Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An item from the “truth is much stranger than fiction” department

Mobile, Alabama’s hometown TV station WALA FOX10 reports the following story, which contains comments that will leave most people scratching their head in disbelief.

An unidentified man who was shopping at the local Family Dollar store in Mobile saw a masked man pointing a gun at an employee and leading the employee toward the front of the store.

When he moved closer to investigate, he found the following: “He had the gun to his head. He had him on his knees,” said the man. “I drew my gun on him and I said 'Hey, don't move.' At that point he swung around and before he had a chance to aim the gun at me, I fired. I didn’t want to shoot him,” he said.

The gunman, 18-year-old Adric White, was not killed, and was transported to a local hospital where he was treated and is now recuperating in police custody at the hospital. A second young man, 19-year-old Tavoris Moss has been arrested as an accomplice to the Family Dollar robbery, although the FOX10 story did not explain the role he is accused of playing in the incident.

Court records show that Adric White was out on bond for robbing The Original Oyster House at gunpoint a little more than a month before the Family Dollar robbery, and records show the Baldwin County District Attorney's Office has now filed to have the bond in that case revoked.

Summarizing this incident, a young man out on bond for armed robbery was holding an employee of a retail establishment at gunpoint, and was challenged by a Good Samaritan with a gun, who then shot the young man when the Good Samaritan thought he was about to be shot.

Where this story gets really strange is in the reaction of Adric White’s family. The relatives of this young man who had already been charged in one armed robbery and was wounded in a second attempt to rob a store at gunpoint might reasonably condemn the young man’s behavior and be thankful that this wayward son is still alive and in relatively good condition, and therefore might be subject to rehabilitation. But that is not how at least some of his relatives reacted.

A female family member who did not want to be identified said the 18-year-old should have never been shot to begin with.

“If his (the customer’s) life was not in danger, if no one had a gun up to him, if no one pointed a gun at him - what gives him the right to think that it's okay to just shoot someone?” said the relative. “You should have just left the store and went wherever you had to go in your car or whatever,” FOX10 reported the relative as saying.

Apparently, judging from this relative’s comments she believes the victim in this scenario is the robber holding the employee at gunpoint, not the employee being held at gunpoint. And, the person who has done wrong is not the guy holding an employee at gunpoint during a robbery, but the Good Samaritan who thwarts a robbery and saves the employee from possible harm or death at the hands of the robber.

Where does such upside-down thinking develop? Is it a feature of only a relative few troubled minds, or is it far more widespread? Is it born in a soul convinced that he/she is entitled and therefore can do no wrong, or somehow is not subject to the laws governing our behavior? Is it a product of a failing culture that has not imparted basic American and human values to more recent generations?

Interestingly, FOX10 had interviewed Adric White’s parents, but the station reports that they later called the station and demanded the video not be aired. We are left to wonder whether they share the screwy morality of the relative whose sentiments were reported above.

For the record, the police emphasize that the Good Samaritan – whose name was not released, perhaps for his own protection – who shot the alleged robber was justified and broke no laws.

“[Criminals] tend to think that they are the only ones with guns," the Good Samaritan told FOX10. "I’ve been legally carrying my firearm for a little over four years now, and thank God I’ve never had to use it until, of course, last night. It just goes to show it's good to have a concealed carry [permit]. You never know when you’re going to need it.”

This story is sure to contribute to the fierce debate over gun control. It is a point in favor of the idea held by many of those who defend the constitutional right of Americans to keep and bear arms that the best way to combat a bad guy with a gun is the presence of a good guy with a gun. It shows that there may be positive results when law-abiding citizens are armed.

Whichever side of that argument you are on, we can all acknowledge that because of the behavior of this man legally carrying a gun, a robbery was thwarted and the perpetrator did not harm anyone.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

NIPCC report disputes the conventional wisdom about climate change

The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) is a panel of scientists organized in 2003 by Dr. S. Fred Singer and the Science & Environmental Policy Project. Unlike the better-known Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is a government-sponsored and politically motivated group with a man-causes-global-warming bias, the NIPCC receives no funding from government and does not share the IPCC’s predisposition that climate change is man-made and therefore requires a United Nations solution.

Hence, Dr. Singer’s group, which consists of some 50 independent scientists from universities and private institutions around the world (the US, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Norway, Canada, Italy, the UK, France, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Spain) who disagree with the IPCC’s theory, “seeks to objectively analyze and interpret data and facts without conforming to any specific agenda,” according to a summary of the 1,200-page report “Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science” that was released in September of this year.

Most of what we read, see and hear from the media is the opinion held and promoted by the United Nations’ IPCC. No matter what your opinion about whether or not human activities have a significant effect, or any effect, on the Earth’s climate, it certainly cannot hurt to have available the analysis of a group of scientists – the NIPCC – that believes the data show a different reality than that promoted by the IPCC.

Among the group’s findings are:

•    Atmospheric CO2 is a mild greenhouse gas that exerts a diminishing warming effect as its concentration increases.

•    Earth has not warmed significantly for the past 16 years despite an 8 percent increase in atmospheric CO2 emissions, which represents 34 percent of all extra CO2 added to the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution.

•    The causes of historic global warming remain uncertain, but significant correlations exist between climate patterning and multidecadal variation and solar activity over the past few hundred years.

•    The overall warming since about 1860 corresponds to a recovery from the Little Ice Age modulated by natural multidecadal cycles driven by ocean-atmosphere oscillations, or by solar variations at the de Vries (~208 year) and Gleissberg (~80 year) and shorter periodicities.

•    CO2 is a vital nutrient used by plants in photosynthesis. Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere “greens” the planet and helps feed the growing human population.

•    No close correlation exists between temperature variation over the past 150 years and human-related CO2 emissions. The parallelism of temperature and CO2 increase between about 1980 and 2000 AD could be due to chance and does not necessarily indicate causation.

•    The causes of historic global warming remain uncertain, but significant correlations exist between climate patterning and multidecadal variation and solar activity over the past few hundred years.

The summary also presents key facts about surface temperature that argue against the UN IPCC’s position, a few of which follow:

•    Whether today’s global surface temperature is seen to be part of a warming trend depends upon the time period considered.

•    Over (climatic) time scales of many thousand years, temperature is cooling; over the historical (meteorological) time scale of the past century temperature has warmed. Over the past 16 years, there has been no net warming despite an increase in atmospheric CO2 of 8 percent. (See second bullet above.)

•    There was nothing unusual about either the magnitude or rate of the late twentieth century warming pulses represented on the HadCRUT record, both falling well within the envelope of known, previous natural variations.

•    No empirical evidence exists to support the assertion that a planetary warming of 2 degrees Centigrade would be net ecologically or economically damaging.

These findings by this group of international scientists that contradict the positions of the IPCC gain strength from the evidence of fraud among scientists at the Climatic Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia, many associated with the IPCC. Emails exchanged between these scientists obtained in 2009 demonstrated fraud, dishonesty and errors in the arguments supporting the theory of man-made global warming.

As reported in Human Events online edition, some of the emails revealed contempt for disagreeable scientific data and a “slavish devotion to the climate change political agenda pushed by the politicians and government bureaucrats funding their research.”

In the report’s Conclusion the authors say: “Few scientists deny that human activities can have an effect on local climate or that the sum of such local effects could hypothetically rise to the level of an observable global signal. The key questions to be answered, however, are whether the human global signal is large enough to be measured and if it is, does it represent, or is it likely to become, a dangerous change outside the range of natural variability?”

The Conclusion includes a quote by British biologist Conrad Waddington from 1941: “It is … important that scientists must be ready for their pet theories to turn out to be wrong. Science as a whole certainly cannot allow its judgment about facts to be distorted by ideas of what ought to the true, or what one may hope to be true.”

Those scientists who believe that man’s activities harm the planet should take this good advice to heart.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Obama and taxing the rich, and another deadly school shooting

Running for reelection in 2012, President Barack Obama claimed, “The rich are not paying their fair share of income taxes.” Playing to the baser instincts of voters is a tried and true technique, and if Mr. Obama does nothing else very well, he is a master at dividing people from one another and creating class discord.

However, so much of what the president says just ain’t so, as we have seen so dramatically and with such terrible consequences with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Mr. Obama’s signature legislative initiative. He is so closely related to this fiasco and has invested so much political capital in it that the ACA is now routinely called by his name.

However, Mr. Obama’s effort to tar and feather the rich as being stingy taxpayers falls on its face in a new study released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The CBO study “The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, 2010” shows that the top 40 percent of households, as determined by pre-tax income, paid 106.2 percent of the nation’s income tax in 2010.

How can any group of Americans, or even all Americans together, pay more than all of the income taxes received? Read on.

The study also showed that the lowest 40 percent of households paid “negative income tax,” meaning that they paid no federal income tax, but instead received on average $18,950 in government transfer payments. Within this group the CBO said that the lowest fifth of income earners paid an individual income tax rate of minus 9.2 percent, and the second lowest group paid minus 2.3 percent.

Presumably, Mr. Obama would like the “rich” to pay not just “all of the income taxes,” and not just “more than all the income taxes,” but still more than that.

The study shows that the redistribution of wealth that Mr. Obama and his progressive cronies so strongly favor is well underway. But, of course, it still isn’t enough, and won’t be enough until everyone shares equally in the misery, because in their quest for the unachievable goal of financial equality, the progressives will have made it impossible for hard working Americans to enjoy the fruits of their labor, and will dampen the enthusiasm for earning, causing a collapse of the system.

In other news, as the nation observed the passage of one year since the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings that resulted in the death of 20 children and six adults, another school was in the news over an incident involving another young person determined to hurt innocent people.

Upset with the debate team sponsor and librarian at Arapahoe High School in a Denver, Colorado suburb who had disciplined him recently, the high school senior wearing a backpack with three Molotov cocktails inside it, a bandolier and carrying a pump-action shotgun entered the school and headed for the library.

The librarian got a warning and left the building. In this rampage the shooter fired five shots, two randomly down hallways that hit no one, and one more random shot that claimed no victims, but two other shots that each injured one student, one of them critically. He also set off one of the Molotov cocktails in the library that fortunately injured no one. And then he killed himself.

The rampage might have resulted in many more casualties had it not been for the quick response of a deputy sheriff who was working as a school resource officer, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson told CNN. He praised the deputy’s response as “a critical element to the shooter’s decision” to kill himself, and lauded his response to hearing gunshots. “He went to the thunder,” he said. “He heard the noise of gunshot and, when many would run away from it, he ran toward it to make other people safe.”

A student who had a class with the alleged shooter told The Denver Post that, "He had very strong beliefs about gun laws and stuff." The classmate added that she had heard that he was bullied a lot.

The alleged shooter described himself on Facebook as "Keynesian,” one advocating government monetary and fiscal programs, and also attacked Republicans: "You republicans are so cute," he wrote, and posted an image that read: "The Republican Party: Health Care: Let 'em Die, Climate Change: Let 'em Die, Gun Violence: Let 'em Die, Women's Rights: Let 'em Die, More War: Let 'em Die. Is this really the side you want to be on?"

Two other students told The Post, “He had political views that were ‘outside the mainstream.’”

We must not ignore the message from Sheriff Robinson that he clearly believes the presence of an armed and trained individual at Arapahoe High School, and the shooter’s knowledge of that person’s presence had a positive influence on this situation.

Making schools and other public buildings “gun-free zones” means no opposing force will be there when a criminal carrying a weapon shows up.

As we have seen at Sandy Hook and other places, this is a prescription for carnage and pain, whereas at Arapahoe High School, the county sheriff thinks the presence of an armed resource person prevented even more death, pain and suffering.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How many of America’s “poor” are like this lady and her husband?

The way that many welfare recipients think was revealed in a call to a radio talk show on KLBJ-AM in Austin, Texas. Lucy, a 32 year-old married mother of three, whose parents also had been on welfare, said this about her situation:

“I just wanted to say while workers out there and people like you that are preaching morality at people like me that are living on welfare, can you really blame us?  I mean, I get to sit home, I get to go visit my friends all day, I even get to smoke weed, and people that I know that are illegal immigrants, that don’t contribute to society, we still going to get paid. Our check’s going to come in the mail every month and it’s going to be on time. And we get subsidized housing, we even get presents delivered for our kids at Christmas. Why should I work?”

“So you know what? You all get the benefit of saying, ‘Oh, look at me. I’m a better person,’ because you all are going to work. We’re the ones getting paid. So can you really blame us?”

Asked if her husband works, she said he does sometimes, but “he doesn’t really see the need for it.” Has she ever worked? “A couple of times.” Does she ever feel guilty about gaming the system and taking money other people have earned? “But you know, if someone offers you a million dollars, would you walk away from it? It’s easy to preach morality, and that’s the only reason why I called. It’s easy to say, ‘Well, yeah, you know, you’re making your living off of other people’s backs.’ But, you know, if somebody gave you a million dollars, and said that, here, you don’t got to work for it, no strings attached. Here, just take it, you can do whatever you want to do with it. You would take it, too.”

The host asked if she was calling in on an “Obamaphone” (a cell phone provided by the federal government) and she answered that she was. Then, when asked how much she received each month, she said she only pays $50 a month for rent that should be $600, so that’s $550, $425 in food stamps, $150 for her electric bill, and $100 on her water bill from the City of Austin. That comes to $1,225 a month, $14,700 a year, just less than the current federal minimum wage. Plus the cell phone.

She also said that when you are in government programs, “they are always coming to you and offering more programs,” and will even pay you to go to find out about where you can get more money. “They encourage you to stay on the programs.”

Asked if her money was cut off, would she get up every day and go to work, she said, “yes, I’d have to.”

This situation makes perfect sense to people like Lucy and her husband, who never learned the lesson that mature, responsible human beings make their own way in life, and who now live a relatively comfortable life without having to do anything to help themselves. They are a product of the failed War on Poverty for which we can thank President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ), the namesake of the radio station Lucy called. They are among a large and growing number of Americans being taught that the government will take care of them, and they don’t have to do well in school, or learn a trade, or look for a job, or do much more than draw breath.

Last year the Census Bureau reported that 46 million Americans were in “poverty.”  But how many of those are really poor and need some help, and how many are like Lucy and her hubby; playing a system that allows those eager for a free ride to get one?

Census Bureau data reveals the following about people classified as “poor”: eighty percent of poor households enjoy air conditioning; nearly three-fourths own a car or truck, and 31 percent own two or more cars or trucks, nearly two-thirds subscribe to cable or satellite television, 50 percent own a personal computer, and one in seven owns two or more computers; 43 percent subscribe to Internet access; one-third own a wide-screen plasma or LCD television; one-fourth own a digital video recorder system, such as a TiVo; more than half of poor families with children own a video game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation.

Poverty ain’t what it used to be.

It isn’t government’s job to help individuals who are down on their luck, and as the War on Poverty has demonstrated, it does a lousy job of it. And it surely isn’t government’s job to give taxpayer’s money to people who don’t really need it, or to actively recruit people who don’t need welfare onto welfare roles. That is the epitome of government disservice, and elected official’s self-service.

George Bernard Shaw’s famous quote has been used a lot recently, but it has never been truer than today: “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The “progressives”: Advancing un-American ideas for fun and profit

They once called themselves “liberals,” but as practiced here in the U.S. through the years that word gathered lots of negative energy, casting adherents in a bad light, so they changed their moniker and now call themselves “progressives.”

But the term “progressives” is a misnomer, unless you consider it progress for America to slowly abandon the freedom that was once our hallmark, and move instead toward being more under the thumb of an increasingly over-reaching government.

To demonstrate how off-the-mark some progressives’ thinking is, consider the following:

On ESPN’s “Around the Horn,” a frequent guest named Kevin Blackistone said that football games should not include the singing of the national anthem during the pregame, calling the “Star-Spangled Banner” a “war anthem.”

Mr. Blackistone was addressing controversy over Northwestern University’s American flag-themed football uniforms, designed to raise money for the Wounded Warriors Project. In the “Buy or Sell” show segment he said he would “sell” the uniforms: “I'm going to sell it for the same reasons. If you sell this along with me, you should also be selling the rest of the military symbolism embrace of sports. Whether it’s the singing of a war anthem to open every game. Whether it’s going to get a hotdog and being able to sign up for the Army at the same time. Whether it’s the NFL's embrace of the mythology of the Pat Tillman story. It has been going on in sports since the first national anthem was played in the World Series back in 1917. And it’s time for people to back away.”

Mr. Blackistone clearly is a man who neither understands nor cares for America.

And this from Mary Margaret Penrose, a Texas A&M School of Law professor, who expressed her frustration with the fact that President Barack Obama has failed to pass more gun control since the crime at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Prof. Penrose said gun laws should be decided on a per-state basis, versus the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: "The beauty of a states' rights model solution is it allows those of you who want to live in a state with very loose restrictions to do so." She went on to say that her problems with the Constitution are not limited to the Second Amendment, and advocates in her law courses redrafting the entire U.S. Constitution.

Is advocating abandoning the supreme law of the land acceptable in helping law students learn about and understand our system of laws?

More wisdom from the halls of academia comes from Professor Noel Ignatiev of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, who tells his students things like this: “If you are a white male, you don’t deserve to live. You are a cancer, you’re a disease, white males have never contributed anything positive to the world! They only murder, exploit and oppress non-whites! At least a white woman can have sex with a black man and make a brown baby but what can a white male do? He’s good for nothing. Slavery, genocides against aboriginal peoples and massive land confiscation, the inquisition, the holocaust, white males are all to blame! You maintain your white male privilege only by oppressing, discriminating against and enslaving others.” He suggests that all white males should commit suicide.

Two thoughts arise from this; first, we should enthusiastically applaud the professor’s recent decision to stop “teaching,” and second, since he is a white male, ask why he is still alive and see if he will continue to be a hypocrite, or if he will follow his own advice.

Not to be outdone in the expression of un-American ideas, The Washington Post had its own expert academic opinion from Jonathan Zimmerman, who professes history and education at New York University.

“Barack Obama should be allowed to stand for re-election just as citizens should be allowed to vote for — or against — him,” he wrote. “Anything less diminishes our leaders and ourselves.”

The professor must have missed that part of his history education when Congress proposed an amendment to the Constitution to limit the president to two four-year terms, and why it did so. The 22nd Amendment was ratified in 1951, following FDR’s election to four terms, having been approved by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states. It prevented the likely possibility of a “president for life” evolving and creating a situation like the one the Colonies suffered under that led to armed revolt. A “president for life” is not unlike a monarch.

Maybe he thinks monarchy is superior to the form of government the Founders created, the obligation of which was to guarantee basic freedoms to the people it was created to serve. If it’s oppression he wants, there are many countries to which he can relocate.

A major feature of progressivism is to limit the liberties our ancestors fought and died for in the na├»ve hope of creating a perfect society. Over the last century or so they have chipped away enough of the protections and guarantees that the system doesn’t work as it was designed to, and their solution is to continue to destroy it, rather than to restore it.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Proclamation of President George Washington

City of New York, October 3, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Another important American tradition is under attack by the left

A filibuster is a lengthy speech used in the U.S. Senate to delay or block legislative action, a mechanism with a long history.

The U.S. Senate Website explains that, “In the early years of Congress, representatives as well as senators could filibuster. As the House of Representatives grew in numbers, however, revisions to the House rules limited debate. In the smaller Senate, unlimited debate continued on the grounds that any senator should have the right to speak as long as necessary on any issue.”

Senate rules have permitted a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish and on any topic they choose, unless "three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn" brings debate to a close by invoking cloture under Senate Rule XXII.

The filibuster, thought by some to be an unconstitutional, unfair, historical relic, is thought by others to protect the rights of the minority against the tyranny of the majority. And only eight years ago prominent Democrats loudly defended the filibuster and lambasted the Republican majority for suggesting an end to it.

In 2005, then-Senator and now-President of the United States Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said, “What [the American people] don't expect is for one party, be it Republican or Democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game so that they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet. The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.”

During the same debate then-Minority Leader and current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said, “Mr. President, yesterday morning I spoke here about a statement the Majority Leader issued calling the filibuster a ‘procedural gimmick.’ … No Mr. President, the filibuster is not a scheme. And it is not new. The filibuster is far from a “procedural gimmick.” It is part of the fabric of this institution. It was well known in colonial legislatures, and it is an integral part of our country’s 217 years of history. … It encourages moderation and consensus. It gives voice to the minority, so that cooler heads may prevail. … And it is very much in keeping with the spirit of the government established by the Framers of our Constitution: Limited Government. Separation of Power. Checks and Balances. Mr. President, the filibuster is a critical tool in keeping the majority in check.”

Other notable Democrats also supported the filibuster, which is known as "The Soul of the Senate." Joe Biden, then-Senator and now Vice President of the United States, former Senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Senator Diane Feinstein were part of the opposition. In the end, the idea of changing the rules was abandoned.

But that was then. Last week the Senate Democrat majority changed the very rule it so strongly defended in 2005.

In their assault on this well respected legislative device they strongly defended in 2005, when the majority shoe was on the other foot, the majority party changed it for presidential appointments, which now require only a simple majority. Their excuse: Republicans did not agree with the president’s nominations for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, and administrative agency appointments.

The National Center for Policy Analysis opines that in addition to judicial positions “the change will almost certainly result in more confirmations of presidential nominees – for example, the 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board tasked with controlling health care spending.” Which is interesting, given the potential for this issue to have been brought forth to distract the nation’s attention from the Obamacare debacle.

In 1975 the Democrat majority of the Senate reduced the majority vote needed to end a filibuster from two-thirds of the Senate (67 votes) to three-fifths (60 votes). Now it’s just 51 votes.

Senate Democrats decided that if they can’t get their way playing by decades-old rules, they could just change them. Yes we can!

It is important for the Senate to debate appointments so that people who are not qualified or whose agenda is narrow and ideological can be identified and defeated. That is precisely why the filibuster exists: to prevent the presidency from becoming a monarchy. Given the performance of the IRS, the NSA, the State Department’s gross failure in Benghazi, and the destructive actions of the EPA, there is more than enough evidence to warrant closely examining and perhaps blocking some of this president’s appointments.

Democrats like this new arrangement with a Democrat in the White House but, God willing, that won’t always be the case. The ability of a president to put questionable and even unqualified people on the federal bench and at the head of federal agencies just became much easier.

The Founders saw the dangers of a tyrannical majority party and built in safeguards to insure that Congress’ activities would be slow and difficult. Senate Democrats substantially gutted those safeguards a second time.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Do Social Security and Medicare show that Obamacare can be successful?

The loyal defenders of President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) keep pointing to Social Security and Medicare as examples of successful government programs whenever someone points out that government doesn’t do anything very well. The nearly perfect record of dismal performance in federal programs is a key reason that critics doubt that the massively flawed rollout of health insurance reform lovingly referred to as “Obamacare” will eventually turn into a success.

Liberal commentator Juan Williams proudly notes how “popular” both Social Security and Medicare are, citing them as having received 70 percent support among those asked whether they like the programs or not. But just because lots of people like a given federal program doesn’t mean it is a beneficial or successful program.

It is certainly true that Social Security and Medicare are very popular and proponents vigorously oppose balancing the budgets of the two programs by reducing benefits. But, again, by the “popularity” standard, programs that create dependency like welfare, food stamps, and free cell phones are successes, too.

However, reality paints a far different, and much less rosy picture of Social Security and Medicare.

These programs are not giveaways funded by taxpayers, they are funded primarily by payroll taxes on employers and the employees who benefit from them. Even so, because of mismanagement and a failure to adapt to changes in demographics, both programs are broken and broke, running annual deficits.

This is the typical sort of success we find in “successful” government programs, and we have to wonder if there isn’t a better solution to most problems the government thinks it can solve. And the answer is, “yes, there is.” The private sector can do it better, as evidenced by multitudes of successes over our 230-plus-year history.

What too often happens is that when government sees the private sector not completely solving a problem, it thinks it can do better, and a new federal program is born. But the ultimate result is that the federal government does no better at trying to solve the problem than the private sector, and often does much worse.

In contrast to the self-funding process involving the beneficiaries of Social Security and Medicare, other programs give handouts to both those who need help and to those who really don’t need it, and these recipients pay little or nothing in taxes to support the giveaways.

These programs are rife with waste, fraud, and abuse, because government does not manage them efficiently. You can make a very good argument that government is inherently unable to manage these expansive programs competently.

Giving people money is one of the first priorities of politicians; it’s how they buy popularity, which translates to votes.

But as examples go, Social Security and Medicare, while intended to be self-sustaining without support from general tax revenue, are not examples of good government programs because they have been mismanaged and neglected.

Social Security began running a deficit in 2010, will run a deficit near $75 billion this year and the projected deficit will reach $344 billion in 2035 if something isn’t done. Social Security is beginning to fail in its ability to take care of seniors because government has failed to properly operate the program.

A panel determines Medicare reimbursements, a panel that meets in secret and relies heavily on the recommendations of the American Medical Association. Many doctors already do not treat Medicare patients because the low reimbursements don’t cover costs. Medicare providers have to balance low Medicare payments by shifting lost dollars to insured patients.

So that’s a brief glimpse into Juan Williams’ idea of successful government programs. Is this what the ACA also promises, or will it somehow be different?

Even if we believe the ACA is a good idea, even if it had been competently designed and implemented, and even if we overlook the disgraceful manner in which it was created and jammed through Congress before being read by the Democrats who enacted it, it is still a government program that supposes it will be more effective at running 18 percent of the nation’s economy, and one of the most important personal concerns Americans have, than the private sector.

And now $716 billion will be taken out of Medicare to fund Obamacare, meaning reimbursements and senior care will suffer, or the deficit will increase.

Obamacare attempts to do by force what Republicans attempted to do by choice through initiatives focused on the problem areas of the then-current system, and Democrats opposed and defeated those efforts.

Despite Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ phantasmagoric redefining the fines imposed by Obamacare as taxes, the U.S. Constitution did not intend for, and does not authorize government to commandeer one-sixth of the economy.

Those who think government is the answer to everything need to remember that the only reason there is a government of the United States of America is because the people – remember “of the people, by the people, and for the people?” – created it by assigning government limited powers in certain specific areas.

It is perverse in the extreme for the people now to be controlled by that which they voluntarily created.