Tuesday, July 28, 2015

America’s tendency toward over-spending leading to catastrophe

Many years ago Beatle John Lennon compared America to Rome. Some interpreted his statement as being complimentary, that America was like the Roman Empire in its glory days: the place to be. Others took it to mean that like Rome’s eventual fate, America was declining and headed for the dustbin of history.

As it turns out, both interpretations were correct, depending upon the time frame of the analysis. From its early days America was a bright spot in the world, becoming a leader in many areas and doing things never done before. The rise of the hippie movement of the 60s and 70s spawned the flower children that viewed the U.S. as tarnished and wicked. And since then, particularly in recent years, America has been transitioning to resemble Rome’s decline. Perhaps a more accurate comparison for 2015 is Greece, where out-of-control spending is about to kill the nation.

There is a steady record of troubling statistics that U.S. presidents and Congresses have negligently ignored. For example, in 1971 the federal debt was $348 billion, about 34 percent of GDP, but today it is about $18 trillion, and is more than 100 percent of GDP. This trend caused Standard and Poor’s to downgrade America’s credit rating in 2011.

Federal assistance program payments have risen from about 21 percent of GDP in the 1970s to about 70 percent today. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2008 cost $37.6 billion, but by 2012 totaled $78.4 billion.

The 2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity, published by the Heritage Foundation, reports how food-stamp participation has soared from 2003 to 2013, growing by more than 26 million people. In 1970, the number receiving food stamps was well below 10 million, growing to more than 20 million by 2003, and nearing 50 million by 2013. The index also shows that total welfare spending has climbed by $246 billion between 2003 and 2013. In 2014 the federal government operated more than 80 means-tested welfare programs that provide cash, food, housing and medical care to poor and low-income Americans.

Heritage’s Robert Rector notes that government spent $916 billion on these programs in 2012, and roughly 100 million Americans – nearly one in three – received aid from at least one of them, averaging $9,000 per recipient.

Many will see the increase in these numbers as necessary support from the government for Americans in trouble. Some do truly need help, but many are simply availing themselves of easy money.

Government policies and actions have kept the economy stagnant since the recession of 2007, preventing job creation that would allow millions to provide for themselves, or at least to contribute to their own wellbeing. More than 93 million Americans desiring work – nearly one in three – are not in the labor force. These policies and actions are championed by politicians, many of whom subscribe to the same socialist ideals that are killing Greece, and who benefit from having large numbers of individuals and organizations depending upon them for their survival.

And, the common theme of government wreaking havoc by interfering with business economics rises to the fore, yet again.

One example of a foolish policy is when Obamacare reduced the number of hours of the full-time workweek from 40 to 30 in an attempt to force employers to cover some part-time workers. This resulted in thousands of full-time workers becoming part-time workers, who lost 11 hours of pay a week, as businesses suddenly faced massive new expense and were forced to counteract that by reducing the number of full-time employees by cutting their hours.

Had the leftists that threw together Obamacare in the dark, smoke-filled rooms of the Capital actually thought about what they were doing, they could have avoided some of the punishment they caused these workers. No doubt that thousands of those workers now qualify for government support as a result.

Ignoring the wisdom of not raising the minimum wage, Seattle, Washington raised its minimum wage to $11 an hour in April. And guess what? Some of the workers who benefitted from the increase are now complaining that since they are making more money they will lose their housing subsidy, and are asking to have their hours reduced so that they can keep the free money flowing. Seattle’s minimum wage is scheduled to rise to $15 an hour by 2017.

The American tradition of self-reliance, of working to improve one’s plight, has been replaced by the opportunity to benefit from “free money” from government.

“If we keep on this way, we’ll reach a tipping point where there are too many people receiving government benefits and not enough people to pay for those benefits,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wrote in The Wall Street Journal. Currently, about half of Americans pay no income taxes. “That’s an untenable problem. The receivers cannot receive more than the givers can give.”

The politics of government largesse and the sensible policy of holding individuals and institutions responsible for their actions, the tradition of self-reliance upon which America became the wondrous nation it used to be, are inalterably opposed. The question is, how much more of this dependency can the country survive before it becomes a Greek tragedy?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

This military policy causes precisely what it is intended to prevent

The United States is a wonderful country that provides many opportunities for all. However, the U.S. is short of perfect in many ways, including unwise policies that put Americans at risk. Places like schools, shopping areas, restaurants and bars, office buildings and, of all places, military installations, leave their occupants at risk by announcing to everyone, including murderers and terrorists, that guns are not allowed on the premises.

Those in charge of these facilities obviously want the people who spend time in them to be safe, and so they ban guns from them. If only the murderers and terrorists obeyed the rules. But, alas, they don’t.

And so yet again newspapers, broadcasts and Internet sites are filled with the horrific story of multiple deaths and injuries at gun-free zones, this last episode at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn. last week.

“A 24-year-old Kuwaiti-born gunman opened fire on a military recruiting station on Thursday, then raced to a second military site where he killed four United States Marines,” as reported by The New York Times. A Navy petty officer shot on Thursday died Saturday. The nation has logged yet another event where American military personnel – at the mercy of short-sighted rules based upon emotion and fear, rather than on logic – were forced to be sitting ducks while on duty defending the nation against its enemies. Except, in this case they were prohibited from protecting themselves against this enemy.

After the numerous examples of violence on military bases – the worst of which was the massacre at Ft. Hood, Texas on Nov. 5, 2009, when Army Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at the clinic where he worked as a physician – one might think that the President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the nation’s military, might change the rules that prohibit military personnel, arguably those best trained to carry weapons anywhere and everywhere, from being armed while on duty (this is a non sequitur!).

It defies reason to deny highly trained military personnel being armed while serving at their duty stations, making them sitting ducks, but it also makes little sense to deny having trained people at schools and other places who could respond to an armed attacker that otherwise would enjoy open season on those at defenseless facilities.

Just the idea that there may be armed people at a potential target has a deterrent effect on those wishing to commit murder and mayhem. Terrorists and murderers may be vicious scum, but they are not always stupid. They prefer soft targets, where they can accomplish their evil goals without interference, and knowing that guns are prohibited at a potential target location is an attractive advantage, as opposed to a target where they know they likely will encounter armed resistance.

John R. Lott, Jr. is an economist, columnist and author of books on guns and crime. He notes in discussing a live-fire incident: “And even when concealed handgun permit holders don’t deter the killers, the permit holders stop them. Just a couple of weeks ago, a mass public shooting at a liquor store in Conyers, Ga., was stopped by a concealed handgun permit holder. A couple of people had already been killed by the time the permit holder arrived, but according to Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett: ‘I believe that if [the legal permit holder] did not return fire at the suspect, then more of those customers would have [been] hit by a gun. It didn’t appear that he cared who he shot or where he was shooting until someone was shooting back at him. So, in my opinion, he saved other lives in that store."

So, what are the chances that the “gun-free zone” policy at least contributed to the deaths of five military personnel in Chattanooga? Very good, if not certain.

This policy was put into effect by President Bill Clinton, according to a 2009 editorial in The Washington Times, following the Ft. Hood massacre: “Among President Clinton’s first acts upon taking office in 1993 was to disarm U.S. soldiers on military bases.” The editorial then added, “Because of Mr. Clinton, terrorists would face more return fire if they attacked a Texas Wal-Mart than the gunman faced at Fort Hood …” That restriction was not altered by President George W. Bush, although there was only one shooting on military bases during Mr. Bush’s presidency, according to a report on, and that was in September 2008, three months before Mr. Bush’s tenure as president ended.

The report lists three shootings during Mr. Clinton’s term in the White House, but that number increased substantially during Barack Obama’s tenure. The report lists 16 shootings from January 2009 when Mr. Obama took office through April of 2014. But even that shocking statistic has not prompted him to change the rules.

A major enumerated function of the federal government is to guarantee our God given rights, several (but not all) of which are listed in the Bill of Rights. Who can argue that protecting one’s self is not such a right? When is the government going to stop interfering with that right?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

“Coming to America” in the 21st century: Stupid is as stupid does!

A sanctuary jurisdiction is a place where people who are in the U.S. illegally may go without fear of being discovered and deported. Most of these people are just looking for a better life, but not all, and some are violent criminals. Regardless of their reason for being here, all are safe from being deported or jailed until they commit a crime, but then it is too late. Someone, likely a taxpaying, law-abiding American citizen will have been robbed, assaulted, raped or murdered.

If you come into the United States without proper documentation, without following the approved procedure, you are a federal law-breaker. If you come into the U.S. legally and over-stay your Visa, you are a federal law-breaker.

Both types of illegal immigrants are deportable under Immigration and Nationality Act Section 237 (a)(1)(B) which says: "Any alien who is present in the United States in violation of this Act or any other law of the United States is deportable.”

You are not an “undocumented immigrant,” you are an illegal alien, a law-breaker. Period. You are not entitled to any government benefits, you should not be able to get a job; you should not be protected by going to a sanctuary jurisdiction.

If you broke our laws to come here because of intolerable conditions where you came from, you have our sympathy for your situation, but we have a process for people like you to immigrate to the United States. In very dire circumstances you may be able to request asylum, but even in those dire conditions, there is a process to follow, and that process does not include crossing our borders illegally, living in the shadows, collecting benefits and avoiding immigration authorities. If you do that, you are a criminal, and should be deported. If you do it again, you should be jailed.

If an American citizen harbors an illegal alien, he or she is breaking the law and can be prosecuted. But cities and counties may do so with the blessing of the federal government, and get taxpayer funding to do so.

It’s not that most illegal aliens are criminals, it’s that far too many of them are. Even one illegal who commits a crime – especially a serious crime like armed robbery, assault, rape or sexual abuse, murder, etc. – is one more than we should accept.

Far too many illegals are up to no good. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) records, “from January 1 to August 31, 2014, more than 8,100 deportable aliens were released after arrest in approximately 300 local sanctuary jurisdictions, even though ICE had issued a detainer seeking custody in advance of deporting them,” as reported by Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, writing in National Review. “Some 62 percent of these offenders had a prior criminal history,” of whom about 3,000 were felons. “Of the 8,100 aliens who were released to the streets instead of to ICE, approximately 1,900 were later arrested, a total of 4,300 more times, on 7,500 different charges.”

Kathryn Steinle, 32, walking on Pier 14 with her father in San Francisco on July 2, 2015, was shot and died in her father’s arms, begging him to help her. Ms. Steinle and her father were minding their own business, but she was nevertheless mindlessly shot and killed. And who committed this heinous crime? An illegal alien from Mexico named Francisco Sanchez who had seven felony convictions against him, four on drug charges, and had been deported five times.

“ICE had started the deportation process, but San Francisco asked for custody of Sanchez to pursue prior drug charges,” Ms. Vaughn’s report noted. “These were dropped, and in early April, instead of turning him back over to ICE for deportation, the San Francisco sheriff’s department released Sanchez, in keeping with the city’s longstanding sanctuary policies, without notification to ICE. Less than three months later, Sanchez shot and killed Ms. Steinle."

Kate Steinle is not the only American murdered by an illegal, only one of the most recent. It is a true scandal that Americans are less concerned with this serious threat to the safety of their fellow Americans as they are with whitewashing history by removing every existing Confederate battle flag from the land of the free and the home of the brave, and that the Obama administration is more concerned with global warming than with illegals streaming into the country, many of whom are violent criminals.

How many of those who like sanctuary jurisdictions and open borders and the other foolish ideas that constitute threats to Americans have the power of their convictions? How many would follow the same policies at their homes, leaving doors unlocked, allowing anyone to come in and live in their basement or garage, or their bedrooms? Very few, most likely. But they like the sanctuary idea because it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy with misplaced compassion, and they don’t really have to worry about the consequences.

Except they do. These vicious crimes are their responsibility. Wonder how would they feel if Kate Steinle was their daughter, wife, or sister? How would you feel?

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Trump seeks the nomination, and it was a “good week for Obama”

Perhaps everyone should have known that Donald Trump threatening to enter the GOP nomination race would have produced so much negativity. First reactions were that he really wouldn’t follow through, wouldn’t take the steps necessary to become a candidate. But as he completed them, one after another, the criticisms only increased.

Love him or hate him (as most seem to) Mr. Trump – “The Donald,” as he is affectionately known – is a force to be reckoned with.

A poll by the Morning Consult online asked people “what they think of when they hear Trump’s name, [and] a majority of registered voters came up with a negative word. ‘Arrogant,’ ‘ego’ or ‘egomaniac’ and ‘greed’ or ‘greedy’ were the most common negative responses.” “Few offered purely positive descriptors; ‘good’ or ‘great’ only came up 14 times among the 1,306 respondents,” less than 1 percent.

With his “no holds barred” approach to life, Donald Trump upsets lots of folks, including fellow Republican candidates. He comes from a different world than the politicians do. In his world, you say what needs to be said, and it may not be the kind and gentle talk that the media and those in politics expect.

In politics you must be careful to never alienate a potential voter, and these days you must not offend anyone. Ever. Therefore, the comments in his candidacy announcement about illegal aliens coming across the southern border really set off a firestorm of criticism.

The Trump style may be blunt and not politically correct, but his points are valid: Our border is a sieve leaking who knows who into the country, among which we know are some criminals, rapists, and drug cartel members, and probably a few terrorists. Although a little later in those comments he said plainly that the bad folks aren’t just from Mexico, they are also from Central America and South America, but they do enter the U.S. from Mexico.

Donald Trump has been wildly successful in business, and you don’t accomplish the things he has accomplished without knowing what needs to be done, and doing it. That no-nonsense approach and plain talk is missing in many or most of our current and potential elected leaders on all sides, although they do have political experience, which he does not have. Political inexperience and his blunt talk likely mean he will not win the Republican nomination.

But you can count on Donald Trump to talk about things many other candidates would rather not talk about, and do so in a manner does not comport with the accepted style. This will provide the media with a great opportunity to distract the public by trying to trap Republican candidates into either defending or attacking him personally, and making the campaign all about Trump, instead of the important issues facing the country.

We have already seen some Republicans fall into that trap, and more of them likely will. Republicans are known for their proclivity to kill each other and themselves off, making the Democrats’ job much easier.

While Donald Trump is being skewered for something he said and how he said it, President Barack Obama is being celebrated for things he had nothing to do with, and for things of questionable value to the United States. 

“Wow! Is President Obama on a roll or what!”  trumpeted columnist Ann McFeatters. The country is just “watching in amazement at what seems like a kaleidoscope of change.” 

She believes that Mr. Obama has reaped benefits for some things he had nothing to do with, like:
A. “In rapid succession, we have seen the Supreme Court rule in favor of samesex [sic] marriage equality, and uphold the legality [of the] Affordable Care Act.” Advocates are unconcerned with the constitutional gymnastics needed to arrive at those faulty decisions.
B. “One hundred and fifty years after the Civil War, the Confederate battle flag, symbolic of racism and rebellion against the United States, is finally ceasing to be flown over public buildings.” She must not know that 57 percent of Americans in a recent poll see the battle flag as a symbol of history, not of racism.

And she gives credit for things of questionable value:
A. “And, now, relations with Cuba! ... For the first time since 1961 Cuba will have a U.S. embassy,” as if giving Cuba this gift really means anything without some substantive results for both the U.S. and Cuba. On the other hand, Americans may at last be able to legally buy Cuban cigars.
B. “Obama is trying hard to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons. It may not be possible, but naysayers to his plan simply do not understand realpolitik in today’s complicated world.” Realpolitik must mean giving up sanctions on Iran and at the same time not blocking that rogue nation from producing nuclear weapons, as well as speeding up the process for the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Obama’s legacy is apparently at the top of his priority list, as so many of his actions demonstrate. But just getting an agreement with Iran to burnish his image is a dangerous and foolish way to do that.