Cutting The Cost Of Government By Improving The Economy

Yesterday Breitbart reported that in the last year food stamp [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)] enrollment has gone down in 46 out of the 50 states. The biggest drops were in Connecticut, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.

The article reports:

Connecticut saw the largest drop, with SNAP enrollment dropping 25.4 percent from May 2016 to May 2017.

The state also saw a pretty hefty drop in enrollment over one month — Connecticut’s enrollment in the food stamp program dropped 14.2 percent from April 2017 to May 2017.

North Carolina saw the second-largest decrease in SNAP enrollment with a 14.2 drop in the number of state residents participating in the food stamp program.

Part of the decrease has to do with a provision in the 2009 economic stimulus bill. The bill included a waiver of the work requirement in areas that were economically depressed.

The article explains:

The economic boom in these towns no longer made them eligible as of April 1, 2016, for a waiver from SNAP regulations. These regulations were put in place nationwide before the recession and require able-bodied adults without children to work at least 20 hours week, enroll in school, or take part in state-approved job training if they receive benefits for more than three months.

…The only four states that did not see declines in food stamp enrollment are Alaska, Kentucky, Montana, and Illinois. Each of those states reported slight gains in SNAP enrollment. Alaska saw the biggest increase in food stamp enrollment, with SNAP participation increasing by 4.1 percent. Illinois saw the second-largest increase in SNAP enrollment at 3.4 percent, and Montana reported an increase of 3 percent.

All of those states participate in the waiver program either statewide or in certain towns because of chronic unemployment in those areas.

Nationwide, food stamp enrollment has been on the downswing. Food stamp use in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in seven years, and 1.1 million Americans dropped off the food stamp rolls since President Trump took office.

There is a basic lesson here. When there is a work requirement to collect food stamps, enrollment goes down.

As I reported in July:

For example, in July 2014, Maine announced that it would no longer grant waivers from the work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependent children.

In order to receive benefits, they would thus have to work, participate in a work program for 20 hours per week, or do community service for about six hours per week.

It is important to note that this policy did not arbitrarily cut food stamp recipients from the program rolls. Able-bodied adults without dependent children in Maine were removed from the rolls only if they refused to participate in modest activities.

In fact, most of these individuals in Maine chose to leave the program rather than participate in training or community service, despite the strong outreach efforts of government caseworkers. This indicates that these individuals had other means of supporting themselves.

As a result of the new policy, the Maine caseload for able-bodied adults without dependent children dropped 80 percent in just a few months, falling from 13,332 in December 2014 to 2,678 recipients in March 2015.

I wonder what Congress had in mind when the waivers were put in place in 2009. We now have the examples of Alaska, Kentucky, Montana, and Illinois. All of those states still have the waivers, and they are the only four states whose economies have not improved sufficiently to remove the waivers. Food stamps without a work or training requirement does not help anyone–it simply creates dependency. How many times do we have to see this principle in action before we learn that lesson?

People Vote With Their Feet

The Albany Times Union posted a story today about states that are losing population and states that are gaining population.

The article reports:

United Van Lines reported Tuesday that nearly two-thirds of the moves involving New York households were outbound, a higher proportion than any other state except New Jersey and Illinois.

The 2016 National Movers Study by Fenton, Mo.- based United also found that almost 59 percent of the moves within the eastern United States were outbound.

Where were people moving? Mostly to western states and the Carolinas, with one exception. That exception was Vermont, which ranked second on the list of states with the highest proportion  — 67 percent — of inbound moves.

 South Dakota had the highest share of inbound moves, at 68 percent. 

New Jersey and Illinois, like New York, saw outbound moves making up 63 percent of all moves. 

The article also posted another interesting statistic:

In New York, inbound millennials were 27 percent of inbound moves and 19 percent of those moving out. But of those over 65, 26 percent were outbound and 20 percent were inbound.

So what is going on here? Millennials in many cases have limited life experience–they don’t realize how high taxes and high real estate prices will impact their standard of living. Also, many of them are in fields where they could potentially earn a large income, and they are not thinking about how much it costs to live in places like New York. The Carolinas have worked hard in recent years to lower taxes and attract businesses in order to keep the cost of living lower. South Dakota has a booming economy because of the oil industry there. As taxes increase in many northeastern states (as they tend to do under Democratic control), it will be interesting to track the migration of Americans. In recent years we have seen many companies move from California to Texas because of tax issues. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues.

Americans Are Learning to Fight Back

The Washington Free Beacon posted a story today about home healthcare workers in Illinois who are fighting for their right not to be part of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The article reports:

Home health aides in Illinois are fighting to recoup $32 million that was taken out of their paychecks in a coercive unionization scheme that the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional.

More than 80,000 home healthcare workers were forced to pay Service Employees International Union (SEIU) hundreds of dollars each year under a policy devised by the now-imprisoned Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Illinois declared that the aides, many of whom were caring for disabled relatives, were public employees since their compensation came through state Medicaid funds.

Pamela Harris, who provided care to a severely disabled daughter, sued the state and union arguing that the arrangement wrongfully deducted money from her check. The Supreme Court ruled in her favor in Harris v. Quinn, declaring the arrangement unconstitutional in 2014.

Some of the healthcare workers in Illinois have filed a class-action suit to get the money that was taken from them returned.

The article further reports:

Workers in Illinois stopped paying SEIU following the suit and now some are waging a class action lawsuit to make the union return deducted cash. Lawyers from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which argued Quinn v. Harris before the Supreme Court, have now taken the battle to federal appeals court. National Right to Work Foundation president Mark Mix said failing to return the money to the aides would set a dangerous precedent, incentivizing unions to continue pushing for forced dues collections.

“If SEIU bosses are not required to return the money they seized in violation of homecare providers’ First Amendment Rights, it will only encourage similar behavior from union officials eager to trample on the First Amendment to enrich themselves at the expense of tens of thousands of homecare providers,” he said in a release.

SEIU, which did not return request for comment, has said that it should not be required to pay back the workers because not all workers opposed union representation. A district court judge ruled in June that individual plaintiffs could recoup several thousand dollars paid to the union beginning in 2008, but nixed the class action status filed on behalf of all the home health aides.

The union is arguing that many of the workers did not object to the arrangement and would have paid the dues if they had been given a choice. So why then weren’t they given a choice? Hopefully the healthcare workers who had their money stolen will be able to get it back.

A Solution That Will Make Things Worse

This week there has been some rumbling about the integrity of American elections. Voter fraud is a problem, particularly in our large cities (for example–Chicago in the 1960 Presidential election). True the Vote in Houston found thousands of voters registered to one fictitious address in that city. In many states there is no proof of citizenship required to register to vote, and in California, a law has been passed allowing non-citizens to vote. I am not sure how the California law will play out, but I believe there is a constitutional problem there.

So where are we? There have been rumors of hacking into voting machines and voting machines that change votes. There have been accusations aimed at the Russians. There has been talk of Department of Homeland Security observers or even United Nations observers. Both of these are really bad ideas for one reason–either solution tens to federalize the election rather than letting local cities and communities police their elections.

One of the foundations of our representative republic is the integrity of our elections. If the Russians or other foreign entities wanted to undermine that, they wouldn’t have to do anything except cast doubt on the integrity of the election.That is something to keep in mind.

Meanwhile, the local control of elections helps protect their integrity. Local observers, judges, etc., are much more aware of the people in their communities. Not all local elections are computerized–making them impossible to hack.

Every year at midnight on election day, the voters of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire cast their ballots. In this years presidential primary, the nine votes were cast and counted quickly. It is almost impossible to interfere with a vote held on paper ballots.The fact that our elections are not federalized makes it more difficult to steal an election. Bringing in Homeland Security of the United Nations will federalize our elections and will make it easier–not harder–to compromise election integrity.

Fighting Back

The Alliance Defending Freedom posted an article on its website about actions it will be taking regarding North Carolina‘s bathroom bill.

The article reports:

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing students and parents at North Carolina public schools and universities filed suit Tuesday against the U.S. departments of Justice and Education for making federal student aid and educational funding dependent on students sharing restrooms and locker rooms with the opposite sex. The suit is similar to one ADF filed against the two agencies on behalf of parents and students in Illinois last week.

The DOJ disregarded student privacy and safety when it issued letters threatening the suspension of federal funding for North Carolina’s schools and university system, as well as federal financial aid for North Carolina’s university students, unless the state government repudiated the law known as House Bill 2. That law ensures that government facilities and public schools protect personal privacy by maintaining sex-specific restrooms, locker rooms, and showers. The DOJ then filed suit against the state on Monday, the same day that the governor and the General Assembly each sued the agency over its illegitimate demands.

“The administration shouldn’t condition the ability of women to receive an education on their willingness to shower with members of the opposite sex,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “On behalf of North Carolina students and families—and by extension all students and families across the nation affected by the DOJ’s and DOE’s overreach—we have filed suit to stop both agencies from bullying schools and universities. The agencies must stop using falsehoods about what federal law requires to threaten student access to educational opportunities and financial assistance.”

Do you want boys allowed in your high school or college daughter’s locker room?

Before you sign on to support the idea of men in women’s locker rooms, please watch the following video posted on YouTube by the Alliance Defending Freedom:

If the ‘right of privacy‘ is somehow enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, why are we taking that right away from the women of America?

The Voters In Illinois Are Being Hoisted On Their Own Petard

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal posted an article about what is happening with public employee pension funds in Illinois. To quote a Chicago pastor, “The chickens are coming home to roost.”

The article reports:

The Constitution is not a suicide pact—except maybe in Illinois. On Friday the Illinois Supreme Court struck down modest pension reforms as a violation of the state constitution in a decision that tees up state taxpayers for years of tax increases.

The Court stated that the pensions were a contract “the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.”

So where did this begin? It began with a very cozy relationship between unions and Democrat politicians. Politicians promised the unions benefits that could not be sustained in exchange for the support of the unions.

The article explains:

Less than 40% of the increase in the state’s unfunded liability since 1995 is due to inadequate payments. The rest is due mainly to benefit growth and faulty actuarial assumptions such as investment rate of return.

The 2013 reforms at issue capped salaries of current workers that are used to calculate pensions at $110,600 (with a carve-out for collectively bargained increases) and raised the retirement age for workers in their 20s to the ripe, old age of 60. Compounded 3% annual cost-of-living increases were also tweaked for younger workers, a modification that courts in nearly every other state have upheld.

The article concludes:

All of this means that Illinois and its municipalities may soon have little choice but to raise taxes or restructure debts to pay for pensions. Chicago, whose credit rating is two notches above junk, faces a $20 billion unfunded liability for pensions and $1.1 billion balloon payment next year. Unions (and perhaps investors) were counting on a state bailout, but now they will probably beg Washington for a rescue.

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has floated an alternative: a state constitutional amendment allowing pension modifications, which would require a public referendum and two-thirds vote of the legislature. Barring that, Illinois taxpayers may want to start contemplating Indiana or Florida residency.

The voters of Illinois have brought this upon themselves. In case you are in another state and laughing at their plight, don’t laugh too hard–this may be coming to your city or state soon. Most states and cities have unfunded mandates involving pensions for public employees which were given in union negotiations with politicians in exchange for union support. There has been a very unhealthy alliance between public employee unions and Democrat politicians for years in many cities and states. Although the Democrats and unions share a good part of the blame for this mess, the ultimate responsibility rests with the voters.

A representative republic needs informed voters. If voters are not informed, they are at the mercy of alliances such as these.

Just For The Record, This Is The Image That Won The Contest

Datechguyblog posted the winning picture from the Draw Mohammed contest in Garland, Texas. This picture perfectly sums up the battle for free speech. The problem in Texas was not Pam Geller’s contest–it was the Muslims who felt that it was their duty to kill people exercising their right to free speech. P–s Christ is a 1987 photograph by the American artist and photographer Andres Serrano. It depicts a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist’s urine. It was part of an art exhibit in New York. As offensive as it was, no one who was offended attempted to kill anyone. In the mid-1970s, Skokie, Illinois, was at the center of a case concerning the First Amendment right to assemble and the National Socialist Party of America, a neo-Nazi group. Skokie ultimately lost that case. Skokie had a sizeable Jewish population which objected to the Nazi-planned march. The march went ahead. Again, no one was killed. The First Amendment allows for freedom of speech. It does not protect anyone from being offended by that speech. The First Amendment should not be curtailed–if Muslims cannot live under the laws of America, they need to leave. If anyone comes to America, they need to be willing to live under the laws of America. The problem is not Pamela Geller–the problem is people living in America who are prone to violence and do not respect the rights of Americans.

 

draw-mohammad

They Are Already Here

The Center for Security Policy posted an article today about six Bosnian immigrants who have been accused of sending money and equipment to Islamic State and Al-Qaeda fighters overseas. The indictment of the six was released Friday.

The article reports:

All six individuals’ names have been released; Mediha Medy Salkicevic from Chicago, 34, Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, Armin Harcevic, 37, all three from St. Louis, Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, New York, and Jasminka Ramic, 42, of Rockford Illinois. The indictment states that all knew where the funding was going and that all are Bosnian natives who either legally immigrated to the United States or had refugee status. Five of the six have been already arrested; Ramic has fled the country but the Justice Department has not yet disclosed her location. According to the indictment, Rosic tried to go to Syria to join Islamic State last July.

The suspects used social media such as Facebook to communicate and sent their funding online via PayPal and Western Union. In order to conceal their intentions from any investigation, coded terms were used such as “the beach” for Iraq and Syria as well as “brothers” for Islamic militants. The US Postal Service was used to ship the equipment purchased.

The article concludes:

These most recent arrests show continues to show that the Islamic State continues to possess a powerfully draw on potential supporters, and while this is traditionally understood through the lens of foreign fighters, law enforcement must remain on watch to break up logistic and funding cells such as the one in St. Louis.

If we are to remain safe as Americans, we need to be aware of the threats against us. Susan Rice recently stated that ISIS is not an existential threat to the United States. ISIS specifically may or may not be, but the splinter groups and people inspired by ISIS represent a real threat to America because those groups and people are already here. We accomplish nothing by burying our heads in the sand and ignoring the fact that there are people in America who are currently supporting those who want to end freedom in America.

Who Is Setting Up The Voting Machines?

Last Wednesday I posted an article (rightwinggranny.com) about voting machines in Schaumburg, Illinois, registering a Republican vote as a Democrat vote. That story was based on a Fox News story. Yesterday the Examiner posted a story about voting machines in Maryland that are refusing to let voters vote for Republican candidates.

The article reports:

“When I first selected my candidate on the electronic machine, it would not put the ‘x’ on the candidate I chose — a Republican — but it would put the ‘x’ on the Democrat candidate above it,” reported Donna Hamilton.

“This happened multiple times with multiple selections. Every time my choice flipped from Republican to Democrat. Sometimes it required four or five tries to get the ‘x’ to stay on my real selection,” the Frederick, Md., resident said Thursday.

…two voters in Anne Arundel County experienced the same problem: A touchscreen voting machine switched their Republican votes to Democrats. The voters had to cancel theirs votes and start over.

Joe Torre, election director in Anne Arundel, called it a “calibration issue” involving a single machine.

Hamilton said she notified officials of the problem she encountered at the Frederick County Center, where she voted. “I’m not sure what was done about it. If someone is not paying close attention, they could end up voting for the wrong candidate,” she said.

No kidding. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue–this is an honest elections issue. Both parties need to make sure voting machines are calibrated correctly so that votes get counted correctly. As Americans, we need to be able to trust the integrity of our elections.

Voters, Beware, Things May Not Be What They Seem

Fox News is reporting today about a very unsettling early voter mishap. Early voting has already begun in Illinois, and on Monday Republican state representative candidate Jim Moynihan went to cast his vote in the Schaumburg Public Library. When he attempted to vote for himself, the machine cast a vote for his opponent.

The article reports:

The conservative website Illinois Review reported that “While using a touch screen voting machine in Schaumburg, Moynihan voted for several races on the ballot, only to find that whenever he voted for a Republican candidate, the machine registered the vote for a Democrat in the same race. He notified the election judge at his polling place and demonstrated that it continued to cast a vote for the opposing candidate’s party. Moynihan was eventually allowed to vote for Republican candidates, including his own race.

Moynihan offered this gracious lesson to his followers on Twitter: “Be careful when you vote in Illinois. Make sure you take the time to check your votes before submitting.”

Cook County Board of Elections Deputy Communications Director Jim Scalzitti, told Illinois Watchdog, the machine was taken out of service and tested.

“This was a calibration error of the touch-screen on the machine,” Scalzitti said. “When Mr. Moynihan used the touch-screen, it improperly assigned his votes due to improper calibration.”

I hate to be cynical, but I really do wonder if that is the only machine in Illinois that has a calibration error. This makes me very concerned about voting in America. I am ready to go back to paper and pencil if that’s what it takes to have an honest election. The fact that this happened in Cook County makes me even more suspicious.

The Price Of Gun Control

Theoretically, gun control makes sense. In a perfect world (which we obviously do not live in), if you got rid of guns, you would end gun violence. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and gun control does not end gun violence. Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but it also has one of the highest rates of gun violence. July 4th weekend is known as a particularly bad weekend to be in Chicago.

Western Journalism posted a story yesterday about a shooting incident in Chicago this past weekend,

The article reports:

According to the Chicago Tribune, Denzel Mickiel placed a cup on the roof of a car that belonged to a female partygoer. When she removed the cup, he reportedly became irate and began screaming at her.

A short time later, reports indicate Mickiel returned with a gun and began shooting at the woman and those with her. One of her friends, however, happened to be a soldier and concealed carry permit holder.

Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Hain claims the serviceman took cover, drew his weapon, and returned fire. After firing twice, hitting Mickiel with both shots, the group was able to escape.

Two additional individuals continued firing on the four victims as they sped away in two separate vehicles. One young woman in the group was hit, reports indicate, and sustained injuries to her arm and back.

Mickiel was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. Still hospitalized Sunday, a judge ruled he be charged with attempted murder and held on $950,000 bail. The remaining two shooters have yet to be identified.

We need to have good people with guns. If they are among us, they can protect people before the police have time to get there. Thank God for that soldier. It would have been too late when the police arrived.

Protecting Religious Liberty

Yesterday CNS News reported that the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that both the owners of a company and their company have religious liberty rights that are burdened by the HHS mandate.

The article reports:

The (American Center for Law and Justice ACLJ) represents Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc., a family owned, full-service construction contractor located in Highland, Illinois. The company provides a group health insurance plan for its non-union employees, which number about 20. Cyril B. Korte and Jane E. Korte own a controlling interest in the company and contend the HHS mandate violates their Catholic faith. The ACLJ filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of both the individuals and the company in October 2012.
Below is an excerpt from the ruling:

We hold that the plaintiffs–the business  owners and their companies — may challenge the mandate. We further hold that compelling them to cover these services substantially burdens their religious-exercise rights.

Under RFRA the government must justify the burden under the standard of strict scutiny. So far it has not done so, and we doubt that it can.

Because the RFRA claims are very likely to succeed and the balance of harms favors protecting the religious-liberty rights of the plaintiffs, we reverse and remand with instructions to enter preliminary injunctions barring enforcement of the mandate against them.

This decision is good news for those attempting to preserve religious freedom in America.

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Lying As A Way Of Life

If you heard someone you knew tell this story, you would immediately feel sympathy:

“I’ve had a situation in my family — a child — who had serious physical problems, who could not have qualified but for group health insurance available to me as a member of Congress,” Durbin (Senator Dick Durbin) said in response to a pointed question to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

“If I had gone on the open market to buy a policy I’m not sure I could have bought one for my family to cover my child,” said Durbin, who was first elected to Congress in 1982 when his Christine was fourteen.

When you hear that story, you immediately think how horrible it would be to have a child who needed medical attention and not be able to provide the necessary care. However, when you look a little bit closer, that is not exactly what the situation was.

The quote above is from a Daily Caller article posted on Tuesday.

The article tells a little more about the story:

…the Illinois Democrat (Senator Dick Durbin) neglected to mention that his late daughter was easily covered by existing insurance, and that he used taxpayer money to reward the hospital that treated her.

Despite her preexisting condition, Christine Durbin, who suffered from a lifelong heart condition and died at age 40 in 2008, was eligible for coverage under existing laws in multiple states, including the senator’s state and the state she ultimately settled in.

Durbin also neglected to mention that he sent his daughter to one of the best children’s hospitals in the country, to which he earmarked millions of dollars from 2002-2010.

…State law also addressed the problem of individuals in the open market suffering from preexisting conditions. In 1987, Illinois passed the Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan (CHIP, which covered any Illinoisan who could not “obtain individual coverage from private insurance companies because of medical conditions.” Thirty-five other states have similar programs, including Maryland, where Christine ultimately settled.

It is entirely possible to address the problem of providing health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions without wrecking health insurance for the rest of us. If the Senator feels that it is necessary to lie to promote ObamaCare, why should we believe anything else he is saying?
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Common Sense Takes A Vacation

Actually common sense has taken a lot of vacations lately, but some are a little stranger than others. CBS News in St. Louis reported yesterday on an incident at a Denny’s in Belleville, Illinois, where a police detective was asked to leave because her gun was making a patron feel uncomfortable. The Belleville police chief has responded by asking his policemen not to eat at Denny’s. If I were a criminal wanting to rob a restaurant, I now know that there will be no armed policemen in Denny’s at any time to stop me. Way to go.

The article reports:

The department says the detectives were out of uniform but wearing their badges, when manager David Rice asked them to either leave or put their guns in their vehicle.

Rice, told the detectives that one of their weapons, specifically a female detective’s gun, was making another diner feel uncomfortable.

As the officers were leaving, without their food, General Manager Michael Van walked up and corrected the manager and said it was fine for them to stay, but the officers said it would be too awkward and they left.

Denny’s corporate office has apologized for the incident, stating, “Denny’s policy permits law enforcement officials to carry their firearms in the restaurant and we regret any misunderstanding.”

The person who complained needs to rethink their complaint. If there are armed policemen in a restaurant, the chances of anyone being harmed by a criminal with a gun are reduced considerably. The patron was actually safer with the armed policemen in the restaurant than without.

One of the purposes of the Second Amendment was to have an armed citizenry that would be able to defend itself from criminals and from a tyrannical government. As the discussion of gun bans and which guns to ban continues, has it occurred to anyone that in order to defend themselves from a tyrannical government, citizens need to have weapons equal to what the government has. The colonial fathers owned and knew how to use weapons as powerful as those owned by the government. Private citizens did not own cannons, but their muskets were as powerful as the government muskets. Those attempting to ban certain guns might want to consider that. Also, concerning multiple rounds of ammunition, if you are hunting and wound rather than kill a wild boar and he is coming after you, do you want to take the time to reload?

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The Continuing Battle To Overturn The HHS Mandate In Obamacare

The American Center For Law And Justice (ACLJ) is reporting today that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a ruling that temporarily blocks the abortion-pill mandate from being imposed on business owners in Illinois.

The article reports:

With this important ruling, all of the ACLJ’s clients with pending litigation over the HHS mandate have now been granted a temporary reprieve from the mandate’s violation of religious liberty as our lawsuits continue.

The article also mentions:

It is also important to note that the court stated that the Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene in Hobby Lobby’s challenge to the mandate earlier this week, is not determinative of this case or many others across the country, as the legal standard for the Supreme Court’s intervention requested in that case “differs significantly” from the standard applicable to motions for injunction in federal trial and appellate courts.

It should be illegal to force business owners to violate their consciences. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will rule that way when the case eventually arrives.

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The Purchase Of Thomson State Prison In Illinois

Andrew McCarthy posted an article at National Review today about the government’s  purchase of Thomson State Prison in Illinois. Mr. McCarthy believes that the prison is being prepared to house the inmates currently at Guantanamo.

The article reports:

As the 9/11 Families point out, the Justice Department’s court filing on the purchase of the state prison took pains to keep open its option to transfer Gitmo prisoners there. DOJ declares that the purpose of the acquisition includes “provid[ing] humane and secure confinement of individuals held under authority of any Act of Congress, and such other persons as in the opinion of the Attorney General of the United States are proper subjects for confinement in such institutions.” The Gitmo detainees are being held under the authority of acts of Congress — in particular, the 2001 authorization for the use of military force. And Attorney General Holder has been insistent that, in his opinion, civilian federal prisons are fitting holding facilities for enemy-combatant terrorists captured in wartime.

As with many other things (the release of the Blind Sheik, the nasty parts of Obamacare, the crackdown on fracking, etc.), it is a safe bet that there will be no transfers of Guantanamo prisoners there until after the 2012 election.

What is the problem with moving Guantanamo prisoners there? Housing prisoners in the United States rather than on an island makes them easier for terrorists to access or to create hostage situations near the prison. Because the prisoners are actually on United States soil, it is only a matter of time before lawyers will get involved and find a legal loophole to let the prisoners loose on American streets. Generally, housing terrorists on American soil is just a bad idea.

This is another illustration of the need for a new administration in Washington.

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This Is My Kind Of Candidate

Dr. Barbara Bellar started out as a nun. She went on to become a Major in the Army, a Doctor, a Lawyer, and a small business entrepreneur. She is running for Illinois State Senate in District 18.

This is her website. The video below is the reason I would vote for her if I lived in Illinois. She totally understands Obamacare.

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Taxes Really Do Influence Behavior

Breitbart.com posted an article today about the impact of an upcoming tax increase on cigarettes in Illinois scheduled to take affect later this month. On June 24, the tax on a pack of cigarettes will increase by $1. Some convenience stores are running low on cigarettes because customers who usually come in to buy one carton are currently buying two or three in order to save the $20 or $40 dollars.

The article reports:

As NBC Chicago reports, a Cook County, Illinois, cigarette tax hike earlier this year is to blame for an alleged 15 to 20 percent drop in business at one Illinois tobacco retailer, adding that Indiana sellers could substantially gain from the latest increase:

“After March 1 when Cook County raised their taxes, I lost about–between 15 to 20 percent of my business,” Illinois tobacco shop owner Jawad Muqeet said. “The prices are so high nobody wants to buy cigarettes in downtown”

Indiana tobacco sellers could gain from the this increase. Hammond smoke shop owner Roni Patel says a carton of Marlboro cigarettes costs $56 on average in Indiana, compared to $50 in Will County, Illinois. He says the average price per carton in Will County will raise to $61 following the tax increase, expected to go into effect June 24.

Behavior that is heavily taxed decreases; behavior that is subsidized increases.

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Maybe Winning The Lottery Wasn’t So Great After All

The front of a used Mark Six ticket

Image via Wikipedia

There are a lot of people walking around dreaming of winning the lottery. I was in a local convenience store recently when a man came in and bought $10 worth of gasoline and $20 worth of lottery tickets. I thought his priorities might be a little off, but I suppose I should thank him–he’s paying money to the state that I don’t have to.

Most states now have state lotteries. Illinois is no exception. However, eighty-five of their recent lottery winners may not currently be feeling like winners.

Big Government reported today that $159,000 in checks to eighty-five lottery winners in Illinois bounced. Ouch.

Please follow the link to the article–the article is short and pretty much says what I have posted, but the comments are amazing.

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Union Leaders — The New Fat Cats

Ed Morrissey at Hot Airposted a story today about two high-ranking union officials who took advantage of a legal loophole in the Illinois pension law to collect a $100,000 per year pension for teaching one day in school. A bill was passed recently that:

…enabled union officials to get into the state teachers pension fund and count their previous years as union employees after quickly obtaining teaching certificates and working in a classroom. They just had to do it before the bill was signed into law.

The article at Hot Air Reports:

Although the bill received bipartisan support, the benefit to union officials was sponsored by Springfield Democrats showered by IFT campaign contributions during the 2006 elections.

“The people that are on the inside and understand the process are going to be able to make the system work for their advantage,” said Kent Redfield, who teaches political science at the University of Illinois Springfield. “That this legislation got a hearing and got considered and passed is a reflection of that close relationship between the IFT and the Democratic leadership.

“It feeds into the cynicism about all the deals, that it’s an insider’s game and that the system is rigged.”

Meanwhile, Illinois residents have been hit with tax increases because the spending by the state is out of control. Overspending by government is both a local and national problem. Until the unions and the democrat politicians stop working toward taking as much money as possible from working people while blaming the rich for the state of the economy, our country’s financial problems will continue.

 

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Quote Of The Day

Rahm Emanuel (right) and Senator Dick Durbin (...

Image via Wikipedia

Jan Schakowsky is a Democrat Congresswoman who has represented the ninth district of Illinois since 1999. WLS in Chicago posted the following quote from her today:

Schakowsky said that Americans don’t deserve to keep all of their money because we need taxes to support our society.

The exact quote was:

“I’ll put it this way. You don’t deserve to keep all of it and it’s not a question of deserving because what government is, is those things that we decide to do together. And there are many things that we decide to do together like have our national security. Like have police and fire. What about the people that work at the National Institute of Health who are looking for a cure for cancer.”

I don’t want to keep all of my money–I just want to keep more of it than the government takes and gives to other people.

If you agree with Congresswoman Schakowsky, you probably vote for Democrat candidates. If you disagree, you probably vote for Republicans. That is the debate in America right now. The 2012 elections will tell us who is winning the debate.

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Do Politics Influence Where People Choose To Live ?

Map of USA showing states with no state income...

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Yahoo Finance posted an article yesterday entitled, “States Where No One Wants To Buy A New Home.” Since I live in one of the states on the list (Massachusetts is listed as number 7 of 10), I read the article.

The map above shows all the states with no state income tax in red and the states that tax only interest and dividend income in yellow. I am not sure how much of a factor this is in the number of housing starts. It is interesting, though, that none of the states with no state income tax are on the list of states with the lowest number of housing starts.

The article reports:

Surprisingly, our list of states where few permits have been issued recently is different from the typical list of the worst housing markets. California, Nevada and Florida are always on those lists because homes are vacant and home values continue to drop. But the three are not on this list. It may be that prices have dropped so low in these markets that home inventory has begun to move, even if only tentatively. Instead, markets where housing permits are very small in relation to total homes are markets in which builders have abandoned any hope of near-term sales.

In case all you really wanted to do was see the list, here it is:

  1. Rhode Island
  2. West Virginia
  3. Illinois
  4. Michigan
  5. Connecticut
  6. Ohio
  7. Massachusetts
  8. New York
  9. Maine
  10. Pennsylvania

What in the world do these states have in common? I suspect there are a lot of reasons for the number of building permits to decrease in these states. Michigan for instance has lost a lot of businesses due to the tax policies of recent state administrations. Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island all have state income taxes and business environments that do not necessarily encourage businesses to migrate there. New York is a very expensive place to live, although I believe the current governor is trying to ease the burden on the state’s taxpayers. It is interesting to me that these are all states in the northern areas of the country. Could it be that as the baby boomers age, they are simply looking for warmer places to live?

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