Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Americans and business being driven away by taxes and regulations

It is frequently said and generally true, especially well into the 1900s, that America is a land of immigrants, due to the huge numbers of people that have flocked to the United States since the early 1600s when the Pilgrims began the process, crossing the ocean in a long and perilous journey seeking religious freedom. A major wave of immigrants arrived here during the colonial era, during which the United States of America was born, and another wave occurred from 1880 to 1920, as thousands arrived seeking greater economic opportunity.

While these periods saw immigrants voluntarily traveling to America, thousands of African slaves reached our shores, brought here against their will from the 17th century well into the 19th century.

Four hundred years after the Pilgrims sought freedom of religion, America is still a favored destination for people from many other nations, and many or most of them come from highly troubled circumstances in their home countries and seek a better life, and as we have seen more recently, many sneak across the borders, and some come here to cause trouble and pain.

Curiously today, we also find thousands of Americans voluntarily giving up their U.S. citizenship for that of other countries. This is a trend that has seen surprising growth over the last several years.

Looking back to 1998, 398 Americans gave up their citizenship, and through 2009 the number of American expats ranged from a low of 231 in 2008 to a high of 762 in 2005, which was the end of a slow but steady seven-year increase in expatriate activity, according to data from the U.S. Treasury Department. After that, the numbers bounced around below the 2005 high, but then in 2010 that number nearly doubled, with 1,534 Americans giving up citizenship. This was the start of a period of increasing numbers of expatriates for every year except one, until it peaked last year at 5,411.

Interestingly, more than one-third of those expats in 2016 took this step in the last quarter of the year when the presidential campaign ended and the election was held. This raises the question of whether so many did so in the last three months of the year because they feared Hillary Clinton would win the election, or whether they decided to split after Donald Trump defeated her to become president?

During the run-up to the election a long list of recognizable names threatened to leave the country if Trump won, including one Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It is worth noting that Ginsberg and many, or perhaps all, of the others threatening to leave are still here.

As these personalities were advertising what turned out to be their idle threats, countries like Canada and New Zealand advertised themselves as desirable destinations for Americans ready to abandon ship. As it turns out, New Zealand is the third most popular destination for American expatriates after Malta and Costa Rica, and followed by Mexico.

Why are people who are citizens of perhaps the most sought-after destination for people leaving other countries willing to give up U.S. citizenship to live somewhere else?

There are several reasons, such as that some of them fell in love with the culture and history of another country while on a trip abroad, and decided to move there. Or perhaps some may be immigrants who came here, became citizens, and want to return to their native land.

But another reason explains expatriation: The escalation of offshore penalties over the last 20 years is likely contributing to the increased incidence of expatriation, in the judgment of the tax attorneys who track expatriate data on their International Tax Blog. And US News adds that “The U.S. is one of a very small number of countries that tax based on nationality, not residency, leaving Americans living abroad to face double taxation.”

The U.S. tax code once again rears its ugly head. Its irrational design not only encourages businesses to move to other countries, but encourages individuals with earnings in other countries to abandon their citizenship, as well. However, President Donald Trump has pledged to overhaul the tax code, reducing tax rates on businesses and individuals, among other changes, and that may make a difference for these people.

Inside the tunnel where the Left lives, peering out on the world with their narrow view of things, everyone that makes a lot of money and every large company is an evil thing that threatens survival, so tax breaks that help the wealthy and the rich corporations are a bad thing.

But moving past the liberals’ tunnel vision, removing tax provisions and regulations that punish businesses and creating an environment that invites businesses, will encourage those that left to return and will help domestic businesses to expand and produce the jobs the country so badly needs.

Lowering personal tax rates and raising the standard deduction will leave more hard-earned income in the hands of regular people, who will then spend and/or invest it, both of which help the economy grow. And doing away with taxing foreign income will remove a factor encouraging people and their money to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What happens when judges abandon the Constitution and the law?

If you have read legal documents you will likely have noticed how detailed, specific and often obtuse the language is. The purpose of such language is to assure that the intent of the document is clearly set forth, and this language is well understood by lawyers.

However, despite the careful legal wording of President Donald Trump’s Executive Order (EO) temporarily suspending travel to the U.S. from seven countries with close ties to terrorism, U.S. District Judge James Robart in Washington found problems with the document last month, and issued a temporary stay. A revised second version of that EO, rewritten to avoid the objectionable parts of the first one, including removing one of the seven countries on the list, was found unacceptable by two other federal judges, U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii, and Maryland U.S. District Court Judge Theodore Chuang.

The revised document may as well have been written in the language of the Klingons, because these two judges ignored the Order itself, rejecting the travel suspension due to negative statements about Muslim immigrants Trump made during the campaign.

Even though the people who have to implement the EO must do only what it says, the judges, in their infinite wisdom, decided that what they imagine to be the thinking of the president is more important than what the document actually mandates, even though those who follow the EO will have no knowledge of what the president thinks, and therefore no obligation to implement those opinions.

Apparently, these federal judges are confused about their jobs or perhaps just don’t care about professional ethics or their sworn duties. They apparently believe that in ruling on a legal document they should ignore the actual document that is being challenged, and instead rely on speculation about the opinions of the document’s creator, and act to protect certain rights of immigrants and foreigners that the Constitution does not assign to them.

Under 8 U.S. Code § 1182(f) Congress granted the President broad discretion to suspend the entry of “any class of aliens” into the United States, and independently broad discretion over the refugee program.

That section reads: “Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President - Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.” This section of the law goes on to assign the Attorney General authority over activities by airlines bringing in non-citizen passengers, further assigning complete authority over entry to the country to the executive branch of the government, not the judiciary.

The law is crystal clear in its meaning, and does not provide as exceptions to the power of the President the personal opinions of federal judges or the beliefs or motives that these unelected referees ascribe to the president.

Perhaps the reason these judges didn’t want to rule on the actual language and effect of the Order is that it disagrees with their personal opinions. The Heritage Foundation’s Hans Von Spakovsky, a former Department of Justice lawyer, told Breitbart, “I don’t think [these judges] have any professional shame about it — in fact, they’re being applauded by newspaper editors for actually ignoring the law and [Supreme Court] rulings based on their own personal policy preferences.”

He notes that, despite the plain text of the law and prior Supreme Court decisions, these rulings are “destructive of the rule of law, which is the entire basis of our Republic.” This, he said, “is a very bad development that threatens our democracy … [and] it looks like it is going to get worse [because] we’re going to have more and more litigation, and it is very clear that the progressive left wants to use the courts to fight the way our democracy works,” he said, adding “I think what they doing is very anti-democratic.”

Indeed. What can be worse for a country that lives by the rule of law than to have some judges that do not follow or honor the law or the Constitution, but instead make law from the bench or twist laws to suit their personal or political preferences? That is what liberal judges do, and this behavior has reached crisis proportions.

These legal rulings raise important questions:

What is the proper response to a federal court ruling that is so plainly contrary to the law? Should the Trump administration follow a clearly illegal ruling and attempt to overturn it though a lengthy appeal process, or defy the federal courts?

What should happen to judges who issue rulings are at odds with laws and the Constitution that they are sworn to uphold?

Aren’t these judges directly responsible for any harm done to American citizens as a result of persons with the intent to do harm getting into the country by virtue of their rulings?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Is this the end of Liberalism in the United States of America?

Have you noticed how unhinged many liberals have become since Donald Trump won the presidency? Of course you have; you can’t miss something that extensive and that crazy.

Many liberals, perhaps most, reside moderately to the left of the political center; but this is about the radicals who hang on by their fingernails to the left-most edge of the political spectrum, about to slip off into undisputed madness.

These leftmost folks have disentangled themselves from the general rules of common courtesy and civility where some may properly disagree with the ideas of others in a polite and accepting manner. These radicals are not just disagreeable but are becoming more militant and demanding, and want not to persuade others to their ideas, but to force their acceptance.

Whereas more reasonable folk hold the position that if they think smoking is a bad thing, they don’t smoke, or if they don’t think red meat is a good thing, they are vegans, or if they believe guns are always and forever dangerous and never suitable for personal ownership, they don’t buy a gun. The leftmost, by contrast, want to totally ban tobacco, red meat and guns, and will do their best to bring those bans to reality.

Protesting is protected speech in America, and we honor that right. But increasingly those protests sponsored by liberals turn to violence and destruction in their infantile temper tantrums of whining and foot stomping, demonization and name-calling. Demonstrating the character of those radicals, a Trump golf course in California and his Washington hotel have recently been vandalized. And if liberals think some group deserves special consideration and you don’t agree, you are called racist, misogynist, Nazi, fascist, immigrant-hater, etc.

And now, things are happening that are so bizarre that they can only be accurately described as deliberately dishonest, or just dumb. California Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters actually said on MSNBC’s “Hardball” four days before the inauguration that Trump ought to be impeached. She implied that Trump had gotten campaign information from Russia, such as the names he called Hillary Clinton and others, and therefore he should be impeached, after he becomes president. Obviously, a president can be impeached only for wrongs committed while in office. Shouldn’t a long-time congressional representative know that?

On ABC’s “Good Morning America” David Wright attributed the timing of Trump’s U.S. Attorney purge to Fox News host Sean Hannity, noting the purge occurred one day after Hannity called for it on TV. These requested resignations are standard operating procedure when the new president is of a different political party than his predecessor, and any network news reporter ought to know that. Yet somehow because Hannity mentioned it on his show shortly before it occurred, it was Hannity that “ordered” the action, and Trump would not have done it otherwise. Fake news?

And it is much worse than those examples. Some liberals have sunk to a level below mere opposition. It is anti-Americanism: not the loyal opposition, but the disloyal political enemy. Among the more serious infractions is that appointees and holdovers from the previous administration apparently have leaked sensitive information to the media, which have eagerly reported these things, potentially breaking laws and committing treason.

While this behavior has been on the increase for a while, the election of Donald Trump has been like a dose of steroids, as if his election lifts the barriers to illegal and unethical behavior. People seem to have forgotten that, like him or not, Trump is the duly elected president, and while much of the opposition merely makes things more difficult for him, some of it puts the nation’s stability at risk.

Shelby Steele, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, evaluates these changes in liberalism as follows: “The recent flurry of marches, demonstrations and even riots, along with the Democratic Party’s spiteful reaction to the Trump presidency, exposes what modern liberalism has become: a politics shrouded in pathos.”

He remembers how things were during the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, “when protesters wore their Sunday best and carried themselves with heroic dignity,” and bemoans today’s liberal marches, which he described as “marked by incoherence and downright lunacy — hats designed to evoke sexual organs, poems that scream in anger yet have no point to make, and an hysterical anti-Americanism. All this suggests lostness, the end of something rather than the beginning. What is ending?”

He continues, “Our new conservative president rolls his eyes when he is called a racist, and we all — liberal and conservative alike — know that he isn’t one. The jig is up. Bigotry exists, but it is far down on the list of problems that minorities now face.” Reaching back into his own experiences, he notes, “I grew up black in segregated America, where it was hard to find an open door. It’s harder now for young blacks to find a closed one.”

Calling current liberalism “an anachronism,” Steele goes on to explain that what we have today is not liberalism, but “moral esteem over reality; the self-congratulation of idealism.” And he concludes with the post mortem: “Liberalism is exhausted because it has become a corruption.”

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

People without jobs, and jobs without people

Back in 2008, Sen. Joe Biden, D-NJ, then a candidate for vice president, commented that the economic plan his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, R-NM, released does not address the number one problem facing the middle class, and “it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S."

Whether you spell “jobs” with three or four letters, having enough jobs is a critical issue today. President Donald Trump has made bringing back jobs that were moved out of the country a major goal, as well as improving the economy so that new jobs will be created. So far, several companies have pledged to bring jobs back to the U.S.

The U.S. jobs picture at this time is a subject of conflicting numbers. A contributor to a Bloomberg Television program last week referred to the U.S. job situation as “near full employment,” obviously referring to the currently very attractive, though horribly misleading, U-3 Unemployment Rate, which stands at 4.8 percent.

The U-3, however, ignores the 95 million working age Americans who have given up and dropped out of, or are only marginally attached to, the labor force. Leaving out this huge contingent of Americans working less than full time and those not working at all, but wanting a job, pushes the U-3 rate down into respectable territory. However, those folks are included in the calculation of the U-6 Unemployment Rate, which shows unemployment of nine percent, a long way from “near full employment.”

Not only are there tens of millions of Americans of working age who want to work sitting on the sidelines, but there are also lots of employers with millions of unfilled jobs looking for workers. The Glassdoor Economic Research Blog lists 5.1 million unique U.S. job listings, and calculates the total value of estimated base pay at $272.6 billion that the economy is missing out on because the jobs are unfilled. Those open jobs, which average about $53,600 annually, represent lost productivity to employers, and good opportunities for workers.

“Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe puts the unfilled jobs number a half-million higher than Glassdoor at 5.6 million. Many of these are blue-collar jobs, for mechanics, welders, electricians and so forth – the so-called “skilled trades.” Rowe notes that learning blue-collar skills actually teaches you more than just that skill, and laments how the idea that everyone needs a college education has redirected many young people who might have pursued a blue-collar skill for their livelihood that fills an open slot. Instead, they are in college pursuing a degree that they hope will serve them well as adults.

The technology sector also has many open jobs, according to, a branch of IDG Enterprise catering to chief information officers. CIO utilized Glassdoor information and one of its community experts, Scott Dobroski. “There's a lot of economic opportunity that's going unfulfilled in technology right now, both inside and outside purely IT companies,” Dobroski said. “Retail, professional services, manufacturing, healthcare, web and mobile platforms – all these types of companies are IT companies, and they all need software engineers," he said.

The CIO story noted that “When broken out by job title, roles with the highest levels of demand and in shortest supply tend to have the greatest value associated, like software engineers, for which there are 13,198 open jobs with a value of $1.3 billion.” And, "These aren't unnecessary roles that companies can simply ignore or leave vacant – these IT roles, in particular, are critical for growth, innovation and competition.”

On Rowe’s point, many young people choose college who really would be better off pursuing a job that doesn’t require college. “With a median household income of $40,581, millennials earn 20 percent less than boomers did at the same stage of life, despite being better educated,” according to a USA Today report on a new analysis of Federal Reserve data by the advocacy group Young Invincibles. Further, the graduates have to take lower paying jobs while they await a job opening in the field of their college degree.

According to the College Board, the average “moderate” budget for the academic year 2016-2017 was $24,610 for an in-state public college, and $49,320 for a private college. A four-year degree, therefore, will cost on average nearly $100,000 at an in-state public school and nearly $200,000 at a private school.

Quite a few college graduates with tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt chose a career field that may have “felt” right for them, but was not a vibrant field that would provide them a career opportunity. Consequently, they cannot find a job in their chosen field and they must work a lower paying job waiting for a job in their field to open up, and their steep college loan debts eat away at their meager earnings.

All the while, many good paying jobs that fill an immediate productivity and economic need remain unfilled because of a lack of trained job seekers. Many, perhaps most, of these jobs, require much less of an investment than a college degree, and some of them teach the skill on the job, requiring no up front investment.