Tag Archives: government

One Ring Government to Rule Us All?

By Cameron Smith

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the protagonist is charged with destroying a ring of immense power. Throughout the novel, characters with the best and worst of intentions strive to possess and thereby control the power of the ring. The more they use that power, the more warped and twisted they become.

While The Lord of the Rings has made its way onto summer reading lists for generations, this work of fiction bears a strong resemblance to what Americans have come to expect of their federal and state governments.

The power of government is unparalleled in America. Combined state and federal government expenditures account for 35.4% of America’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Government’s spending influence is augmented by expansive regulation and social mandates.

In their zeal to wield such power, even for the noblest of ends, many American politicians have expanded government’s reach even further. Because the cost of securing control of government grows proportionally to government’s size, politicians who possess the power of government face the temptation to use it in a manner to perpetuate that control.

According to a recent Rasmussen report, almost 40% of Americans believe that the United States engages in crony capitalism where business success depends largely on favorable treatment from the government. Businesses benefitting from such practices have strong incentives to support “friendly” politicians when they come up for reelection. When the government’s role in the economy and society is reduced, so are the opportunities for cronyism.

But the struggle to reduce government’s role has been largely abandoned. The most aggressive political ideas for curtailing the size of government in Washington suggest “controlling” spending at about 18% of GDP. According to a Real Clear Markets article by Dean Kalahar, “for the first 130 years of [America’s] existence, federal spending as a percentage of GDP averaged around 2.5%.”

Instead of reining in government, political characters continue to wrangle over the “correct” way to swing the cudgel of American government.

America’s founding fathers recognized the appeal of expansive government power and the dangers associated with it. As a result, they instituted constitutional limits on the accumulation of that power. But they also knew the system would only succeed so long as it had the consent and active support of the people it governed. When asked at the close of the Constitutional Convention what the founding fathers had produced, Benjamin Franklin responded, “A Republic, if you can keep it!”

Regrettably, Americans have not kept the Republic because they have failed to demand America’s founding principle of limited government be maintained. Unless America elects men and women willing to set aside the ring of government power and enforce the Constitution, government will be, as Barry Goldwater noted, a “monolith of power…bounded only by the will of those who sit in high places.”

Tolkien probably could not have said it any better.

Cameron Smith is General Counsel and Policy Director for the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.

A Letter To Our Elected Representatives

Dear Officeholder,

As a citizen I wish to thank you for your willingness to step forward and serve in public office. It must be challenging to voluntarily place oneself under intense scrutiny in order to run for political office. I do take your role as a leader very seriously, so please bear with me as I share with you some of my concerns and criticisms.

When you chose to protect and preserve our Republic , there was an implicit understanding that you would give your very best to confront and resolve the many problems facing us today. One of the basic elements of problem-solving is to stop the problem from becoming worse when attempting to resolve the issue. In my view, you and your colleagues continue to fail in this regard. Despite all the rhetoric about “directions” and “paths,” our future continues to grow more ominous. Pay to play politics and back-room deals which are so apart of our defunct government will NOT restore the limits of Constitutional government. Commitment to the founding principles and the devotion to your Oath of office will. You cannot serve two Masters. Either you serve at the will of varied special interests or you serve the highest law of the land, the Constitution of the United States.

When you, the representative maintain that fidelity to the Constitution, you do not wander into the thickets of irresponsible spending and the eroding of our individual rights. Every time a public servant strays outside the constitutional limitations, we the citizens lose our liberty, property and our inalienable rights guaranteed to us by our Creator. You must remember that government does not produce anything of value. Government is merely a redistribution mechanism, and indeed, an inefficient one at that. The Founders recognized that for a nation to prosper the citizens must enjoy the maximum amount of freedom allowable for a civil society. Have you and your colleagues not learned what America’s Founding Fathers proclaimed? They painstakingly avoided a democracy and built a constitutional republic. The difference between these two forms of government are paramount in restoring America’s greatness and maximizing individual liberty.

Many people who enter public office want to do “good.” Yet when they drift beyond the articles set forth by the Constitution, the “good” often becomes anything but. Your Oath, if taken seriously, compels you to strict adherence to the Constitution, not to forage far and wide while looking for any and all social ills to heal here at home or abroad. Government has proven to be an incredibly flawed instrument, and for you to assume that government is the best vehicle for correcting deficiencies in the social structure is wishful at best and delusional at worst. Famous frontiersman and representative from Tennessee Davy Crockett learned this valuable lesson. During a visit to his district he stopped to speak to a man plowing his field. What transpired was a lesson all elected representatives and voters should take note of. “It is hardly worthwhile to waste time or words upon it” said the man taking a moment from his work. Knowing that Colonel Crockett had “stepped beyond the limits of his Oath,” the gentleman politely informed Crockett of why he would not be voting for him in the upcoming election. He told him, “I do not see how it can be mended, but you gave a vote last winter which shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting in honesty and firmness to be guided by it.” Needless to say, Crockett learned a valuable lesson. I would encourage everyone to read “Not Yours to Give” from “The Life of Davey Crockett,” by Edward S. Ellis.

Perhaps I am wrongly casting you among those who have grossly abused their power and their Oath. If so, I apologize, but I along many whom cannot speak for themselves as of yet, do insist that you stand firm, to speak loudly and forcefully, to resist EVERY usurpation of our liberties and immediately restore the Founders meaning to our legislatures. Even if you are not actively engaged in the undermining of our Constitutional government, you cannot comply with or ignore those who are. Your sworn duty, before God and the citizens, is to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Meekly allowing others such as NATO; the United Nations; The Federal Reserve; The Council on Foreign Relations and a host of other “unaccountables” to run roughshod over our freedoms while confiscating our hard-earned wealth without bellowing in protest means that you are at the very least underestimating the resolve of Patriotic Americans, or at worst complicit to treason by levying war against the very documents that serves to protect our way of life.

Our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and the amendments known as the Bill of Rights are the life-blood of Liberty and what separates America from all others . The very least you can demand of your colleagues is fidelity to its own governing documents. Claims that our Constitution was meant to be a “living document” or that judges may interpret them as they please, are fraudulent and incompatible with our form of government. In a free society, government is restrained and political power is of less importance. It is only in an environment of freedom that man is capable of achieving his full potential. And it is you the office holder who must understand these ideals while respecting the limits placed upon you by your Oath, that we can once again shine with brilliance in a world of tyranny.

By Andy Myers

Bio: Andy Myers is a former U.S. Army Paratrooper who served with the 1st Special Forces Group. He is the Defense Policy Analyst for the Ohio Freedom Alliance and works to educate others on the great American principles of individual liberty, constitutional government, sound money, free markets, and a non-interventionist foreign policy.

Statewide Poll of 1,800 Registered Voters Shows Ohioans Ready for Big Fixes

The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions today released a statewide poll of 1,800 registered voters that shows Ohioans are at odds with their government leaders on the major issues of the day, especially on government compensation, regulations, and Ohio’s pro-union policies. Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies of Broomfield, Colorado, conducted the poll on July 19, 2010, via an autodial survey of registered voters from across Ohio. Because of the large sample, the survey has a margin of error of 2.31%.

Here are some top-line numbers:

· 50% think government leaders should first reduce government worker compensation to eliminate the $8 billion
budget state deficit;
· Only 16% think taxes should be increased to eliminate the Ohio deficit;
· 52% think Ohio’s state and local taxes are too high;
· 56% think Ohio’s regulatory environment makes it harder for businesses to create jobs and grow;
· 85% think workers should be free to choose whether to join a labor union to get a job; and
· 67% think we should stick with coal or add nuclear and natural gas energy.

Other than for government workers who think cutting compensation and cutting services are equally appealing, every other demographic group chose cutting government compensation as the top choice to cut the deficit. Except for one group, every demographic group thinks Ohio’s taxes are too high by a majority or plurality.

On Ohio’s regulatory environment, every demographic group by a majority or plurality feels our regulations make it harder for businesses to create jobs and grow. The most stunning result is that all demographic groups support a worker’s freedom to choose whether or not to join a union to get a job with all but five groups polling at over 80 percent. A whopping 93% of Republicans, 87.7% of Independents, and 77.2% of Democrats want workers to have the freedom to choose.

Buckeye Institute President Matt A. Mayer noted, “It is clear Ohioans believe that business as usual is not sustainable. As always, common sense Ohioans are ahead of the politicians. I hope our elected officials follow the people and don’t just say, but do the right thing to get Ohio growing and prosperous again.”

Why A Negative View Helps Life, Liberty and Happiness

By Daniel Downs

Some people regard political or social criticism as degradingly negative. They see being against current issues as anti-productive. According to such people, being positive is always the best policy.

Who could argue against being positive, but is just being positive really productive? Not when being positive actually means getting along with uncritical yea-sayers. What is anti-productive is mindlessly

believing what the authorities claim. The view that the professionals know best is positively negative as far as being a member of a free self-governing citizenry. How can people be freely independent while at the same time being mostly dependent on the professionals or corporate and big government institutions? It is not possible.

Put another way, if Americans vote to give government almost all of their rights, they can no longer live the American dream of independence. Consuming, voting, going just about anywhere, and feeling good about life is not the definition of freedom and independence. People can be just as happy living under socialist dictatorships, elite oligarchies, or democracies run by the same as those living under the rule of anarchism or popular federal republics.

The pursuit of happiness requires life and liberty unfettered by structured dependency whether planned by wealthy political bureaucrats, corporate executives, special interest lobbyists and their causes, or greedy speculators. After all, liberty is meaningless if life is solely in the power of the professionals or government bureaucrats. Under a regime of self-government by “We the People” justice and morality regulated for the common good is vital. Without it, a fragmented culture eventually is dominated by “divide and conquer” special interest parties.

Ohio government is too big to pay for its employees pensions, taxpayers should pay for no more

By Daniel Downs

Ohio public employee pension fund are suffering the same fate as their employers revenue streams. They are dwindling. Partly to blame is our spend-thrifty government; the other part is the financial industry that was willing to follow the lead of their liberal politicians.

According to an excellent report by the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio public pensions cost taxpayers $4.1 billion annually. Those costs are directly related to the size of government payrolls, which continue to grow. As noted, government employees get higher than average retirement incomes. These are guaranteed by law.

Because 401K and other sources of pension funds are subject to stock market volatility, the Ohio budget is now revealing another part of its budget shortfall.

To make up for the loss, Ohio public employee union-negotiated pension funds are asking taxpayers to foot the bill.

What is wrong with this picture?

As noted at the beginning, the growth of government bureaucracy outpaces the private sector. Socialistic and special interest programs along with related federal mandates drive much unnecessary growth and its costs to taxpayers. The answer is in cutting them. Ohio government should follow their private sector partner and downsize. Cut departments, programs, employees, and cut related expenses. By downsizing, the executive branch the savings would cover most, if not all, of the current budget deficit, which means covering pensions too.

And, what about all of Ohio’s private sector employee who are suffering either declines or loss of their retirement pensions? If taxpayers should maintain retired employee pension because they pour billions of dollars into Ohio’s economy as argued Democrat Rep. Todd Book and the unions, retired private sector employees pour in many more billions. It would be more profitable for the economy if taxpayers funded their retirement funds.

Then, there is the frequent practice of allowing double dippers to burden Ohio taxpayers. As with Xenia Community Schools Supt. Lewis, many government employees receive pension income as well as taxpayer funded paychecks. Why should taxpayers pay double for such employees, and pay double or triple amounts for bailouts, and pay double for levy debts to schools and to investors? Public corruption obviously is very profitable.

Ohio government is just too big and corrupt to pay for its employees’ pensions. That is why taxpayers should refuse to pay more.

Why I Signed the Manhattan Declaration

By Gary Palmer

On November 20, 2009 a group of nationally known and respected Christian leaders set forth an historic declaration.

The Manhattan Declaration is a long overdue message from men and women of faith to all those in political power from state and local governments to the federal government and its myriad bureaucracies. The Declaration focuses on three foundational principles of justice and the common good on which the signers will not compromise: the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions; the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

The Declaration states, “Because the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of conscience and religion are foundational principles of justice and the common good, we are compelled by our Christian faith to speak and act in their defense.”

Obviously, this is a direct challenge to the power of the government at every level but especially the federal government under the current dominant liberal regime. In an interview with Katherine Lopez of the National Review, Dr. Robert George, one of the principal authors of the Manhattan Declaration, said that important decisions are now being made, or soon will be made, by state and federal government on the issues addressed in the Declaration.

Dr. George said that as a result of the 2006 and 2008 elections there is unprecedented strength in both houses of Congress and in many state legislatures to push laws that advance the abortion agenda, that seek to legalize same-sex marriage, and that threaten religious liberty. In fact, some Christian groups have already come under assault.

In May 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston ended its 103 year ministry of providing adoption services to place foster children rather than comply with the Massachusetts state law that required them to place children with homosexuals. In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is threatening to take action against Belmont Abbey College, a private Catholic college in North Carolina, because the college refuses to include insurance coverage for abortion and contraception in the college’s health insurance plan.

While both of these involve Catholic institutions, they could just as easily be Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or any other denomination.

Lopez later asked Dr. George how the White House should take the Declaration. He responded, “I hope that President Obama will understand that the signatories to the Manhattan Declaration are determined to defend the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage, and respect for religious freedom. On these issues, they cannot compromise, and they will not remain silent.”

The Declaration’s signatories understand that the principles of the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage and religious freedom are under threat from powerful political and cultural forces in our nation. They want it understood that, as Christians, those who sign the Declaration regard these principles as non-negotiable, and will therefore be unceasing in their defense of them. A critical line of the declaration states, “We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence.”

In explaining why he signed the Manhattan Declaration, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky wrote that he signed it “…because I want to put my name on its final pledge — that we will not bend the knee to Caesar. We will not participate in any subversion of life. We will not be forced to accept any other relationship as equal in status or rights to heterosexual marriage. We will not refrain from proclaiming the truth — and we will order our churches and institutions and ministries by Christian conviction.”

Dr. Mohler was referring to the last lines of the Declaration that should be regarded as a solemn oath by all who sign it, “We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.” Mohler then added, “I was encouraged that we could stand together to make clear that to come for one of us on these issues is to come for all.”

The opportunity to stand with other believers of such courage and moral clarity is why I signed the Declaration.

You can read the Manhattan Declaration at www.manhattandeclaration.org.

Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.

What does Obama’s stimulus plan, outdated infrastructure, and gas taxes have in common

In a January 10 editorial, the New York Times approved Obama’s big spending stimulus plan but complained about his plans to continue the past era of tax cuts. One of part of the approved plan is $500 billion to bolster unemployment benefits, aid to states, and for investment in the nation’s crumbling and outdated infrastructure.

In an article critical of the Times editorial, Don Feder of Accuracy in Media rightly observed that “no matter how much the states get for highway repairs (from the gas tax, general revenue, tolls and federal aid), the infrastructure is still crumbling and outdated.”

The question taxpayers and gasoline consumers should be asking is why that is. The national average tax on gasoline is 47 cents per gallon. That means the amount of gas taxes collected by federal, state and local governments to maintain our roadways is a meager $66.5 billion a year. And the federal government returns to the states 90.5% of its portion of the national gas tax, which is 18.4 percent.

Are states using their part of the tax pie for projects other than maintaining our roadways?

We could probably define Obama’s plan as a pork-barrel bailout stimulating welfare program–what do you think?

Cell phone use during pregnancy and childhood behavioral problems

In the July edition of Epidemiology, researchers reported that children whose mothers used cell phones while pregnant were more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems.

A team of scientists looked at a group of more than 13,000 children, including their time in utero. When the children reached age 7, mothers were asked to complete a questionnaire about their own cell phone use in pregnancy and their child‘s use of cell phones, as well as their children‘s behavior and health.

Children with both prenatal and postnatal cell phone exposure were 80 percent more likely to have emotional problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity, or problems with peers. Children who were only exposed prenatally had a higher likelihood of behavior problems compared to those who were only exposed postnatally, but not as high as those who were exposed at both times.

Dr. Mercola believes that an 80 percent increase in behavior problems is pretty drastic. In a recent article on the subject, he wrote,

“Could it be, as some have suggested, that mothers who use cell phones frequently are simply not very attentive parents? Sure. But those children who were only exposed in utero had significant increases in behavior problems too, which suggests there may be something deeper going on.”

Dr. Mecola also explained that something deeper.

“Electromagnetic radiation from cell phones poses a unique hazard to a developing fetus. Animal studies have shown that electromagnetic fields in that frequency range can affect their liver enzymes, glands, muscles, hormone balance, and heart and bone marrow. In fact, the cellular stresses caused by information-carrying radio waves can actually alter the DNA structure of both you and your child.

Autonomic nervous system expert Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt has noted this radiation can easily flip certain genes in the mitochondria. If this gene sequence is altered in a pregnant woman, she can pass her damaged mitochondria on to the child.

The child can then develop a mitochondrial disorder, which can include muscular atrophy and severe developmental problems. Even autism has been associated with cell phone use.

Because children are still growing, they also have far thinner skulls than adults. This makes their brains far more susceptible to these information-carrying radio waves. If you are, say, holding your infant while talking on a cell phone, the radiation plume can easily reach the child and penetrate their skull.

Of course, if you allow your child to talk on the cell phone himself, then this radiation will reach him directly.

To see an illustration showing just how much higher the electromagnetic radiation absorption rates are in a 5- and 10-year old’s brain versus that of an adult, see this article from a previous newsletter.

It’s very important that you keep cell phones away from infants, babies, children and pregnant women now, as the damage may not start showing up for 10 years or more, and by then it will be too late.

So, why hasn’t our government done something about this? A part of the deeper problem is that they are powerless. They serve the interests of the powerful, which means those corporations and politicians making big money. Yes, the FDA, FCC, and EPA have called for research on the problem, but the study reported by Epidemiology was conducted in the Netherlands not the USA. Dr. Mecola also goes into greater detail why the federal agencies are not doing much about the problem.

I should add that scientists have known about 20 years (maybe more) that high doses of electromagnetic waves is harmful to animals and humans. As Dr. Mercola points out, “[t]hese radio waves are literally everywhere, transmitting signals to wireless computers, cordless phones, cell phone base stations and countless other wireless technologies.”

In another article by Dr. Mecola, “Why Your Cell Phone Can Hurt Your Children,” a list of health problems caused by RF radio waves (cell phone, wireless, etc.) included:

*  Alzheimer’s, senility and dementia
*  Parkinson’s
*  Autism
*  Fatigue
*  Headaches
*  Sleep disruptions
*  Altered memory function, poor concentration and spatial awareness
*  Cancer and brain tumors
*  Sterility

Notice, health problems like sleep disruptions, headaches as well as the problems mentioned in the Epidemiology study such as hyperactivity, emotional and behavioral problems are related. In a previous post, I reported on the discovery that ADD and hyperactivity were often related to lack of sleep and even mild appendicitis. Yet, children have been drugged out the wazoo for profit not for a cure. The cure is to limit or end cell phone, wireless computer, iPod, and cordless phone use and maintain good health practices.

Read Dr. Mecola’s articles for tips on cell phone safety, good health practices, or for more in-depth information.