Saturday, July 30, 2011

The "Fix" is Out of Focus

What prompted the Republican win in the last national election?  What was it that drove tens of thousands of individuals to become the "Tea Party"?  What message were we looking for in a self-professed, conservative candidate?

There are numerous answers to those questions; but, they all focus around one major theme.  Our Government is out of control!  We wanted to send individuals to Washington to begin the process of reigning in, not only President Obama, but also the establishment.  The main-stream politician in Washington has lost touch with the main-stream American!  Actually, that is not only giving them the benefit of the doubt; it is not accurate.  We are considerably past the point of politicians losing touch with the people, they have embarked on a path to transition our country from a Republic to a socialist mecca.  We the people of the United States of America are witnessing the "change" that a minority had been "hoping" for over the past few decades. 

The last election provided an opportunity; not a solution; yet.  The conservative contingency sent to the House is sufficient in number to make a difference in "business as usual".  The majority shifted to the Republicans, but not to the conservatives.  Though we have a strong conservative base in the House, they only hold the limited position of power to obstruct, delay, deny and basically be a thorn in the flesh.  Between the Democrats and the moderate Republicans (the establishment), there is an effort to continue in the same direction after applying some icing to a toxic cake.  We've been graced with one speech after another from one politician after another about the "crisis".  They preach to us, we who seem to understand the situation better than they, how bad things are and how it needs to be solved.  Yet, there is not under serious consideration; one single plan, proposal, or budget which takes us in the direction of actually solving the problem.  Not one of them reverses the free-fall of the country, they just debate about the adjustment to the rate of decline.

Washington's solution, which they expect us to be happy with; consists of applying some Bactine and a Bandaid to a body which is missing it's guts and backbone.  Last November, there was talk as to how the freshmen Republicans would be able to stop some of the nonsense.  We seemed to understand that their numbers were insufficient to actually solve the problem through passing legislation; but, they were sufficient to stop the funding of various programs, have an effect on the budget, focus the finances in more proper directions, etc.  We knew that the newbies would not run the place, but would be able to apply the emergency brake to a run-away train. 

Remember all of the talk about defunding Obamacare?  How long has it been since you heard of that effort?  Isn't the budget discussion the exact time to deal with that issue?  How about the 6,000 new IRS agents needed to enforce the health care law?  Is anyone limiting the IRS funding to prohibit this?  We are dealing with Administrative departments that are running amok.  How about cutting some of their funding?

This Congress has been in office for about seven months.  During that time, the focus has changed from being concentrated and targeted on accomplishing specific goals of limiting the Administration in their ability to proceed with their destructive agenda; to passing a BBA (which will do nothing for several years).  Yes, they are fighting to hold down the debt and reduce some spending; but no one appears to be concentrating on where the money will be spent, who will spend it, and what it will accomplish?  All we hear about is the total amount to be spent. 

Where is the detailed analysis of the proposed budget?  Someone needs to get out the red marker and scissors!  This is a multi-front assault.  We must limit overall spending, we must stop deficit budgets, we must hold down taxes, we must restrict government borrowing and get some control of the outlandish debt; but, we must also pay attention to just how and where the President plans to spend whatever amount is approved.  We cannot proceed with taxpayer funded organizations such as Acorn (that is just an example we are familiar with). 

While all of the major negotiations are dealing with the overall numbers; there needs to be some group of conservatives, in some corner of the Capital, going over the proposed budget, line-by-line.  They need to be getting down to the specifics.  We can afford no less than this process.  Cut the crap out of the budget while there is an opportunity to do so!  So what if they get a 2012 budget passed with a savings of $25 billion; but Obama cuts that amount out of the Department of Defense and proceeds with all of the rest of his dream programs?

If, when this all settles down, our only victory has been the reduction of the amount to be spent next year by several billion dollars and we have made no attempt to defund any of Obama's agenda; we will have failed!  It is not just about the amount of spending, but also about the direction of that spending.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The OPM of the Masses

America, it is time for an intervention!

Karl Marx, in 1843, wrote a phrase concerning religion being the “opium of the masses” (translated from German). Today, we have a new opium for the masses in America. The government’s drug of choice for the people is OPM – other people’s money.
The apparent goal is to have a majority of the population, especially those of voting age, receiving financial benefits from the federal government. That monthly check in the mail, from the United States Treasury, is very addictive. Once dependent upon a regular check for normal subsistence; the recipient, in the financial area, tends to become more of a single-issue voter. “Don’t mess with my benefits!”
To make this point: how many people that you know voluntarily quit a government program where they are receiving financial help; or, how many government programs can you name that have been scaled back or eliminated after there is a large group of the public receiving regular financial benefits? It just does not happen and when anyone proposes to do something that will affect those checks, they can expect rioting in the streets; or as recently witnessed in Wisconsin, in the capitol building.
Politicians have been using OPM to addict voters for generations. During some periods of our political history, it has been a race by both major parties to see which one could cause the most to be addicted.
This is not an issue that has to do with race, religion, ethnicity, or any preference one may have. It crosses just about every line in our society. From the rich to the poor, the east to the west; we have a society dependent upon regular financial help from government. We have been tempted and we have succumbed. We may tell ourselves that just one check will not make us addicted. To some, that is true; but with many, the lure is too great to ever want to go back to a life of independent, self-responsibility. Why do all the hard stuff when government will just give me OPM?
Here are some current statistics: the number of people currently receiving unemployment benefits is 14,100,000; there are over 43,000,000 on the food stamp program; etc. Then there are these programs: pell grants for college, medicare, medicaid, subsidized housing, rental assistance, help with utilities, school lunch program, free milk for mothers, free cheese to the needy, farm subsidy program, disability, government sponsored retirement benefits, federal grants to states and cities, federal highway money; and the list goes on and on. This does not include the millions who are in government employment or the financial bailouts to banks, insurance companies, etc. 
In some form or another, most of us receive some form of financial benefit from the government. To many, it may be something we do not even notice. To others, it is their livelihood.
All of this has one thing in common; probably none of these programs are Constitutional. For decades we the people have been the enablers to permit this growing addiction to continue. Now, without a serious intervention and treatment, the system will surely die. We cannot continue on this same path and expect to be healthy – ever!
To the co-dependent politicians, we are arranging help for each of you. We are going to send you back home and make you face the reality of your disease. To the addicts, the path is unsustainable that you are currently following. The crops of OPM must be shut down and you must take the steps necessary to recover. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The BBA is Not the Answer

Brian Darling of The Heritage Foundation, wrote a report which they published on 7/14/2011; called, "The House and Senate Balanced Budget Amendments: Not All Balanced Budget Amendments Are Created Equal". He states that each house of Congress is planning on taking up discussion on their respective versions of a BBA during the week of 7/18/2011. The Senate appears to be leaning towards S.J. Res. 23. The House appears to be leaning towards H.J. Res. 1. With there being multiple versions of BBAs in each house, at least they each appear to be picking one to discuss. This step lets us be more specific, also.

The report compares these two versions and prints the content of each. It can be found here:

After reading both proposals, it is clear the House version is less specific and in some instances it has less restrictions.

Each contains provisions for the BBA to not apply in specific years: when both houses vote to to exclude a year, when war is declared, or when the US is engaged in a military conflict that poses an imminent and serious threat to national security. In the House version, during a time of military conflict, (with a majority vote) the amendment would be waived; including Section 5, which requires a 2/3 vote to increase revenues (taxes).

This means, since the US is involved in a military conflict just about each and every year (if the House version were to be ratified); a simple majority vote would stop there from being a requirement for a balanced budget and would allow excess spending in unrestricted areas of government (not just the military conflict), and it would allow for tax increases without the higher threshold of a 2/3 vote. Witnessing the high moral standard of our government over the past several years, does anyone believe that it is beyond them to actually send our troops to fight on some distant soil so that they can spend more at home?

It is noted that the BBA is being held out by conservatives in Congress as one of the main issues they demand in order to vote to rasie the debt ceiling. They make it sound like this will solve our problems if they each vote to pass a compromised bill. Even if both pass the same bill, it is then sent to the 50 states to see if 3/4 will vote to ratify this as an amendment to the Constitution. When and if it ever takes effect would depend on that being accomplished.

The very earliest that either version could take effect is for the fiscal year of 2017, and it is very probable it would be later than that. Neither one would accomplish anything to help us right now. If both houses of Congress passed the Senate version of a BBA this year and the states were given the typical seven years to debate and ratify the proposed amendment, the BBA states it would take effect in the fifth fiscal year following ratification. 2011+7+5=2023.

What are they thinking? How is that going to help us here and now? How is trading the Congress passing on a BBA, which will not take effect until 2017-2023; in excange for raising the debt ceiling now, going to make things better? We have $14.4 trillion in national debt, right now. Obama’s proposed budget for 2012 adds another $1.6 trillion. At this rate, by the time any BBA could do anything, we will be looking at a debt of around $20 trillion.

There are many constitutional issues raised concerning the BBA by Publius Huldah in her articles on Canada Free Press: and also here:

Both the Senate and House versions include the provision that the president must submit a budget. Up until now, the Constitution places the obligation to determine spending on the House, not the president. This would fundamentally transfer the responsibility over from the House to the president. They are also worded in a way that seems to make the only issue being the limited amount of total expenditures. There are no provisions dealing with spending on unconstitution programs, etc. It makes it sound like, as long as the president proposes a budget which he claims is not over 18% of our economy and that he claims that he has revenue to meet that level of spending, we should all be very happy.

I believe that Congress will pass some version of a BBA. The Right and Left will each use it as a political accomplishment during the upcoming campaign. We will have to take up the fight on the state level. We will have to learn the facts and be able to teach those to others. We will have to do the work to stop this BBA monster window dressing from becoming an amendment.

Remember, if Congress was so concerned about having a balanced budget, they could just write one right now. The Constitution already gives the House the power to deal with this issue. Stop meeting with the President to get his approval. Stop seeking his leadership. Do not compromise or give-in. Just do your job and cut spending, drastically, now. Just go back to the hill and pass a reasonable budget in the House, now. And, do not trade raising the debt limit as a trade-off for passing a BBA.

As to the rest of us, do not be fooled by the great sounding title – Balanced Budget Amendment. We would all love to have an actual budget that is balanced, that is not the issue. We want to use our current Constitution, where the House is responsible for spending measures, to get the hard work done NOW!

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Republic, If...

As Benjamin Franklin emerged, after the completion of the writing of the Constitution; a woman asked of him, “Sir, what have you given us?” He responded, “A Republic, ma’am if you can keep it.”

“A Republic…” What is a Republic? Is it the same as a Democracy? If not, how are they different? Which form of government do we the people have for the United States? Is one form of government better than the other?

Those are the questions I had and maybe some of you have wondered the same things. Rarely do you hear that the U.S. is a Republic. Most people refer to it and believe it to be a Democracy. Actually, we may have heard that we are a Republic more than we realize but it has mostly gone unnoticed:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands…"

“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government…” U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 4.

To begin with, whether we are a Republic or a Democracy has nothing to do with the political parties of the Republicans or Democrats.

A Republic Form of Government:

Republic defined (Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary):
“A… state in which the exercise of the sovereign power is lodged in representatives elected by the people. In modern usage, it differs from a democracy or democratic state, in which the people exercise the powers of sovereignty in person.”

A Republic is a nation where the people, individually retain the sovereign power. These individuals elect representatives to exercise that power in the operation of government. These representatives are responsible to those people whom they represent and must govern according to and within in the limits of the law.

Key components are that the individuals retain the power and the law restricts the representatives running the government. The government must operate according to the law; and in our case, the supreme law of the land – the Constitution.

A Democracy:

Democracy defined (Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary):
“Government by the people; a form of government, in which the supreme power is lodged in the hands of the people collectively, or in which the people exercise the powers of legislation.”

A Democracy is a nation where the people, collectively, rule. Note that the definition does not include the word “law”. In a Democracy the majority rules. As the majority changes, so do the rules.

Our Status:

As mentioned above, Benjamin Franklin proclaimed that the Founding Fathers had formed a Republic as the form of government for the United States. They had written a Constitution as the “law” under which this Republic would function. They expressed grave concern over the country letting the Republic slip away into becoming a Democracy. They actually referred to a democracy as a “mobocracy”.

The Founders did not want our country to be controlled by “majority rule”. They wanted the Constitution to be the set of rules which controlled the government and the country.

Some in America do not want to be bound by the restrictions in the Constitution and that is precisely why they promote the idea that the Constitution is a “living document”. The phrase, “living document”, does not sound bad if you mean that the Constitution is alive and well and still keeping watch over zealous politicians. But, that is not what they mean. “Living document” means that it is flowing and ever-changing to meet the current needs and desires of the country. In other words, they do not want the Constitution to impose restrictions on their agenda for America.

“A Republic, if…”

Why was Mr. Franklin and other Founders concerned about the Republic remaining a Republic? In order for society to function under the umbrella of a limited government, there must be a rule of law. This law must be set and difficult to alter. It cannot be that a majority can upset the law on a whim. A civil order is required for the people to exist with the God-given rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Where the current majority of the citizens make all the rules, the rights of the minority will not be protected. Equal rights require steady laws. In his First Inaugural Address (1801), Thomas Jefferson said:  “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable: that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”

Within a Republic the individual people retain sovereignty. We, as individuals, exercise our sovereignty as we elect representatives to go to Washington for the purpose of running the government according to the law – Constitution. We expect our representatives to only function in a manner which protects the individual’s natural rights. They are “natural rights” as they were bestowed on us by our Creator. These rights do not come to us from government and were not established by the Constitution. Natural rights predate the Constitution. This document was written to protect those rights and to restrict the government from infringing upon those rights.

With the Constitution being the supreme law of the land and written to limit what government can do, mere logic insists that the Constitution must have a fixed meaning and firm boundaries. If it were otherwise, such as a “living document”, where the very government it seeks to limit, decides where those changing lines will be drawn; it gravitates to a set of flexible rules where those who rule choose the degree of flexibility. In other words, it ceases to protect natural rights and is no longer the law of a Republic. That is why the Constitution was written with a specific list of what the government is permitted to do – enumerated powers.

In a Republic the people are not obligated to the government, but the government is obligated to the people. The people chose to form the government for specific duties and that creation of the people is subject to those creators and must abide within the limits of the Constitution.

In a Democracy, the power lies in the whole body of the citizens and the majority controls power. The citizens become obligated to the government to do as it determines. At any given time, the group that finds itself in a minority position will only have those privileges which the majority grants. Those granted privileges to the minority are referred to as civil rights. They will change as the will of the majority shifts back and forth. There is no line in the sand, no boundaries on government, and no law restricting the rulers from imposing their desires on those in the minority. A Democracy is where the majority rules as a dictator and whatever they decide becomes mandatory. The Founders knew this and this is why they called a Democracy, a “mobocracy”.

In a Republic, the people own the government and its agencies. In a Democracy, the government and its agencies own the people. When the people established the Constitution they did not give up their natural rights. America was founded based on the concept of self-government. We elect representatives to perform specific tasks on our behalf, not to control us and strip us of our rights. The representatives, the government and its agencies were established by the people to act as our agents, on our behalf, for our protection and benefit. They are to represent us, not rule us.

Republic – The People live with and enjoy the natural rights given to us by God.
Democracy – The Citizens live with the civil rights granted to them by their government.

A Republic is a government which functions within the framework of the law (fixed principles), in our case the Constitution. It protects the rights of the individual and respects property rights. This law restricts the government from violating the individual’s rights and prevents the majority from doing the same.

Both forms of government can have voting by the people. The main differences lie in whether sovereignty lies with the individual or with the majority, and whether there is rule by law or rule by majority.

This is the reason We the People require our representatives to take and oath to defend and protect the Constitution. It is too bad that many of those same people, once they have sworn that oath, completely ignore the same. A Republic only continues to function as long as the representatives, elected by the individuals, exercise their duties within the express limits and restrictions spelled out in the Constitution. When the allegiance of the elected is swayed by polls and pleasing the majority in order to win the next election, the Republic dies and the Democracy begins the inevitable slide towards despotism.

The Founders chose to give us a Republic form of government as it was the best, of all of the choices, in securing the rights of the individual and controlling the majority.

Can we keep it?