Monday, August 24, 2009

Americans have given up self-ownership

by Walter E. Williams

August 05, 2009

"No one has a right to harm another." Just a little thought, along with a few examples, would demonstrate that blanket statement as pure nonsense. Suppose there is a beautiful lady that both Jim and Bob are pursuing. If Jim wins her hand, Bob is harmed. By the same token, if Bob wins her hand, Jim is harmed. Whose harm is more important and should the beautiful lady be permitted to harm either Bob or Jim are nonsense questions.

During the 1970s, when Hewlett-Packard and Texas Instruments came out with scientific calculators, great harm was suffered by slide rule manufacturers such as Keuffel & Esser and Pickett. Slide rules have since gone the way of the dodo, but the question is: Should Hewlett-Packard and Texas Instruments have been permitted to inflict such grievous harm on slide rule manufacturers? In 1927, General Electric successfully began marketing the refrigerator. The ice industry, a major industry supporting the livelihoods of thousands of workers, was destroyed virtually overnight. Should such harm have been permitted, and what should Congress have done to save jobs in the slide rule and ice industries?

The first thing we should acknowledge is that we live in a world of harms. Harm is reciprocal. For example, if the government stopped Hewlett-Packard and Texas Instruments from harming Keuffel & Esser and Pickett, or stopped General Electric from harming ice producers, by denying them the right to manufacture calculators and refrigerators, those companies would have been harmed, plus the billions of consumers who benefited from calculators and refrigerators. There is no scientific or intelligent way to determine which person's harm is more important than the other. That means things are more complicated than saying that one person has no rights to harm another. We must ask which harms are to be permitted in a free society and which are not to be permitted. For example, it's generally deemed acceptable for me to harm you by momentarily disturbing your peace and quiet by driving a motorcycle past your house. It's deemed unacceptable for me to harm you by tossing a brick through your window.

In a free society, many conflicting harms are settled through the institution of private property rights. Private property rights have to do with rights belonging to the person deemed owner of property to keep, acquire, use and dispose of property as he deems fit so long as he does not violate similar rights of another. Let's say that you are offended, possibly harmed, by bars that play vulgar rap music and permit smoking. If you could use government to outlaw rap music and smoking in bars, you would be benefited and people who enjoyed rap music and smoking would be harmed. Again, there is no scientific or intelligent way to determine whose harm is more important. In a free society, the question of who has the right to harm whom, by permitting rap music and smoking, is answered by the property rights question: Who owns the bar? In a socialistic society, such conflicting harms are resolved through government intimidation and coercion.

What about the right to harm oneself, such as the potential harm that can come from not wearing a seatbelt. That, too, is a property rights question. If you own yourself, you have the right to take chances with your own life. Some might argue that if you're not wearing a seatbelt and wind up a vegetable, society has to take care of you; therefore, the fascist threat "click it or ticket." Becoming a burden on society is not a problem of liberty and private property. It's a problem of socialism where one person is forced to take care of someone else. That being the case, the government, in the name of reducing health care costs, assumes part ownership of you and as such assumes a right to control many aspects of your life. That Americans have joyfully given up self-ownership is both tragic and sad.

Monday, August 17, 2009

GOP's legacy

The author of this article points out what many inherently know. For all of their banter when the Democrats are in control, most GOP do exactly the same and sometimes worse when they themselves are in power. The majority of the GOP lack principle. Period. Most have no idea what conservatism is anymore, let alone Constitutional government.

July 27, 2009

By J. Frank Jad
© 2009

The Republican Party spends most of its effort promoting the Democrats and their agenda. That's crazy! Crazy but true. Republicans effectively, if unwittingly, advance the Democrats' leftist agenda. No matter who is in power, the federal government, its power and expenditures, continue to grow with little chance of reversal.

The Democrats propose a "generous" increase in the minimum wage. The Republicans either oppose an increase and opt for staying at the current level or counter with a more modest increase. The Democrats say that we need to increase the school lunch program by x million dollars. The Republicans answer by offering an increase of one-third x. Democrats say that the government needs to spend a lot more subsidizing housing, and Republicans say that the current level is adequate. Democrats say that more people should be made eligible, and Republicans defend the status quo.

So the predictable dynamic is that the Democrats fight for an increase in spending for some government program, and the Republicans either oppose any increase or counter with a proposal for more modest growth. What impression of the Republican Party does this give? What is the one principle that people are able to discern from Republicans' policies as stated above? That the Republicans are cheap and uncaring. Some may manage to construe it as fiscal responsibility, but what it comes down to is withholding funds from "worthwhile" programs – thus ultimately withholding help from those who are "entitled" to it.

If the Republicans agree to spend $2 billion on a program, they are inherently saying that it is good and just and worthwhile. Why else would they agree to spend such a massive amount of money on it? If people who position themselves as fiscally responsible spend that kind of money, it has to be for something good. Something right. Something necessary. And here they cede the moral high ground to Democrats, liberals and leftists by validating their policies, programs and agenda. It's Democrats who are fighting for all of these good and righteous schemes and the Republicans who are dragging their feet.

Every time Republicans say yes, but not so much, they are saying that the Democrats are right and they, the Republicans, are cheap. The Democrats are looking out for the needy and the Republicans are looking out for the cheap and stingy. We are cheap! Hardly an inspiring philosophy. Hardly a winning strategy.

We all know that the best defense is a good offense. The GOP has turned that truism on its head. Their only offense is a pathetic defense. And no matter how good your defense, if you have no offense you will eventually lose. It's inevitable. After the 1994 elections swept the Republicans into control of Congress, many anticipated the extinction of a few federal agencies. Many even a department or two. Dare to dream. Then we were told that Rome was not built in a day, so don't expect it to be dismantled in a day. Well, we are still waiting for those first few bricks to be knocked loose.

Sure, the left has moved us to a gargantuan and ever-growing welfare state one step at a time, or make that 1 billion at a time. That is the only way it could have happened. Anyone who 100 years ago had tried to propose what we have now would have been run out of town. Any American town. As per the above, it may be impossible to move in the opposite direction by increments. When you propose to spend less than the left wants, the only principle you are standing on and promoting is cheapness. Not a very compelling platform; rather, it's a recipe for long-term defeat.

Being second-rate Democrats has been a disaster. Even when Republicans win elections. Agreeing to spend a fortune on Democrat social programs and wealth-transfer schemes only validates those schemes and makes conservatives – or what passes for conservatives these days – look bad. So virtually everything the Republicans do validates Democrats and make themselves look bad. A guaranteed formula for disaster.

So what's the alternative? How about taking a stand. How about acting on principle? A principle other than cheapness. Will it be easy? The question is, what are your principles and what do you want to achieve? If you want to be liked by the establishment intelligentsia, then you definitely need to keep up with leftists. Just keep in mind that you will have to go further and further year after year. They keep raising the bar, moving the goal line. What "moderates" are advocating and supporting now would have been radical a few decades ago. Trying to keep up will always mean that you will always be second-rate and always fall short.

The only was to go, which makes it the easy way, is to stand on principle. Without compromise. Truly become the party of NO – rather than the party of not quite so much.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The GOP Is Not Serious about Cutting Down Spending

Tad DeHaven • June 4, 2009

A month ago, President Obama issued a list of proposed spending cuts that I dismissed as “unserious” due to the fact that they were trivial when compared to his proposed spending and debt increases. Today, the House Republican leadership released a list of proposed spending cuts.

I’d love to say I’m impressed, but I can’t.

Both proposals indicate that neither side of the aisle grasps the severity of the country’s ugly fiscal situation, or at least has the guts to do anything concrete about it.

The GOP proposal claims savings of more than $375 billion over five years, the bulk of which ($317 billion) would come from holding non-defense discretionary spending increases to no more than inflation over the next five years.

First, it should be cut — period. Second, non-defense discretionary spending only amounts to about 17% of all the money the federal government spends in a year, so singling out this pot of money misses the bigger picture. At least, defense spending, which is almost entirely discretionary, should be included in any cap. But it has become an article of faith in the Republican Party that reining in defense spending is tantamount to putting a white flag in the Statue of Liberty’s hand.

The second biggest chunk of savings would come from directing $45 billion in repaid TARP funds to deficit reduction instead of allowing the money to be used for further bailing out. That’s a sound idea as far it goes, but I can’t help but point out that the signatories to the document, House Republican Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor, voted for the original $700 billion TARP bailout. Proposing to rescind the Treasury’s power to release the remaining funds, about $300 billion I believe, should have been included.

According to the proposal, the rest of the cuts and savings comes out to around $25 billion over five years. Like the specific cuts in the president’s proposal, they’re all good cuts. But the president detailed $17 billion in cuts for one year and I generously called it “measly.” What am I to call the House Republican leadership specifying $5 billion a year in cuts?

Take for example, proposed cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which is likely to spend around $65 billion this year. Having recently spent a couple months analyzing HUD’s past and present, I can state unequivocally that it’s one of the sorriest bureaucracies the world has ever seen. Yet, the House Republican leadership comes up with only one proposed elimination: a $300,000 a year program that gives “$25,000 stipends for 12 students completing their doctoral dissertation on issues related to housing and urban development.” The only other proposed cut to HUD would be $1.7 billion over five years to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. This notoriously wasteful program is projected to spend over $8 billion this year alone. Eliminate it!

The spending cuts the country needs must be substantial, serious, and put forward in the spirit of recognizing that the federal government’s role in our lives must be downsized. Half-measures are not enough, and from the Republican House leadership, wholly insufficient for winning back the support of limited-government voters who have come to associate the GOP with runaway spending and debt. For a more substantive guide to cutting federal spending, policymakers should start with Cato’s Handbook (Cato Institute's) chapter on the subject.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sotomayor: A Re-Post of June 2008 post

This is a re-post in part of a June 2008 post entitled: "John McCain: Good for the Supreme Court?" With the upcoming vote on Sotomayor it might be good to review the voting records of Democratic and the GOP Senators on leftist and centrist judges standing for confirmation.

I often find that one last objection of many conservatives who continue to vote Republican for President is often on the grounds of the potential harm that a Democrat would bring to pass on the Supreme Court. For those readers who have not yet read the first writings that appeared here regarding this possible myth that Republicans have been good for the Court, you may want to review two earlier posts,
and here:

Since the time is quickly eroding until we take to the polls in November to decide who among the many candidates will receive our rightful vote for President (Baldwin, Barr, Obama, McCain, and Nader for example), it may be an important time to review the harm John McCain (and many of his fellow Repubicans) has possibly wrought on the Supreme Court.

In 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed by a vote of 96 to 3. The only votes against her came from three conservative Republicans: Helms (R-NC), Nickles (R-NC) and Smith (R-NH). Senator Donald W. Riegle Jr., a Michigan Democrat, did not appear for the vote.

In 1994, Stephen Breyer was confirmed by a 87-9 vote. Burns (R-MT), Coats (R-IN), Coverdell (R-GA), Helms (R-NC), Lott (R-MS), Lugar (R-IN), Murkowski (R-AK), Nickles (R-OK), Smith (R-NH) were the votes against his confirmation. There were four non-voters, two from each party.

John McCain assumed his Senate seat on January 3, 1987.

As we can see, John McCain votes Left when a Democrat is picking the US Supreme Court nominees, as he did with Clinton picks Ginsberg and Breyer. His other votes have been for Thomas, Roberts, Alito, Kennedy, Souter, and Bork. So based on his actual votes (not his rhetoric) we have zero idea what principles guide him in voting for Justices as these Justices range from what most would consider the most liberal to moderate to conservative.

What happened when the Democrats filibustered one Bush nominee to the federal court of appeals after another in 2005? McCain's reaction? Annouce on Chris Matthews' Hardball program that he would vote with Teddy Kennedy, Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin and vote to let the, then, minority Democrats retain the judicial filibuster.

McCain tries to explain his tendency for voting with Ted Kennedy and the Left by saying, "If the Democrats win the White House, we need to retain our option to filibuster liberal nominees."

McCain was just wanting to preserve the judicial filibuster so that he could filibuster a Left Wing judicial nominee if a Democrat became president in the future, right?

If that's the case, why did McCain vote for Ruth Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer?

One also cannot offer the following excuse others have offered: "That was when we judged nominees on their qualifications only, not ideology." Votes for Ginsberg and Breyer, occuring in 1993 and 1994 happened after the Democrats sunk the Robert Bork nomination in 1987 and nearly sunk the Clarence Thomas nomination four years later, in 1991.

In fact, don't consider this necessarily an indictment of simply McCain. It could be an indictment of the vast majority of Republican Senators. It strikes me as odd that the two generally accepted most conservative nominees in Bork and Thomas had the closest confirmation votes, indicating the Democrats voted on ideology. Yet, the Republican Senators who claim rhetorically that they want strict constitutionalists fall short somehow when we look at the confirmation votes for seemingly very liberal Justices as the votes overwhelmingly and inexplicably pour in from Republicans. Perhaps, just perhaps, a review of the following will turn your head on this topic.

Breyer and Ginsberg, our two examples above, coasted through 87-9 and 96-3, respectively. Conversely, Thomas was confirmed with a vote of 52-48 and Bork's nomination failed 42-58.

The same pattern occurs with Attorney General nominees: 42 votes against John Ashcroft, 36 against Alberto Gonzales, and zero against Janet Reno. Why? (When you go back and read the two posts mentioned in the first paragraph of this post you will note that Ashcroft and Gonzales were not necessarily conservative or freedom-loving once in office.)

What if we look at the votes of the disappointing moderates to liberals nominated by Republicans? Souter was confirmed 90-9. O'Conner was confirmed 99-0. Stevens 98-0. If Republicans do not put up a wimper when liberal nominees such as Ginsberg are nominated. If Republicans themselves nominate and vote for a number of moderates (cloaked as "conservatives" for the nomination hearings - only to find out later...) it any wonder we have a myth brewing that Republican presidents have been great for the Court and freedom?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Health-Care Myths

Some great information regarding myths. While the article attacks Obama, as you read, please remember our earlier posts which make clear that the GOP by offering an "alternative" health care plan believe 1) the government belongs in healthcare 2) that it was the GOP which pushed a multi-trillion dollar unfunded liability in Medicare Part D 3) it is the GOP in their "alternative" plan that borrows from Hillary Clinton's 1993 plan.

By Elizabeth MacDonald

June 23, 2009

The Obama administration is now attempting the biggest overhaul of healthcare since Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

But the health care reform debate is riddled with misleading myths taken as fact, myths that are torquing the debate beyond recognition, from the U.S.’s supposedly poor infant mortality rates, who really gets medical care, the level of uninsureds, who really pays for insurance, who actually can afford insurance and wait times for surgeries.

Most everyone agrees that the U.S. health system is broken and that the uninsured must get coverage.

But fixing the health system should be based on the facts, not on a statistical faith-based initiative mounted to ram through reform, where the data is either more nuanced on closer look or the statements made are simply not true.

Worth keeping in mind, as the U.S. is already on track to compile total 10-year deficits that would surpass the annual GDP of Great Britain, Russia and Germany for one year-combined, and as the government is getting increasingly entangled in key industries, with higher taxes coming on incomes, on capital and on energy.

Meanwhile, the deficit spending figures do not include Medicare and Social Security costs, reforms which are so far on the backburner, they are off the stove. The following includes research from Fox News analyst James Farrell.

Myth: “The U.S. has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the developed world.”
Talk about stretching a point until it snaps. This ranking is based on data mining.

The U.S. ranks high on this list largely because this country numbers among those that actually measure neonatal deaths, notably in premature infant fatalities, unlike other countries that basically leave premature babies to die, notes health analyst Betsey McCaughey.

Other statistical quirks push the U.S. unjustifiably higher in this ranking compared to other countries.

The Center for Disease Control says the U.S. ranks 29th in the world for infant mortality rates, (according to the CDC), behind most other developed nations.

The U.S. is supposedly worse than Singapore, Hong Kong, Greece, Northern Ireland, Cuba and Hungary. And the U.S. is supposedly on a par with Slovakia and Poland. CNN, the New York Times, numerous outlets across the country report the U.S. as abysmal in terms of infant mortality, without delving into what is behind this ranking.

The Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit research group, routinely flunks the U.S. health system using the infant mortality rate.

“Infant mortality and our comparison with the rest of the world continue to be an embarrassment to the United States,” Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, a research organization, has said.

Start with the definition. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a country’s infant mortality rate as the number of infants who die between birth and age one, per 1,000 live births.

WHO says a live birth is when a baby shows any signs of life, even if, say, a low birth weight baby takes one, single breath, or has one heartbeat. While the U.S. uses this definition, other countries don’t and so don’t count premature or severely ill babies as live births-or deaths.

The United States counts all births if they show any sign of life, regardless of prematurity or size or duration of life, notes Bernardine Healy, a former director of the National Institutes of Health and former president and chief executive of the American Red Cross (Healy noted this information in a column for U.S. News & World Report).

And that includes stillbirths, which many other countries don’t report.

And what counts as a birth varies from country to country. In Austria and Germany, fetal weight must be at least 500 grams (1 pound) before these countries count these infants as live births, Healy notes.

In other parts of Europe, such as Switzerland, the fetus must be at least 30 centimeters (12 inches) long, Healy notes. In Belgium and France, births at less than 26 weeks of pregnancy are registered as lifeless, and are not counted, Healy says. And some countries don’t reliably register babies who die within the first 24 hours of birth, Healy notes.

Norway, which has one of the lowest infant mortality rates, shows no better infant survival than the United States when you factor in Norway’s underweight infants that are not now counted, Healy says, quoting Nicholas Eberstadt, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Moreover, the ranking doesn’t take into account that the US has a diverse, heterogeneous population, Healy adds, unlike, say, in Iceland, which tracks all infant deaths regardless of factor, but has a population under 300,000 that is 94% homogenous.

Likewise, Finland and Japan do not have the ethnic and cultural diversity of the U.S.’s 300 mn-plus citizens.

Plus, the U.S. has a high rate of teen pregnancies, teens who smoke, who take drugs, who are obese and uneducated, all factors which cause higher infant mortality rates.

And the US has more mothers taking fertility treatments, which keeps the rate of pregnancy high due to multiple-birth pregnancies.

Again, the U.S. counts all of these infants as births. Moreover, we’re not losing healthy babies, as the scary stats imply. Most of the babies that die are either premature or born seriously ill, including those with congenital malformations.

Even the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which collects the European numbers, cautions against using comparisons country-by-country.

“Some of the international variation in infant and neonatal mortality rates may be due to variations among countries in registering practices of premature infants (whether they are reported as live births or not),” the OECD says.

“In several countries, such as in the United States, Canada and the Nordic countries, very premature babies (with relatively low odds of survival) are registered as live births, which increases mortality rates compared with other countries that do not register them as live births.” (Note: Emphasis EMac’s).

The U.S. ranks much better on a measure that the World Health Organization says is more accurate, the perinatal mortality rate, defined as death between 22 weeks’ gestation and 7 days after birth. According to the WHO 2006 report on Neonatal and Perinatal Mortality, the U.S. comes in at 16th-and even higher if you knock out several tiny countries with tiny birthrates and populations, such as Martinique, Hong Kong, and San Marino.

Myth: “About 46 mn Americans lack access to health insurance.”

There is a difference between health care and health insurance, as Fox Business anchor Brian Sullivan points out after researching reports on health care from the Congressional Budget Office, Blue Cross-Blue Shield and Georgetown University.

Everyone has access to health care. They may not have health insurance, but the law mandates everyone who shows up at emergency rooms must be treated, insurance or not, he reports.

About 14 mn of the uninsured were eligible for Medicaid and SCHIP 2003, a BlueCross-BlueShield Association study based on 2003 data estimated. These people would be signed up for government insurance if they ever made it to the emergency room, Sullivan says.

A whopping 70% of uninsured children are eligible for Medicaid, SCHIP, or both programs, a 2008 study by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute shows.

Census figures also show that 18.3 mn of the uninsured were under 34 who may simply not think about the need for insurance, Sullivan reports.

And of those 46 mn without insurance, an estimated 10 mn or so are non-U.S. citizens who may not be eligible, according to statistics from the Census Bureau), Sullivan reports.

Myth: “The uninsured can’t afford to buy coverage.”

Many may be able to afford health insurance, but for whatever reason choose to not buy it. In 2007, an estimated 17.6 mn of the uninsured made more than $50,000 per year, and 10 mn of those made more than $75,000 a year, says Sally Pipes, author of the book, The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care: A Citizen’s Guide, a book that attempts to dig behind the numbers. According to author Pipes, 38% of the U.S. uninsured population earns more than $50,000 per year.

That means 38% of the uninsured likely make enough to afford health insurance, but for undetermined reasons choose not to buy it.

Myth: “Most of the uninsured do not have health insurance because they are not working and so don’t have access to health benefits through an employer.”
Not so fast–the data is more nuanced and revealing upon closer look.

According to the CBO, about half of the uninsured in 2009 fall into one of the following three categories. Some people will be in more than one of those categories at the same time:

*Nearly one out of three, 30%, will be offered, but will decline, coverage from an employer.

*Nearly one out of five, 18%, will be eligible for, but not enrolled in Medicaid; and

*More than one out of seven, 17%, will have family income above 300% of the poverty level (about $65,000 for a family of four);

What is potentially the real number for the poor uninsured? According to a 2003 Blue Cross study, 8.2 mn Americans are actually without coverage for the long haul, because they are too poor to purchase health care, but earn too much to qualify for government assistance.

[Source: CBO, "Key Issues in Analyzing Major Health Insurance Proposals," December 18, 2008,]

Myth: “The estimated 45 mn people without health insurance lacked health insurance for every day of the year.”

The CBO’s 45 mn estimate reflects individuals “without health insurance at any given time during 2009.”

But that does not mean that all 45 mn people spend every day of 2009 without insurance. It is a point estimate - on any particular day, there will be 45 mn individuals without health insurance.

[Source: CBO, "Key Issues in Analyzing Major Health Insurance Proposals," December 18, 2008,]

Myth: “Government-run universal health care would increase the international competitiveness of U.S. companies.”

The Congressional Budget Office disagrees.

“Replacing employment-based health care with a government-run system could reduce employers’ payments for their workers’ insurance, but the amount that they would have to pay in overall compensation would remain essentially unchanged,” the CBO says. “Cash wages and other forms of compensation would have to rise by roughly the amount of the reduction in health benefits for firms to be able to attract the same number and types of workers.”

[Source: CBO, "Key Issues in Analyzing Major Health Insurance Proposals," December 18, 2008,]

Myth: “The cost of uncompensated care for the uninsured significantly increases hospital costs.”
Hospitals provided about $35 bn in uncompensated care in 2008, the CBO says. Uncompensated care represented only 5% of total hospital revenues. In addition, half of the $35 bn in uncompensated hospital costs were offset by Medicare and Medicaid.

And the cost of uncompensated care for the uninsured is “unlikely to have a substantial effect on private payment rates,” the CBO says, adding that shifting costs from uninsured to private insurance premiums is “likely to be relatively small.”

[source: CBO, "Key Issues in Analyzing Major Health Insurance Proposals," December 2008,]

Myth: “Nationalized health care would not impact patient waiting times.”

Waiting time for elective surgery is lower in the US than in countries with nationalized health care.

In 2005, only 8% of U.S. patients reported waiting four months or more for elective surgery.

Countries with nationalized health care had higher percentages with waiting times of four months or more, including Australia (19%); New Zealand (20%); Canada (33%); and the United Kingdom (41%).

[Source: Commonwealth Fund, "MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL: AN INTERNATIONAL UPDATE ON THE COMPARATIVE PERFORMANCE OF AMERICAN HEALTH CARE," by Karen Davis, Cathy Schoen, Stephen C. Schoenbaum, Michelle M. Doty, Alyssa L. Holmgren, Jennifer L. Kriss, and Katherine K. Shea, May 2007,]

Myth: “Insurers cover less today than they did in the past.”

No they’re covering more costs. According to the CBO, consumers paid for 33 % of their total, personal health care expenditures in 1975. But by 2000, consumers’ personal share had fallen to 17%, and it declined to 15% in 2006.

[Source: CBO, "Key Issues in Analyzing Major Health Insurance Proposals," December 18, 2008,]

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rothbard nailed the GOP drift

Please note the date of the article is 2005, in the midst of a time when the GOP controlled all 3 branches of government. The GOP during the 2000-2008 time period was growing government in peak years at 8%, the same rate at which the most recent budget proposal rises. For anyone who thinks the GOP "drift" is over or just started when George W. Bush was elected...

By Bill Steigerwald, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Republican Party is in charge of virtually the entire federal government. Its political, cultural and social clout is greater than it's been in a century. It even has a powerful, fair-and-balanced TV channel in its ideological corner.
So why has the Party of Lincoln -- which once stood for a small, constitutional government that kept its hands off most things at home and minded its own business abroad -- become the Party of Roosevelt and Wilson?

What has happened to those core conservative principles that -- in theory and in party platforms, at least -- once distinguished the GOP from government-loving Democrats?

Some say Republicans have merely fallen in love with power. Or that their party has been hijacked by the neoconservatives, those brainy ex-liberal Democrats who took us crusading in the Middle East and never stopped adoring Big Momma Government.

Whatever it was that turned Republicans bad, it didn't begin after 9/11.

In 1968, Murray Rothbard, the late, great economist/historian, was bashing the unhealthy leftward drift of the American Right, which he argued had already abandoned its "determined opposition to Big Government" and "become the conservative wing of the American corporate state and its foreign policy of expansionist imperialism."

"Something has gone wrong," he wrote in a Ramparts magazine article still as fresh as yesterday. "The right wing has been captured and transformed by elitists and devotees of the European conservative ideals of order and militarism, by witch-hunters and global crusaders, by statists who wish to coerce 'morality' and suppress 'sedition.' "

Rothbard was a staunch libertarian but a soulmate of the "Old Right," the individualistic Midwestern Republican congressmen and print pundits like Garet Garrett who tried to stop the New Deal and keep America neutral before and after World War II.

He believed millions of Americans in '68 were "still devoted to individual liberty and opposition to the leviathan state at home and abroad, Americans who call themselves 'conservatives' but feel that something has gone very wrong with the old anti-New Deal and anti-Fair Deal cause."

An enemy of every inch of the welfare-warfare state, Rothbard especially was displeased with the aggressive anti-communism of William F. Buckley Jr., whose National Review magazine in 1955 became the official clubhouse of the post-WWII "New Right" and ideological incubator of the Reagan Revolution.

Rothbard's excellent essay, posted at, includes a quote from a 1952 Commonweal magazine article by Buckley that spelled out what winning the Cold War was going to cost Americans.

While calling himself a libertarian, Buckley posited that the Soviet Union posed such an imminent threat to our security that we had "to accept Big Government for the duration ... for neither an offensive nor a defensive war can be waged ... except through the instrument of a totalitarian bureaucracy within our shores."

We must therefore all support "large armies and air forces, atomic energy, central intelligence, war production boards and the attendant centralization of power in Washington," wrote Buckley.

You don't have to be as smart as Rothbard to see how this relates to the war on terrorism, the latest growth-spurt of our military-security state and the dangerous neoconservatism gripping the Republican Party.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Why Americans love government

Excerpt: "Many Americans want money they don't personally own to be used for what they see as good causes such as handouts to farmers, poor people, college students, senior citizens and businesses. If they privately took someone's earnings to give to a farmer, college student or senior citizen, they would be hunted down as thieves and carted off to jail. However, they get Congress to do the identical thing, through its taxing power, and they are seen as compassionate and caring."

June 10, 2009

by Walter Williams

Philosopher Bertrand Russell suggested that "Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education." And, it was Albert Einstein who explained, "Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." So which is it – stupidity, ignorance or insanity – that explains the behavior of my fellow Americans who call for greater government involvement in our lives?

According to the latest Rasmussen Reports, 30 percent of Americans believe congressmen are corrupt. Last year, Congress' approval rating fell to 9 percent, its lowest in history. If the average American were asked his opinion of congressmen, among the more polite terms you'll hear are thieves and crooks, liars and manipulators, hustlers and quacks. But what do the same people say when our nation faces a major problem? "Government ought to do something!" When people call for government to do something, it is as if they've been befallen by amnesia and forgotten just who is running government. It's the very people whom they have labeled as thieves and crooks, liars and manipulators, hustlers and quacks.

Aside from the general level of disgust Americans have for congressmen, there's the question of whether there is anything Congress does well. What about Social Security and Medicare? Congress has allowed Social Security and Medicare to accumulate an unfunded liability of $101 trillion. That means in order to pay promised elderly entitlement benefits, Congress would have to put trillions in the bank today earning interest. Congressional efforts to create "affordable housing" have created today's financial calamity. Congress props up failed enterprises such as Amtrak and the U.S. Postal Service with huge cash subsidies, and subsidies in the forms of special tax treatment and monopoly rights. I can't think of anything Congress does well, yet we Americans call for them to take greater control over important areas of our lives.

I don't think that stupidity, ignorance or insanity explains the love that many Americans hold for government; it's far more sinister and perhaps hopeless. I'll give a few examples to make my case. Many Americans want money they don't personally own to be used for what they see as good causes such as handouts to farmers, poor people, college students, senior citizens and businesses. If they privately took someone's earnings to give to a farmer, college student or senior citizen, they would be hunted down as thieves and carted off to jail. However, they get Congress to do the identical thing, through its taxing power, and they are seen as compassionate and caring. In other words, people love government because government, while having neither moral nor constitutional authority, has the legal and physical might to take the property of one American and give it to another.

The unanticipated problem with this agenda is that as Congress uses its might to take what belongs to one American to give to another, what President Obama calls "spreading the wealth around," more and more Americans will want to participate in the looting. It will ultimately produce something none of us wants: absolute control over our lives.

The path we're embarked upon, in the name of good, is a familiar one. The unspeakable horrors of Nazism, Stalinism and Maoism did not begin in the '30s and '40s with the men usually associated with those names. Those horrors were simply the end result of a long evolution of ideas leading to consolidation of power in central government in the name of "social justice." In Germany, it led to the Enabling Act of 1933: Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Nation, and, after all, who could be against a remedy to relieve distress? Decent but misguided Germans, who would have cringed at the thought of what Nazi Germany would become, succumbed to Hitler's charisma.

Today's Americans, enticed, perhaps enchanted, by charismatic speeches, are ceding so much power to Washington, and like yesteryear's Germans are building the Trojan Horse for a future tyrant.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Lies about the housing bust

Blame on both sides for the mortgage mess...including a Republican controlled Senate and House, both Bush presidency's, etc. And of course, once again, an admitted belief on both sides that the government has a place in housing and the mortgage business to begin with...where is the philosophical difference between the parties?

May 27, 2009

by Walter Williams

Hot off the press is my colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell's 43rd book, "The Housing Boom and Bust." The book is an eye-opener for anyone interested in the truth about the collapse of the housing market that played a major role in our financial market crisis.

The root of the problem lies in Washington. The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, later given teeth during the Bush and Clinton administrations, forced financial institutions to make risky mortgage loans they otherwise would not have made. President Clinton's Attorney General Janet Reno threatened legal action against lenders whose racial statistics raised her suspicions. Bank loan qualification standards, in general, came under criticism as being too stringent regarding down payments, credit histories and income. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored enterprises, by lowering their standards for the kinds of mortgage paper they would purchase from banks and other mortgage lenders, gave financial institutions further incentive to make risky loans.

In 2002, the George W. Bush administration urged Congress to enact the American Dream Down Payment Assistance Act, which subsidized down payments of homebuyers whose income was below a certain level. Bush also urged Congress to pass legislation requiring the Federal Housing Administration to make zero-down-payment loans at low-interest rates to low-income Americans. Between 2005 and 2007, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac acquired an estimated trillion-dollar's worth of sub-prime loans and guaranteed more than $2 trillion worth of mortgages. That, Sowell points out, is larger than the gross domestic product of all but four nations.

There were numerous warnings that went unheeded. In congressional hearings, U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said, regarding the risks assumed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, "The concern is, if something unravels, it could cause systemic risk to the whole financial system." Peter J. Wallison, American Enterprise Institute scholar, warned that if Congress did not rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, "there will be a massive default with huge losses to the taxpayers and systemic effects on the economy."

There were many other warnings of pending collapse, but Congress and the White House, in their push for politically popular "affordable housing," ignored them. Rep. Barney Frank, who is now chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, said critics "exaggerate a threat of safety" and "conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see." Chairman Chris Dodd, of the Senate Banking Committee, called Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac "one of the great success stories of all time" and urged "caution" in restricting their activities, out of fear of "doing great damage to what has been one of the great engines of economic success in the last 30 or 40 years."

Sowell provides numerous examples of government actions at both the federal and state levels that created the housing boom and bust and its devastating impact on domestic and foreign financial markets, but here's what I don't get: What can be said about the intelligence of the news media and the American people who buy into to congressionally created lies that our problems were caused by Wall Street greed and Bush administration deregulation? In the words of Barney Frank, "We are in a worldwide crisis now because of excessive deregulation" and "mortgages made and sold in the unregulated sector led to the crisis." The fact of the matter is our financial sector is the most heavily regulated sector in our economy. In the banking and finance industries, regulatory spending between 1980 and 2007 almost tripled, rising from $725 million to $2.07 billion. I challenge anyone to come up with one thing banks can do that's not covered by a regulation.

For the Washington politicians to get away with spinning the financial crisis the way they have suggests that American people are either stupid or ignorant. I hope it's ignorance, because "The Housing Boom and Bust" is the cure.

Friday, May 29, 2009

GOP Health Care Reform "Alternative"

Once again, no philosophical difference between the two parties: Both parties believe in the unconstitutional intervention of the government into the health care industry and health insurance market. This is from the same party that blasted (correctly) the Clinton's in the 1990s regarding their health care designs. Then the GOP created a multi-trillion dollar unfunded liability when they passed Medicare Part D. Medicare Part D of course was passed when the Republicans controlled all three branches of government. It makes one wonder what all the fuss over the Clinton's was about.

Ever the chameleons, the GOP continues to disappoint, as they have for decades. Their recent "alternative" proposal, The Patient Choice Act (linked below), now borrows from Hillary Clinton. To build a regional insurance buying market, the GOP bill proposes regional purchasing pools and would require insurance companies to sell to all comers regardless of their health thus copying a leg of Clinton's plan. Of course the GOP "alternative" plan shares not only some details they once spoke against, but it also implicitly admits the same belief the Democrats have: the government belongs in health care and it is constitutional for the government to be involved in health care.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Flip-Flops and Governance

The irony of this article by Karl Rove is that the "reversals" (we said all along here that Obama's stance on the military issues would continue Bush policies in spite of his rhetoric) that Rove praises are all doubtful as to their worthy stature. The Iraq War for one and the ethical and legal status of renditions, torture, and the like, for another. In the second half of the article regarding domestic policy, everytime you see the name Barack Obama, replace it with George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, or perhaps the words Republican Congress, and by doing so you would be no less correct! You could even use Ronald Reagan in many of those sentences. In regarding health care and Rove's admonishment of Obama for running against government run health care in the election but changing his tune once in office, one is reminded of the GOP controlled government that insisted on passing a multi trillion dollar (unfunded) obligation in Medicare Part D.

MAY 21, 2009

Our president isn't quite as advertised.

by Karl Rove

Barack Obama inherited a set of national-security policies that he rejected during the campaign but now embraces as president. This is a stunning and welcome about-face.

For example, President Obama kept George W. Bush's military tribunals for terror detainees after calling them an "enormous failure" and a "legal black hole." His campaign claimed last summer that "court systems . . . are capable of convicting terrorists." Upon entering office, he found out they aren't.

He insisted in an interview with NBC in 2007 that Congress mandate "consequences" for "a failure to meet various benchmarks and milestones" on aid to Iraq. Earlier this month he fought off legislatively mandated benchmarks in the $97 billion funding bill for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama agreed on April 23 to American Civil Liberties Union demands to release investigative photos of detainee abuse. Now's he reversed himself. Pentagon officials apparently convinced him that releasing the photos would increase the risk to U.S. troops and civilian personnel.

Throughout his presidential campaign, Mr. Obama excoriated Mr. Bush's counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, insisting it could not succeed. Earlier this year, facing increasing violence in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama rejected warnings of a "quagmire" and ordered more troops to that country. He isn't calling it a "surge" but that's what it is. He is applying in Afghanistan the counterinsurgency strategy Mr. Bush used in Iraq.

As a candidate, Mr. Obama promised to end the Iraq war by withdrawing all troops by March 2009. As president, he set a slower pace of drawdown. He has also said he will leave as many as 50,000 Americans troops there.

These reversals are both praiseworthy and evidence that, when it comes to national security, being briefed on terror threats as president is a lot different than placating and Code Pink activists as a candidate. The realities of governing trump the realities of campaigning.

We are also seeing Mr. Obama reverse himself on the domestic front, but this time in a manner that will do more harm than good.

Mr. Obama campaigned on "responsible fiscal policies," arguing in a speech on the Senate floor in 2006 that the "rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy." In his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, he pledged to "go through the federal budget line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work." Even now, he says he'll "cut the deficit . . . by half by the end of his first term in office" and is "rooting out waste and abuse" in the budget.

However, Mr. Obama's fiscally conservative words are betrayed by his liberal actions. He offers an orgy of spending and a bacchanal of debt. His budget plans a 25% increase in the federal government's share of the GDP, a doubling of the national debt in five years, and a near tripling of it in 10 years.

On health care, Mr. Obama's election ads decried "government-run health care" as "extreme," saying it would lead to "higher costs." Now he is promoting a plan that would result in a de facto government-run health-care system. Even the Washington Post questions it, saying, "It is difficult to imagine . . . benefits from a government-run system."

Making adjustments in office is one thing. Constantly governing in direct opposition to what you said as a candidate is something else. Mr. Obama's flip-flops on national security have been wise; on the domestic front, they have been harmful.

In both cases, though, we have learned something about Mr. Obama. What animated him during the campaign is what historian Forrest McDonald once called "the projection of appealing images." All politicians want to project an appealing image. What Mr. McDonald warned against is focusing on this so much that an appealing image "becomes a self-sustaining end unto itself." Such an approach can work in a campaign, as Mr. Obama discovered. But it can also complicate life once elected, as he is finding out.

Mr. Obama's appealing campaign images turned out to have been fleeting. He ran hard to the left on national security to win the nomination, only to discover the campaign commitments he made were shallow and at odds with America's security interests.

Mr. Obama ran hard to the center on economic issues to win the general election. He has since discovered his campaign commitments were obstacles to ramming through the most ideologically liberal economic agenda since the Great Society.

Mr. Obama either had very little grasp of what governing would involve or, if he did, he used words meant to mislead the public. Neither option is particularly encouraging. America now has a president quite different from the person who advertised himself for the job last year. Over time, those things can catch up to a politician.

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Welcome to the Fox News 'tea parties'

To answer the question the author begins the article with: When the protests are substantially organized and have as many of the speakers the same people that foisted the failed, and liberal, "Republican Revolution" on the country, as well as the liberal agenda of the Republican Congressional majority for the years 2000-2006 amid the Bush Administrations own end-run around the Constitution 2000-2008.

April 17, 2009

by Bill Press

When is a protest not a real protest?

When it's all about partisan politics rather than issues, when it's staged by the media, and when nobody knows why they're there. And that's exactly the case with those so-called "tea parties" held around the country on Tax Day, April 15.

Organizers proudly called them "grass-roots" protests. In fact, there was nothing grass-roots about them. As economist Paul Krugman noted, they were more like Astro-turf. The tea parties were hatched, planned and paid for by three right-wing organizations: FreedomWorks, headed by former Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey; dontGo, which organized last year's GOP public-relations blitz in support of offshore drilling; and Americans for Prosperity, headed by Ralph Reed's former business partner, Tim Phillips.

Having organized the parties, Republicans then showed up to pour the tea. Speakers at various locations included Newt Gingrich, Armey, John Boehner, Alan Keyes, Joe the Plumber, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, several Republican members of Congress and hooker-bait David Vitter.

The tea parties did make history, in one sense. They represent the first time a television network has actually moved from covering events to creating events. For an entire week before April 15, Fox News exclusively hailed the upcoming tea parties, broadcast their locations and encouraged viewers to participate in "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties." For those unable to attend an event in person, Fox News even conveniently hosted a "virtual tea party" on its website.

Host Neil Cavuto vehemently denied that he and fellow Foxers had become event sponsors, not just event reporters, insisting that Fox had given just as much advance publicity to the Million Man March in Washington. There's only one problem with that: The Million Man March was held in 1995. The Fox News Network wasn't launched until 1996.

The truth is, the tea parties were a Fox News creation and would never have happened without Fox. Between April 6 and April 13, as documented by Media Matters for America, Fox News featured at least 20 segments on the upcoming "tea parties" and aired over 73 in-show and commercial promotions for their coverage of the events. Not only that, on April 15, Fox anchors Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Neil Cavuto and others actually went on the road to host various tea parties around the country. In Washington, Fox News analyst Tobin Smith welcomed participants "on behalf of Fox News Channel." Clearly, the old slogan of Fox News – "we report, you decide" – has been replaced by the more accurate "we create, you participate."

Even with Fox's blessing, however, the tea parties were a bust. Some organizers predicted that millions of Americans would attend over 2,000 events around the country. In actuality, there were only a few hundred tea parties, and attendance, based on reports from sites across the country, was in the thousands.

And no wonder. For one thing, nobody could quite explain what the assembled protesters were really protesting. Talk about confusion. I attended the rainy tea party in Washington's Lafayette Square. Not even protesters knew why they were there. I saw signs ranging from "No Queremos Socialismo" to "Hey, Big Brother. Show us your real birth certificate" to "Obama bin Lyin." One lone ranger even showed up to protest the programming schedule on Fox News: "Move Glenn Beck to 7 p.m."

Since the tea parties took place on April 15, you might think they were held in opposition to higher taxes. Yet over 95 percent of those protesters just received a big Obama tax cut, not a tax increase. Others said the protests were held to express bipartisan anger over big government spending. If so, where was this gang when George W. Bush, the biggest spender in history, racked up the biggest budgets, biggest deficits and biggest national debt ever? How many tea parties were held on April 15, 2008? Zero.

No, the evidence is clear. The Fox News tea parties were neither genuine nor spontaneous. And they certainly bore no relation to the original Boston Tea Party protest against "taxation without representation." This year's events were pure partisan political rallies, staged by Republicans and promoted by Fox News, to embarrass President Obama.

In the end, that's what protesters were most unhappy about: They lost the last election.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The real tea party movement

by Ilana Mercer

April 17, 2009

Today I offer an interview with James Ostrowski, libertarian extraordinaire, lawyer, writer and tea party organizer. Mr. Ostrowski is the founder of Free Buffalo (2005) and author of the tea party manifesto, "How We Can Win the Second American Revolution Without Firing a Shot." He's been fighting the political machine for 35 years.

ILANA: The tea party protests across the country are all fueled by that indomitable America spirit. And that's good. However, most tea protesters have yet to arrive at the principles that undergirded the American Revolution. Explain.

OSTROWSKI: What we have now in America is so far from the original idea that it would be unrecognizable to the founders. The old republic slipped away long ago, and while it's not possible to pinpoint the date, I like to say 1917. That year we entered World War I. War leads to higher taxes and the level of federal spending has never returned to pre-World War I levels. Domestically, the twin evils of the income tax and the Federal Reserve started to kick in around then too. So, forget Obama – we need to clear away the dead wood of the Progressive Era to even begin to see what a true republic would look like. I don't think most tea protesters are there yet, but perhaps they can be persuaded. In any event, we need to go far beyond simply bashing Obama and pork.

ILANA: I was coming to that. You've warned of tea parties that focus their attack on Obama and the "Democrats," and whose "own positive agenda is rather thin and focuses on Pavlovian rank and file buzz words like 'pork.'" Or tax tweaks to the exclusion of slashing government. You've cautioned of phonies who aim, in your words, "to return power to the same set of degenerate creeps who set the stage for the God Obama's final sacking of America" – Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Tom DeLay, Dick Army, Lindsey Graham. What sort of agenda will help restore the republic and ward off the Republicans?

OSTROWSKI: I lay out a bold but simple plan, which starts with bringing the troops home and using the savings to begin to liquidate the federal welfare state by buying out Socialism Security recipients with lump sum payments. That paves the way for repeal of the 16th Amendment. Of course, we need to end the Fed and allow the market to determine the forms of money. The market usually chooses gold and silver. Now, establishment Republicans will not go along with that, but I am convinced the rank and file will. We kill two birds with one stone.

ILANA: Do address the other obstacle to reclaiming the republic: the gatekeeper pundits who've been wrong for the past decade about everything; the authors, groups, websites and publications that have consistently dished out Republikeynsian statism – and who'd like Americans to believe that their warfare state is just dandy, and that nipped-and-tucked Republican stimulus and bailouts would be fundamentally different from the equivalent Democratic obscenities.

OSTROWSKI: Well, the funny thing is, don't they sound a lot more like us now that the Republicans are out of power? But yes, the whole gang of wealthy conservative pundits who helped give us the disaster of the Bush administration and the pathetic Republican Congress need to be held accountable. People need to be encouraged to support the authors, thinks tanks and blogs that got it right the last eight years, not the recent converts to limited government.

Again, you can't separate war from big government. The total American credit card debt is about the same as the projected cost of the two Asian land wars. We need to make that connection clear: You can't separate foreign policy from domestic policy and the economy.

ILANA: We were bequeathed a republic, not a democracy. You've written: "Only a republican government can be truly limited. A republican government may only exercise powers delegated by the people that the people actually possess." What do you mean?

OSTROWSKI: Pure democracy is a form of ethical nihilism. Not sure where that comes from – Rousseau probably – but voting is like trying to stop a hurricane with your breath. The main function of voting is to give big government an excuse to push you around. The thugs always have the trump card as we hear constantly now: We won the election!

The founders were Lockean liberals who believed that we had natural rights and could combine to delegate certain powers to the government such as self-protection. But in natural law, no man can steal from another, so you can't delegate that power to the government and create a welfare state. Similarly, the people don't have the right to counterfeit, so they can't delegate that power to the Federal Reserve. And the people do not have the right to rule the world, so they can't delegate to the government the right to create a global military empire.

The founders were not anarchists, but they still had a dim view of taxes. To tax people for purposes other than core government functions is theft and tyranny. Jefferson said that in his own words in his First Inaugural.

ILANA: You write in your manifesto, "How We Can Win the Second American Revolution Without Firing a Shot": "The vast majority of Americans now support Red Coat government." Explain, with reference to the dangers and deceptions of Republican poseurs, especially. I can't help thinking that Republicans are the real obstacle to winning the "Second American Revolution." With Democrats, what you see is what you get. They really are as odious as all that. (Imagine if Democrats were the only obstacle Ron Paul revolutionaries faced.) Disagree?

OSTROWSKI: True. Democrats tell the truth; Republicans lie. Democrats tell you they think government is great and they deliver. They make it bigger. Republicans tell us they hate big government, but they lie and give us government often bigger and more oppressive than the Dems. George Bush is Exhibit "A," but every Republican president since Hoover made government bigger. I often ask people: Name the last conservative regime that made government smaller? Never got an answer!

Regarding Red Coats, our president is more powerful than King George was and his empire is larger. Our taxes are higher and our corporate state economy takes British Mercantilism to a much higher level.

ILANA: Tell our readers, with reference to the only rights the government is supposed to safeguard, why a "true republic can only have a free market economy." Why "can't a republic have a global military empire"?

OSTROWSKI: A republic exists to protect our natural rights including property. The market is basically the free exchange of property or property titles. So, a market economy is not optional in a republic; it's a necessity. Pragmatically too, in a mixed economy like ours, so many voters are bought off by checks and favors of various kinds that it becomes almost impossible to dislodge the regime. So, that's another reason to stick to a market economy.

Why can't a republic have a global military empire? Among others reasons, empires require huge armies and bureaucracies and oppressive taxes, which violate our right to private property, the right to keep what we earn. Empires, as Washington taught us, invite retaliation and thus the government betrays its only true purpose by jeopardizing the lives and security of its citizens by pointlessly manufacturing foreign enemies.

ILANA: In your manifesto you quote Tolstoy, who "wrote the politician's credo":

"I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means – except by getting off his back."

Unlike Neal Boortz, a Republican in libertarian's clothing, you're clearly not a proponent of the political process. Before he joined the Fox News tea-party fest, the talk show host had pooh-poohed the tea protests, touting the political process instead. In a blog post, "Tea Parties – Give Me a Break," Boortz advocated "registering voters who actually produce and contribute to our society," rather than protesting. Why is politics a rigged charade?

OSTROWSKI: Well, I've been in the trenches for 35 years, since I was a kid. The game is rigged like a poker game where you are the sucker. They gerrymander districts. They use our tax money to buy votes and extract donations. So, even if you get a good candidate, you are outspent 10 to one and outmanned 10 to one since they use "off duty" government employees to campaign against you. I'm an election lawyer, so I know they try to knock you off the ballot or at least tie you up in court. Finally, all the net-tax consumers vote. The rest of us are often too busy or too discouraged. The machine wins 90 percent of the time.

ILANA: On the pragmatic level, you've devised a 12-step program for how each one of us can start to restore the American republic (as opposed to the Republican Party's America).

More symbolically, you exhort Americans to take a pledge – one bearing no resemblance to the pledge members of the "Stupid Party" are always beating us on the head with. (No surprise: The Pledge of Allegiance was written by a socialist, Francis Bellamy.)

What is it?

OSTROWSKI: I pledge allegiance to the principles of the American Revolution, stated by Jefferson, and for which the Minutemen and Washington's Army fought: that government's only purpose is to protect our natural rights to life, liberty and property; that any government that does "more" than protect our natural rights must thereby violate those same rights and become a tyranny that the people have the right to alter or abolish. I pledge to resist that tyranny by peaceful means if at all possible.

Friday, May 01, 2009

President of Everything

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Much as he complained about his predecessor’s imperial reach, from cars to companies nothing eludes Barack Obama’s grasp.

By Brian Doherty

In December 2007, Sen. Barack Obama’s reassurances to the Boston Globe suggested that he understood constitutional limits on executive and government power. He knew that there were things the “president does not have power under the Constitution” to do, including unilaterally authorizing military action and surveilling citizens without warrants. He said he would “reject the Bush administration’s claim that the president has plenary authority under the Constitution to detain U.S. citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants.”

That thoughtful skeptic of executive power now sits in the Oval Office. Isolating random bits of his presidential rhetoric, you can almost believe that he understands how a society really thrives. Obama said in his pseudo-State of the Union Address, “The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth.”

But in just three months, we have seen what Obama means when he talks about “reach.” He doesn’t mean “our reach” but his own. His sense of that reach, and the abrupt and scary speed with which he’s used it, marks him as an executive with a tentacled grip—multiple, crushing, inescapable. No longer the cautious critic of presidential power of the campaign trail, he now sees nothing as beyond his grasp.

Less than a hundred days in, the fully articulated ideological contours of his vision remain unclear—just as he wishes. It suits Obama’s self-image as a mere pragmatic problem solver to never explain, to float from power grab to usurpation as if nothing but thoughtful reaction to the exigencies of the moment guides him. But it’s already obvious that those actions veer strongly toward expansive government, limiting our options in every aspect of national life.

Budget: The government fiscal game works as well as it does politically because most people don’t think of government spending in terms of control over their lives. Most see it as a benefit, a graceful solution to a perceived lack. Healthcare? Obama’s approximated buy-in is $600 billion over a decade—a figure sure to come up grossly short if history is any guide. But most think, well, I’m not the one with $600 billion to toss, so why not?

That money, plus all the many other nonexistent trillions Obama is planning to spend, gets paid back either in debt service down the line—funneling a larger percentage of the lifeblood, time, and effort of our children to Washington and thence to whoever’s brave enough to hold U.S. debt by then—or in inflation that eats away at any attempt on our part to save or invest profitably.

When, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of Obama’s spending plans, the U.S. government deficit-spends $9.3 trillion over the next decade, that’s more than an absurd abstraction. It’s enslavement: the hours and days of our lives.

Business and the economy: Here Obama’s grip is far less subtle. He’s clear and decisive: the financial and industrial economy is his, and he’ll do with it as he pleases. What’s decided for the U.S. is what’s decided for General Motors, as presidential pressure pushes out GM chief Rick Wagoner. Obama and his man at Treasury, Timothy Geithner, want the power to confiscate any company whose failure they claim threatens the larger economy.

Now that he occupies the White House, the new president—who justly pilloried Bush for asserting that national security excused any executive ukase—seems to believe that his own vision of economic security empowers him to take whatever he wants and make any decision he deems necessary, from curtailing CEO compensation to renegotiating mortgage terms. What private sector? This is economic war!

And lest one think this is all about being faithful stewards of the public wealth, as Obama and Geithner like to play it, the Wall Street Journal reported that an unnamed bank was not allowed to return money the Feds had stuck it with in the first bailout wave. The strings attached to those bailout funds gave the federal government effective ownership over the bank; evidently the Obama administration values an excuse for control more than it values taxpayer money.

It also seems primed to use more traditional means of throwing weight around the national economy. The president’s pick for antitrust chief, Christine Varney, has already cast a stink eye at Google, expressing concern at a conference last year about the company’s “monopoly in Internet online advertising.” And Obama’s pick to head the Department of Agriculture, former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, is an enthusiastic supporter of one of the most foolish and damaging federal economic manipulations around, endless ethanol subsidies. Any noises about damping down agricultural subsidies in general, supposedly part of the “fiscally responsible” Obama agenda, are dying in Congress.

State secrets: Even Obama’s most ardent supporters are disillusioned by his close adherence to the Bush model when it comes to executive privilege. Obama’s DOJ has openly agreed that lawsuits challenging rendition and warrantless-wiretapping programs should be dismissed because trying them would expose state secrets. His legal team declares that the president—and only the president—has the right to make such classified decisions, with neither courts nor Congress, and of course no one as inconsequential as an aggrieved citizen, able to second guess.

That’s troubling enough, but it’s not all. While Attorney General Eric Holder has released some Bush-era documents relating to torture policy, the Obama administration as a whole is, as this article went to press, agonizing over whether to release a further set said to be even more heinous. (Even if they eventually release them, that this wasn’t a no-brainer shows executive secrecy is still far too robust in the administration.) Even an international intellectual-property treaty being actively considered by 27 countries had its contents declared a national-security secret in an Obama DOJ filing in March.

Healthcare: We don’t yet know what combination of mandates, subsidies, government-supplied insurance, and controls will arise. But we do know that the cornerstone of the cost containment Obama seeks will be decisions about what gets covered by the insurance that the government will be guaranteeing, regulating, and demanding. This means rationing and a potentially fatal blow to one of the last markets where expensive and experimental new treatments can be developed and, if found worthwhile, thrive.

Given how Obama has shown such a scrupulous sense of pipers and their right to call the tune in the financial and automotive markets, he is apt to be more explicit than past politicians in insisting that any behavior by companies or individuals that costs the public money must be stringently controlled. That means your health will no longer be your own business but Barack Obama’s.

Environment: The president did not immediately get the cap-and-trade carbon program he wanted. But he is using the powers of the stimulus package and bailout legislation to establish that he can push out corporate execs and take over any company he wants in other fields, so why not in this one, too? His executive branch seems to believe that it can legitimately claim whatever power it says it needs to achieve a goal it can halfway connect to a legitimate congressional mandate.

It is quite possible that Obama’s EPA will claim authority for sweeping action under the Clean Air Act. The president of Clean Air Watch, Frank O’Donnell, told Rolling Stone that an EPA ruling that global warming is a public health danger “gives Obama added leverage in going to Congress. … He can say, ‘I’ve got this authority in my back pocket. If you torpedo cap-and-trade, I’ll have no choice but to deal with this administratively.’”

Foreign policy: Obama claims to be on schedule to wind down our involvement in Iraq. His rosy projections of declining deficits in the out-years—the ones he doesn’t have to worry about now as he tries to keep the plates of an overextended economy spinning for one more month—depend on it. But if a rising insurgency ramps up the killings of U.S. troops or other Iraqis in the last months before the supposed pullout at the end of 2011, who believes that Obama will make good on his pledge?

He has no intention of ending the Bush-era policy of imperial overreach. He’s just shifting the theater in which we act out this timeless drama of collapse, with 21,000 more troops promised to Afghanistan for the potentially eternal mission of ending the Taliban insurgency there.

This survey only scratches the surface of bad actions and ominous portents for President Obama’s exercise of power. His administration is as cynical about federalism as Bush’s, if not more so.

Indeed, he has such a yen for creating independent centers of executive power in the form of policy “czars” that even Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, no advocate of restrained government, recently complained that Obama is threatening “the constitutional system of checks and balances” by giving too much independent authority to the White House outside of Senate-approved department heads. But many other Democrats in Congress are looking to extend presidential reach still further, plumping to give Obama power over the entire food production and distribution system (the proposed “Food Safety Modernization Act”) and to shut down the Internet in a “cybersecurity emergency” (the proposed “Cybersecurity Act of 2009”).

Given the realities of Obama’s practice of presidential power, his official vision seems less important. His team hasn’t yet spelled out anything as sinister as the loopholes John Yoo devised for Bush from his Office of Legal Counsel, if only because Obama’s pick for OLC, Dawn Johnsen, has had her appointment held up in the Senate, largely over her abortion views. From her record, it’s unlikely that she’ll give her boss a formalized framework of power. That’s not how Obama likes to sell himself. But just because Johnson doesn’t deliver some tortuous explanation for why the president can do whatever he wants doesn’t mean that her boss will be any more constrained than his predecessor.

For example, the Obama Justice Department’s filings in the habeas hearings before U.S. District Court Judge John Bates in the legal challenge by four Bagram detainees no longer relies, as Bush did, on bald declarations of inherent presidential power. But Obama’s DOJ does not therefore conclude that the president does not have the power to keep “enemy combatants” locked up indefinitely without habeas rights, even as Obama moves to shut down the public-relations nightmare of Guantanamo and abandon the term “enemy combatants.”

The power Obama’s Justice Department claims might not be “inherent” any longer. But as explained by Duke Law School’s Christopher Schroeder on the website Executive Watch, Obama’s team still “argues there is ample authority to detain in the combination of the AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force] itself, the president’s conceded central role in executing the country’s war powers, and international law.” Those poor bastards languishing at Bagram and other mystery detention centers aren’t likely to be cheered by this supposed change in theories of executive power.

U.S. presidents have been acting outside the explicit bounds of their constitutional mandates from the Adams and Jefferson eras—Alien and Sedition Acts, Louisiana Purchase—through Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, and Johnson to Bush and now Obama. The story of the decay and destruction of constitutional limits on power is as old as the Republic itself. And expansions of executive power—see Richard Nixon with his plethora of new regulatory agencies and wage and price controls—need not be combined with an explicitly developed theory that supports and encourages government metastasis.

Executive overstretch has dominated American government for so long that we usually only hear effective complaints from those fighting to oust the incumbents steamrolling our liberties at any given moment. That’s why candidate Obama was so sharp about criticizing Bush’s extraconstitutional power claims and was able to find the one war he could be unequivocally against: the one he could blame on his political opponents. Now he perpetuates the same policies, albeit under different names and with different excuses (secrecy and “enemy combatants”) or with promises to stop them eventually (Iraq).

As predictable as out-party opposition is in-party realization that, as Obama’s right-hand man Rahm Emanuel openly put it, there’s no sense in letting a crisis go to waste. After all, the costs of classic, FDR-style “bold, persistent experimentation” are low in such crises. American presidential powerhouses have had various rationales for their abuses—from war for Lincoln, Wilson, and Bush to economic crisis for Roosevelt to playing on a wealthy society’s sense of fairness and guilt for Johnson.

Obama’s specialty is shaping up to be particularly dangerous because it’s hard to dispute given the average American’s sensibilities. No call for liberty and constitutional principle seems convincing when Obama is arguing that those relying on government giveaways should have to follow government-set rules. That is, once you’ve allowed them to go ahead with the handouts, the political game is almost over. Under the guise of “managing the taxpayers’ money,” Obama and his crew are rewriting mortgages, deciding executive compensation, tossing out CEO’s. And note carefully that his plans for where taxpayers’ money should go continue to swell, from healthcare to the environment to energy policy to expanded “national service” programs. When taxpayers’ money is everywhere—and Obama is doing his best to make sure it is—then Obama’s control is everywhere.

The Octo-potus is claiming his space and flexing his grip. As far as he’s concerned, it’s Barack Obama’s country. We’re just living in it.

Brian Doherty is a senior editor at Reason and author of the books This is Burning Man, Radicals for Capitalism, and Gun Control on Trial.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

State considers return to gold, silver dollars

March 16, 2009

By Drew Zahn

A bill being considered in the Montana Legislature blasts the Federal Reserve's role in America's money policy and permits the state to conduct business in gold and silver instead of the Fed's legal tender notes.

Montana H.B. 639, sponsored by State Rep. Bob Wagner, R-Harrison, doesn't require the state or citizens to conduct business in gold or silver, but it does require the state to calculate certain transactions in both the current legal tender system and in an electronic gold currency. It further mandates that the state must accept payments in gold or silver for various fees and purchases.

While Wagner was unavailable for comment, the bill's language clearly alleges the nation's current financial system, with its reliance on the private Federal Reserve system for money supply, is a danger to American freedom.

"The absence of gold and silver coin, whether in that form or in the form of an electronic gold currency, as media of exchange," the bill states, "abridges, infringes on and interferes with the sovereignty and independence of this state … and exposes this state and Montana citizens, inhabitants and businesses to chronic problems and potentially serious crises that may arise from the economic and political instability of the present domestic and international systems of coinage, currency, banking and credit."

Further, the bill states, relying only on the depreciating legal tender issued by the Fed subjects citizens to "losses in purchasing power" inflicted by the government, a dilemma the bill says amounts to the "incremental confiscation" of property by government in violation of the U.S. Constitution's protections for just compensation and due process.

The Fifth Amendment states, "No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Critics of the current financial system argue that using Federal Reserve notes as legal tender, rather than gold- or silver-backed currency, means the value of Americans' money – and thus their "property" – is siphoned away by inflation, a process perpetuated by the government's reliance on legal tender. Gold and silver, critics say, don't lose their value on the whims of the Federal Reserve.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, even favors abolishing the Fed's system of fiat currency to return to dollars backed by gold.

"Throughout its nearly 100-year history, the Federal Reserve has presided over the near-complete destruction of the United States dollar," the Texas Republican said. "Since 1913 the dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power, aided and abetted by the Federal Reserve's loose monetary policy.

"How long will we as a Congress stand idly by while hard-working Americans see their savings eaten away by inflation? Only big-spending politicians and politically favored bankers benefit from inflation," he said.

Wagner joins legislators in several other states encouraging their respective governments to reconsider accepting gold as a form of payment. Indiana's S.B. 453, Colorado's H.B. 09-1206, Missouri's H.B. 0561, Georgia's H.B. 430 and Maryland's H.J.R. 5 are among the gold currency bills introduced just this year in various legislatures.

Montana's H.B. 639 has been referred to the Legislature's State Administration Committee.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Act forces Congress' return to limited government

Update: The piece of legislation (H.R. 450) discussed in this article now has 20 co-sponsors. All Republican. This of course also means 158 Republicans don't see the value of the bill, furthering the argument the difference in the two parties is nuance only.

Legislator to colleagues: 'Your laws not authorized by Constitution'

April 09, 2009

By Chelsea Schilling

As a reminder of the federal government's limited powers, 20 representatives want to ensure that every single piece of legislation passing through Congress includes a statement citing specific constitutional authority for enacting it.

Sponsored by Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., H.R. 450, or the Enumerated Powers Act, states, "Each Act of Congress shall contain a concise and definite statement of the constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act. The failure to comply with this section shall give rise to a point of order in either House of Congress. …"

When he introduced the proposal Jan. 9, Shadegg gave a House floor speech reminding his colleagues of limited authority granted in the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

It states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Stand up for the Supreme Law of the Land and shock your fellow citizens into thinking with WND's "Legalize the Constitution!" magnetic bumper sticker.

"What that means is that the Founding Fathers intended our national government to be a limited government, a government of limited powers that cannot expand its legislative authority into areas reserved to the states or to the people," Shadegg said. "As the final amendment in the 10 Bill of Rights, it is clear that the Constitution establishes a Federal Government of specifically enumerated and limited powers."

For that reason, Shadegg said he has introduced the Enumerated Powers Act each year that he's been in Congress.

"This measure would enforce a constant and ongoing re-examination of the role of our national government," he said. "… It is simply intended to require a scrutiny that we should look at what we enact and that, by doing so, we can slow the growth and reach of the Federal Government, and leave to the states or the people, those functions that were reserved to them by the Constitution."

Shadegg said the act would perform three important functions:

1. It would encourage members of Congress to consider whether their proposed legislation belongs in the federal level in the allocation of powers or whether it belongs with the states or the people.

2. It would force lawmakers to include statements explaining by what authority they are acting.

3. It would give the U.S. Supreme Court the ability to scrutinize constitutional justification for every piece of legislation. If the justification does not hold up, the courts and the people could hold Congress accountable and eliminate acts that reach beyond the scope of the Constitution.

He said the Founding Fathers granted specific, limited powers to the national government to protect the people's freedom.

"As a result, the Constitution gives the Federal Government only 18 specific enumerated powers, just 18 powers," Shadegg noted.

Beginning with President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, he said, Congress has ignored the 10th Amendment and greatly expanded federal government.

"Let me be clear," he said. "Virtually all the measures which go beyond the scope of the powers granted to the Federal Government by the 10th amendment are well-intentioned. But unfortunately, many of them are not authorized by the Constitution. The Federal Government has ignored the Constitution and expanded its authority into every aspect of human conduct, and quite sadly, it is not doing many of those things very well."

While many believe government "can do anything," that is not what the Founding Fathers intended for the nation, Shadegg contends.

WND columnist Henry Lamb has been urging voters to contact representatives and ask directly if they will co-sponsor and vote for the Enumerated Powers Act, or explain why not – in writing.

The legislation has 19 co-sponsors – all Republicans.

Lamb suggested the act become the theme song of the tea parties taking place around the nation.

"Nothing short of massive public pressure will force congressmen to take a position on this important bill." Lamb wrote. "Nothing short of a return to the Constitution can save this great nation."

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., chairs the House Rules Committee, and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairs the House Judiciary Committee – where the act was referred Jan. 9 and remains today.

"Both of these committee chairs should be bombarded with phone calls and e-mails asking that H.R. 450 be brought to the House floor for a recorded vote," Lamb wrote.

Shadegg said the federal government has acted too long without constitutional restraint and has blatantly ignored principles of federalism.

He urged his colleagues to join him in "supporting a review and a criticism and an evaluation of the proper role of the Federal Government in order to empower the American people and to distribute power as the Constitution contemplated it."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The dangers of majoritarian tyranny

Please also revisit an earlier post from June 8, 2008, "Republic v Democracy":

April 15, 2009

by Walter Williams

Democracy and majority rule give an aura of legitimacy to acts that would otherwise be deemed tyranny. Think about it. How many decisions in our day-to-day lives would we like to be made through majority rule or the democratic process? How about the decision whether you should watch a football game on television or "Law and Order"? What about whether you drive a Chevrolet or a Ford, or whether your Easter dinner is turkey or ham? Were such decisions made in the political arena, most of us would deem it tyranny. Why isn't it also tyranny for the democratic process to mandate what type of light bulbs we use, how many gallons of water to flush toilets or whether money should be taken out of our paycheck for retirement?

The founders of our nation held a deep abhorrence for democracy and majority rule. In Federalist Paper No. 10, James Madison wrote, "Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority." John Adams predicted, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." Our founders intended for us to have a republican form of limited government where the protection of individual God-given rights was the primary job of government.

Alert to the dangers of majoritarian tyranny, the Constitution's framers inserted several anti-majority rules. One such rule is that election of the president is not decided by a majority vote but instead by the Electoral College. Nine states have over 50 percent of the U.S. population. If a simple majority were the rule, conceivably these nine states could determine the presidency. Fortunately, they can't because they have only 225 Electoral College votes when 270 of the 538 total are needed. Were it not for the Electoral College, that some politicians say is antiquated and would like to do away with, presidential candidates could safely ignore the less populous states.

Part of the reason our founders created two houses of Congress was to have another obstacle to majority rule. Fifty-one senators can block the designs of 435 representatives and 49 senators. The Constitution gives the president a veto to weaken the power of 535 members of both houses of Congress. It takes two-thirds of both houses of Congress to override a presidential veto.

To change the Constitution requires not a majority but a two-thirds vote of both Houses to propose an amendment, and to be enacted requires ratification by three-fourths of state legislatures. The Constitution's Article V empowers two-thirds of state legislatures to call for a constitutional convention to propose amendments that become law when ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures. I used to be for this option as a means of enacting a spending limitation amendment to the Constitution but have since reconsidered. Unlike the 1787 convention attended by men of high stature such as James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and John Adams, today's attendees would be moral midgets: the likes of Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Olympia Snowe and Nancy Pelosi.

In addition to an abhorrence of democracy, and the recognition that government posed the gravest threat to liberty, our founders harbored a deep distrust and suspicion of Congress. This suspicion and distrust is exemplified by the phraseology used throughout the Constitution, particularly our Bill of Rights, containing phrases such as Congress shall not: abridge, infringe, deny, disparage or violate. Today's Americans think Congress has the constitutional authority to do anything upon which they can get a majority vote. We think whether a particular measure is a good idea or bad idea should determine passage as opposed to whether that measure lies within the enumerated powers granted Congress by the Constitution. Unfortunately, for the future of our nation, Congress has successfully exploited American constitutional ignorance or contempt.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

States' rebellion begins to rumble

March 25, 2009

by Walter Williams

Our Colonial ancestors petitioned and pleaded with King George III to get his boot off their necks. He ignored their pleas, and in 1776, they rightfully declared unilateral independence and went to war. Today it's the same story except Congress is the one usurping the rights of the people and the states, making King George's actions look mild in comparison. Our constitutional ignorance – perhaps contempt, coupled with the fact that we've become a nation of wimps, sissies and supplicants – has made us easy prey for Washington's tyrannical forces. But that might be changing a bit. There are rumblings of a long overdue re-emergence of Americans' characteristic spirit of rebellion.

Eight state legislatures have introduced resolutions declaring state sovereignty under the Ninth and 10th amendments to the U.S. Constitution; they include Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington. There's speculation that they will be joined by Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, Maine and Pennsylvania.

You might ask, "Isn't the 10th Amendment that no-good states' rights amendment that Dixie governors, such as George Wallace and Orval Faubus, used to thwart school desegregation and black civil rights?" That's the kind of constitutional disrespect and ignorance big-government proponents, whether they're liberals or conservatives, want you to have. The reason is that they want Washington to have total control over our lives. The founders tried to limit that power with the 10th Amendment, which reads: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

New Hampshire's 10th Amendment resolution typifies others and, in part, reads: "That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General (federal) Government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a General Government for special purposes, delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force." Put simply, these 10th Amendment resolutions insist that the states and their people are the masters and that Congress and the White House are the servants. Put yet another way, Washington is a creature of the states, not the other way around.

Congress and the White House will laugh off these state resolutions. State legislatures must take measures that put some teeth into their 10th Amendment resolutions. Congress will simply threaten a state, for example, with a cutoff of highway construction funds if it doesn't obey a congressional mandate, such as those that require seat belt laws or that lower the legal blood-alcohol level to .08 for drivers. States might take a lead explored by Colorado.

In 1994, the Colorado Legislature passed a 10th Amendment resolution and later introduced a bill titled "State Sovereignty Act." Had the State Sovereignty Act passed both houses of the legislature, it would have required all people liable for any federal tax that's a component of the highway users fund, such as a gasoline tax, to remit those taxes directly to the Colorado Department of Revenue. The money would have been deposited in an escrow account called the "Federal Tax Fund" and remitted monthly to the IRS, along with a list of payees and respective amounts paid. If Congress imposed sanctions on Colorado for failure to obey an unconstitutional mandate and penalized the state by withholding funds due, say $5 million for highway construction, the State Sovereignty Act would have prohibited the state treasurer from remitting any funds in the escrow account to the IRS. Instead, Colorado would have imposed a $5 million surcharge on the Federal Tax Fund account to continue the highway construction.

The eight state legislatures that have enacted 10th Amendment resolutions deserve our praise, but their next step is to give them teeth.