Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Myth-busting: Exposing health care myths
to the light of day

Americans are still smarting from having health care reform shoved down their throats, but the reality is that the pain of that colossal blunder is just beginning.

Sally Pipes is a Canadian-born economist who worked in Canada before fleeing to the US “to get away from the Canadian health care system,” and is now President and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute. After studying the Canadian and US health care systems and the Affordable Health Care Act, she believes “the American people are going to be very upset with higher taxes, higher deficits, and, ultimately, rationed care. Because that’s what’s going to happen under ObamaCare, as we move down the path to government-run Medicare-for-all.”

She calculates that 23 million Americans will still be uninsured in 2019, and that between now and 2024 health care will cost taxpayers about $2.5 trillion, a long way from President Barack Obama’s socialistic goal of universal coverage costing just $900 billion over 10 years.

In her book, “The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care: A Citizen’s Guide,” Ms. Pipes recognizes the following myths: (1) Government health care is more efficient; (2) 46 million Americans can’t get health care; (3) we’re spending too much on health care; (4) high drug prices drive up health care costs; (5) importing drugs would reduce health care costs; (6) universal coverage can be achieved by forcing everyone to buy insurance; (7) government prevention programs reduce health care costs; (8) we need more government to insure poor Americans; (9) health information technology is the silver bullet; (10) government-run health care systems in other countries are better and cheaper than America’s.

Ms. Pipes addresses numbers 1 and 10 discussing her mother’s experience in Canada. Believing she might have colon cancer, her mother tried to get a colonoscopy, but was denied because of her age. Six months later when she began hemorrhaging and went to the ER. After being kept waiting two days she finally got the procedure, which confirmed her own diagnosis. She died two weeks later. How’s that for efficiency and better care?

Comparing cancer data in the US with countries with nationalized health care, Ms. Pipes explains that five-year survival rates for breast cancer are 83.9 percent in the US and just 69.7 in Britain. American colon cancer patients are 35 percent more likely to survive than in Britain, and the prostate cancer survival rate is 91.9 percent in the US, 73.7 percent in France and 51.1 percent in Britain.

P.J. O’Rourke writes political satire, and uses it as a vehicle for communicating serious points. In his recent book, “Don’t Vote – It Just Encourages the Bastards,” he addresses the cost of health care using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which show that we spend an average of $2,853 per person each year on health care, but that’s only $185 more than we spend on “food away from home,” and only $155 more than we spend on “entertainment” each year.

Mr. O’Rourke cites data published by economist Glen Whitman and physician Raymond Raad demonstrating America’s dominance in Nobel Prize awards for research in medicine and physiology: “Between 1969 and 2008 Americans were awarded fifty-seven Nobels, seventeen more than were received by residents of the EU, Switzerland, Japan, Canada and Australia combined.”

Using Ms. Pipes’ data, he explains that comparisons of health care among countries often does not adjust for non-health care system factors in the US that affect life expectancy – like higher traffic fatality, homicide and obesity rates – or that the US uses a broader definition of live births for the live birth mortality rate than countries like France and Belgium, where babies born at less that 26-weeks are counted as dead.

Ms. Pipes and Mr. O’Rourke show that the American health care system provides excellent care, and that when you look beneath the surface the myths that we have a bad health care system melt away.

Mr. O’Rourke suggests that “there’s a simpler way to make health care cheaper. Just make it worse.” Which is, of course, precisely what we are doing through the Affordable Health Care Act. But our health care system does not need to be destroyed to be improved, it only needs tweaking.

“If we want to bring costs down and extend coverage to more Americans, we have to open the health care marketplace to competition – by abolishing costly government regulations and reforming the tax code to make insurance more affordable,” Ms. Pipes wrote. “We can solve the health care problems that plague the United States, but we won't solve them if we continue to believe the many myths that plague the health care debate.”

That is what the ideologues in Washington don’t want you to know. They want a nationalized health care system like Canada, Britain or France. Americans wouldn’t give a second look to health care reform if they could accurately compare our system against these poorly performing nationalized systems. But that requires honesty by politicians and the news media.

We need to put the Affordable Health Care Act in the trash, and start over improving the best health care in the world with a few sensible modifications.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Holiday Wish For You

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.
And a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year of 2011, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only “America” in the Western Hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, or sexual preference of the wishee.
Fine print: By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The election was one step in restoring
dignity and honor to Congress

The election last month, when voters sent dozens of incumbents packing and gave Republicans a gain of 63 seats in the House of Representatives and six in the Senate, was a strong repudiation of the elitism displayed by our Congress, particularly since 2008. Yet, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and more than a few of their fellow travelers in Congress did not change their way of doing things.

Last week we saw a repeat of last year’s debacle over health care reform in which the aforementioned Congressional leaders pushed through a monstrous 2,300-page, secretly conceived bill that almost nobody had read and that the American people strongly opposed.

This time, Congress disserved us by producing a bill of 1,924 pages, but again no one had time to read it before the leadership wanted to act on it, and this one would have spent $1.2 trillion dollars that we don’t have with more than a smattering of pork greasing the skids toward Congressional approval.

Members were not the least bit hesitant to throw in billions of dollars of self-serving spending, much of which was political bribery to encourage other members to support a bill they otherwise might not support, and the rest to payoff votes in future elections.

For the first time in history our intrepid leaders have failed to pass a single appropriations bill all year, and with time running out before the government would have to shut down, they decided to combine 12 separate bills into one omnibus measure.

Predictably, Harry Reid praised the spending bill as “a very good piece of legislation.” And if your goal is to turn your country into Greece, he was exactly right.

A Gallup poll last week showed Congressional approval has dropped to its lowest point ever, just 13 percent, and it is precisely this sort of legislative malfeasance that produced November’s voter rebellion. One wonders what those 13 percent are thinking?

Enough Senators rose to the occasion and opposed the bill that Sen. Reid had to withdraw it last Thursday. And, doesn’t all of this make you thankful that our president has demanded “an end to the old way of doing business and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability that the American people have every right to expect and demand?”

This spectacle calls attention to the idiocy of lame duck sessions more than at any time in memory. Voters fired about 13 percent of the 535 members of Congress, relieving Democrats of control of the House of Representatives and narrowing their majority in the Senate. And yet the leadership and many members continued to behave as they did before the election, in the same way that earned Democrats a loss of 69 total seats. And – unbelievably – many of them seem pleased with themselves.

The phrase “lame duck” dates back to the 18th century at the London Stock Exchange, and refers to a stock broker who defaulted on his debts. In today’s political parlance, it is used to describe a politician who either did not or could not run for re-election, or was defeated in his or her bid to be re-elected. “Lame duck” is an apt description of our Congressional misfits.

In business, when an employee does his or her job badly, or behaves in an unacceptable manner, he or she is dismissed from their job and asked to leave the premises. Immediately. They don’t get to hang around continuing to misbehave for another couple of months.

For some reason this sensible procedure is not followed in the US Congress. There, those who have been found wanting by voters or didn’t seek re-election are able to continue functioning for another sixty days, with no consequences for making disastrous decisions that their constituents dislike. Some of the members who were dismissed by voters supported the omnibus spending bill and other bills opposed by a majority of the American people.

This idiotic practice must stop. On this and other matters Congress would be well advised to follow the sensible practices of business. If you lose an election, clean out your desk and head home; you are done as a legislator the day after the election, and Congress shuts down until January.

That would eliminate most of the disservice we have been subjected to since Nov. 2, and would force Congressional leaders to take care of important business in a timely, mature and responsible fashion, which would be not only a breath of fresh air, but a dramatic improvement in government.

Score another point for good government by keeping legislation to a manageable number of pages. It’s absurd to have bills of hundreds or thousands of pages in length, and highly irresponsible to not allow ample time for them to be read and debated prior to voting on them. And bundling a divisive measure with a popular one in an attempt to get the divisive measure passed more than anything else resembles extortion.

Perhaps after another election cycle we will have done away with most or all of the remaining “disservants” and the country will be on its way to restoring honor and dignity to Congress.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Many of the problems Americans face today
are truly “taxing”

The US tax system is 13,400 pages of complicated gobbledy-gook that confuses nearly everyone who encounters it. Just ask Charlie Rangel, Tim Geithner, or Kathleen Sebelius.

One of its most immoral features is the Death Tax that will, if President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats have their way, confiscate 45 percent of estates of at least $3.5 million ($7 million for couples), despite the fact taxes have previously been paid on the assets of these estates. The federal government justifies this second taxing at one’s death because … well, because you died. But according to The Tax Foundation’s last poll, 68 percent of Americans oppose the Death Tax.

Seeking an explanation for just why it is fair to confiscate nearly half of what someone has earned during his or her life, Fox News interviewed New York Democrat Rep. Anthony Weiner, who plainly was not up to the task of defending the Death Tax. And who could be?

Instead of answering the straightforward question “why is the Death Tax fair?” he offered this dodge: “The only question here is not whether or not there is going to be a tax on that, the question is where the limit should be and how much” should be taxed.

Many liberals have great disdain for wealthy people, and it‘s not important if they earned their wealth through years of hard work and sacrifice. Rep. Weiner told us, although not so directly, that he and other liberals believe that heirs to estates are not entitled to what their parent’s worked so hard to leave them when they die. They believe that people who inherit wealth should have a large chunk of it confiscated by the federal government. It’s how they define “fair.”

Since liberal ideas are often emotional in origin and not thought through, they usually create serious problems.

Here’s a very real scenario: A man invests everything he has to start a business. He works long hours to build the business and his spouse and children work in it and help it grow. After several years the man dies, leaving the business to his wife, who continues to operate it with the children. The business continues to grow in size and value, and employs several non-family members. And then the widowed spouse dies. Enter Anthony Weiner to tell the children that their inheritance is valued at $4 million and the government is going to take $1.8 million in Death Taxes. They are forced to sell the business to pay the taxes. It’s only fair, you know.

The Death Tax is a tax on American values that punishes savings, families, and investment in capital. It is a leading cause of dissolution among small businesses. It is an atrocity that is contrary to everything the United States of America stands for.

Another timely tax issue is continuing the Bush era tax rates.

President Obama and Congressional Democrats wanted to extend the tax rates for everyone except the “richest” Americans, defined as individuals making $200,000 a year or more, or $250,000 for couples (the couple in the example above likely fell into this category), while Republicans wanted to extend the existing rates for all taxpayers and were roundly ridiculed by liberals, who accused them of wanting to “give tax cuts to the rich,” that tired old class warfare aphorism.

But that is dishonest: keeping the existing rates is not a tax cut, for anyone; it merely continues taxing everyone at the same rate as for the last seven years. What the Democrats really want to do is raise taxes, but only on the “rich.”

All of which begs the question: Why should one group of taxpayers pay a higher rate than other taxpayers? Is this another of the liberal’s ideas of fairness?

Way back when the Founders were debating the details of the nation they were creating
Thomas Jefferson said, "To take from one, because it is thought his own industry … has acquired too much … is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it."

Liberals want the rich to pay more than everyone else. But they already do. According to The Tax Foundation, the top 5 percent earned 34.7 percent of the nation's adjusted gross income, but paid approximately 58.7 percent of federal individual income taxes - more than the bottom 95 percent of tax filers combined.

Taxes are a necessary evil to fund government. But how big should government be and how much should it cost? And shouldn’t all but the poorest pay something to support their government? Currently, 47 percent of households pay nothing.

People like Mr. Weiner arrogantly regard all money as government’s money. But it’s the people’s money, and elected officials are obliged to be frugal when they spend the people’s money. They aren’t entitled to spend taxpayer money to fund their self-serving excesses, like their superior health care plan, cushy pension and Nancy Pelosi’s personal jet upgrade.

In the last election a lot of folks who think like Anthony Weiner lost their jobs. We need to continue that trend.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The federal government’s excesses and abuses
must be dealt with

Even after last month’s election people still try to downplay the scope of the tea party sentiment and its acceptance by the American people. Critics either don’t understand the movement, or just can’t bring themselves to admit that a majority of Americans disagree with the direction the so-called “progressives” have taken the country. And they have mobilized to elect people they think will work to change that direction.

The majority plainly objects to the degree to which the federal government has grown in size, power and scope, and realizes that the general trend of government and some specific actions are dangerous to our way of life, and are not unlike the actions that drove our ancestors to risk everything in a fight for independence and to establish a limited government that would for the most part leave them alone to live their lives as they saw fit.

The list of abuses is long, and includes such things as the EPA rescinding mining permits already issued and dragging their feet on new permits in West Virginia, and the unjustified banning of oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore, which in both cases jeopardizes the economies of those states without justification, and furthermore hampers our quest for energy independence. The federal government has ignored its responsibility to secure the southern border from illegal immigration and its dangers, and then has taken legal action against Arizona when it tried to protect its own citizens from the resulting consequences.

This problem transcends mere two-party politics. It is a breach of the 221 year-old contract between the now-fifty states and the federal government, the Constitution of the United States.

Author Thomas E. Wood, Jr. goes to great lengths in his new book, “Nullification: How to Resist Tyranny in the 21st Century,” to show that after the Revolutionary War, while the debate over the pros and cons of the proposed constitution raged prior to its ratification, Virginia put forth vigorous opposition to the wording of the document because it did not strongly enough spell out the limitations on the federal government’s power. Patrick Henry raised the concern, for example, that the term “general welfare” could be expanded and exploited by “ambitious politicians.” Today we can plainly see that Virginians were correct to worry about such expansions of power.

Mr. Wood shows, in fact, that contrary to the way most Americans understand things today, the states did not give up their individual sovereignty to the federal government when they ratified the Constitution, but retained control of all but a few specific areas.

As Federalist Edmund Randolph explained during the ratification debate, if Virginia ratified the Constitution it would do so with the understanding “that all authority not given, is retained by the people,” and “that no right can be cancelled, abridged, or restrained, by the Congress, or any officer of the United States,” and further that “we should be at liberty to consider as a violation of the Constitution, every exercise of a power not expressly delegated therein.” (Emphasis added)

Thomas Jefferson wrote that the individual states “entered into a compact by which they agreed to unite in a single Government as to their relations with each other, and with foreign nations, and as to certain other articles particularly specified. They retained at the same time … the other rights of independent government, comprehending mainly their domestic interests. …” (Emphasis added)

Hence, if a coal mining state like West Virginia or an oil producing state like Louisiana is put in economic jeopardy by the federal government exceeding its authority, or the safety of the citizens of Arizona is put in jeopardy by the federal government’s interference with Arizona’s efforts to protect them, the federal government’s behavior is unconstitutional.

When the government exceeds its limited authority through the passage of laws by Congress, or the imposition of regulations by an administrative agency, affected states are within their rights and obligated to ignore those laws and regulations and formally protest. It was the prospect of this sort of behavior that prompted the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.

As Kentuckian John Breckenridge said when his state took issue with federal abuses, when the federal government passes laws that are unconstitutional, the states must “make a legislative declaration that, being unconstitutional, they are therefore void and of no effect.”

The many abuses and excesses of the federal government are harmful and dangerous to the states; they run counter to the intent of the Constitution to establish a federal government with limited and enumerated powers and to the ideal of self-government by the states which ratified it; and they are the antithesis of what the citizens of many states have chosen for themselves through their duly elected state governments.

The process of identifying and voiding unconstitutional behavior by the federal government is known as nullification, and there are many examples of states nullifying federal actions throughout the nation’s history. We can see nullification at work in the formal actions of several states in response to the healthcare reform plan.

But healthcare reform is but one of a myriad of federal excesses and abuses that must be nullified.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Private charity threatened by unrelenting
“Big Government” policies

Now that we’ve officially entered the holiday season we will be hearing more about the need for charitable giving. Surveys indicate, in fact, that over 50 percent of all donations to charity are made between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

According to, a personal financial Web site, Americans give about $300 billion to charities each year and are the most generous people on Earth. It would take three French, seven Germans or 14 Italians to equal the charitable donations of the average American, Mint tells us.

Americans voluntarily help their neighbors when they need it, and furthermore help people in need, anywhere in the world. They support causes they think are worthy, and it doesn’t matter that they do not have a lot to give; they give what they can.

A biennial survey by Bank of America of 801 households with an income greater than $200,000, or a net worth of at least $1 million – those that Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy say account for about two-thirds of all individual giving – showed that average giving by survey respondents decreased significantly last year compared with 2007. Like everyone else, the wealthy were hurt by the economic collapse and had less to spend on charitable giving, among other things.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that the 400 largest charities in the US saw a decrease of 11 percent in donations last year, the sharpest decline in 20 years of tracking donations. The larger organizations are still doing okay, but many smaller ones are feeling the pinch.

Into this already troubling scenario is that the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress favor allowing the Bush tax cuts that reduced tax rates for all taxpayers to expire for just this one group of taxpayers. They would extend them for everyone else. The tax rate for those Americans would jump from 33 percent to 39.6 percent, leaving much less money for them to use for charitable purposes. And if that isn’t a serious enough problem, the Obama administration further wants to decrease the charitable deduction and the real estate tax and mortgage deductions for these same households from 35 percent to 28 percent.

These changes are estimated to decrease charitable giving by about 2.1 percent, which in 2006 (the last year for which data are available) meant a loss to charities of almost $3.9 billion, according to the Center on Philanthropy. This would deter the efforts of the most generous Americans to do what they want to do, and what should be done, which is to share their wealth with those in need by donating to charitable organizations that help needy Americans.

Rick Dunham, President and CEO of the strategic consulting company Dunham & Company, explains in practical terms what these changes really mean: “If the Obama plan stays as is, the tax burden of an individual owning a small S corporation with [total] taxable income of $250,000 would jump from 33 percent to 39.6 percent, or $16,500, which is 6.6 percent of the household income and close to the average of what these households now give to charity – $20,500.” Did you get that? Their tax would increase almost as much as the average amount they give to charity.

Over the last several decades we have seen the federal government spend more and more of our tax money on problems that are the traditional focus of private charitable giving. Before government in its infinite wisdom decided that it could do a better job taking care of people in need, private charity took care of these social problems. Since government got involved, the problems have multiplied; there are more people receiving government “charity” every year.

But government charity is not real charity, which is the willful giving of one’s own money to needs of one’s own choosing. What government does is take money from the people by force and use it for the purposes that the politicians deem appropriate, and that frequently means putting money where it does the politicians the most good.

This system pays government employees to collect and redistribute the money, increasing both the size and cost of government, and wasting billions on salaries and other costs that charities would use directly to address community needs. It diminishes real charitable giving by robbing people of their means of supporting the needs they see in their communities, and it replaces the people’s judgment of the problems needing attention with government’s judgment.

Think about charities that you know and donate to because of the good work they do. Ask yourself if your community will be better off if these organizations have less to operate with than in years past, or perhaps can’t continue to operate. Ask yourself if government really does a better job of addressing the needs of your community than these organizations, supported by your charitable contributions.

Getting government out of the “charity” business would reduce the size, cost and power of the federal government, eliminate billions in taxes and spending, and return control of more of your money to you to support organizations that are more efficient at addressing these problems than government.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Washington apparently didn’t get
the message of November 2nd

There are so many fertile topics these days that it is difficult to pick one. There’s the idiotic, PC driven airport security process; there’s the earmark spending methodology that wastes billions of dollars each year; there’s the jeopardy our government has put our economy in; the manic push for government to be in charge of everything; the out-of-control Environmental Protection Agency; there’s the dangerous healthcare reform bill; the failure of elected representatives to get the message from the voters on Nov. 2; the Federal Reserve wrecking our currency; to name a few. Where to begin?

Let’s begin with earmarks.

Getting rid of earmarks as Republicans have pledged is a good idea, even if doing so will not actually reduce the budget, as defenders of the practice are quick to point out. But that isn’t really the purpose of banning earmarks in the first place.
Earmarks are specific allotments of budgeted spending designated by members of Congress for their pet projects that amounted to about $16 billion this year. That is equal to the median federal income tax paid by 6.9 million Americans.

The purpose of the earmark ban is to restore integrity and transparency to the spending process, and to eliminate political pork traveling from individual lawmakers to their districts and states. It is an incestuous process that mostly benefits the lawmaker responsible for sending home the bacon, and those few who get the benefit of the pork.

When Congressman Fatback earmarks $1.5 million for the Boss Hog Library in Podunk, California, as he promised the state library commission in return for their campaign support, or Senator Porker earmarks $700,000 to study swine blight in Kentucky in return for the support of everyone with blighted swine on their farm, they are spending your money for the benefit of a few of their constituents. These expenditures are not subjected to debate by their colleagues in the Congress, or to the scrutiny and oversight of the public.
Congresspersons will be more likely to vote for a bill that contains their earmarks than they might otherwise, and earmarks are not infrequently offered to members to entice them to vote for a bill they otherwise might not vote for. Arizona Republican Rep. Jeff Flake calls earmarks “a gateway drug to a spending addiction. Once you have an earmark in a bill,” he said, “you feel obligated to vote for it, no matter how bloated it becomes.”

If a project in a particular Congressional district or state is really in the national interest, should it not be publicly debated before being approved by the Congress, not slipped through under the table? And, the larger question is if Congress can’t control its earmarks spending addiction, how will it ever deal with very serious problems like Social Security and Medicare?

And then there’s the EPA.

It is difficult to determine whether the Justice Department or the Environmental Protection Agency is the most heavily politicized of this administration’s departments and agencies, but my vote goes to the EPA.

Kyle Isakower, vice president of regulatory and economic policy at the American Petroleum Institute, compared the Obama EPA with the Bush EPA. In the first 18 months of the second Bush administration, he notes that the EPA proposed 16 significant regulations, or regulations that have an annual economic impact of $100 million or more. That was a lot of regulation, but the current EPA has proposed 42 such regulations in its first 18 months, nearly three times what the Bush EPA did.

The EPA’s blindly ideological bureaucrats seem to believe they can do whatever they want in pursuit of their environmental goals, as if they are autonomous and omnipotent. One instance of this tendency is increasing the amount of ethanol in gasoline by half, from 10 percent to 15 percent, even before testing has been completed on E15 fuel, and in the face of evidence that this increase may have substantial negative consequences.

Another example is the EPA rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act that are scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 2, 2011. What the agency is doing is changing the law, something government agencies do not have the authority to do; only Congress can do that.

The EPA is under control of environmental zealots who are bound and determined to implement draconian policies and regulations with little if any regard for the effects those mandates have on the economy and the people they serve.

Parents sometimes must force their children to do something they don’t want to do because it will ultimately be good for them. Perhaps what the EPA wants to force on us will ultimately be good for us, or perhaps not.

But the federal government is not our parent, it is our servant. And it can neither make us do what we do not want to do, nor refuse to do what we want done. In the United States of America, the people are in control of the government, not the other way around.

The violation of this fundamental rule is evident in both the earmark issue and the behavior of the EPA.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Treating business as the enemy
costs jobs and economic growth

As President of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Steve Roberts is the leader of the organization that is most concerned with businesses in the state, and he understands what so many of our leaders do not: that business is the driver of economies at all levels. He knows what is impeding business development in a state that has the reputation of being unfriendly to business.

Speaking to a meeting of the Rotary Clubs and the Chambers of Commerce of Bluefield and Princeton, West Virginia, Mr. Roberts presented a litany of negative data underscoring the state’s problems in the areas of health, education and the economy, some of which are directly linked to the state’s business environment.

In education he said that West Virginia ranks 50th for residents with college degrees. That might be because most West Virginians either don’t go to college, or don’t complete a degree program. Or, it might be due to the fact that most of those with a college education left the state because they were unable to find meaningful work due to the state’s business environment.

Where the economy is concerned, the link is much clearer. The state is 47th in the United States for per capita income and 49th for per capita GDP. It ranks 2nd for the percent of its population receiving Food Stamps, 4th for the percentage of children living in poverty, and 2nd for projected population loss through 2020. Other states that have better business climates have more jobs available for their citizens and more jobs that pay well, and outperform the Mountain State.

Mr. Roberts believes being unfriendly to business has cost West Virginia a staggering 80,000 manufacturing jobs since 1979 when approximately 130,000 West Virginians were employed in manufacturing operations. Those jobs didn’t go to Asia, and didn’t leave because of NAFTA he said, they were lost to neighboring states that were and are more business-friendly. And he noted that neighboring Kentucky had gained about 80,000 manufacturing jobs during that same period.

While neighboring states managed to grow their manufacturing base West Virginia increased workers compensation costs, increased the risks employers face from lawsuits, and increased taxes. “We simply said to the people who made the biggest investments and hired people at the best wage levels, ‘we’re not shaping our policies to make you welcome here,’” he said.

According to Mr. Roberts the state’s problems lie primarily in three areas: Taxes, the electoral system, and the legal system.

He said the state inordinately taxes employers with the fourth highest corporate tax per capita and the second highest insurance premium tax in the US.

West Virginia’s electoral system is one of only a handful that allows straight-ticket voting, and only Michigan has a higher percentage of straight-ticket voting. It is one of only seven states whose entire judiciary is chosen in partisan political elections.

West Virginia’s legal system has earned the reputation of not providing everyone a fair trial at all times. Mr. Roberts pointed out that West Virginia is the only state that doesn’t have automatic right of appeal for punitive damages awards, has the lowest threshold for bringing deliberate intent lawsuits against employers, is the only state that allows medical monitoring payments to claimants with no proof of injury, and is one of only four states that has not seriously limited some combination of punitive damages, joint and several liability, and collateral source rules. He noted that in 2007 three of the seven largest jury verdicts in the world were rendered in West Virginia.

He said, however, that changes are under way. The workers compensation system, long a deterrent to business, has been privatized, lowering costs by 40-percent, and the business franchise tax is headed for gradual elimination. Recent news reflects that the state is producing jobs faster than the US as a whole, but it has a long way to go to become attractive to business.

In many ways, West Virginia is a microcosm of what is wrong with the United States.

For the first 140 or so years of its existence the United States was a bastion of personal freedom, protecting the opportunity for its citizens to do pretty much what they wanted to do, an essentially free-market economic system that enabled America to develop into a globe-leading force that produced new and better products and systems that were the envy of the free world.

Over the last century encroachment by government into private sector activity has punished business through high taxation and excess regulation, and dampened the creation of wealth that made the US the most prosperous nation in the world.

Don Watkins and Yaron Brook, writing on, inform us that the “economic system fully geared to the life of producers is complete, unregulated, laissez-faire capitalism – a total separation of state and economics, where the government protects each individual's inalienable rights, including his rights to property and to freedom of contract and trade, and otherwise ‘gets the hell out of the way.’ That's what it means to be pro-business.”

And getting government out of the way is how the US will grow its way out of the recession and restore prosperity.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Voters sent a message on November 2nd,
but did Washington hear it?

Just how important was last week’s election? Well, a list of the damage includes Republicans picking up at least 63 seats in the House of Representatives, more than in any election since 1938, leaving Democrats with the smallest number in the House since 1946. Fifty incumbent Democratic congressmen lost their races, including 22 freshmen, nine senior Democrats with 18 years or more in office, and three committee chairs.

Republicans also gained six seats in the US Senate, narrowing the Democrat majority.

The North Carolina General Assembly went Republican for the first time since 1870, and the Alabama Legislature turned Republican for the first time since 1876.

The Maine and Minnesota Senates flipped to Republicans, and the Texas and Tennessee Houses went from virtually tied to large Republican gains.

Both houses of the Wisconsin and New Hampshire legislatures flipped to the GOP by wide margins, and Republicans won governorships in Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming, all of which currently are run by Democrats, and the GOP won 23 of the 37 contests for governor, and will control 29 of the country’s 50 statehouses.

All those who decried the public opinion polls that pretty consistently predicted this result will have trouble ignoring the strong anti-Democrat message of November 2. Despite this result, there are still those who recognize that voters were angry, but completely misunderstand why they were angry and at whom their anger was directed.

President Barack Obama correctly called it “a shellacking,” even though he misunderstood why it had occurred. Initially, he attributed the walloping to people not understanding all of the wonderful benefits of the health care takeover, cap and trade taxes that will raise the cost everything under the sun, and other big government measures because the administration just didn’t communicate effectively.

Others on the left offered reasons such as “slower than expected job growth,” and “the economy didn’t improve fast enough,” but those aren’t the reasons behind this ballot box revolution, they are symptoms of the faulty liberal policies of the Democrats, and those policies are why people are upset. They arise from the belief that government is the answer to all problems, but their failure proves the fallacy of that belief.

However, while this reality escapes the big government politicians in both major parties, the people realize big government not only has failed, but is highly undesirable, and they are fed up with the current incarnation of the federal government: its size, its out-of-control spending and its increasing intrusion into their lives.

"It's very clear that nationwide we have a movement … a mandate to make sure the federal government gets reversed in its growth. Not just slowed down, but completely changed out in a way that we have increased power to the [states],” according to Alaska Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller.

Clearly, voters gave the GOP as good an opportunity as it could hope for. But how many Republicans also failed to get the message that Democrats so plainly missed? Will Republican incumbents in Congress transform from establishment politicians into true servants of their constituents? Do they understand that voters told them to re-establish limited government principles; to undo dangerous liberal policies?

Florida Republican Marco Rubio, who defeated the Democrat Governor running as an independent and a Democrat candidate to win the Senate seat, gets it: “We make a great mistake if we believe somehow these results are an embrace of the Republican Party; what they are is a second chance. A second chance to be what Republicans said they were going to be not so long ago.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that “Republicans must take their responsibility to solve the problems of ordinary Americans,” and that saying “no” is not the answer. “It has to be ‘yes.’ Not our ‘yes,’ but a combined ‘yes,’ something we work out — a consensus ‘yes,’” he said.

Well, how magnanimously bipartisan of Mr. Reid. Had he been open to Republican input before, there is every possibility that some useful legislation would have been passed before now.

But Sen. Reid, President Obama and the other Democrats in Washington had better get a firm hold on the new reality, which is that voters screamed a message last week that they want changes in how their government operates.

They don’t like the dangerous stimulus spending, government takeover of banks and auto companies, the health care reform bill, and the way it was conceived in dark backrooms and jammed through without any Republican input or support, the proposed cap and trade bill that everyone except Washington Democrats realizes will further cripple the economy, and the general attitude among the political class that they know better than the people what is best for them.

The job Republicans were given is to save the country from the chaos that the liberal-controlled government produced, and to give the people what they want: a government based upon principles of smaller, less intrusive, constitutional government, and return to America the balance between the private sector and the public sector that enabled the country to grow and prosper.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The campaign is over, now the work
to restore the country begins

Whatever happens today, how the country moves ahead is critically important. The US is wildly off track, which is why the tea party movement, so hated by and frightening to liberals, sprang up and has drawn so many everyday Americans to their rallies.

You sometimes see the term “tea party” as a proper noun, however, while there are formal organizations using that name, the tea party movement is not a formal movement, but a series of mostly independent groups who rally in support of a set of common principles, but are not part of a single national organization.

The tea party movement, despite the lies and distortions made up by its enemies and dutifully reported in the mainstream media, is not a bunch of extremists or a bunch of racists, or Nazis or nut jobs with nothing better to do with their time. Of, course, every group or movement will have a whacko or two in it, but the number of such radicals among tea partiers is infinitesimal. And there is the occasional left-wing plant trying to discredit the entire movement. But all of that has been blown out of proportion by the socialist/liberal/statist members of the ruling class and media who correctly see the movement as a threat to their power and control.

From those rather rare efforts by respectable news outlets to find out exactly who tea party folks really are we learn that the vast majority of them are moms and dads and grandmothers and grandfathers, military veterans, doctors, lawyers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, housewives, police officers, fire fighters and other salt-of-the-Earth people. Many of them are white, but they are also black, Asian and Hispanic. They are people for whom political activism is a new thing, and many, perhaps most, of them have never attended a political rally before in their lives. They all see that their country is headed at high speed toward a ditch, but it’s a different ditch than the one in President Barack Obama’s little story he so frequently uses to excuse his administrations failures.

The President’s story omits that big government dug the ditch, built the road heading into it, and damaged the steering mechanism and brakes by excessive intervention into private sector activity. Some corporations took advantage of the contorted environment the ruling class imposed on them, and made a bad situation worse. Those corporations are not innocent of blame, but neither can they be given all the blame; they played the hand government dealt them.

No doubt some will quibble with that assessment, but an objective review of government actions going back to the Carter administration will bear that out. And that includes Congressional refusal to follow Bush administration warnings to clamp down on Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac starting back in 2001.

Among the grave problems that have driven the tea party folks to political protest, perhaps foremost in their minds, is the precarious level of spending and the insanely high national debt.

When George Bush left office at the end of 2008, he had increased the public debt by $2.5 trillion. The 2009 budget, created under Mr. Bush, but added to by Mr. Obama added $2.6 trillion to the debt, but Mr. Obama’s budget would add $4.9 trillion in public debt from the beginning of 2010 through 2016. That simply cannot be sustained.

Mr. Obama continually blames George Bush for the nation’s financial problems, but remember that Congress is responsible for budgets and spending, not the president, and Democrats have controlled Congress since January of 2007. Mr. Bush deserves criticism for not vetoing excessive Congressional spending, but Congress is responsible for the spending itself.

Tea party folks also realize something else that has escaped Washington liberals: that over-zealous regulation – 43 new major regulations in fiscal 2010 – is impeding the recovery and will cost taxpayers an additional $26.5 billion this year. And it’s not just rich people making more than $200,000 a year who will pay more.

It was during a long period of mostly free-market capitalism and relatively little government regulation that the United States rose to be the most prosperous nation on Earth, and today is the world’s only super power.

And so, whether today’s election produces a huge wave sweeping liberal Democrats out of office in sufficient numbers to give Republicans control of the House and the Senate, or whether it results in modest gains by Republicans and leaves one or both houses of Congress under Democrat control, the same course of action must be followed unless we want to see the United States diminish in prosperity and influence around the world, which would be a true tragedy.

That course is to restore sanit
y to government; to work to reduce spending, restore government to its Constitutional limits and scope, and get government out of the way so that the same American traits of ingenuity, hard work and risk-taking that built our country can be set loose to pull it out of the ditch that liberalism and leftist policies have driven it into.

This will require a new mentality in Washington, and constant pressure on our elected public servants.

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blessedly, Tuesday evening it will all be over – the nasty, distracting, character-assassinating advertising, the name-calling, the gutter-sniping – and for the next 12 months we can try to recover from what has been the most contentious, nastiest election in my memory. And then we have to get ready to do it all over again.

If the Republicans win control of one or both houses of Congress, they had best not forget why Democrat candidates and lost they won: because the American people have rejected the liberal/statist direction that the Democrats have taken the country since winning control of the Congress in 2006.

Much like the transgressions against the Colonists by King George and the British Parliament in the mid-18th century that prompted the original tea party in December of 1773, the behavior of the US government over the last four decades has – finally – raised the ire of the citizenry, resulting in the grass-roots uprising that calls the Boston Tea Party’s to mind.

The Boston Tea Party got the attention of ol’ George, but that wasn’t enough to resolve the problems that drove those colonists to cast the tea into Boston Harbor, and the smart money says that this uprising will not resolve the issues that drove these normal, everyday Americans to attend political rallies for the first time in their lives.

Where in the sixties the Viet Nam War protestors were regaled for standing up against what they viewed as their government’s improper military adventure, today’s protestors are roundly condemned by the ruling class and the media. This is partly because the tea party movement scares the crap out of them, and partly because they do not understand why people are upset. So, their natural reaction is to demean, insult and condemn them as right-wing whackos, and racists, and Nazis.

If only there were as much concern from the Left for getting absentee ballots to our loyal military personnel and guarding against vote fraud as there is over the patriotism shown by the tea party movement.

At the core of this movement is major dissatisfaction with the performance of our government. Most polls have similar results to those of Real Clear Politics, which show, unsurprisingly, that more people disapprove of President Obama’s performance than approve of it, 48.4 percent to 46.4 percent, and only a piddling 19.5 percent approve of Congress’ performance, while a stunning 74 percent disapprove.

And, 61.4 percent think the country is on the wrong track, against only 33 percent who think we are on the right track. What the movement is all about is the hijacking of their government by a bunch of leftists who think government is the answer, regardless of what the question is.

The economy is still uppermost in America’s collective mind, with unemployment at 9.6 percent, 20 percent above where President Obama said it would be after the stimulus bill was passed, and the tepid 2.0 percent GDP figure last Friday tells us all we need to know about the failure of the Democrats to deal effectively with economic challenges.

As for the stimulus, data from the US Department of Labor Statistics shows that only the federal government gained jobs from the stimulus, with a 10 percent increase, while local and state governments showed small declines. However, the private sector is the only area where jobs really count, and the stimulus produced a 7 percent job loss.

The preference of the aloof ruling class for government over the private sector is reflected in the compensation data of the public and private sectors. While in 2009 the average combination of salary and benefits in the private sector was just over $61,000, state and local government employee compensation was nearly $70,000, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. But federal workers made out like bandits, with average compensation more than double that of private sector employees at $123,000.

The people in the tea party movement want common sense reform to their government, moving it back in the direction of the government the Founders created, focusing on the broad principles of fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, less government, states' rights and national security.

All those who win on Tuesday had better read and heed the tea party message, focus on straightening out the mess liberals have created, and put party and incumbent politics in File 13.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Next Tuesday is our opportunity
to begin to restore America

The mid-term election is a week away, and many Americans are looking forward to Nov. 2nd with great hope and anticipation, for two reasons. First, they are fed up with the reprehensible and appalling gutter tactics and personal attacks of the campaign, but mostly they look forward to electing candidates that will bring substantial changes to the political landscape that will stop the nation’s headlong rush toward a command economy.

Our country is in deep trouble, and not just from the insane spending that has occurred since 2008, nor from the government takeover of auto manufacturers and banks, and not even that government has failed to do what needs to be done to foster a real recovery and job creation. The most serious problem is that the government is out of control, with elected officials running wild, refusing to follow constitutional principles, and enacting laws and instituting policies that are dangerous and harmful.

The country is controlled by people who appear not to understand what their country is all about. They either don’t know its founding principles or don’t respect them, and they want to tear down the government that was established more than 230 years ago and replace it with a system like that of the lesser countries of the world. They want bigger government, more powerful government, and more government control.

But America did not become great because it had a large federal government that controlled the minutest aspects of its citizen’s lives; it became great because it had precisely the opposite kind of government, the government outlined in the US Constitution, and the government under which the United States grew to be the greatest nation on Earth.

Of the casting off of Constitutional limits on government’s appropriate function, size and power Dr. Robert Higgs, author of Crisis and Leviathan, writes, “In the past century, the first five such critical episodes in the United States were: World War I; the Great Depression; World War II; [and] a multi-faceted set of crises associated with the civil-rights revolution and the Vietnam War.” More recent events contributing to the expansion of government size and power are post-9/11 events, the housing bust of 2006 and the ensuing recession, he wrote.

Responsibility for the growth in the scope, size and power of the government lies at the feet of our elected representatives, who through their legislative and administrative malfeasance caused it to happen. Primarily it was the work of career politicians in Congress, as they abandoned their duty to the Constitution and their constituents in order to be re-elected, and who became immersed in the incestuous relationships that the desire for power and prestige rely on.

And now the American people have realized the threat their own government poses to their liberty, and they are fed up with it. There is a great hew and cry among the citizenry to replace those who haven’t been listening to their objections to the recent legislative agenda. They want people in office who are not cloistered away in Washington, and because of their isolation no longer understand what life is really like outside DC. They have forgotten for whose benefit they are paid too much money and receive too many benefits.

The people now see they made a serious mistake at the polls in 2006 when they elected liberal Democrats to Congress that would forsake their oath of office and undermine the Constitution.

And they made another mistake in 2008 when they elected an appealing and charismatic black man to manage the country who had no experience managing anything. Barack Obama won election with the phrase “change that you can believe in.” They didn’t realize that what he really meant was “change WHAT you believe in,” and they now strongly reject that notion.

To borrow from a notorious racist demagogue’s comment right after the 9/11 attacks and apply it to the unpopular liberal agenda, now “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

Next week the country can take a big step toward fixing this problem by defeating liberal Democrats in Congress who support the wild-eyed proposals that have moved America further than it ever has been from its original design. Measures like cap and trade, the financial transaction tax, card check, and the health care reform that will destroy the very system it purports to repair, and take down the insurance industry along with it.

In order to put an end to the liberal statist agenda that threatens our freedom we must elect Republicans, or more conservative third party or independent candidates at every opportunity. But we must make certain they realize that the change we demand is not just a change in political party rule, but a change in how things are done. And be sure they understand that if they don’t do the country’s work any better than the Democrats, if they get comfortable in the Washington scene the way other incumbents have, they’ll be sent home to find honest work, too.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

It's true: Idiocy reigns

Are you one of those that still believes government is benevolent and is the answer to most or all of our problems?

Or, are you convinced that things are terribly out of whack in our country?

If the latter, do you think you've heard it all?

Do you think things can't get any more absurd?

Do you think when you read or hear crazy stuff that it's sometimes difficult to tell the difference between reality and farce?

This story from from is darned good evidence that government at all levels, and in many places in America, has grossly exceeded its boundaries.

A single, 31-year-old woman in Michigan who posted a note on her church bulletin board seeking a "Christian roommate" to share her residence has been cited by the state for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against those of other faiths.

The complaint signed by Tyra Khan, a "Civil Rights Representative" of the state of Michigan Department of Civil Rights, surfaced when the Alliance Defense Fund announced today it was representing the woman.

ADF spokesman Joel Oster confirmed the organization sent a letter to the state explaining that such housing rules don't apply to people living in their own homes and wanting to share their resources.

"[Tricia] is a single lady looking for a roommate. She is not a landlord. She does not own a management company. She does not run an apartment complex. She is a single person seeking to have a roommate live with her in her house," the letter said.

"She is not prohibited by either federal law or state law from seeking a Christian roommate. Neither Title VII of the US Fair Housing Civil Rights Act of 1968 nor the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act No. 453 prevents a woman like [her] from seeking a Christian roommate."

The letter asked for an immediate dismissal of the case, but Oster confirmed to WND today that he had not received a response.

WND contacted the agency's spokesman, Harold Core, who said the case had been determined to be legitimate and the investigation was continuing.

He said section 604C states it is a "violation to make, print or publish or cause to be made, printed or published any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference" for a list of nondiscrimination categories, including religious belief.

The complaint specifically alleges the woman's statement, "I am looking for a Christian roommate," prevents people of "other faiths" from contacting the woman and making arrangements to share her home with her.

The message to Mr. Core and everybody else at the Michigan Department of Civil Rights is: Take your citation and stuff it where the sun don't shine! You have no authority over who people choose to share their home with!

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Obama administration’s policies are
killing jobs, not creating jobs

One of the major failures of Barack Obama’s presidency is that he has not kept unemployment at eight percent or below, as he told us the $787 billion stimulus package would do, or even reduced the unemployment rate below 9.5 percent after more than a year-and-a-half in office.

Given the pain the unemployed feel, one might expect the President to be doing everything possible to foster job creation. But his actions, and those of the administration, prove that assumption to be incorrect.

Immediately following the Deep Water Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers and unleashed a torrent of oil into the Gulf, Mr. Obama imposed a six-month ban on all drilling. Based upon the performance of the thousands of drilling projects past and present that have gone along without serious problems, this action was completely unwarranted, but the ban’s defenders said it made sense to stop drilling and evaluate the other deep water projects to be sure there would not be a repeat of this disaster, even as predictions of substantial job losses were reported in the news.

Months later, the ban was still in force, and had shut down all deep water projects, and caused rig owners to relocate their platforms to productive areas outside the US, and slowed down or halted shallow water projects, as well. This over-reaction severely damaged the economy of Gulf States, as shown by a study by two Louisiana State University professors that estimates the economic losses from the ban at $2.7 billion.

The ban put thousands of oil and natural gas industry workers in the unemployment line, as well as thousands more workers in related jobs. Curiously, the Interior Department knew this would happen. Among Federal court documents examined by The Wall Street Journal was a July 10 memo sent to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that said, in part: “a six-month deepwater-drilling halt would result in ‘lost direct employment’ affecting approximately 9,450 workers and ‘lost jobs from indirect and induced effects’ affecting about 13,797 more.”

The administration ignored this dire warning, adding to the high unemployment afflicting the nation. And now the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to tighten air quality standards for ground level ozone threatens even more jobs.

The EPA wants to lower ozone from 75 parts per billion to a range of 60 to 70 parts per billion, which may seem a small and manageable reduction. However, Kyle Isakower, vice president of regulatory and economic policy at the American Petroleum Institute, said that the standard “is being set so close to background levels that essentially the only way to reach attainment here is to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) down to 60, 70, 80 percent or more of current levels. So you're really talking about virtually shutting down most, if not all, commercial and transportation use in this country.”

And Don Norman of Manufacturer’s Alliance/MAPI has researched the nation-wide ramifications of such an action. “I took a very detailed study conducted by NERA consulting, which was limited to 11 states,” he said, “and tried to expand the results for the entire nation. I found that the annual attainment cost is estimated to be just over $1 trillion per year between 2020 and 2030. This is equivalent to 5.4 percent of projected GDP in 2020. GDP itself would be reduced by approximately $677 billion in 2020 and further, we'd have significant losses of jobs, something like 7.3 million based upon current Bureau of Labor Statistics projections for the labor force.”

Those huge numbers ought to get your attention. The $677 billion in lost GDP is 86 percent of the amount of the Obama stimulus, and the 7.3 million lost jobs is about half of the number of total unemployed persons reported in September. It is small comfort that these severe losses in GDP and jobs won’t occur for a few years.

Clearly, Mr. Obama’s background as a community organizer and as a law school lecturer did not provide him even the most elementary understanding of economics, and everything in his performance as president indicates that economic principles are as foreign to him as speaking Martian. Or perhaps they are just less important than other things.

If President Obama really wanted to create jobs or help the economy recover would he have done what he did in the Gulf and let the EPA do what it intends to do? Reasonable people may conclude that his agenda instead is to do whatever it takes to force the US to adopt alternative energy, and apparently no cost is too great to accomplish this goal, even if it means transforming the most successful nation in history from an economy that is still mostly free and market-based into a centrally-planned, government-dominated economy not unlike China, North Korea and Cuba, or the socialist economies of Europe.

When he said he would fundamentally transform the country, most thought it meant healing racial and political divisions and straightening up the government. Now it appears he meant something completely different.

The world has plenty of government-run economies; it has only one United States of America. Let’s keep it that way.

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