Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The State of the Union According to Me

So today was the big day -- the 2011 State of the Union address we've all been waiting for.  I thought President Obama's speech had some good moments.  I agree with some of his proposals, such as bagging "No Child Left Behind" and cutting some of the red tape for small businesses.  I question others -- should we really be spending money on a high-speed rail and super high-speed internet for the masses?  Is that really the job of the Federal government?

In any case, as I listened to Obama talk I began to wonder -- what would I do if I were President?  In the spirit of the Republic where the voice of each citizen counts for something, here is the State of the Union, 2011.  According to me --


Morality --

In spite of the fact that there are a lot of good people in our nation, we are seeing a continued moral decay in pop culture and in the media.  Children in our schools are exposed to ever more filth.  Pornography is a scourge that has not loosened its hold upon the people.  It is embraced in many circles. 

The good news -- People have the freedom to turn off the TV and radio, and avoid other media that promotes immorality.  Many, in fact, do.

Economy --

The recession isn't over.  We are just prolonging a serious collapse as long as we can.  The only reason we have stayed afloat this long is because the dollar is the world's reserve currency.  There are signs that this could change.  Foreign nations could dump the dollar and choose another reserve currency.  If/when this happens, we are all in for the ride of our life.

The good news -- There is no good news if we don't drastically change our ways ASAP.

I propose -- The banks and financial institutions responsible for the policies that got us in trouble as a nation and who received bailout money should be required to give that money back to the government.  Let them fail.  The money should go toward the deficit.

Bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Cut spending to almost everything.  The Federal government's job is to protect our borders from foreign invasion and ensure the inaliable rights of all Americans -- the freedom of speech, of religion, of press, the right to bear arms, the right to be free from unwarranted search and seizure, the right to a fair and speedy trial if detained, etc...

The Federal government has no business subsidizing the lives of its populace. What about welfare?  Food stamps? Social security?  Medicare and Medicaid?  Unemployment benefits?  The truth is, we can't afford what we've been spending.  These programs are bankrupting us.  Funding to these programs can gradually be cut to all but the most needy and incapacitated.

Local churches and agencies funded by private individuals and businesses should teach self-reliance, help people plant gardens, raise rabbits, live beneath their means, use barter, learn useful skills that the market actually needs.  

We need to buy our country back from China.  If it's not too late.

Education --

"No Child Left Behind" is a failure.  America's children appear to be getting collectively dumber.  All the focus on standardized tests hasn't paid off.  College has been promoted as the end-all be-all.  Today, a college degree costs more than ever and doesn't go nearly far enough in providing a real education. 

The good news -- More and more people are homeschooling their children. There are some committed educators in the school systems.  There are people with good ideas on how to improve education.

I Propose -- We need to get the Federal government out of education, and leave it to the states and local communities to decide how to best administer education.  The money the Federal government currently spends on education could be divided up amongst the states, and gradually weaned down over a period of years. 

College should not be promoted as "the answer" to a secure future.  Because it clearly isn't. 

Jobs -- 

We have sent many of our blue-collar and some of our white-collar jobs overseas with NAFTA and GATT.  The health care bill will send more jobs overseas as it is implemented.  Those Americans without high skill sets may eventually find themselves competing with illegal immigrants for low-skill jobs.  And what about college graduates?  So sorry for those of you who went to college, are saddled with student loans, and can't find a decent job!  You can join the ranks of the college grads who move back home with their parents.

The good news -- Technology allows more and more people to work from home or start small businesses with minimal cost.  Those who are willing to brave the learning curve and learn from people who have done what they want to do, can find a way to make a living on their own. 

I propose --  The government should not be in the business of creating jobs, but of getting out of the way of entrepreneurs, getting rid of some of the red tape. I applaud Obama's idea of getting rid of the provision in the health care bill that calls for excessive tax forms and bookkeeping for businesses. 

Crony capitalism, where big business receives preferential treatment, needs to go.  It's not right for Wal-Mart to be exempt from giving health insurance to its employees, but if my business grows to more than 50 employees, I have to cough up the money for health insurance or else face steep fines. 

Free market principles need to be embraced.  The minimum wage should be disbanded.  Employers should be free to pay their employees what they are worth to them in terms of production.  People with higher skill sets will be worth more money to their employers.  Entry-level and low-skill workers can improve upon their skills in order to receive a higher wage.

Illegal Immigration -- 

All kinds of people have come to America illegally -- from people seeking a better life to people engaged in drug rings.  The crime caused by some illegal immigrants as well as the costs of education and medical care to others have put a strain on our nation. 

I propose -- We need to have a secure border, and enforce it strongly.  We need to follow the laws regarding immigration, and enforce the law.  In the process, we need to treat all people with respect.  Those who are already here illegally and found committing crimes should should be sent back home.  Otherwise, those not committing any serious crimes other than being here illegally should at least be paying taxes.  Those businesses who are found paying illegal immigrants under the table should be given steep fines.  Illegal immigrants should not be allowed to vote under any circumstance.

Health Care -- 

America's populace is not healthy.  We are scourged with diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune illness, cancer, autism, learning disabilities and attention deficits, and death by Western medicine. We have a lot of sick people and not enough money to pay for their often ineffective drugs and surgeries.

The good news -- Today there is an amazing amount of information on the internet on nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, holistic healing, and alternative medicine.  There are more and more holistic practitioners in every corner of the nation.  Such measures are low-cost and often yield fabulous results in conjunction with lifestyle changes, especially for chronic conditions.

I propose -- We need to immediately repeal the "Affordable Health Care Act".  In its place, we should make high deductible policies with health savings accounts readily available to individuals and families.  This will give Americans MORE choice over how to use their health care monies, not less.  Alternative medicine, including supplements, could be purchased with the tax-free health savings accounts. People who make bad lifestyle choices and get ill as a result will pay for their poor choices.  Also, when people are using their own money to pay for health care, this drives costs down.  If people want health insurance with all the bells and whistles, they should pay for it themselves.

Doctors and nurses should be encouraged to donate some of their time -- maybe 5-10 hours/month -- to provide free health care for the needy.  These hours should give them tax credits or credits that could go toward paying off their student loans.

Genetically-modified foods should be immediately banned.  There should be information campaigns on the dangers of aspartame, corn syrup, and the Standard American Diet (SAD) that have sickened Americans for decades.

Threats to Our Freedom--

Here at home behind the scenes of the warring Democrats and Republicans, the pointing fingers and caustic remarks, is a group of elitists who are really running the show.  They aren't Democrat vs. Republican.  They are Democrat and Republican.  And they are in the shadows for a reason -- they are seeking to increase their power by tearing down every institution that stands in their way.  A strong, free America is a threat to their schemes.  They are influencing almost every major policy, and many a major politician.  They are not our friends.  They are more dangerous than the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad combined.

Here is a full-length film exposing what some believe to be the plots of these elitists --

Warning -- do not watch this with small children.  

You may not believe everything you see in this film.  You shouldn't.  You should research the claims it makes and come to a conclusion for yourself if any or all of this is a bunch of bunk, or if we really are headed over a cliff unless we stand up now for freedom.  As for me, I would rather err on the side of defending freedom!

Long Live America!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why I am Bothered By Obama's Speech in Tuscon

Did you listen to President Obama's speech in Tucson to commemorate the deaths of those killed by that crazed gunman, Jared Lee Loughner?  What did you think?

Did you agree with the mostly glittering reviews in the news that this was one of Obama's finer moments as president, or did it leave you with some questions?

I don't hate President Obama -- I've never met him.  And I don't care much for the patriotic Republican flag-waving that George W. Bush was so famous for.  All partisan politics aside, here are the problems I personally had with the speech --

5. Obama's overly-intimate gushing over those killed --

Did Obama personally know the individuals affected by the shooting?  I don't think it's the President's job to comfort the "hole torn in [the nation's] heart" to this extent.  I find it disturbing, actually, to see the Commander-in-Chief waxing poetic with feel-good anecdotes about the individuals who were killed as if he knew each of them individually.

Don't get me wrong -- I think it is totally appropriate for these individuals to be remembered, and for there to be an amount of collective grief.  But I would prefer for my president to focus on defending the Constitution and protecting our borders from foreign entities, rather than making the post of the president "cool" as Obama once confessed was his "job", or into our nation's "comforter-in-chief". 

4. Freaky pep-rally crowd -- 

I am frankly embarrassed by many in attendance at the Tucson Rally, ahem, Memorial.   I found their over-enthusiasm to be in the presence of Obama, who used his "cult of personality" standing well, to be disconcerting.

Just take a look at the fervor of the crowd at the Tucson Memorial and their response to Obama --

Now compare it with the adoration of Hitler in yesteryear.  No, I am not saying Obama wants to gas the Jews or take over the world.  I am not even so much asking that you compare Obama to Hitler, who is clearly more fanatical in both the content of his speech as well as its delivery.  Just take a look at the adoring masses -- 

Scores of citizens adoring and practically swooning over their leader as a rock-star, sports-star, or any kind of star at all has no place in a society that wants to remain free.  We can show respect, even a measure of admiration for our leaders.  No need to deify them as is usually done in most modern totalitarian regimes.

3.  Obama quoting from the Bible --

In the course of his speech, President Obama quoted from the Book of Job.  He quoted from Psalms.  How convenient to quote from scripture at a time like this.

But how different was Obama's flowery Biblical rhetoric earlier today from a speech of his in 2006 before a crowd less-friendly toward religion, where Obama got giggles and grins from the audience as he blatantly mocked the Bible --

2. Pep-rally t-shirts to go with the pep-rally crowd -- 

Obama's 2012 Campaign Committee, I mean his staff, had 14,000 t-shirts draped across the seats in the auditorium for the attendees.  The very quickly-produced t-shirts were printed with what is apparently Obama's new slogan -- "Together We Thrive".

T-shirts with your logo or slogan?  It's a great marketing tool, that's for sure!  But I'm not sure what that has to do with the 6 people who died and are now in their coffins waiting for burial.

1.  Ah, the propaganda . . .

During the course of his 30-minute speech, President Obama called upon two tried-and-true gimmicks:

"Right after we went to visit her . . . Gabby opened her eyes for the first time (cheers of hysteria) . . .
Gabby opened her eyes for the first time  (intense clapping and cheering, camera pans to a verklempt Michelle Obama wiping tears from her eyes, hands clasped with that of Gifford's husband) . . .
Gabby opened her eyes, so I can tell you that she knows we are here. . . ."

Gimmick #1 -- Appeal to your audience's emotions through stories.
Gimmick #2 -- Repetition of a key phrase over and over.

Reminiscent of the famous ad nauseum "Yes we can" speech, Obama knows that tactics like this can be really appealing to an audience.  Just like those commercials that tell a story of how someone uses their American Express card on their dream vacation to Tahiti.  And the repetition reminds me of car insurance commercials  where the phone number is annoyingly repeated over and over. 

The story evokes an emotional response, while repetition cements the message into the mind.  Repetition of an emotional phrase serves to drive that emotion deep into the listener's core.  It can put flutters in the heart and mist in the eyes of even the most cynical of critics.  And it is one of Obama's specialties.


Obama is not the first U.S. president to capitalize on a national tragedy for political gain, and he probably won't be the last.  But as of yet, he certainly has been one to pull out all the stops.  Is he a Master Communicator, Master Marketer, or a Master Propagandist? 

It's obvious what I think.  You decide for yourself.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mao's Great Leap Forward 'killed 45 million in four years'

Hi, my friends!  I haven't disappeared from the face of the earth, but I am taking a break from blogging.  I am working on a book and my goal is to finish it as soon as possible. 

But in the meantime, here is an article on Chinese Communism.  This isn't meant to give you nightmares, but to be honest about the fruits of Communism.

Arifa Akbar
September 17, 2010
The Independent

Mao Zedong, founder of the People's Republic of China, qualifies as the greatest mass murderer in world history, an expert who had unprecedented access to official Communist Party archives said yesterday.
Speaking at The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival, Frank Dikötter, a Hong Kong-based historian, said he found that during the time that Mao was enforcing the Great Leap Forward in 1958, in an effort to catch up with the economy of the Western world, he was responsible for overseeing "one of the worst catastrophes the world has ever known". 

Mr Dikötter, who has been studying Chinese rural history from 1958 to 1962, when the nation was facing a famine, compared the systematic torture, brutality, starvation and killing of Chinese peasants to the Second World War in its magnitude. At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years; the worldwide death toll of the Second World War was 55 million. 

Mr Dikötter is the only author to have delved into the Chinese archives since they were reopened four years ago. He argued that this devastating period of history – which has until now remained hidden – has international resonance. "It ranks alongside the gulags and the Holocaust as one of the three greatest events of the 20th century.... It was like [the Cambodian communist dictator] Pol Pot's genocide multiplied 20 times over," he said. 

Between 1958 and 1962, a war raged between the peasants and the state; it was a period when a third of all homes in China were destroyed to produce fertiliser and when the nation descended into famine and starvation, Mr Dikötter said. 

His book, Mao's Great Famine; The Story of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, reveals that while this is a part of history that has been "quite forgotten" in the official memory of the People's Republic of China, there was a "staggering degree of violence" that was, remarkably, carefully catalogued in Public Security Bureau reports, which featured among the provincial archives he studied. In them, he found that the members of the rural farming communities were seen by the Party merely as "digits", or a faceless workforce. For those who committed any acts of disobedience, however minor, the punishments were huge. 

State retribution for tiny thefts, such as stealing a potato, even by a child, would include being tied up and thrown into a pond; parents were forced to bury their children alive or were doused in excrement and urine, others were set alight, or had a nose or ear cut off. One record shows how a man was branded with hot metal. People were forced to work naked in the middle of winter; 80 per cent of all the villagers in one region of a quarter of a million Chinese were banned from the official canteen because they were too old or ill to be effective workers, so were deliberately starved to death. 

Mr Dikötter said that he was once again examining the Party's archives for his next book, The Tragedy of Liberation, which will deal with the bloody advent of Communism in China from 1944 to 1957.
He said the archives were already illuminating the extent of the atrocities of the period; one piece of evidence revealed that 13,000 opponents of the new regime were killed in one region alone, in just three weeks. "We know the outline of what went on but I will be looking into precisely what happened in this period, how it happened, and the human experiences behind the history," he said. 

Mr Dikötter, who teaches at the University of Hong Kong, said while it was difficult for any historian in China to write books that are critical of Mao, he felt he could not collude with the "conspiracy of silence" in what the Chinese rural community had suffered in recent history.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Signpost 14 -- It's Good to Be King??

  "There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or body of magistrates." (Baron de Montesquieu)

 So we are finally down to the 14th and final Signpost to Slavery. It's been a long road, and an enlightening one if only for me personally!  So here it is, Signpost 14:

14. Any attempt to make a new major law by executive decree. 

 Pro's and Con's of Executive Rule

The annoying thing about the separation of powers called for in the U.S. Constitution (whereby the legislative branch presents legislation, the judicial branch judges it against the measuring stick of the Constitution and rule of law, and the executive branch makes the final decision) is all that red tape.  Partisan politics can lead to filibusters and any one person or group's agenda -- whether potentially beneficial to society or not -- can come to a grinding halt.  This is not always ideal for getting things done in Washington.

With executive rule it's a lot easier for a President to get his agenda passed, because he doesn't actually have to get it passed!  He invents a law and signs it, and unless Congress refuses to fund it, quickly enacts legislation that specifically conflicts with it (which the President can veto, in turn), or 2/3 of Congress votes against the president's veto of their legislation opposing the executive decree, it magically becomes law!  These executive orders can be discarded by subsequent presidents, but history shows that they rarely are.

And in reality, Congress rarely disputes executive orders:

"It has been argued that a Congressional override of an executive order is a nearly impossible event due to the supermajority vote required and the fact that such a vote leaves individual lawmakers very vulnerable to political criticism." (1)
Executive Rule -- An Essential Ingredient in Dictatorship 

What could Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, or Mao have accomplished without the ability to invent laws and regulations, judge them as sound, and enact them without having to bother with checks and balances?

And how many of the laws passed unilaterally by certified tyrants throughout history have been done under the guise of helping, caring for, or protecting the masses?  I would wager a guess that most if not all tyrannical decrees have promised some sort of public benefit.

The notorious Great Purges -- in which an estimated 20-30 million Soviet citizens were murdered by Soviet fire squads or perished in the brutal Gulag prison and labor camps from 1930-1953 -- came about due to an  executive rule by Comrade Stalin against "terrorist organizations and terrorist acts".

Executive Orders in America

Executive orders have been used sporadically by presidents throughout America's history, primarily for mundane directives to different governmental agencies.  Some executive orders have had more of a sweeping influence on America's history, for better or worse.

Lincoln's famed Emancipation Proclamation was an exercise in executive power.  Eisenhower desegregated public schools and Truman integrated the armed forces through Executive Order, bypassing racial separatists in Congress.

Some hotly-criticized orders, however, include Executive Order 10340 from President Truman, which sought to put all American steel mills under federal domain, FDR's  Executive Order 9066 that rounded up German - and Japanese-Americans and led to Japanese-Americans being placed in internment camps during WWII.  

King William Jefferson Clinton

Rule by presidential executive order became more commonplace during the presidency of Bill Clinton, along with presidential directives (executive measures passed in conjunction with the National Security Council, sometimes secretively).  Clinton was responsible for 347 executive orders and among them, "80 classified Presidential Decision Directives (PDDs) mandating secret, unilateral executive actions that impact[ed] on the freedom of Americans." (2)

Through executive power, Clinton waged a war with Kosovo without Congress declaring war, designated that U.S. troops serve under foreign UN command, and exempted UN personnel from being prosecuted for violation of America's civil or criminal law while on American soil.  In another directive, Clinton granted the FBI power to conduct surveillance on groups opposed to the UN and promoting gun rights, as well as "extremist" Fundamentalist Christian groups.  Clinton designated millions of acres of land across America as Federal Reserves or National Monuments, including 1.7 million acres in Southern Utah.  And the disturbing trend of allowing government agencies to spy on the online activities of U.S. citizens, usually attributed to George W. Bush, was actually initiated under President Clinton through PDD-63.

"Stroke of the pen. Law of the Land. Kinda cool."
(Paul Begala, former Clinton advisor, The New York Times, July 5, 1998)

King George "W"

In the year 2001 King George W. came onto the scene of the presidency with promises of smaller government and less involvement in foreign affairs.  Due to a suspiciously convenient disaster, he was able to do a switcharoo on the American populace and take America's War Machine to a new level with preemptive strikes.  He succeeded in getting the PATRIOT Act passed, purportedly to safeguard America from terrorists.  He also signed his own set of 291 Executive Orders during his 8-year stint as president.

Some of W's most infamous Executive Orders include the following:

"- Executive Order 13440 - allowed the use of "special" interrogation techniques blocked by the Geneva convention (aka torture).
- Executive Order 13292 - gave the Vice President full power to classify any documents he deemed appropriate.
- Executive Order 13303 - gave blanket legal protection to U.S. companies dealing in Iraqi oil.
- Executive Order 13438 - allowed the administration to seize property from groups who pose a threat to stability in Iraq, even if said threat has not been proven. The language of the order is so broad that even a domestic critic of the war could be considered a 'threat to stability.' This violates the Fifth Amendment right to due process." (3)

Bush also passed a special directive --NSPD 51-- which essentially gave the president dictatorial powers in the event of catastrophe or emergency.  Suspiciously, most of the details of this directive are classified, and not even Congress has been allowed to see the documents associated with this directive!

(Full list of Bush executive orders here.)

Liberals blasted Bush for his show of excessive executive power and for eroding the freedoms of Americans, and rightly so!  Conservatives largely accepted Bush's actions as good and necessary, though many of them had been more than willing to criticize Clinton for his over-reaching executive authority.  And today, conservatives unite to bemoan the accendance of the latest king in town . . .

King Barry Soetoro, aka Barack Houssein Obama 

Faster than his Republican forebear.
More powerful than Washington insiders.
Able to enact CHANGE in a single term.

Look! Up in the sky!
It's a bird. It's a plane. It's the Obamessiah!

Within King Obama's first week in office, he was hailed for signing executive orders to close Gitmo by January 22, 2010 and do away with torture once and for all. (We'll just overlook the fact that Gitmo is still open as of July 2010, and the anti-torture loopholes only shut down CIA torture centers, with no mention of prohibiting torture if carried out by the FBI, NSA, or corporate contractors such as Blackwater/Xe, and doesn't condemn the torture of individuals detained in counter-terrorism . . .)

This was just the beginning of the CHANGE in Washington --

Corporate Bailout -- CHECK
Takeover of GM -- CHECK
Extended Benefits to the Unemployed -- CHECK
Cash for Clunkers -- CHECK
Healthcare Reform -- CHECK
Cap CEO pay -- CHECK
Sue the state of Arizona for enforcing immigration law -- CHECK

(No matter that this was not the type of change desired by a large percentage of Americans . . .)

No one can doubt that President Obama has been one busy man.  He has appeared to make significant efforts to make good on his many, many campaign promises (though he has yet to reverse many of Bush's most draconian policies).  During the presidential campaign, Obama criticized Bush's prolific use of "signing statements" to pass law without Congress's approval.  As of May 2010, Obama had signed a total of 55 executive orders, including an order entitled "Federal Leadership on Reducing Text Messaging while Driving" and the famous order reemphasizing a limit on Federal funds to be used for abortions, allowing the healthcare bill to pass.

Time will tell whether Obama resorts to using his executive powers more extensively to push his agenda through before he is likely kicked to the curb after one presidential term.  Evidence is mounting that things are headed in that direction:

"With much of his legislative agenda stalled in Congress, President Obama and his team are preparing an array of actions using his executive power to advance energy, environmental, fiscal and other domestic policy priorities." (4)

It is further rumored that Obama may grant amnesty to illegal aliens through an executive order if he is unable to garner enough support in Congress.

 In Conclusion

I will sum up my opinion of executive rule in just one sentence:  rule through executive decree is dangerous to a free society, side-stepping the checks and balances laid out in the Constitution.  Executive orders should be extremely limited in their use, and never ever be used to pass major laws, wage wars, or pass any sweeping changes in our nation.

The fact that Obama shows signs of doing the very thing he criticized Bush for should come as no surprise.

Neither should conservative Americans be shocked if the Republican they elect to replace Obama in 2012 (if we make it that far) follows in the footsteps of previous American quasi-kings -- exercising improper executive power while ignoring the Constitution.  It appears that this destructive trend will continue either until enough Americans wise up and absolutely refuse to allow it, or our nation is totally destroyed.

14. Any attempt to make a new major law by executive decree. -- BIG FAT CHECK

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Signpost 11 -- Minimum Wage . . . Yee Hah!

I have been slammed with a variety of things over the past month and have neglected  my blog.  My apologies!  So now we are down to just two more Signposts to Slavery. Today's post will cover Signpost 11 -- 

11. Wage and price controls, especially in a non-wartime situation. 

Let me start by being completely up front with you -- I am no economics expert.  But I do have a basic understanding of the concepts of supply and demand.  Also, it is abundantly clear to me that many who profess to be true experts in this arena and hold positions of authority seem to know even less than I do!  So I will try my hand at touching on the in's and out's of wage and price controls.

First off, let me state that I don't think in our world, filled with imperfect, less-than-altruistic individuals, that there is any economic system without its faults.  In a capitalist society, someone always finds a way to make a whole lot more money than everyone else (and so long as they aren't doing anything illegal, what's wrong with that?!).  Someone is always in need either due to illness, incapacitation, lack of opportunity, lack of motivation, or some combination thereof.  Wages and prices are determined by supply and demand. Certain freedoms are valued, even if it means that some in the society will not fare as well as others. 

In a socialist society, the state assumes the responsibility of meeting many of the needs of the people.  No-one is homeless, for instance.  Nobody goes without basic health care.  In many instances, jobs are created by the government.  Wages and prices can be fixed by the state.  Certain freedoms are sacrificed in order for the government to provide services and in some cases sustenance to the people.

Of course, America today is some mixture between capitalist and socialist.  Most wages and prices are still determined by the market, but by no means are 100% of wages and prices left alone by the government.  We  have our minimum wage.  More recently, President Obama has placed caps on how much CEO's of corporations receiving bailout money are allowed to make.

Doesn't that sound good?  Power to the people, right?  Blast those filthy rich CEO's anyways!

But I have to wonder -- wouldn't it just have been easier (and far less costly to the American populace) to just forego the corporate bailouts altogether?  The market would have determined which CEO's were worth millions and which should receive pay cut, based on which businesses had products and services still in enough demand during a recession.

As for the minimum wage, it was instituted in 1938 at 25 cents per hour.  Those who argue for a minimum wage say that there are no negative effects of raising the minimum wage (these are probably the same people who see no negative effect from pumping trillions of freshly printed dollars into the economy to prop up failing corporations and banks.)

Those not in favor of a mandated minimum wage argue that it causes inflation, leads to fewer jobs for those with few skills, causes a greater rates of outsourcing of jobs oversees where wages are cheaper, and feeds the market for illegals to work for dirt-cheap wages under the table.

As I stated at the beginning of this article, I am no expert in the field of economics.  But I have enough brains to know that if companies have a limited number of jobs with a limited amount of money to pay to employees, any law mandating a minimum wage will affect how many people they can hire and could certainly cause them to look for ways to hire people oversees or illegally for less.

I can't say for sure if the minimum wage leads to inflation, but it certainly seems possible!

Why would our government be "for" a minimum wage, and vote to increase it from time to time?  Certainly some in government have good intentions -- they don't want the poorest of Americans to suffer so much.  But isn't it interesting that an increase in the minimum wage is a nice handy way to levy a tax increase by stealth as an increase in the minimum wage increases all wages, and therefore increases government tax revenues?!

As far as price controls go, except in a few exceptional cases primarily during wartime, they disrupt the normal levels of supply and demand naturally determined by the market, and lead to shortages, rationing, long lines, as well as inflation.

To quote an expert (emphasis added):

"The reason most economists are skeptical about price controls is that they distort the allocation of resources. To paraphrase a remark by Milton Friedman, economists may not know much, but they do know how to produce a shortage or surplus. Price ceilings, which prevent prices from exceeding a certain maximum, cause shortages. Price floors, which prohibit prices below a certain minimum, cause surpluses, at least for a time. Suppose that the supply and demand for wheat flour are balanced at the current price, and that the government then fixes a lower maximum price. The supply of flour will decrease, but the demand for it will increase. The result will be excess demand and empty shelves. Although some consumers will be lucky enough to purchase flour at the lower price, others will be forced to do without." (1)

Richard Nixon's failed price controls in 1971 led to run-away inflation, and further gas price controls later in the 70's led to gas shortages and even more inflation.

A type of price control taking place today is the subsidization of corn production in the U.S.  For some reason, our government feels it important to pay farmers to grow corn.  Corn is sold for less than it costs to produce, making it a cheap commodity that is being used to produce high-fructose corn syrup, feed for animals (fattening them up faster and causing all kinds of problems in the process), and is being exported all over the world taking out farmers in Mexico and other nations because they can't compete with America's super-cheap corn.

The U.S. government also heavily subsidizes the meat and dairy industry.  Perhaps that is why it is cheaper to buy a Big Mac and Coke (sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, of course) than a salad.

So here we have it -- put the government in charge of wage and price controls, and what you get is bailed-out CEO's with a capped income higher than their income would be if the market had been left to deal with them, and more low-skill jobs going to hire Samrat's in India or Pablo's from Mexico but illegally living in Colorado, than Billy-Joe-Bob's in Arkansas because foreign or illegal labor is cheaper.  And it's cheaper to buy a bag of Dorito's and soda than food that is actually really food

11. Wage and price controls, especially in a non-wartime situation -- CHECK

(1) http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/PriceControls.html

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Signposts 9, 10, 12, & 13 -- Big Brother Gone Wild!!!

It is a beautiful day in Salt Lake City, and I am feeling especially grateful for many things in my life!  Among the things I am thankful for is the fact that I am self-employed -- I can work the hours I choose to work, I am free to try new things, and I answer to no-one except God, my clients, and those to whom I pay my bills!

I am free to succeed, and free to fail.  Though it hasn't been without its challenges, I have found working for myself to be worth it.  100%.

I was not trained up to be an entrepreneur.  Like most of you, I attended public schools where I had a few excellent teachers and several mediocre ones.  I spent my early adolescent years awkwardly searching for my own identity and path amongst such things as MTV, sit-coms, fast food, and pegged jeans -- things I participated in not because I liked them so much as because it was what everybody else was doing! 

I've had a lot of growing experiences through the years and the blessing to come across a number of people who have influenced my life for good, helping me find a path that is much more true to me.

I am saddened that our nation seems to be on an entirely opposite sort of path. We have gone from being a nation of immigrants determined to carve out their dream in the rugged landscape of a free country in spite of any obstacle, to collectively being fat, lazy, and weak-minded in our prosperity.

We have created a Big Brother and don't seem to mind that we now pay him upwards of 1/3 of our annual income, we look the other way as he kills and tortures people in various locations around the world, and we don't even blink that he now requests to see beneath our clothing with scanning devices pumping out radiation just a tad less toxic than microwaves, in order to make sure we aren't hiding bombs in any crevices or folds before boarding an airplane!

What will Big Brother think of next?!  Watch this real commercial that aired in the state of Pennsylvania earlier this year --

 Before you jump to say "Well, Tom deserves to have the government harass him -- he has broken the law", think again.  The government knows where you live too, as well as where you work, how your finances are, what your spending habits are, and what you are posting on your Facebook status updates.

Big Brothers just like ours throughout history have a track record of turning against the very people they promise to protect -- law-abiding citizens who naively relinquish their liberties in the name of protecting society.

In the remainder of this post, I will share a few more of the 14 Signposts to Slavery that deal with such things as our ability to travel, assemble in each others' homes, and work and live unfettered from undue government intervention.

9. Laws limiting the number of people allowed to meet in a private home.

The right to assemble with whomever we choose for whatever reason we choose both publicly and in our own homes is an essential liberty (as long as we aren't infringing on the rights of others).  Thankfully, this is one liberty that is still mostly honored in our nation.  There are some notable exceptions.  Recently seven individuals in Gilbert, AZ were prohibited from meeting together in private homes for Bible study. Some homeschooling families have reportedly suffered from similar over-reaching local homeowner's associations.

Let us be diligent to support the rights of everyone in our nation, even if we find their beliefs abhorrent, to assemble freely!

10. Any significant change in passport regulations to make passports more difficult to obtain or use.

In August 2007, U.S. passport agencies began exclusively issuing "e-passports" that contain a microchip, making it much easier to track an individual's travels (and also making it possible to disable an individual's passport with a simple keystroke).  Further, face-recognition technology is now in use at all checkpoints tightening government control over individual travel.  Can you imagine what the Nazi's could have accomplished with this type of technology in terms of cutting people off from travel?

This is yet another example of policy changes that have been made in the name of The War Against Terrorism.  Too bad our intelligence and passport regulations have proven impotent against terrorists (ie. the "Underwear Bomber").  Instead, we have innocent 5-year-old children on the "No Fly" list who could potentially have their passports disabled for no reason because they are mistaken for a terrorist.

12. Any kind of compulsory registration with the government of where individuals work.

Besides the fact that the U.S. government is the largest employer in the nation (and those numbers will only rise with the implementation of the new health care bill), and the government is surely aware where each of its several million employees work, the government also knows where every tax-paying American lives and works.

Companies report their salaries given to their employees through W-2 or 1099 forms.  Unless you are living a fugitive lifestyle off the grid, the government knows perfectly well where you work.

Further, the government now has GPS coordinates of the front door of each and every American home thanks to census employees who were sent out last year with hand-held devices to gather this extremely specific information.  I guess that's how the state of Pennsylvania really does know exactly where "Tom" lives (in the commercial above)!

13. Any attempt to restrict freedom of movement within the United States.

If it's not bad enough that the government can now prevent anyone it chooses from traveling internationally with e-passports and face recognition technology at airports, recently US Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) proposed the Vehicle Miles Traveled fee that would allow the government to install GPS tracking devices into each and every private vehicle of every American.  Not only would this allow the government to tax us for each mile we drive, but it would allow the government to know where our vehicles are at every moment of every day. 

Let us thank the heavens that Obama threw this draconian legislation out, and let us make sure nothing like this is ever implemented in the United States of America!

A wise man once said that he who would trade his liberty for security deserves neither.  It is so easy to justify many of the types of laws that have passed, particularly since 9/11, that appear important and necessary for our longevity as a nation.

But let us be diligent against potential tyranny from within lest we someday find ourselves hostage to the Big Brother we empowered to protect us from threats from without!


In summary --

9. Laws limiting the number of people allowed to meet in a private home. -- WE HAVE SEEN A LITTLE OF THIS

10. Any significant change in passport regulations to make passports more difficult to obtain or use. -- CHECK
12. Any kind of compulsory registration with the government of where individuals work. -- CHECK

13. Any attempt to restrict freedom of movement within the United States. -- NOT YET

Friday, June 4, 2010

Signpost 8 -- Know Your Place, Shut Your Face!

After a few weeks' hiatus, I am back on the scene of the Fourteen Signposts to Slavery.  Before I get into the details for this week's red flag of impending tyranny, I wanted to make just a few comments about myself and how it is that a blog that I originally started a year ago to share my story of recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome, has now been turned into an outlet for sharing my views on politics.  

And how did I go from where I was a few years ago, blindly and dumbly voting Republican, getting my information from the nightly news, and trusting that those in charge had my best interest in mind, to where I am now?!?  Some people who know me are baffled at the views I now broadcast, as they seem contrary to what some may consider "normal".  

I don't know for sure, all I know is that in 2007 some things began to click in my mind.  The years I spent in grad school studying Soviet history and the Soviet government's cruel tactics of control and manipulation for the "good" of the masses, and an awakening to the awful situation of medicine and the sick care industry through my own experiences with cfs -- all of this led me to espouse the belief that if I want to know about any given trend, event, or even health concern, I must do my own research.  I must push past the veils of marketing tactics and propaganda schemes to see what really lies behind the green curtain, if only to catch a glimpse!

I still know next to nothing.  But what I have found has caused me to want to research further and share my findings, meager though they may be, with anyone who cares to take a look.

With that, here is the 8th Signpost to Slavery --

8. An official declaration that anti-Communist organizations are subversive and subsequent legal action taken to suppress them.

Today we live in a world where threats of modern-day Communism, Socialism, and Fascism are poo-pooed by the general media as ridiculous, hyperbolic claims.  Those who warn of encroaching tyranny are labeled as kooks at best, and at worst -- potential domestic terrorists.  It's even gotten so bad that those who oppose President Obama's bailouts and health care bills, considering them to be an assault to our liberties, are dubbed "racist".  The same thing goes, of course, for those who are against illegal immigration.

But do we see the government and the media denouncing anti-Communist organizations?  Well, are there really any big anti-Communist organizations left to speak of after they were so denigrated in earlier years? 

Certainly The John Birch Society comes to mind as one of the most vocal anti-Communist (and anti-Big Government) organizations in America, but it hardly retained much national influence after the barrage of assault against it in the 60's.  Interestingly, the initial blows to the John Birch Society came from Communist organizations with ties to Moscow.  After a time, the American mass media joined the bandwagon.  How disturbing to see a collusion between foreign Communist agencies and our own mass media! 

Even more frightening is that fact that in 1963 upon his failed bid for President, New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller, a member of the most prominent elitist family in America, gave a speech before the Republican National Convention denouncing members of the John Birch Society and equating them with the Klan:

"These extremists feed on fear, hate and terror, [they have] no program for America and the Republican Party... [they] operate from dark shadows of secrecy. It is essential that this convention repudiate here and now any doctrinaire, militant minority whether Communist, Ku Klux Klan or Birchers." (1)

 The tactic of associating a group or person you wish to discredit with other groups and persons known to be of ill repute is a common one in political smear campaigns, and Nelson Rockefeller used that tactic quite proficiently in this instance.  Because of Rockefeller's speech and other negative pieces in the mass media, the John Birch Society was effectively black-balled from mainstream America. No direct government involvement was needed to shut them up.


Gone are the days of old-school Red Communism, bomb shelters, and rampant McCarthyism.  If you want to know my opinion, Communism as it was during the Cold War is never to be again.  The Soviet Communist experiment came to an end in the early 1990's for a reason -- the command economy of the Soviet state was unsustainable.  And some of the Soviet state's tactics of secluding its people from the rest of the world were failing.

Today, China is the shining star of Communism, and it looks a little different from its Soviet cousin -- at least on the surface.  China's market economy emphasis and PR with the West to portray it as hip and savvy have done wonders for the nation's economic growth as well as its standing in the world (never mind that political prisoners still languish away in China's vast Gulag and the average farmer or worker struggles just for basic subsistence).

Never again will we see a Communist state emerge that totally resembles the USSR, though there are still a few struggling nations, such as North Korea, who appear to be hanging on to old-school Communism for dear life.

Today we have a different kind of tyranny that has been spreading like a super-virulent swine flu virus to practically all of the nations of the earth.  Unlike the swine flu, however, no government agency exists to hedge its progress, and no National Emergency has been declared to warn the populaces.

The type of tyranny I am referring to has been quietly bankrupting 3rd world countries for decades, and since then has set its desires on bankrupting the rest of the world including the coveted U.S.A.

This type of tyranny might be referred to as Corporate Fascism, or the New World Order in which a few, self-appointed elite gain control of all big business and set up a global government with themselves at the helm.  This New World Order has many faces, only one of which is Communism, and it can shape-shift to please and appease the minds of the unsuspecting masses in any nation.

Just as the John Birch Society was a "voice in the wilderness" against Communism and Communist infiltration in earlier years, today there are those who actively speak out against our current breeds of tyranny.  Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Alex Jones of Infowars.com, Chuck Baldwin, and others are vocal critics of world government run by a tiny elite -- the "new Anti-Communists".  And they are also at the brunt of attacks by the media and politicians alike, and accused of the very same crimes with which Nelson Rockefeller accused the "Bircher's" -- hate, racism, gross ignorance, and militism.

In February of 2009, the Missouri State Police issued the  MIAC report instructing policemen to consider people driving vehicles displaying militia symbols, including the famous "Don't Tread on Me" flag, as potentially dangerous.

The report went on to specify that individuals who support candidates such as Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin (of the Constitution Party), Bob Barr (of the Libertarian Party), and anyone who was against such things as gun control, illegal immigration, and abortion on demand should be considered a possible threat.

Recently, the Southern Poverty Law Center issued a list of individuals it considers as threats to America.  The list of course, includes most of the individuals I have already named, and comes complete with their bio, mugshot, and fake criminal alias (one man is dubbed the "Apostle of Disunion", another "The Repentant Taxman".)  One by one, each of these activists for small, Constitutional government is mocked and discredited.

On June 16 of this year, MSNBC will air a new documentary characterizing the Tea Party movement, Constitutionalists, and those who expose tyranny in our nation as dangerous extremists.

Rand Paul's recent win in Kentucky caused him to be the focus of media attack for supposed racism because he happens to espouse Libertarian philosophies in regards to business and private organizations and who they associate with.

Lastly, in my mind the most unsettling move of all to discredit and silence those who speak out against our new breed of tyranny is the law proposed by White House Information Tsar Cass Sunstein that would curtail the freedom of speech of bloggers, reporters, and independent media organizations.  Cass Sunstein is the author of a book entitled "Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech", and is a proponent of the "Fairness Doctrine" that would criminalize "hate speech" and conspiracy theorizing. 

Under Sunstein's watch, nobody would be allowed to voice an opinion that discredits the government or goes against mainstream media's talking points without first proving to a government agency that their points are moral and correct.  Because, of course, government agencies are the ultimate authority on that which is moral and correct. . .

Such a law would effectively silence small fry bloggers like myself and would severely limit the ability of anti-establishment media outlets to operate freely, while big media would continue to spout its rhetoric untouched.

How similar this is to the state monopoly over media in Communist nations!  The Soviets worked feverishly to silence the dissidents in their nation, China will throw you in the slammer if you go against the grain, and now the U.S.A. is considering muting the voices of certain non-mainstream views?!

Whether you consider yourselves Conservative or Liberal, if you are an American this should appall you!  Our nation was founded on principles of free speech for majorities and minorities alike!  

I hate to say it but --