work

The video below was posted on YouTube today:

Raising the minimum wage has a negative impact on both small businesses and on those seeking to enter the workforce. This video shows one example of the law of unintended consequences regarding the minimum wage. Minimum wage jobs are for low-skilled employees entering the workforce. Anyone attempting to support themselves by working for minimum wage needs to be encouraged to seek further education or increased job skills.

Justice Turned Upside Down

According to a CNS News article in January 2014, Planned Parenthood’s net revenue increased 5% to total of $1.21 billion in its organizational fiscal year ending on June 30, 2013, according to its new Annual Report 2012-2013. I don’t have the latest revenue figures, but I am sure they are impressive. It is sad that the abortion business is so profitable. It can also be concluded that because of the amount of money it generates, Planned Parenthood has a certain amount of influence. I have no doubt that the influence of Planned Parenthood is involved in the following story.

CBS News in Sacramento, California, is reporting that California Department of Justice agents raided the home of David Daleiden Tuesday. David Daleiden is the founder of a group called the Center for Medical Progress, which released videos last year of Planned Parenthood selling aborted baby body parts.

The article reports:

Rachele Huennekens, a spokeswoman for state Attorney General Kamala Harris, said in an email that she can’t comment on any ongoing investigation.

Harris said in July that she planned to review the undercover videos to see if center violated any state charity registration or reporting requirements. She said that could include whether Daleiden and a colleague impersonated representatives of a fake biomedical company or filmed the videos without Planned Parenthood’s consent.

Harris, a Democrat, is running for the U.S. Senate. Daleiden suggested in the social media posting that the raid was politically motivated because Harris has accepted campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood.

Daleiden faces related charges in Texas. One of his Texas attorneys, Terry Yates, did not return telephone and email messages Tuesday.

Ever notice how frequently the ‘I can’t comment on an ongoing investigation’ excuse is used? This is a glaring example of the negative role money can play in politics.

The article further reports:

Texas authorities initially began a grand jury investigation of Planned Parenthood after the undercover videos were released in August.

But the grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of misusing fetal tissue and indicted Daleiden and a colleague, Sandra Merritt, in January on charges including using fake driver’s licenses to get into a Houston clinic.

Daleiden previously said his group followed the law in making the videos. His post Tuesday called the raid an “attack on citizen journalism” and said he will “pursue all remedies to vindicate our First Amendment rights.”

What Mr. Daleiden did used to be called investigative journalism. Unfortunately, under the current government (unfortunately at local, state and federal levels), investigative journalism is only allowed if it supports certain political interests.

Regardless of how you feel about abortion, this is not a good thing. Essentially this means that any American who steps outside the wishes of a powerful business can be harassed by the government. Right now the issue is abortion, but in the future the issue could be anything. This sets a dangerous precedent.

I Love Irony

President Obama seems to have an ability to mistreat our allies and attempt to make friends with people who have hated us and will continue to hate us. However, some of our allies understand that despite our President, the American people support them. Israel is one of those allies that stands with us regardless of who is President.

The U.K. Daily Mail reported yesterday that the FBI has managed to get into the Apple iPhone that belonged to the San Bernardino shooter. Technical people were very concerned about who actually managed to get into the phone–fearing that a criminal would now have a mechanism that could hack any Apple iPhone. However, the truth is very reassuring.

The article reports:

An Israeli company helped the FBI in unlocking the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California shooters, according to reports. 

Israel’s Cellebrite, is a provider of mobile forensic software that says it does business with thousands of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, militaries and governments in more than 90 countries.

An official source told NBC News that the company had helped. Neither the FBI nor Cellebrite has confirmed the reports.

The FBI hacked into the iPhone used by gunman Syed Farook, who died with his wife in a gun battle with police after they killed 14 people in December in San Bernardino. 

The iPhone, issued to Farook by his employer, the county health department, was found in a vehicle the day after the shooting.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. It is rather technical, but very interesting.

Thank you, Israel, for helping America deal with terrorism.

Laws That Really Don’t Make Any Sense

Just when you think state legislators couldn’t pass any more weird laws, someone comes up with a new idea. The law I am about to describe is not only unnecessary and useless, it doesn’t even apply where it might matter.

Hot Air is reporting today that California has politically gone off the deep end.

The article reports:

A California lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban government-funded travel to states with laws that he says discriminate on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

“No one wants to send employees into an environment where they would be uncomfortable,” said Democrat Evan Low, Jon Ortiz, a reporter for the Sacramento Bee, reported this week.

Low said he decided to introduce the bill after Indiana signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law in March 2015.

Does the law include government-funded travel of women to Saudi Arabia and other countries where they do not have equal rights?

I believe that America is made up of states. The last I heard, each state had the freedom to make laws that applied in that state. California is perfectly within its rights to limit the travel of government officials or employees to places where they will not be uncomfortable. Obviously, being within your rights does not mean that what you are doing can be described as logical or sensible.

It gets worse. The article explains:

Low said he doesn’t know which states his bill would apply to yet. He said it would not cover lawmakers and political trips but would affect administrative travel.

So what, pray tell, is the point of this legislation?

 

There Is A Way To Do This Legally

Yesterday The Los Angeles Times posted an article about the ongoing battle between Apple Inc. and the federal government. Apple cell phones have systems built into them that prevent someone who steals your cell phone from having access to all of your personal (and professional) information. Obviously, if you are a terrorist, this works really well. I am not a computer/cell phone-savvy person and did not understand what was going on here. The explanation you are about to hear is the result of a techie explaining the situation to me.

The article in the Los Angeles Times reports:

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym in Riverside directed Apple on Tuesday to help the FBI get around the phone’s passcode protection and any auto-erase functions the device might employ.

In a statement, Cook said that such a move would undermine encryption by creating a backdoor that could potentially be used in the future on devices.

…The Manhattan district attorney‘s office said in a report issued in November that it was unable to execute 111 search warrants for smartphones over the last year because they were running on encrypted technology offered through Apple’s iOS 8 operating system.

So let’s look at some possible solutions that do not create a backdoor.

First of all, the government should need a warrant to search any cell phone. Considering this phone belonged to a terrorist shooter, that should not be a problem. Second of all, there is no reason why the government can’t turn the phone over to Apple and ask them to please provide the government with all information on the phone. Since Apple set up the programs that encrypted it, they should be able to unencrypt it. Again, I am not technically savvy, but that seems to me to be the obvious solution. In future cases where an Apple cell phone needs to be searched, a warrant shall be required, and the phone should be turned over to Apple. Therefore, no backdoor is created, and the feds can go merrily on their way with the information they need. I would be very reluctant to give the federal government a means to unencrypt any cell phone. I simply don’t trust the government with that kind of power.

A New Dimension In First World Problems

On January 20, The Pacific Sun posted an article warning California motorists to be aware of the ‘staring coyote.’

The article reports:

A coyote has taken to staring down automobile drivers as they drive through this twisting, turning section of highway, before attacking the car and then skulking off back into the wilderness. The coyote runs up to the cars, usually at night, forcing drivers to stop as the beast stares and sniffs around the vehicle.

…the latest grist out of Bolinas has it that there are now two coyotes acting a little weird, or a lot weird: Drive-by coyote stare-downs have now become part of the normative experience for a Bolinas-based individual who makes numerous nighttime airport runs every week. We are not identifying this individual, who fears retribution at the vengeful paws of these bushy-tailed beasts. He would only say, “It’s a terrifying, yet beautiful thing to behold.”

The Marin Humane Society has fielded at least one inquiry from a coyote-concerned citizen and is looking into the case of the aggressive coyote, says Lisa Bloch, director of marketing and communications for the society. “We are trying to figure this out.”

At present there are three basic theories as to what is causing the coyotes to act strangely. The first is rabies, which has been ruled out due to the lack of rabies in the area and due to the fact that the stare-downs have gone on for three weeks (rabies would have killed an animal within a week). The second possibility is more interesting.

The article reports:

It is possible, but not probable, that the coyote has eaten something—perhaps a fly agaric mushroom (amanita muscaria) which has hallucinogenic properties—and has subsequently been tripping its tail off. The cars would therefore be some sort of coyote vision, a dark vision of human interlopers, who must be stopped before the rents get any higher in West Marin. That would be kind of cool.

Bloch could not completely rule out the possibility that coyotes are having psychedelic experiences out on the feral fringes of civilization, and in fact she has been counseling dog owners of late on the dangers of poisonous mushrooms in our midst.

The last possibility is that someone has been feeding the coyotes. This is a really bad idea. When coyotes lose their fear of humans, bad things happen–animals and humans become vulnerable to attack.

Anyway, the thought of a bunch of coyotes wandering around California stoned out of their minds does paint an interesting picture. It seems to me that they might fit right in.