Most People Got Bigger Tax Refunds This Year Than Last Year

Yesterday Hot Air posted an article about this year’s tax refunds. The article was in response to a Washington Post article claiming that people were getting lower tax refunds this year than last year.

The article at Hot Air pointed out a number of things that might result in getting a smaller tax refund:

But since we have to play this game, let’s figure out why your refund is smaller. Did you get a raise or a significant bonus last year? Did you perhaps start a new job that pays more? Were there any other major changes in your financial situation? Tax filing company Intuit has a list of possible explanations you could look for. They include things such as your filing status changing, the selling of assets or the possibility that you were hit with a penalty.

There will be a small number of people who lost out on part of their SALT (state and local tax) deductions, but that should really only have a significant impact on people in high-tax states like New York who are earning well into six figures. As for everyone else, if your income went up, did you adjust your withholdings accordingly? If not, perhaps you need to have a chat with an accountant.

The article also reminds us that a tax refund is a refund of the money that you gave to the government during the year. You allowed them to have that money interest free until you filed your tax return and they were obligated to give the money back to you. Ideally, your tax refund should be small–that means that you correctly calculated the amount of money you actually owed the government. The question is not how big your tax refund is–the question is how much money you actually paid in taxes. The size of your tax refund is simply a reflection of how much money the government took from you during the year.

Our Future?

I think most Americans realize that Big Brother is getting to be a bit intrusive. Our computer searches are mined for advertising information, Alexa listens to our conversations, our government has been known to listen to our telephone conversations. This is not headed in a good direction. However, it gets even worse when you consider the fact that the next step will be modifying our behavior to fit some ideal created by someone who believes he has the right to control everyone. Not a pleasant thought. Think it’s too farfetched? An article posted at Wired on January 23 might change your mind.

The article begins:

A friend of mine, who runs a large television production company in the car-mad city of Los Angeles, recently noticed that his intern, an aspiring filmmaker from the People’s Republic of China, was walking to work.

When he offered to arrange a swifter mode of transportation, she declined. When he asked why, she explained that she “needed the steps” on her Fitbit to sign in to her social media accounts. If she fell below the right number of steps, it would lower her health and fitness rating, which is part of her social rating, which is monitored by the government. A low social rating could prevent her from working or traveling abroad.

China’s social rating system, which was announced by the ruling Communist Party in 2014, will soon be a fact of life for many more Chinese.

By 2020, if the Party’s plan holds, every footstep, keystroke, like, dislike, social media contact, and posting tracked by the state will affect one’s social rating.

Personal “creditworthiness” or “trustworthiness” points will be used to reward and punish individuals and companies by granting or denying them access to public services like health care, travel, and employment, according to a plan released last year by the municipal government of Beijing. High-scoring individuals will find themselves in a “green channel,” where they can more easily access social opportunities, while those who take actions that are disapproved of by the state will be “unable to move a step.”

We do an awful lot of business with China. When trade was opened with China, the idea was that our form of government and freedom would influence their government in the direction of freedom. Somehow, based on this story, I don’t think that is what has happened.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. There is no way I can summarize all of it, but I would like to share a few more points.

The article continues:

Perhaps we are reading the wrong books. Instead of going back to Orwell for a sense of what a coming dystopia might look like, we might be better off reading We, which was written nearly a century ago by the Russian novelist Yevgeny Zamyatin. We is the diary of state mathematician D-503, whose experience of the highly disruptive emotion of love for I-330, a woman whose combination of black eyes, white skin, and black hair strike him as beautiful. This perception, which is also a feeling, draws him into a conspiracy against the centralized surveillance state.

The Only State, where We takes places, is ruled by a highly advanced mathematics of happiness, administered by a combination of programmers and machines.

The article concludes:

Beauty is the ultimate example of human un-freedom and un-reason, being a subjectivity that is rooted in our biology, yet at the same time rooted in external absolutes like mathematical ratios and the movement of time. As the critic Giovanni Basile writes in an extraordinarily perceptive critical essay, “The Algebra of Happiness,” the utopia implied by Zamyatin’s dystopia is “a world in which happiness is intertwined with a natural un-freedom that nobody imposes on anyone else: a different freedom from the one with which the Great Inquisitor protects mankind: a paradoxical freedom in which there is no ‘power’ if not in the nature of things, in music, in dance and in the harmony of mathematics.”

Against a centralized surveillance state that imposes a motionless and false order and an illusory happiness in the name of a utilitarian calculus of “justice,” Basile concludes, Zamyatin envisages a different utopia: “In fact, only within the ‘here and now’ of beauty may the equation of happiness be considered fully verified.” Human beings will never stop seeking beauty, Zamyatin insists, because they are human. They will reject and destroy any attempt to reorder their desires according to the logic of machines.

A national or global surveillance network that uses beneficent algorithms to reshape human thoughts and actions in ways that elites believe to be just or beneficial to all mankind is hardly the road to a new Eden. It’s the road to a prison camp. The question now—as in previous such moments—is how long it will take before we admit that the riddle of human existence is not the answer to an equation. It is something that we must each make for ourselves, continually, out of our own materials, in moments whose permanence is only a dream.

This is scary–not scary enough to get me to get rid of Alexa–but scary.

Thoughts For The New Year

The following is from In God We Still Trust by Dr. Richard G. Lee:

“Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” from President George Washington’s Farewell Address 1796

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams, U.S. President 1797-1801

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” James Madison, U. S. President 1809-1817

Dr. Lee also points out how a change in definition of a word reflects a concerning change in our society:

Noah Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828, defines patriotism as follows:

n. Love of one’s country; the passion which aims to serve one’s country, either in defending it from invasion, or protecting its rights and maintaining its laws and institution in vigor and purity. Patriotism is the characteristic of a good citizen, the noblest passion that animates a man in the character of a citizen.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, copyright @ 2004 defines patriotism as follows:

n. Love for or devotion to one’s country.

Noah Webster’s definition includes service; Merriam-Webster’s definition is simply an emotion. Noah Webster’s definition includes action, not just acceptance of an idea.

It is time to return to Noah Webster’s definition of patriotism.

Legislating Against The Middle Class

Everyone loves vacations–the adventure of spending a few days in a different place and relaxing. However, vacations are not cheap. Travel can be expensive, and hotels are expensive. Several alternatives to hotels have appeared in recent years to make vacations more affordable and to give Americans a way to supplement their income–companies like Airbnb provide cheaper lodging at popular destinations and allow people to earn extra income by renting out their houses on a short-term basis. Needless to say, hotels are not happy about the existence of a cheaper alternative. In Massachusetts, the hotel lobby has been successful in creating regulations that will greatly limit the availability of Airbnb lodging.

On December 30, Hot Air posted an article about a law recently passed in Massachusetts that will probably end Airbnb in that state.

The article reports:

Baker (Governor Charlie Baker) is touting this as a compromise which he claims is able to, “avoid placing undue burdens on occasional renters.” This is nonsense, of course, because in order to qualify for the exemptions to most (though not all) of these new burdens on hosts, you can only rent out your room for a maximum of fourteen nights per year. For most hosts, that’s not going to be worth the bother of signing up for the app in the first place.

The article lists the new requirements for people who want to rent their property on a short-term basis:

And what are these burdens? First of all, anyone with a spare room will now have to carry the same type of insurance as a hotel chain, basically wiping out any profit they might make. On top of that, they’ll be paying a 5.7 percent state tax, plus another 6% tax if municipal or county governments decide to impose one.

Further, hosts will be legally required to list themselves on a publicly available registry. Proponents claim this allows neighbors to know who is renting out rooms to “strangers” but it’s obviously intended as an intimidation tactic, opening up hosts to public shaming, abuse or worse.

The bottom line here is that the hotel industry and their lobbyists have won a massive victory. They don’t like private citizens cutting into their business so they’ve greased the palms of enough politicians to essentially shut Airbnb down in the state. As the New York Times reported more than a year ago, leaked documents from the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) revealed, “a multipronged, national campaign approach at the local, state and federal level.” The goal of that campaign was to enlist elected Democrats to pass laws which would choke the life out of Airbnb and protect their profits. They specifically mentioned Boston as one of their key target markets, and now they have succeeded in bribing the state government to shut Airbnb down.

The article concludes:

It’s true that some people have begun “abusing” the system by purchasing large amounts of property and renting it out like a hotel using the app service. Perhaps a law like this might have been more palatable if it were applied only to people with more than ten rental units or something along those lines. But for all the private individuals with an extra room or a guest house who were using the system as originally intended and making a little extra money, this basically shuts them out of the game.

Airbnb already has one lawsuit in progress against Boston for similar municipal laws they passed earlier. Now they’re saying a new suit against the state may be coming. But if they find no satisfaction through the courts we’re probably seeing the beginning of the death of the gig economy along with the chance for private citizens to profit from their own homes or apartments.

I hope Airbnb wins their lawsuit. They are essentially the Uber of the hotel industry and are going to have to fight many of the battles against lobbyists that Uber had to fight.

We Need A Wall

The following was posted at CBN recently:

As President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats remain at an apparent impasse over the border wall, the commander in chief is drawing criticism for shutting down the government. Others, however, insist the wall is necessary, saying the president must stand up for national security.

CBN News‘ Charlene Aaron spoke with Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney about why he believes it’s so important for the president to win this particular battle over immigration.

I realize that a five minute video is a lot to post on a blog, but it is worth listening to. Frank Gaffney has been involved in national security for a long time and knows what he is talking about.

South Africa Moves Toward Taking Land Without Compensation

On Tuesday U.S. News posted an article about the move to take land from South Africans without paying them any compensation. The parliament recently approved a report endorsing a constitutional amendment that would allow expropriations without compensation.

The article reports:

Land is a hot-button issue in South Africa where racial inequality remains entrenched more than two decades after the end of apartheid when millions among the black majority were dispossessed of their land by a white minority.

A parliamentary team last month recommended a constitutional amendment to make it possible for the state to expropriate land without compensation in the public interest.

The article continues:

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who replaced Jacob Zuma in February, has prioritized land redistribution as he seeks to unite the fractured ruling African National Congress (ANC) and win public support ahead of an election next year.

But the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and some rights groups are critical of the government’s plans, saying it will jeopardize property rights and scare off investors.

“We support expropriation of land without compensation or zero Rand compensation in the public interest,” the ANC’s Vincent Smith said during the parliamentary debate.

Ahead of Tuesday’s debate, John Steenhuisen, the main opposition’s chief whip, said “the DA will not hesitate to approach the courts” should the report backing the expropriation of land be adopted.

Following Tuesday’s vote, a new bill proposing the change to Section 25 of the constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation would need to be drafted.

It would also require the public’s contribution before a debate and vote in the assembly. To become law, it would need passed by both houses of parliament and then signed by Ramaphosa. It is unclear how long this process would take.

Last week the High Court rejected a legal challenge brought by AfriForum, a group representing mainly white Afrikaners who wanted to overturn a parliamentary committee report supporting changes to the constitution.

There are some things the South African government might want to consider if they decide to move forward with the idea of seizing land without compensation. Although that might seem like a solution to the misdeeds of the past, it is simply a misdeed in the present. Taking anything from someone without compensation is not a path toward harmony. Because the land distribution seems to be so uneven, wouldn’t it be better to require people who hold large portions of land to sell portions of it under government supervision at a reasonable price. Otherwise, you are infringing on private property rights. In December 2010, I posted an article about the relationship between private property rights, the rule of law, and prosperity. You cannot have prosperity without private property rights or without the rule of law. To seize property without compensation violates this principle. It is the way to poverty for South Africa.

 

Ugly Rears Its Head In The House Of Representatives

Sometimes dumb ideas come from Republicans as well as Democrats. I am about to illustrate that fact. Yesterday Representative Ted Deutch of Florida introduced H.R. 7173 into the House of Representatives. The bills description is, “To create a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund for the American people in order to encourage market-driven innovation of clean energy technologies and market efficiencies which will reduce harmful pollution and leave a healthier, more stable, and more prosperous nation for future generations.” Never trust the government to create a trust fund–remember the Social Security Trust Fund–it was robbed during the 1960’s (by the government that created it).

Let’s talk about this trust fund for a moment.

The bill states:

“A carbon dividend payment is one pro-rata share for each adult and half a pro-rata share for each child under 19 years old, with a limit of 2 children per household, of amounts available for the month in the Carbon Dividend Trust Fund.”

Do you really want the government commenting or being involved in any way with how many children you have in your family?

The Hill posted an article yesterday about the bill. The article included the following:

…the bill would charge companies when they produce or import fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, based on their expected greenhouse gas emissions.

But instead of using the money to pay for health or community projects, the new bill would distribute it to the public. Its backers say those “dividends” would offset the increased costs from the carbon tax, like higher utility and gasoline bills, for about 70 percent of households.

Dividend funds would be handed out by the Treasury Department under the bill, based on the number of people in a household.

“It’s transparent and easily trackable. You know where the money is going. It protects the American family so that families are not adversely impacted. Dividends would protect most families from cost increases,” Ben Pendergrass, senior director of government affairs at Citizens’ Climate Lobby, told The Hill.

“The market signals should still be there to guide things like fuel efficient cars and dividends protect people who can’t make that transition immediately.”

The bill would also prohibit the federal government from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from the sectors that are taxed, unless the taxes aren’t effective after 10 years. That is an effort to attract support from Republicans, who are nearly united in opposition to Environmental Protection Agency climate regulations.

Rooney focused on the economic benefits of the bill, saying in a statement Wednesday that the revenue carbon neutral fee is good policy and a way “to support emerging alternate sources of energy.”

This bill is a really bad idea. It paves the way for more government intrusion into our private lives and takes more money from Americans. America has cut its greenhouse gas emissions without crippling our economy. We are quite capable of doing so in the future without stifling economic growth and creating even bigger bureaucracies.

 

I Suppose This Isn’t A Surprise

In early November, a Maryland man was killed as police tried to confiscate his guns under a ‘red flag’ order (story here). Obviously the man’s response to the police was unwise, but when you boil the whole story down, the man was killed because he resisted when police came to take his guns. That is chilling.

Today The Daily Caller posted an article about recent statement by Democratic California Representative Eric Swalwell.

The article reports:

Democratic California Rep. Eric Swalwell suggested on Friday that the U.S. government could use nuclear weapons on its own citizens if they fight back against firearm confiscation.

Right-wing internet personality Joe Biggs tweeted at Swalwell in response to a May report that Swalwell wants to ban “military-style semiautomatic assault weapons” and prosecute gun owners who did not turn in their newly-banned weapons.

Biggs promised any such legislation would provoke a “war” between gun owners and the government, writing, “You’re outta your f*****g mind if you think I’ll give up my rights and give the gov [sic] all the power.”

…Swalwell replied to Biggs that any such war between the government and gun owners would be “short” because the government has “nukes,” implying that the government would use nuclear weapons against its own citizens.

He further threatened that the nukes are “legit.”

The last sentence in the article states:

Swalwell said in August that he would consider a 2020 presidential run after the 2018 midterm elections.

This is what a threat to the Second Amendment looks like.

The Law Of Unintended Consequences

America is one of the most generous countries in the world. When natural disasters occur, we send aid. When Americans are in need, we help them. Sometimes we are taken advantage of because of our generosity, and Americans have accumulated a lot of debt because of our generosity. Some aspects of that generosity may be beginning to change.

The American Thinker posted an article today about impact of some of President Trump’s policies on welfare programs.

The article reports:

Welfare bureaucrats are putting the scream on, with news that President Trump’s efforts to enforce U.S. immigration law are incentivizing illegal aliens to drop out of assorted welfare programs.

Get a load of this alarmism from the welfare administrative mafias quoted by Politico:

Immigrants [sic] are turning down government help to buy infant formula and healthy food for their young children because they’re afraid the Trump administration could bar them from getting a green card if they take federal aid.

The article concludes:

The bureaucrats and do-gooders quoted all admit that they aren’t actually entirely sure why the Women, Infants, and Children program has seen its numbers drop from 7.4 million to 6.8 million since President Trump took office.  There is a dismissive note about the “improving economy” but no recognition that the sudden availability of jobs in the Trump economy tends to have a large effect on whether people (legal and illegal) stay on welfare rolls.  For a lot of the poor, the promise of a job with the prospect of higher wages and an improved standard of living – and no government supervision, no need to keep heads down and incomes low – is preferable to any state welfare, so they’re taking the jobs and running.  Jobs in that much dismissed “improving economy” are likely the biggest reason the numbers of welfare recipients, both legal and illegal, are going down.  This, by the way, is correlated with falling food stamp rolls (illegals supposedly can’t get those) and declines in other welfare populations in the Trump economy.

The quoted bureaucrats do say that, because they have fielded inquiries from illegals, those same people who supposedly aren’t bright enough to manage a voter ID card yet are amazingly cognizant on the minutiae of maintaining the exact qualifications for welfare, and who want to make sure that being a public charge won’t hurt their green card chances.

What this shows is that the open borders lobby and the welfare industrial complex are amazingly integrated, and President Trump’s effort to restore rule of law at the border and protect taxpayer assets is a threat to their money interests and raison d’être.  What it also shows is that President Trump can’t keep pushing hard enough on this.  Striking out at the money trail has always been a surefire effort to end corrupt regimes and, by extension, corrupt bureaucratic empires.

I don’t want to see anyone’s child go hungry or not get the medical services they need, but there is a message in this. People are coming to America to take advantage of our welfare programs–they want to take from America, not contribute to America. Preferential treatment should be given to people who want to contribute to America. We need to remember that although we are a nation of immigrants, early immigrants did not have welfare programs they could join. They were expected to work hard to achieve the American Dream. That was the vision of America–it was a land of opportunity, not a land of the free lunch.

Those Nasty Unintended Consequences

On Monday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial detailing the impact of ObamaCare on doctors.

The editorial reports:

A year before ObamaCare became law, an IBD/TIPP Poll warned that it would lead to doctor shortages because many would quit or retire early. New evidence shows that our warnings were dead on.

A recent report from the Association of Medical Colleges projects doctor shortages of up to 121,300 within the next 12 years. That’s a 16% increase from their forecast just last year.

Not only are medical schools having trouble attracting doctors (New York University plans to offer free tuition to its med students), but current physicians are cutting back on patient visits, retiring early or switching careers.

An article in a recent issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings says that nearly one in five doctors plan to switch to part-time clinical hours, 27% plan to leave their current practice, and 9% plan to get an administrative job or switch careers entirely.

The editorial cites one possible reason for the declining number of doctors:

One of the big drivers of doctor exits, by the way, is the Obama administration’s “electronic health records” mandate, which was supposed to vastly improve the quality and efficiency of care.

It’s had the opposite effect. A Mayo Clinic survey found that the EHR mandate is reducing efficiency, increasing costs and paperwork hassles, and pushing more doctors to quit or retire early.

A Harris Poll found that 59% of doctors say the current EHR system foisted on them by the Obama administration needs “a complete overhaul,” and 40% say it imposes more challenges than benefits.

ObamaCare continued what had been a long and sorry trend in health care. Government-imposed rules designed to fix some problem in the system instead generated mountains of new administrative work.

The result has been that while the number of physicians in the country has climbed modestly over the past three decades, the number of health care administrators exploded.

This is an illustration of the consequences of government interference in the free market. The free market isn’t perfect, but it is the best way to keep prices down, innovation up, and industries (and professions) moving forward.

When Governments Go Awry

The American Thinker posted an article today about what is happening in South Africa. South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa and his political party are planning to amend to South African Constitution to allow the taking of farmland owned by white residents of the country without compensation. Cyril Ramaphosa  regards this as the last step on the country’s program of land reform.

According to a BBC report:

The country’s white minority is believed to have a disproportionate hold over land, with a few thousand white commercial farmers possessing the most fertile lands.

Somehow I don’t think this is going to work.

The article at The American Thinker points out the history of this sort of action:

Ramaphosa may think it’s money-for-nothing to legislate his way into free land for the people whose support he wants down the line, but it doesn’t work that way. The expropriated farms will soon be ravaged, just as they were in Stalin’s Ukraine or Chavez’s Venezuela, not to mention, Mugabe’s utterly miserable Zimbabwe right next door, and South Africa, too, will become a wasteland. It all looks real nice right now, but the change over just a few years after this move will be amazing.

I saw it myself in Venezuela, where ravaged sugar fields in Cojedes state, out on the llano, were on one half of the roadside, the expropriated-land half, with miserable looking people sitting under a half-tent with a ragged Venezuelan flag flying overhead. On the other side, there was a still crisp, clean, working sugar farm, obviously the next target. Private ownership, vs. public expropriation were visible with one glance. Bloomberg did a piece on the same horror in neighboring Portuguesa state in 2017.

For whatever reason, people appreciate things more when they have to earn them. Also, if people are suddenly given a large commercial farm, will they have the knowledge and ability to run it? That is the problem. When Venezuela took over the American oil wells, the government did not have the ability to keep the oil wells repaired and in good working order. The oil production of Venezuela began to drop shortly after the government took over the oil wells. We can expect the same thing to happen with the large commercial farms in South Africa.

I understand that South Africa has had some racial problems and people have not always been treated well. However, stealing land from people who have worked hard to farm it is not the answer. It might make more sense to compensate the farmers for part of their land and create a cooperative to help the new owners of  farms learn how to work the land. By allowing the current farmers to keep a large part of their land, you insure that the economy will be sustained as it goes through the change of helping the South Africans learn to work their part of the land.

Your Tax Dollars At Work

WJLA posted an article on Monday about a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The article reports:

You can learn a lot from studying birds and every year government funded research does just that.

But it’s one study in particular Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been railing against for years.

“$356,000 was spent of your money studying whether or not Japanese quail are more sexually promiscuous on cocaine,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in a speech on the Senate Floor.

According to scientists, the effects of drugs like cocaine have similar brain effects in quails as in humans. The study looked at behavior patterns while on the drug and found “repeated exposure to cocaine during sexual activity may increase sexual motivation which may, in turn, may lead to high risk sexual activities.”

It cost us $356,000 to find out that cocaine use during sex might be a problem. Most of our mothers could have told us that cocaine use at any time is a problem. Rather than look at the impact of cocaine on sexual activity, why not divert that money to helping combat the opioid crisis in America? The quail on cocaine study is truly a waste of taxpayer money.

The New Voting Laws In North Carolina

The North Carolina legislature has been working on a good voter identification law for a while. They are aware of the fact that a law has to be strong enough to be effective, yet able to get through any court challenges that may ensue. I don’t understand why the Democrat Party supports voter fraud, but that is a story for another day.

The Voter Integrity Project North Carolina released the following press release yesterday:

Update on Voter ID Compromise

June 19, 2015

Excuses

June 19, 2015 (RALEIGH)–After tapping several legislative sources today, we’re convinced the GOP caucus did not “intentionally” gut the voter ID law. Also, their limited window into election fraud analysis leads them to believe the new loophole won’t be a big deal in North Carolina. We humbly accept the former assertion but guardedly accept the latter.

At the end of the day, their new exception will, indeed, allow anybody to walk in with one of several non-photo pieces of paper (called “HAVA IDs”) and be guaranteed a vote that counts . . . so long as they fill out the paperwork correctly. We view this as a major security breach, but Rep Lewis said South Carolina, only had 114 voters exercised this loophole. We hope the same holds true here, but we’ll prepare for the worse.

Rodent Problems

Several highly placed sources convince us that it was an inside job. This emergency legislation was caused by middle- and lower-level bureaucrats at DMV who collected fees for those “free” voter ID cards and demanded more documentation than allowed by law. Whether accidental or deliberate, those state employees raised new doubts about winning the entire voter ID lawsuit and that’s what triggered the lopsided vote count.

Unconfirmed report: One of DMV’s victims was a State Senator’s own mother, so they’re paying closer attention now.

At any rate, we’re modifying our “tell them to veto cry” and are now urging them to investigate the sources of such harassment, . . . down to the specific employee.

The notion of “progressive” moles undermining Republicans in the NC government complex is no shocker. One Rep even laughed, “they’re not used to having Republican bosses.” But jokes aside, Linda Paine, Director of California’s Election Integrity Project, even caught their DMV subverting laws against driver’s licenses for illegal aliens. So, NCDMV workers hassling applicants for their free voter ID cards is all too plausible . . . and very convenient for voter ID opponents!

Governor McCrory and Transportation Secretary Bob Tata owe the public a full explanation.

Sometimes you just have to take a first step before everything falls into place.

 

The Economy In Pictures

Economics is always better explained in pictures than words. Zerohedge.com recently posted 10 Charts which show the true condition of the American economy. I am not going to post all of them, but there are a few that really tell the story.

Total debt of Americans

Presentation Credit Market Instruments

The Home Ownership Rate

Presentation Homeownership Rate

The Inactivity Rate For Men In Their Prime Working Years

Presentation Inactivity Rate

Real Median Household Income

Presentation Real Median Household Income

We definitely need a change in President Obama’s economic strategy.

Protecting Your State From Federal Government Overreach

This week the Supreme Court ruled on President Obama’s recess appointments. This was the first slap on the wrist the President has received when he has overreached his power. There is also a lawsuit coming from Congress regarding his changes to ObamaCare, which were clearly unconstitutional. However, there has generally not been a lot of pushback to President Obama’s power grabs. States that have refused to blindly follow the President on ObamaCare changes to Medicaid or on Common Core have found themselves treated poorly by the Obama White House. It has become obvious to some citizens that states need to protect themselves from unconstitutional actions by the federal government. Now more than ever, we need to follow the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

One concerned citizen has done something about his concern. The following article is posted at the Craven County North Carolina GOP website:

Craven County GOP Leaders visit with Senator Sanderson and Representative Speciale

By Mark Jones on June 23, 2014 in Events

Today, Carl Mischka and I traveled to Raleigh to visit with Senator Norman Sanderson (District 2) and Representative Michael Speciale (District 3). Joining us on the trip were Hal James, Raynor James, Rick Hopkins, and Randy Siler. The group thanked Norm and Michael for their efforts to further the cause of Conservatism in the North Carolina Legislature. We also asked both gentlemen to work hard to pass an effective bill that will end Common Core as we know it in North Carolina. Senate and House Bills about Common Core are currently expected to be debated and possibly combined this very week. It will take efforts in both Chambers of the Legislature to ensure an effective outcome.

We also talked to Senator Sanderson and Representative Speciale about what the Legislature may be able to do to protect North Carolina citizens from unconstitutional Federal executive orders. State Legislatures are the final line of defense between our out-of-control Federal Government and the people. We received commitments from both gentlemen to work with us on this issue between now and the next Legislative Session which begins in January. Let us hope and pray we have until January to do something before more freedoms are lost. More information will be provided on our website as it becomes available.

If anyone wishes to join us in our efforts to defend the Constitution and save America (one county at a time), please contact us for information about how you can help. One person can make a difference.

 

 About Mark Jones

Mark is the current 1st Vice Chairman of the Craven County Republican Party and former Precinct Chair for Epworth. Mark serves as a GOP leader organizing efforts in rural Precincts in western and northern Craven County. Mark believes in personal liberties, personal responsibility, limited Government, and in the U.S. Constitution as the blueprint for everything Government should do.

 

Question Of The Week

We have all watched the IRS and its ‘the dog ate my homework’ defense of its failure to produce the documents Congress is requesting. This lack of cooperation resulted in the ‘Question of the Week’ being asked in the Congressional hearings.

As reported by The Blaze:

‘At What Point Does It Become Obstruction of Justice?’: Jim Jordan Angrily Grills IRS Head Over What He Waited Two Months to Do

That is the question.

Dr. Greg Brannon Spoke In New Bern Tonight

Dr. Greg Brannon spoke to the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA) in New Bern, North Carolina, tonight. Dr. Brannon spoke about the grass roots constitutional conservative movement. He pointed out that both the Republican and the Democrat parties have drifted away from the U.S. Constitution. He reminded us that our Constitution is based on God’s law, Natural Law, and that the Constitution states that our rights are given to us by the Creator–not the government.

Dr. Brannon reminded us that the legitimate role of government is to protect the individual’s inalienable rights. The moment a government oversteps its bounds, it is no longer legitimate. Our Constitution is designed to chain the government–not the individual.

Dr. Brannon stated that the solution to the problem of a government that has overstepped its bounds is the individual. In the last primary election in North Carolina, only 15 percent of eligible voters voted. The role of the grass roots constitutional conservative movement is to reach the 85 percent that did not vote with the message of constitutional conservatism. That is how the country can be brought back to its roots and the boundaries of the Constitution.

There was a spirited question and answer period following Dr. Brannon’s remarks. Those in attendance were challenged to ignore party labels and vote according to Constitutional principles.

The monthly meetings of the CCTA are open to the public. They deal with issues that impact all of us. The next meeting will be held on July 15th. Details of upcoming programs are posted on their website.

 

 

We Saw How Well It Worked For The Indians

Today’s Daily Caller posted an article about a suggestion the Obama Administration has made to change the legal system in Hawaii.

The article reports:

President Barack Obama’s administration has quietly suggested it is willing to create a two-tier race-based legal system in Hawaii, where one set of taxes, spending and law enforcement will govern one race, and the second set of laws will govern every other race.

The diversity proposal is portrayed as an effort to create a separate in-state government for people who are “native Hawaiians.”

The problem with this suggestion is that it is unconstitutional:

But the proposed measure to increase legal diversity is illegal because the president doesn’t have the power to grant one group of Americans the status of a separate government, she said.

“There is no constitutional basis for conferring such status, and Congress has repeatedly refused to confer this status,” said Carissa Mulder, a spokeswoman for two members of the federal Commission on Civil Rights.

“This seems to be yet another case of the Obama administration ignoring the law to achieve its policy objectives,” she added.

This proposal will not bring unity to Americans–it will separate a group of Americans along racial lines. That sort of separation is not good for the country or the people involved. We saw how well it worked for the Indians.

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Government Bullying Takes A New Turn

Yesterday the Las Vegas Sun posted an article about some recent events in the Nevada desert. Cliven Bundy, a 68-year-old Nevada native, has been in a battle with the Bureau of Land Managment (BLM) over land that his cattle has been grazing on for decades.

The article reports:

A renegade when it comes to any sort of government control, Bundy — the father of 14 children — has refused to pay BLM a dime of required grazing fees for his 900 cattle, a tab that has since reached $300,000. Bundy has fought the fee, he says, because his Mormon ancestors set up shop on the land long before the BLM formed.

The problem? The land where Bundy’s cattle graze is federally owned, and the BLM now says the livestock aren’t supposed to be there. Federal agents this week cordoned off sections of land and sparked a monthlong operation to seize the cattle.

Tensions boiled over this week when a scuffle between the BLM and Bundy’s supporters ended in violence: Agents reportedly used a stun gun to subdue Bundy’s son and knocked his daughter to the ground. Though called “brutal” by some, the brawl did not land anyone in a hospital or jail.

But the incident did prompt Operation Mutual Aid — a national militia with members from California to Missouri — to visit Bundy’s ranch and set up a camp just in case things got out of hand again. Before their arrival Thursday, dozens of Bundy’s friends and relatives gathered at a protest camp in solidarity for the recent woes that have colored his rustic ranch.

The Blaze has also reported on this story:

But the presence of what appear to be heavily armed agents isn’t the only thing that has the Bundys on edge: Their son, Dave, was arrested and allegedly roughed up Sunday for filming federal agents while outside an area designated for First Amendment activity on the restricted property. He was held overnight.

The 37-year-old Bundy was arrested “following failure to comply with multiple requests by BLM law enforcement to leave the temporary closure area on public lands,” Cannon said. She declined to comment on the claim that he was brutally treated.

Dave Bundy was released from custody Monday and cited for refusing to disperse and resisting issuance of a citation or arrest, she added. Cannon could not explain why Dave was held overnight.

There are a few questions I have here. At what point did the government take over the land? Did the government pay for the land? Why was David Bundy arrested for taking filming federal agents? This does not sound like America–it sounds like a government of bullies with nothing better to do than harass American citizens. Among other things, the government is stealing this man’s cattle!

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The People Who Control The Language Control The Argument

The people who control the language control the argument. This was made very clear recently in the debate over Arizona SB 1062. The bill was designed to protect the rights of Christians in the marketplace. The legislature of Arizona felt that the bill was necessary because of various incidents resulting in lawsuits in other states. When the State of Arizona passed the bill through its legislature, the state was threatened with boycotts, loss of the Super Bowl, and various other forms of economic harassment. The bill was labeled ‘anti-gay,’ ‘Jim Crow, and various other things. The opponents controlled the language. The bill is only two pages long. It is written in legalese, but is fairly straightforward and easy to understand.

Power Line posted a link to the bill on Tuesday.  Here is the bill:

State of Arizona

Senate

Fifty-first Legislature

Second Regular Session

2014

 SB 1062

Introduced by

Senators Yarbrough: Barto, Worsley

 

 

AN ACT

 

amending sections 41‑1493 and 41‑1493.01, Arizona Revised Statutes; relating to the free exercise of religion.

  (TEXT OF BILL BEGINS ON NEXT PAGE)

 Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:

Section 1.  Section 41-1493, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

41-1493.  Definitions

In this article, unless the context otherwise requires:

1.  “Demonstrates” means meets the burdens of going forward with the evidence and of persuasion.

2.  “Exercise of religion” means the practice or observance of religion, including the ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.

3.  “Government” includes this state and any agency or political subdivision of this state.

4.  “Nonreligious assembly or institution” includes all membership organizations, theaters, cultural centers, dance halls, fraternal orders, amphitheaters and places of public assembly regardless of size that a government or political subdivision allows to meet in a zoning district by code or ordinance or by practice.

5.  “Person” includes a religious assembly or institution any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity.

6.  “Political subdivision” includes any county, city, including a charter city, town, school district, municipal corporation or special district, any board, commission or agency of a county, city, including a charter city, town, school district, municipal corporation or special district or any other local public agency.

7.  “Religion‑neutral zoning standards”:

(a)  Means numerically definable standards such as maximum occupancy codes, height restrictions, setbacks, fire codes, parking space requirements, sewer capacity limitations and traffic congestion limitations.

(b)  Does not include:

(i)  Synergy with uses that a government holds as more desirable.

(ii)  The ability to raise tax revenues.

8.  “Suitable alternate property” means a financially feasible property considering the person’s revenue sources and other financial obligations with respect to the person’s exercise of religion and with relation to spending that is in the same zoning district or in a contiguous area that the person finds acceptable for conducting the person’s religious mission and that is large enough to fully accommodate the current and projected seating capacity requirements of the person in a manner that the person deems suitable for the person’s religious mission.

9.  “Unreasonable burden” means that a person is prevented from using the person’s property in a manner that the person finds satisfactory to fulfill the person’s religious mission.

Sec. 2.  Section 41-1493.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

41-1493.01.  Free exercise of religion protected; definition

A.  Free exercise of religion is a fundamental right that applies in this state even if laws, rules or other government actions are facially neutral.

B.  Except as provided in subsection C, government of this section, state action shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.

C.  Government State action may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it the opposing party demonstrates that application of the burden to the person person’s exercise of religion in this particular instance is both:

1.  In furtherance of a compelling governmental interest.

2.  The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

D.  A person whose religious exercise is burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding, and obtain appropriate relief against a government regardless of whether the government is a party to the proceeding.  The person asserting such a claim or defense may obtain appropriate relief.  A party who prevails in any action to enforce this article against a government shall recover attorney fees and costs.

E.  In For the purposes of this section, the term substantially burden is intended solely to ensure that this article is not triggered by trivial, technical or de minimis infractions.

F.  For the purposes of this section, “state action” means any action by the government or the implementation or application of any law, including state and local laws, ordinances, rules, regulations and policies, whether statutory or otherwise, and whether the implementation or application is made or attempted to be made by the government or nongovernmental persons.

 

I have posted the bill in order to allow readers to draw their own conclusions about what the bill said and what the bill didn’t say. Those of us who support family values and religious freedom need to be very aware of what happens when those who oppose these values control the vocabulary.

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The Impact Of Voter Identification Laws On Voter Turnout

Yesterday National Review posted an article about the impact of voter ID laws on a recent election in Texas. The article quotes a a New York Times headline Thursday stating: “Texas’ Stringent Voter ID Law Makes a Dent at the Polls.” However, the facts cited in the article in the New York Times does not seem to support the headline.

There are four so-called victims of the voter ID law named in the article, but all of them were given the right to vote.

The article at National Review further quotes the New York Times article:

It does, however, note, “Officials also said there was little traffic at the offices set up by the state to provide free voter-ID documents for those without another approved form of identification.” So, in other words, the state had conscientiously prepared for the contingency of people needing voter-ID documents, and had set up offices to provide them for free. That’s a good thing, right? And what’s more, it turns out that there was really no problem after all. Contrary to the hysterical claims of those opposing voter-ID requirements, there apparently are not large numbers of Texas voters who lack identification.

The article concludes:

Texas’s secretary of state, who might know something about all this, is quoted belatedly as follows: “This was our first statewide election with a photo ID requirement in place, and it was smooth, secure and successful.” Somehow, that pithy summary was not quite up to snuff for the Times’s headline writer.

Consider the things you have to show identification for. If you want to enter any government building, you have to show identification. If you want to sign up for any government program, you have to show identification. If you want to board an airplane, you have to show identification. Isn’t voting at least as important as those activities?

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When Government Takes Up Bullying

One of the dangers of oversized government is the impact it has on the average citizen. Another danger is that government can become a bully to people it disagrees with. It is becoming very obvious that the current administration has no problem using the government to bully people who do not agree with administration policies.

The National Review posted a story yesterday about emails between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) regarding conservative political groups.

The article reports:

The correspondence suggests the discrimination of conservative groups extended beyond the IRS and into the FEC, where an attorney from the agency’s enforcement division in at least one case sought and received tax information about the status of a conservative group, the American Future Fund, before recommending that the commission prosecute it for violations of campaign-finance law. Lerner, the former head of the IRS’s exempt-organizations division, worked at the FEC from 1986 to 1995, and was known for aggressive investigation of conservative groups during her tenure there, too.

Under Rule 6103, the IRS is prohibited from sharing confidential taxpayer information, but the e-mail suggests that Lois Lerner may have shared the information in spite of the law.

There is a pattern to these “:phony scandals.” All of them include an arrogance on the part of the Executive Branch of our government that simply ignores both the law and Congressional oversight. There seems to be an element of corruption that has leaked into a number of areas in the Executive Branch. The Congress needs to hold the people who broke the law accountable.

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Happy Fourth of July

Posted by Andrea Soucy on facebook:

If the weather cooperates, there could be a lot of barbeques, beach cookouts, peak bagging, and bike tours this weekend; topped off by some fabulous fireworks. Sometime during the happy, hectic celebrations please take a few minutes to reflect on why all the cause for joy; we are celebrating the coming together of a greatly diverse group of men who pledged their fortunes, their lives, and their sacred honor to overthrow a government that had grown into a tyrannical and oppressive monstrosity. They saw themselves as citizens and felt that George III saw them as serfs to be exploited. Despite a number of years of pleas for redress to their grievances, the government became ever more repressive. That was when they came to a decision to throw off the yoke of oppression and create a nation of free men.

It was not a decision made without much discussion and soul searching. They knew that they might be seen as nothing more than treasonous men who would die in infamy after losing their fortunes, lives, and honor in the eyes of others. However, after prayer and reflection, they produced the Declaration of Independence and went back to their cities and towns to spread the news and raise the men to battle the most powerful military force of their time. Because they truly believed in their cause, they did not quit when the weather grew cold and snowy or their clothing tattered and torn. The rags with which they wrapped their feet when boots had fallen to shreds left bloody footprints in the snows of Valley Forge.

I often wonder if I could have persevered in those difficult conditions; I hope I would have but knowing my subterranean pain threshold think I might have folded, although the courage and perseverance of my comrades might have given me the strength to go onward. I certainly hope it would have been the latter. At any rate, I plan to take a bit of time on the fourth for some quiet reflection on their sacrifice that has given me the opportunity to live in the greatest nation that has ever existed to date. It was a noble experiment based on the novel idea that men did not need a king to tell them what to do and when to do it but was conceived with the idea that each person could rule himself if the government would recognize each person’s unalienable rights, given by no man but rather by the God of that person’s understanding, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As I look upon the current world scene, I am so grateful to those Founders for creating this nation and to God for allowing me to be born a citizen of this nation. Created by mortals, my country is not perfect but it is closer to perfection than any other nation I know and there is no where else I would want to live.

Andrea Soucy is a selectman for the town of Plainville, Massachusetts.

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Hope For Massachusetts

Shaunna O'ConnellLast night I had the pleasure of meeting Massachusetts State Representative Shaunna O’Connell. Shaunna represents the Third Bristol District, which includes most of her hometown of Taunton and Precinct 6 in Easton. Shaunna was elected in 2010. Since taking office she has worked to reform the Electronic Benefits Program (EBT) in Massachusetts, which has been rife with fraud. She has worked for more accountability to the taxpayers of Massachusetts and more transparency in how taxpayer money is spent. We definitely could use more Representatives like Shaunna in Boston.

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