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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Do we want Principles or Pandering?

Last week, Representative Eric Massa (D-NY) was caught on tape saying, “I will vote against their opinion if I actually believe it will help them,” and many conservatives and Republicans freaked out. I am not sure what the big deal is, isn’t that what we want from elected officials in a Republic? We shouldn’t be focusing on the fact that he will ignore his constituents if he thinks he is doing what is right, we should be focusing on the idiotic ideas he thinks are right.

Rep. Massa was referring to the Obamacare bill that is being debated across the country. Massa supports this bill and will support it regardless of public opinion. If you ignore the specific bill for a minute, isn’t this the sentiment we want from our officials? People always complain about politicians like Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and John McCain whose beliefs change depending on focus groups and polling data. These spineless weasels are not concerned with principles, only with popularity and remaining in power. We want our politicians to have strong convictions and do what they think is right. When President George W. Bush fought an unpopular war in Iraq, supporters of the war and of the President admired his courage to go against the popular opinion and do what he thought was right. The same can be said for many of President Reagan’s policies. At first his proposals to cut taxes and deregulate industries were incredibly unpopular. He believed very strongly in the power of free markets and ignored the will of his constituents to do what he believed was best for the country.

Do the people who are now criticizing Massa believe that Bush should have abandoned the War as soon as the approval dropped below 50%? Do they believe Reagan should have abandoned his policies when they became unpopular? Do these people also support alleged conservatives in farming districts that abandon their free market beliefs to support farm subsidies because it is the will of their constituents? Should we have a tyranny of the majority where representatives support whatever 51% of their constituents want?

We elect people to vote their convictions. If you don’t like what they believe, don’t elect them. Rep. Massa should not be criticized for saying what he said or for voting against his constituents. He should be criticized for believing that Obamacare is a good idea. He should not vote against Obamacare because it is unpopular, he should vote against it because is a terrible idea. He needs to critically look at the bill: its effects, Constitutionality, impact on the economy and liberty, etc., and decide if it is a good idea or not. He should listen to the arguments for and against it, but he should NOT consult polls and focus groups to decide if he should support it or not.

By embracing this inconsistent and ridiculous argument conservatives not only discredit their alleged belief in Representative Democracy, but they become distracted by this red herring. We should be discussing Massa’s poor judgment, economic illiteracy, and dangerous progressive philosophy that leads him to trust Obamacare. We should also be looking at his motives for supporting the bill. Does he actually believe it will be helpful or is he doing it to help powerful special interests or to expand his own power in Congress? If he genuinely believes this bill will be helpful, he should absolutely go against the will of his constituents to vote for it. His constituents should then vote him out of office for being a statist with terrible judgment, not because he didn’t cave to public opinion. The last thing we want in this country is a government that rules based on the daily whims of the people and public opinion polls.

This article was also published at The D.C. Writeup

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Global Warming “Solutions” Are Worse Than the (unlikely) Problems

**This article originally appeared at ATR.org on August 12, 2009**

At ATR, we have told you about the devastating costs that will come as a result of the Waxman-Markey Energy Tax: Cap and Tax is only the tip of the still very frozen ice burg. Two new documentaries show the costs, not only the financial costs, but also the devastating effects on standard of living and human lives, of the proposed “solutions” to global warming.

Marlo Lewis, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released a documentary called Policy Peril: Why Global Warming Policies Are More Dangerous Than Global Warming Itself.

The threats of global warming are greatly exaggerated and we will do more harm than good with these drastic proposals to stop global warming. This clip illustrates the Human costs of global warming “solutions:”


The full 40 minute documentary can be streamed for free here.

A feature length documentary, Not Evil, Just Wrong, will have a world wide, simultaneous premier on October 18th at 8pm EST. This film shows “the true cost of global warming hysteria.”

Friday, August 7, 2009

Some are More Equal than Others

A new ad campaign has begun in the DC Metro system with posters featuring an 8 year old Florida girl asking “President Obama’s daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don’t I?” The easy answer is because Obama’s daughters go to a prestigious private school rather than a government-run public school.

The real question that should be asked is, “Why are government schools good enough for other people’s kids, but not his?” Earlier this year he and the Senatorial Democrats had a chance to help low income students escape failing DC public school, and they did not.

Back in March 2009, the Senate Republicans proposed an amendment to the $410 billion omnibus spending bill that would continue and expand the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. This Amendment was killed by the Democrats, ending the program.

In May 2009, President Obama set aside enough money in the budget to let the students currently enrolled in the program to finish. How generous of him to not pull the rug out from under these kids, while his daughters attend private school. The compromise by Obama, however, does not allow any new students to enroll in the program and escape their failing public schools. This video from Reason.TV shows some of the people who are hurt by the actions the President and Senate.

These actions are typical of progressives like Obama and Senate Democrats. Costly and ineffective government programs are good enough for the common people, but not for the political elites. They are trying to force a health care plan on us in which they will not participate and they do not send their kids to the schools they claim are good enough for the rest of us. They have one standard for themselves and another standard for us.

This also appeared at ATR.org.

Union Chief Facing Corruption Charges

Just when you thought Unions (the people who brought you bankrupt auto industries, failing pensions, and organized crime) were starting to clean up their act, the Union Chief of the New York District Council of Carpenters and Joiners of America and nine others are facing corruption charges.

The 29 charges include “racketeering, bribery, fraud and perjury.” Bribes of about $1 million were paid to the men by contractors so they could pay workers below union scale, hire illegal immigrants and non-union workers, and skip contributions to the union’s benefit fund.

This is not the Union’s first brush with these types of accusations. In 1990, Manhattan prosecutors brought up similar charges in a civil racketeering lawsuit. The lawsuit led to a court appointed “corruption monitor,” which is still in place and as effective as most government appointed regulators.

The Union’s “history of mob influence, labor racketeering and bribery” has not caused politicians to distant themselves. Just six weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg released a press release that the union had endorsed him for a third term. At a recent Union event, Michael J. Forde, one of the men facing indictment, introduced the Mayor as their “endorsed candidate” and gave him a hug.

Another man included in the indictment is Association of Wall, Ceiling and Carpentry Industries of New York executive director Joseph Olivieri. Olivieri has strong ties to the Genovese crime family, according to the FBI and law enforcement officials. The indictment does make reference to the Genovense family, but as of now, they are not included in the indictment. The investigation is ongoing.

Lev. L. Dassin, the acting United States attorney who announced the charges, said, “Instead of protecting the financial interests of union members and their families, corrupt union officials and the contractors who bribed them are charged with betraying the carpenters’ union and its benefit funds to enrich themselves.”

For more information, visit the AWF Union Transparency Page.

 This article also appeared at ATR.org.

Don’t Read the Bills, Just Vote No

There has been a lot of heated debate about whether Senators and Congressmen should read the 1000+ page bills that are being proposed, most notably the healthcare and Cap and Trade bills. Protestors at town hall meetings are demanding their representatives read every page of the bill before voting for it.

This seems like a reasonable request, though many senators and congressmen have taken offense to the idea that they read these bills. Representative John Conyers didn’t know what the point was in reading it because he wouldn’t understand it anyway. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer laughed at the idea of reading the health-care bill saying, “If every member pledged to not vote for it if they hadn’t read it in its entirety, I think we would have very few votes.” Representative Henry Waxman admitted he didn’t know the details of his own Cap and Trade bill. And Senator Arlen Specter said they couldn’t read the whole bill, because they have to “make adjustments very fast.” There is a simple solution to this issue, Senators and Congressmen don’t have to read the bill, just vote no.

It is a waste of everyone’s time to try to read 1000+ pages of a bill just to find out it is a bad bill. There is a handy, “cheat sheet” if you will, for every member of Congress to tell them whether or not they need to read any piece of legislation. It is called the U.S. Constitution. “What’s this U.S. Constitution you speak of?” A Senator or Congressman might ask. I’m glad you asked. It is a clever document written by some wise men in the late 1700s that tells the federal government exactly what they can and can’t do; some might even go as far as to say it is the “highest law in the land.”

My copy of the U.S. Constitution, which I got for free from the Cato Institute, is about 4 inches high by 3 inches wide, and including a Preface, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution with all Amendments, is 58 pages.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution lists the powers of the Legislative Branch and Amendment X of the Bill of Rights 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.” Basically, if it doesn’t explicitly say the federal government CAN do something that means it CAN’T.

Let’s practice. We will start with the Cap and Trade energy tax bill which was passed by the House a few weeks ago. No one could have possibly read this bill before it was passed, because an official copy didn’t even exists. No problem though, all they had to do was look in their trusty Constitution and see what it has to say. It does not have a section granting the United States the authority to regulate invisible gases. Ok, so now we look at the Amendments section…not there either. It’s not in the Constitution, therefore Congress can’t do it, so Vote no.

On to Healthcare. This is a heated debate, so let’s consult the Constitution. Again, nothing in there about the government providing health care, health insurance, or anything else having to do with doctors or medicine. It’s not in there, so you don’t have to read the bill, just vote no.

This works with other bills as well. The Employee Free Forced Choice Act (EFCA) would allow the government to step into negotiations between Unions and Employers and arbitrate their contracts. The Constitution does not say anything about the Federal Government arbitrating contracts between two private organizations. Vote no.

It is unfortunate that no one in the government had found their handy Constitution sooner. Does it allow them to use tax money to bailout banks? No. Does it allow them to use taxpayer money to buy auto companies? No. Does it allow them to “Stimulate” the economy by printing paper money out of thin air? No. It does allow them to borrow money, but it also says, “No state shall…make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Depts.”

If reading the Constitution is still too much for the average Senator or Congressman, there is an even shorter way to decide how to vote. All they have to do is consult one part of the Declaration of Independence, “[T]hat they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness-That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their Powers from the Consent of the Governed”(Emphasis mine).

Before voting for a bill they only need to ask two questions. First, will this bill deny anyone of their Life, Liberty, or Pursuit of Happiness? For example, if one person is forced to pay for the health insurance of another that is denying him of his Liberty to spend his money in the manner he chooses without coercion. Second, because the rights of government are derived from the rights of the governed, does the average citizen have a right to do what is proposed in the bill? For example, can Joe Sixpack down the street, go to his local factory and force them to reduce their carbon emissions? If he doesn’t have the right, how did the government derive their right from him?

This should help to simplify things and allow members of Congress more time to raise money for reelection campaigns, go to luaus at the White House, and enjoy all of the other perks of being in Congress.

This also appeared on ATR.org.